A Baptism By Fire: Firespotting And The HN Community

May 21, 2013 6:06 pm

Most of the work referred to here is ‘under construction’ – but we thought it would be a great idea to share it, particularly since the HN community loved Firespotting so much.

At NumberPlus (which, like we mentioned, is ‘under construction’), we work on data and algorithms. We have a small team (Srini, Vinay and Krishna) focusing on what we call ‘Experiments’. ‘The Spotting Network’ was conceptualized by the Experiments team, as a network of content and community sites that strive to keep the ‘human’ element alive in a world driven by data and algorithms(!). The basic idea was to get a set of “Interesting Stuff, Every Day!” content – with the unique proposition being an element of observation/analysis (fairly simple analysis in most cases) on top of the data – that would make it ‘interesting’.

The first concept we launched as part of ‘The Spotting Network’ was Statspotting – “Interesting Statistics, Every Day!”. We are also building one on Charts – Chartspotting – “Interesting Charts, Every Day!” which as you can see, is in its early stages. We have a few more “Interesting Stuff, Every Day!” concepts – but you get the idea.

Firespotting began with this simple question: “Is there a way to validate your product idea without actually building an MVP or a prototype”. Since we were regulars on HN, we immediately knew that if we could get a community of like-minded people (many of whom have first-hand experience in startups) look at a product idea, the discussions would not just handle the validation aspect, it could help the person improve the idea, moving it that much closer to a product-market fit. What we needed was a place similar to HN, where people could discuss ideas. So we thought – why don’t we just make a HN clone, for ideas? And here is the best part – it would be a perfect fit to our theme as well – “Firespotting – Interesting Ideas, Every Day!”.

So we googled our way into building a HN clone on Amazon EC2 – thankfully PG and crew had made the basic HN Source code open source, and the arc language had a very helpful community as well – and we had a version of Firespotting up and running – a couple of months back. We got some friends to post some ideas, and we posted this on HN as well – we got some upvotes, but not that many.

Meantime, we noticed that the people who liked Firespotting liked it so much, that they had started participating actively in the community, and in the process, had raised the quality of submissions and discussions to a new level – closer to a point where we were beginning to wonder if this could potentially be ‘A Hacker News For Ideas’. That thought resulted in the HN submission that started it all: A Hacker News For Ideas (firespotting.com)

We were delighted to see that many folks in the HN community loved the idea, and it quickly got upvoted to the HN homepage. And all of a sudden, we had a flood of high-quality discussions on Firespotting – and it all happened so quickly that we had little time to react.

It was a very humbling experience to feel the power of the HN community – literally overnight, Firespotting had turned into a hub of high-quality ideas – the contributions and discussions are absolutely phenomenal. We don’t know if Peter Thiel would be proud, but he wouldn’t be disappointed.

Firespotting owes its existence to the HN Community. We at NumberPlus will do all we can, to ensure that Firespotting continues to deserve the title that it had the privilege to be born with – ‘A Hacker News For Ideas’.

Thank You HN!

For Interesting Statistics Everyday, Find Statspotting on Facebook and Follow Statspotting on Twitter

Leave a Reply