Unmoderating Hacker News Titles

Hacker News is an extremely addictive social news website that lists stories of interest to hackers.

On HN, people submit stories with a link and a title; stories that are voted up make it the front page where they enjoy a lot of traffic.

Titles are first written by the person submitting a story; but then moderators sometimes change them, with no way to know what the original title was.

Users have complained about this many times, but so far to no avail. So I made a little bookmarklet: HNT that displays the original titles next to the new ones; here's how the home page looks like after clicking on it:

Hacker News Homepage with old titles

The good:

  • only titles that have been substantially modified are shown (for example, if a moderator only removed a dot at the end, it's ignored)
  • it doesn't interfere with the original site in any way; if you click on the bookmarklet many times you don't create a load on Hacker News (only on my server!)

The less good:

  • the main limitation is that it currently only works with Firefox because Hacker News is in SSL and the bookmarklet isn't; only Firefox allows mixed content by default (see security.mixed_content in about:config) and I'm not sure I want to buy an SSL certificate just for this
  • of course, since I have to store original titles and only started to do so yesterday, it only works with current stories, not on old ones
  • it doesn't work on comments page yet, but I'm working on it (on a comments page there is just one story title)

Try It!

To try, you just need to drag this link: HNT to your bookmark bar, and then click on it when you're on Hacker News, and see what happens!

Fri, 22 Mar 2013 • permalink