Chris Hannah

Retrospective


Reaching the Hacker News Front Page #

As you may have seen, last night I wrote about my experience using Arc Browser. I then submitted this blog post to Hacker News. Usually this gets a tiny bit of attention. But this time, it managed to get on to the front page. The highest I saw it was at 12, although the bulk of the views were once I went to sleep, so who knows, it could have been higher.

Nevertheless, it's been common to write a post to analyse the impact of being on the Hacker News front page, so since it's now dropped to the second page after around 14 hours, I thought I'd write about the impact it had.

How much attention did it attract?

I was awake for just over an hour after the post hit the front page, and I think it had about 200 views in that time. In my head, it wasn't going to get much higher than that. So I was rather surprised when I looked at the analytics this morning.

Overall, the page got 4,272 views, and as you can see above, over 75% of this came from Hacker News. And I'd argue that probably a lot more also came from related aggregators and websites.

On Hacker News, the post has (at this moment) reached 92 points and has received 72 comments. Surprisingly, the comments were not as bad as I had imagined. I know how comment threads of Hacker News can get, and while some were rather odd, I was happy with how the discussion went.

Did it reflect on the ad revenue?

I'm not afraid to say that I don't make much revenue from the single ad at the bottom of the website. So I'll happily share the impact that it had on the revenue.

As you can see, the average day doesn't go above $1. However, with the suddent increase in page views, and a few apparent clicks, the revenue certainly jumped. I think I can estimate around $8 in earnings from that single post.

How did the website hold up?

One thing I had definitely heard about being on Hacker News was that it the traffic could bring down your website. Fortunately for me, this didn't happen.

This blog is a self-hosted Ghost blog, and it's hosted on a relatively small virtual server on Digital Ocean. It has a single CPU and just 2 GB memory. And it seemed to cope just fine.

Digital Ocean can provide a nice graph of the CPU usage, and you can see it never even reached 40%. As for the memory, I was monitoring this during the early peak via htop, and I can't say I saw the total memory usage even reach 1 GB. Maybe this isn't great and it should handle more. Who knows. All I can say is that it was clearly enough for me. And this is for only just $10/month or so.

Overall

Overall, I'm pretty surprised with the fact that it reached the front page of Hacker News, let along how well the impact was. And because of the reaction, I'm going to try to analyse if there's anything about this post that I can use again in the future. For example, a similar topic, post length, etc.

Now I'm intruiged to see if I can get a post even higher on the front page. Maybe even break the top #10?