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Ask HN: What are you working on?
529 points by dvt 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 1232 comments
Hi HN, I'm curious to see what cool things everyone's building. What side projects are you developing? What are you applying to HN with?

A browser extension called Curb Your Consumerism that detects when you are on a checkout page and shows you how long it took you to earn enough money to complete that purchase.

The idea is about increasing the mindfulness of your purchases and reducing unnecessary environmental waste driven by impulse buying.

Here's what I'm planning next:

- Detecting the checkouts and extracting the checkout total generally across websites still needs refinement.

- Storing the purchases/savings locally in the extension storage to show you a graph of spending and saving.

- Showing a CO2 savings estimate.

Chrome: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/curb-your-consumer...

Firefox: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/curb-your-con...

> A browser extension called Curb Your Consumerism that detects when you are on a checkout page and shows you how long it took you to earn enough money to complete that purchase.

> The idea is about increasing the mindfulness of your purchases and reducing unnecessary environmental waste driven by impulse buying.

I like the idea, but this could backfire on me =/

app: "it will take you 10 minutes to afford this" me: "but it took 30 minutes to decide which one! now i need to buy three!"

This was my exact thought... I already rationalize too many purchases with “whelp, that’s not even a days work!”

“I made more money then I spent because I bought this at work!”

To everyone who plays the occasional video game during “wfh hours” - that $60 triple A title steam purchase actually is MAKING you money!

As someone who has worked from home my whole career - not really. You still have to get your work done because there is no butts in chairs measure of productivity in wfh. You will be judged on your output. In fact you often have to work harder than the people in the office because of this.

Taking time off during work hours usually means making it up in the evening or on the weekend.

As someone who has just started working at home, not really. Instead of sitting at my desk at work browsing the internet while I keep some terminals open to make it look like I’m doing stuff, now I can just explicitly do whatever I want at home.

Of course, it depends on your job and work load. Mine is basically this comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21961560

Small purchases easily eat up way more budget than most people realize. I bet a “you’ve $$$ in the last $TIME” feature would really help with that use case.

I mean, I really don't have a spending problem. It's a joke.

Oh I got you, I was just piggybacking for the OP’s eyes if they see it. Because lots of people do end up having budgeting difficulties due to a large number of small, seemingly inconsequential purchases.

It also shows you a random but helpful prompt to reflect on the nature of consumerism and happiness. Maybe they'll decide to not buy all 3. Not guaranteed to save everyone or anyone.

If it monitors the cost of Time, then I hope it reminds you of how much earning potential you've lost arguing on social media too.

That's a really nice idea! I like that. What helped me from impulse buying is a simple thing; I always when I encounter something I want to buy I store it in the bookmarks (I have a folder in bookmarks called "To buy"). I only buy after a couple of weeks have passed and I decided I really need that thing. When I have a free time I go through my list and delete things that are obsolete. The second thing is, I have a limit of buying 1 thing per week (this includes also things like basic necessities, for example deodorant, that I need for myself). Needless to say I got the inspiration from my wife, she practices this for a few years already. The best thing about this is that it actually makes me feel good.

I'm not sure how one would word this exactly, but there are many additional costs to each product that we buy.

Plant space, animal lives, tainted ecosystems, busted up terrain, displaced humans are all contained in most of the products we buy, and especially online.

It's one thing when it's a bare necessity, but I shudder when I think about how many animal lives were lost in order to produce just one faux-animal beanie baby with cute oversized eyeballs.

A local group is building FairSharesApp, which is an app that tries to make you aware of the additional costs to a product. And allow you to buy that off.

AFAIK they only do CO2 emissions, yet. But when I spoke to them, they had more planned.

My problem with such products, is that they will reach the people who need it less: people who already care and try their best, will be able to do a little better; but people who don't care, won't install and use it, yet their impact is probably relatively much larger.

I don't understand, how can you undo it by paying for it?

If you fly from Rome to Barcelona, you could "offset" the CO2; often directly when buying that ticket.

This works in two ways: 1. they "plant trees" and/or 2. they buy && hold or destroy certificates.

Certificates are limited regulated and deflationary. E.g. the EU buys X certificates from the market every year and destroys them and grants less certs each year. Every company that emits "significant" CO2 needs to have, buy or be granted certs to do so. The setup makes those certs more expensive, so every year, there's a tradeoff: do I buy certs, or do I invest in lowering my emission.

Apps such as Fairshares allow public to buy (pieces of) such certs.

Because they plant a tree or something. (Just greenwashing)

"planting trees" is not "just greenwashing".

When agricultural (or similar) lands are transformed back to forests, that has a real and direct effect on the ability of the environment to absorb CO2 emission.

Obviously it needs to be done well, which often is not the case. Quite often there's no tree planted IRL, just some "promise to probably do so in some future" sold instead. And quite often the tree is planted but then abandoned (so that each 2 years everything dies off and the same plot can be re-used to "plant more trees"). But that is not the only modus operandi.

CO2 compensation cannot just be done by planting trees, either. I'm sending a monthly donation to a project that goes into remote villages in Africa where people still cook on open fires and provides portable stoves to them. Since a stove loses much less heat than an open fire, the villagers can cook the same amount of food with only a tenth of the original amount of wood, thereby reducing CO2 emissions.

Curious how much CO2 is emitted by fires in remote African villages compared to, say, power plants in industrialized countries, particularly since all the literature I've seen pins the CO2 issue of late on the industrial revolution.

Still, does sound like a good efficiency gain for those villages.

How much CO2 is emitted in the travel, all the supplies that the travelers have to bring, and the production of the stoves and presumably the refillable fuel containers for them? Meanwhile, the wood has already absorbed CO2 in the process of growing from the air...

Can you share the project?

Your extension sounds cool but what I'd love is a system to suggest if I should go premium or cheap on an expense.

For example I'd go super cheap on wired earbuds but premium on a set of knives. Or super cheap on knives but premium on an electric knife sharpener

My (highly imperfect) solution to that problem is usually to go find the niche internet forum/subreddit for whatever thing I'm looking to buy and try to see what people there are interested in in my price range.

I'm sure I end up with results biased towards whatever's in vogue for that community and likely something a bit more expensive, but it seems to have been a reasonably successful strategy in terms of getting things that fit my needs.

Wonder if there's a good way to facilitate finding such resources and avoiding the endless SEOed spam that one gets when googling any item for reviews/recommendations.

> Wonder if there's a good way to facilitate finding such resources and avoiding the endless SEOed spam that one gets when googling any item for reviews/recommendations.

Indeed, it's a freaking scourge. My current tactic is to append "reddit" to my searches. Often there's a subreddit of mostly genuine enthusiasts about $thing.

Same, although I'm starting to suspect that companies have started to catch on to this trick over the last few months, sadly

It says a lot that so much of the "genuine" opinions on products are all siloed in Reddit. They call themselves "the front page of the Internet", which speaks of arrogance to me, but it might slowly be starting to come true. But if it works, I don't see it as a completely bad thing, I guess.

Same here. Seems like there's a subreddit for just about everything (for instance, I consulted r/backpacks recently). Good advice, but unreliable in terms of finding an active community.

you want to look at /r/onebag

Now that has some potential to cause pain to my wallet. Gonna have to force myself to forget about it now...

I subscribe to Consumer Reports and always check there first to see if they have rated items in the category I’m shopping.

In the last year I’ve bought a great garbage disposal, some all weather tires, a pellet grill, and a dishwasher based off their recommendations. Often times instead of getting the very best rates of something I’ll buy the second best which is often 1/2 the price. Sometimes the best of an item is really cheap compared to other brands that are shinier but objectively worse at the core function of the product.

https://www.reddit.com/r/BuyItForLife/ is an interesting stop for that kind of thing. I'm cheap and usually inclined to pick the cheapest 4-star option on Amazon (with the trick of &sort=review-count-rank). Browsing /r/BuyItForLife usually helps provide some pre-emptive buyer's remorse.

