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Introduction to Hacker News ("HN")

Besides Low End Box and Low End Talk, one of the great joys of my days has been reading Hacker News. Anybody interested in computers and the internet will find Hacker News, always referred to as “HN,” filled with tasty treats.

HN is a news aggregator and discussion website. Engineers, entrepreneurs, and hackers from all over the world post technical, scientific, historical, political, entrepreneurial, and product news. What follows is active discussion, frequently by very highly qualified members.

Examples Of High Quality HN Posts

Recently HN user ignoramous posted his list of memorable HN articles. ignoramous’ HN profile contains a wonderful categorized list of HN members to follow. ignoramous’ list of HN articles plus his list of HN members to follow were what prompted me to write this article. Thanks, ignoramous!

As just one more example, last month’s LEB post about Tavis Ormandy’s wonderful Lotus 1-2-3 hack — Tavis got Lotus 1-2-3 running natively on Linux! — happened because Tavis put his own blog post announcing the hack on HN.


HN is a product of Y Combinator. Companies accelerated by participation in Y Combinator include Airbnb, Stripe, Instacart, Coinbase, Doordash, Reddit, GitLab, Dropbox, and many more. Y Combinator’s website has a very informative About page which discusses everything about its investment/accelerator program.

Moderation On HN

HN has Daniel, known by his nic, dang. Perhaps this New Yorker article shows that dang is the world’s most famous forum moderator. Personally, unlike what the New Yorker article’s title suggests, I do not think of my own work as a moderator on Low End Talk as lonely. Instead, I am delighted to get to know and talk with so many fine LET members! Nevertheless, I do very much admire dang’s work. If I could do half as well, that would be great!

Here’s what Paul Graham, had to say about dang back in 2014 when dang took over moderating HN: “Daniel is one of most thoughtful (in both senses of the word) people I’ve ever met. It kills him when people say mean, stupid things in comment threads. Moderating an anonymous forum is hard. . . .”

Here’s an example of HN moderation:

HN Server Hardware

Scott Bell, sctb, previously was an HN moderator. On January 5, 2018 sctb posted on HN:

“We’re recently running two machines (master and standby) at M5 Hosting. All of HN runs on a single box, nothing exotic:

CPU: Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2637 v4 @ 3.50GHz (3500.07-MHz K8-class CPU)

FreeBSD/SMP: 2 package(s) x 4 core(s) x 2 hardware threads

Mirrored SSDs for data, mirrored magnetic for logs (UFS)

We get around 4M requests a day.”

In 2021 dang said, “we get around 6M requests a day now.”


HN is programmed in Arc, which Wikipedia characterizes as a dialect of Lisp developed by Paul Graham and Robert Morris. ArcLanguage.Org offers both a beginner tutorial and a fully functioning forum.

Alternate Interface to HN: Hckrnews

HN’s native interface has the order of posts changing according to their popularity. hckrnews.com provides an alternative interface which shows posts in fixed order of their submission. hckrnews.com’s alternative interface is helpful for HN readers who want to make sure they do not miss any posts.

Convenient Links To HN

Here are links for anybody who wants to head over directly to HN or via the hckrnews alternative interface.

1 Comment

  1. Anindya:

    Yeah, I tries to post there (also) after finding out about the existence of the tech that “tin foil hatters” are always talking about (apparently) and it didn’t even appear. So I didn’t even bother trying to post there after finding out about the existence of time machines and “pre-written future” (don’t be silly, future isn’t “pre-written”. Time is just an illusion…).

    July 12, 2022 @ 9:51 pm | Reply

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