Hacker News User Ages

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Hacker News Users Ages - 2015/04/19

A few days ago I was reading Hacker News and someone had posted a poll with the following question:

    Poll: How old is your HN account?
          Just wondering about how much
          HN has grown.

They got a few replies, but these things always depend on the selection, so they're pretty much worthless. What you're getting is what those who choose to reply choose to claim.

You can see the responses by following the link, but I asked:

    Your handle is "codegeek". Why not:

      * Pull down the top 5 pages
      * For each handle:
        * Look up their profile page
        * Compute how long they've been on HN.

They took that rather well, I thought, but it got me wondering. So I wrote the scripts and did the calculation. In particular, I looked at the 30 most active pages, downloaded them, from them I extracted all the usernames of those who had contributed, then checked their profile pages for how long they'd been on HN.

This isn't perfect, but it's something, and there are certainly more results than the poll got. Here are the results.

I downloaded the data for 1004 users, and ranked their ages by size. Then:

  • What to do with the data?
  • What do we want to know?
  • What questions do we want to ask?
  • How should we chart the data?
  • What will it reveal?

The first chart (at right) shows every 17th entry from that list. The chart therefore shows for some number of users the age under which they all fall. Specifically, 527 of the users are of age 1000 days or less, and all 1004 are less than 3200 days old.

The second chart (at left) shows, for a given range of ages, how many users there are in that age range. It's buckets of 100, so the first column shows there are just over 70 users of age up to (but not including) 100 days. The second column shows that there are just over 50 users of ages ranging from 100 to 199 days. And so on.

With the general growth of Hacker News we would expect the ages to be biased towards the lower end, but it would be interesting to know if the bias we see is in line with the growth function.

So I'm not sure what this shows, if anything, but I thought I'd do the work I suggested. If anyone is interested I can upload both the scripts and the resulting data. Be warned, the scripts run the risk of an IP ban, but that won't be my problem.

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