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Show HN: Second-Chance Pool (ycombinator.com)
543 points by dang 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 91 comments





HN's second-chance pool is a way to give links a second chance at the front page. Moderators and a small number of reviewers go through old submissions looking for articles that are in the spirit of the site—gratifying intellectual curiosity—and which seem like they might interest the community. These get put into a hopper from which software randomly picks one every so often and lobs it randomly onto the lower part of the front page. If it interests the community, it gets upvoted and discussed; if not, it falls off.

We started doing this in late 2014. There's an explanation at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11662380, with links back to others. We've talked about it in comments and whatnot (https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que..., https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...), and have intended to publish the list, but only did so recently. We're slow.

If you see a submission that didn't get attention and which you think is particularly good for HN, please tell us at hn@ycombinator.com! We love getting those requests and usually add them to the pool. It's fine if it's your own article, but we like it better when it's just something you ran across and recognized as good. That's more the kind of interest that HN is for.

A related list is https://news.ycombinator.com/invited. Those are old submissions that we ran across and thought deserved attention, so we emailed and asked the submitter to repost it. Yesterday's top story was one of these (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26982286). They all go into the second-chance pool, but maybe it's interesting to see them broken out as a subset too. (If you don't have an email address in your profile, please put one in so we can send you repost invites!)

If you read the old explanations I linked to, you'll see that the original plan was to turn this system into software that anyone can participate in, likely as a new way to earn karma: users who discover second-chance links that hit the jackpot (that is, which interest the community) would get karma along with the original submitter. That is still the plan! We're just slow.

I think that's about everything there is to say about the second-chance pool. Questions, feedback, ideas, and views are welcome as ever. And please, everybody keep an eye out for obscure, out-of-the-way stories that got overlooked and let us know when you run across them. It's one of the best things you can do to help make this place more interesting. Best of all are the kind that can't be predicted from any existing sequence: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&sor....


Poster of yesterday's top item here - thanks for the email! It was completely unexpected (to the point where I needed to convince myself it wasn't a weird spear-phishing attempt) and I appreciated the opportunity to share the story again with the community. In my opinion it's a fantastic example of user-centered design, with a great story.

[Disclaimer: A write-up of mine is one of the current front page items thanks to second chance, as well.] It's a great feature, because, as long as you want just to share and do not care too much about your karma (you'll lose half of it), you don't have to manage submission dates, like figuring out, if the right audiences will be present right at that moment to pick it from the stream of new posts.

Shout-out to dang & Scott, who are doing fantastic work!


I don’t think HN karma means anything but what causes you to lose half of it? I haven’t noticed it happening to me.

I think what they mean is that if your post gets to the front-page via the second-chance pool and then gets 100 upvotes, your karma increases only by 50.

Hi Dang, well done on getting some of the software done! I think this is a great addition.

My suggestion would be to automatically add submissions of unique posts to the second chance pool or have a reviewer look at them when they're for a domain or user with a high hit rate but fall off new. I'm mostly thinking about technical blogs with consistent article quality like https://news.ycombinator.com/from?site=ciechanow.ski , https://news.ycombinator.com/from?site=raphlinus.github.io and https://news.ycombinator.com/from?site=scattered-thoughts.ne...

I'm biased on this though, as someone this might impact (https://news.ycombinator.com/from?site=thume.ca). From talking to other technical bloggers the consensus does seem to be that when we put a lot of effort into a technical article it nearly always makes it to the top of https://lobste.rs/ and /r/programming because it starts on the front page there but will sometimes flop off new on HN and maybe only make it months later if someone else resubmits the post.


Yes I agree. Like original content takes a lot of work to produce, and could get an extra chance by default. Whereas news articles, tweets, and content from large tech companies have their own promotional campaigns.

I'd rather have eclectic ideas and projects from HN users not be overlooked (thus encouraging more of such content), and am less worried about GAFAM announcements, CNBC/Axios/BBC news, or things already popular on Twitter/Reddit.

Would this be a doable change to try?


I'm all in favor of doing more to help obscure sites and having less major-media and $BigCo stuff, but there are limits. A site being obscure or having original content by no means implies that it is interesting in HN's sense. If you try to encode those criteria into software (and we've tried many times) the median-quality post comes nowhere close to clearing that bar, so you still need human curation, and that is basically the status quo. If you look at https://news.ycombinator.com/pool you should see a lot of such sites.

