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HN Alternative UIs (luke.lol)
158 points by lgats on Dec 28, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 109 comments

I am perfectly fine with main UI of HN , that is news.ycombinator.com . Although,i agree that some improvements can be made.

One Pro of main UI is that it is simple and very fast without fancy moving parts. I like it a lot.

I'd be very cautious with redesigning HN. As a negative example, just look what happened to Slashdot and Reddit. Slashdot's redesign ten years ago in particular seemed really well-done at first, but took away "substance" for lack of a better term, and so did Reddit's.

That said, maybe HN could place the logout button further away from the login name/link while preserving info density eg without a fat/dick menu. Right now, these two small touch areas on top of another are mildly prone to mis-clicking on mobile.

The problem with /. wasn't exactly the design.

The moderation system and the article ranking algorithm were completely rebuilt too. And both were biased in a direction the community hated (quite explicitly, and since before the change).

And the problem with Reddit didn't stop at the design. Yeah, the new site is slow, ugly and hard to use, but the larger issue is that the new design favors video and memes over good content. If not for that point and the lots of on your face growth-hack, I don't think the reaction would be that strong.

And none of those despised changes happened by bad luck or technical incompetence. They all come from managerial decisions. The technical act of redesigning can be harmful, but it's not as risky as they examples make it look.

Well they found their new user base also, that is why they didn't crash like digg. Reddit has become very Facebook like design and content wise.

A redesign does not have to be ambitious. There are so many things that can be incrementally improved in HN you'll be busy without ever touching the core of the UI like Reddit did. The bar is literally on the floor.

A reason those HN readers look like entire rewrites (besides being rewrites) is because they are not dangerous rollouts, and because they have to provide strong reasons to use them as third party sites over the "real" HN.

Digg is still the hallmark of bad redesign to me. It was so bad that it killed the company.

Yeah the only thing I'd change about this site is making pre tags word wrap on mobile

Literally it. Please don't break it!

Mildly though. Plus everyone is so used to that particular situation now that any change there can hardly go right (e.g. just as many people will hate as like it)

Indeed; native Hacker News UI is my favorite experience on the web when it comes to discussion. I also enjoy the old Reddit stylesheets. Something about these two designs and their predictability is a joy to use. It's ironic since I love developing front end UI, yet the experiences I enjoy using more are often the most trivial.

I really like the current ui. Thanks to being so simple and lightweight, HN works perfect even with the "experimental" browser on my Kindle - which is my main and eyestrain-free way of reading HN. Only large discussions with lots of comments can weigh it down, but deactivating JS helps in those cases.

It says something about the ratio of technology vs value.

old.reddit.com is full of warts (search is limited.. if not crippled), ui has zero fancy ergonomics.. sometimes full fledged bugs.. but the value isn't there. It was simple, flexible, fun, and on nice subs, you had nice convos. The end.

hn is still like that, improving secondary aspects won't make the convos better

less is more chapter 1209

ps: the only thing that I wished I had in HN was embedded articles .. so I don't comment without reading and I don't have to have a side tab for that. It's a bit lazy but that's the only recurring idea I had about HN.

I was about to suggest a feature where we could collapse comment replies below a certain vote threshold but then decided against it. It's better to leave the responsibility of scanning through and deciding what to read on the reader themselves, rather than an algorithm. Which is where problems usually begins. At times it's a bit of a pain scanning and scrolling through reams of comments trying to find things I find valuable, but it's better than the alternative, I feel.

Having to expand every single comment in reddit threads is infuriating. The HN UI is just the right amount of information dense and readable for me.

It's ok because HN is much smaller; on Reddit, there are posts with 20k+ comments - for those, thread collapsing kinda makes sense (which doesn't validate collapsing comment threads everywhere else though).

Perhaps a small visual indicator that's proportional to upvotes would be helpful, but other than that, I too wouldn't collapse anything automatically.

The thing modern web UX trends forget is that human visual system is amazing at pattern-matching and filtering. It's literally what it does all the time - subconsciously sifting through large amounts of data and focusing on things of interest. As long as there are patterns in the data the brain can use to slice and dice it, you can dump a lot of data on people with no confusion or loss of effectiveness.

I agreed that it’s better than the alternative. Also the alternative has the risk of amplifying echo chamber viewpoints. And then there is the fundamental of how new would comments break the barrier of getting upvoted in the first place?

Comments already get marked as dead/hidden if there are too many downvotes I thought?

You actually have to go into your profile and enable a checkpoint just to see them at all.

I like being able to easily check hckrnews.com once a day and quickly get a good selection of articles to consider reading. It links to the comment pages directly so that is the same. I've tried to get a couple of local and national news sites to adopt the hckrnews.com format but without success so far :(.

why news.ycombinator? why not news.hacker.com or hackernews.com?

