The solution HN implemented for the problem of crowdsourcing front-page curation is to allow a short window of time for all submissions to be on the front page in order to gather points. Wouldn't work for Reddit, but works rather well for HN.
I have noticed that when I use a mobile app to browse HN, I'm far more willing to keep going past the front page, if only because it doesn't require clicks to do so.
I'd suggest an option for forever-scroll presentation for the article list.
> The solution HN implemented for the problem of crowdsourcing front-page curation is to allow a short window of time for all submissions to be on the front page in order to gather points.
I wasn't aware of that…
My own HN submissions never made it to the front page without gathering two upvotes first. Those are pretty hard to get without a voting ring (err, two friends). There's the "new" page all right, but new stories come so fast there that it never lasts more than an hour.
Once you get past the "front page" threshold however, points tend to flood in. The second vote is probably worth several dozen votes on average.
Reddit sub-forums however lets new submissions land in the front page directly. Unsurprisingly, this makes voting pattern much more predictable (at least on r/programming and r/crypto, which are basically the only forums I go to).
I think a hybrid approach would be to show the new submissions list after the front page list, after the fold (maybe having a delimiter separating them). That way new stories still get exposure to everyone by default (of course, this should also be a user option where they can turn this on or off, but default to on).
I've noticed that at weekends articles require fewer points to hang around for longer on the homepage as well. I should probably stop reading HN on weekends really because the clear reason for this is that the people who aren't reading (and voting things up) have a life.
"The median today, in 2018, is around 150 points -- double what it was when I joined the site in 2011. With a bit of hand-waving, we might be able to claim that "HN points are worth half as much in 2018 as they were in 2011"."
This is to be expected if HN has a larger userbase now than in the past.
More people voting means more points are given to popular posts.
It's harder to get on the home page than it used to be, but not because point inflation. It's because there are more submissions than ever before, but still the same number of stories on the home page.
That's one of the more interesting patterns in HN's history because it changed noticeably at the beginning of 2012. Before that it was growing rapidly, but then it declined and since then has been fluctuating. It's currently about where it was at the end of 2011: https://imgur.com/a/F7BC7TE. Meanwhile the number of comments is more than twice what it was then.
The userbase grew a lot since 2012. You'd expect that to lead to proportionally more submissions (as it did more comments), but the number of submissions has stayed about the same. Bit of a puzzle, no?
My theory is that it's because there's a limited supply of good-for-HN articles out there. But really we don't know. Also, those numbers are raw total submissions, with no attempt to control for dupes.
This is why I went from just reading/commenting on the front page stories, to actually starting on the New tab and then working to the front page.
I also see a ton of upvoted stories on the front page with no comments. I always thought the focus of HN was the thoughtful conversations that took place around topics, not the accrual of fake internet points.
Even better: if you upvote a story you should share the subsequent karma points on a pro-rata basis, i.e.: everyone who upvotes a story gets karma points equal to the total upvotes divided by the number of upvotes the story had when they upvoted it (or something like that). You'd have to balance that out by having it cost some karma points to cast an upvote. That would encourage people to seek out quality content on the new page.
slashdot worked (works) a bit similar, though you didn't pay with your own karma points. Instead you were granted a few voting points now and then, which made them feel scarcer, which encouraged considerate use.
As a submitter of original content, it's a little different. From the article:
> Sudden dramatic 50% increase from 2016 — 2017
I've felt that. I write a bunch of tech articles on HTTPS, nginx, HAProxy, CSP, EV verification, Brotli, TLS errors, and other HN-worthy topics (https://certsimple.com/blog/). In 2015-2016 I'd continually get on the front page simply by writing about something useful regarding these topics in a relatively straightforward way (maybe with some Sketch diagrams and other useful graphics). These days, while I still get a bunch of traffic from Reddit and Google, HN frontpage doesn't really seem to happen for my content.
