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HN is 6 today. Here's traffic since the beginning (ycombinator.com)
445 points by pg on Feb 20, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 114 comments

I created my account exactly 6 years ago, on February 20th, 2007. I guess I must have seen that announcement[1] posted on Reddit[2].

It's definitely lost that small town charm, but given how much it has grown it's still remarkably good.

To another 6 years!

1. http://www.ycombinator.com/announcingnews.html

2. http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/15gkq/startup_ne...

I'm new to HN and think it's an awesome forum, but the fact that people like me (non-hacker who wishes he could understand even half the stuff discussed here) are finding out about it probably means that it's left behind its early adopter phase for good and is now in "early majority" mode, for better or worse.


I'll try not to lower the bar too much... :P

The internet has really been on a downhill course since September, 1993, with all the newbs:


I like StarCraft and I love analogies so how's this for one:

People who originally built and pioneered the Internet were the Xel'Naga, the original users of the Internet pre-September 1993 are the Protoss, and all the newbs who have flooded the Internet since are the Zerg.

And then you have Terrans like me who are fragmented, caught in the middle, and have to choose sides. I choose to protect and fight for the Internet.


I had been lurking for years and just started to chime in. Kind of wish I had made an account earlier to get more cred ;)

That's not how HN works... Or did an airplane just fly over my head?

> I guess I must have seen that announcement posted on Reddit

Yes, you must've:


So close! As of right now, my created date is one day ahead of yours. (We get to ignore all YC people with pre-release created dates.)

Happy sixth anniversary to all of us poor saps who were checking reddit the morning of Feb 20, 2007.

I feel like such a youngin ;)

I know that I was reading Reddit at the time, but I think I read about News.ycombinator on another site - Perhaps Techcrunch?

One of the things that really flavored the early community was that many (most?) of the members were also applicants to YC, so were both a) very interested in startups, and b) all trying to be on their best behavior.

I recall at the time being concerned anytime a post didn't get at least 5 votes, because it meant that I likely wasn't contributing to the conversation substantively enough.

The site's flavor has changed a lot over time - From YC applicants, to general Startup News, to a more broad Hacker News, but it's still one of my favorite communities.

6 years is 2190 or 2191 with 1 leap year or 2192 with 2 leap years.

As of writing I created my account 2170 days ago. It is by far my most visited site (at least once a day). Sure the content isn't as great as it use to be, but I expect that with the increase in traffic and submissions. It is still head and shoulders above the rest though.

Happy birthday HN!

Didn't hang out on Reddit in those days so based on using this site http://www.timeanddate.com/date/duration.html I didn't hear about HN and sign up until five days later.

Wow 6 years already - I found out about HN 2 days after you did. Long live Startup News :)

I didn't find out until a couple days later. I seem to remember that I was complaining about how Reddit had jumped the shark, and dfranke then replied to my comment with a link here.

Nice. just checked mine -- I was here 3 days after it was created.

Same here. It doesn't feel like that long.

pg, is it possible to get the traffic data in text format? For those who want to try and visualize it differently.

How'd you spread the word at launch?


The site was originally called Startup News. We changed the name and focus about 6 months later:


Ha, wow, thanks for sharing. For some reasons, I thought hacker news happened before you guys started funding startups. Please feel free to share other documents from the early YC or HN.

That's funny, it always felt to me like it was "Startup News" for a lot longer than 6 months. If I had to guess and couldn't look it up, I would have said 1-2 years. Interesting how powerful first impressions can be.

Congrats for completing 6 wonderful years. I regularly read HN since past 1-2 years. It's been a valuable source for providing news about startups and programming. I also contribute my own articles to HN and the HN community has been extremely helpful in making me a decent writer.

Congratulations, everyone =)

Keeping a community like this together and preventing its degradation over a 6 year period is a remarkable achievement.

