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Playing With My Blog’s Home Page

I’ve been wanting to play with my blog’s home page. Previously, I had two lists: 1) most recent, and 2) popular (based to the last 30 days of analytics data from Netlify).

I thought, “What other kinds of lists could I add?” Two ideas came to mind:

  1. My own personal favorites
  2. Stuff that’s been popular on HackerNews

Number one seemed like a great idea and was easy enough to implement (it’s actually a list of about ten which randomly get selected each time my site builds anew).

Number two I mostly wanted to do for fun, like “Can I do it?” I find integrating with a JSON API strangely fun.

I’ve seen tons of Hacker News clones, so I knew there must be some API I could use to search for links that’ve been posted for my domain blog.jim-nielsen.com.

Sure enough, Algolia’s Hacker News search API was precisely what I wanted. A quick read through the docs and I found the API call I needed: a search query restricted to just the URL.


It gives back a list of hits, each of which contains a few pieces of info I could use. Here’s a sample:

  "hits": [
      "title": "Canistilluse.com",
      "url": "https://blog.jim-nielsen.com/2021/canistilluse.com/",
      "points": 555,
      "num_comments": 361,
      "objectID": "28309885"
      "title": "Inspecting Web Views in macOS",
      "url": "https://blog.jim-nielsen.com/2022/inspecting-web-views-in-macos/",
      "points": 536,
      "num_comments": 140,
      "objectID": "30648424"

I added an async step to my build to go fetch this data and make it available in the model of my site’s data for use in templating.

That got me a list of “HackerNews Hits” on my home page:

Reading comments on HackerNews isn’t usually my thing, but if it’s yours, now have a potential signal for where to start reading on my blog.

After sitting on it a little longer, I decided to cut down each of my home page lists to three items each.

I kind of like where this ended up. Rather than just a giant chronological list of posts (which I have in the archives), I’ve got some modicum of curation going on. The conversation in my head is: “New to the blog and not sure what to read? Here are a few points of interest that could serve as jumping-off points.”

  1. My most recent posts
  2. Posts that are being viewed a lot right now
  3. Posts that, historically, have ended up on HackerNews and had the most comments
  4. My own personal favorites

What’s fun about these lists is how dynamic they are. If a post goes and gets tons of comments on HackerNews, it’ll show up on home page the next time my site builds.

It kind of makes me want to add a few more lists, I’m just trying to think of what those could be?

It’d be neat to be able to surface (credible) sites that are linking to my posts, like, “[Post Foo] linked from the Sidebar.io newsletter” or, “[Post Bar] linked from css-tricks.com”. I’m not sure how you’d do that without some form of human curation — "an automated tool that indexes the web and surfaces credible sites linking to yours” sounds a lot like rebuilding Google.

If I had webmentions setup, maybe I could pull some interesting stats out of that for the home page? Like:

I just haven’t been able to muster the energy to setup webmentions yet. I’ll think about it some more. And I’ll think about what other possible angles of curation I could invent for my home page.