One thing I'll tack onto this in case someone with the right knowledge comes by: anyone know a site for good reviews of charging accessories?

We ask a lot of our chargers these days (e.g. 100w USB-C PD), and the price-quality curve seems to be very jumpy. Have had good experiences with companies like Anker or Aukey, but also seen tear-downs of failed units one price tier down that had zero isolation between mains voltage and what's going to the device. Would love to find some better guidance on buying such things.

Just stick with name brands. They go on sale regularly, aren't that pricey, and will prevent fried devices or a burnt down house

I generally agree, but with charging especially it seems to be hard to figure out what exactly "name brand" means. Obviously you've got companies like Anker that've been around for a good while, but, in my opinion at least, it can be tough to distinguish up-and-coming brands pumping out great products from not-so-great brands producing junk.

For instance, I've bought stuff from Aukey and Ravpower that's worked well so far, but I wouldn't necessarily call those name brands yet in the US, unlike Anker.

Wish someone would do teardowns/testing of these cables/chargers on a wide basis (or that I had the skills to do it myself). I've seen a few people doing such things for computer PSUs, multimeters, and the like, but not for charging devices. Too bad.

If you buy it in store, it should follow your local regulations. It's generally the cheap stuff on eBay that is the problem.

Local regulation is basic so they can still sell badly implemented USB Type-C charger, non-MFi Lightning cable, and so on.

I mean, at least in the US, you can buy utter crap in the store at crazy prices. Plenty of stuff that just barely hits the regulatory requirements but doesn't do any good engineering work beyond that.

This is an interesting idea. If people know they should not buy a trashy set of knives that they'll throw away in a year that would indeed reduce consumption. I'll think more on this. Thanks for the idea!

They shouldn't buy it, yes, but this is fundamentally a privilege to even consider. That's what I struggle with, that I'm in this privileged position to discern to what degree do I want to be complicit in my presumably negative impact on the sustainability of Earth and Life.

Manufacturing ridiculously cheap shit at scale to where more and more people click a button and have anything they want delivered to their door in a fucking day... is absolutely disgusting to me. But that's me, in my privilege. This machine adds ever more people up to the "consumer" class from out of abject poverty and welp that is a good thing.

I'm just conflicted because I feel like that has to be so doesn't it? We get to pontificate about "post consumerism" and derive meaning and such and such and such. Meanwhile that literally-worth-2-cents-t-shirt actually happens to be a good thing, at history scale, to all the people that have not being able to clothe themselves =/

sigh, I don't know what my point is, your comment just compelled me to share.

Thanks for your response. The extension itself won't solve global overconsumption, poverty or climate change in the same way that any one individual won't. I do believe that by being more mindful of our purchases it can influence other parts of our lives though - we start to consider "the machine", consider more closely our impulses against the negative impacts our choices have and perhaps then we begin to demand something more from "the machine". Maybe if enough people become mindful they will vote for politicians that represent an interest in saving the environment, drastically increase environmental protections and incentivize sustainable manufacturing which I hope in the long run benefits all.

This is great idea and I love the name.

Like some others hear I'm more interested in the carbon cost of purchases. How long it takes to earn the cost is something my brain automatically calculates! (maybe younger folks don't do that).

I recently worked on an idea to try and build a movement to rally people around taking action to benefit the CO2 problem during a specific month of the year: https://march2zero.com

Could it also estimate CO2 output from delivery? I always try to buy local even if it's online when possible. Luckily this is usually possible in the bay area/California :)

That is actually where I was going to start. Tracking the CO2 output for the production of millions of individual items across the internet is hard but I believe there are some services that can estimate CO2 for deliveries based on country + zip.

even if you just did it from "city center -> the address on the postal" -> estimate gas -> CO2 estimation would be useful.

Lots of these suggestions are great, but honestly just focus on the first version.

Great idea tbh

Hi I had another idea. You could also show "If you invested X dollars in VTI, your returns could be Y in 5 years Z in 10 years J in 15 years"

X is the amount at the checkout page.

Haha, I love this - yeah there's lots of incentives available so maybe I allow the user to select which types of metrics are most meaningful to them. This is going on the list for sure!

For a number of bay area devs I suspect this might have the opposite psychological effect. A $50 price tag might put some people off until they realize it's only 15-20 minutes of work.

Yeah this is exactly what I was thinking. I am certainly more put off by $50 than N minutes.

On the other hand I often base my purchases based on "Will this $50 spend save more than N minutes of my time"

For example a top-filling humidifer may cost $50 more than a bottom-filling one but I spend an extra 1 minute fighting with the bottom-filling one and cleaning up water spills so after 15 uses it makes up its price difference.

The extension also shows you a random but helpful prompt to reflect on the nature of consumerism and happiness. Maybe it won't help everyone, but I hope that it reaches some.

I think a great opportunity could be the FIRE community. I think a lot of them think in terms of "if spend X amount I have to work Y more days before retirement". At least I try to do that. The problem is I don't really know how to calculate Y, if your plugin could translate the dollar amount on the checkout page to the number of days I have to work extra that would be really cool.

This of course depends on my savings rate, current assets and expected return on investments.

Either way, cool stuff!

The email address listed in the privacy policy doesn't seem to be valid.

I couldn't find stated clearly one way or the other whether or not you collect information about the sites that I visit.

It does not except in a single case. All the data is stored locally in the browser extension storage otherwise. As part of the onboarding flow you can choose to anonymously submit your money saved to the online tally at https://www.curbyourconsumerism.app/

You can also read the source code here: https://github.com/jsom/curb-your-consumerism/tree/main/src

I realize there have been browser extension authenticity issues recently with some sketchy things being published like The Great Suspender https://github.com/greatsuspender/thegreatsuspender/issues/1.... I've got to spend more time investigating a way to remove this question for users, but my intent is to never collect any data beyond the anonymous online tally of the homepage which is opt-in only.

Sorry, I need to replace that email address it is unfortunately a placeholder. Side project has some loose threads. I'll do that tonight.

Edit: email fixed

> I've got to spend more time investigating a way to remove this question for users...

At least on Firefox AMO, their new “verified” add-on badge is worth a look.


Maybe you can charge companies to be hidden from the service :D

Surely you're joking, Mr ambivalents!

This is great!

I think it’d also be useful if there’s a way to render stacks of cash (paper money and possibly coins) to show how much money you’re spending represented visually.

I want this but with a squeeze grip that shocks you for N ms for each dollar that you are about to spend. If you can’t hold down the grip and bear the shock, then you’re not allowed to run the charge.

I hear hardware startups are hard.

I hear products whose main objective is to inflict pain to their user are hard.

Super into the CO2 estimate part. I think incorporating shipping is a easy first place. While much harder, future iterations could consider the composition of the product. Is it plastics? Etc

Wow, this is exactly what I need. I've recently been thinking a lot about how much less likely I am to purchase a product if I map its cost back to my hours worked. Thanks for this!

I'm stoked you connect with the idea. Feel free to reach out with any feedback.

Love the idea, but I found it very intrusive and removed it. As in I don't like the redirect

Keep refining it !

Thanks for trying it! So unfortunately I can't launch an extension popup over top of the checkout, it's just not in the browser extension APIs AFAIK. One alternative was to inject the popup in to the checkout page but I figured if this got any traction it's possible then a checkout page host could read the data (ie, your salary) from that. Thus, I landed on the intrusive redirect. Open to other ideas though!

Weird - why'd the twitter account you've linked on the page get suspended?

I just submitted a Twitter support request to figure that out myself :)

An aggregator ala reddit/hackernews/twitter that uses a market mechanism to better incentivise content discovery.