Also, a lot of those media and BigCo stories really are of interest to the community. We try to dampen the stuff that's repetitive, and most of those sites are downweighted by default, but HN would not get better if they were excluded. It's all just more complicated than it seems like it might be.

What ultimately matters is how interesting a story is, not what site it comes from. I'm suspicious of encoding proxies for that, because it would be easy to end up optimizing for the wrong things. https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&sor...


Yeah that's totally understandable. I'm not advocating for removing/demoting major media stuff or bumping up obscure sites, not even saying anything about the scoring algorithm should change.

Rather I think obscure sites should get more opportunities to be organically upvoted on (and if they don't get voted up, then fine) and not just fall off /new after a few hours only to be seen by a few people. The BigCo stuff naturally gets posted often several (different) links from different people, whereas obscure stuff is only posted by a single person once. So this is about evening the odds.


One idea here could be to have some set of guidelines for a domain like: is not commercial, is not promoting something, has had past HN front page discussions. Then those domains could just have a slightly different color in the new stream.

Maybe better would be to weight the first 50 votes or so, so if the site has rarely been submitted to HN, every 2 votes count as 3 or whatever variable weight works. The problem is that you can't give blanket +1 votes to submissions from less mainstream sites either, so initial traction might be harder to achieve anyway. I don't know if mods manually upvote some of the new content with this in mind, but yeah, in the end this second chance pool is pretty equivalent.

I'd love this too. I have a blog and have had a few HN front pagers (https://news.ycombinator.com/from?site=somehowmanage.com), but it's kind of a roll of the dice whether a particular submission makes it or not (sometimes a post will only make it on a resubmit, otherwise it gets lost in the stream).

Would be great if non-commercial blog domains that have produced good discussions on HN in the past have that somehow reflected in future submissions. Sure, not every piece we write will be worth a front page discussion, and obviously we don't want to recreate digg where some people start getting disproportionate power. Writers can put hours and hours of thought into a piece, and we'd probably be fine if jo one thought it was interesting, but it's discouraging when it feels like a coin flip.


Thank you for all the quiet moderation work you do to make HN so great. I can say that you’ve personally made my life better, and I’m sure many others would say the same.

as a poster as well who has sometimes benefited from the second chance pool, i must say its very encouraging to see a post fail to obscurity and then a few hours later randomly see it do well. really appreciate the second chance!

I felt very special the first time I got an email saying that my post got a second chance. Almost like that notification that your crush liked your photo.

Many of those stories seem familiar, because they ended up getting lots of votes on their second run. I guess the team of reviewers have good taste!

How much of "page one", ie. the top ranked stories, is made up of stories from those two pools?


It looks like 9 of 30 at the moment, but we don't track that number. Someone else could now.

I feel good when a re-upped post or an invited repost makes #1, like Yayagram did yesterday, and Internal Combustion Engine has now (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26991300), because that's such a strong indicator of the community finding a story interesting.


Yayagram was submitted nearly a dozen times before it got attention, but when it did get attention it was extremely well received.

Is it just that the ratio of submitted stories to people browsing new is too high, causing a low chance of any particular story to be looked at? If I had novel ideas on improving this I'd write it out, but I think others have already suggested things like randomly mixing new stories into the hot pages.


We tried randomly mixing in new stories onto the front page - it was a disaster. The median new submission is pretty crappy, and readers reacted with "how the #@!? did this make the front page", as if we had placed a turd in their breakfast cereal. "We were just trying to test if you would like it" turns out not to be a very popular answer. I've written about this several times in the past, but the only one I can find right now is https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21868928.

IIRC, the second-chance pool was our next experiment after that one. It has worked much better. The difference is human judgment or, if you will, taste.

It's not easy to come up with new mechanisms that might help with this problem. Every software mechanism we've tried allows many things through that don't pass muster. Community mechanisms, as soon as you open them up, get overwhelmed by people trying to game them to promote their own stuff. There's a feedback loop with that: the more interesting HN is, the more attractive it is to a high-quality audience, and therefore the more attractive a target it becomes for manipulation, which makes the site less interesting again. So there's a cap on how good it can ever get (https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&qu...).


