Hacker News Sent Some Traffic

February 08, 2023

I recently wrote about a new-to-me PayPal scam I was sent. I posted this to Hacker News, but it didn’t get much uptake. A day later, I got a message from a moderator that said they were adding the post to their “second chance pool”. That sounded cool, but I didn’t know if it would mean much.

The next day I woke up to see that my post was doing numbers. The post was seeded on the front page with a new post date, and it had been viewed more than 6,000 times between midnight and 6 am Atlantic Time.

My first thought was: wow, that second chance pool is no joke! My second thought was: how does this affect my newly set up analytics?

I’m using Plausible’s smallest plan. I don’t mind upgrading if I need to, but my traffic was tiny before this spike. In the time between setting up Plausible in November and submitting the PayPal post, I’d gotten just under 900 pageviews in total.

A chart from showing a large traffic spike.

Happily, it turns out that Plausible is pretty lenient about this sort of thing.

My site is statically generated and hosted on GitHub Pages, so the site remained responsive throughout the traffic spike. Other than the position of the post on the Hacker News front page and the comments being generated, I wouldn’t have noticed any additional eyeballs on my content.

About those comments: I mostly try to avoid comment sections on the internet, but I found it hard to do so in this case. Happily it wasn’t too bad. The main gripe was my use of the term “novel” in the title of the post. Fair enough. I started the piece explaining that I wasn’t sure if the scam was new, but that it was new to me. But if you’ve been seeing this for months, or were more in-the-know about scams, I could understand being bored by it.

I found tracking the stats engrossing. In fact, I probably spent a bit too long just watching the numbers go up. Beyond that, it was a fun “15 minutes of fame” experience and some great motivation to keep updating this site.