hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    17 Apr 2011 Ask
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Ask PG: Can we see karma on Ask HN comments?
32 points by ibejoeb 14 hours ago   1 comment top
points by adrianwaj 1 hour ago replies      
So whatever happens, I'd prefer is the underlying html didn't change, so as not to throw off parsing efforts. Perhaps there can be a display:none.
Show HN: LifeSnapper.com (Alpha)
5 points by SabrinaDent 5 hours ago   2 comments top 2
points by SabrinaDent 4 hours ago replies      
points by quizbiz 4 hours ago replies      
well done. seems like a very viable business. Great website. Just make sure that you make a free sign up button nice and prominent on the home page when you're taking sign ups.
How can I find a programmer/founder?
3 points by MenaMena123 3 hours ago   4 comments top 3
points by Osiris 3 hours ago replies      
It's a really interesting question and I think there's an underserved market there. I wish there was a better, more efficient way for people to meet other people willing to co-found a startup. I finally ended up finding a programmer for my startup through my co-founder's network. He worked with someone who suggested someone. We're working through the planning stages now. For a long time I wasn't sure that we'd ever find someone.

Good luck to you!

points by ChrisA9 2 hours ago replies      
I feel that we all have this problem when it comes to finding someone to work with, or looking someone to hire. With that being said, if you do the work or show up you can make it work. One thing I recently have just started is attempted to group together a group of smart individuals which I think are rather like minded in an online "collective".

The goal is simple. Bring smart people together who know other smart people, make access very exclusive, and build out that group so that everyone helps each other and makes things such as finding developers, co-founders, etc.. a lot easier and has a much higher success ratio. Oh, and the web service I am using to hold an online group is Comvore. It's awesome.

points by djloche 3 hours ago replies      
Start a Meetup group, build a community, and then pick the best people there and together build a business.

Maybe go to the local colleges and hold entrepreneur & programming 'hack nights' where once a week everyone brings drinks and you order pizza and everyone works on a personal project - no work or school, just personal projects. If people don't have a personal project already, put them at a table and tell them they're the startup crew and their project is to brainstorm and prototype. You can be their mentor and in the process, from the group you'll find the individual with the most drive and best fit for your own startup.

Ask HN: Economics community website?
23 points by amac 15 hours ago   18 comments top 9
points by danteembermage 11 hours ago replies      
At this point I wonder if nickb would be willing to sell the newmogul trademark. Considering that all it would take is some marginal news.arc server maintenance and a "guess what? Newmogul is back up" and you'd have a viable web property going, the IP should be worth something.
points by kylec 12 hours ago replies      
There is a proposal for an Economics Stack Exchange site that's in the 'commitment' phase:


The site will go into beta when enough people 'commit' to participating in it.

points by kmfrk 13 hours ago replies      
Not anything that has come a long way by now, but you could try growing the economics section on Hubski: http://hubski.com/tag?id=economics.
points by njs12345 13 hours ago replies      
Reddit's always there if it's not too low brow for you: http://www.reddit.com/r/economics
points by mkramlich 12 hours ago replies      
I'm interested as long as it leans to people taking action to introduce improvements and experiments in the real world rather than endless debate or stamp collecting.
points by stevenj 13 hours ago replies      
I have a HN like site that I can put up (news.arc).

It's down right now, but if at least 5 - 10 people would use it (contribute) regularly for "business" news, I'll put it back up.

The site is http://forlue.com

points by turbojerry 14 hours ago replies      
Try MarketTicker Forums


points by russjhammond 7 hours ago replies      
You may want to contact Jodi at: http://www.economistsdoitwithmodels.com/ That is a real site by the way. I watched a ton of her videos to help me prepare for my economics exam this semester.
points by amac 14 hours ago replies      
Thanks for the url. It looks like an interesting forum, more from a stocks perspective as opposed to the macro economy.

I'd like to add that it might make more sense to focus on startups and innovating companies from each sector mentioned. Maybe expanding on the business posts here on HN and /startups on Reddit?

Ask HN: How would you make a site resistant to government takedown?
133 points by icey 1 day ago   53 comments top 23
points by die_sekte 1 day ago replies      
TLD: .is (pricey, but not expensive). Registration at inwx (seems competent, nice interface). DNS at either inwx or ______ (I haven't been able to find an EEA/Switzerland DNS provider). Hosting at OVH (cheap, IP failover, often used for torrents) or Leaseweb (used by some torrent sites, not quite as cheap as OVH).

This assumes that your content is only somewhat controversial. For worse: TLD .is, Hosting at PRQ (hosts NAMBLA, AnonTalk, …), no idea which registrar I'd use.

If people are actively trying to kill you because of what you want to publish, your only options are PRQ or NearlyFreeSpeech. Both can be fully anonymous, i.e. they will host your content without knowing who you are. Payment would be somewhat hard (I wonder whether they would accept mailed-in, sterile bills (though these could be traced)).

points by rdl 1 day ago replies      
The easiest way is to not make a "site" but a collection of files which can be distributed by others. You could possibly include offline-executable content, or if you must have it be online (some kind of transactional thing), make it easy to set up mirrors, especially for people to set up mirrors without your cooperation or awareness.

The hierarchy of resilience:

It's trivial to censor an (average wealth, average risk tolerance) individual -- just harass and prosecute for unrelated things. Everyone is a criminal, once you have enough laws...

It is fairly easy to censor a commercial organization (just cut off their payments and banking...)

It's harder to censor a free site (it can do what everyone is suggesting here; hosting offshore, non-US domain name, etc.)

It is much harder to censor something which can be readily mirrored by others.

It is very hard to censor distribution of a dataset. Even harder if the dataset is very small (sony keys, dvd-css, etc.)

It's almost impossible to censor an idea.

points by thaumaturgy 1 day ago replies      
Build it on i2p: http://www.i2p2.de/

I'm a huge fan of (and advocate for) i2p. As cases like today's FBI seizure of domain names continues to spread, I think i2p will gain even more traction as a viable alternative to the "old" internet.

It is multipath, encrypted, and completely decentralized.

All it needs now is a "killer site".

points by kgo 1 day ago replies      
Which TLD? All of them. Or at least several TLDs and registrars that all have different legal jurisdictions. (online-hunting.ly, online-hunting.ch, online-hunting.cn)

Where would I host it? Everywhere. Or at least in multiple physical locations in different countries that all have different legal jurisdictions. Either synchronized up or sharded out depending on how the app works.

points by jdp23 1 day ago replies      
TorrentFreak had some recommendations a couple months ago: http://torrentfreak.com/how-to-stop-domain-names-being-seize...
points by jberryman 1 day ago replies      
It wouldn't really be part of the WWW proper, but you could run a web server as a TOR hidden service which would (assuming TOR doesn't disappear) be totally anonymous and impossible to take down.


points by maxharris 9 hours ago replies      
Instead of trying to outfox your own government, which is something you cannot do, turn your attention to peacefully and openly advocating for whatever it is you want to say. If that doesn't work, or you can't do so, move.

I know that this is a life-threatening proposition in totalitarian states (the Berlin Wall was designed to keep East Germans in), but I don't think that life under dictatorship is very much of a life anyway.

points by pumpmylemma 1 day ago replies      
I mentioned this in the Poker thread. (If I had time right now, I'd consider implementing it.) I would like and would use a DNS service that 1) did not keep any record of my queries and 2) would not propagate government takedowns (e.g. by ignoring updates with NS:ns2.cirfu.net.
points by JoachimSchipper 1 day ago replies      
Iceland is trying to attract this kind of clients.
points by grandalf 1 day ago replies      
I don't think it's possible. Instead try a social engineering approach where you have enough broad-based support for the concept that there is pressure on the government not to shut it down.

Wikileaks has been very smart lately in the way that it has expanded its own PR reach before delving back into controversial material.

points by iuguy 23 hours ago replies      
It depends on whether you're looking to get it in front of lots of eyes or whether you're more concerned about it not being taken down.

For the former, I'd use a .is domain (Iceland) and host it with OVH or Nearly Free Speech.

For the latter I'd host it on Tor as a set of static files, available via a torrent for mirroring, and would encourage mirroring in the name of free speech.

"All rulers in all ages have tried to impose a false view of the world upon their followers." - George Orwell

points by omouse 1 day ago replies      
Keep spare domains around and keep mirrors of your content. Make sure to keep a static copy around as it can be a pain in the ass to setup a database server and other apps quickly. Toss the mirror on BitTorrent and get friends, family, strangers to download it and host it. Host it on free website hosts. Host it on Freenet!

Take over forums, pastebins, and other websites to keep the message alive.

Basically, you'll want to have as many avenues as possible in order to send the content across them. As soon as one domain goes down, a bunch of mirrors should pop up.

points by Calabane 1 day ago replies      
Obviously .ch which is Switzerland and Switch.ch as the register. They are the original neutral nation.
points by duodecim 1 day ago replies      
Convince someone with diplomatic immunity or a member of parliament or other government entity. It will become an international battle of words and strong-arm diplomacy, but one country's government is quite unlikely to shut down another's. (Well, except perhaps the US.)

But truth be told, I don't think you can safeguard data on just one site. There's (D)DoS, ip routing, domain registration system, physically cutting backbones, etc. I'm sure no registrar wants to risk losing 50% of their customers ("50% of the world", assuming even spread), especially everyone in the US market, so as a profit-based organisation they will have to give in to threats of litigation or plain IP null-routing.

Mass distribution seems the way to go then. P2P or just lots of willing people putting the content on their own websites. Once it's out there, I guess it's nearly impossible to get Jack back in the box.

points by reso 1 day ago replies      
For the very hardcore/paranoid, you could serve it through TOR as a hidden service. You get DoS protection, server and client anonymity, you don't even need to disclose your IP address. Of course, you can only connect to it through TOR.


points by quadhome 1 day ago replies      
How badly does the USG want your hostname? They control the root zone. And all but three of the organizations that run root servers are based out of the US.

Therefore, if the USG were motivated to block your hostname-- regardless of TLD-- they could make a fairly good go at it.

points by drtse4 1 day ago replies      
A site takedown starts with a request from some government agency, so the first thing that come to mind is to host it in a place where every request will need to go through a tick barrier of language issues/misunderstanding/bureaucracy. But considering that you'll also need a good network infrastructure there aren't many places that meet these requirements.
What about China?
points by blendergasket 1 day ago replies      
This idea is something that's been really interesting me a lot since the US Govt started doing this and since all of the craziness with the internet in the middle east.

The Pirate Bay is working on a "P2P DNS" network: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/11/fed-up-with-...

Unhosted is a project that seems to be trying create a decentralized cloud: http://www.unhosted.org/manifesto.html

and what was mentioned before, i2p and tor.

This is all very interesting to me. It's like authority structures of all different kinds are putting their thumb down right in the middle of the web trying to crush it's autonomy. The inevitable backlash will lead to the fragmentation of the web in just as fundamental a way as the walled gardens that cell phone/tablet/game console companies create.

points by cheez 1 day ago replies      
.onion seems good but I don't trust it.
points by handsomeransoms 1 day ago replies      
Interesting. Does anybody here have experience with PRQ or easyDNS, two sites that are often mentioned in connection Wikileaks et. al.?

