Great work! I love when organic user behaviors are recognized and made first class features.
Allow me to emphasize something from the Show HN Guidelines:
> Be respectful. Anyone sharing creative work is making a contribution, however modest.
> Ask questions out of curiosity. Don't cross-examine.
> Instead of "you're doing it wrong", suggest alternatives. When someone is learning, help them learn more.
> When something isn't good, you needn't pretend that it is. But in that case, consider saying nothing.
The comments section of Show HN posts are not an invitation for you to tear someone apart for your own self-aggrandizing glory. If you want to be helpful, be constructive. If you don't want to be helpful, don't bother.
When you see a Show HN, assume that whoever created it, perhaps not unlike you, is working to drive his or her dreams into existence. Each post represents a dream, a personal story, a literal piece of their Life.
For many of us, perhaps the majority of us, that means grinding at the mine during the day, returning home after perhaps a long commute, spending time with and cooking for our family, our significant other, etc... then, clocking back in at 9:00pm or 10:00pm to bring it for the next several, precious hours, working to make the dream real... then catching some sleep, waking up and turning around and dropping the hammer all over again.
It's just something to remember as you comment to someone about their work.
The problem is that people are different. Some people will like the diverse community at HN to scrutinise their work to potentially improve it. Otherwise just want positive reinforcement. You can't really put both sides into the same bucket and decide that everyone should sugarcoat all the time.
I love criticising and my projects being criticised as long as there clearly is knowledge or experience behind. What if you see someone making a huge mistake based on your knowledge, should you stay quiet? Making sure that feedback comes across as nice and well-intended can be hard and time consuming for people who speak English as a second or third language.
So maybe there should be a differentiation between "Proudly presenting" and "Looking for honest feedback" somehow?
I don't think anyone is suggesting a lack of honest feedback. I don't like the phrase "constructive criticism" because it's been used into meaningless, but that's basically what's being suggested. Let me try an example instead of a definition.
Let's say someone is making a clear architectural misstep: They're trying to use python/django on a project, but their goals really require something like Tornado, and they're building themselves into a corner.
Maybe from where you're sitting it looks like an idiot mistake. The question is then, how to engage? Do you tell them condescendingly that only an idiot would misuse tools like that, and that they're foolishly the HTTP request/response model that Django implements?
Or, do you try to guess at where their knowledge fails, and give them links to writeups about asynchronous programming? Or do you engage them in conversation and try to ascertain why they're making the mistake, and gently explain that better programming models have been devised for the problem they're trying to solve, and why don't they look into it and see if they agree, and "by the way if you have any more questions here's my email, I'd be happy to help."
If people can't handle receiving this last approach, then it speaks to a certain lack of immaturity. If people can't handle acting taking this, it also speaks to a certain lack of maturity. We should try to build and enforce social norms that help growth as programmers and minimize conflict. Fortunately these goals aren't inimical; in fact, the more contentious the discussion, the less learning gets done.
Absolutely agree on these guidelines. It takes a lot of bravery to put yourself out there in public. It should take just as much class to offer advice and constructive criticism instead of tearing somebody else's work down.
edit also, is it just me or is the front page plastered with Show HN links? Does anybody else think that's awesome?
It'll settle down. Never judge HN by one day or even a few—the status quo ante is more stable than that. Genuine long-term changes here are more subtle. (Which is actually a challenge, but that's another story.)
What is "news"? Show HN is arguably, in many cases, the newest thing. Techcrunch, Wired, et al, are just corporate or mainstream news (not that there aren't other interesting posts that also aren't news on HN). I think many people come here to learn, new or not.
It's not just you, and I agree that it's awesome. I hope that trend continues, it might be the push HN needed to bounce back from becoming slashdot, going back to its roots as a news site by and for entrepreneurs. With which I don't mean that HN should be 100% 'Show HN' posts, but more that HN should be generated by the sort of people who appreciate Show HN posts.
Almost makes me wonder if there should be a karma requirement to comment on Show HN posts. I hate restrictions generally speaking, and I don't know if it's safe to assume longer tenured members inherently have more class when offering feedback.
>I don't know if it's safe to assume longer tenured members inherently have more class when offering feedback.
I don't think it is. If anything, tenured members may feel more entitled to be rude without consequences. Karma isn't really a measure of civility so much as popularity over time, and it doesn't really communicate any context. Also, if there were a minimum for commenting, there should be a minimum for posting, which might leave new users with interesting projects out.
I like to repeat this fact whenever it's relevant: In my two or three years now on HN, the most upvotes I've ever got were all on scornful comments (towards a single company). It didn't make me or others any wiser, though I still got 'karma' points.
If karma is a valid measure of poster quality then surely it's just as important to ensure a higher standard for posts as well as comments. If, on the other hand, karma doesn't indicate experience in anything other than getting karma, then it's irrelevant either way. I happen to believe the latter is more true than the former.