One of the biggest issues with existing aggregators is that:

- how well content performs is dependant on the attention it gets immediately after posting.

- However, readers aren’t incentivised to sift carefully through new content, which is generally of lower quality than "frontpage" content

- This means that how content performs is a lottery. Great content is often missed just by chance

- This in turn means that there’s no platform that encourages unknown authors to create high-effort, thoughtful pieces. Instead it’s far more effective to blogspam.

I'm working on a platform that uses something similar to a prediction/stock market to incentivise people to search for high-quality content. Instead of upvoting, you effectively buy shares in new content, which you can then sell at a later point for a profit if the content proves popular. Equally you can buy "downvote shares", which act like a short and help dampen rampant speculation.

It’s early days still, but I’m hoping this could be a great way to encourage higher quality content creation.

Draft paper here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/15Hc6wAXlfl8x5C0w11m7ZOEpbjj...


Since this is a getting a bit of traction, if you're interested in testing it out when I've got a prototype, I've created a mailing list here


I think initial community is critical for getting these sorts of things right, so would definitely appreciate having some HN folks to test with.

On reddit, we created a bellwether award. It was basically for the person who was most accurate at upvoting things that got popular and downvoting the things that did not.

The people who won the award the most were the ones that upvoted all the memes and blogspam.

My point of this is not to discourage you, but to warn you that the way you've described your platform, the most "profitable" thing to do is not upvote good content but upvote the content you'll think the most people will upvote. So you'll need to adjust for that.

Exactly. This in turn devolves into a race to the bottom where you are basically speculating on the speculations of others. Content then becomes popular for no other reason than people thought that other people would find it popular. So basically like the real stockmarket. We don't need more things to be like the stockmarket.

One aspect that is often forgotten is that the quality of a social platform is a product of the quality of its constituents.

If you make a platform 100% free and open, it will encourage low quality participants. The network effect often stops paid sites from starting, but the rewards are there if you can somehow otherwise select only for a mature audience.

Ah, the Wall Street Bets paradox

this isn't how the stock market functions at all however. you described how a nonpro/retail participant on /r/stocks or wsb believes the stock market works.

This is actually a very plausible explanation for the valuations of Bitcoin and Tesla and, to a certain extend, this is exactly how the stock market operates right now.

Maybe it didn't work that way in the past, maybe it won't in the future, but the current environment seems to be very much like how the parent poster described it.

Maybe the majority of the users wanted to read memes and blogspam. Who are we to say what good content is?

Memes and blogspam are like junk food. They aren't good for you but they are easy to consume and everyone likes them.

Representative democracies were invented to solve the "junk food policy" (i.e., passing out all of the money in the treasury) problem of direct democracy. Maybe there could be a representative link aggregator where annual elections determined who was allowed to vote on links.

A variation on representative democracy would be to have a recommender system identify demographics, and then to weight each demographic equally. So, for example, the votes from the "blogspam fan" demographic would be normalized to one, to fairly compete for representation with the much smaller "long thinkpiece fan" demographic.

Another solution would be quadratic voting, where you can vote once for free, but the nth vote would cost (n-1)^2 reputation points. That would allow established community members to express their intense dislike of certain content, to balance out the larger population's mild preferences.

It would be pretty cool if there was Reddit, but each subreddit could implement a different voting system. We might see a lot of progress and experimentation.

One of my instructors way back at Cornell was a grad student named Kevin Walsh, now an associate professor at Holy Cross, who had solved this problem in a bit of a radical way. Context was that back then you had Gnutella, LimeWire etc.—peer-to-peer types of networks—and you wanted to be able to enable people to rank media a certain number of "stars" for its quality because otherwise people post not-safe-for-life content with nice endearing names and others mass-download that content and then get grossed out. But you publish this and then people immediately use the anonymity afforded by the Internet to spam the upvote button as they distribute their garbage.

My understanding from Walsh was that the problem was essentially an economics problem—you want to incentivize good behavior and deincentivize bad behavior—and once you understood this you could use the network to correct itself, essentially saying “if you use your upvotes like the typical user does then the typical user will trust you, if you use your upvotes like the typical spammer does then you’ll instead end up in a clique with typical spammers.”

Some googling reveals that the page is still alive on cornell.edu [1].

[1] http://www.cs.cornell.edu/people/egs/credence/

It seems like they distinguish between "recommendation making" vs "verifying correctness of content" and Credence is meant to solve the latter: "Since Credence is not a recommendation system, your thumbs-up and thumbs-down decisions should be based on an objective evaluation of whether a file's description matches its contents, not on matters of taste." https://www.cs.cornell.edu/people/egs/credence/faq.html

Oh geez, this metaphor between representative democracies and social media sites clicked for me really well, and I very much don't like that because I'm interpreting this as a strong argument in favor of user-sourced moderators (who I think cause more problems than they solve).

You've made me uncomfortable, so... thanks, I guess?

Wait until you read about Monarchy... I suggest Plato's Republic: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1497

This is brilliant you should publish this in a paper just like the OP did above.


I wrote some thoughts in this vein a while ago funnily enough

Yeah it's definitely a huge risk. It's really a question of whether the expectation of the Schelling point is around quality of meme-worthiness.

I think the shorting will help with this, but I think the more critical thing is getting the initial community right to set expectations of what's upvoteworthy. Kind of how y'all started reddit around a programming community.

That is fascinating! I love these stories of people optimizing/gaming the system in ways you maybe didn't account for or didn't predict.

Allow people to vote and follow different bellwether classifications.

Interesting concept and I think it’s definitely worth the experiment!

If I understand the premise, what you’re trying to avoid is a hub effect (the rich getting richer) becuase traditionally users see messages already curated (e.g. with highest upvotes) and the idea is to replace that with an incentive for discovering new content.

Unless you have a way to define new content, wont you run into the same problem but now with $ tokens? E.g. one of the most upvoted news from HN is “Steve Jobs has died”. I imagine even on your system users would assume this would raise to the top and would buy a lot of “shares”, so it becomes more of a game of “predicting what will be further upvoted / echo chambered”. Am I missing something?

Again, exciting project nevertheless.

> what you’re trying to avoid is a hub effect (the rich getting richer)

Coincidentally, this is a problem in real markets that the invisible hand does not solve, either. Economic success is to large degree predicated on being fastest to market, as well.

Online, the outcome is attention inequality instead of revenue or wealth inequality. In real markets, that's when government has to step in and regulate. What equivalent is there for a content aggregator? Moderators? Curators?

I would say this is likely a sign that content aggregation sites have - in democratising content curation - finally come full circle with the curated content of old in the form of magazines and the like. Maybe there is something to be said for leaving the curation to the pros after all, or considering the limitations to the wisdom of crowds.

It's definitely a risk. That said, I'd argue that a post announcing "Steve Jobs has died" genuinely should rise to the top - it's a huge piece of news after all. This model isn't so much about suppressing existing highly upvoted content, but rather finding content that should have been upvoted but was missed.

There's still a threat from meme-worthy content though. Honestly, I think this comes down to the initial community setting expectations that meme-worthy content will be shorted into oblivion, and reinforcing that culture.

I've had a recurring thought where you supplant upvotes with something like an ELO system.

Basically, my thought is that I know I can follow something like the reddiquette, or the HN rules. I'm certainly not perfect, but I don't downvote when I disagree, and I don't upvote when I agree, and I try to not make unsubstantive comments. Reddit and HN maybe used to follow this when they were very small, but as sites grow the rules always fall to the wayside.

The fix would be that you as the founder, and the X amount of friends that you know and trust, serve as a baseline for the ranking system. If someone downvotes a post that the trusted group upvotes, their influence on the site goes down as a result. Likewise, if someone upvotes the posts that you vote, their influence goes up.

