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Ask HN: Anyone gained traction on HN *without* any of their friends upvoting?
27 points by volaski on Feb 6, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 34 comments

Has anyone submitted their project on HN, and without any friends' help, reached front page?

My hope is at least on HN, if your project is cool, it will get traction without asking friends to upvote your entry (which happens a lot most of the times). Am I too idealistic?

Please share your story if you used to be a nobody and just posted your project/startup on hacker news, and it got significant traction just because people thought the project was cool, without any social factors involved. I think a lot of people on HN wonder about this too, and it needs to be demystified. Thanks!

I don't know anyone in here. I'm usually not submitting links, but among the very few I did submit, there was front page traction more often than not (if I remember correctly). So, yes, it's absolutely possible to "make front page" if that's your goal.

It's different when you're talking about your own project - I only submitted general news stuff. I understand that it can really sting if your project doesn't get picked up. There could be many reasons for it and, unless you're one of the top-ten superstars around here, I don't believe HN familiarity plays a big role in a story's success.

The main thing about the /newest section is that it is very low quality. It's dominated by spam and trash, so it's easy to overlook interesting stuff in there. Due to the high rate of new submissions a new entry doesn't last very long. Even good links vanish in record time if nobody sees them in the first few minutes.

In my opinion the main reason why good links do not get picked up is purely technical. Ideally, only accounts with good karma would be allowed to submit links to the queue and there should be harder limits on the number of things you can submit in a certain timeframe. That being said, HN's success rate is still pretty high regardless. Personally, when I see a "Show HN:" article I make it a point to vote it up (if the project isn't totally lame).

Absolutely. I don't know anyone on HN, but my post yesterday (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3586260) made it on the front page, I think peaking at #9.

One thing I did that might have helped- I tweeted a link to both the blog post and the HN entry, and was retweeted by MapBox, the makers of the software I was discussing. It didn't generate a ton of traffic, but it might have generated those 3 or 4 upvotes you need to get going.

The real question I think is how often do people visit the 'new' section and upvote stories they like (perhaps we should have a poll on that).

Before Hacker News I used to be big in the digg community where to get to the front page it was "easy", but you needed to build a huge network of friends to do that and upvote each other. I hated that. When I came to hacker news a year ago I vowed to never do that and hoped this community was pure... which.. well I think is what you're questioning here.

Anyway according to my stats it looks like I've submitted 46 links.. 5 or 6 of them (I think) hit the front page (they have more then 10 points). Other then one or two (not the ones that hit) I don't share the links around.

At the end of the day again I think we should have the poll. As members of the community we need to make sure we're going over the 'new' section.. I try do it at least a couple of times a week myself.

I hit #1 on my first submission without knowing anyone.

No conspiracy. Just an original article.

Here it is: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3328619

I made all of my front-pages without having any of my friends upvoting.

Same. (Granted, I haven't had a ton of front-pages, but still.)

So you make most of your posts at some particular time?

Doesn't matter. It has to be interesting enough.




There is a natural problem with this question: people are much more likely to come out and say they got on the front page without help than the opposite. I think you would have been better off framing this as a poll rather than an Ask HN.

Yes, but my experience is that it's much less likely than it used to be, because /newest churns really fast and gets only a small proportion of total pageviews. So it greatly helps to get the first few upvotes form elsewhere to jumpstart things. My guess is a substantial proportion of frontpage stories got their first few upvotes from somewhere other than people scanning /newest. Not necessarily friends, but perhaps a link on Twitter or an IRC channel.

I have never asked anyone to upvote my posts. Most of my friends don't do hacker news.

I don't submit often, but my bit successes were 3 blog posts for 21, 23, and 69 points.

I've had one blog post of mine and one link to another's post make the front page so far. I was surprised how few upvotes (if they are in a short period of time) it takes to make the front page though, and I don't doubt some people do this (or dummy accounts).

I think it is a bit of a crap shoot whether or not a good story on the /new page will get traction though. It requires a bit of luck and timing for the right people to be reading /new at that time and take interest and read it

On the other hand I see a lot of things making the FP that seem to be mostly title bait. I wonder if some people simply upvote some things just to save it for late basically voting on the title only.

I wonder how an experiment with randomly displaying an item from the /new page at the top of the front page would work. Reddit does this and while I'm certainly not advocating becoming more like reddit, I can see the value of it.

Thanks for sharing your experience. Just to confirm, you just posted your post here and didn't tell your friends to come read it, right?

Also, would be nice if you could share around how many upvotes there were, and how quickly it happened. Thanks :)

Well if I'm being totally honest, my wife kindly upvotes my blog post. It's shameful I know, but that's about all I get.

I find getting to the front page is hit or miss when I submit something from my blog. I only submit stories I think will be interesting to the community but it is really surprising to me which ones make it past the "new" page.

I submitted a story the other day which was dead on-topic for this community and timely and I thought would certainly make it to the homepage here but it got one vote and disappeared. Yet someone submitted a story from my blog some months ago that shocked me anyone cared at all. Finally yesterday I made an "offer" post. I was giving advice away for free and it didn't receive one single vote.

The bottom line is that large groups are fickle and trying to predict the "what" and "why" about the homepage is difficult and largely unproductive.