This is a great question, thanks for asking it!

points by known 1 day ago replies      
points by jeffclark 1 day ago replies      
Don't make a site that's illegal.
Ask HN: Who Is Hiring Remote Workers? (April 2011 Edition)
3 points by canadiancreed 4 hours ago   2 comments top 2
points by follower 3 hours ago replies      
Also, here's the "unofficial official" Who's Hiring account:


Hopefully the person behind it will also add "Remote" to the regular list.

points by _pius 4 hours ago replies      
For reference, here are the previous "who's hiring" threads for this months:



Is it cool to post hacker events to hacker news?
8 points by whitmo 10 hours ago   discuss
Ask HN : hackers,what are doing to keep your self fitt &healthy?
3 points by kodeshpa 5 hours ago   8 comments top 7
points by veyron 2 hours ago replies      
Everyone talks about having to do something actively [like working out] but the simple things are overlooked:

1) get a good night's sleep [I actually lost about 20 lbs just by getting more than 1.5 hours a night of sleep]

2) eat a large breakfast [the best pattern is large breakfast, large lunch, light dinner]

3) take breaks whenever there's a respite in the work [just stand up and walk around a little bit before getting back to keyboard]

points by nostrademons 2 hours ago replies      
Bike to work. Walk to errands.

Also, I don't slog 12-15 hours per day with all night coding.

points by cincinnatus 4 hours ago replies      
1) Using a standing desk so I don't die of sitting
2) Run at least 4 miles twice a week
3) lift weights 3x a week (different sets)
4) Yoga at least once a week
5) Meditation when I need it
6) Eating low-carb or carb free 1-2 weeks each month
7) Getting good sleep (no screens an hour before bed, no electronics in bedroom, no reading/tv in bed, cold dark room)
8) Not coding past point of diminished capacity
points by SabrinaDent 4 hours ago replies      
I'm smoking Lights instead of Reds.
points by fooblahblah 5 hours ago replies      
Ok, to be a little more helpful... H.I.T. is great for folks who don't have time, but it doesn't achieve the same calorie burn as long term endurance training. This link kinda summarizes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_intensity_training
points by cpt1138 3 hours ago replies      
I ride my bike to the office and back, ~20 miles each way, ~1800 feet of climbing, keeps me relatively fit.
points by fooblahblah 5 hours ago replies      
Umm, excercising instead of geeking out :)
Ask HN: How to tell someone you need to rewrite an entire project?
7 points by dicarsio 9 hours ago   17 comments top 8
points by ams6110 7 hours ago replies      
I wonder, and this is not an insult, how much experience you have as a developer. I know that for a good five years, maybe more, as a developer in corporate IT I frequently thought that I was dealing with a "very bad" codebase and rewriting seemed like an easier task than trying to understand the current system well enough to make the changes I needed to make.

I was wrong. Every time. Unless the system is quite small and single-purpose, you very likely don't understand the full scope of what it does, why it is written the way it is, which constituencies it serves, all of its interfaces, etc.

The few times I have been involved in rewrites they always took longer than expected, cost more than planned, and ended up with kludgy patches at the last minute as features of the old system that nobody talked about or knew existed suddenly became showstopper must-have requirements. In other words, they turned out like almost any other corporate IT project.

points by 16s 9 hours ago replies      
Quantify it. That's all most managers understand.

Customer X wants the product in 12 weeks or they're going with a competing product. Customer X may be spending 6 or 7 figures with us over the next 5 years in upfront costs and ongoing maintenance and support fees.

You may be saying, "It'll just take 6 months (24 weeks) to re-write this from scratch and do it right" (managers are used to hearing programmers say this sort of thing). For the most part, managers don't care about "doing it right" from a technical perspective, they only care about the bottom line. How is doing it right going to make more money (especially if we loose customer X in the process???)

Also, be careful when making this suggestion. Many programmers who suggest this are simply uncomfortable with other people's code. They can write stuff from scratch themselves, but can't maintain or extend code they've not written (that's always a bad sign). And to make matters worse, they always use the argument "stuff I did not write is horrible".

points by ibejoeb 1 hour ago replies      
I'm just going to attempt to answer your question rather than question your motives.

This is the difference between software and most other forms of "construction." There are no material costs. There is no scrap to reclaim. Bits can't be reused like steel. Tearing down code is negative work. This is also goes toward the odd feeling we often have that software shares so many attributes the fine arts even though it shares so many attributes with engineering disciplines.

First: realize that the word rewrite, not the act, strikes fear into the hearts of people. Just don't say it.

Second: realize that the difference between a "fix" and "rewrite" is nil. Are you going to fix it without changing it? Not if the problem is really in the code. You don't edit out the plot hole in your novel or unpaint your landscape into a lounging nude.

Now, the answer: say you'll fix it. You're really talking about the same thing. You asserted that it would be cost-effective and efficient. To me, that implies that it will address the urgency.

It's almost always quick and easy to fix what you know is wrong. The part that makes it hard, slow, and expensive is rolling it out. For instance, it may have taken a week to design a better data model for your SaaS app vs. a month to try to find and mitigate a slow query, but now you have to figure out how to migrate all of your clients, and that's a bitch.

points by nostrademons 9 hours ago replies      
Also, be very, very sure that a rewrite is the right thing to do. Probably 80-90% of the time, it isn't, and you'd be much better off with an incremental refactor.

One major way to tell: can you clearly specify what the revised version should be doing, in a way that doesn't involve "whatever the old version did"? Another litmus test: do you fully understand the old code and why it sucks the way that it does?

points by ludwigvan 8 hours ago replies      
Send them this article: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000069.html

Then, send it to yourself.

points by profitbaron 9 hours ago replies      
The way I would approach it is, to create a really simple table which, contains the pros of fixing the current code on one side and doing a rewrite on the other.

Then I would provide the benefits of doing both and then I'd present this to the person and say having, looked at our current code I believe that we should rewrite it because of X, Y and Z, in fact I'd even summarize this at the bottom of the table as well incase they want to take the table away and think about it.

points by gersh 7 hours ago replies      
It always depends on the circumstances. If people don't like the term rewrite, you can just call it re-factoring or adding unit testing. You are probably using something from the old codebase, right. If anyone asks why something that used to work is no longer there, you can explain that you found bugs, and so you temporarily took it out to add more testing.

Although, rewriting can be a lot of work. While there may be a temptation to rewrite everything overnight, it can be quite difficult to pull off. Although, I think devoting some time to a rewrite attempt may help you gauge the total time it will actually take. If it proves easy enough, you can go for it.

points by rawsyntax 9 hours ago replies      
I once did this. However it involved some in-depth analysis of problems with the existing code, and new ideas on how to solve the same problems. This came about because the existing code didn't really fit a feature they were trying to add on
Ask HN: Favorite hacker movie
17 points by ConceitedCode 4 hours ago   20 comments top 15
points by wvl 4 hours ago replies      
Primer (2004) - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0390384/

Classic entrepreneurs hacking in the garage, with some unanticipated science fiction side effects.

points by _pius 4 hours ago replies      
Sneakers (1992, still holds up perfectly) and Hackers (1995, probably doesn't hold up quite so well).

edit: I'd also like to add The Social Network (2010) ... completely forgot about that one!

points by kragen 3 hours ago replies      
Hollywood is almost universally terrible at hacker movies, unfortunately, dating back to when they perverted Frankenstein. I haven't seen Swordfish, but what I've heard doesn't make me optimistic.

Real Genius and Ghostbusters are two pretty good hacker movies. I hear Buckaroo Banzai is in the same ballpark, but I haven't seen the whole thing. I also enjoyed Flight of the Navigator, but it's really more about magic than about hacking.

points by nivertech 4 hours ago replies      
Office Space
points by nikcub 4 hours ago replies      
points by ttrashh 3 hours ago replies      
Con artists are hackers too: Catch Me If You Can, Matchstick Men, I Love You Phillip Morris
points by huhtenberg 4 hours ago replies      
Swordfish? Surely you're joking, Mr. ConceitedCode? Such as faux pas :)
points by scottchin 11 minutes ago replies      
Ghostbusters :)
points by figital 3 hours ago replies      
Hard to top Wargames.
points by highlander 1 hour ago replies      
The first $20m is the hardest (based on Po Bronson's novel)
points by agotterer 4 hours ago replies      
Hackers, primer and antitrust
points by bryanhun 1 hour ago replies      
Antitrust & Startup.com
points by tingley 2 hours ago replies      
Real Genius by a hundred thousand miles.
points by discordance 3 hours ago replies      
Ask HN: review my Mailinator.com clone: Mailnesia.com
4 points by woodwysk 14 hours ago   2 comments top
points by pluies 13 hours ago replies      
Hey, that's cool! Always better to have the choice. :)

Some remarks: well, first, I tried it and it works, so that's a good point. Although the message appear twice on the page (email: ilikethat@mailnesia).

Are the emails deleted after a certain time? There seem to be no option to delete them yourself, as there is in Mailinator IIRC.

Edit: just saw on the feature page that they're deleted after two months.

Edit 2: "The size of a message can be 10 kilobytes at most." Isn't that a bit small? What happens to the larger messages, do they get silently dropped?

I like the service name too. Clever!

(Oh and it's a bit meta but on HN, submissions with text take a lot more upvotes to get (and stay) in the front page " you should submit it with a link to Mailnesia instead, and add the background information in a comment afterwards.)

Ask HN: Does anyone else misread the 'time since comment' as karma now?
42 points by kaisdavis 1 day ago   11 comments top 6
points by solipsist 1 day ago replies      
Yes, you're not alone. This is one of those short term effects (i.e. withdrawal), although I agree that it has been annoying.
points by drivebyacct2 1 day ago replies      
I am surprised at how much I miss comment karma being visible. I scoffed at those who said they used it to gauge comments to consider versus skim past, but it turns out, it's exactly what I'd been doing. I guess I hadn't realized the amplification of the comment volume that has happened lately.
points by X-Istence 23 hours ago replies      
Absolutely. In the longer threads I used to use comment karma as a way to decide if a long post/reply was worth reading or if it wasn't. If the rest of the thread was at 10+ and the long comment was at 2, then I knew I could just skip it.

I have to filter information, it is no longer possible with the wealth of information to read everything that is written and decide on its merit. The amount of news I take in daily, and process would overwhelm those who start their day with a newspaper and watch the news at 8 at night.

I hope that pg can reconsider, and add the karma back to the comments, it would definitely help me while reading HN.

points by mambodog 1 day ago replies      
You'll get used to it. Give it time.
points by WiseWeasel 1 day ago replies      
points by bhickey 23 hours ago replies      
Posts of this nature contribute nothing but noise on HN.
I've flagged this for removal.
Ask HN: How to structure an LLC for giving out equity
18 points by raheemm 18 hours ago   24 comments top 8
points by edash 14 hours ago replies      
I recently did some fundraising and employee grants with an LLC and it was more complicated than you'd think...

You should make sure your grants have a "distribution hurdle." If you don't have a distribution hurdle, the options you're granting may be taxed as income immediately upon receipt. This would leave your employees with a big tax bill.

You should put everyone on a reasonable vesting schedule. With vesting, everyone is in it for the long-term and the shares given directly correlate to the work performed and the value provided to the company.

You should talk with your employees and agree in advance to the work being performed in exchange for shares granted during the vesting period. There is no clean way to include this in the operating agreement or grant notice, so communication is crucial. If either party is ever dissatisfied with their side of the arrangement, however, they can always leave. And if you've set up vesting appropriately, both sides should still be happy even if you don't reach the end of the vesting period.

Why would you want to prevent employee grants from diluting in the future? It breaks the alignment of incentives. If everyone dilutes equally, everyone has the same incentives regarding future investments. An investment would only be accepted if everyone thought the trade-off of money for equity was worth it based on the current valuation.

But if you DO want to prevent dilution, it's a fairly straight-forward clause you can add to the operating agreement. I'd suggest setting a ceiling or an expiry date for the dilution prevention clause. This ensures that if things change dramatically in the future, you won't be handicapped by your non-diluted employee grants.