You can't actually use the E-L-O system for this, as far as I'm aware, because it's not a zero-sum game. But the basic idea is that you take a known group of good actors and give users voting influence based on how similar they are to the good actors, and if you can't follow the rules (by acting similarly), you basically lose all influence on the site.

How about this scheme:

- when you upvote an item, everyone else who upvoted the item before you earns some amount of your trust

- the more of your trust someone has earned - the more weight their other upvoted items get for you

- each time they upvote, they put some amount of your trust on that item; so if you stop liking their recommendations the amount of your trust they have will go down over time

- when you downvote an item, you take away your trust from people who upvoted it; they've shown that they are not good curators of content for you, so their upvotes will have less weight for you

In this system you end up paying attention to people who have proven to you to be good curators of content. It optimizes for high signal to noise ratio, where what is signal and what is noise if up to you to decide with your upvotes. We don't have to all agree on what is globally "upvoteworthy".

There is no global reputation system (which can be gamed). Instead, there is a peer-to-peer trust system.

If you are interested in a system like that, then I would like to invite you to my hobby project that works exactly this way. Register with a temporary account (no email required) at https://linklonk.com/register and use code 'hn'.

It is early days and we don't have many users yet. To supplement real users LinkLonk supports RSS feeds as sources of information. Each feed behaves much like a user - the more you upvote content from it, the higher ranked its other entries will be for you. I hope you will find it useful and I'm looking to hear your feedback.

I imagine that this is how social media platforms create "information bubbles". In terms of politics it won't work: people that agree with your political views would get more "trust". Is agreeing with your views an indication of good content? I'm not sure.

What algo are you using to manage the trust system?

I feel like this would have the result of Gell-Mann Amnesia, which is essentially what "influencers" rely on prior to sponsorship. Thing 1 was recommended, and others found the same benefits to Thing 1, so when Thing 2 is recommended it is assumed that the influencer's opinion is valid. Breaks down as soon as there is a disconnect, if people are willing to accept that their chosen influencer can be wrong, but in practice most people just go along with it.

The guy who invented the Elo system was actually named Elo, it's not an acronym.

Different people have different interests, so using just one group as etalon, would leave most people unsatisfied. It would be better to let users choose their own groups of "good" actors, either explicitly or based on upvote similarity.

Sounds kind of like Google's PageRank algorithm[0] except using votes as the signal instead of links.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank

I don’t think this is the same. We’re not increasing influence based on the reputation/amount of upvotes of the user, but rather based on the similarity with known-good actors. The user might never post themselves, and therefore have no karma of their own.

Perhaps I didn't describe it well enough, but I believe you're misunderstanding my intent. The user's "PageRank" is based on how they vote in relation to other users.

You seed the influence system with known good actors. Users who vote similarly to these good actors get an increased influence weight and so on. You can apply the PageRank algorithm to any graph, and this case the graph is the relation between up votes of other users.

This can work better than Elo rating because you can have disjoint seed actors serving sparsely connected (or completely disjoint) regions of your influence graph.

I’m trying to understand this, do you mean that edges in the graph are not upvotes but rather A —> B means B voted similarly to A?

Newsconomy [1] was a website with a pretty similar idea. It never gained much traction afaik, but the developer seemed pretty passionate about it [2]. I believe this [3] is the developer's current page, in case you wish to get in contact with him for this project.

[1] http://web.archive.org/web/20190404134937/http://newsconomy....

[2] http://web.archive.org/web/20190423090552/http://nickmudge.i...

[3] https://dev.to/mudgen

I think gamifying it is the right way to go- I've thought of this idea, but in another context. I don't understand how the "selling shares" would work though.

I could imagine one mechanism is that you make bets on how popular content will be, and get rewarded if it is popular (number of clicks, comments, etc.) ie popularity handicapping.

What do you do with the rewards of your bets? Maybe allow you to bump stuff to the main page? Promote content? I couldn't imagine paying for this, however.

Alternatively, you could use the mechanism to identify people who are good at identifying interesting content, and having a leaderboard of people who find cool shit. That might be monetizeable.

> I don't understand how the "selling shares" would work though

Basically at any point the cost in USD/other of creating an upvote is a function of the existing number of upvotes and downvotes. Eg if a piece of content has 3 upvotes, the cost to create another new upvote might be $0.07, but if the content as 100 upvotes, that cost might be $1.40. Equally at any point, you can "sell" your upvote at that same cost ($0.07 @ 3, $1.40 @ 100). The way the maths works out means that finances are conserved, so the investment return for selling comes from the market itselm.

In terms of rewards, I was thinking actual money, just in very small amounts. People love speculating on markets so i think it's feasible.

> the investment return for selling comes from the market itselm

Sorry if I'm misunderstanding this, but am I'm selling my shares to other users to recoup my investment? Why would other users be interesting in buying my shares of an article that was on the "front page" 3 days ago?

This is brilliant! I love the idea and would be willing to contribute if possible. I agree we don't need another social network where new content is posted. We need a way to sift through the large amount of existing content out there.

My questions:

1) How do you plan on getting content from reddit/twitter/hackernews? Are there api's for this or do you plan to scrape?

2) Would other social sites have issues with you using their content in your social stock market, and possibly profiting from it?

3) Would it be possible for a social network to cut you off and kill your business? For Example: Reddit realized that they are losing traffic because more people are going to [yourSite].com to view Reddit content so they sue you.

1) most have RSS (the three you mention all do or it's one jump to a site that enables) 2) most other social sites are themselves collections. If you got big enough, yes they'd mind, but not to start. Hopefully by the time they mind people are submitting to you anyway. 3) seems like a stretch, but ianal, given they expose RSS or APIs currently

I agree with the other comment about how this incentivizes just being a good content picker. To simulate and get the efficiencies of the stock market, I think you need a mechanism that is analogous to how a profitable company pays out dividends. Sure the speculation can drive prices but fundamentally there needs to be some intrinsic value to an investment that is actually derived from how useful the content is... how profitable the content is

If the content lingers on the site and people interact with it consistently positively maybe that would be a good indicator of quality content.

Just make sure "selling" of shares can be automatic, because nobody wants to go back to a post they already read just to sell their shares or whatever.

This sounds a bit complicated, and I would naively assume that some people would upvote low-quality content that is likely to reach the frontpage (which reinforce the cycle).

How about checking algorithmically how reliable users are, and weighting their votes that way? The manual redemption of correct-upvotes and acquisition of downvote-shares seems a bit much in my view.

I think this is interesting, at least in terms of judging quality of individual posts.

I remember back in the days of kuro5hin there was reputation, you could earn reputation with thoughtful comments and then good reputation would mean more visibility for your posts. Has that proven to be a horrible approach? Are there communities that work this way now?

I think it's a good approach, but it's fundamentally not that different from existing models in that the people who judge a post as "thoughtful" or otherwise have no incentive to think carefully about their judgement.

There's some cryptocurrency communities that use some interesting incentive mechanism in that upvotes have real-world value[0], but the problem is that the content is incredibly cryptocurrency biased rather than anything of general interest

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steemit

Well the point is that the reputation accrues to the author, not the post. So that a post will get a boost if the author has been rewarded in the past.

Haven't used it in a while, but I think pinterest is one of the better ones in this context.

I was thinking about this very similar concept few years back. The idea was to prevent only the top 1% content surfacing all the time. My solution was to cap the number of likes/upvotes to some value like 10k.

I build agregators for my personal use. Try this: gather references cited and look for key keywords in those references like those in the citing articles title.

previously present as Friendfeed (till it was shutdown) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FriendFeed

This is the most interesting take on realigning (micro?)blogging incentives I've ever seen. I hope it gets its chance with millions of users, even if it has incorrigible issues like our current standard.