One thing that could be nice is giving established users an occasional nudge to have a look at /new (and a quick explanation of why it's important people do go there). Like, maybe if they haven't been to /new in a week, show a little banner suggesting they give it a go. If you wanted to get really fancy, you could even try to throttle the nudges according to the amount of posts being submitted at the time, so you drive more eyeballs to new when there's more stuff to be reviewed.

I know it took a long time for me to start looking at new, a little nudge would have made me start much earlier.


This is a great idea, dang. I know I could use a nudge, as well.

You are doing god's work, my dude. Great insight about community dynamics, too

> We tried randomly mixing in new stories onto the front page

When you mixed new stories onto the front page, were they clearly marked as new or could they easily be mistaken for upvoted content?

Maybe this could be a karma gated opt-in feature that individual users can enable?


I think they were marked as new, but I don't quite remember.

Wow. To me that shows how much luck there is in hitting the front page of HN, even if what you're posting is interesting.

Can you name it something better it is extremely unintuitive

That's a good point. What would be a better name than "pool"? I suppose we could call it "picks".

IMO second chance pool is a good name. (+ I think it’s great that you’ve made this hidden feature public.)

Vomiting out some concepts: "boosted", "again", "highlight", "resub", "encore", "restored"?

"reanimated"

Reconsidered

bucket

This is awesome! Twice dang has emailed me to give items I submitted a second chance. I am constantly pleasantly surprised by the care and attention he pays to making this site great. I’m going to make it a point to check this often.

For any RSS heads out there, /invited is available via hnrss.org: https://hnrss.org/invited

I'll try to add /pool to hnrss.org this weekend, too, if time allows.


Thank you very much for providing hnrss! I am literally reading this post because it appeared in my RSS feed. I'm also using your service to "listen" to keywords I'm interested in.

https://hnrss.org/pool is now available.

Also, forgot to mention this before, make sure to subscribe to https://hnrss.github.io/updates.xml if you want to be notified of project updates!


I'd really like to see a personalized feed next to "new" and "top" feeds. Personalized in a sense that if I've upvoted Joe and Joe upvoted a post about foobar, I want that foobar in my feed. Same for downvoting. This feed should be exempt from flagging, unless the flag came from someone I've upvoted. The "top" feed is still needed for discovery of new interesting stuff.

Because the Balkanisation of newsfeeds in the rest of the world has proved such a success

What's the alternative? Squeezing millions of HN readers into the top 30 posts? Not only it's too little room for everyone worth seeing to be seen, it's also a statistical certainty that a sufficiently large crowd will have 5-10 censors who will block any discussion they don't like.

it's also a statistical certainty that a sufficiently large crowd will have 5-10 censors who will block any discussion they don't like

I don't see how the voting system enables anyone to block stories hitting the front page. Mods can block things (presumably) but that could still happen with a more personalized feed.

One simple solution to the problem of articles you think should be on the front page not getting there is for you to look at /newest more and upvote the articles you like. Once an article gets a vote it seems to attract more votes even just within /newest. If you're not seeing the articles you like then maybe submit some?

Ultimately HN is about squeezing millions of readers in to the top 30 posts. That's probably why it works quite well. I have no doubt that a lot of people find their tastes aren't well catered for and leave for other sites, but that's OK. No one should stay on a website they don't like.


> Squeezing millions of HN readers into the top 30 posts?

That's a vivid way of putting it (good writing on your part!) but - yes, that's pretty much how HN works. I usually describe it as "non-siloed": https://hn.algolia.com/?query=silo%20by%3Adang&dateRange=all.... The DNA of the site is that everyone sees the same things—it doesn't get sharded. Other sites have social graphs and follow lists and whatnot, but this one doesn't. More on that at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23308098.


>What's the alternative? Squeezing millions of HN readers into the top 30 posts?

Maybe teaching millions of HN readers not to be too lazy to click past the first page?

That shouldn't be too much to ask of a community premised on intellectual curiosity.


"Please don't sneer, including at the rest of the community."

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


This is a great initiative for sure.

My frustration with sites like HN and Reddit is that I may spend a few days crafting a question but once I post it, it usually gets one or two, often not very good, answers at best. It is hard to figure out if a question or a post is what the audience of HN or a particular subreddit would enjoy.