Something that's elsewhere in the guidelines is: pretend your talking to someone in person and think what you'd say. For me that strikes the right balance - I might find things I'm not enthusiastic about, but I'd weight my words carefully.
Yes, we clearly need to make those more prominent.
Edit: we changed it to emphasize the Show HN guidelines more.
Edit 2: I think we'll also write something much more detailed about the kind of discussions we want in Show HN threads: discussions that foster further creativity. Perhaps we'll put it up on the YC blog and then have a new thread about all this, once the dust settles from the first Show HN carnival.
I'm afraid this comment is more than a little off-topic: maybe not for the thread as a whole, but certainly as a reply to the top comment. It doesn't relate to what rickhanlonii said in any way—and what rickhanlonii touched on is crucial: the kind of discussions we want to encourage in Show HN threads.
I only recently joined Product Hunt, but to me the major differentiator is that Show HN are self-submitted products, while Product Hunt is a curated list. That means I'm more likely to find higher quality and interesting products on Product Hunt, but I'll be the first to learn about a new product from Show HN.
And also how people on HN sometimes have trouble putting themselves in the shoes of others. The 2nd top comment is a perfect example:
> For a Linux user, you can already build such a system yourself quite trivially by getting an FTP account, mounting it locally with curlftpfs, and then using SVN or CVS on the mounted filesystem. From Windows or Mac, this FTP account could be accessed through built-in software.
To be fair, I was making an argument that it was trivial to replicate, and it was... Ubuntu, Google, Microsoft, and several others did just that. Kudos to Dropbox for their unanticipated (by me, anyway) staying power.
I didn't mean to call you out personally. I think we've all made that mistake before. My point was more that even if something is technically replicable, there is value in making it super easy for the non-technical user.
Experiment (YC W13) started off as a Show HN, but back then we were called Microryza. It was a very modest thing, and after somehow getting near the top of the front page, we were flooded with traffic [http://i.imgur.com/miMyx7x.png]. That traffic spike is what convinced us to quit our jobs and go all out. Show HN is definitely my favorite part of hacker news.
There's a definite influx of Show HN submissions happening right now. I see 7 in the top 30; I've never seen that many before.
I'm sure they won't remain at this level, but I hope formalizing the action will encourage more to post. I also hope that there is less of an expectation of a perfect product when something is submitted, and we can respectfully offer advice. I've seen some products that were obviously weekend hacks torn apart as if there were a 15 person team building them for a year.
I know I've definitely been hesitant to post in the past for being called out for self-promotion or something. I think formalizing it like this will encourage a lot of people to share who might otherwise not.
My Favorite Part:
"There have been about 24,000 Show HNs so far. The first used the title "Show and Tell HN", and was GitHub-related. The second, and the first to use the "Show HN" convention , was a face recognition project. And the third was a Hacker News alternative. Plus ça change..."
Glad to see this implemented...now on to the feature creep!
Sometimes the submitters use a text post, which I imagine they do because they want to give some context to the project that may not be ideal to present prominently on a landing page, but which likely cuts down on click-throughs (because of the slight inconvenience of users having to find the link to click through to in the text post).
Maybe it's worth having a post-type...for submitters only...in which the submitter gets first say and a click-through title? And those who use it for non-Show-HN submissions are mercilessly flagged to oblivion? Sometimes the submitter's first-comments are buried depending on the type of discussions that occur.
danso, that's an interesting idea, but it goes against one goals stated
in the site guidelines, namely, a user should not be able to give their
own comment or opinion preferential placement. It's the reason why urls
in text posts are not turned into links (anchors), and why we're never
supposed to editorialize submission titles. The same is true for rank
weighting, since text based submissions sink faster than url based
Though not exactly, the guidelines roughly suggest a way around this
issue; write something on your own site, and submit that instead. If the
guidelines haven't changed since the last time I read them a week ago,
pg essentially said to write your own blog post and submit it, or
something like that. e.g.
This solves all of the problems, but few people realize it.
One of the tougher problems I've had on /newest with url based
submissions is differentiating between spam links and people who just
forgot to add the leading "Show HN:" when submitting their new site/biz.
If you create a new travel, dentistry, or cooking site and forget the
"Show HN:" on your submission title, there's a good chance I'll flag it
as spam. I try to be lenient because I really want to avoid clobbering
someone who is just starting out.
I'm curious. Do Show HN posts work the same way as normal link submissions? I have vague memories that certain types of posts are weighted differently and sink down the front page faster. Maybe that's for the Ask HN posts?
Would you consider making Show HN posts text only? That way the submitter provides background info / context, why they made the service, what they hope to do with it, etc. I think requiring text-only for Show HN will help minimize people spamming their own links and more about people contributing the experience building their Show HN item.
Hah, contrary to almost any other post, every comment including the top one is positive! That makes me glad and also it forces me to rephrase my one fear a bit.
I hope this won't give people the impression that "show HN" is now a channel where you should submit anything without hesitation. I like the organic nature of it and I think it's partly because you feel like you are asking people for their attention at the party, so you need to feel justified in doing so. But hopefully that will still be the case.
