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How many people read HN?
33 points by allending on Mar 17, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments
I'm trying to come up with a ballpark figure for the number of readers HN has.

The only source I could find with some concrete figures: http://techcrunch.com/2013/05/18/the-evolution-of-hacker-news/ which is about 2 years old.

- 1.6M views, 200,000 uniques per weekday.

Just from this, I'd guess about 25-50% higher than it was in 2013, but that is just my gut speaking.

So the ask: how would you estimate the number of readers HN has. Even better, what their demographic breakdown is.

Roughly 2.6M views a day, 300K daily uniques, 3 to 3.5M monthly uniques. It depends on how you count, of course.

How many unique users post per day? That is a more interesting stat to me.

The following is bad stats, more gut: I would discard 50-75% uniques as random inbounds or non-repeating (habitual) users, bots, people who have switched wifi links, etc. That's going to be a lot closer to reality. Even then, at say 1.5M monthly uniques, divided by 30 = 0.15M/3 = 0.05M = 50,000 daily uniques. I am hugely skeptical there's that many daily human readers and would tend to believe the community aspect would fail at that scale. Besides, we often recognize one another posting. I'd have guessed 10-20% of that, give or take, ie. maybe 5,000-10,000 dailyish humans, max.

The vast majority of logged-in users don't post and the vast majority of readers don't log in.

> That's going to be a lot closer to reality

Trying to tease "reality" out of these numbers drove me mad, so I stopped trying. Are bots "real"? Are spammers? How many "real" users does a unique IP represent? It's better, I think, to just measure a bunch of different things, note how far apart they are, and resist over-interpreting.

Besides the points you raise, I'm still interested in that figure. Otherwise, fair point: my underlying and woefully inexplicit assumption was the desire to reach a meaningful community-related (ie. human or socially-oriented) scale.

That's a magnitude bigger than I thought it should. Guess it's time to move on!

J/K, is it possible to share what kind of hardware is HN running on?

HN runs on a single, not so beefy server:

  FreeBSD 10.1
  Nginx 1.7.10
  Racket 6.1.1 with some HN and FreeBSD specific patches.

  2x 3GHz Intel Xeon-IvyBridge (E5-2690-V2-DecaCore)
  8x16GB Kingston 16GB DDR3 2Rx4
  SuperMicro X9DRI-LN4F+_R1.2A
  Adaptec 71605
  9x 1000GB Western Digital WD RE4
  2x 200GB Smart XceedIOPS SSD

Just redefine "the community" to be the logged-in users and poof, now it's the magnitude you expected.

Pretty much all I know about the hardware is that HN runs on a single core on a capacious server. Perhaps kogir will show up to say more.

How many of those 300k and 3M are registered users?

If you mean how many logged-in usernames, something like 40k and 100k.

That's a surprisingly small percentage, in my mind.

Do you have any insight as to why? My first guess is that it's non-HNers who stumble across it because of a google result or similar.

I was surprised by it too, but people with more experience than I have seem not to be. When I've told them, their reaction has been "yup, it's always like that". So maybe it's not unusual?

I'm pretty sure it isn't one-time stumbling upon the site. It's that most regular HN readers don't log in.

I imagine a lot of people don't register an account until they feel the need to comment on something. I had browsed HN for a long time before I decided to register and the only reason I did register was so I could reply to someones comment. This is of course anecdotal but its easy to imagine the same case for many people.

Yeah. The main attraction of HN is the links. Comments are usually nice to read, but I rarely have much to add to the discussion.

For me it's at least 50/50. Maybe not even--the links really are just important as they create discussion on a given topic.

I really, really enjoy the comments on this site.

Indeed, the only point of the links for me is that they generate worthwhile discussion. (Which is why I tend to flag political links and such that have been proven to not generate worthwhile discussions, whether or not the article itself is worthwhile.)

Especially because HN shows no summary or anything of the linked article: I'm not going to click on a link if the only information about it that I have is an (often purposefully) abstruse title and a domain name. Once there are a few comments that give me an actual impression of what the article is going to be, then maybe I'll go back and actually read it.

I do love the comments, but I rarely have anything to add, so I don't really need an account. :)

It's pretty common for Internet communities https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%25_rule_%28Internet_culture%...

And some of those are sockpuppet or throwaway accounts, so the actual number of users is bound to be slightly lower than the number of accounts, or even unique IPs.

Yes, thank you.

One thing I feel I should add: HN has always been about quality over quantity. We spend our time on what we think may improve the quality of the site, and if we had to choose between being smaller/better and bigger/worse, I hope it's obvious that, and why, we'd choose smaller/better. Growing, but slowly, seems to be the right state for HN.

A stat that I can share. My iOS Hacker News Client which is currenty number 4 on AppStore has between 550 - 600 daily unique users and roughly 2.5k daily sessions on average.

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