For some background, check out these items on Hacker News.

First, my apologies for not releasing this data at the beginning of the week like I said I would - I was in Tahoe for the New Year and got sick almost as soon as I got back.

Without further ado, I present the aggregate demographics data I collected from HN users during the last week and a half. I’m putting this data into the public domain - do what you like with it, but play nice. I’ll give you a high-level overview of the data in this post, but I encourage you to take a look at the source data if you’re interested.

During the collection period, I logged 456 visits from 447 uniques. I’d like to think this is a meaningful sample size (for the most part, the results below jibe with my preconceived perception of HN user demographics), but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish we had had more participation.

Anyway, let’s jump in.

We’ll start with the locale data. I logged 193 visits from users in the United States - this was far and away the majority of our visitors. India was next in a distant second with 22 visits, with the UK trailing not far behind at 20 visits. The chart below should give you a good feel for the distribution of visits by territory. Note that I’ve removed the US from the chart since the high figure heavily skewed it in an unhelpful way - just remember that the US is green on this chart.


Since the US had the most visits by far, I want to take a second to break down visitors by state. As you can see in the chart below, California had the greatest concentration with 54 visitors, followed by New York (20), Texas (13), New Jersey (12), and Massachusetts (11).

another map

Moving on, we can look at the languages used on the machines of HN users. Unsurprisingly, English is most prevalent, followed by French, German, Japanese, and Korean.

a chart

Ok, now that we’ve got the locale data out of the way, we can get to the more technical stuff. Operating System concentration is about what I expected it to be - OS X is most prevalent, Windows isn’t terribly far behind, and a smaller subset of HN users are using a derivative of Linux. Of OS X users, most have made the jump to Lion; some remain on Snow Leopard and a fraction of users are still using Leopard and Tiger. In the Windows world, Windows 7 is clearly the favorite among HN users; XP, despite being over a decade old, comes in second.

In terms of mobile, iOS has the greatest concentration. In fact, iOS devices used by HN users outnumber Android devices by more than 3 to 1. Unfortunately, Google Analytics isn’t capable of tracking iOS version numbers, but iPhones and iPads have the same concentration (30 users a piece) with a sole iPod Touch to round things out. Android versions are all over the place, but there were no devices in the sample that used a version lower than 2.2. There were even a number of devices using versions of Ice Cream Sandwich.

another chart

Finally, we’ll look at Browser stats. Chrome is the clear winner here with 55% of users using some version of the Google browser. Firefox is in a far second place, scoring 16.7%, followed by Safari (mobile and desktop) at 12.5%. Mozilla Compatible Agent, for those wondering, appears to belong to iOS devices with malformed User Agents - at least that’s what a cursory search led me to believe (if someone has a better explanation, I’d be happy to post it here).

yet another chart

There is more information in the dataset that I didn’t cover, but I feel like this is the data HN users are most curious about. If there is some dimension you’d like to see that isn’t included in the dataset, sound off in the comments on HN and I’ll do my best to accommodate you. I hope you guys find this information useful.

Update: HN Comments are here

A Great Explanation of Why SOPA is Flawed

Hacker News User “dissident” giving a thoughtful, thorough explanation of the problems with SOPA that isn’t of the “THE SKY IS FALLING!”-variety:

I wouldn’t use “there isn’t enough due process” to describe why SOPA is a terrible bill, or any similar legal argument. Besides, many of those problems have been fixed in the Manager’s amendment.

DNS blacklisting as a concept is simply unacceptable. The way it is applied in SOPA requires that a certain classification of DNS caching servers must pretend like a website does not exist, which reduces trust in domestic caching servers and stifles DNSSEC.

If people move to foreign DNS (or local caching servers), which is incredibly easy, the entire thing is circumvented. But a tricky side-effect takes place: the system is now balkanized. Servers in the U.S. believe the naming system to resolve to one IP, and servers everywhere else resolve to something completely different.

This balkanizing effect can break the effectiveness of CDNs, can congest Internet traffic, and overall reduces the credibility of the naming system. Passing SOPA would mean other countries would follow in the same footsteps. Once every country believes the delegation chain can resolve to whatever they want to, what is the point in an international naming system?

These are only some of the problems with DNS blacklisting – nevermind the security problems – which are not worth it especially considering it is so easily circumvented.

Additional problems with the bill, such as the vague wording which may consider Tor a tool for “circumventing” DNS blacklists and, therefore, illegal, demonstrate a huge lack of forward thinking and an unsustainable approach to copyright enforcement.

The doomsday scenario is that government sticks its foot in Internet policy and communication and pretends it actually has the reasonable capability to prevent piracy. It will never have that capability without large-scale violations of privacy.

There are also a good amount of talks regarding the precedent SOPA may have for general purpose computing and a whole host of other sensitive topics. I don’t think it’s responsible to just point at provisions in the bill and say “well it seems to add enough oversight”.

Besides, the bill encourages preemptive takedowns by providing immunity. The tech industry behaviors that will result would be devastating.

Spot on - one of the most comprehensive explanations I’ve seen yet that doesn’t resort to hysterics to get its point across.

Wurd up.

“Wurd up.”

Oh, man - this is just unbelievable. I particularly enjoyed his petulant name-dropping only to be called out by IGN’s Scott Lowe. Paul Christoforo, the “marketing guru” behind this particular marketing SNAFU, reminds me a lot of this guy - just far less awesome and way more unintentionally hilarious.

Google Begings Releasing SysAdmin Tools for OS X

This is a really awesome move by Google - I hope building an open source community around SysAdmin tools for OS X will lead to a higher level of adoption of Macs in the enterprise.

The One Problem with the Prologue to The Dark Knight Rises

Warning: Slight spoilers are contained in the linked article. Read at your own peril.

Mike Ryan of Moviefone on first six minutes of The Dark Knight Rises:

So you’ve got Tom Hardy doing some sort of Hispanic accent (I think) that’s filtered through a mask that makes his voice sound electronic. Going back to that scene on the plane, for all I know Bane was telling the authorities, “Hey, I would really like to be friends. Why are you attacking me? Be my friend!” I mean, look, there were a few sentences here and there that I could made out, but for the most part: no clue. What was weird – for this short clip at least - it did make Bane a bit more terrifying. Though, over the course of a two hour movie, I would like to know what Bane is trying to say.

I had the opportunity to see a screening of the prologue last night and I have to echo these sentiments. Everything else about the sequence was excellent and it involves one of the craziest, ballsiest stunts I’ve seen committed to film. But it was maddening and a little distracting trying to figure out what Bane was saying. As my friend Josh and I walked out of the theater, we both said something along the lines of “That was awesome! But could you understand a word Bane was saying?” to each other.

But I’m sure they’ll get it figured out before the film is released in the summer. These next seven months until its release are going to be excruciating.