I wonder how much of that is HN, and how much of that is DevOps "fashion" meaning fewer people configure their own server stack in the startup world now. Presumably the abundance of free AWS/GCE/Azure credit means people don't need to read about configuring their own load balancing proxy or SSL certificate as often now. For lots of services SSL is a button click. It seems possible that HN readers have greater access to free AWS stuff than Reddit readers.
> that didn't change suddenly between 2016 to 2017
How do you know? The availability of AWS didn't change much between 2016 and 2017, but maybe 2017 was when people started using it en masse.
In business school, they play the beer game ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_distribution_game ) to emphasize that a change at one end of the supply chain has weird, lengthy effects on the whole thing. You don't just switch seamlessly from the old state of affairs to the new; there's a big, massively awkward transition period.
Basically because devops doesn't change much of the need for info on systems architecture - some (like using ELB or DO LBs) but not much. In the presence of proof of a change in HN, and the absense of evidence for a sudden adoption of AWS, I'll apply Occam's razor.
I think you're right, but I think psychology comes into play as well, which complicates things.
That is, if I see something with 800 points and read/enjoy the article, I'm less likely to upvote than if it has only 200 points. I have similar feelings about photos on FB, which I'm more likely to "like" if it has only a few reactions than if it has over 100 already.
I don't know if others have similar feelings about when to upvote things, but if my thought process is not uncommon then it could dampen the impact of a growing user base. It's sort of like the bystander effect, but for internet platforms.
There's a pretty noticeable effect in HN comment karma where the same comment is probably worth an upvote if it's at zero or negative ("this didn't deserve to be downvoted"), but not if it isn't ("didn't deserve to be upvoted, either").
Like the phenomenon you describe, this suggests that a lot of people are trying to use their vote to move the total vote towards what they think it should be, rather than purely expressing an up-or-down opinion independent of the existing vote.
I can’t help but think part of this, at least when it comes to downvoted comments, is that the downvoting is very obvious due to the progressive graying. You’re more likely to notice something and ask yourself “wtf? There’s nothing wrong with this comment. clicks up arrow” than if the low score was just a number.
A lot of Reddit is about which subreddits you participate in and how the moderation works. I participate in some niche subreddits that are absolutely great and are good discussion grounds on those particular topics.
Do you rather feel that Reddit has gotten worse or did you grow out of it?
I feel like me or the web has changed significantly over the past years. I'm just not sure if I'm different and have seen it all or if everything became more professional and commercial and at the same time less interesting to explore.
I assume HN readership has grown, with readers probably giving out roughly on average the same number of up-votes they used to for story submissions per any time unit (maybe some variability). The number of points it takes for a story to beat out sibling stories should then also increase. There may be other effects such as a wider-variety-of-stories-being-submitted than from before that would perhaps squash per-story-votes-needed-to-stay-on-front-page.
One might say "but there are more stories being submitted too" -- but the unique number of these wouldn't go up linearly as the number of readers goes up, since they're pulling from roughly the same universe of possible stories-of-interest.
It does make sense that it's harder to get to the front-page now. There are more submissions than ever before and there's got to be some way to filter what matters and what doesn't. This also means that a lot of good articles get lost in new, but it's not as troublesome as it would be if a lot of bad articles ended up on the front-page. That's what curation means.
Given HN’s high traffic rate it could implement a simple genetic algorithm to randomly display a couple of new articles, selecting with clicks & comments. Could limit this kind of seeding to posters who have had previous posting success.
Austerity! Of course! That we can all just live here for free has to be the main flaw of the system. Few here earn their keep. Yes, I'm looking at you HN reader!
Lets set up a stock exchange for articles and with a stock exchange I mean a gambling platform. Have all the fun mechanics like hedging, shorting, double or nothing etc
That said we the association of comment manufacturers deserve better marketing and higher margins. Something for nothing is a terrible idea. Our time isn't free. Lets make opening a page cost micro points per comment posted and introduce cheap mega-downvotes.