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Show HN: What would Paul Graham do? (wwpgd.com)
109 points by aakil 1472 days ago | hide | past | web | 59 comments | favorite

pg would probably use logic, experience and a little bit of gut feel to figure out the best way to solve an issue, not refer to a single source of someone else's writings.

Stop worshiping the man like he is a god. His essays are not bible scripture, and in many areas they would actually be the completely wrong course of action to take.

pg's thoughts are only one segment of knowledge that a person should be receiving and performing their own analysis on. If you agree with everything pg says, you have set him up as your personal demi-god and are dangerously ignorant. I suggest reading something other than him for a while.

(Note: replace pg with any particular author or method if you choose.)

EDIT: You can usually tell when you've hit on an uncomfortable truth when the reaction is fiercest. Irony: pump in "Trouble" to the tool under discussion.

Why are you assuming they are worshiping him? They simply made a fun little app to search through his essays. Your comment seems rather ill-tempered and misplaced. Did you even try the app out or are you just on a rant about how you don't think people should make decisions based on the information of a single source? Either way, I'm not sure how your comment is a helpful contribution to this particular link.

I really think HN has a habit of taking everything uber-seriously and has a hard time accepting things as light-hearted jokes or fun projects.

The issue is that a lot of HN has a habit of taking pg too seriously.

This is just the worst kind of critique. This is a useful tool, I often find myself searching for something I had read that PG had said and having a difficult time. He's written a great deal, this is extremely useful.

Come on man:


I'm aware of paulgraham.com but thanks for letting me know in the most condescending way possible!

This is a great way to search through paulgraham.com as well as his comments on HN. I'm a fan and I'm certain to find utility in it in the future.

It's really just a tool we built for ourselves to get information from a specific trusted source. It helps that he has a huge catalog of work to draw from. We thought the ability to tap into that through a search dynamic would be interesting, it's been very useful for us. We hope it can be useful for you.

Something that would add some fun to it: use some markov chains to make a PG chatterbot, using the same corpus that you already have. You could mark those answers clearly as bot answers.

Something tells might you might be projecting just a little bit.

"you have set him up as your personal demi-god"

A mistake, I agree.

PG is the philosopher-king of HN.

Although your advice regarding 'worshipping' a single author/person is good advice, that site is just a tool for anyone wanting a slice of the pg pie.

It's rather well done.

that's what google is for, site:

I would suggest not attributing the phrase "What would x do?" to anyone or anything in particular, as it is in no way a directly deifying phrase.

There is a possibility that the other comments gesture towards the same thing (if read to), but the language in no way implies deification, and that's about all I'd like to point out. It was a phrase made by people to ask a question with an acronym.

It appears to work. I asked it where to go for lunch, and the first reference to lunch it found was Oren's Hummus.

According to this search engine, McCain and Obama cereal sold by the founders of AirBnB is part of a balanced pg breakfast.

Heh, even a local gelato place is currently inviting people to choose between "Mint" Romney and "Ba-Rocky" Road.

I asked about clojure and it didn't find anything. Here there is a thread on HN that asks the same: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3690026 .

PG, in case you are still around here, which is your take on clojure?

It's the Lisp dialect I usually recommend.

Have your views on Common Lisp changed, since you wrote your ANSI Common Lisp?

Not really, no.


The site only indexes comments by pg, I guess in the 1000 comments that have been indexed, none of them talk mention clojure. I'm trying to hack around ThriftDB's search api [1] limitation of 1000 items [2] by sorting by different possible terms. The site currently only captures the top 1000 of the roughly ~8000 comments that pg has written (by score).

If anyone has a solution to this, please let me know!

[1]: http://www.hnsearch.com/api

[2]: https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!topic/hnsearch...

If you query the HNSearch API in real-time you won't run into problems with the 1000 result limit. There are 8 comments where PG mentioned "clojure":


There you go, now you've an answer to index: http://wwpgd.com/?q=wwpgd.com

Awesome! We're glad you like it, we actually used your rice and beans recipe, was delicious

n cubes Knorr beef or vegetable bouillon


This is kind of creepy. The online equivalent of building a shrine.