Thanks! I think online content is the obvious place to start for this, but in the long run I think the concept could be applicable to identifying all kinds of things where quality can be hidden by the deluge of information:

- high quality scientific papers, instead of relying on the existing journal gatekeepers. Once again hopefully moving the incentive needle towards quality over volume

- emerging threats or risks that may not be obvious until it’s too late. Eg asbestos, the effect of social media on adolescent development, leaded petrol

- promising pre-investment startups

- Frankly, anything that currently uses crowdsourced rating - restaurants, accomodation, bands, services businesses etc etc

This sounds really cool.

Me and a friend have been working on a game that I describe as "Factorio but for programming". Essentially you're an AI who's mission is to mine every resource from a planet. To keep things efficient you start out small and have limited processing power. You're only able to run an assembly like language that we've developed. As you get more resources you can research new things like functions, variables, type arguments, whatever. We plan for there to be a tech tree so you can choose to build out a language that's not strict similar to JS or you can go the try hard route and build something like Haskell. You build bots that mine, explore, hunt, etc and each bot is a computer running their own script. We plan on there being battles you have to script around and even things like setting up your own network so you can have robots call home when they're out in the field.

I still need to think of a good name for it though.

If Factorio feels too much like work, then this is going to feel... exactly like work.

After playing a bit of Factorio I realised I had messed up the layout a little bit and that it would be good to "refactor" it, but that it would require some planning

And then it hit me, it was pretty much work haha

Yeah. Factorio is exactly as addicting for our [0] kind of brain as it is claimed to be, and for some reason a lot of Factorio enthusiasts seem to think that is a good thing.

I played the game, and after a while I was miserable playing it, but I just couldn't convince myself to just put it aside and not finish it. Once I launched a single rocket, thus "completing" the game, I closed it, uninstalled it, wrote a negative review on Steam, and never have had any desire to play it again.

It may seem inflammatory, but my honest opinion on what the difference is between me and people who genuinely liked the game is this: those people are complexity fetishists.

[0] the kind of brain that generally ends up doing programming or IT work because it is suited to this kind of problem solving.

You could just call it Assembly

> I still need to think of a good name for it though.

How about "Syntact"?

Sorry to be that guy, but if you didn't already know you're describing an MMO called https://screeps.com/

Although I do love the idea of a single-player version!

Screeps is like clash of clans for programmers.

__X__ is like factorio for programmers. However, I don't think that properly describes it. It's more like an evolution of AI and an exploration of programming 'topics' rather than just coding in javascript.

Sounds like a really fun project and I hope it works out well for you. The last part reminds me of this PS1 game I used to play, Carnage Heart, where you program AI robots to go into battle.

Also, "import antigravity" would make for a perfect easter egg.

Ooh, nice. So, sort of like Exapunks crossed with Screeps?

This is intriguing! Do you have a website / mailinglist / etc for those wanting to follow along?

I'll likely tweet it out when we release it. We're only working on it for a few hours a week so we won't have anything shippable for probably a year or more. My twitter handle is @twiclo

I don't have a twitter, but you guys should set up a static page and capture emails for alpha, beta and launch! I'd love to hear about it when you guys launch and I would play this game no matter how 'rough'. My email is Rhoades.lorenzo@gmail.com.

I remember Colobot, it was exciting (for a teen). Your project sounds deeper and cooler, I hope I'll get to play it.

I am very interested in playing this, following this and possibly taking part if you're looking for other people.

it sounds so cool! Is there any way to watch the development of your project?


Assume you mean https://decisionproblem.com/paperclips/? One of my favorite game experiences ever about an ever-expanding AI. Best without any spoilers. I still think about it sometimes. Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15474055

Universal Paperclips achieved in 7 hours 47 minutes 23 seconds

Oof, there went my afternoon. Had to leave it for dinner some where in the middle.

Yeah this game is surprisingly a time sink/addictive despite how "simple" it is. There's a speed run of somebody playing it on YT. Insane

I played through that game exactly 100 times before I gave up.

Got a link or website? Sounds like a fun game.

That sounds pretty dope, check out corewars!

Sounds great!

I'm working on a language optimized for solving programming challenges as quickly as possible.

That is, I'm not optimizing for execution time, I'm optimizing for time between reading the problem statement and having a working solution. As far as I'm aware, there aren't any existing languages in this space. There are plenty of "code golf" languages, which optimize for shortest finished program, but that's slightly different. Based on the top AoC solvers, the closest thing today is Python -- but we can do so much better!

Currently, the language is very immature, but it can solve a handful of AoC problems. But before long, I'll need to tackle a very big problem: building an IDE around this thing. See, for a language like this, the syntax is only half the battle. Ideally, when I type something like `| map (*2)`, I should have instant visual feedback showing me how the input is affected by this change. Not to mention more traditional IDE features, like suggesting functions based on the type under the cursor.

I don't have anything public to share yet, but if you're interested in collaborating (esp. on the IDE), feel free to shoot me an email.

There is actually a community of ~20000 people using some forms of this: codeforces.com. The most used approach are lots of macros in C++ to completely modify the language. One popular alternative is https://cpeditor.org/.

For example, look at how Benjamin Qi does it: https://codeforces.com/contest/1446/submission/98447974

The actual code is at the bottom. Here is a sample of a submission to a problem harder than your usual AoC second part:

  int main() {
   setIO(); re(N,M);
   str A,B; re(A,B);
   F0R(i,N+2) F0R(j,M+2) mx[i][j] = -MOD;
   int ans = 0;
   R0F(i,N) R0F(j,M) {
    if (A[i] == B[j]) {
     dp[i][j] = 2;

Oh, another side project I'm working on: a "high touch" music recommendation service. Like Pandora, except your recommendations are chosen by a real person instead of an algorithm. Downside: you get far, far fewer recommendations; upside: you can tell your recommender exactly what you want, exactly what you did or didn't like about a track, etc.

Beta-testing it with some friends and family now; we'll see if it grows into anything real!

This sounds very cool. I recently thought of another approach for song recommendation due to necessity i.e.: based on how a song sounds. There are genres but they're way too generic. Other methods like similar artists, what else people who've likes a song love etc doesn't always work. Not sure how streaming services recommend but I don't think they do what I want.

I know, how something _sounds_ is subjective but I was thinking something along the lines of how Shazam app does. If they can compute a song signature and compare it against a library, it should be possible(?) to find top 10 closest neighbors.

BTW, I'd love to test your app if that's possible.

I have done something similar in a Lua IDE: http://notebook.kulchenko.com/zerobrane/live-coding-in-lua-b.... The IDE actually supports live coding with several Lua toolkits (Love2d, Moai, Gideros, and others; here is an example with Love2d: http://notebook.kulchenko.com/zerobrane/live-coding-with-lov...

> I should have instant visual feedback showing me how the input is affected by this change

Like LightTable? Might want to check that out if you're not already aware of it. I don't know if it's gone anywhere in recent years or has inspired any similar features in other editors.

Ah, I remember when LightTable launched -- my dad (huge Clojure fan) was over the moon. Even today he's still trying to convince me that I should just use Clojure. :P

One idea I started building and never finished was "pseudocode as code".

The idea was to have a compiler for pseudocode used in CS books in place of real code.

There are a few small differences (eg. using = vs :=) but most books and interview-preparing materials use a C-like notation.

Then I started reading papers written by language researchers (which use haskell-like pseudocode) and realised the size of the task at hand.

Probably trying to please only CS students / people doing interviews would still make for a fun hack.

This is such a cool idea. The gap between the "aha" moment of a programming challenge and the implementation is high for me since I don't get to code very much anymore. Can't wait to check it out!

Yes, agreed. I recently went through AOC2020 and found that much of the actual implementation was actually quite a chore, even though many of the problems seemed quite simple. Granted I was using C++: https://github.com/areading314/adventOfCode2020

I've worked on a few similar projects, and in this case I'd recommend trying to write your syntax however you want, but implementing it as a transpiler to Python.