More specifically, the frustration comes from the fact that, e.g., HN, attracts tons of smart folks who have answers to my questions, but there is no reliable way to reach them. Unfortunately, I have no inkling of an idea of how to solve this issue and how widespread it is.

Having said that, big thanks to dang and the nameless mods for shepherding this great community!


Thank you for doing this. This is what I love about HN most - finding interesting content at otherwise hidden(for me) corners of the web.

I visited so many great blogs, that last year, I fell in love with blogging. I started on Twitter, then micro-blogging wasn't enough. So I wrote first article. To make it harder, I set the rule that I have to implement what I write about and make a video(s) about it. This way, I can avoid writing about things I don't understand and keep quality high enough. According to analytics, almost no one read it, but I love it anyway. I can't wait when 20, 30, 40 years from now I will re-read it.


Funnily at https://hnblogs.substack.com we very often have a subset of second pool chance posts, as personal blog posts are usually good candidates for it

I've been reading hnblogs for a few months now; it's become one of my favorite ways to consume HN. Thanks for maintaining this!

Is there any information about how a story transitions from "submitted" to "pool"?

I assume it's a manual decision, not strictly algorithmic. (Though it probably contains algorithmic elements, the final decision is done by a human.)

If true, then the inexorable outcome of this logic is that the front page isn't really controlled by the community, nor would we want it to be.

If not, then the details of the algorithm would be fascinating to learn about. It's not an easy problem to solve in general, and making a few dozen (hundred?) editorial decisions each day is probably more efficient, and more precise.


This question is answered in the first paragraph of the text at the top (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26998309). Of course it's manual. If it weren't, we'd have software that could identify good stories, and I'd be somewhere eating grapes. Well, not grapes; and perhaps not eating. writing code, more likely.

HN's system consists of community, software, and moderators, just as it always has. Moderation is a feedback module tacked on to try to prevent the system from landing in any of its default failure modes. That, alas, requires humans.


1 - i see that "pool" shows up in the nav when we go to there, but why not let it show up by default on the home page? that way it would be more discoverable. or is that the eventual plan?

2 - ciechanow.ski's post on Internal Combustion Engine is currently #1 on HN, but also #8 on the second chance pool - whats the thinking behind offering duplicates? i can see an argument for it (makes /pool a mod-curated HN frontpage) and an argument against it (confusing as to whether or not this page is really for second chances)


It's in /lists, which is linked from the footer. There are too many things to show on the home page.

welp, TIL of /lists. thanks dang.

For anyone using iOS or MacOS app HACK, pool and whoishiring endpoints will be added in tomorrow's update. invited endpoint is already available.

https://apps.apple.com/ca/app/hack-for-hacker-news-developer...


Very interesting & thank you for all the sweat and tears you are putting into hn!

I was always curious what makes the difference between what goes into the second chance pool directly vs what gets invited to the second chance pool if you can elaborate on that?

edit: thank you for making the lists public, I will browse them in the future!


Do you mean what gets re-upped directly vs. what gets an emailed invitation to repost? It's a purely technical distinction based on how many stories we keep in RAM (currently a few days' worth). When a story is older than that, it's a pain to re-up it, so we started emailing invites instead. I spent some time working on the code to eliminate the distinction, but actually I think this may be one of those cases where what seems like an arbitrary restriction turns out to have more value than that. There's something about the "working set" of stories over the last few days that's different from the longer-term history of the site. Right now the system treats the former as mutable and the latter as immutable; you can think of the invited reposts as append-only rather than writeable. That somehow feels right to me.

Makes sense, thank you!

edit: I also think this creates a charming distinction.


hmm.

Have noticed a lot more repeat submissions that didn't get that much attention first time around getting a ton of more upvotes lately. A comment on the nature of the audience changing. Annoying somewhat.

But what's worse is stuff that already got submitted a year ago, two years ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago, got a ton of discussion and upvotes, but now is much reduced as far as relevancy and newsworthiness and gets submitted again. Need to maintain balance of that oldie-but-goodie stuff with actual new topics.

Vested interest in this sort of because I often find myself digging up those old discussion threads to share like Dang does also, mainly because old is old, but also because we all end up having the same endless repeated conversation points and people can see all the discussion before posting the same stuff again


The purpose of the second-chance pool is certainly not to have endlessly repeated conversations—just the opposite! Repetition is the enemy of curiosity, as you indicate.

https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&so...

