How Hacker News Home Page Got Us 300+ Stars on GitHub in 24 Hours | Hacker Noon

@jamie1023Nebula Graph

Nebula Graph is an open-source distributed graph database: https://github.com/vesoft-inc/nebula

Hacker News is said to be the Holy Grail for tech folks. There’s one thing that a company, startups in particular, wants desperately: RIGHT traffic for free.

I have never imagined that we would really make it to the front page, especially when I am actually a new comer to the community.

So what happened?

On Jan.15, 2020, I saw a submission on the front page titled “Thank HN: You helped me get a new job” and thought it was great. By then it has already gotten quite a lot of points and comments and was sitting at No.1 on the front page.

I followed the link and read the encouraging story. The submitter mentioned the “Show HN” tag could be an opportunity to tell the community about small or even unfinished projects. I thought it would be a great idea to try showing Nebula Graph to the Hackers of this community.

I checked the Show HN rules and felt so encouraged because it sounds really newbie friendly.

So at about 10:30 AM (GTM+8) on Jan.15, which was 9:30 PM EST on Jan.14, I submitted a story titled “Show HN: An open-source distributed graph database written in C++” and headed back to my work. No invitations for upvotes and comments according to some best practices I’ve read.

After lunch and a walk outside with my coworker, I went back to my desk and prepared to start my work again at around 1:30 PM, three hours after my submission, I checked the front page and we were there sitting at the 6th, with 40 points and 12 comments: 

Then I realized that we made it to the front page! Yahoo!

Why could we hit the front page?

I have been thinking about the reasons why we could make it to the front page. To be honest, I don’t know. 

But the following factors to my knowledge can be taken into consideration:

1. The community is interested in graph database

To me this should be the No.1 reason we can sit on the front page for nearly 20 hours. People are interested in the topic, so they clicked on the link, hence the opportunity to upvote and comment.

We received many comments in this regard:

2. C++ is still a popular programming language amongst programmers, at least in the Hacker News community

There are a lot of graph database solutions out there in the market, but if you check the implementing language of these projects, not many are in C++. I’ll leave the judgement to you to make but Hackers in the community are certainly happy to see a graph database written in C++.

3. The code base of Nebula Graph is of high quality

I guess that’s also a main reason why Hackers in the community wanted to leave comment and raise  their questions:

4. Less competition at the time

I didn’t follow some wide-spread best practice to submit posts during 6:30 AM – 8:30 AM EST, which in turn MAYBE did good to us because there was not that much competition. However I did follow the advice to provide content of value BTW. 

What has being on the front page brought us? 

I shared the news with our team and they said that by then we have already gained 45 stars on GitHub! I started to get really excited about the good news.

What happened next brought my knowledge of how powerful the Hacker News community can be to a new horizon:

1)The number of stars on GitHub kept increasing

2) New comments flooded in, with most kind words and some questioning 

3) The number of Twitter followers kept increasing

My entire afternoon was spent checking numbers and answering questions. As well as my night. I was too excited to sleep that night and stayed up till VERY late to check how it went.

Here are some results from the data point of view:

1) ~18 hours on the front page and it’s still on the Show tag home page

2) 2248 unique visitors to our GitHub repo so far

3) 300+ GitHub stars and I believe it’s counting

4) 97 comments on the submission so far

5) 20 Twitter followers

6) 5 issues on our GitHub project

What’s beyond the numbers?

While we are more than happy about the numbers, the significance of being on the Hacker News front page is certainly beyond just the numbers.

1. Confidence

Being on the front page really gave us strong confidence that people are interested in graph database and Nebula Graph. This encourages us to move forward boldly and produce a good graph database solution for the community.

2. Real feedback

We received a lot of feedback from the commenters, positive or not, they are real thoughts. And we can benefit from them to be better.

For example, a strong need of performance benchmark has urged us to put the benchmark report on our agenda and a long thread of discussion about the definition of open source has encouraged us to reconsider our license.

It felt so thrilling to be seen and accepted by a tech community. I hope our experience could encourage you to move forward and create something innovative to share with the community as well, especially when you think you are new. Because the community is nice.

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