The 10 most popular Hacker News posts of all time

Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Google Reader make the top 10.

Mar 2, 2020, 2:52 pm*



Kris Holt

Hacker News is akin to a Reddit for the tech set, a place for programmers, developers and entrepreneurs to share links to content that may be of interest to the community. Users give their seal of approval to links by voting them up, and the most popular submissions and discussions rise to top of the site’s homepage.

Like other social news sites, the top posts are fleeting, shunted down the rankings as compelling new posts barge in. To highlight the most popular posts in Hacker News’s six-year history, a developer created a hack and posted it on the site Sunday.

The developer (who posts on HN as “ajani”) noted in the comments that he or she found no results from before 2010 while playing with the code used to create the hack, so take the list with a grain of salt. That said, here are the top 10 Hacker News posts.


1) Steve Jobs has passed away (4261 points)

The death of the Apple cofounder and former CEO struck a chord in the developer community, taking the top spot by almost 900 more votes than the second-placed link. Many in the industry idolize Jobs as an innovator and entrepreneur whose vision helped make Apple the most valuable company in the world. His 2011 passing followed a lengthy battle with cancer.

2) Show HN: This up votes itself (3357 points)

Clicking on this link automatically adds a vote to the submission. It was ostensibly a trick to show how to game Hacker News to reach the top of the site. It clearly worked.

3) Don’t Fly During Ramadan (2613 points)

Aditya Mukerjee’s Tumblr post detailing alleged racial profiling when trying to fly on JetBlue went viral last month. “Think of all the people that go through this that haven’t written something,” the data scientist told the Daily Dot. “I’m very fortunate to be in a position where I can talk about it publicly.”

4) Hyperloop (2548 points)

Mad genius Elon Musk‘s plan to build a high-speed transportation system caught fire on Hacker News much as it did Reddit, where some users improved upon his proposal.

5) Watch a VC use my name to sell a con (2314 points)

Jamie Zawinski, a cofounder of Netscape and Mozilla, accused Michael Arrington of quoting him out of context in order to promote a myth about the software world: that the only way to success is to devote nearly every waking hour to your product.

6) Aaron Swartz commits suicide (2076 points)

Hacker activist Swartz took his own life earlier this year as he faced charges of downloading millions of documents from digital academic library JSTOR, with the apparent intent of publicly distributing the files. 

7) Request for Startups: Kill Hollywood (2026 points)

This was a post by Y Combinator, the startup incubator responsible for Hacker News. It was a direct call to would-be programmers to destroy Hollywood, partly as a consequence of the industry’s political power and attempts to push the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act into law.

8) Google Reader shutting down (1926 points)

Ostensibly the most popular way for people to view RSS feeds (the lists of updates from their favorite sites and services), Google shut down its Reader tool earlier this year. While the move won’t kill the RSS format any time soon (it’s too ubiquitous and useful for that to happen), the death of the most prominent reader caused anguish for many.

9) Rob Pike: Dennis Ritchie has died (1924 points)

Ritchie created the omnipresent programming language C, and co-created the Unix operating system. His colleague Pike shared news of his passing on Google+.

10) A Most Peculiar Test Drive (1815 points)

Musk’s second appearance in the top 10 is a blog post in which he took the New York Times to task over apparent factual inaccuracies regarding a test drive for one of his Tesla Motors cars.

Illustration by Fernando Alfonso III

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*First Published: Sep 9, 2013, 6:41 pm