That way you always have access to the Python libraries, for competitions where you need to show your code it'll be easier, and there are already a lot of optimisations.

That said if you're primarily doing this for fun- go wild with the implementation.

You should have a look at q/kdb. Once you get comfortable with the language, you can write some very complex code very quickly - part of the reason is the compactness of the language, but also due to the functional, loop-free style which uses the right primitives.

For the IDE part, you can look into the Language Server Protocol spec and write an implementation for your language. Would then work with most editors like VS code, vim, etc. out of the box and remove the leg-work of making the rest of the editor.

I hope this will in no way be interpreted as discouraging or snobbish, just want to add a little perspective. Please understand that I’m very supportive of your endeavor...

> As far as I'm aware, there aren't any existing languages in this space.

In some form or another, all existing languages (other than joke langs) are in this space. That’s why we have programming languages. Ultimately they all prioritize some subset of “problems” that they optimize solving.

That said, in terms of instant feedback I’d look at LightTable and (believe it or not) Chrome dev tools as prior art.

> In some form or another, all existing languages (other than joke langs) are in this space.

I was hoping there was going to be some insightful critique after that long preamble. This is similar to an "all languages are Turing complete" type nitpick that doesn't add much to the conversation.

If you look downthread, I missed an important bit of context where the goal is solving programming challenges, not general programming problems (which I misperceived). That’s a significantly more narrow focus to which none of my preamble or conclusion is applicable.

I agree with OP, not all languages are optimized for solving programming challenges (to be specific, recreational programming challenges) as they are optimized around different goals.

I tried solving AOC2020 as a means for learning golang. 6 challenges in, I gave up not because the challenges were hard but because it took longer to translate logic to code. It was no fun to write simple for loops, before getting into actual problem logic. Having to write a minInt function is like a distraction when you want to be focusing on the programming challenge. It is much simpler to use a programming language like Python that comes batteries included.

In this regard, I suppose functional programming can be quite expressive. If you can break the problem into functional units, it can be a pleasure to solve programming challenges using FP.

FWIW I finished AoC 2020 in Go -- but I had 5 years' worth of helper functions to prop me up: https://github.com/lukechampine/advent

> Ultimately they all prioritize some subset of “problems” that they optimize solving.

Sure...but not solving quickly, at the expense of all else. Rust is optimized for solving certain problems -- but solving them robustly, not quickly. Python comes a bit closer, but Python also wants to be readable; I don't have to worry about that.

I guess one way to frame it is: the core values (https://vimeo.com/230142234) of this language are velocity, and...that's it. Maybe expressiveness (less typing) and transparency (immediate feedback), but really those are just aids to velocity moreso than orthogonal values.

> Sure...but not solving quickly, at the expense of all else.

I really, sincerely, think they do. It’s just that their optimizations focus on the subset of problems. For example:

> Rust is optimized for solving certain problems -- but solving them robustly, not quickly.

This is basically the same thing as saying: when the problem one wants to solve quickly is robustness, Rust may be a good choice.

> Python comes a bit closer, but Python also wants to be readable; I don't have to worry about that.

There are some problems I associate with quickly solving in Python, and others where I find it exceptionally slow. Sure, readability may be a contributing factor. Another is immature/complex tooling that makes static validation or dependency management a slog. Another still is that a lot of its concurrency story is in flux and you have to spend time researching approach and compatibility if your problems are concurrency related.

I’m still not trying to discourage, but I’ve spent most of my career working in scripting languages (those which most prioritize “rapid prototyping” and “repl driven development”), and ultimately when they’re applied to use cases that they’re not designed for their velocity is consumed by tooling.

My advice, intended with kindness and encouragement, is to consider which problems you wish your language to be able to solve rapidly.

To your points about velocity aids, expressiveness and transparency aren’t just velocity amplifiers at the time you write code. They also (can) aid velocity of reading comprehension, editing/refactoring, review. This is a place where Python does very well in terms of velocity: even when I had read less than 100 lines of it, I could generally review work and ask important questions about what it was doing in... well, frankly a shorter time than the JS I was actively working with as a lead at the time.

It’s clear you want a language that enables devs to dev fast. But what are they doing fast?

> But what are they doing fast?

Solving programming challenges. Maybe this sounds broader than I intended. By "programming challenges" I literally mean Advent of Code, HackerRank, etc. This is by no means a general-purpose language!

I guess in your terms, the "problem one wants to solve quickly" is "outputting the answer that will be accepted as correct by the programming challenge website."

Oh my goodness, I seriously misunderstood your intent! Yes that’s a perfectly reasonable focus. I don’t know why I breezed past AoC. Sorry for the confusion!

Haha, that's on me -- I probably should have written "competitive programming" in there somewhere. Cheers!

FWIW I’m very curious what you’ve come up with. I’m imagining based on your Python commentary it’s not a lisp, but that’s probably where I’d start for something like this.

Currently it's more of a fusion between Haskell and bash. I've played with Lisp a lot, but never anything serious; I can imagine that Lisp syntax, with appropriate hotkeys, would make for some speedy navigation/refactoring, though!

Imo, good REPL integration is the thing to take from Lisp, not necessarily the syntax (although I'm a fan of it). See CL with SLIME.

I remember looking at a textbook for scientific computing, seeing what I thought was pseudocode, and later learning it was Julia.

Have you given any thought to this being used in place of pseudocode in white papers? If the language is much easier to translate problem into code, it is probably good at conveying ideas for documentation or teaching. My naive assumption is that would be a more useful focus than IDE tooling.

That's an interesting idea, but I think it wouldn't be a great fit. Reason being that, in the interest of speed, the language will need to include some irregular or unintuitive syntax and idioms. It goes without saying that pseudocode shouldn't require a manual!

SQL anyone? High level language, immediate feedback mostly, does the low level optimisation for you, you can performance tune with indices where needed... :)

I'm also very interested in this problem. Have you explored other paradigms to specify the program outside of text?

As in, visual programming? I don't have a ton of experience with that, but my gut says that once the problems reach a certain degree of complexity, it would hurt more than help.

Or, how about vocal programming? I wonder if, in practice, dictation might be faster than typing? :)

Yes, recently I've been interested in visual programming paradigms like scratch. After all Python was originally supposed to be a teaching language. Maybe in 2030 the newest generations will find text files archaic and not expressive compared to new types of visual, vocal, or even "video" animated languages.

Is there a way to follow your progress?

Is the code for this available somewhere to look at?

Not yet, but once it's capable of solving most AoC problems, I'll throw it on GitHub and ping you!

I'm making a video editor that removes silence from videos. After creating a bunch of code screencasts, I've found most of my editing time is spent manually cutting out chunks of silence, and it's always felt like a job the computer should be doing.

So I'm making a native Mac app to do it for me. It's in private beta right now, and feedback has been good so far!

I'm hoping to hoping to get it launched in the next few weeks. Aiming for a minimal useful feature set initially – recording the screen, removing silence, and exporting (either an edited video, or the timeline of cuts, to enable editing in Resolve/Premiere/ScreenFlow), and I'll build up from there.


I would suggest you to support exporting to OpenTimelineIO - opentimeline.io "Open Source API and interchange format for editorial time line information." Most of the softwares you mention already support it, if I am not mistaken.

+1 I'm interested in automatic video editing too. Both automatic jumpcutting, and also using audio cues like "cut!" to control the auto-editor during recording.

Take a look here https://davidbieber.com/snippets/2020-02-21-jump-cut-program... and at some of the follow-up snippets for what I'm thinking about. Feel free to get in touch.

Nice! I’ve had some beta users request the ability to add markers or audio cues. It could be a nice opportunity to get into some ML stuff.

I'm on mobile so I cant link it, but carykh on YouTube made a bunch of tools like this that remove silence or edit clips on the fly based on you putting a thumbs up or down along with other things. Definitely worth checking out if you want to see something that already exists.

