Top Software Engineering Blogs on Hacker News

Given the rising popularity of people and companies writing about software engineering, I was curious to find out which blogs might be the most interesting to read. A bit of Googling led me to this list of awesome engineering blogs. With 299 contributors it seemed like a well-vetted place to start. However, as I began scrolling through the list of 600+ alphabetically sorted blogs it became apparent that, in fact, I actually had no idea where to start. Some of the blogs on this list haven't posted anything for years. So I wrote a simple Python script to check this list of domains against the Hacker News Search API and count the total amount of points that each domain has accrued over time to provide a dimension of social vetting. The results from this method turned out to be quite interesting so I've put together a post to share them.


Here is the list of those top 25 software engineering blogs ordered by most points (in brackets) accrued on Hacker News for all time:

  1. Mozilla Hacks (13340)
  2. Facebook (12784)
  3. Stripe (10870)
  4. Cloudflare (9472)
  5. Reginald Braithwaite (8832)
  6. Google Online Security (8564)
  7. Rust (8544)
  8. Dan Luu (7952)
  9. AWS (7253)
  10. Google Research (6777)
  11. Drew DeVault (6145)
  12. High Scalability (6139)
  13. Scott Hanselman (6097)
  14. Go (6039)
  15. Armin Ronacher (5867)
  16. React (5467)
  17. (5374)
  18. Evan Miller (5354) 
  19. Matt Might (5344) 
  20. Brendan Gregg (5040)
  21. Microsoft Edge (5018) 
  22. James Hague (5010)
  23. Kyle Kingsbury (4917)
  24. Dropbox (4852)
  25. .NET (4841)

Full list (.csv)

Okay, that's a more helpful way to sort things. But how do we know if some of these are still current? Let's take a look at blogs with the top scores for 2017 to give us a more recent indication of appreciation with a full year of data.

Top Blogs of 2017

  1. Dan Luu (6789)
  2. Google Online Security (5895)
  3. Mozilla Hacks (5402)
  4. Rust (5217)
  5. Google Research (4486)
  6. Facebook (3846)
  7. Drew DeVault (3171)
  8. Cloudflare (2701)
  9. React (2562)
  10. Brendan Gregg (2526)
  11. AWS (2361)
  12. GitHub (2349)
  13. Dave Cheney (2337)
  14. Stripe (2319)
  15. .NET (2168)
  16. Microsoft Edge (2111)
  17. Discord (2064)
  18. Matt Warren (2037)
  19. Coding Horror (2020)
  20. Raymond Chen (1952)
  21. Jesse Frazelle (1948)
  22. Kyle Kingsbury (1881)
  23. CockroachDB (1877)
  24. Chris Wellons (1796)
  25. Instagram (1701)

Full list (.csv)

A bit of a re-ordering and a few names have been filtered out. Perhaps it might also be interesting to know what articles caused most of the interest in these blogs during this time? Let's take a look.

Top Posts of 2017

  1. Announcing the first SHA1 collision
  2. Relicensing React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js
  3. Entering the Quantum Era - How Firefox got fast again and where it’s going to get faster
  4. Firefox is on a slippery slope
  5. Web bloat
  6. Documenting the Web together
  7. Optimizing web servers for high throughput and low latency
  8. Explaining React's license
  9. Moving towards a more secure web
  10. React v16.0
  11. Why I Don't Talk to Google Recruiters
  12. Why We Terminated Daily Stormer
  13. The whole web at maximum FPS: How WebRender gets rid of jank
  14. Why Slack is inappropriate for open source communications
  15. Reversing the technical interview
  16. CockroachDB 1.0 is Production-Ready
  17. Saying Goodbye to Firebug
  18. How Discord Scaled Elixir to 5,000,000 Concurrent Users
  19. That time a customer reported an error in the map used by Flight Simulator
  20. Keyboard latency
  21. Toward Go 2
  22. Password Rules Are Bullshit
  23. Uncensorable Wikipedia
  24. Options v. cash
  25. The sound of the dialup, pictured

Full list (.csv)

So some of the major topics of last year were Google's proof of the first SHA1 collision, plenty of React license drama, some Firefox controversy, but ultimately Dan Luu's steady approach helped him to pip Google for the top spot for 2017.

Okay, but that list is so last year, what's happening this year? Well, if you're the type of person who likes to live life on the edge and make assumptions about the top engineering blogs for 2018 so far, then read on.

Top Blogs of 2018, so far

  1. Mozilla Hacks (3137)
  2. Cloudflare (3117)
  3. Stripe (2508)
  4. Rachel Kroll (1977)
  5. Julia Evans (1929)
  6. Rust (1513)
  7. Adrian Colyer (1366)
  8. CockroachDB (1248)
  9. Google Online Security 1172)
  10. Go (1133)
  11. Netflix (1059)
  12. Dan Luu (1051) 
  13. Drew DeVault (1049)
  14. Matt Cutts (1023)
  15. Peteris Krumins (822)
  16. AWS (800)
  17. Zach Holman (776)
  18. Dropbox (776)
  19. Riot Games (728)
  20. Steve Yegge (728) 
  21. Reginald Braithwaite  (700)
  22. Martin Fowler (687)
  23. Brendan Gregg (684)
  24. Chris Wellons (684)
  25. Peter Norvig (663)

Full list (.csv)

Some familiar names, a few more individuals amongst the upper ranks and Netflix has joined the party. Let's take a look at some of the highest scoring articles from these.

Top Posts of 2018, so far

  1. Announcing the fastest, privacy-first consumer DNS service
  2. Some terrible personal news
  3. Ending Bitcoin support
  4. Making WebAssembly even faster: Firefox’s new streaming and tiering compiler
  5. A secure web is here to stay
  6. UTC is Enough for Everyone, Right? 
  7.  How I Learned to Stop Worrying and ❤️ the State Machine
  8. Why I usually run 'w' first when troubleshooting unknown machines
  9. Introducing Stripe Billing
  10. CPU bugs
  11. Sneak Peek at WebAssembly Studio
  12. Rust's 2018 Roadmap
  13. Announcing Rust 1.24
  14. Stripe Home
  15. Announcing Rust 1.26
  16. Incredible events at Browserling
  17. Rust in 2018: it's way easier to use!
  18. You can't Rust that
  19. Today we mitigated
  20. CSS Grid for UI Layouts
  21. A Proposal for Package Versioning in Go
  22. Working remotely, 4 years in
  23. Amazon Aurora Backtrack – Turn Back Time
  24. Hello wasm-pack!
  25. Open-sourcing a 10x reduction in Apache Cassandra tail latency

Full list (.csv)

Okay, so a few non-software engineering anomalies in here. Stripe's position appears strongly influenced by their (usually awesome) product announcements and their decision to end support for Bitcoin. Otherwise, it appears there is still plenty of interest in Rust. But we're only just about 6 months through the year so we'll have to see what the rest of the year has in store.

Obviously, these results aren't perfect. There are most certainly many worthwhile blogs that haven't been included in the list (perhaps you'd like to add them) or haven't been upvoted sufficiently on HN. Perhaps there might be better communities or services that can be used to measure something like this. Regardless, I hope you found this somewhat insightful. If you'd like to play around with the source code you can find that here.

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