Props for putting a compelling spin ("WWPGD") on a rather mundane function (searching a back catalog). Marketing FTW! :-)

I've just spent about 15 minutes reading an article by Paul Graham written in 1993.

This site is terrible for my productivity - very well done you evil person you.

Very fun little tool. It would make it exceptional if you would include a small tidbit of information beneath each listing to say why the particular essay matched the query.

Yup if you could bold the matches Google-style that would be awesomely helpful.

Would be nice to see more of this for different persons and to compare different people writings on the same subjects.

Exactly what I was thinking.

A search engine with "author:" and "topic:" refinements to contrast the writing of various folks on some topic or in reaction to some event.

I'd love to scan through a combined timeline of posts, essays and quotes comparing several folks - something like Google trends that is "source aware".

Now that would be a great tool.

PG would probably go to wwpgd.com to find out what to do.

RuntimeError: maximum recursion depth exceeded

"What should I build next?" linked me to "Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas". Alright then.

I searched for some common swear words and found out an old thread on HN where someone picked a fight with PG. So I guess it is a nice search tool.

The naming, though may sound cheesy to some, is a great marketing tactic to get noticed. You can of course think of <<fill your favorite trusted source>> person here.

But if you want people to notice & get some traction, knowing where and who would notice it makes a huge difference. I would say it is a nice marketing hack.

@aakil great job guys. :)

EDIT: This got covered in techcrunch!

nice litte app :) I don't why some people are bashing this, I think its actually useful. I especially like the idea of what would X do, and then having a searchable repository of links to X's writings/ideas/thoughts. Also as a side note, since your using bootstrap why not just fluid it so it looks nice on iPad and mobile, that would be the icing on this nifty little cake :)

Thanks! It was pretty much exclusively used by @aakil and I so there was initially nearly no styling. I've added some responsive design now though! Let me know if it looks wonky on tablet as I don't own one.

suggestion: show some examples. I honestly have no clue what should I input on the search field.

It says to 'ask PG a question', so I tried a bunch of things I thought would find plenty of results:

* "How to grow a userbase" * "Find a mentor" * "Disrupt a market"

Only the last one returned any hits. I definitely think it needs some kind of suggested queries for people to try out.

Agreed. My first attempt was http://wwpgd.com/?q=how+do+you+cook+steak%3F, and nothing came up. I guess I don't know who Paul Graham is yet.

I enquired as to the best color for the bike shed, but virtual PG was unable to give me any advice.

TC W13 folks:


> Organic Startup Ideas

Cool!I just wonder how you came up with such a brilliant idea.

What's it built with?

Everything was done in python. I wrote scripts to query the HN api for the last 1000 comments by PG as well as scrape his site for his essays. Indexed the documents using helpers from nltk.

The front end is flask which queries a mongo store with a little memcached sprinkled in.

Shout out to heroku for all their awesome free addons!

That doesn't answer his question. BuiltWith relies heavily on response headers, which are easily faked, and often not descriptive on the actual tools used. Many use nginx, varnished, even apache to run their applications, regardless of how they were built. It is a nice tool though, I'll admit.


Actually, this could be the template for something extremely popular. It could be called WW_S, the _ would be anyone in the family (or anyone in the world).

For a family where the father has gone away on an extended business trip, WW_S would scour the Internet and local files for anything the father said. Then, when the children want to get Dad's wisdom, they can by typing in or asking a question - even if he's not physically available.

What about a famous author or celeb? WW_S would spider up everything he or she has said and through a prediction algorithm formulate answers to questions, much like WWPGD.

Heck, you could even do it with characters like Sparky the Bear or Santa Claus. Basically, white label it.

I'm in a rush and typing this out on my phone, but hopefully you've got the gist.

This will only work if we document almost everything we do online. A large part of our life and thought process is still offline, so the answer to "what would X do" will most likely be extremely dependent on the situation and context X was in when he/she made that statement.

Seth Godin would work better than my aunt Gertrude, because Seth creates a lot of online content that reflects his own thoughts, so YMMV for sure.

I was very disappointed to find no advice on hats, badgers or zombies.


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