Because it is a marketing funnel for ycombinator.

then why call it 'hacker news' colloquially?

HN, originally called Startup News and later renamed to Hacker News, is a news board hosted by Y Combinator. Hence news.ycombinator.com. There's no hard rule saying that the official name of something has to be 1:1 match to its domain. And sure, YC could move HN to a separate domain, but why bother? Everyone's used to news.ycombinator.com.

Colloquially? "Hacker News" is its formal name.

It was also originally Startup News, and changed names about (iirc) 12 months later.

This seems like the right place to ask: I remember some months ago there being a discussion about a dark mode for HN - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23197966 .

It seemed at the time like dang was amenable to adding it, but nothing seemed to to come of it. Am I missing a setting somewhere? Dark mode is the only reason I use an external app for viewing HN.

Add to uBlock origin. To the "My filters" section.

  ycombinator.com##html:style(background-color: #3e3e42 !important)

  ycombinator.com###hnmain:style(background-color: #2E2E31 !important)

  ycombinator.com##.age:style(color: #ccc !important)

  ycombinator.com##.c00:style(color: #ccc !important)

  ycombinator.com##.comhead > a:style(color: #dedede !important)
  ycombinator.com##.comhead:style(color: #dedede !important)

  ycombinator.com##.hnuser:style(color: #ccc !important)

  ycombinator.com##.subtext > a:link:style(color: #ccc !important)

  ycombinator.com##.subtext > a:style(color: #ccc !important)

  ycombinator.com##.subtext:style(color: #ccc !important)

  ycombinator.com##.title > a:style(color: #dedede !important)

  ycombinator.com##a:link:style(color: #ccc !important)

Source - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23200038

Thank you, that's very helpful for desktop, but I'm primarily interested in having this on my phone. There are many nice extensions for desktop browsers, but the only way to get dark mode on my phone (currently) is to use a 3rd party app.

It works fine on Firefox mobile.

If you're on Android, then Kiwi Browser's dark mode works great.

You can use stylus (Firefox: [1], Chrome: [2]) to set a userstyle for HN. I have mine set to a lovely zenburn dark. [3]

1: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/styl-us/

2: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/stylus/clngdbkpkpe...

3: https://github.com/UserStyles/hacker-news-zenburn-dark

My extensions to hacker-news-zenburn-dark to make downvote state of comments visible:

   * The following colors are chosen with the linear map f(c): [#000000, #ffffff] -> [#dcdccc, #404040] where 
   * f(#000000) = #dcdccc and f(#ffffff) = #404040.
  .c5a, .c5a *, .c5a a:link, .c5a a:visited { color:#a5a59b !important; }
  .c73, .c73 *, .c73 a:link, .c73 a:visited { color:#96968d !important; }
  .c82, .c82 *, .c82 a:link, .c82 a:visited { color:#8c8c85 !important; }
  .c88, .c88 *, .c88 a:link, .c88 a:visited { color:#898981 !important; }
  .c9c, .c9c *, .c9c a:link, .c9c a:visited { color:#7d7d76 !important; }
  .cae, .cae *, .cae a:link, .cae a:visited { color:#72726c !important; }
  .cbe, .cbe *, .cbe a:link, .cbe a:visited { color:#686864 !important; }
  .cce, .cce *, .cce a:link, .cce a:visited { color:#5e5e5b !important; }
  .cdd, .cdd *, .cdd a:link, .cdd a:visited { color:#555553 !important; }

Stylus Privacy Policy:

"Unlike other similar extensions, we don't find you to be all that interesting. Your questionable browsing history should remain between you and the NSA. Stylus collects nothing. Period."

Stylus is a surveillance-free fork of Stylish, created after the latter turned evil.

The DarkReader (darkreader.org) extension gives a beautiful dark theme to HN, just make sure you set the theme mode to "Static" instead of the default "Dynamic".

While useful, I'm averse to the complexity of such features. The steady devolution of Reddit's UX scares me.

I also enjoy the offloaded ecosystem of sites like hn.algolia.com. It feels healthy for a hacker community to build these tailored readers.

Dark mode can be done purely in CSS with media queries. I wouldn’t call it complex

I see: prefers-color-scheme wouldn't bother me.

I agree it shouldn’t be another HN setting when we already have a standard for it.

All these custom stylesheets and extensions are nice, but still are a clunky workaround and sometimes a potential security issue

Might sound strange, but when I "downgraded" my phone's display to IPS (as found on my iPhone 6s, and as opposed to AMOLED on my former Samsung phones), I had the impression to see HN in all its creamy-ness as intended for the first time in years, whereas on AMOLED with its tendency towards over-saturation, the light yellow background always seemed somewhat arbitrary and synthetic. This is in addition to the much better contrast and natural look of dark backgrounds possible on AMOLED, so clearly, while the problem is going to come back to hurt me, the desire for dark mode is driven by AMOLED. I wonder what CSS should do about this on top of prefers-color-scheme media queries; having to decide to optimize for AMOLED vs IPS seems odd when device color profiles have been a thing for ages.