Let's also remember that this isn't just a site that lists current topics of interest; there's also the search feature. It's a great source of links to interesting views on various topics. For instance, whenever I encounter some tech-related topic where scepticism or additional information is hard to find, I search for HN threads on that topic and very often find more detail than I know what to do with.

As someone who is a heavy redditor -- I remember one of my first comments here got downvoted pretty quickly as it was just a snarky, "meme-like" comment that I learned pretty quickly had no place here on HN.

I've appreciated the strict distinction between the two communities, both of which have been extremely enjoyable for varying reasons.

You have a great point with regard to search, however, when attempting to look at some older posts on my mobile phone I was very irritated to find out that after opening more than a few of the older posts it blocked me out and told me to use the API!

We're not talking 100 page requests here... we're talking less than 15, but they were all older posts (some a few years).

I found this place in the referrer stats for one of my blog entries (45 days after this place was launched, it seems). The discussion on my articles here here was so much more constructive than it had been for the same articles over on Reddit that I started checking back more and more often, eventually just giving up on Reddit entirely.

Funny thing that I didn't notice at the time: The article in question was submitted by "pg". Wow!


The article in question was submitted by "pg". Wow!

Confidence of having all this stuff available, because someone running the service really cares, is part of HNs charm. Discussion and people are main reasons, of course.

HB HN! Happy 6th Birthday!

In the past year, unique IPs seem to be increasing while the number of page views has only increased slightly.

Quick analysis would be that HN is continuing to attract new people to the site, but people aren't surfing within HN as much. It makes sense given the assumption that most people probably surf the HN front page as those are where the more relevant stories are showcased and then post articles from time to time.

From another perspective, people are decreasing their engagement with HN. They may not be wandering into the "Ask", "New", or "Jobs" columns.

Just thought I'd share some quick statistical analysis that went through my head when looking at the graph...nonetheless, Happy 6th Birthday HN! It's remarkable at how quickly its grown and moreover, how it has remained a resourceful tool to so many people!

I found it hard to be sure squinting at the graph, so here is one including the ratio: http://www.ycombinator.com/images/hn6ratio.png

One trend over the last couple years is more people checking from multiple devices -- more IPs for the same page views.

Another macro change in the last couple years is blogs linking to an HN comment thread. Those links often bring one page view & one IP.

Spikes in page views without a corresponding spike in IPs in the early years are due to crawlers.

That seems to me a fairly consistent ratio of 10 pages per ip (per day). So your conjecture is we have doubled the number of pages each person views but doubled the number of devices viewed on too, so no overall change to the ratio.

Is there any way to see growth of registered accounts over time - it might serve as a proxy for "lurkers" and might indicate the proportion of actual people to unique IPs? Ie if accounts has grown half as fast as uniq IPs it's reasonable to assume we all have two devices and look at twice as many pages. If it's a similar growth pattern, we spend less time on HN.

(of course if you track accounts and IPs that would help more:-)

Another and possibly larger factor is that we cracked down on crawlers.

Definitely makes sense. Would you say HN has exceeded your expectations thus far relative to what you envisioned it at launch?

Whenever there's a tech-related thing (product, framework, company, or what have you) I need to know more about, one of the first things I do is google "site:news.ycombinator.com <thing>." Almost always fetches a lot of insightful content that I doubt can be found anywhere else as quickly.

Happy birthday HN!

Congratulations! It's my absolute favorite community on the internet and an invaluable resource. Thanks to pg and everybody involved in providing it!

Is it just me, or has the worrisome rise in incivility here begun to taper off somewhat?

Edit: if I'm right about that, then actual incivility has tapered off just as the reputation of HN for being mean and uncivil has escalated.

This whole thread is Meta Carnaval so one gets to indulge whatever meta commenting tendencies one normally ought to repress!

I have the same birthday as HN ... only problem is I'm 20 years older and apparently its already accomplished more than me lol.

Happy Birthday HN and thanks pg for giving us a great place to hang out

Happy birthday :)

What happened in mid-July last year? A massive spike in page views, it seems, for what looks like about 2 weeks.