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer. This is for entertainment purposes only. Don't sue me etc.

points by asanwal 16 hours ago replies      
As Terretta mentions, you'll be offering "membership interests" and as far as I remember from our experience with an LLC, you don't offer shares but "units".

You'll have to detail unit interests in your operating agreements and set up unit subscription agreements with your employees. Most of it is akin to what you'd do with a C-corp but the terminology is a bit different.

One note: If you're contemplating raising outside investment in the future from angels or VCs, a C-corp may be preferable as it appears to be their preferred structure (not a hard and fast rule but a preference). I've heard LLC to C corp "conversions" can be less than pleasant.

points by Terretta 17 hours ago replies      
These percentages of ownership are called "membership interests", and they can be for operating or non-operating partners or investors. Both people and corporations can be members in an LLC.

Many of the biggest companies use LLCs for their advantages. Check the return label on your next package from Amazon.

points by whittwuli 16 hours ago replies      
I would also suggest using an S-Corp instead of an LLC. It gives you the same benefits and flexibility as an LLC with pass thru profits and such but you can create shares more easily.

As far as paying your writers with equity, I like this approach defined in this article:

It talks about forming a contract where you will pay them double there hourly rate which they can then buy equity with it once the business gets it's first valuation.

points by mpclark 14 hours ago replies      
Don't know about the LLC/S-Corp end of things, but on the 'how should I split it?' stuff I think Joel Spolsky's response here makes a lot of sense:


points by veyron 16 hours ago replies      
The issue with LLC ownership is that it becomes much harder to kick out someone later on [or to transfer ownership interests], especially if you are onboarding some unsavory characters.

As far as ownership is concerned, with an LLC the payments do not have to be proportional to the ownership percentage. This is one way in which the LLC differs from the S-corp, because the S-corp requires that payouts are proportional to ownership stake. Hence, a small ownership stake in an LLC can mean diddly squat.

points by darklighter3 13 hours ago replies      
I would guess that the pass-through taxation of an LLC would complicate granting equity to employees.
points by jasonkolb 17 hours ago replies      
LLC's are ripoffs. Use an S-Corp instead. They are far cheaper and easier, are FAR more flexible, and you get the same tax benefits.

LLC's are for people who don't know any better (and this includes myself, several times now in the past, having only been fully educated in this area fairly recently).

Ask HN: What is a good forum to ask specific physiology questions?
5 points by Mz 22 hours ago   1 comment top
points by Mz 22 hours ago replies      
HN: If you're experimenting with the site, please add HTTPS support
13 points by Mizza 2 days ago   1 comment top
points by JoeCortopassi 1 day ago replies      
I understand that people want to be safer and everything, but what actual damage would happen from someone stealing your HN account? It has no actual value, it's not linked to anything of value, and any networking that consists of more than "shoot me an email at..." should consist over actual email.

Just don't see any real point in it

Ask HN: Critique my start-up and give feedback.
10 points by citizenkeys 1 day ago   9 comments top 5
points by benologist 1 day ago replies      
I would suggest you:

1) Do more than just video. Make full blown AV wikipedia or something. This right now really doesn't have a place alongside Google Video Search or YouTube's recommendations.

2) Either automate the content creation or find where the content farms get their writers - you can't just wait for people to show up and make content for you, you need content to lure them in.

3) Figure out how to bundle the content up into widgets that can be embedded on other websites, turn it into a wordpress plugin, get onto that embedly site, push the widget anywhere you can to seed links and traffic to your site.

4) Make every page compelling. It's competing with Wikipedia, YouTube, all the search results, every page needs to be an experience and the definitive source of stuff about x.

or, and this might be a bit harsh:

5) Do something else .... I can remember seeing it when it was avtorrents or something a year ago and your showcase page was Andy Warhol back then too, if you don't have traction just let it go, take what you've learnt and apply it to something new.

points by jcr 1 day ago replies      

When I go to: http://avsquid.com/

I end up at: http://avsquid.com/channels/andy_warhol

This makes no sense at all.


I see the typical sign-in and sign-up form, but I have no idea why I would want to do either?


There is a list of video hosting/source sites with explanations of what they are, but the list is not convincing and is incomplete. Why do I need you to provide an incomplete list?


For some reason you decided to strip out the "Jr." from Andy Warhol's real name?


You've essentially copied the description of Andy Warhol from wikipedia. If I wanted to read the wikipedia description, I'd go to wikipedia.


The list of Warhol videos is nice, but there are far better ways to search for videos on a given topic, in particular, Google Video Search.


The text "Also videos with Andy's gang: " just gives links to wikipedia articles, not videos.


I don't see any authoritative references, and the bits of text you've picked up from wikipedia are not credited.


I sincerely have no idea what your site is trying to accomplish and why I would want to visit it, let alone sign up for it?


I'm sorry to be so negative, but I really don't get it. The idea of pulling together other sources, namely wikipedia text and youtube video (or other video hosts) is interesting but not very compelling. If I wanted either text or video I could find them on my own -- in more complete forms/collections -- with simple searching.

EDIT: Example Search


points by pedalpete 1 day ago replies      
I don't get it. I don't have any idea what it is! I somehow started off with Andy Warhol, then somehow ended up with a cure video and finished off being linked out to a posterous page.

This is about as useful to me as randomizing the internets.

points by mapster 1 day ago replies      
i love it. it combines things I have to do separately when watching youtube:
1. listen to music
2. read wikipedia page about band or performer
3. look at google images of artist
4. etc.

props on making the Annie Lennox channel

points by citizenkeys 1 day ago replies      
Clickable link: http://avsquid.com
Ask HN: Have you ever been unable to obtain a domain/business name you wanted?
3 points by jakkinabox 20 hours ago   2 comments top 2
points by kitcar 19 hours ago replies      
The simple answer is a domain name is very similar to most other pieces of property. Everyone will eventually sell, if you pay a high enough price, because at a certain point the owners quality of life will actually start to decrease by not accepting your offer (due to the opportunity cost of not having the exorbitant amount of funds you are offering). The question is, are you willing to pay that much?

So short answer is pick up "Getting to YES" from Amazon, a book on negotiations, cold call the owner listed on the WHOIS record, and start negotiating. Hopefully they are reasonable, and you get a deal closed. The holding costs of domains are so low though that the downside from their perspective of not getting a deal done is pretty low, so keep that in mind while negotiating. Best of luck -

points by staunch 15 hours ago replies      
Don't fixate on a single domain. There's no point. There are always multiple that would work equally well. It's very easy to find yourself in love with one, so try to avoid that.

The procedure is simple enough: email the owner. Some times they have a contact form on their web site, other times whois will give you an email address. If you have a business email address use that. Email from gmail/hotmail/yahoo addresses tends to get ignored more often. If your organization is big and rich though you probably want disguise yourself otherwise people will ask for too much.

Be sure to tell the person that you want to make a serious offer. People constantly try to buy $10k domains for $100 and it gets annoying. Indicate you're not one of them.

Give a phone number if you're comfortable negotiating on the phone. Otherwise keep it to email.

Abso-fucking-lutely use Escrow.com (or Sedo's escrow service) to handle the transaction. Split the fee if you can, otherwise pay the whole thing. It's worth it.

Facebook.com was bought for $200k by not telling the owner who they were. It's covered briefly in The Facebook Effect.

What should every programmer write?
15 points by radious 1 day ago   6 comments top 5
points by MarkPNeyer 1 day ago replies      
make a game; you will learn a lot. even a simple 2d game like a chess simulation is a great exercise in software engineering, for several reasons.

- Games are a LOT of work. Most hobbyist games are never finished. Sticking with one from start to finish is a great execise in discipline and perseverance.

- Games of any significant level of complexity require a lot of thinking about performance. Most programmer's first game looks something like this:

   while not game.time_to_quit():
for each entity in game.entities:

which will always pin a single CPU to full utilization. Try again!

- Games require a wide knowledge of data structures and programming techniques, like kd-trees, pools, and (if you're really serious about performance) stuff like cache-aligned allocation and flywheels.

- There are always tons of cool features you can add that will stretch your coding ability to the limit. Try adding a save-game feature and watch yourself pull your hair out designing a decent data model. Add 'instant replay' abilities without destroying memory performance, and build an AI to see why functional programming rocks your socks off. Add network play and learn how to write really performant network code. Add pixel shaders and learn the basics of GPU processing and how awesome it is.

- Games are the type of project that is 'never done' in the sense that there is almost always some improvement left to be made.

- Most decently built games separate the engine from the game itself. Learning to do this properly is a great way to learn good techniques for designing good abstraction layers.

- Games are fucking awesome. The first time you have code moving a lolcat around on the screen, you'll shit your pants with excitement (YMMV). Part of the fun of programming is building stuff, and being able to see what you're building is very rewarding, especially if people play what you're working on and (if you're really good) they like it.

points by bmelton 1 day ago replies      
For something a little less painful than the other suggestions here, write a web server.

You'll learn more about HTTP, statefulness, scalability and 'how websites work' than you'll ever learn building websites.

points by luckydude 1 day ago replies      
Implement swtch() for x86 and arm (or whatever cpu you have). This is if you want to be a systems programmer, work on operating systems, file systems, etc.

There is something magical about calling a function as one process and returning as another.

I did this while still at school for Udi Manber (agrep, google search vp) because he wanted a user level threads package.

You can see my hacky code for the VAX (I think) at



it's from 1987 when I was a grad student, probably doesn't compile.

points by pdelgallego 1 day ago replies      
A small Lisp-1 interpreter written in Lisp or Scheme it was a rite of passage in the the old days.

This [1] is a naive implementation of the eval function that I wrote last summer. Maybe someone can give me some feedback on it. I am planning to work a little bit more on it this holidays.

[1] https://gist.github.com/493736

points by wsxiaoys 1 day ago replies      
A Scheme parser & interpreter helps a lot in understanding compiling & functional programming.

Scheme 9 from empty space: http://tx97.net/s9fes/

Ask HN: A new Lisp machine on mobile cpu
5 points by tmaly 1 day ago   5 comments top 4
points by evangineer 22 hours ago replies      
Have you seen GreenArrays (http://www.greenarraychips.com/)? They produce massively parallel chips that run arrayForth natively. Targeting the cheap supercomputing market.
points by pacaro 1 day ago replies      
My understanding (disclaimer: I'm often wrong) is that the Arduino toolchain all goes through gcc, at which point getting "lispduino" working as a first demo/prototype isn't out of the realms of possibility - http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9950 - $29.95 in quantities of 1, you wouldn't even need to apply to YC for funding...
points by st3fan 1 day ago replies      
"Cool Technology" is not a business model.
points by chad_oliver 1 day ago replies      
That would indeed be fun to develop for, but the long tail isn't much of a target market. Look at bug labs or sparkfun - they successfully target the hackers/makers, but a single device or family of devices won't ever be the next wave.
Ask HN: Most reliable domain registrar
5 points by drndown2007 1 day ago   7 comments top 6
points by brianwillis 1 day ago replies      
Marco Arment made a blog post this week (http://www.marco.org/2011/04/14/why-is-it-so-hard-to-be-a-go...) that generated some chatter here related to domain registrars (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2448061). The consensus seems to be that NearlyFreeSpeech.net is the one to go with.
points by ohashi 17 hours ago replies      
I would highly recommend NameCheap unless you're holding hundreds, then Fabulous is the best.
points by bluecobalt 15 hours ago replies      
I've been very happy with moniker.com. I have 73 domains with them. They're inexpensive, I like their web interface, and I've had no trouble with them at all.
points by aymeric 1 day ago replies      
gandi.net is awesome
points by mangoleaf 1 day ago replies      
points by hrasm 1 day ago replies      
Notice: Experimenting with HN
399 points by pg 5 days ago   discuss
points by silentbicycle 5 days ago replies      
Have you considered adding a slight cost for submitting articles? (perhaps 2-5 points of karma?) There's a reward for submitting anything first that other people are likely to submit, but no cost, so the new page is often clogged with industry buzz that drowns out more substantial submissions. Many excellent article fall off within an hour, and then they can't get reposted.

