Clarification: I am not advocating a typical voting ring. That is bad. This is a 20-30 minute push to relevance and then step back. I wouldn’t get people upvoting for hours, that is silly.
Getting on the frontpage of Hacker News is the holy grail for people in the tech space. The frontpage can mean tons of downloads, pageviews, installs, etc., for your startup.
It used to be that one could game the system and just have everyone in their office upvote their post. But those days are long over. There are many barriers for the obvious ways of getting upvotes.
Getting on the frontpage is not easy and there are tricks to do so. Here are some things you need to know:
1) You only get one upvote per IP address. Asking everyone in the office to upvote your post will result in 1 upvote (and I think if you post from that IP, then possibly none).
2) Sending someone a direct link to your post results in an invalid upvote. So if you plan on sending a link like this (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4371851) don’t expect anyone who upvotes from the link to be counted towards your post.
How to get on the frontpage:
First, you need to write something interesting. If you don’t, trying to get on the frontpage will be a waste of your time. Even if you manipulate and get upvotes, hacker news readers will rip you apart and you’ll wish you never got there. Please take this very seriously.
Second, your post should have a slant towards developers and technology. If it doesn’t, you are in the wrong community.
But let’s say you write something well, and the focus is the developer/technology space- then, this is what you should do:
1) Put the name and the direct URL, when submitting. Don’t use Bit.ly or any URL shortener.
2) As soon as you post you will be in http://news.ycombinator.com/newest
3) Send the link (http://news.ycombinator.com/newest) to at least 20 people from different locations that you know will upvote or submit it. I’ve heard that people submitting or upvoting with a solid amount of karma helps (although I’m not sure how much really).
4) Once you hit 5 or 6 upvotes, within the first five to ten minutes, you should get to the first or second page.
5) Now you change the link (http://news.ycombinator.com/news) and send the frontpage to people when asking to upvote going forward. I would try to send to another 10 people. All at different locations.
6) At this point you are 20-30 minutes in and if you have written something interesting you will gain natural traction. If not, there is really nothing anyone can do for you.
While this isn’t a surefire way of getting on the frontpage of hacker news, I’ve done it this way about 4 or 5 times and it has worked for me.
Just this past week I wrote a post called, “How To Win A Hackathon.” Here are the google analytics after being on the front page of hacker news for a few hours.
UPDATE: I was on the frontpage this AM, peaking at #8, but then magically disappeared :)
Screenshots for proof: