For the past few years, I've more or less kept the same RSS feeds in my reader for all that time - TechCrunch, Signal Vs. Noise, Seth Godin's Blog and Penny Arcade. I also have a lot of smaller, niche blogs that either don't provide me with much information anymore (sorry, Slashdot) or that are rarely updated (just like this one!), but those don't stay too long. The ones I mentioned here are feeds that will stay with me until the day I die. Or until something much better than RSS feeds are created, whichever comes first.
Two other sites which I considered staples of my feed reader were Digg and Reddit. I was seriously addicted to these two sites a few years ago. I would go home after work and just read post after post of their front pages, without skipping a single one. If you have followed these sites, you know that over the course of 12 hours, a lot of news can appear on these sites. However, these past couple of months, I noticed I was just skimming the articles on these sites, and sometimes even just marking them all as read. It got to the point that it was just easier to delete these two RSS feeds from my reader, after around three years with them. So, why did I have to part with my beloved RSS feeds?
Well, both Digg and Reddit display user-generated content, meaning that anyone submits an article, people vote it up, and if it gets enough votes it'll show on their main page, with thousands and thousands of people viewing it. At first, this was pretty damn cool - A lot of neat news and sites were introduced to me via these sites. However, with great popularity, it starts to attract a lot of new users. Apparently, a lot of these new users are prepubescent teens who don't provide much content to begin with. It just started to become asinine post after asinine post, most of it which left me scratching my head and thinking "How the hell did this get voted up?"
Both Digg and Reddit had different 'straws' that broke the proverbial camel's back. For Digg, my issue became the posts that were being voted up on the main page. As of right now, Digg's front page has links ranging from lame pictures to videos of basketball players head kissing to 'Tips on surviving the World's Weirdest Mexican Restaurant'. If I were 15 years old, I would be click on the 'digg it' button all day long! Nowadays, I don't find it amusing at all. I also tried subscribing to other sub-categories of Digg, like Technology, but most of the posts didn't grab my interest either.
For Reddit, the same issue happened when I subscribed to their front page. However, I thought I had found bliss when I subscribed to their Programming section. The posted linked were usually good. However, what turned me off about this service were the actual users. Or rather, their comments that were posted for each link. In most cases, it seems like everyone wants to be a comedian, and the norm of posting comments was just limited to one-liners. Not quite what I expected out of a group with programming and technology topics. It even made me not want to contribute to any discussion or submitting links.
Thankfully, I discovered Hacker News. This is just what I was looking for - an awesome news site, with the topics that interest programmers, with actual intelligent discussion between its users! The topics that are promoted on their main page are not the failed attempts to be funny like Digg's links, and the comments are very thought-provoking and encourage discussion. I've made more comments in Hacker News in the past two weeks than I did in Digg and Reddit in the past year, perhaps even longer than that.
If you're developer like me, who's yearning to be educated and talk it over with like-minded people like yourself, you'll be doing yourself a favor by heading over to Hacker News and joining in.