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Ask HN: How would you monetize HN?
5 points by aravindc 1505 days ago | hide | past | web | 20 comments | favorite
If you were hired to monetize HN, how would you go about it? Innovatively or traditionally.



By selling 8 small ad units along the top/side of the site, for $5k-$10k/each per month. They would sell out easily. Maybe give away one to a lucky startup each month.

I've often thought that it'd be awesome if HN had ads like this, and all the money was donated to the EFF or something. No one would mind and it would give them a huge new source of funding.

--

Incidentally, it's occurred to me that this could be a successful startup idea. A startup could facilitate other companies "donating" ad space to worthy causes. The startup takes a small cut for selling/serving the ads. The donor just picks an ad unit style and drops in Javascript.


If I remember one of pg's posts (that I can't easily find right now), it was intended that YC is the way that HN is monetized. HN encourages smart people to start startups and apply to YC.


You are correct. IIRC (and assuming nothing has changed in the months I was on hiatus):

If you have ever looked at an application for YC, it requires every member of the applying team to have a membership here and asks for your HN handles. If any team members do not have handles, they are required to get one in order to complete the application as that cannot be left blank. If you were an active member here for any time prior to submitting your application, your remarks here are, in some sense, part of the application. Participating here is an opportunity to showcase your skills, knowledge and general intelligence and also prove whether or not you pass the YC "don't be an asshole" rule of thumb.

That, no doubt, does quite a lot to help keep the place relatively polite and respectful since, for some people here, being an asshole can cost them a shot at potentially millions of dollars (assuming they get in and their startup is successful). Getting back at some jerk, carrying a grudge, etc just isn't worth so much if in the back of your mind you realize it could close doors to your big break. Even if you do not wish to apply to YC, enough members here are successful, influential business people that, for most members, it just does not make sense to run around pissing people off and burning bridges for shits and giggles.


There's a huge opportunity in monetizing the library. (the link on the lower right)

HN is a pool of knowledge ranging from true-to-life successes to know-it-alls who just hang around and keep re-quoting philosophies which they never really live out.

Emphasizing on 'HN is a pool': the place is a firehose of information that drowns most minds. This like-minded community, new or old members, in turn affects each other to become passionate. That's the thing, passionate about what? How do they start spending this passion? How do they go about in creating a cable company?

There must be a way to organize this pool of thoughts and posts into digestible streams of water in which, I believe, some people or corporations would actually pay to drink from.


It has a business purpose and the business it serves makes good money. As someone else said, is this thought experiment about monetizing some other forum "similar"* to HN or a thought experiment about monetizing this forum? Because monetizing this forum would likely be counterproductive to Y-Combinator's business goals, which HN currently serves.

* "Similar" is in quotes because I believe the life blood of HN is that it serves Y-Combinator's business goals and is not merely a forum. I think that is why no one can seem to replicate it or seriously "compete" with it.


"It has a business purpose and the business it serves makes good money."

I've come to the conclusion that the best way to understand how to behave on HN is to treat HN as a place of business.


I have been thinking on your remark and trying to figure out how best to frame what I think you mean.

My first thought was viewing it basically like I am the customer of a place of business, and I realized that doesn't fit with what I think you mean. I wonder if that is where some people have trouble -- feeling like "hn member = hn customer" and then what follows is "the customer is always right" and seeing this like a personal playground, like a restaurant they visit or a movie theater they bought tickets to (which would fit with the demands for features, etc). So perhaps "a place where I do business" is a phrasing that more clearly conveys the attitude I think you mean. And I really like that.

Thank you for sharing that thought.


Should one communicate with snarky one-liners in the workplace?

Or be mean?

Or bait arguments?

The YC partners use HN as a business tool. Founders and investors do as well. When a person shows HN their side project, it's not always just for fun.

I think treating HN like a workplace is the best way to understand the cultural expectations. HN is about helping people be productive (but not of course exclusively).


I was a homemaker for many years, then I worked at a Fortune 500 company for five years. Unfortunately, my firsthand experience of a "workplace" was a somewhat Dilbert-esque experience where I was often surrounded by people whose antics appalled me. I would not wish to replicate that here. Thank you for your remarks. They are very helpful to me.


I wasn't promoting poor workplace behavior or corporate culture. Fortunately, HN doesn't have enough layers to simulate a cubicle farm.

Rather something analogous to an ideal workplace in a slightly Platonic sense. Thus, treating others decently carries more weight because it facilitates their productivity.


I did not mean to imply you were suggesting something negative. Quite the contrary. I meant your positive view was a helpful antidote to my personal experiences.


The traditional answer is that I would use it to promote and capture mindshare for a startup accelerator. An innovative improvement to the traditional answer is that I would pay people 1 cent for every upvote they receive. The first hypothesis is that this would increase mindshare and quality of discussion, the second is that this would in turn have a positive effect on the quality of startups in the accelerator. (I'm defining "monetize" to mean "make money using".)


This site is pretty similar to Reddit, so I'm guessing that they would have very similar monetization strategies:

http://profy.com/2009/01/03/reddit-figured-out-how-to-moneti...

Incidentally, Reddit isn't as profitable as you might imagine, given its immense traffic and highly specific demographics.


I thought it was moneterised - in a discreet and subtle manner.

I am also sure it brings pleasure to its creator - which is not to be undervalued.


Charge to add features. With a relatively simple baseline experience, there are always people looking to customize what they see on the site. Just look at the number of add-ons for browsers and alternatives/aggregators which exist.


Let sites bid on 1hr blocks of time, they can make one submission that starts with 5 points.


Would this be to monetize HN or a HN like website?


1 dllr monthly to access, after a free month.


Paid hell-banning rights


Require karma to post, upvote and downvote. Then sell karma.




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