A very aggressive crawler.


  Perhaps you should post the stats, after subtracting out the bot visits, from the stats. 

  For our daily stats we do that. Also (internally) report the bot visit counts. For example yesterday we had: 

    Bot name 	No. of visits
       User-Agent=Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html),	95000*
       User-Agent=Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; bingbot/2.0; +http://www.bing.com/bingbot.htm),	700*
* - the last few digits have been rounded off

Edit: For display

HN has replaced /. for me. Thanks for filling that void.

now if only I could save/upvote stories on HN. Does anyone else have this issue?

"Most forums degrade over time, but we don't think that's inevitable. We're determined to keep this site good, because we use it ourselves."


Keep up the good work.

Wow, I joined almost 4 years ago... I went from slashdot (3 digit ID) through a totally non-productive fark/digg phase to here. I guess I missed the reddit bandwagon although the company is based in the same building I work in now. :) I prefer the tech focused sites and not the general "cool stuff" sites, and while sub-reddits meet that goal, I guess there's too much "other" stuff going on there which is a distraction.

Even after 18 years in the software building biz (as a developer) I still have so much to learn, and one of the things about this site is that I'm exposed to new technology and programming languages, great presenters and ideas. I still want to be doing this in another 20 years and I feel like the stuff I see on HN really helps keep me motivated (despite the distraction at times, which I mitigate by running through an HN rss feed filter that only shows posts with a certain number of points or more). For example, right now I'm reading about Kanren. :)

I'd be interested in knowing what news triggered the spikes in traffic.

It's also interesting to see how traffic seems to come mostly from weekdays.

For myself its an intelligent distraction between server re-starts and waiting for compilations etc. Don't do so much of that stuff at the weekend.

Can anyone annotate the big spikes?

That was my first question, what are the occasional big spikes (not the weekend drops in traffic)? Interestingly, spikes in page views and unique page views do not correspond well, although sometimes they're slightly offset from each other.

As minimaxir says, this is the weekends. Amazon.com gets big traffic spikes during the typical work week, I suspect HN's traffic spikes are the same effect =).

I believe the big spike a year last Nov/Dec was the cricket bat story that went mainstream media. The one after, was that _why going offline?

Steve Job's death on Oct 5 is about as big a real spike as I'd expect to see.

Presumably some of those correspond with the start of funding cycles.

Happy Birthday HN! Despite the complaints I see here every now and then that the content is going to hell and becoming another reddit, I dont think there exists a better site that can both simultaneously waste free time and make you better informed. :) I don't think I can remember a day that I haven't visited at least once.

Here's to 6 more! CHEERS!

What happened between July and Aug 2012? where we see a spike in #page views followed by a spike in #unique IPs?

Apparently it was a crawler: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5254877

I wonder how many people from the 1st year of HN are still active commenters today? I wasn't here from the start, but did get in pretty early (in the first year?); I've seen many names come and go! But in the early days, I did not pay too much attention to the usernames....

I miss menloparkbum.

Also dfranke, byrneseyeview, and jwecker. For the first year it was basically all the same 20 or 30 people.

And of course nickb!

Happy birthday!

The answer to this question is probably evident to some, but I have a hard time figuring it out: what causes the regular spike+drop which seems to occur 3-4 times a month? Is a certain day of the week a "dead day" (maybe Sundays)?

Saturday and Sunday. It's typical seasonality.

So basically just about everybody is reading HN only at work. Procrastinators, ahoy!

Looking at that growth, I can only imagine how many startups were launched because of HN. HN played a huge role in convincing me to quit my corporate job and join a startup, and then later start my own.

Would you like to share what that startup is? I am genuinely interested as I'm about to start a new venture myself after being inspired by HN.


And here we see a completely typical "overnight sensation".

(interesting number - if that 6 years represents 6 years of ~30hr weeks, HN has just hit the magic "10,000 hours of practice" required to become an expert…)

What is really exciting about this site is its code. It is just about a couple of megabytes of Arc, together with the language compiler.