If you do see their animated videos you'll find out that actually most of the animations are automatically created via a script that works with phonetics and emotions they hint it to show. Pretty cool stuff.

I think I’ve seen that! It was impressive. The jumpcutter python script was one of the first things I stumbled upon, and it looked super useful. Then I wanted the ability to tweak the params and visualize in real time, which led me to start in on this project.

Not trying to be discouraging, but my fear would be that your product is just a feature that other video editing software products will add if it is popular. Have you thought about your endgame? It is a good idea though -- I'm surprised they don't already do that.

Yeah, that's something I've considered. I'm surprised they don't yet too. Even though it might be a short term opportunity, it feels worth pursuing for now because it's a tool that can save me and others a good chunk of time.

My other line of thinking is that this could expand into an editor that's purpose-built for screencasters, with whatever other niche features that might entail.

Great idea. I've been using the command line application from https://github.com/carykh/jumpcutter for my videos to automatically remove silence but it's not as user friendly as yours looks.

Others here mentioned carykh's jumpcutter. I tried to get it to install but couldn't, then discovered it hasn't been updated in a long time.

There's even an issue with links to alternatives and forks: https://github.com/carykh/jumpcutter/issues/180

I tried out Auto-editor [1] and it works great for what I needed! Although for "removing" silence, I prefer to increase play speed instead of jump cutting.

[1]: https://github.com/WyattBlue/auto-editor

Very interesting. I'd be interested in an editor that could do a whole host of common mundane tasks in this way while maintaining the non-destructive editing promise. I often have to cut out coughs, umms and urrs as well. That takes up more of my time than anything.

Neat. Does this really need an app? I think it may be able to do with the command line. Something like ffmpeg that performs video operations and something to detect a noise level treshold.

There are some command line tools to do this (see other comments), and I think they use ffmpeg under the hood.

They work, and I built a version of one myself as a proof of concept before I started this, but I quickly realized I wanted visual feedback and ability to preview the edits before exporting. Without that it’s a lot of guess-and-check.

With Recut I can tweak the padding value, hit play, see if it sounds right, and only export once.

Yes, because not everyone is comfortable with the command line

Can you elaborate what it means to remove the chunks of silence? Aren't there valid cases where there's no sound but you're actually showing/doing something on the video.

Yep there are! This is a harder problem to solve but I have plans to handle it down the road.

For now, I’m targeting it at folks who make videos in the “egghead style” [0] - short, tightly-edited code screencasts where there’s very little dead air.

0: https://egghead.io and https://howtoegghead.com

i'd think it wouldn't be too hard to use something like opencv to detect frames that don't have any/much change between them and then correlate that with the audio detection to figure out what can be safely culled like in that fashion.

You can use webRTC VAD or the VAD from RNNoise.


Interesting, thanks for the link. This would be much fancier than the simple thresholding I'm doing currently.

It might be overkill for the use cases I'm targeting right now (clean recordings, probably done with audio gear) but I'll make a note to check it out.


I just launched the marketing site on Monday. I'm 38 with a spouse and two small children. I've been a CTO of two SMBs over the last few years and needed to build something of my own. It's the craziest thing I've ever done.

The industry is end-of-life IT assets. It's a big industry with a lot of steak dinners that you can make a decent living at by grinding. I was introduced by a buddy of mine who's managed to build a good no-tech business in the niche.

My thesis is that there's opportunity around "platforming" the service with integrations and automation. Compliance and convenience are big drivers for customers, so traditional marketplaces have failed to take off.

Looks great. Can I make a small headline suggestion that might boost your conversion?

Consider saying ‘Sell your used computer...’ Using the word ‘your’ in a headline has been shown to improve conversions. I also think it would just read easier in the context of this page.

Best of luck!

Love the home page. Instantly tells me what you do and what I need to do to get started. I'm not your target market, but wanted to give you a thumbs up!

Congrats! Site looks great.

> needed to build something of my own

I HEAR THAT (and I bet many of us here do too.) Glad you got it done and best of luck.

This looks great and seems like the unglamorous-but-useful idea that will pay.

Offtopic: I believe that in the UK, you used to be tax advantaged if you threw away old IT hardware and bought new kit. But you had to throw it away - you couldn't sell it on. Imagine the incentives to landfill that created.

Agree with other commenter. Stellar landing page, and this seems like a good business idea. Best of luck.

Hey thats a sweet landing page, looks very solid from what I see, if you're planning on scaling fast, use an Auto-AB testing toolkit like Quicksand.ai to optimize from the get-go.

Good luck with your project. Landing page looks good. It is a very competitive and fragmented market in US with lot of small regional players.

Looks great! Almost tempted to start this up here in Norway.

This is really well done.

not clear when you upload a list of assets what the format is.

Great idea.

At the risk of sounding like I am kidding, I am building a personal productivity application.

While the world is full of "todo" apps, they are essentially list management systems. They vary in aesthetics and mechanics but none of them help you do the hugely valuable work of planning years out and then driving your weekly planning and daily activity off these huge goals.

More so, they profoundly fail to keep you accountable for (a) engaging in the system and (b) keeping the bulk of your activity on your most valuable goals.

There are certainly systems that you can implement on top of the existing applications but they leave it up to your discipline to run the system which - at least for people like me - isn't the best way. I need someone or something to force me to do this high value work: sometimes that's a boss, an admin, or coach who force me to say what my big work is and whether I am sticking to it. In the absence of that, I want the software to do it.

In retrospect it will seem silly that busy executives running multi-billion dollar enterprises are at best using the same tools that others use to, pun intended, "Remember The Milk."

If someone knows of systems that claim to help with the above, let me know. Otherwise, if you think you'll want to use something like this let me know as well.

At the very least I am building this for myself and a couple of like-minded folks. If this doesn't bring in a dollar of direct revenue, it will anyway be a win by helping us to be more focused in our high leverage work. But I am willing to open this up wider so if there's interest here, let me know and I'll let you in on the beta whenever that comes around.

Have you tried https://www.beeminder.com/? It is more flexible than it appears at first, and you can easily use it on top of a traditional todo app (https://www.beeminder.com/todoist) or just a plaintext document (https://blog.beeminder.com/nebulous/).

No product can solve the problem of self-discipline. The problems you're describing are an aspect of human nature. At some point, users will become particularly busy with something for days or weeks. After which they will dread seeing an app full of missed reminders and unread items, and they'll avoid it like the plague.

If you come up with a good enough solution, people will use it and you could be quite successful. But the day will always come when you have to declare Productivity App Bankruptcy

The issue that most productivity apps ignore is context.

Lots of them don't account for real life events. Having to go to the doctor, going shopping, cleaning the household, spending time with your loved ones and doing sports aren't necessarily unproductive.

Most productivity happens for me when I have an idea and am able to start working on it immediately while keeping the focus on it without external distractions... It would be amazing if a productivity app out there is able to "juggle around" all the necessities of the day while respecting external dependencies (like an appointment at the doctor) that cannot be rescheduled.

I'm working on something that. It's reactive instead of proactive (it asks what you did instead of what you're planning to do). Just jot something down for now and deal with your todo apps at the end of your day.

It can do Pomodoro sessions, but I'm adding a couple of variant timers (alarms, actually) that are designed to eventually work around your schedule:


if I have to enter something into an app, I will eventually forget to do it. and if I miss entering too many appointments I'll eventually have to declare bankruptcy

not trying to be negative about your idea. but the best app is one that will know automatically what's on my schedule, without me having to enter it explicitly. that way I can't forget. I have no idea how to do this, it doesn't really sound possible. Just trying to convey my experience with projects like you described

You won't have to enter your schedule - there's APIs for Calendars. You'd just have to determine which calendars are considered "busy".