Why won't HN offer dark mode?


  Re: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23197966

  It's been four months since you agreed that dark mode for HN is a good idea. Any progress? If not, what is blocking you? Can I help?



  We just don't have much dev time. Sorry for the delay. We'll get there. I appreciate the offer of help but we're not currently set up to accept contributions that way...


I think it is a matter of development time/resources.

One issue is that HN is not really open source. Although there was an open source release years ago, the current code base is an evolution of that and closed. It then comes down to how much time/money Y Combinator is willing to invest in enhancing it, and I assume more essential stuff takes priority over nice-to-haves like dark mode.

I think, ideally, the current version could be open sourced, and then people could contribute PRs to add stuff like dark mode. I think dang has said before that the reason why they don't do that, is they don't want to expose certain "secret sauce" (abuse/spam detection, voting code, etc), since if the algorithms were exposed people would exploit them.

I guess one solution would be to split the code base into open core and closed plugins, open source the core and then keep the secret sauce in the closed plugins. But, I guess that would take time to carry out that refactoring, which comes back to the issue of limited development time/resources and what priorities that will be spent on.

Imma be kinda snarky here

SV VCs struggle with once per long time peroid 500 HTML LoC page layout change?

It's not that they struggle. HN's layout itself does a lot of work shaping the community here, so they understandably want to be careful about changing things.

As @dang said, I admire the HN philosophy - “Move slowly and preserve things.”

There is no need for a dark mode. Just use a style extension. We are all tech savvy people here.

I wrote a userscript until a Dark Mode is supported natively: https://github.com/darekkay/config-files/blob/20b5858ff7a464...

I think the plan was to make it dependent on the ‘prefer-dark’ css setting or something. I think the main problem is settling on a particular theme.

HN "newspaper theme": https://www.wolfgangfaust.com/project/paper-hn/

Not listed in the article and was a recent ShowHN (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23669650)

A funny way to get this list is to publish a post on HN, wait a few days and check the list of backlinks on Google console

I've been using the HN RSS for a long while. It works fine in your reader of choice.

I am kind of disappointed with this submission though because I was expecting an analysis of the people who read HN, aka HN readers.

How did you set this up within raycast ?

I built an iOS app for my own specific preference: no clutter, opens links in reader mode and dark mode included. Settings can be changed from the iOS settings.

Hope it’s the choice of somebody else as well: https://apps.apple.com/app/hakkeri-readable-hacker-news/id11...

How did you get past app review? I tried to ship a free HN reader with more features than this one and was told I didn't meet the minimum functionality requirements.

At first I thought this was going to be a list of the HN users that clicked the link but thankfully it’s not :)

Nice to see hackerweb on the list :)

A little self-promo here, I just released a new V2 of HackerWeb for iOS https://apps.apple.com/app/id1084209377 - it's still built with React Native, open-sourced https://github.com/cheeaun/hackerweb-native-2 with a really nice UI that I've designed, especially for comment threads.

It'll be free until end of the year. Cheers.

Still for iPhone only, I see :(

There's the web and (older) Android version too :) https://hackerwebapp.com/

I use an iPad and like the web version, but would love to have the new one...

Do you license the HN content or just pirate it?

Not sure you mean, content is from the API https://github.com/HackerNews/API

I’ll be damned! Didn’t know about the API. My apologies and I heartily encourage downvotes for my rudeness.

My personal favorite is https://hn.premii.com

It has an iOS app which is just a packaging of the web app, but I find the rendering just right.

Thanks for this! I just got a new phone with latest ios, and my HN reader (this one) was the one app that didn’t get transferred because “it’s no longer available in the App Store”. Even the in-app about links lead to “not available anymore” in app stores. Wonder if there is at least a PWA under the hood...

Same thing on Android, it was removed from the play store. Luckily I had a copy of the .apk on my old phone and could copy it over. It's my main source of consuming and interacting with HN (including writing this comment).

Check out the materialic app on android. Themes (solarized and others), the possibility to download comments for offline reading and more. It is the app use the most, yes i'm an infovore.

materialistic i meant.

Happy user of Octal ( https://github.com/dangwu/Octal ) for iOS here.

I made https://www.read.hn/, for users of Instapaper. Clicking a link to a story opens it in Instapaper.

It's styled using my personal Instapaper theme, so reading HN feels like I'm on the same site whether I'm on the homepage or reading a story.

(Optimized for mobile, no tracking/analytics, very lightweight, and open source)

This looks very nice. Subscribed to instapaper and will try it a bit.

