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Hack a Week

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TL;DR: An idea for a basic tech publication.

There is quite a popular (mostly hardware) hackers website called hackaday that curates news articles, where a nice summary of the project is written about and scattered with links for more information.

There is also a popular (mostly software) hackers website called Hacker News that is a minimalist Reddit-style link aggregator.

Both have comments sections, although the comments section of Hacker News is somewhat nicer. Hacker News relies on the community for voting content with light amounts of moderation, and hackaday is heavily moderated, but generally has higher quality content.


The other day I was on IRC and noticed that the name of one of the people commenting there ran a popular blog. It actually seems as if quite a few bloggers are actually there, but they do not all get the exposure they deserve. I thought this was quite a shame, where they could hope to get a single blog article highlighted on Hacker News or randomly selected by a moderator on hackaday. There’s no way for high quality content producers to reliably and regularly get published with others of similar calibre.

I believe what is missing is a community mix of these two, where the community write small articles about a topic (perhaps their own blog article), and they are voted on weekly to be published. I would call this “Hack-a-Week”, where a series of articles would be published weekly on a given day.

Initially the articles would likely be submitted via a Git merge request (or a link to a fork), or a location with the article. These would then be checked, read and voted on by community members.


Community members voting would be based on a few things:

  1. Publishing history - If they submitted an article that was accepted, this should be somehow weighted into their ability to vote on articles in the future.
  2. Account active time - Accounts that have been active over a long period of time should be somehow preferred over accounts that have only just started voting (longer time roughly equates into investment). Long gaps in publishing history should somehow also be considered, as we don’t want soured individuals to come back and use their high-ranked account to sabotage the platform.

The idea is that we would initially seed it with the “right type of people”, and then setup conditions that mean that similar types of people maintain control over the platform.


I would imagine that it would be delivered in several formats:

  1. RSS/Atom - This would be the simplest and most basic notification system. We would likely look to send full version of the content using this method.
  2. Website - This is how we would expect to get organic views.
  3. Email - This would actually be the most complex method of publication, as theoretically we could end up in a lot of spam filters. We would likely need to utilize another service to ensure we do not get blocked.


One thing I have never really solved is comments. Ideally we want to avoid accounts if at all possible, and we also want to avoid moderation. There just doesn’t seem to be a happy medium for this account. You can use a third-party like Facebook or Google, but most hackers really do not like using these services.


Of course, this project will not run itself. IT costs money and development costs time, which also costs money. Even though the idea is simple, it is still not free. It would be good to also raise some funding, maybe even allowing people to permanently take care of the project.

Neither Hacker News or Hackaday seem to advertise, but they do have their side projects that make money (venture capital and online store).

The way in which advertising could be achieved is with tasteful and related adverts, displayed as images with links at non-intrusive but prominent locations. They would need to be clearly labelled clearly as adverts and would need at least some form of basic vetting. Perhaps they could also undergo a vote process, to ensure a transparent and fair consideration.

One option is a pay-wall, but I hate these, and would be completely against what this is about. People want to share their content and make it accessible, not make it less accessible.

The other option could be to accept donations. It’s really tough though to get people to volunteer money, without some idea they would get something back, that isn’t also available freely. Essentially, we need to offer some value proposition. The problem is, I’m not sure what we could offer that wouldn’t already be available to other people.

Further Future

In the future it could be cool to do a quarterly paper publication, where white papers, posters, long abstracts, short papers and long papers are published in both an online (website) and typeset (PDF) format. This would be a collection of academically useful items, categorized as appropriate. Stuff that is not normally published, such as replication studies, could also be published here. Again, these would be voted on by the community in a similar method to the articles.


I don’t really have the time to take on such a project at this time, but the next step would be to gauge interest within the community. There are of course some issues to be ironed out in the meantime.