Having more articles on the front page that aren't based on a scramble for duplicate-submission karma would probably improve the overall discussion threads, too; those posts tend to draw a lot of shallow comments.

It would also help with spam. Win win win.

I also wonder what percentage of upvotes for submissions comes just from duplicate submissions - maybe those should be counted differently (or not at all)? If the front page is already full of threads about some news about Apple (or whatever), being first to submit a redundant (but distinct) post is disproportionately rewarded, yet reduces the signal/noise ratio even further.

points by Vivtek 5 days ago replies      
Well, consider me happy (though weirded out a little) with the lack of points on comments - in retrospect, I think a lot of my downvoting behavior has to do with what I think a post should have earned, not what I personally think about it, and that's probably bad.

OTOH, I'm in the habit of scanning for double-digit comments when I want to save a little time, so I miss that.

points by citricsquid 5 days ago replies      
I... I feel quite pushed away now I can't see if people are liking my contributions. I feel as if maybe people aren't liking my comments, and I can't tell so I can't adapt. I post comments similar to those I know users like, in the hope that I provide value to others, without knowing how well a comment is being received how do I provide what users want?

I would like to see point display re-enabled for the owner of the comment.

Edit: hey looks like this happened, thanks pg :-)

points by DarkShikari 5 days ago replies      
The "green user names" might be nicer if it was a continuum -- that is, "newest possible" would be bright green, and it would fade to gray over the course of days or weeks.
points by dgallagher 5 days ago replies      
I had an interesting first experience with the hidden vote count. I was reading through comments in a thread, scanning for those with high vote counts, skipping everything else. Subconsciously I saw a "1" next to every post, ignored them, and skimmed along.

Eventually I started reading some of the comments in detail, thought one was pretty good, but subconsciously still saw a "1" next to it. I didn't vote and moved on. By the third or fourth time I did this, I asked "Why isn't anything good getting votes?" After a closer look, seeing that there was no "1", it was obvious my subconscious was fooling me.

Expectedly, I'm more inclined to read a comment with a high score since it's filtered. Not surprising. But this was striking; I'm more inclined to "vote" for something if it already has a high score, regardless of its content. It's a popularity-based multiplier effect.

It would be interesting to see what happens to the "bell-curve" of vote distribution as vote count remains hidden (mean/median/mode/standard deviation). I'd predict that highly-voted comments won't be as common, and maybe lesser-voted comments might get more votes.

Has anyone else noticed or experienced this? Or maybe something else entirely?

points by jjcm 5 days ago replies      
Is there a way we can see the current list of changes that are in production? While things like new users being colored green are obvious, other things such as a change in the decay function on the front page may be less obvious. Just curious to see what's going on at any given time.
points by vessenes 5 days ago replies      
I'm coming late to this conversation, as I was mostly internet free last week, but

a) Thanks for doing all this work
b) I imagine you generally feel this way, but I would love to have changes err on the side of keeping the community small UNTIL it proves it can scale in culture and quality.

I say this having lived through the following community site's initial quality and esprit-de-corp rise and fall:

Kuro5hin, Slashdot, Digg, Reddit

Probably the only truly excellent community I was part of which did not have this problem was the Plato Network, but I expect it died before it could grow into many of the growth/quality problems HN or any of these popular sites face.

To my mind, the idea that one is required to grow beyond one's quality and community goals need not be true. Another way to say this is that if we graphed the ability of community websites to attract new members against their ability to maintain / improve quality and culture, so far that graph is significantly below the 1:1 line.

Creating technology to change that slope above 45 degrees would be a totally huge gift to the world, seriously. On the other hand, the best sites out there might be at less than 25 degrees right now, so even a little would be a big improvement.

All that to say, I'm all for experimenting, and I know for sure that you don't really want to start HN(^2); you'd rather keep using and feeding HN in the right way -- I always find a big goal / framework to be helpful, and I haven't heard you say much about what your longterm goals are here; since talk is cheap, take mine!

points by tgriesser 5 days ago replies      
An observation about the disappearance of karma on comments, is that in searching older threads (I'm currently looking at a more technical thread ~1000 days old) is an inability to distinguish between the utility of comments.

E.g. if there is a solution set of A,B, or C to a particular problem or question, it's impossible to tell if 20 people thought A was a good idea while B and C were both 1 point answers.

Maybe threads past a certain date threshold could display these vote counts?

points by imajes 5 days ago replies      
Also while you are hacking on it pg, can you implement the bookmarklet hack to collapse/expand comment trees? often it's fun to be able to just see each conversation starter and dive into one that's interesting, rather than the expanded list view which is hard to parse what are the interesting conversations.

this is the code, i don't recall where it came from:


points by andywood 5 days ago replies      
FWIW, my immediate gut reaction to the lack of comment scores was extremely positive.
points by ComputerGuru 5 days ago replies      
Can you please consider reversing the "xx comments" and "flag" links? I think everyone here is used to clicking the last link under a submission to go to the comments!
points by adw 5 days ago replies      
As we all know we get what we measure, right?

The problem here fundamentally is that there's not a clear metric which correlates with "good", because there's no clear definition of what "good" is. (This is my utility function. There are many utility functions like it, but this one is mine.)

It's a social problem, and as such I'm intensely suspicious that any technology can fix it. In particular, I suspect that any technological solution which "works" for some people is going to amount to a dictatorship of that sort of people - which is OK! It's a big internet! Everyone else can go somewhere else! - but doesn't hit our geek pleasure centres like an elegant algorithmic solution is.
In other words: if I were trying to fix this, I'd cut straight to the chase " find and engage some people who shared my understanding of what a good HN looks like, and empower them to moderate aggressively and wield the banhammer.

points by noahc 5 days ago replies      

Is it possible that building on a 'broken' system isn't enough to fix the problem(s)?

The reason I point this out is that I think its possible that as a community grows the assumptions about the community become a part of the code and they aren't necessarily true anymore.

When a community is small by definition it has shared values. As the community grows it starts to fragment those shared values, but the code assumes that they still have shared values.

I am indifferent to the idea of down voting stories, but the code doesn't allow it because the assumption being made is that the stories being posted are being checked against the common community values, when in fact newer members (perhaps my self included on the newer point) see hacker news as the next technology/startup based Digg/Reddit/Slashdot, etc.

points by Dobbs 5 days ago replies      
I really like having the flag button on the main page. My only suggestion would be to move it to the left of the comments button.


    points by user time ago | flag | 32 comments
flag | points by user time ago | 32 comments

Otherwise it is too close to a commonly pressed button. Particularly on a touch screen.

points by jacoblyles 5 days ago replies      
I contributed late to the last thread - but having a monthly "Erlang Day" (not necessarily about Erlang) would help establish a baseline for the kind of culture we want while relying completely on informal methods, i.e. no changes to code or rules of the community.
points by mcantor 5 days ago replies      
One risk behind hiding comment scores is that people will lose a cue for when they accidentally downvote.
points by Timothee 5 days ago replies      
I was just about to ask you just that. I've noticed in this thread (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2433424) that some comments don't show their points and that a few comments have an orange dot.

Intriguing. But I'm glad you're working on keeping the quality of HN up.

Also, clickable link for the discussion you mention: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2403696

edit: some comments still have points. Is that just a transition period?

points by antirez 5 days ago replies      
no points in comments: very interesting, a lot less bias. Unfortunately fast scanning of the best things is compromised. Probably it's still a good idea to avoid points, at least for a few days. When the comment is old enough there is no reason to don't show points again.
points by gnosis 5 days ago replies      
I'd like to suggest a simple improvement:

Hide the number of votes a given comment has received until after you've voted on it.

After a given user has voted on a given comment, the number of votes that comment has received can be revealed to the user who voted on it.

I don't see much downside to this. It would discourage voting with the herd, and at the same time encourage people to vote.

points by matthias 5 days ago replies      
Suggestion: the Rerun button allows veteran users to signal that an article has reached the front page before. Far from flagging the links for removal, the rerun button signifies that the content has a timeless quality.. it definitely isn't news, but it is still worthwhile. A link that is getting both sufficient upvotes and rerun clicks is moved to the Reruns page, which would feature all manner of old chestnuts and stop them clogging up the front page.
points by Xk 5 days ago replies      
It seems that you can still see how many points a comment has when it's nonpositive.


And there are other comments with negative points where the number doesn't show. And still other comments with positive score that are showing up. Consider me confused.

points by bambax 4 days ago replies      
"Upvoted" and "saved" should be two different things; today they are the same.

The only stories I want to "save" are those with practical content that I may use later (some new utility or library, for example).

Stories I find interesting but that I fear may clutter my "save history" don't get an upvote although they would deserve one.

Would it not help to have two separate actions, "save" and "upvote"? (Or did I miss something obvious?)

points by maukdaddy 5 days ago replies      
Overall I think eliminating the point display on comments works very well! I'm no longer tempted to pile on, either positive or negative, on comments.
points by retree 5 days ago replies      
I like the no comment scores, orange dot idea (which has made a comeback).

I hope it leads to less of the mob voting mentality which seems to take hold every so often in some of the more popular threads and less of the "Sorry I downvoted you" comments that appear every so often.

On the other hand, comment scores are a very quick and easy way to see what's popular, which is still normally an informative comment. Having to wade through a lot of highly voted comments may take a bit more effort but will expose people to a greater variety of opinions.

points by nikcub 5 days ago replies      
I don't think you should do anything

This is supposed to be hacker news, if you don't like the comment counts, hide them yourself. Hack it into something that you do find easier to manage. I started writing my own chrome plugin a year ago and add to it as needed (voting ppl I like up, others down, etc.)

for me HN is perfect - you will never make it perfect for tens of thousands of people by changing it on the server.

If you start accepting user submitted tweaks now it will probably never end

points by aspir 4 days ago replies      
I support the decision to downplay karma within comments; I would even experiment with removing that data from the article listings view. This is a data driven group of people who are simultaneously very competitive. It's likely that the majority of readers aren't maliciously competitive regarding karma, but this competitive, data driven nature likely has a contributing factor to some of the referenced issues.

If you notice, many of the comments themselves are about the external of the karma system, such as justification for downvotes, using karma as a currency, etc. The current iteration, using karma on the back end for page ranking purposes, will likely be the best long term solution. I will know the community's response to my own comments, but I won't be able to notice that a HN "super member" received 20+ votes and try to emulate their content. Over time, comment and article rank, the original idea behind a voting article/comment system, will become the goal, rather than earning 2 upvotes.

To put this in perspective, do a Ctrl+F for "karma" and "vote", then do the same for "quality."

points by famousactress 5 days ago replies      
The red dot helps quickly identify comment threads that might be compelling (something I used score for before).. but the lack of scores on the comments view (using the 'comments' header link) makes that view almost useless to me.. I don't use it all that often, but occasionally peruse it to identify threads that may be more interesting than their titles led me to believe.
points by Groxx 4 days ago replies      
Thoughts re: zero karma display currently in place:

I'm getting a lot more up-votes for what I consider to be relatively mediocre comments. Some display is useful, as it helps prevent such artificial inflation. It is interesting in that it does mask whether the top comment is high-rated or merely new - I've gotten used to it with my Flattehn extension and I sort of like it, it helps spread the votes around a bit more.

