PG’s Hidden Message To Startups In Hacker News Algorithm

February 14, 2013 1:49 pm

Here is a thought exercise: the algorithm used to rank stories and hence get stories to the homepage on Hacker News – to what extent does that mirror PG’s view on Startups? Is there a hidden message there for Startups?

Here is the algorithm:

News.YC’s is just
(p – 1) / (t + 2)^1.5
where p = points and t = age in hours

(Source: PG)

This is what we came up with – the numerator is obvious – make something people want, excluding you (upvotes in numerator, p-1)

The denominator – the one about time – probably has a solid message – Polarize People, And Do It As Fast As You Can. (“build something a small number of people want a large amount”)

So here is our interpretation of PG’s hidden message to Startups in the Hacker News Algorithm:

“If 3 people upvote you in 5 minutes, you are on the homepage already. If a small group of people (who want your product urgently) absolutely love your product, you are a success already.”

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