I've been "connected" to the Internet for some 12 years already, in that time I've participated in forums, mailing lists, Twitter and other communities. In the last two weeks I've been "active" in Hacker News. What have I learned in these two weeks from them?
- It's a mature community: I mean, they are not just kids in a chat room, wasting time in empty discussions. In fact you can notice that most of them are full time employed, or freelance programmers or designers, almost all of them are entrepreneurs, so you are dealing with a mature community.
- They like to help: The HN community love to share their experiences, help others with their projects, and if you genuinely ask for advice or help in "Ask HN…" you will get genuine help and advice, from some expert guys.
- It's a great place to get informed: You may be tempted to compare it with Digg or Reddit, but at least IMHO, there is no point of comparison, the posts that get the front page in HN are 80 to 90 percent great articles, that will for sure teach you something. Not only about tech or programming but also about life and maybe how to improve your business.
It will be hard to find those funny pictures, or sensationalist editorials, if you like those type of posts, you can head to the above mentioned sites.
Like any other human community this one is not free of problems, and from time to time, you will find some "holy wars" and "flamed comments" but that is the exception that proves the rule and not so common.
These last days have been active days at the community with Google buying Motorola, Steve Jobs resigning as CEO of Apple, The 20th birthday of Linux and The end on an era at Slashdot. And nice discussions followed these news.
So, if you really like to belong to a great community, share interesting articles that may help you in different aspects of your life, start by reading the guidelines, and creating an account.
Before you submit your first article to HN, stay as a reader for two or three days, in order to learn what is interesting for the community and what is not.
Note: Be warned that it is highly addictive, and may spent hours reading comments, and posts there.
Here a way to avoid that:
Like email, social news sites can be dangerously addictive. So the latest version of Hacker News has a feature to let you limit your use of the site. There are three new fields in your profile, noprocrast, maxvisit, and minaway. (You can edit your profile by clicking on your username.) Noprocrast is turned off by default. If you turn it on by setting it to "yes," you'll only be allowed to visit the site for maxvisit minutes at a time, with gaps of minaway minutes in between. The defaults are 20 and 180, which would let you view the site for 20 minutes at a time, and then not allow you back in for 3 hours. You can override noprocrast if you want, in which case your visit clock starts over at zero.
Enjoy it if you are not already doing it, and thanks my fellow HNers for these past hours of enjoyment, the many more to come.