The HackerNews effect: Hitting #2 on HN

2 days ago, the latest post about my experience at my previous job hit the front page of HackerNews. It’s been a while since I left that job, and I held off on writing the post for as long as I could. Partly because I was busy, partly because I was trying to stop from thinking about it all, but mostly because I wanted to write about the experience as objective as possible (for someone who experienced it firsthand, probably not very objective at all).

In fact, the first 800 words or so were already written a month back, hence some of the “flow” in the writing seemed broken. Writing that blog post was an attempt at finally allowing myself to find some closure and write it off as an experience that will make me better equipped to deal with (heaven forbid) similar issues in the future.

As it’s probably quite apparent, I quit that job without having another lined up. And for some reason, I’m perfectly at peace with that. In fact, I’ve made very little effort to look for another full-time job; I’ve done an on-site interview with Amazon (rejected), a phone interview with Facebook after solving their coding puzzles, and a few others which I decided wouldn’t be a good fit (I’m much more wary of potential red flags now after that experience).

The time since leaving that company has been mostly a recharge, reflection period, sprinkled with continued freelance work with my clients. I wasn’t aware at the time, but I’ve felt the burnout hit long after I quit that job, and I finally feel “well”.

Now, about actually hitting #2 on HN. I’ve always been curious what being top 3 on HN looked like, and I will say the response to my post has been mind-blowing (336 points, 201 comments as of this writing). I expected a few people to skim through it, write it off as another typical poor experience in the industry, then fall deep into the abyss where posts never get past the “newest” section. For the first hour or so, the post was stuck around 2 points. By the second hour, it started to pick up and sit around 30 points, with still no comments. At this time it was already #10, and I thought that would be the end of it. I left to go play badminton with some of my friends from my previous-previous┬ájob at SAP.#10 on HN

That’s when the post started shooting up. I received texts from friends saying my blog post was #4 on HN (I don’t have a data plan). “Well, it’ll die down soon, kind of wished it would hit top 3 though”, I thought to myself. I couldn’t be more wrong. 3 hours later, my post was sitting at 80 points and 23 comments, and I was starting to worry if my site would crash while I was away.

When I got home a couple hours later, it had already accumulated more than 200 upvotes, and a ton of helpful comments to look through. A bunch of comments on my blog (yes, even the one saying I sound like a boring wanker), and some tweets from bots and actual readers. My inbox had exploded from HNNotify, along with some nice people who reached out to see if I would be up for coffee/looking for a new job at their company. The new comments were coming in so frequently that I had to install the hckr news┬áChrome extension to help my eyes filter the new ones. I’d been looking for something to help me track new comments in HN threads, and this time, I had enough incentive to.

For most of the night, my site had ~300 concurrent visitors; the most I saw was around 349. From Thursday night (the time of the post), to Friday night, my site received 31,960 unique visitors and 79,447 pageviews. This traffic was more or less all from HN, I don’t actually have many humans reading my blog. I haven’t seen this many people reading my writing since my Windows7Center days!

Beginning of the traffic spike

Traffic stats for HN spike

Alexa ranking jumps by 21 million.

Alexa ranking jumps by 21 million.

The response on HN has been tremendous, not only in helping me recognize the different options available to me at the time, how other people may have dealt with it, and the stories of many people who have been in (or are currently in) similar situations.

I have received many requests to expose the name of the company/PM. I do not wish to reveal that information because:

  1. I do not wish to start a witch hunt, and I do not wish to taint their name forever as there’s a possibility they will change (I hope).
  2. For reasons jacques_chester has pointed out. More trouble than it’s worth.

That said, I understand there are people who may live in the area and would like to avoid a similar situation. Contact me privately and I will let you know, your discretion is appreciated.

And with that, I can say I have found my closure.

P.S: If you or your company is hiring, or you just want to have a chat, feel free to reach out.