Withdrawing From Hacker News

   
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Withdrawing from Hacker News - 2011/04/03

[1] http://www.paulgraham.com/articles.html
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Graham_(computer_programmer)
[3] http://www.solipsys.co.uk/new/PaulGrahamEssays.html
[4] http://news.ycombinator.com/news
866 days ago I came across some essays[1] by Paul Graham[2]. I was interested in and impressed by some of the articles, but also realised that they were interconnected. To explore their interconnectedness I extracted all the links between them, graphed the connections, and computed a Google-like ranking. The results[3] weren't actually that interesting because the essays don't cross-link much, but I sent them to Graham in case he thought they were interesting or useful. Maybe he would put more cross-links in, which might make the essays more of a resource than they already were.

Slightly surprisingly, I got a reply, in which he suggested that I submit the link to Hacker News[4]. I'd never heard of Hacker News, but had a look, thought it interesting, and submitted the link.

Indeed, I got somewhat hooked. There was a lively and thriving community of programmers and entrepreneurs, and much of the writing was informative and engaging. I learned a great deal.

In return, I submitted a few links, commented on a few items, and started to cross-link different contributions. Sometimes the same story was submitted many times, sometimes from the same source, sometimes from different sources, and commenting threads were distributed. I was trying to help reduce the redundancy.

So for 865 now days I've watched HN, learned more, been diverted regularly, made some friends, no doubt made some enemies, and generally tried to add value. It's been interesting, informative, and useful. But although there are still items of interest, I'm finding it less and less so. More of the contributions seem to be either repeats, or off-topic, or vacuous, or combinations of these. There are still items of interest, of value, but not as many as I seem to remember.

Maybe it has changed, maybe I'm remembering with advantages, or maybe I've just learned as much as I'm going to from the site.

I'm absolutely certain there are people there who have things to teach me, and with whom I'd love to work, or talk, or otherwise interact, but the proportion has decreased over time. As the site has become popular so the population of exceptional individuals has become diluted. As has my interest.

So I'm going to withdraw. I'm not going to stop reading, and I'm probably going to make the occasional contribution. But largely, I'm not going to be an active contributor.

The HN experience has provoked some interesting lines of thought. I'm intrigued by semantic analysis, the possibility of automatic tagging and classification, and the idea that we can find what we want by using such automated techniques. HN is a vibrant place, but the ephemeral is mixed indiscriminately with items that should find a place in everyone's library of valuable resources.

My interests are no longer aligned particularly well with HN in its current form.

Thanks for everything. If you want to discuss this or anything else you can comment on HN here - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2402730 - or email me. My address is in my profile.


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