Monday, September 3, 2012

My first "Hacker News Effect" experience

I recently ended a long quiet period on my blog. It had been 9 months since my last post, which incidentally, is about how old my daughter is... I'm sure there's correlation there somewhere. Anyway, as I sat around feeling like a bad citizen of the internet, I decided to dust off a post about mobile web performance I had been working on for a while and finally publish it. I also figured I might as well try submitting the post to Hacker News. I checked the pickup rate and saw that it was a "good time" to submit, so I did, fully expecting to get just a handful of extra views before the submission quickly and quietly dropped off the newest submissions list.

About 10 minutes later I checked my traffic statistics and saw I had almost 200 views. I checked Hacker News and saw my submission was in the #5 spot on the front page. My wife and I spent the next 2 hours watching the submission rise to the top spot while racking up a little over 3,000 views. I actually had trouble sleeping that night! But not the bad, anxious kind of sleeplessness, it was lack of sleep due to excitement!

By the time my submission dropped off the front page my post had received about 15,000 views. I never promoted my own writing before so my blog received a steady trickle of organic search traffic. Hacker News made my previous traffic graph look like a flat line.

The initial spike has long since ended, but the post is still getting around 100 views per hour, which is head and shoulders above what my blog used to get!

My biggest surprise throughout the whole experience was how overwhelmingly positive the feedback was in both the discussion on Hacker News and in the comments on the post. Here was my favorite:
I already feel like you saved me 2 weeks in testing.
Thank you Hacker News, and thank you to everyone who stopped by to read!

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