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Reddit is 100x bigger. It's not just that we aren't in their league...our league is not in their league. So I feel embarrassed at the comparison.

It's hard to count active users because you have to define them in order to count them, and we make a point of not tracking people that much. We can count accounts and unique IPs, and that's about it. But it's basically about 5M readers a month, give or take, as far as we can tell. It grows linearly, with large swings. If you step back 10 feet from the graphs and squint, it's basically a straight line for the last 10 years. We like it that way; we wouldn't want to go full Haskell and avoid success at all costs, but we don't want hockey-stick growth either. HN is not a startup!

It runs on one server. Actually the app server (written in Arc) runs on one core. But we have some caching in front of that for logged-out users.

> we wouldn't want to go full Haskell and avoid success at all costs

Can you elaborate on that statement? To me, it implies that going with Haskell avoids success, but I might be missing something. If that really is the implication, can you explain?

Oh! That's the Haskell motto: https://www.google.com/search?q=haskell+%22avoid+success+at+.... I'd never troll so hard as to make something like that up, only just enough to quote it. I love it as a perfectly-cut gem of self-deprecating humor.

It has had different interpretations over the years. Simon Peyton Jones described its origins here: https://books.google.com/books?id=2kMIqdfyT8kC&pg=PA283&lpg=.... But that interview was already several years after the fact. See also https://web.archive.org/web/20150419060144/http://www.comput...:

When you become too well known, or too widely used and too successful [...] suddenly you can’t change anything anymore.

The fact that Haskell has up to now been used for just university types has been ideal [...] Now, however, they're starting to complain if their libraries don’t work, which means that we’re beginning to get caught in the trap of being too successful.

What I’m really trying to say is that the fact Haskell hasn’t become a real mainstream programming language, used by millions of developers, has allowed us to become much more nimble, and from a research point of view, that’s great. We have lots of users so we get lots of experience from them. What you want is to have a lot of users but not too many from a research point of view – hence the avoid success at all costs.

Does anyone have the original slide where he used this line? It would be interesting to see what contextual clues were there at the time.

Later it turned out to be a syntactic pun: https://twitter.com/simonmar/status/246335257677271040. The official interpretation seems to be "Don't make success your top priority, because success may compromise things you care about more", whereas the hilarious version would be "Whatever you do, make sure you don't succeed."

Haskell connoisseurs can add info. That is literally all I know about it, or more, since I just Googled half of it. I do recall reading those interviews at the time, no doubt via HN.

TIL about most of this. Thanks for the detailed explanation.

To me it means that the Haskell project is strictly an academic experiment and seems to avoid mainstream success for itself at all costs. Not that projects using it can't achieve success, just that it'll never be popular and tries very hard not to be, though not really with that intent.

I interpreted that as "allow only very technical post in Erlang or Haskell"

5M is big. Wow! I mean that’s a large enough number that if you did a LaunchHN with a $50/year subscription and only .01% subscribed, you can have a sustainable solo SaaS business with 250k ARR.

Sounds like the size of a large sub reddit.

We could also compare them this way: these days, HN averages 1500 submissions and 10000 comments (or so) per day. Does anyone with Reddit datamining fu know what percentile that would be for a subreddit? How many such subreddits are there? What are some examples?

Of course there are assumptions involved in mapping that to userbase size or whatever, but it would still be interesting.

there are assumptions involved in mapping that to userbase size

I think these assumptions are the trickier/error-barriest ones. The other, more directly comparable stats suggest reddit is more than 100x bigger than HN. The comment and post numbers here


make it look like something closer to 500x-ish, give or take.

eyeballing (the purest ancient datamining fu technique) this


puts HN somewhere in the 15th-to-20th-ish top subreddit category by post and comment activity.

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