Thursday, August 5, 2010

What is the best time & day to Ask Hacker News something?

Right off the bat, I'm not a proponent of "let's optimize our time and day of posting" so our post gets upvoted. In fact, most of my few HN submissions were sub-optimally posted - when the US is asleep!

So, why this post?

We are creating a screencast of the Eyes And Feet application, and will soon be "asking HN" for feedback on our MVP (like Dropbox did) . Considering that the video will be about 5 min long, we'd obviously like it to be seen when people have some time - to view, reflect, and comment. My hypothesis was that Mondays & Tuesdays would be bad, and that Fridays & weekends may be better.

I came across this post on best times to submit to HN. However, I thought it should be different with "Ask HN". When you ask HN something, you (hopefully) want a thought out response - from as many people as possible. The assumption therefore is that an "Ask HN" submission demands more time and involvement than a regular one.

So, when might people have more time? Here's the summary for all Ask HN posts in the dataset here.
(Note: all times are UTC - that's (almost) the same as GMT)

We crunched 853 Ask HN posts. That's not a huge dataset - but you do see some general trends like "you'll probably get more comments on a Friday submission"


  1. In what timezone are your hourly charts?

  2. Correlation is not causation. It is quite possible that Friday submissions tend to be more contentious or otherwise warrant an above-average number of comments. For instance, many people and companies will release their most embarrassing press releases on Friday afternoons so that the weekday news teams won't get to them until Monday, when the story is several days old and no longer breaking news.

    In that case, you would be *less* likely to receive thoughtful consideration or comments on a Friday.

  3. @AretCarlsen

    While your point is generally true (post hoc ergo propter hoc), this data is based on Ask HN posts only, so I can't personally think of any specific reason why you would see a better response on Friday.

    That said, the conclusion that "you'll probably get more comments on a Friday submission" is still making an assumption - maybe the pieces submitted on Fridays just are co-incidentally more interesting.

    What could be interesting (even though the data available is certainly not going to be enough for a decent analysis) would be to compare similar posts that have recurred (such as "What VPS provider?" or "Should I go to university?").

  4. @Byron: they're in UTC; sorry, should have mentioned that (post is now updated)

    @AretCarlsen: Like @Corin Cole has mentioned, I think it would be different for 'Ask HN'. But yes, correlation is not causation.

    @Coril Cole: yes, comparing similar posts would certainly be an interesting exercise. My own 0.02 on Fridays is that people simply have more time and are relaxed and receptive - in anticipation of the weekend.