The etiquette for reposting Show HNs is similar to that for reposting in general, but there is one difference.
The general rule of thumb is: when a story hasn't had significant attention on HN in about the last year, a small number of reposts is ok. That's so good stories can have more than one crack at the bat.
We can adjust that for Show HNs like this: if a Show HN has already had significant attention on HN, there shouldn't be another Show HN for the same project. In other words, no one-year cutoff. But if a Show HN hasn't had significant attention yet, a small number of reposts is ok.
As the guidelines at https://news.ycombinator.com/showhn.html point out, though, if a project has had a new and interesting breakthrough, it might be ok to make a new Show HN out of that. But not for routine feature releases.
In case anyone is wondering, yes, we're eventually going to add this information to the Hacker News FAQ. We're dragging our heels about that, partly because we want to change things slowly, and partly because we have ideas for more sophisticated dupe detection that we might want to try out first.
I guess the filter should only include titles with a colon after the "Show HN". Right now there's the story from yesterday: "Show HN vs. TechCrunch vs. Product Hunt: what's most effective to launch a product".
(Is it weird that the first thing I did was to see if this story was there?)
The trouble with that suggestion is that it's fairly common for people to omit the colon. I think we'll just deal with such cases manually; that's what we did with the one you mention—we put "Ask HN: " at the beginning of the title.
Awesome, thanks for listening to feedback and implementing this feature.
One question though, is there a big uptick in Show HN posts today or is something wrong with the HN RSS feed? Just noticed a full page of Show HN posts on the feed and was curious if it was organic or maybe a bug.
As the creator (and neglector) of one of the more popular bastions of people interested in just Show HNs (showinghn.com), I think this is a good move. If anyone has any ideas of what other sort of value I could provide with showinghn.com, feel free to let me know.
Really glad to see this - great work! I love following Show HN. I recently posted one about my startup that got to the front page and saw hundreds of sign ups and got some really honest feedback. Thank you for continuing to improve HN for the community!
Absolutely great! Sharing your work with peers and getting inspiration from others' work is hard core of hacker culture, so it's nice to see HN to adjust the focus on that way.
I'm little bit worried that Show HN might turn to Spam HN. I think it should be limited so that one url can be posted only once and there should be some kind of update function. Updates would give the post some fixed amount of weight to rise it so that heavily downvoted ones wouldn't rise to front page anymore.
I think it's fair for the Show HNs to dominate the front page on their big day. I doubt it will stay that way.
If it does stay that way, it'll be a nice problem to have, since that would amount to a renaissance of creative work—at least in quantity if not in quality. (And quantity can lead to quality, too.) In any case, we'll burn that bridge when we come to it, as a teammate of mine used to say.
I tend to resist the idea of balkanizing the front page. It seems to me in the essence of HN that you have one front page and everyone's dissatisfied with it.
dang, Most people don't know that the rank of text-based submissions
decays faster than url-based submissions, so by using the wrong type
of submission on your "Show HN" you shoot yourself in the foot by using
a text-based submission. This should be noted in the guidelines or
adjusted in the code.
Also, I'd add a suggestion to the guidelines for "Show HN" submissions
to use a landing page like "http://example.org/show-hn.html" when
appropriate so the submitter can ask for specific types of help or
feedback. This solves the top-comment problem mentioned by danso, and
also solves the text-based submission problem.
All in all, "Show HN" is an excellent addition. Thank you.
EDIT: The new code is actually finding the text-based submissions as
well as the url-based submissions, but at first I thought it was
missing the text-based ones.
Absolutely. There have been hardware Show HNs. Let's have many more! (As always, though, we'd prefer primary sources.)
Obviously, the "other people can play with it" part of the guidelines can't apply to hardware in the same way as to software, but whatever that legal principle is where you interpret the law to fit the case, that's the principle here.
It's no secret the quality of discussion has decreased. I was fine with PG's stick approach with moderation - I couldn't think of anything better. But this looks like a carrot approach that can work. Very clever and elegant solution.
In that case you can do a Show HN. The guidelines are only trying to prevent Show HNs for things that can't be used yet. If you want specific advice, you're welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org. (That goes for anybody.)
We might need to relax this rule. Good work can get off the ground in many ways. Drew Houston got initial traction for Dropbox with a video rather than with working software. Our intention isn't to be overly strict—it's mostly to detach "Show HN" from vaporware landing pages and market tests that don't have serious work behind them.
Many posts on PH aren't submitted by the creator of what is being posted. The main idea behind Show HN posts is posting your own creations. The public here is also more tech oriented than in PH - more product oriented.
Using the data from a previous HN analysis of all posts until Feb 2014 , I've found that 1.45% of all submissions are Show HN submissions. (but that only found 18,000 submissions. If you use the given 24,000 submissions and the current number of articles [1.3m], the percentage is 1.75%)
I have the data loaded if you have any other Show HN questions.