Ask HN: How do you track comment threads in HN?

47 points | by xcambar 13 days ago


  • codingdave 13 days ago
    I don't. I say my piece, and let it lie. Sometimes it is taken well, other times it invokes healthy discussions, sometimes it is ignored, taken poorly, or I am corrected and downvoted. None of those reactions require me to keep constant tabs on it. I do check my history on occasion to see what gets positive vs. negative responses, and try to use that as critique to become a better member of the community.
    • muzani 13 days ago
      I think it's actually a "feature" that there's no notifications so I don't get sucked into arguments. Sometimes it's best to pretend that I didn't see the response.
    • starkd 13 days ago
      Just guessing here, but I don't think HN was designed for engaged prolonged discussion. If it were, they probably would have implemented such features as can be found in other platforms. That could transform it into something never intended.

      Personally, I think people put too much focus on comments. Many are trying to persuade others of a view (and hence are impervious to true discussion). Comments are useful to the extent they provide new information or links directing people to other similar content. I think the limitations on HN comments put the emphasis on the latter purpose and away from the former.

      • dang 13 days ago
        I look at it this way: it's designed for engaged, prolonged discussion if and only if people continue to be interested enough in it to remember. If they aren't, activation energy falls below a certain threshold and attention naturally moves on to something else. That seems healthy for curious conversation, which fits the prime directive of HN (

        What we don't do is resort to technical tricks to keep that energy buzzed up. We're optimizing for curiosity, not engagement.

        • varrock 13 days ago
          Which is precisely why this is my favorite message board on the Internet. I love that I never have to collapse comments in HN threads because they're witty or off-topic.
        • CodeGlitch 13 days ago
          The high level on insight I have gained from HN comments is the reason that I spend 90% of my internet time on HN. There's plenty I don't agree with, but I think it's healthy to be exposed to all points of view. For me, HN hits the sweet-spot with it's commenting system, and I hope it never changes.
          • PenguinCoder 13 days ago
            Thing is , I respect, like, and read HN for the exceptional comments. The links themselves I might find on Reddit, but I don't read those comments. The value add of HN is the comments and I want to stay Informed of those, especially if I comment to the discussion, or awaiting answer/feedback.
            • starkd 13 days ago
              I do too. I'm just more turned off when there's too much back and forth argument that is not useful to anyone else. It's not to hard to scroll away, but with too much of it, it becomes an annoying distraction.
            • mikewarot 13 days ago
              Leaving a comment is a commitment to a conversation, it's rude to just shout something and then leave.
              • hombre_fatal 13 days ago
                I disagree. Make your point and then let others enjoy the show and share their own opinions.

                One of the most obnoxious HNisms is when someone makes a comment and then monopolizes every downstream response to defend their position and ego. If you have a good point, then give others a chance to defend the point for you.

                Frankly I wouldn’t mind a feature that only lets you post one comment downstream of your other comment.

                • mikewarot 12 days ago
                  I've slowly been realizing that it's best to let someone else defend a position, but only comment to clear up mis-understandings.

                  Of course, you have to be tracking the threads to do that.

                • kjaftaedi 13 days ago
                  It's possible to provide insight into a subject without having to 'school' everyone.

                  Leaving comments that thousands of people have to scroll past so you can have a warm feeling that you are being friendly is not beneficial to the group. Please re-think your approach to commenting.

                  • happytoexplain 13 days ago
                    >Leaving a comment is a commitment to a conversation

                    This depends on the content of the comment. Some are more obviously asking for a back-and-forth and some are not. Just because you replied to a comment of the latter type doesn't mean the author is obligated to notice and take the time to give an opinion on what you wrote.

                    >it's rude to just shout something and then leave

                    Sure, but how do you define "shout something" and "leave" in this context? Most comments are not tantamount to just "shouting something", and surely there is some threshold of time passing and/or the quality of content where neglecting a reply no longer counts as "leaving".

                    • krapp 13 days ago
                      It is rude, but it's necessary. Despite its pretensions of civility, Hacker News is not a truly civil place. It has it's fair share of trolls, cranks and sociopaths who will gladly spend hours stonewalling, derailing and sea-lioning you, just to piss you off, or score an endorphine hit from you. Many people aren't here to talk to you, so much as talk at you.

                      You have to learn when you're talking to one of the rare people who are interested in anyone but themselves or anything but their own point of view. As soon as you realize the other party is acting in bad faith, or you feel like there's little chance of further conversation not becoming hostile or just going in pointless circles, just leave.

                      That is the only way to stay sane here and avoid futile attempts at conversation degenerating into flamewars.

                      • atatatat 13 days ago
                        There are as many drive by helpers as there are trolls.
                  • JosephRedfern 13 days ago
                    I use a service called HN Notify to get email notifications when one of my comments has been replied to. It seems to work quite well.

                    (To the author of HN Notify: if you're reading this, thank you!)

                    • SeriousM 13 days ago
                      Thank you! I'm not that keen of replies, but sometimes they are a good read.
                      • anonred 13 days ago
                        HN Replies is another similar service (, which I’ve been using for a few years now (not affiliated).
                      • freedomben 13 days ago
                        I mostly use the "threads" link at the top to keep track of any replies to my own comments. As far as tracking other people's comments, if you know the user's ID you can also use their link. For example mine is:

                        There's a neat RSS feed service that I sometimes use also, although my power just went out so I can't dig it up right now. Will try to report back.

                        • chrisfrantz 13 days ago
                          Oh nice. I usually just click my profile name but this is better.
                        • jaredsohn 13 days ago
                          For pull, click on threads.