It remarkable, that this very site is a proof of the ideas and concepts described in "On Lisp". It is not just works, it creates that much value.

Information and old code - http://arclanguage.org/

When you see it, you, perhaps, would look at all that piles of meaningless OO crap differently. Just about a megabyte of code and "good-enough" design decisions.

I can't remember how I found HN, but it has hands down affected my life in a positive, tangible way.

Here's to another 6 years of awesome links, insightful commentary and no-nonsense commenters.

What exactly causes the "...up down up down up down..." pattern. I'd think day/night but I don't think the graphs have multiple points per day.

Looks to be weekdays vs. weekends.

I came here in may or june of 2007. Was led here via watching Justin.TV when that first started; launched my first start up there, yet back then I had zero technical skills. Tough to do a start-up when you don't know how to code, especially back then in my area.

Overall I been an avid(addicted) read since - thanks!

Are the pageviews and unique IPs per day?


It's a good lesson for overfunded startups to see what one PG achieved compared to the multi-million dollar, multi-person implosion that was Digg.

Keeping a relentless focus on scaling value and utility rather than spend and headcount is a much more sound way to build long term value.

Does this include the hacker news api? Since i'm using my phone a lot to checkout hacker news.

Looks more like it was yesterday. A happy belated birthday. :)


Maybe to celebrate future birthdays, only members who were here during the first 2 years can post on the anniversary... before it hit the "terrible 2's".

it's funny seeing how traffic drops during weekends :)

Happy Birthday HN!

There was sudden spike in traffic (both unique IPs and pageviews) in the months of July-Aug last year. I'm curious to know what caused that spike?

Yeah there are a few stand outs on the graph... would love to hear what caused them. - Dec 2011 - Jun/Jul 2010 - Aug/Sep 2009

This is not specifically related, but I've always wondered: why does traffic rise and fall periodically on practically every popular website?

Lunar phase

What has that to do with anything?

I don't think your question is answerable - traffic depends on a huge number of factors, many of which are human or random. Lunar phase may very well be a minor factor.

Happy birthday HN! (and thanks for building it, PG)

Shouldn't unique IP be unique cookie? Because IP is not that much unique, two people can have the same IP and both surfing hackernews.

Lots of people read HN without creating accounts.

Quite a few people hit HN as part of a Google search.

One of my blog posts gets a steady stream of visitors every day from people looking for comparisons of Chef, Puppet and cfengine; they come across from a link I made in a HN thread.

Happy birthday, HN! It would be neat to load this data into StatWing (YC S12) and let the community explore trends and such.

Wow .. show's that long term tending of a community could be more valuable than techcrunching etc ..

What will HN's stat's be in 10 years!

I keep coming back and hoping to find the original dataset in CSV format.

I suspect some interesting seasonality at the hourly level.

Does YC keep any metrics regarding submission and comment quality?

Quantitative vs. Qualitative

Any idea what the peaks in July last year were due to?

Up and to the right.

Congrats HN

ps: any way to recover old username with no email on file.

Congrats! :) It's my most visited site.

2193 / 365

Ah damn it. What have I done with myself?

Absolutely shitty chart, it must have points for weeks not days (because of the obvious weekly cycle) and be log scale.

The axes are labeled. You can tell from the horizontal scale that you're right about the regular peaks being weekly. The charts are not using any log scales however.

Yes i mean that: there is no useful information in seeing these weekly spikes, and having points for days rather than weeks makes chart uselessly wide. Just averaging data in weekly intervals will make the chart way smaller and more readable.

Happy Sixth Birthday!

Happy birthday HN!

pg, do you have browser version stats?

Congrats PG

slow weekends, eh?


The graph is poorly designed, someone got to be too lazy to leave out the YEARS from the X-axis.

You want your money back or for someone to get off your lawn?


As long as they didn't leave out the X-axis labels the graph is fine.

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