Not sure what all needs to be done to counter-act everything. Keep up the experimenting! And may I request tool-tips on color / display differences, like the green names had a little while ago? Or a current-version legend somewhere?

points by count 5 days ago replies      
On the front page, can you switch the order of 'flag' and 'N comments' - I think it's a 'Fits Law' type thing. I click into the comments for basically every story, but having to get between the time stamp and the "| flag" indicator ads a second of hesitation to make sure I'm not accidentally flagging something that I want to read.
points by Super_Jambo 4 days ago replies      
My solution to the voting problem is to separate out good posting behaviour and good voting behaviour.

Weight votes by reputation, calculate reputation by judging each vote for difficulty (did you vote before it had obviously won / lost) and success.

So you get reputation for voting up at -10 when it ends up at 1000. You lose reputation for voting up at 1000 when it ends at -10.

Since judgement is subjective you need a bunch of moderators to seed the site with good judgement. Then so long as they over-ride votes on the most obvious examples it should be a self correcting reputation system.

I don't understand why in HN's current system voting power comes from karma which comes from occasional good posting. You could spend most of your time flaming, getting into arguments and down voting everyone you disagree with but so long as you're quick on posting PG's articles or write the occasional good comment HN views you as a model citizen.

Be interested in any critique of this as it's how ISDaily my news start-up works. (http://www.isdaily.com)

points by imajes 5 days ago replies      
This might be worth experimenting with.

One of the problems of such communities is the echo chamber nature of hearing the same voices. I'd be interested to see what happens if you made it so that the more karma points you had, the harder it is for your comment to rise to the top. If a post by a leaderboard member is really interesting, then it'll get upvoted a lot- but because of the group think aspect leaderboard members tend to get upvoted a lot because they're in the leaderboard.

nb: This problem may be mitigated by not having scores visible.

points by wh-uws 5 days ago replies      
Just putting my 2 cents in for what they are worth.

Its hard for me to keep track of what the community thinks of comments without their karma score beside them.

points by alanh 5 days ago replies      
Not showing scores is curious.
For one " and this isn't a criticism " it makes voting feel slightly idempotent.
For another, given the way both arrows always disappear after a vote, it makes it tougher to see if you clicked the “correct” arrow (always been an issue given their size and proximity).
points by nbpoole 5 days ago replies      
I'm seeing green usernames for submissions and comments by new users (not sure exactly what the threshold for "newness" is, the person I saw created their account in the past hour)
points by solipsist 5 days ago replies      
How about removing the total number of karma points from user's profiles now?

Excluding our own profiles, what are the advantages of seeing other's karma?

If we're going to remove the presence of karma from comments, why not with the user profiles as well?

points by nod 5 days ago replies      
I love not seeing karma on comments. I've realized that I've made three comments today, where I rarely comment normally (once a week or less). I don't know why, but it takes away the "you'd better write two paragraphs and predict the group-think" feeling that stops me from contributing more.
points by mathgenius 5 days ago replies      
What about something like "netflix for comments?" Ie. your votes would endow you with a profile (a sparse vector) that then tailors HN so that you see more of what other similar users also upvote. This would also encourage people to vote more.

I originally thought in terms of one uber-editor that fed (votes to) a machine learning algorithm, but then why not allow everyone to be their own editor.

points by triviatise 5 days ago replies      
8% of men are red-green colorblind.
points by MrMan 5 days ago replies      
Here is an idea. Individual karma scores, no matter how they are scored, will create certain kinds of incentives. What if you create a global karma score for the entire site, which is an aggregate of all user activity? Posting, commenting, voting, would all not only be scored for each user individually, but for the site overall, or perhaps in the future topic categories could either be teased out by hand, or assigned using some NLP technique like LDA, and each topic could have a score.
It would at least be interesting to see the health of hacker news on a 0-1 scale somewhere on the top menu bar, and maybe some little stats behind the score to help illustrate the thought process behind the score.
You could use cosine distance for each posting from the n highest scoring posts, and take the inverse of the sum of the distances to score a potential for each post. The sum of all the potentials of all postings within a certain time period, taken as a ratio over a trailing average potential over a longer period would a an interesting way to possibly get a view into how diverse and how high quality each posting tends to be.

A sitewide score would also allow you to make each user's score be a weighted combination of individual score and their contribution to the whole. Consider it a form of shared fitness.

points by pedalpete 5 days ago replies      
One thing I've noticed about the way I use HN, is that I find I keep going to my page, then my comments/posts to see if there are any responses, so that I can decide to respond or not.

I think it would be nice to have a number next to my score, showing me that their are responses, and maybe link that right to my comments/posts page. Would save me wasting time looking at those pages when there hasn't been any activity.

Thanks, keep up the GREAT work.

points by jchonphoenix 5 days ago replies      
You might just consider making the flagging ability more apparent, and give it to some of the more senior members of HN. I only recently discovered it, but it has been useful in removing posts that belong on Reddit.
points by grandalf 5 days ago replies      
Comments with <1 points should be ignored, and an adjusted score should be calculated thus:

adjusted_score = ln(square(upvotes - downvotes + 1))

This way, all comments/posts that generate some goodwill are rewarded, and the incentive not to post for fear of hurting the average is removed.

And the log will frustrate karma whores b/c they won't be able to separate themselves from the pack as easily.

Also I think some measure of how controversial a comment/post is would be useful, since it would help find interesting areas where the community is in disagreement.

points by j_baker 5 days ago replies      
Hasn't the "no scores by comments" idea already been tried? I recall it not working out well for some reason...
points by 6ren 5 days ago replies      
Without seeing comment scores, it's hard to find the ones worth reading - or are they ranked by score now (instead of by hotness)?
points by BoppreH 5 days ago replies      
Maybe using the "top color" from the user's settings?
points by rooshdi 5 days ago replies      
Along with hiding comment vote counts, maybe you could try experimenting with hiding story vote counts as well. It may encourage readers to comment on stories they are genuinely interested in rather than the top voted stories of the day.
points by drivebyacct2 5 days ago replies      
Please fix downvoting. Even right now, there's a thread that I can my post be downvoted, and then my reply later that sets the record straight be upvoted. Apparently people here vote before informing themselves or reading the rest of the thread. Regardless, not being able to change a vote, especially if a simple misclick is made, is very, very frustrating.
points by rms 5 days ago replies      
Should I start flagging stories that I just don't like rather than only ones that strictly violate the rules?
points by hanifvirani 5 days ago replies      
What I am looking forward to is submission downvoting. I hope it's one of the features that gets experimented.
points by shii 5 days ago replies      
I'd love if you tried the shipped idea suggested by ericb[1]. A simple input-form in the profile page that someone could put a link to and that would light up a 1x1 pixel next to their username if they've shipped a startup yet.

[1]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1918772

points by BrianAnderson 5 days ago replies      
Way to issue a challenge that all large communities struggle to solve!

So I have two thoughts that I think are in a different vein than many comments below (tried to read them all but may have missed some. Apologize for repeats)

1. Similar to other suggestions, but with a slight twist, modify the up/down votes to utilize the Net Promoter Score methodology. It has its issues but it reduces a really difficult problem to a simple question that provides a broader spectrum than y/s. Could limit the "would highly recommend" super-vote to one story per day so users would save those votes for those articles they find extremely valuable.

Actually, thinking about it. Would be cool to get a view of only stories that people have "spent" their one super-vote as that is signaling extreme importance. I think many people find many stories interesting, but would only find a few EXTREMELY interesting enough to spend their super-vote on.

2. One challenge is that HN has grown in size so much that there is no set of top stories to satisfy the entire group. Would be interesting to provide a view that matches your personal preferences. Reddit does this by subreddit, stackoverflow by tags. My personal background is personalization in the context of eCommerce, which looks more at user segments. So users who find hard-core tech knowledge interesting vs. VC news vs. geographic location. In some ways this is already being done via segmentation in the classic view: http://news.ycombinator.com/classic Are there some other obvious segments on HN?

points by bgalbraith 5 days ago replies      
Apologies if this has been suggested before.

I'm curious if something like the BCS ranking system in college football could work for online communities. The specifics don't translate, but the general idea is that you use a weighted combination of human and machine generated rankings. This can be seen as maintaining the user-driven voting system but tempered with an impartial community spirit moderator in the form of a machine learning algorithm.

How could this be applied to HN? Let's leave the standard karma/voting system as it exists, as that seems to generally work.

Next, determine the general distribution of votes per comment. This will allow for things like z-scores to be determined that can notice if a particular comment has received significantly more votes than usual.

Next, perform a machine learning algorithm on a corpus of comments. Something as straightforward as Bayesian filters can work, though self-organizing maps also have potential. This is effectively doing the same thing as spam filtering, but instead of simply flagging something as spam, it would provide its own +/- vote. The initial training would start with a baseline of existing comments, and then periodically, say once a night, be updated with recently added comments and votes. Additional information, such as the karma of the commenter, can also be incorporated.

The final ranking then, which here would be how high up on the page it appears, would be a weighted combination of user votes, z-score scaling, and machine votes.

points by earnubs 4 days ago replies      
My experience: I just read the comment thread on an HN post and without the points beside each comment my brain acted like a crutch had been removed. I approve :)
points by ptn 5 days ago replies      
FWIW, I'm already liking not seeing the score of comments. I can see how it really contributes to the discussion. Maybe do a poll later to vote for which changes should stick around?
points by shawnee_ 5 days ago replies      
Individual comments sans karma-per-comment is superbly smart. Seems like it will encourage higher quality comment quality across the board, as a function of less-biased individual comments in aggregate.

Another + side-effect: decreasing the number of attack down-votes. It is annoying to see scores < 0 due to another person (coward) who uses downvote to "disagree" w/a valid point, and then everybody jumps on the bandwagon. It is possible to disagree without downvoting; just takes a little more thought / energy.

points by mkramlich 5 days ago replies      
Would be nice if all URL's were clickable.
points by lazugod 5 days ago replies      
You'd think that text posts (like the parent) that have links within them would make their links clickable once they pass some karma threshold.
points by ary 5 days ago replies      
Please experiment with not showing comment or story scores. Just show a user's total karma on the profile page.
points by shawndumas 3 days ago replies      
points by kmfrk 5 days ago replies      
Crossing my fingers that it will be easier to tell users apart soon. That's currently my biggest gripe.

EDIT: Aaand negative karma. I like the changes already.

points by mkramlich 5 days ago replies      
Sometimes we accidentally upvote or downvote something. Would be nice if user could Undo/Change his vote.
points by vessenes 5 days ago replies      
I'm really enjoying the no points on comments; it's making me think about the content more. Nice!
points by tvon 5 days ago replies      
I love the lack of points showing when it comes to Apple discussions.
points by teyc 5 days ago replies      

First up, this is nice. The absence of comment scores throw people around a bit, and people are generally more careful since it is difficult to directly receive feedback.

Secondly, the madness associated with karma is gone. Can you imagine in post-earthquake Japan where for a brief few days, it didn't matter whether you are a CEO or have a million dollars. It is a brief moment where we are reduced to who we already are: humans. Beyond the profit motive. I wonder if this is sustainable in the long run. It'd be like Communism (?) gulp.

Perhaps there could be karma-free days as an experiment where for those days, you couldn't earn karma even if you tried. Kind of like Sabbath. It forces a different perspective.

points by maxharris 5 days ago replies      
I hope you don't turn the points display back on. Hiding points makes it more likely that users will actually read a comment before voting it up or down.
points by dan335 5 days ago replies      
I wish there was a section where people could only submit things they wrote, created or had a hand in creating. I can get news somewhere else.
points by greencircle 5 days ago replies      
The other thread states one problem is mean comments. A good solution for this is to require the use of real names.
points by DiabloD3 5 days ago replies      
I don't want to attention whore, but I brought this up earlier http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2427163
points by bravura 5 days ago replies      
Okay, I'll come clean. I've been experimenting with HN for over three years.

At first, I would try out HN and the effect on me was quite mild. I simply didn't see what the fuss was about. But the most I experimented with HN, the more I realized how powerful it is.

Nowadays, I use HN daily, sometimes more than once daily.

Sure my relationships with people who don't use HN have suffered. But who cares? They don't understand. That's why they don't use HN.

Ask HN: I have a startup idea! What do I do next?
11 points by leslieMichaels 1 day ago   13 comments top 9
points by joshu 1 day ago replies      
So. I built Delicious while working full-time on a trading desk. So here's what comes right to mind:

- Start building stuff. Initial ideas are usually not great, but ideas plus execution lead to much better ideas.

- Don't build stuff relevant to work while you work there. They will probably own it.

points by sbisker 1 day ago replies      
Some points on c)

-Don't think of it as "leading a team", think of it as finding a partner. It sounds like you want someone who can help you lead yourself

-Don't totally rule out your liberal-arts-majoring friends. Some of them may actually want to live this dream with you, some of them may actually have the willpower and skill to dive into something totally new (business dev, UI, whatever support you need) in order to do it. Whether the intersection of those two groups is greater than zero, remains to be seen - but certainly don't rule it out.

-It's good that you know you're indecisive. If you want a partner (and it sounds like you do), try to find one that's decisive. (While at the same time, doesn't use his decisiveness to bully you into things - find someone who uses it to help you see how quick things can get done when someone just decides.)

points by starpilot 1 day ago replies      
Post it on http://captainobvio.us/ to have it shot down. Really, "killing the company" is a good brainstorming approach to see how durable your idea is.
points by jcr 1 day ago replies      
Leslie, you are procrastinating by posting this. There are countless posts similar to yours on HN, and if you dig them up, you'll find the same consistent and good advice in all of them; just do it.

Your "great idea" may or may not be as great as you imagine, but the only way to find out is to try, and if you do try, you'll learn something. I might be a home run, but then again, you might just get in some batting practice. Both are good outcomes.

points by alanfalcon 13 hours ago replies      
Read the first chapter of http://www.quitterbook.com/
points by BinaryAcid 1 day ago replies      
1. Thanks for posting and showing self motivation.
2. You are no where near considering quiting your job so do your job and your project/startup on the side.
3. It's hard to give advice when you give so little information. Who knows if your idea is even tenable. Please give some more info.
4. The usual step is to start working on whatever you have in mind and throw up a site about it to gather some attention. Find a website template, customize it, and keep your overhead near zero ie free hosting.
5. Work hard and be patient. Don't get discouraged.
points by stephenou 1 day ago replies      
You might find my relevant blog post helpful: http://artsyeditor.com/2011/04/how-did-i-get-38-willing-to-p...

I had the idea of Artsy Editor a month ago, and decided to find customers instead of jumping into code.

points by mapster 1 day ago replies      
could you take a 3 month leave of absence? I would argue to NOT leave your job as most ideas / startups fizzle and fail. Hope your an exception!
points by naithemilkman 1 day ago replies      
Honestly, just spend a weekend and start doing it and see how far you go. Really, just do it. Less conversation, more action please.
Ask PG: Is there any chance we're going to get comment points back soon?
8 points by blhack 3 days ago   4 comments top 3
points by pg 3 days ago replies      
Let's see what the reaction is to this experiment: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2445039
points by Terretta 3 days ago replies      
Points are not a substitute for citations or sound reasoning.

Your example is a perfect one of how useless points are in such a case. 5 points or 150, you still didn't learn "why". Could be that people just like the guy who made the comment.

points by akkartik 3 days ago replies      
There was a suggestion in the original thread to show log(#votes), which might address your point. Most of the time things would be at 1 but when they go to 2 you'll know to pay attention.
Ask HN: How do you deal with cold hands whilst coding?
5 points by code177 1 day ago   14 comments top 11
points by biotech 12 hours ago replies      
If you smoke or drink caffeine, these can cause vasoconstriction which reduces blood flow to your hands.

If the problem is really serious, it could be a medical problem called Raynaud's Syndrome.

points by jcr 1 day ago replies      
Gloves. Yes, seriously. There are a number of skin-tight insulating gloves on the market, typically for arthritis and often designed to improve circulation. Some have open fingertips (or you could cut the tips off yourself) so they don't get in the way of touch on the keyboard. It's not the coolest fashion statement, but they really do help.
points by chronomex 1 day ago replies      
I tend to keep my keyboard on my lap, where it gets fairly warm and radiates onto my hands. When even colder inside, I use a laptop, which essentially has a heated keyboard.
points by curt 1 day ago replies      
From a medical perspective your problem is circulation, exercise, eat right, use supplements, and take a break every couple hours by walking around, working out, or anything. It'll go away in a couple months.
points by sixtofour 1 day ago replies      
Try wearing long sleeves. And/or a hat.

If your body is cold, your extremities get screwed.

points by Mz 1 day ago replies      
I wipe my keyboard down before I get started, wash my hands with warm water, get adequate amounts of good quality sea salt, and drink warm coffee. I also worked on my underlying health and my hands are less prone to getting cold now that I am less anemic and such.
points by djloche 1 day ago replies      
I have this problem only if I haven't exercised and/or eaten that day. I would suggest regular meals (every 3-4 hours you are awake) and exercise in combination with using space heaters to warm the air within your area.
points by minalecs 1 day ago replies      
heh.. i seriously have this problem too. Funny you brought it up.. anyways I use a small desk heater, I blow across my keyboard area. Not sure how I feel about using gloves, and I do drink a big cup of hot coffee, and generally doesn't help much.
points by leslieMichaels 1 day ago replies      
I went to school in a very cold place, and this was a problem. Gloves didn't do squat. Sometimes I got the feeling that they made my hands colder.

I programmed under the blanket.

If that's not an option, you could (god forbid) exercise strenuously (do 50 jumping jacks), after which you would be very warm for several minutes. :D

There are those hand warmer things that you can get at any gas station. You shake them and they're hot for hours. You could put one in each glove...

points by david_shaw 1 day ago replies      
Knitted hand warmers. They're fingerless gloves, basically.
points by rawsyntax 1 day ago replies      
yes I use a blanket, but then again I work from home.

I find getting a hot cup of tea / coffee works.

How can I live in the Bay Area - Only Focus on my startup.
4 points by MenaMena123 1 day ago   10 comments top 5
points by Mz 1 day ago replies      
I used to live in Fairfield, which is midway between SF and the state capital. It is in Solano County, which is basically the cheap seats of the Bay Area. It likely won't be quite the hot spot you are looking for, but last I heard, about 40% of people in Solano commute to jobs outside the county in other (pricier) parts of the Bay Area. Some people even do that without a car. Transportation alternatives in the Bay Area are almost as good as Europe (or at least way better than anything else I have personally seen elsewhere in the US). There is commuter rail, decent bus service, and all kinds of creative options that for me were strange and new.

So if you can find a place in Solano County, you can reduce your living expenses somewhat. (Last I checked, for $1k/mo in SF, you can get an SRO rental...but there may be a waiting list and it's a total dive. It's possible to work full time and be homeless in SF.)

points by andymoe 1 day ago replies      
Get here any way you can. If that means you get a job (even part time) and get in a roommate situation in sf or moutain view or whatever do it.

What kind of skills do you have? Email in profile if you have specific questions about the area or where to look for housing. I have lived here most of my life.

points by mixRead 1 day ago replies      
Hey MenaMena123 - in my opinion you should start working on your startup - build fast a prototype and test the market - see if you can earn some money with it.
If you will start erning money very good - you are on the right track.
If not -don't give up, try to find a part-time job so you can still earn some cash bu also work on your startup!
Good like on your venture!
points by nick_urban 1 day ago replies      
If you don't have any savings, and don't have any income other than from working, how do you expect to live anywhere without working? Are you staying at home right now?

The bay area is expensive, but it varies a lot depending on where you are. Here's a hint: don't live in San Francisco. Look for a place in the east bay with roommates. If you want easy access to SF, just make sure it's near a BART station. You can get a decent place for < $600/mo that way.

If you're a good programmer and you can network, you should be able to cover your costs while only working 10-20 hrs/wk. That said, it make take you a little while to get your foot in the door if you're fresh out of school.

If you want to go soon, there are going to be a lot of university kids subletting their places for the summer.

The bay area is a great place. You'll have fun living there. Good luck!

points by MenaMena123 1 day ago replies      
Also I'm not going for the money that can be invested, but the people that are around that can help etc etc. People are very important.
Ask HN: Why can't I make as much as I make?
253 points by nopassrecover 5 days ago   discuss
points by edw519 5 days ago replies      
Actually, it's pretty simple: supply and demand.

In the B2B world, there is a stunning demand for good software everywhere I go. Two and three year project queues are the norm. They have trouble finding anyone to get the work done, whether it's employees, contractors, or vendors, either for services or products.

Perfect example right now: I know of two large companies whose customers are demanding that they be able to enter their orders on the internet. Imagine, in 2011, large companies struggling to find people to get e-commerce working!

OTOH, I read about what other programmers are doing here on hn, and 90% of the time, my first thought is, "Why? Who would pay for that?"

To make it on your own, you have to stop building what you think people will pay for and start building what they actually will pay for. Huge difference.

Aside: I remember talking about something very simliar a few weeks ago here:


points by patio11 5 days ago replies      
I think that is the most important essay pg ever wrote, honestly. Don't read "hacker" as "programmer", read "hacker" as "maker of valuable things." Yes, you can make astoundingly more than your day job salary by making valuable things. Maybe not $3 million -- though that's less than what MicroGooFaceZon will pay per hacker at a talent acquisition these days -- but certainly more than the day job salary.

I'm 29 this week. The market wage for a 29 year old programmer in this region is about $35k annualized, or under $12 an hour. I worked for that in 2010. Also in 2010, after quitting, I did consulting work at a variety of price points. One of those price points was $200 an hour. It was in the middle of the pack, and I would need a non-monetary reason to work for $200 today, but let's take that as a starting point.

The difference between $12 and $200 an hour was not a sudden quantum leap in my programming skill. It wasn't all that spiffy to begin with -- many of you are better programmers. The biggest single difference was that I moved from a place where programming skill provides fairly little value at the margin -- writing CRUD apps to universities to e.g. print out the list of students in a particular class -- to places where I can credibly sit down with a decisionmaker and show him why N weeks of work stands to make the firm a few million dollars. Often, this translates into the decisionmaker personally making a million dollars. ("A 5% increase in conversion rates does this to the value of your stock options.") This is a nice place to be in negotiating.

Another thing which changed since I "negotiated" pay at $12 an hour: I started negotiating seriously, based on the value I could reasonably be expected to provide. The best single tactical suggestion was from Thomas (tptacek): rather than compromising on rate, compromise on scope. If $20,000 is too dear for the project budget, rather than offering to cut prices 25%, offer to cut scope 25%. OK then, no problem, we won't do that review of your email autoresponders this time. Bam, $5,000 saved. (Of course, after the "how many millions this is going to make you" discussion, price in thousands often becomes less than material.)

Does this carry over directly to product businesses? Yes, though again, you're not going to double your income because of a quantum leap in programming ability. If you succeed, it will likely be a combination of ability to make things (not to be underestimated: most people can't, after all) with a plethora of soft skills which are very difficult to find in a single person or small group of people. If you do it yourself, you get to keep the salary of the employee/consultant a firm would have to hire to get the benefit.

Bingo cards, for example, is really, really no great shakes in the programming department. The lion's share of my (modest) compensation for that isn't for programming ability, it is for identifying and alleviating a huge unmet need in the bingo cards publishing industry, which I use to sell a complement (my software). I publish more bingo cards on more topics than every "real" educational publisher worldwide combined.

And even then, BCC has many suboptimal choices about the business model. One big takeaway from bootstrapping AR is that recurring revenue -- the SAAS model -- really, really rocks. (More to come on that sometime when I get a day free to blog.)

points by thaumaturgy 5 days ago replies      
> Excluding outliers such as Gates/Zuckerberg, is the inference that a good hacker can make more from the market directly actually valid?

No, it is not.

It makes a huge number of assumptions without bothering to mention them: that the hacker is equally skilled at public relations, marketing, business management, financial management, and on and on. Running a business -- even a relatively simple one -- requires much more than, "sit down and write great code for 12 hours a day, six days a week."

As the business grows towards that $3 million / year figure, the number of business-y things that have to be successfully managed also grows.

Yes, there are stories of people who have done it (e.g., Minecraft) -- and yet, on further investigation, you often find that there's a lot more to the story than there appears to be (Angry Birds). Still, these are the exceptions, the breakout successes, and it's as foolish to go into business for yourself expecting this kind of outcome as it is to walk into a casino and expect to walk out as the big winner of the month.

I think that trying to distill the entire process down into whether or not you're a "good hacker" ignores all of the other talents and luck that are required, and also really diminishes the perception that any business acumen is required for that kind of success.

points by neild 5 days ago replies      
2. Assume a hacker can in turn be significantly more productive working for themselves.

I'm a hacker. I work at a company that employs sales people, marketers, and support staff. The software I work on makes my company money--far more than my salary. Without sales, marketing, and support, however, that software would generate no revenue at all.

I could quit my job and go into business myself making the same software. Now I need to do my own sales, marketing, and support, none of which I'm any good at, and I have no time to work on development.

Working for a company makes me significantly more productive than working for myself, because I can specialize in the things I'm good at.

This doesn't mean that I might not do better financially by going into business for myself. I absolutely, positively would not do better technical work, since I'd be constantly distracted by non-technical tasks.

points by Maro 5 days ago replies      
In my experience, it is NOT valid in general. If you simply go out on the marketplace and say, "Hey, I'm a good hacker, give me a contract job!", then clients will calculate your worth by taking the $80K figure. (Clients are much better businessman than you are, much better negotiators, and usually need you much less than you need the contract.) But, you won't have 8 hours worth of work per day, so you'll go broke.

The trick is to be more than just a general-purpose "hacker". You have to be a "Security expert" or an "iPhone SEO expert" or an "Oracle DBA"... The trick is, you have to know a market segment, and have a good understanding of what the business value of your skill/work is, and then you can charge based on that.

And of course good networking, good people skills, good self-management skills, etc. Stuff that "hackers" usually don't care about.

points by michaelochurch 5 days ago replies      
First of all, a lot of software projects fail. A successful software project is worth millions, but a failed one is worth zero or less, at least in terms of value created for immediate capture. A well-organized and large company can squeeze value (wisdom, code) out of the failed projects but small companies (which are often single software projects) just go out of business.

Second, there's risk. Capitalist society always allocates most of the reward to those who take the monetary risk, not those who do the work. From a humanist perspective, it's unfair because you are taking more risk with every job you take-- you're risking your career and health, they're just risking money, which they have in abundance-- but that's how the game works. If you don't like it, become politically active and try to change it.

Third, "business people" are better at capturing surplus value. It's about leverage, negotiation, and putting oneself in the right chair.

All that said, I don't think an unproven programmer is worth anything near $3 million per year, or even 1/20 of that. The worst programmers are not very skilled and are a liability-- negatively productive. I would say that base salaries are about right-- $50,000 for an unproven beginner, $80,000 for a top beginner, $120,000 at the mid-range, and $200,000 for experts-- but that companies should extend much, much more in the way of employee profit-sharing and creative control. Where programmers get stiffed is not in their compensation (which is quite fair) but in their lack of autonomy and "say" in how they do their jobs; often they are held back and prevented from unlocking their talents by meddling "executives" of mediocre intellect and vision. That is what should change, not base salaries per se.

points by Emore 5 days ago replies      
Reminds me of this article in the Economist: "Why do firms exist?":

"His central insight was that firms exist because going to the market all the time can impose heavy transaction costs. You need to hire workers, negotiate prices and enforce contracts, to name but three time-consuming activities. A firm is essentially a device for creating long-term contracts when short-term contracts are too bothersome."

EDIT: link: http://www.economist.com/node/17730360

points by mgkimsal 5 days ago replies      
Interesting question, and a premise that was put together by someone on the 'other side' (someone who already made it). On paper it sounds valid, but it's still much more difficult than it looks.

I do think part of it has to do with 'thinking small'. If you are shooting to make $100k, you'll be looking for activities to engage in to make $8k/month. But there's a lot of time and effort involved in getting anything started, and as such, the net result of shooting for $8k/month may be significantly less.

Many people are looking to replace a wage rather than start a business, which would almost necessarily entail growing beyond a one person org, even if only by using freelance help as needed. The effort involved in creating reproducible systems (market research, customer acquisition, product development, support, etc), as oppposed to just hacking on code, is far greater than most people realize. Not that it can't be done, of course.

points by scotty79 5 days ago replies      
"Money for valuable effort" - world does not work like that.

World is built of cash pipes and 99% people just tap into them (salary) or builds their own thin pipes (lifestyle business?). 1% of clever people from time to time manages to build new fat pipe but who and when it's almost due to sheer luck. Experience and smarts don't help you win the lottery, they just buy you a ticket.

When you work for yourself you make an attempt at building new pipe but all you can usually do is build thin pipe and even if you are draining 100% of it it's still less than what you could get if you just tapped to someone else's fat pipe, even if your work doesn't do anything to make the pipe fatter or even harms it. It's most apparent for people in financial sector but I believe it's true for everybody.

That's why most people have salary and try to build something own after hours. This way they are getting a shot at building own cash pipe while still not passing on opportunity at draining someone else's fat pipe.

Oh and it's much easier to widen already fat pipe that to build your own as fat as the amount of the widening. That's probably the answer to your question.

points by crasshopper 5 days ago replies      
1. Salaried people demand very strict floors on their earnings. It's completely unrealistic in business. Imagine saying you won't open a toy store unless someone guarantees that you will make at least $XX,000 in the first year (with guaranteed pay rises each year).

2. Coming up with good business ideas is hard.

3. Your wage in an office environment is strongly related to your ability to harm the bottom line by leaving, your ability to play politics, and your credentials. Your wage as an entrepeneur is entirely related to your ability to get customers to pay you or to get investors to invest in you. In my experience the two skill sets are negatively correlated.

4. In addition to being exposed to and responsible for the entire risk distribution, costs that a corporation spreads out over many people (incl. health insurance) are focused narrowly on an entrepreneur. Remember how you used to be able to make phone calls from the office and still be on the clock?

5. Lastly, hackers' skills are often complementary to other parts of a business but not sufficient to establish a new business with ≥ marginal value. {Sales ⋃ hackers} > {sales} + {hackers}.

There are many good reasons to believe that hackers can make more money freelancing than working for a single company. Starting a new company is a totally different proposition.

points by hung 5 days ago replies      
The simple explanation does not factor in economies of scale. You might make a good wage working for someone else because they have some kind of market advantage. Would 100 mini-Googles that were 1/100th the size of Google make as much money? No, because their advantage (at least in selling ads) has to do with the fact that they have such a high percentage of the inventory.

I'm not saying some hackers can't make more than their salary's worth by going alone, but the argument is way too simplified to account for the real world.

points by dabent 5 days ago replies      
"working for themselves"

Maybe I'm reading too much into that, but if you're thinking of going it alone, you might not get very far. Gates, Zuckerberg and most of the rest had others they teamed with from the start. Pg is very big on co-founders for that reason. Smart hackers have made 3 million a year (and up) by teaming with other smart hackers.

There's a difference between a freelancer and a startup, and in the "How to Make Wealth" I've always assumed pg is referring to small teams making things many people want (startups), because that's the theme of so much of his writing.

points by brianbreslin 5 days ago replies      
most hackers do the following (from my knowledge of my friends)
- devalue their self-worth (I can't really charge $200 for 15min of my work right?)
- waste their time on things they find intriguing (solving problems not many have), that aren't ultimately profitable
- coast through easy non-challenging jobs which leaves them w/less time to strike out on their own.
- lack of business acumen (business acumen != tech acumen)

I have a brilliant friend who is helping his friends work on a potentially dead end project because "I don't have anything else to work on"
you also forget these outliers have other factors helping them: solving common problems, existing connections (gates + IBM connection), etc.

points by csomar 5 days ago replies      
The question is: Is the hacker going to hack or run a business?

If he is going to hack only (considering he has found someone who is going to pay based on his output), then he should be able to make what he actually worths.

If he is going to start a business, then he is going to become an Entrepreneur. And that means, he requires a hell lot more of skills like Copywriting, Sales, Customer care, Networking, SEO... (just to name a few)

points by jdavid 5 days ago replies      
I think this is proven at companies like Google, and Nintendo.

If you divide total revenue of the company amongst all of its employees, Google still makes say 1-2M per employee, and Nintendo has been reported to earn in revenue 2-3M per employee during the heyday of the Wii.

The key to making this work though is being able to have a product market fit. Or in the HN religion, 'make things people want'.

Secondly I think there are a great number of inefficiencies that can occur if say a product could earn you $3M per engineer/ hacker and you are able to get at-least $40k per engineer/ hacker, as you work to narrow that delta you will refine your nitch, and craft.

If however the revenue does not scale, meaning, it's not easy enough to grab something for your poor/ unskilled efforts, I think it's hard to wiggle your way to the top and reach $3M per person.

I think this is why HN/ VCs tends to fund people in strong existing markets which are begging for an update.

It's too expensive to educate someone on your value, and to build the market, even though there are some entrepreneurs that are really good at that.

points by peat 5 days ago replies      
There are a few ways to look at this problem, but the fundamental skill set for being independent isn't necessarily your hacking ability -- it's your ability to find a market, and successfully sell your talents and/or a product.

I can speak from over ten years of freelancing and working for startups: learning how to communicate effectively with non-technical people, understanding how to sell your services and/or products, and figuring out what market your skills are most valuable in ... that is the trick to making good money.

I've picked up a few good habits, and it has significantly increased my income, but fundamentally there are only 24 hours in a day, and one of me.

Here's my take: a highly skilled, professional, experienced, and independent freelance software developer can bring home $150k in a good year. That's nearly $200,000 before taxes, and represents an hourly rate of about $150 to $200 per hour (there's a fair amount of of downtime for freelancers and consultants).

You won't make $200 per hour selling your services as a developer to SMEs and startups (the typical market for freelance developers). That kind of money is usually reserved for solving significant problems for big businesses.

On the other hand, can make an equivalent amount at a lower rate by starting starting your own development agency and hiring other developers ... and sales people ... and administrative staff. But that means you're not really out on your own, and your value is in successfully managing people -- not being a "smart hacker working very hard."

The other way to make a significant amount of money is to build a product that people love. This isn't an easy task. I'd venture that a significant number of people on HN have actually tried building their own products.

