Hacker News

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Hacker News
Hackernews logo.png
Hn screenshot.png
Type of site
News aggregator
Available in English
Owner Y Combinator
Founder(s) Paul Graham
Website news.ycombinator.com
Registration Optional
Launched February 19, 2007; 9 years ago (2007-02-19)
Current status Online
Written in Arc

Hacker News is a social news website focusing on computer science and entrepreneurship. It is run by Paul Graham's investment fund and startup incubator, Y Combinator. In general, content that can be submitted is defined as "anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity".[1]


The site was created by Paul Graham in February 2007.[2] Initially it was called Startup News or occasionally News.YC. On August 14, 2007, it became known by its current name.[3] It developed as a project of his company Y Combinator, functioning as a real-world application of the Arc programming language which Graham co-developed.[4]

At the end of March 2014, Graham stepped away from his leadership role at Y Combinator, leaving Hacker News administration in the hands of other staff members.[5][6]

Vision, practices, and criticism[edit]

While the intention was to recreate a community similar to the early days of Reddit,[2][7] Hacker News differs in that there is no option to down-vote submissions; submissions can either be voted up or not voted on at all, although spam submissions can be flagged. Comments however can be down-voted after a user accumulates 500 "karma" points,[8] which are computed as the "number of upvotes on a user’s submission and comments minus the number of downvotes."[2][clarification needed]

Since adopting a formal team of moderators, it has become more evident that stories are promoted to or demoted from the frontpage without a significant number of votes. It's unclear the criteria used in these cases, which contributes to complaints about bias and "echo chamber" effect. Comments that go against the guidelines but still get a considerable number of upvotes can be penalized by moderators (sending them down in the thread). In general, moderators are trying to steer the community in a given direction but that direction is not very clear. Recently a "political detox" was implemented and revoked after a few days.

Graham has stated he hopes to avoid the Eternal September that results in the general decline of intelligent discourse within a community.[4] The site has a proactive attitude in moderating content, including automated flame and spam detectors. It also practices stealth banning in which user posts stop appearing for others to see, unbeknownst to the user.[9] Additional software is employed to detect "voting rings to purposefully vote up stories".[2]

According to a 2013 TechCrunch article: "Graham says that Hacker News gets a lot of complaints that it has a bias toward featuring stories about Y Combinator startups, but he says there is no such bias. [...] Graham adds that he gets a lot of vitriol from users personally with accusations of bias or censoring."[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Graham, Paul. "Hacker News Guidelines". Retrieved 2009-04-29. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Leena Rao (May 18, 2013). "The Evolution of Hacker News". TechCrunch. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "Startup News Becomes Hacker News". 
  4. ^ a b Paul Graham. "What I've Learned from Hacker News". 
  5. ^ Colleen Taylor (29 March 2014). "After Stepping Aside From Y Combinator, Paul Graham Hands Over The Reins At Hacker News". TechCrunch. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  6. ^ Isaac, Mike (29 March 2014). "Paul Graham Steps Down From Daily Hacker News Duties". Re/code. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Paul Graham. "New: Y Combinator Startup News". 
  8. ^ "Reply to: Downvoted comments are bad for the community". Hacker News. Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  9. ^ "Pando: Can the democratic power of a platform like Hacker News be applied to products?". Pando. 

External links[edit]