There's also my old dog http://hnapp.com, and Dan Grossman's http://www.hnreplies.com/ (I think it qualifies as "alternative UI")

An easy to miss improvement to the UI would be moving the leftmost upvote triangles on the 'comments' and 'from' pages a bit to the right to accommodate for mobile users . It's harder to click on something at the edge of the screen.

Just curious, does any of those alternative readers let you log in and upvote or comment, etc?


I've created https://hack.ernews.info, and was trying out the authentication part. Got upvoting to work for now.

Ranked by Alexa popularity.

How many HN readers are actually installing the Alexa plugin/extension?

One more reference: HackerNews Daily, which I've published a couple of days ago:

- Web page: https://lopespm.github.io/hackernews-daily

- GitHub repository: https://github.com/lopespm/hackernews-daily

- Blog article about its implementation: https://lopespm.github.io/2020/12/25/hackernews-daily.html

Shameless plug, here's a "30 random good HN posts from the past"-reader I made just yesterday: https://thn.rakhim.org/

Aggregates top youtube videos posted on HN https://hntv.crowdform.co.uk/hntv/ built by yours truly.

My three favorite HN readers are —

[1]: https://hckrnews.com/ "hckr news"

[2]: https://hackernewsletter.com/ "Hacker Newsletter"

[3]: https://news.ycombinator.com/front "HN’s daily front page"

They offer good ways to browse HN posts on slower cadence.

It's the newsletter still active? The archive seems last updated in 2019.

The archive on the website looks stale but the newsletter is still active by email. The latest newsletter was Issue #534 emailed on 2020-12-19.

It is still active... I've just been lazy and haven't fix the archive yet.

FYI, I subscribed and I like the format, but I will probably unsubscribe because every link goes through a tracking domain instead of directly to the article/comments :(

I kinda miss quiethn.com, but that's a spam site now.

what was it about ?

It was just the headlines, no comments, no point, no nothing.

Great if you just wanted to see what was new, but not get lost in the comments.

It's a little dumb, I could just make my own clone in 30 minutes.

Got a new phone and my fave HN reader (http://hn.premii.com/) is no longer available in app stores.

Surprised and dismayed by the heavy use of favicons in the story feed in most of the current first page results in the ios app store.

No thanks. What's dope about linked above app is the minimal rendering of the story metadata.

https://upstract.com also has a section for HN, and then some...

Not sure hn.algolia.com counts as a reader. It's a great tool, but it just links back to this site as far as I've seen.

Since I have a bad habit of checking Reddit many times per day, I often arrive at HN via my subscription to r/hackernews

Little add-on for Firefox, which highlights newly added comments after page refresh on main HN site. Really useful.


I like to visit hckrnews.com first, because I can quickly see what the most engaged topics were. The good thing is that it's just an alternative main site, it doesn't take over the comments section.

I rolled out my own Firefox/Chrome web extension to tweak the native UI. Nothing drastic, just a gentle tweak of the CSS.

Screenshots: https://twitter.com/vjk2005/status/1343664202288754689

If anyone's interested, our students built an HN reader app: https://mclarentimes.com/

The cool thing is that users can crowdsource story subtitles and images. Plus it can remember what stories you've already seen.

Is there a reader which shows all links in a thread? I like to collect links from HN and currently thinking of making a chrome extension for this. Later I plan to play with API to draw a graph/tree with a threads as nodes and see linked pages and threads.

One idea for you then: I think it's not rare to see a link from a thread, or a related link, show up in its own submission soon after. Maybe linking those would be nice too.

I've found Alexa to be not as accurate as Majestic Million https://majestic.com/reports/majestic-million

For those looking for a relatively fast, mobile and dark mode friendly reader for HN, my pick is https://hn.svelte.dev/

It is made with the Svelte JS framework

I use Dracula theme and its delightful:)

Feel free to use it:


I personally am longing for a HN-app that copies the UI/UX exactly. Down to a T.

The reason is, whenever I use Safari for consumption I find myself suddenly surfing endlessly and needlessly.


Over 50k subscribers on the subreddit.

I use materialistic app for Android. mainly because it provides widget showing top stories on homescreen

dark themed hacker news reader; https://zvoid.org/hn

Await the court-martial for violating the Prime Directive ;).

I love it that it doesn't load by design if the referer is HN.

For anyone wondering: yeah, you have to copy and paste the link. Don't click it, it won't work.

n-gate is my favorite way to consume HN.

I use hckrnews.com as my main entry for HN. It's very clean and gives you a nice overview of relevant topics.

hckrnews.com hands down the better. no bullshit sorting by anything else than date posted. nice highlightinh and top 10 / 20 / 50 sorting options. 1 line per article

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