How to make a Hacker News clone in under a minute without writing any code

Check out the clone at https://hacker-news-clone.threadbase.io/

Upvote-style communities are hugely popular because they…

  1. Allow the users of the community to decide what the best content is rather than friend-of-friend algorithms or sorting by newest.
  2. Allow posters and commenters to feel a sense of accomplishment when their content is bubbled up to the top.
  3. Allow lurkers to instantly see the most important things relevant to their community at the top of the feed.

But if you want to make an upvote-style community like Hacker News or Product Hunt, you need to learn how to program a little bit to get something set up.

Or at least, you used to need some programming experience.

Today, I’ll show you how you can use a product we’re building called Threadbase to make a Hacker News clone in under a minute. In fact, you can scroll down to the bottom to see the 59-second speed run.

Getting started

I promise the password isn’t “password”.

Other tutorials to make a Hacker News clone require you to have some programming experience, usually Rails or React installed, or the need to clone a Github repo.

Not this tutorial.

This is all you need to start:

  1. A computer
  2. Internet connection
  3. An email address

Once you have those prereqs, head over to https://threadbase.io and sign up for an account.

Getting your community link

Ignore my over-eager chatbot (unless you have a question then message me!)

Once you’re signed up and you name your community, Threadbase creates your new community in about a second and creates a URL for it using the name you provided.

For my demo community, I named it Hacker News Clone so my auto-generated URL is https://hacker-news-clone.threadbase.io/.

To get your community link, look above the iFrame of your community next to “Your Community”.

Add some metadata and switch to the HN theme

Fun fact: all our themes are named after our favorite cities.

From here, your community will use our generic template and have our onboarding posts in it. Later, we’ll delete the onboarding posts, but the important thing is to add some metadata and switch to the theme.

To add a tagline and a description that will be used for SEO, visit the Settings section. Taglines need to be under 50 characters but descriptions can be much longer.

The Settings section also has other options like adding your own Google Analytics pixel, hiding ads and the Threadbase branding (available if your community is on the Basic subscription), and will eventually allow you to add your own custom domain if your community is subscribed to Plus.

To change your community to the Hacker News theme, visit the Design section, select the San Francisco theme, and click save.

You’re done. You now have a Hacker News clone!

If you want to further customize the colors of your community, you can unlock this feature in the Basic tier.

Deleting and creating posts

I create a post in the iFrame but you can also posts on the actual community link.

To delete the onboarding posts to get your community ready for sharing, click the trashcan icons to the right of the post. Confirm the deletion and the posts will disappear.

For the Hacker News clone, you’ll want to click on Submit in the navigation bar to start creating a post. For our theme, all posts require a title and some body text.

Closing out with comments

If you want to change the color of the text, upgrade to Basic. Customizing font families is coming soon!

While working at Imgur, we realized that sometimes the best content is in the comments so commenting is super easy. Just reply and then click Submit and you’re done.

Replies to comments will appear as a threaded/tree-style reply chain just like Hacker News or Reddit.

Watch my speed run

From nothing to Hacker News in 59 seconds.

Feel free to visit the finished product here: https://hacker-news-clone.threadbase.io/.

I hope this tutorial inspires you to make your own Hacker News, Product Hunt or Reddit-style community on Threadbase, and if you ever have any questions, feel free to make a post on our official Threadbase Support community or email us at [email protected]

Chris is the co-founder of Threadbase: a platform that allows non-developers to build their own Reddit-style communities in just a few clicks. If you’ve ever wanted to build your own online community, give Threadbase a try (it’s completely free to get started!).

Before Threadbase, Chris worked in marketing for startups including Quidsi and ComiXology (both acquired by Amazon) and Bonobos (acquired by Walmart).

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