As for upkeep, I found that the app is self-motivating. It's not measuring anything so if you miss an hour or a month it doesn't matter, there's no overwhelming guilt. The only thing you miss is being able to review what you worked on.

This is an important observation. Most productivity apps don't end up "working" because they vastly underestimate the complexity of the problem they are trying to solve.

We need to do a far better job of addressing the psychology of self-improvement, one of the most important aspects being how to deal with the inevitable "falling off the wagon".

As you describe well, a naive approach to productivity tends to work at first, but then, as soon as you disengage for a time, they actively work _against_ re-engagement.

I think there is a lot to be figured out in this area.

One other related point is that although an app can't "solve the problem of self-discipline" it _can_ reduce the amount of energy required to "do the right thing" (e.g. by providing a easy to follow system). Since willpower requires energy which is a limited resource, this leaves more of it to apply towards continuing to work towards a goal instead of figuring out how to configure a goal achievement system.

I did some brainstorming years ago on a similar idea, and the one part of it I would like to see implemented some day is tracking progress towards goals.

Trivial examples would be weight loss (or gain) to a goal weight bracket; or budgeting and building a retirement fund.

More complex one might be a career change, say going from programmer to lawyer, which involves lots of things over several years.

I think I had some decent ideas about measuring fuzzy progress but didn’t get very far with connectedness. For instance you have reading goals and a goal to read before bed (not on screen) and you want to get that law degree, so reading Book X might be working on all three, but each has a different kind of progress.

Anyway I agree it’s worth (someone) doing this and I wish you luck with it!

I’ve been thinking about productivity apps a lot lately as I’m building something that resembles todo productivity apps.

I’ve started compiling a list of knowledge management apps.


There are a lot of them out there, some with diehard fans, but they never quite fit everyone’s use-cases. The popular ones now like obsidian.md, roam research, etc. are all leveraging a graph database.

The market is super saturated and I wonder how much of them are fads. Productivity apps are fun to work on because the developer's can actually use the app without any network effects.

Good luck to you!

I think you've nailed it. There are very few tools that help you connect the long term with the current week and day, at least in a meaningful way.

https://www.habitstack.com/ is geared towards this. You enter your goals for the year and chunk them down to the quarter, month, and week. Then the software prompts you to stay engaged with the system.

As Scott Adams wrote, "Losers have goals, winners have systems." :)

I'm the founder. Happy to dialogue about the future of productivity and goal setting any time!

$45/month? good luck

I assume you are being sarcastic.

I am not the author you are replying to but the grandparent. I thought of pricing for my system the same way.

If your productivity isn't worth 45 a month then this isn't the app for you. On the flip side, if this app makes you one percent more efficient then you generate thousands or millions of dollars in additional value, the price is well worth it.

That price, combined with the fact that pricing comes first in the menu is just off-putting. It seems to be more focused on extracting money than on being an actual good product. Signing up and seeing it just confirmed that for me. It's not even optimized for mobile screens.

I'd be fine to pay such amount if the app was polished and had great UX. Not arguing with what you stated.

Seems like this is a common thing people need and I too tried to make an app for this. I gave up on it because the complexity grew fast, but my plan was to release it for free and have some sort of premium. I wanted to have a good product first before asking for money.

HabitStack founder here. Your points are well taken! For some context, for the last few years, we've been a service company with a software product. You're seeing us at an awkward transition point to a product first company. So, sorry for the rough edges in the app! We're excited smooth them out.

What jumped out at you as needing immediate attention?

I think this is much needed, I've spent half a decade switching between solutions, and I agree with the problems you listed. I have recently found two apps with new solutions, Slash and Serene. I have not had the chance to try them out thoroughly yet, but they show some promise. What I would prefer is an app that draws inspiration from Franklin's way of journaling.

people running multi billion dollar enterprises usually just hire people to be their personal productivity app. I mean, personal assistants and secreterial staff.

Even in fairly developed countries it's not too expensive to just hire a low wage person to act as the productivity app between a few executives.

Are you planning to publish or open source this? I might be interested in contributing or giving feedback!

Have you seen WorkFlowy? It doesn’t sound like what you’re looking for exactly, but it’s easy to contextualize small goals with larger goals in that app, by just using nested lists


Not affiliated with them in any way, just a happy user

I'm all talk here but this system you've described is an aspect of my dream, which is a personal ERP. Something to not only manage these goals / activities as you've described, but also to contain various aspects of information for your life. A repository for important documents filed in a manner that makes sense, profiles for the various people in your life containing various information (things they like, allergies, gift ideas, etc). Lots more in my head that I will continue dreaming about but certainly not lift a finger about.

This is a good idea. I am a follower of GTD for over a decade and always the annual reviews, tickler file management etc., (long term to TODO) was a challenge. I wrote a python script to keep all my long term ideas in a separate file and transfer to my todo. I open sourced it. You can find it here https://github.com/vivekhub/todo-tickler

I’ve been searching for something just like this and haven’t found ‘the one’ yet.

Something that goes from goals to milestones mapped to specific days and times on those days (I’ve learned that todo lists not mapped to calendars are far less productive).

Amazing Marvin comes close when you customize it a certain way, and their recent ‘Goals’ feature is well implemented, but it’s not ‘purpose driven’ to do what you’re describing.

Would be interested in following your journey on this if there is an email list you’ve created to subscribe to...

One system I've been using recently that does something sort of like you're describing is Futureland (https://futureland.tv). It has a "streak" feature that gamifies making contributions at a daily cadence which is nice. So there's a psychological nag to get in there and check something off the daily list of things to do.

As someone who works on a bunch of projects this is actually a big pain point for me as well. I haven't found anything that I have really liked that lets you roll up from the "todo" level all the way back up to the long term portfolio level and actually just started trying to build my own app for this myself.

If you want to chat on this topic sometime feel free to reach out.

All of us building this should get together.

My approach is to program myself with Python. Think dynamic time-blocking on steroids.

Let's all meet there: https://matrix.to/#/#gtd:matrix.org

You're saying that you can add your long term goals and you would split it into more and more smaller parts finish could be at the end even daily tasks? Interesting. Would you combine this with daily operational tasks or would you handle them separately?

I agree that this is not a solved problem. I even reviewed all the GTD apps some time ago. None fit perfectly my understanding of GTD. This individual aspect might be a challenge for a product solution, but still worth trying imho.

I had the same realizations as you and have been working on my productivity application for over a year. I've learned a lot about human motivation and decision making. Good luck.

It sounds like we might have converged onto similar visions. I've got a terrible prototype, are you looking for a collaborator?

I'm also working on a todo app, mentioned elsewhere in this thread, and I see the same problems you do. Good luck with yours!

I’m working on a restaurant delivery cooperative: https://radish.coop. It’s basically like the other delivery platforms, except that it is owned by its users (so restaurants, employees and consumers) which vote on its direction and partake in its proceeds. I’m a restaurant owner/programmer who felt that things could be done more equitably and feared that the continued dominance of the current crop of platforms would lead to a quasi-monopolistic/monopsonic situation like for Uber and the taxi industry and Amazon in e-commerce.

Late 2019, some colleagues and I quit our jobs to move onto other endeavours with this as a side-project and since then it’s become a full time gig.

Great idea, best of luck! We need more community based thinking in our modern lives.

I've seen several of them in Europe. Both in media and IRL. Knowing some people who work at a local one, all I can say, is that this quite certainly is the road to the future.

For one, because unions and govts are pushing down to delivery services that pretend to have "freelancers" working for them, but really just offload costs (social fees, insurance, taxes) to underpayed workers. A model where all the employees are actual entrepeneurs, and not just on paper will work much better here.

And second, because delivery is a rapidly growing niche in itself. So even if coops take only 2%, it is a rapidly growing 2%.

This is a great idea. I hope you can win many restaurants to join this endeavor.

Im working on a very similar idea.

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