                          For push, set up or a similar site. Will only give you replies and not updated karma counts. (edit: and be aware of linking your email and hacker news username if relevant for you)

                        • simonw 13 days ago
                          I have a custom tool for this:

                          It provides me with a command-line utility for fetching all of the comments in a particular thread into a SQLite database, for example:

                              hacker-news-to-sqlite trees hacker-news.db 27897211
                          For threads that I'm actively involved in (probably no more than a few times a year) I will run this script about once an hour - then I can use "select * from items order by time desc" (usually in Datasette) to see the most recent comments.

                          (The initial goal of the tool was to archive my own comments, which can be done with "hacker-news-to-sqlite user hacker-news.db your-username" - I run that on a cron)

                          • jimmyvalmer 13 days ago
                            Emacs users are familiar with nnhackernews ( which picks up comments on stories you've read (and hides comments for stories you didn't).
                            • aasasd 13 days ago
                              The ‘Hacker News Enhancement Suite’ browser extension highlights new replies on the comment pages, including the ‘threads’/‘your comments’ page. Still a ‘polling’ workflow, but better than nothing. Also adds a few useful links in the header, and makes the front page a bit better-looking.


                              (There's a downside that it breaks the ‘more’ links on paginated comment pages.)

                              Weirdly it seems that third-party Android apps for HN haven't bothered with doing anything similar, checking for replies in the background and popping up notifications. That would be pretty much perfect, and isn't really too complicated.

                              • PaulHoule 13 days ago
                                I go to my own page and click on "comments" which shows a list of my recent comments.
                                • beermonster 13 days ago
                                  This is the same as clicking threads but is one more click?
                                  • happytoexplain 13 days ago
                                    Only if you saved each thread on your bookmarks bar or something.

                                    Edit: My bad - you're referring to the "threads" link at the top, not "clicking (individual) threads", right?

                                    • PaulHoule 13 days ago
                                      I get there from a link on my profile page but threads goes to the same place.
                                      • beermonster 13 days ago
                                        Yes threads menu bar option at top
                                      • rmetzler 13 days ago
                                        I only recognized this when I read this thread. Usually I went to my profile page and clicked comments.
                                    • egor83 13 days ago
                                      To see new replies in existing threads highlighted, hckr news:

                                      To track replies to my own comments, already mentioned

                                      • anigbrowl 13 days ago
                                        I pay people less than they're worth to do that for me and then bask in all the karma. When they get demotivated I hint there might be a new position opening up soon or say something nice about one of their comments.

                                        Seriously though, you get karma by posting stories, balancing what really interests you with what HN looks for in a good story. The more interesting stories you post, the more likely people are to engage with you in comments. Surprising news sometimes makes for a good story, but the most engagement comes from those that either provide an unusually clear illustration of a problem, or would have significant long-term implications if the technology or issue described were to become a norm.

                                        As for keeping track, I just use the Threads link or look at my submissions manually. There is little correlation between how passionately I feel about something at the time of posting and how HN will value it.

                                        • wodenokoto 13 days ago
                                          If I've asked something I'm hoping for an answer to, I will check the threads link at the top when visiting HN. Else I only look at that link when it looks like my karma has increased.

                                          Sometimes karma increases due to an old comment, and I'm not sure if someone replied.

                                          • 0-_-0 13 days ago
                                            Subscribe to the RSS feed at:


                                            For more options see:

                                            • jkarneges 13 days ago
                                              I built which provides a realtime feed of comments. It can be used as a building block for fancier things. For example, our company (and others) use it for monitoring keywords.

                                              For keeping up with replies to my own comments, I still just refresh the page, which is a little sad. :P

                                              • brundolf 13 days ago
                                                I made a little bookmarklet a while back for keeping up with new comments in real-ish time:

                                                I mostly use it when I share one of my own blog posts and there are many sprawling replies/conversations that I want to engage with

                                                • doganengin 13 days ago
                                                  You can use a chrome extension to tag people; this helps you to track people you care about. It is called Social Cat
                                                  • krapp 13 days ago
                                                    I use a plugin that shows new comment counts since my last visit and that highlights new comments[0].

                                                    HN is beta testing a similar feature. I'd encourage them to add the new comment count as well if they haven't.


                                                    • kleer001 12 days ago
                                                      > I see myself keeping a tab open to my latest submitted comments and refreshing frantically to see if any new reply has been posted.

                                                      IMHO that's not a good thing. I bet you've got more important things to keep tabs on.

                                                      • rubyist5eva 13 days ago
                                                        I just manually go to my comments in my profile and look for any new comments on them.
                                                        • hidden-spyder 13 days ago
                                                          Try the "Refined HackerNews" extension. It might help.


                                                          • gabrielsroka 13 days ago
                                                            • jedberg 13 days ago
                                                              I use and also the /threads link at the top.
                                                              • culopatin 12 days ago
                                                                I read it on my iphone using the Hack app. Before they had this feature I’d always forget to reply, even in my own Ask threads
                                                                • kgwxd 13 days ago
                                                                  • atatatat 13 days ago
                                                                    I specifically use Materialistic on Android as a reader, so points for each comment aren't shown.
                                                                    • ako 13 days ago
                                                                      Top menu bar, threads?
                                                                      • happytoexplain 13 days ago
                                                                        Is this a question or a suggestion?
                                                                        • ako 13 days ago
                                                                          Both: what you’re looking for is on the top of the page, or am I misunderstanding the question?
                                                                      • noman-land 13 days ago
                                                                        I subscribe to the RSS feed of replies to my comments.
                                                                        • 9879234 13 days ago
                                                                          stop obsessing over fake internet points?