The point of combing through obscure submissions is to find things that haven't been repeated much, and to prevent HN's front page from collapsing into the same handful of hottest and/or most sensational topics.

Btw, to digress a bit: this is really a tragedy-of-the-commons problem. The few hottest topics get upvotes because individuals optimize for what momentarily attracts their attention. Left to its own devices, that mechanism reaches a state which is less interesting, and would probably burn out the system. Local optimization produces a global sub-optimum. https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&so...

If the same individuals were giving HN their full, sustained attention, thinking about the site as a whole, then a different result would be possible—but why should they? Users have better things to do, and it's HN's job to interest them. The solution is to have a small number of humans a.k.a. moderators whose job it is to give HN their full attention, thinking about the global optimum and trying to steer things in that direction, and jigging the machine when it gets stuck in one of its failure modes.

Maybe this is too shop-talk to be of interest to many readers, but I find it interesting because I think this business of full vs. partial attention is the solution to the puzzle of why upvotes alone, i.e. community plus software alone, doesn't produce the most interesting community. Previous thoughts about this, if anyone cares:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25652161

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25391088

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22863209

https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&qu...


so just thinking about this and had a look at Pool.

An example, to my first point, is like some old cyphernomicon txtfile from 1994 that's been submitted every few years for like 10 years and never really gotten many upvotes nor discussion, now gets submitted a day ago, I'm assuming not much traction again, and then submitted to Pool and now has 74 upvotes. It's weird. Never got much attn before, over and over and now all of a sudden all these things are getting large amount of upvotes. It shouldn't really get that much more attention and my gripe is that it shouldn't be on my radar as something new/interesting for the day because overall it really isn't. It's old and never warranted much interest repeatedly over time. Changing audience (a decline imo) or like something else driving more HN votes in recent year...hmm


Oh, I think we just disagree then. Obscure old stories that never got attention before are some of the best candidates for the second-chance pool in my view—as long as they're good, for some definition of 'good' that works for HN. It's not uncommon for good articles to get posted many times and yet not get traction. That's the nature of /newest—it's sort of a lottery, and even with multiple tickets it's easy to lose.

I agree with you that it's weird for some old file from 1994 to suddenly get traction, but I think it's good for HN to be weird. I wish it were weirder.


thanks, appreciate the reply and the shop talk about the 'science' of community/modding etc ;)

Right, and attention is not additive so the summed partial attention of millions of users unfortunately does not even equal the sustained full attention of one.

Mods, or "community mechanics", have to be our better nature, because our natural instinct, the things we're wired to prioritize under partial attention, is for indignation and sensationalism. In other words information about risk or excitement. because for fast paced life in a group where partial attention is the only possibility, such information probably has the highest utility.

but our better nature relative to hn has to be something that gratifies intellectual curiosity, something genuinely interesting. Something that if you were to spend your full attention immersed in a comment thread or reading an article would have the highest utility for you.

It's not exactly trivial. I don't know how they achieve it at all.

But they do somehow. Because I keep coming back here to learn something. and I look forward to coming here more than I do to a news site because I think there might be something interesting I can learn here. but on a news site it's probably more of the same.

People might complain about the power imbalance that moderators have about how they're this "privileged few" poking the community this way and that from up on high. But this can't possibly be true. Who wants the "privilege" of having it to be their job to stand against face and invite the abuse of the resentful? How can one person with a stick stand against the madding crowd? They can't. Any respect the moderators have from the community is earned certainly not "given" as a "privilege". Do they have power? yes they have power but that power only comes from the community respecting their decisions. And they use software to give that stick a multi-local reach.

Such no-moderation advocates would prefer absolute unmoderated freedom: an idyllic community self-regulated and self-moderated, we're no individual has the power besides the social power they can accumulate through their interactions, every other form of power must be trashed and rejected. such criticisms of moderation are necessarily selfish because the people advocating them can only see their local corner of the community. And they don't concern themselves with the well-being of anything outside of that. If anything outside of that is a miss they simply shrug it off return to their safe corner. It's their privilege to not have the responsibility to have to moderate. a privilege given to them by the good work the moderators do.

