Interesting facts about when you get hit by Hacker News tsunami

Interesting facts about when you get hit by Hacker News tsunami

I was fortunate enough to get featured on Hacker News* last Tuesday with my blog post Let me tell you, why the last 20% of work takes the same amount of time as the first 80%. I was on the front page for some hours, on second for quite a bit and I finally disappeared into the submission abyss some 22 hours after the initial article publish.

Because nobody reads my blog except for a few curious friends, the statistics are more or less as laboratory-clean as they can get.
In actual numbers, users’ activity on my blog before the HN tsunami looks like this:


As you see, I had 41 visits from October 1st till October 21th. From those 41, at least 10 were fake visits from a referrer. I know they are fake, because if you go to the url from that referrer, you get to a porn site, and as far as I know, the content from my blog isn’t of any interest to that industry.

Acquisition Overview is also quite priceless:

And now the D Day.

I live in Europe and each time here mentioned is going to be in CET (Central European Time).

I’ve finished my blog post and submitted it to Hacker News at around 10PM. I’ve added the same link to my Facebook and Twitter page.

The following graph shows the timetable of the visitor tsunami by hour (from Oct 22 to Oct 23).


I got 285 visits at the first hour, at the second 3,680 and at midnight 4,185 visits. Somewhere in the middle, my site couldn’t handle the pressure so it went offline for a bit. At 1AM there were “only” 1,146 visitors and the number descended fast from then on. The aftershock lasted for four more days and the effects are still visible (there were still 32 visitors untill 3PM on Sunday Oct 27).

The whole timetable from Oct 20 untill Oct 27 – visits by day:


Let’s dissect visitors a little.


The first two hours (Oct 22, from 10PM to 12AM)



All but 6 visits are for this now new post.

We can see which referrals are the most popular:


And which social networks were the most active:



Almost 60% of all visitors for the first two hours were from United States.


What was 10PM to 12AM for Central Europe, was 1PM to 3PM for USA west coast, 4PM to 6PM for USA east coast and 9PM to 11AM for UK.

From those 2,361 visitors from USA, 32% were from California and 11% were from New York.



The next day (Oct 23, from 12AM to 12PM)



For Direct traffic all but 57 visits were for this post.

Social count rose above Referral. Twitter helped a lot.


And the referrals didn’t change much.



After the initial two hours, the demographic also didn’t change much. Over 56% of visits still came from the USA. The one big difference were visits from India who came from 23rd place to 6th.



Overall (Oct 22 till Oct 27)

What surprised me the most is the activity from China. My blog post was translated into Chinese and uploaded to at least 6 different pages. One of them can be seen here:

All these pages had the same photo (not mine), the same text (as far as I could tell through Google Translate) and all of them sent a pingback to my blog. The times for those trackbacks are 1:23AM, 1:27AM, 2:29AM, 2:31AM, 5:24AM and 8:58AM.

155 people visited my site from China (overall at 10th place), some probably came because of these translated versions. If I find the time, I will try to dig up this data just for the sake of curiosity.


The most dominant browser by far is Chrome with about 60% share.


Almost 25% of visitors visited the site with their mobile phone or tablet.


And from those 25% almost 39% of them used Apple iPhone and the next 16% used Apple iPad.


There were 15,269 visits and as far as I can guess, at least 15,100 (let’s say around 40 would be here by default and the next 129 would come because I’ve posted the link to Facebook and Twitter) were because the post got picked up by readers of Hacker News. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you/them all for this fun experience. I am a long time lurker on HN and I always wanted to know how does it feel when you get featured. Even though the average visit duration was just 19 seconds long, the comments on HN were all really positive so I believe together those 290,111 seconds (or 3,35 days) of reading were well spent.

 Link to a possible debate on Hacker News.

* Hacker News is probably the first page technology and entrepreneurship enthusiasts look at when we get up from bed in the morning

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