There's a very good reason why hard working and smart software developers aren't making $3 million each year -- it's because it's extremely hard to do, requires a skill set that is far broader than simply writing good code, and also involves a lot of luck (being the right person, at the right time, in the right place). We happen to have a skill that is in demand and pays well, but that does not make us brilliant business people.

All that aside: working for yourself can be an extremely rewarding experience in and of itself, and over time you will make a good amount of money as you hone your craft and business skills. I love what I do, and I strongly encourage others to try it out if they're interested in the independent work- and lifestyle.

tl;dr? Independent, smart, hard working hackers can make good money, but the $3M / year figure is bullshit.

points by petervandijck 5 days ago replies      
The company has a mix of activities which end up generating money.

(developing + x + y + z + brand + existing clients + ...) = $$$

If you leave that company, and develop 3 times more efficiently, you'll still be missing those other activities and you might not make any money.

(developing x 3) = :(

Related is the observation that, in most large companies that I've observed, a large amount of people do "work" that actually contributes almost nothing, and if you take into account their salary, has a negative contribution. Still, those companies are profitable.

(developing + x + y + z - a - b) = $$$

points by clueless123 5 days ago replies      
IMHO, Hackers are usually very poor negotiators. (I assume because we are fact based thinkers)

In life, you never get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.

points by richcollins 5 days ago replies      
Assume a hacker can in turn be significantly more productive working for themselves

You might be more productive working for yourself but that doesn't necessarily translate to making more money/wealth. Companies are like big socialist states where the productivity of the few is transferred to the rest. Most of the wealth in companies was created when the early team figured out how to make money. Figuring out how to make money is incredibly hard to do. It's probably a better bet (financially) to siphon off this wealth than to try to go out and create more yourself.

points by praptak 5 days ago replies      
> 2. Assume a hacker can in turn be significantly more productive working for themselves.


3. All things being equal,

Here. All things are not equal between a lone hacker and a company. You won't get that lucrative contract your employer won.

points by thailandstartup 5 days ago replies      
There's three factors I can think of -

Number one is that it is an uneven distribution. Some hackers might make millions, some will make nothing.

Number two is that hackers may focus too much on doing the work they understand and enjoy, when all parts of a business need attention (like sales and networking).

Number three is that 3 million just sounds a bit on the high side.

points by wh-uws 5 days ago replies      
I would also add that there are unfortunately alot of hackers that don't understand a pretty central business rule.

Closed mouths don't get fed.

They never ask for or seek market wages. And the business people they seems to fall into the hands of get wide eyed and/or start slick talking (because to them they've found a sucker) and next thing you know they're working crazy hours and taking a low wage because "they're just coding" "some else's" "big idea (TM)"

Many say things like "I don't really care about money." or "I can wait a couple of years."

And those things can be true but if they were a bit braver and spoke up or found employment with a group who appreciates their talents they would get paid better.

points by devspade 5 days ago replies      
I think one of the issues is sales/customer generation. Most hackers are good at that - hacking. Not at selling themselves, their services or generating leads and customers.
points by synnik 5 days ago replies      
"should be able to do work worth about $3 million a year."

Note that he says you can DO work WORTH $3 million. That quote says nothing about actually selling that work, or getting it in the first place.

points by EwanToo 5 days ago replies      
I think that's a pretty gross oversimplification of what Paul says, that quote is from pretty much right at the top of the essay, and he then goes on to spend several pages saying why it's not that simple.

He especially isn't talking about lone hackers working for themselves, but ones working at startups - the very first line of the essay is "If you wanted to get rich, how would you do it? I think your best bet would be to start or join a startup".

The difference between a lone hacker working for a per-day rate and a startup is the lone hacker doesn't have a value "multiplier", where 1 days work can be resold many times, whether through product sales or something else.

And for the lone hacker who is building a product, well, most hackers are really bad at doing a sales job...

points by apaulsmith 5 days ago replies      
The amount you can capture value in a 'big company' depends a lot on the industry you are in.

If you are in the right niche, say finance then A.N Other Big Bank will pay 1,000 to 1,200 USD per day for good programmers and more like 1,200 to 1,500 USD per day for excellent programmers.

Now if you are capturing 300K USD per year for your programming skills jumping into a start-up looks like a significantly higher risk proposition than at 80K USD per year.

This is a point that I kind of feel is missed a lot on HN. One of the reasons you see less start-ups in NYC, LDN, etc is simply because it's too easy to make good enough money that the hunger simply doesn't exist.

points by natch 5 days ago replies      
I guess he's just simplifying things, but the more complex truth is that a hacker's worth to the company is unlikely to so neatly correspond to a salary figure like that. (BTW that salary figure is about 10 years out of date; hackers are making more like 130-150k now, if only salary is considered). I've had years where my worth was 1x my salary, 10x my salary, and 100x my salary, based on unique contributions where I took the initiative to do things that most others would not have. I suspect most of us have good years like that, but they partly happen because of the context in which you work. It would have been unlikely for me to have such big contributions without being part of a team that was also contributing a lot.
points by huetsch 5 days ago replies      
That 3 million figure is operating under the assumption that the hacker already has good market research (he is building something people want) and distribution (he is able to get it to those people). Those are the costs you are paying for when you work for a large company.

If the hacker does not have those two things, it is quite likely that he will generate significantly less than 3 million dollars of value.

points by revorad 5 days ago replies      
why does it seem most hackers struggle to capture even half their regular wage from the market directly?

Marketing and selling is hard. And programmers have varying degrees of build-it-and-they-will-come syndrome.

I'm trying to help solve that problem with my new project. Please consider signing up if you want to sell more - http://laughingcomputer.com.

points by jcampbell1 5 days ago replies      
It is absurd that a smart hacker is 30x better than a mediocre hacker. I consider myself slightly above average, and I look at the smartest hackers' code on github, and it is not 30x better at delivering customer value than mine. Maybe 2x at best. Many times the code delivers 1% of the value of my code because it is full of architecture astronat garbage that I am not smart enough to write.
points by shareme 5 days ago replies      
Its skewed by a certain economic bias..what bias?

You see software units once the first one created has zero cost of duplication as far as producing that next unit to sell to someone..so that economic bias is the assumption that the smart hacker is able to produce a desirable product or service that one can monetize..

Let me give you an example:

The average right now for 2d games on android market is 20k in downloads over 3 months. At $1.99 that works out to about $10,000 net every 3 months from one game. And that is recurring income. Most 2d games take one month to code, thus realistically doing 5 games could net over $100,000 per year after taxes!

points by Vitaly 5 days ago replies      
From my experience if you are any good you might get some income dive when you go independent but it should sort itself out within a year or two.
That being said, working as a consultant requires different skill-set then just hacking on some software for 'the man'. You can be super brilliant when doing tech work but miserable when dealing with people, selling, managing your own time, etc. In such situation you have only 2 options: a) change and learn to deal with people, or b) work for a company that can utilize your skills while "protecting" you from the outside world. some people choose (b), others choose (a).
points by veyron 5 days ago replies      
The rule of thumb is that the company expects to generate profits at least one order of magnitude larger than your salary. Hence I would say the 80K hacker should be able to do work worth about 1 M a year to the company.

This gets back to PG's second assumption: "Assume a hacker can in turn be significantly more productive working for themselves."

Most hackers are not more productive working for themselves for a multitude of reasons, some of which have been discussed (i.e. lack of marketing focus) but I think that most hackers who work for someone else hone very specific skills that are suited to the task at hand, which build value for the companies they are working for, but those skills arent necessarily valued in the marketplace.

points by antidaily 5 days ago replies      
Network, network, network... because you're not a salesperson. Maybe you have those traits but most hackers don't. So you must rely upon being good at what you do and letting people who have work know you're reliable and available so they will funnel you work.

If you're not interested in consulting or freelance, network anyway. You'll need a list of contacts to tell about your startup.

points by daimyoyo 5 days ago replies      
"2. Assume a hacker can in turn be significantly more productive working for themselves."

This premise is fundamentally flawed for one simple reason. When you are working for someone else, you just come to work, sign in, and start coding. The question of actually having work to do is solved long before you ever set foot in the office. When you're working for yourself, a big portion of your time has to be spent looking for work. And that's time you can't spend coding, ergo you aren't making money for it. That's why people working independently will generally earn less than people in a company, all other things being equal.

points by erikb 5 days ago replies      
You are quite smart and you guessed right. Start-ups are not a guarantee to win the lottery. PG makes money with people being interested in start-ups, so he tells you about as much of the advantages as possible. And it is not like he's lying or hiding something. From all the facts he just emphasizes the ones that he thinks favor his own situation most. Both "smart hacker" and "working hard" can be interpreted in different ways. Not much of a surprise, isn't it?
points by mike_esspe 5 days ago replies      
If you have non-programming skills like SEO, sales, PR (or eager to learn them), than it's certainly true, that you can get a lot more, than your current wage.

The problem for me with working on my own is laziness - sometimes i can work for whole days without interruption, sometimes i skip months without any work.

points by mapster 5 days ago replies      
I recently started asking my clients if I could interview them - so I could learn about the sales process (they are sales reps - i provide a one off service for them now). Sales people love to talk, so I spent on average 2 hrs per interview x 10 interviews last month. Almost every person I spoke with TOLD ME a product or service they need. They also described their sales process from lead gen to close and support. If you have hacking chops, talk to people.
points by bemmu 5 days ago replies      
Because you start from scratch, instead of improving upon something already big. You might make more money by making Google 0.01% more popular than by making your smaller startup 1% more popular, while the effort could be similar.
points by epynonymous 5 days ago replies      
as a poor man, i've learned that there are no shortcuts in life. as an optimistic poor man, i believe that 80k can indeed be re-valued to 3m, but not overnight, and certainly there are barriers and heavy risks associated. so this is where you really need to dig deep and figure out the truth behind all of this--are you just looking for a shortcut or do you really enjoy the path to potential enlightenment?
points by teyc 5 days ago replies      
I think pg's idea of a hacker is not a person who only hacks code, but it is more like "Venture hacks", "marketing hacks". To hack is

a) the process of grokking through hacking

b) the process/mindset of circumventing apparent barriers in front of you.

Both are very hard, and require a great deal of street smarts.

points by querulous 5 days ago replies      
Effort is multiplicative. While 50% of your effort might provide $500k of value to a company, 100% of your effort might be worth nothing without the structure and support provided by that company.
points by nbuggia 5 days ago replies      
I think the gap is not how much value the hacker generates, it is how much value they get from the corporation.

If you are independent, than you loose out on all the value the corporation provides above & beyond your salary. Things like:
- Taxes on revenue. The corporation pays state/federal taxes on the income you help generate. You would have to pay this on your own, and it can be expensive.
- Limited legal liability. They have lawyers and deep pockets to dissuade lawsuits, and fight them if necessary. Most corporations protect individual employees. You would have to pay for this on your own.
- Sales force. Demand generation is very expensive
- Healthcare. Yeah, very expensive.
- Office space.
- Training, travel, budgets.
- Hardware, etc.

Basically, take everything captured under "General administrative expenses" and divide that by the number of employees in the company. This is the amount of value each hacker gets above & beyond their pay.

This gap isn't insurmountable, and you probably don't need all the services, but it explains much of the 'barrier to entry' for hackers going rouge.

points by vlokshin 5 days ago replies      
It's because most engineers stare at the feet of a client when talking to them, and people with money (that don't understand tech) don't like that.

Simple as that.

Tech - Normal liaisons will (hopefully) be a growing market in coming times. I'm being selfish in saying that :)

points by shahoo 5 days ago replies      
"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
" Aristotle
       cached 17 April 2011 09:05:01 GMT