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Writing to Hit the Front Page of HN

I've had this open all night in my browser: Show HN: I created a writing course specifically for HN

I've started multiple replies and not posted any of them. I don't think I can say anything that doesn't sound like a poison pen piece.

Here is my latest draft, which I decided to post here instead of there even though the guy currently has no feedback and I would like to "be nice" and give him feedback, but I'm sure this is nothing he wants to hear:

This is apparently your biggest success and at first glance looks like the earliest big success:

Why I Quit Google to Work for Myself(https://mtlynch.io/why-i-quit-google/)

It's from three years ago and has 1767 points.

So tip one: First, be someone who worked at a FAANG company at one time in a technical position.

That's not something a *writing course* will give you.

I've made the front page plenty with my own writing, though nothing as successful as that post of yours. I write for pay and I've done it for some years and I spent at least a year trying to understand how to title things well for HN.

I'm not a developer and I'm not male and I know too little about business and I remain dirt poor and I wouldn't dream of putting together a writing course for pay for "How to hit the front page of HN."



Previous drafts talked about the fact that blog posts claiming they have the answer for how to hit the front page are somewhat common and they are frequently full of bad advice.

Everyone's looking for "one neat trick" to make life easier. This guy is kind of resting on his laurels and living off the fat of the land and calling it "good writing."

Here's "one neat trick" for you: How To Buy A House With No Money Down and Close in Just Six Weeks!

I did that the summer I was twenty-seven. But if I sold you a course for how to do that, I would basically be a con artist, a scammer.


You probably can't start from zero, read one course and own a house six weeks later. That's not how that works.

Here's the backstory:

We were living in some godawful trailer the husband had rented for us while I foolishly spent Christmas with family. And he came home from the field with news that he was being promoted.

I picked him up from his unit, he said he was being promoted and the first words out of my mouth were "We're moving" and we picked the kids up from the sitter and went to a pizza place. I gave my five year old a handful of quarters and told him to go play Galaga and take his younger brother with him.

It was the middle of the afternoon and the place was dead. It was safe for them to go play without mom hovering and this gave me a few minutes to read the classifieds in peace, a rarity for a young mom with two young special-needs kids.

I spent my teens and twenties reading real estate books and shelter magazines, so it only took a few minutes to realize that interest rates were at a historic low, three bedroom apartments were running about $700/month and house prices were low enough we could probably buy a house for about $500/month.

So I probably said that to my husband and then said "We should just buy a house." and he acted like I was nuts because we had no savings for a down payment. I told him "You don't need a down payment. You're in the Army."

That's one of the perks of being in the military: You can buy a house without a down payment.

I looked at about six houses in seven or eight days and we made a bid on a Fixer with a motivated seller. I asked them to cover the closing costs. In their counter offer, they tacked the amount of the closing costs onto the price of the house, pushing it up another $1500, but agreed to cover the closing costs up front.

So we moved into a home of our own about six weeks after he came home and said "I'm getting promoted." But things fell into place magically because he had been in the military for years, both our fathers had been career military, I had spent years reading real estate books, etc.

Not exactly shockingly: I have as yet failed to brilliantly replicate that stunt post-divorce, though I desperately want to do so. I just don't currently have the magic ingredients to be able to pull off something like that.

Could I put together useful information for people wanting to buy a house? Oh, probably. In addition to reading a lot about the subject when I was younger, I've had at least one college class in how real estate stuff works.

But that doesn't mean reading what I have to say about it will magically get people into a house in six weeks with no money down. It will most likely take longer than that if you are starting from scratch.

The odds are fairly good that this guy selling this writing course isn't intentionally trying to scam anyone. He might actually think he's a great writer who has studied HN in earnest, but he probably isn't actually some fantastic writer.

His biggest success appears to be one of his earliest posts. He's probably an okay writer who kind of lucked out to some degree by having the right background knowledge to appeal to this audience.

He happens to fit in on HN and know some things of interest to folks there. If you've got that, your writing doesn't have to be brilliant.

A writing course won't give you assets like "Happens to have been a developer at Google before deciding that making the front page of HN was valuable." You either already have that or you don't.

I don't have that. Whatever success I have had on HN in terms of making the front page with my own writing has been hard won and has, in fact, involved studying stuff like "how to title things well for this particular forum."

I guess this is the essence of things like "Mansplaining" and "Whitesplaining": Men or White folks really, honestly believe that they worked at it, they have talent, they gave it the old college try -- because they did work at it.

But they fail to see that first you have to be male or first you have to be White or first you have to basically be upper class. They think they can explain the part they worked at -- like writing for HN -- and completely miss that the crux of their success is really something else, like "I'm a former Googler."

That's the main appeal here for the HN crowd. That's The Secret to His Success.

His writing course won't give you that piece. You either have it already -- having nothing to do with paying for his course -- or you don't.

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