I rarely go to new section. There's already too much news to read as it is. I may be speaking for 95% of HN community here. Only time I go to new section is after I post something. Which at that point, I won't even upvote anyone else in the fear of them out voting my posts (I know it's a bit un-ethical but can you really blame me for this? The whole point of posting on HN is so your post can be seen by the masses). So as you can see, there really is a bit of a problem here. I think the one way to go about it is by showing the new articles on the main page in a smaller sidebar but I fear that may also present a whole bag of problems with it.

One feature I'd like to see on HN is to have a separate menu for any posts starting with "Show HN". I love coming in here and seeing what other hackers have worked on, it's post like these that make HN so unique to me.

You can combine the Ask link at the top of HN, which shows posts without URLs (many of which start with Ask HN), with a search for "Show HN":



Yes. I really agree with this. The reason I asked the question was because I've been seeing several interesting projects posted as "Show HN" and go ignored because of bad timing or any other factors. I tend to check out most "Show HN" posts if the title sounds even a bit interesting.

I submitted an article I wrote 14 days ago (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3497512). As far as I know, none of my friends voted it and it got the the front page with 21 points. I'm not sure how long it stayed there but I received around 5000 visits during the first 2 days and I keep getting 30 or 40 per day to that specific article. I got almost a hundred new RSS followers from this and a dozen or so Twitter followers so I think this was more than enough "traction".

Sorry buddy, no conspiracies here. If your project is interesting (or generates some form of controversy) then you can certainly gain some traction. If not, then prepare to get ignored.

I'm not implying that there's any conspiracy. Some facts I do know: 1. I know for a fact many people do this and it ends up being successful. 2. I have tried this in the past and it worked. 3. I have been observing /new and several really interesting projects just go ignored because of bad timing, or lack of promotion, or whatever.

So it's not just the question of whether it's interesting or controversial. It requires more than that, and that's what I'm trying to learn.

Anyway, what I am curious about is not whether this type of thing happens or not (because it does happen, quite often, unlike you think).

What I am curious about is: are there any couter-examples? Has anyone just put their stuff on HN without telling their friends to upvote and it got traction? I am specifically asking this question to those who have made the front page. My projects have made the front page in the past a couple of times, but I still don't know the answer because most of the times I tweeted or emailed my friends to check it out after posting on HN.

I'm wondering if a completely isolated person can come along and make it on HN.

I guess I'm just not understanding where you're going with this question.

It seems like you're trying to figure out all the variables that go into a high profile post. Quite frankly, I don't see the point in that.

Is it possible for an unknown to get on the first page and get exposure? Of course it is. Does that mean he's "made it on HN"? I don't even know what that means.

In the end, my point is simply this; stop spending so much time worrying about how people make the front page of HN and focus on your project.

This is a forum for discussion, not Valhalla.

I am not trying to figure out all the variables. Also I am not spending too much time trying to figure out "how to make it on HN". I can just go back to doing the same thing I used to before--post on HN, share the post with friends (probably post on Facebook or Twitter), and it will go up on the front page. Again, I'm not so worried about this.

Here's what I think: I think Hacker news is the only influential site that functions as a place to help small but interesting projects get discovered in a democratic manner. You could just email about your startup to Techcrunch,Mashable,The Next Web, et al., but you still need to pass through their editorial filter.

What I find intriguing about Hacker News is that the filter is democratic (and focused on Startup culture), and relies less on social proof. A lot of companies get multiple coverage on larger tech blogs because they have funding from famous VC and angels. With Hacker News, you don't need social proof. You just need a good idea and good execution, at least this is what I want to believe.

As I said, for "the people in the know", HN works differently than the rest of the world. A lot of people post on Hacker News "hoping" to reach the front page, but for example the guys at YCombinator (or entrepreneurs who are their friends) don't need to worry so much about it because they already have enough karma to push their post up to the front page. It's almost taken for granted.

Well that's how the world is run, and that's why being in Silicon Valley is so attractive, but I think Hacker News provides a platform that's larger than that, and just wanted to know if any counter examples exist: Just a small startup out of nowhere posting on HN, and getting huge traction.

I think he's trying to open some discussion around the mechanisms that govern the front page. Something I'm more than willing to discuss as I think there is some room for improvement there.

That's fine, I can understand that. Sometimes I just get a bit perturbed by questions along the lines of "what's the best way to get on the front page of site x?"

I get upset because, from a marketing standpoint, it isn't even that important or advantageous. You're far better off targeting sites directly in your vertical than aiming for exposure on more general sites like HN.

I've had one of my articles from my site submitted and it hit the front page. I wasn't even aware of Hacker News until this happened. I've been a regular follower ever since.

I'm relatively new here and don't have any friends on Hacker News (unfortunately). Of the 4 articles I've submitted, 3 have made the front page (albeit one only very briefly). In my experience I was able to make the front page after receiving only a couple of votes. I'd say it is definitely possible to get traction by submitting relevant/quality content without gaming the system.

I think the key to get upvotes is to be part of the RSS feed of HN. Not evey article shows up in my Google Reader. But once an article shows up in the RSS feed it will get upvotes from anyone. The key is to get over the hump and show up in the rss feed. And that may require a little help from friends. :-)

Just happened to me yst

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