But if they had their way, you end up with a partitioned world of all isolated tribes and no global optima . so the cost of this freedom (that no-moderation supporters want), is the freedom of other people, everyone else, to be genuinely interested and have their intellectual curiosity gratified when they visit the site.

By corraling the community to work as a whole you can approach the global optima of submission quality for the metric of genuinely interesting.


> so we emailed and asked the submitter to repost it.

Do you still do that? I've always felt that the difference between "hey, this submission is cool, we auto-repost" and "hey, this submission is cool, here is a link so you can manually repost" is confusing and unnecessary.


Yes we do. Edit: more explanation here - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27000612.

Is the only way to access it for now to bookmark pool? It’d be nice if it was in a menu somewhere :)

It's one of the "lists" linked at the bottom of the home page.


It looks like this uses a similar layout as the main frontpage. The left padding of the content seems off compared to the homepage without the rank numbers. Perhaps instead of having nothing in that table cell use   or similar, looks a bit nicer imo.

Fun fact: the function to do this is called 'nbsp' in arc.

Edit: my question was answered here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26999020

Will the second-chance pool be added to the top bar?


Is this going to be pinned to the front page? Or added as a menu at the top?

Adding as a menu at the top will mostly ignored by all except by a select few. Having it pinned to the front page as the first post would be a good way.


No, the bar for adding things to the front page needs to be super high. I think the right home for /pool is https://news.ycombinator.com/lists, which is linked from the footer. I suppose we could link /lists from the top bar, but I'm not sure it would do much good.

Pinning things to the front page in some new way would be the sort of UI disruption that users hate, and we kind of agree with them.


I like that /lists requires discovery, and I also never noticed it until I read this Meta HN, so I’m glad I did!

Interestingly, I haven't noticed lists in the footer till now and I have been a hacker news member for more than 10 yrs! You obviously have stats on how popular lists is and so will help you make that decision. I am curious if you can share what percentage of users visit lists at all?

Well, yesterday /lists got 655 hits while the front page got 1.7M. Draw your own conclusions :)

Ha thanks for the insight!

Same here, I always checked the header but never thought to check the footer (possibly didn't even realize there is a footer?) until now.

> Moderators and a small number of reviewers [...]

Are you using the plural "moderators" just to be abstract in case this changes again or does HN currently have another mod?

Just curious, as for the most part I only read about you


There are others, but with Scott having left, I'm currently the only public one.

So cool you've automated this. I keep a collection of internal links ("web log"). And I review them every month or so. Information is meant to be sifted imho.

Also reminds me of Last Chance Kitchen.


This is the logical culmination of a process the community has been benefitting from for a while with your work behind the scenes.

Great to see it evolve to a place on HN software!


Hey, do you guys have a page anywhere, where you explain the currently running experiments?

No, I'm afraid we don't.

Add pool to the top bar?

How about calling it Last Chance Saloon? (Just to be colourful and dramatic!).

I got a complaint! I posted this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26987061 and a few hour later this other one https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26990957 that was posted few hours later was on top. It is unfair! I could have gained a lot of karma!

I hear you, but that's unrelated to the second-chance pool because those were both regular submissions that didn't go through this alternate system.

When we're putting an article in the second-chance pool, we do prefer the original submitter where possible. Often, if there's time, I'll go through the submission histories of the other submitters too, to see if there's something else we could put in the pool for them.

In your case, though, you just run into the fact that /newest is a bit of a lottery and it's unpredictable which submission of a story will be the one that gets traction. We do have plans to do something about that someday: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que.... In the meantime, the lottery does at least even out in the long run if you submit a lot of interesting stories.


This is equivalent to paying more to move one's ebay listing up the page, except instead of money, it's sweat equity of dashing off a separate email. I shall automate an email with every vanilla upvote I make to defeat this initiative.

All the email does is get us to look at the link. After that it's the same as if we'd run across it on /newest or any other way.

When I say we usually add them to the pool, that's because the emails are usually from high-quality users with good taste. If that stops being the case usually, we'll stop adding them to the pool usually.

The purpose is to find more interesting things, where "interesting" means things that the community finds interesting. We use our own intellectual interest as a proxy for that, but only as fuel for the first stage.


I don’t see, how this applies as long as this is maintained by the mods. (Surely, they have an eye on the incoming stream anyway and won’t promote any submissions solely based on the fact that there is an incoming email.)



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