1. By writing original content that the HN audience is likely to like
2. By submitting that content at the right time
#2 is useful to know and anyone can do an analysis and figure the best time. I did it myself some time ago and came to my own conclusion about the best time (which is similar to the OP). But #1 is far more important than gaming the system. Focus on writing good stuff.
There may be any number of reasons someone would want to do this, karma accumulation being only one of them. Product launches, Kickstarter campaigns, advice being sought or offered, etc., are equally valid and perhaps more likely motives.
Furthermore, I don't think it's fair to infer that the author advocates "gaming the system," or at least not the exclusion of writing good content. Rather, I inferred that he took writing good content as a given, and focused on the oft-pondered problem of how to break out that good content in a crowded news market.
All of that being said, your point #1 is extremely important. People should focus on quality first. It may be possible to game some spammy content to the top of the pile. Eventually, though, this strategy will do the poster more harm than good, whatever his intentions may be.
Just kidding. But to contribute something to the discussion: I was just recently wondering when the best time to publish a "Show HN" would be. In that case, your content is what it is. The time factor would definitely be important then to help you get the "early exposure" that you'd need to even arrive on the front page in the first place.
Since there is a degree of luck involved in getting to the front page, I hypothesize that you can leverage the law of large numbers to maximize your chances of getting karma by also submitting HN-targeted content regularly/frequently.
"No, NYC is NOT playing second fiddle to silicon valley"
Now the difference between my post and HN Pickup is it's a prediction tool, so it's trying to pin-point precise moments when it's best to post, whereas I'm analyzing past data.
So in my post today I talked about the best time to post on average. But, I can also look at my data and say, for example, last Monday from 10 to 11 AM, 30% of submissions reached the frontpage and so it was, in effect, a great time to post.
And with that I could look at HN Pickup's past predictions and tell you how accurate they were, ie. at a time when HN Pickup was telling you it's a "very good time to submit a story", what percentage of stories actually made it?
It so happens that I've actually been able to do that. HN Pickup's creator was kind enough to provide me with a history of predictions for every 15 minutes of a whole week, and after comparing it to observed pickup percentages I found a rather weak correlation (0.25). So it would seem HN Pickup isn't a very effective tool.
Also its goal is only to look at frontpage pickups, it doesn't account for the duration of the stay on the frontpage or HN's traffic at the time, which I do in my analysis.
I would have thought by posting you would have already broken that rule:)
for example, last Monday from 10 to 11 AM, 30% of submissions reached
the frontpage and so it was, in effect, a great time to post.
Same holds for your email marketing, social media, etc. Good content is an order of magnitude more important than time-of-day optimizations (which in my experience, only helps some people some of the time).
Either way, the essence of your argument is correct. Useful content fares better that fluff.
If you are the first to post an article from a commonly frequented site such as TechCrunch, then it will tend to gain exposure because others are submitting it.
On the other hand, I've found that posting articles from less mainstream sources benefit from sitting longer on the "New" page. This means posting during times of lower activity. I have woken up to find something I posted just before bed has gained significant traction.
1. Posting anything by Marco/Gruber/Atwood/37Signals/Stripe.
2. Posting anything making fun of PHP.
Secondarily, I would like to see a decay function that gives an older story with a current surge as much credit as a new story with similar recent surging.
(For example, imagine story A submitted at hour 0 which receive no votes for 6 hours. At hour 6, story B is submitted. Between hour 6 and hour 7, story A gets 12 upvotes, and story B only 8. Over the current-comparable period, A is hotter... but I'm pretty sure the HN algorithm and most similar sites penalize A for the earlier-submission time. And yet due to things like headline corrections, the eventual arrival of a story's natural audience, etc. the A story may in fact now be 'better', in those attention-deserving qualities that the ranking/decay function is trying to detect.)
I like your second suggestion though.
Fair warning: the next time I read this topic here, I am going to write a comment about the best time to submit comments on articles about the best time to submit articles.
That is the usual pattern for sites that people check when they come in to work.
1/ Most HN readers can relate to that easily.
2/ GMT doesn't account for daylight savings time.