Hackaday.io has just turned two today and we couldn’t be more excited about how far we’ve come. What started out as a simple proof-of-concept, inspired by ye-olde idea of a “virtual hackerspace,” has truly evolved into a global playground for some of the best, brightest, and most creative minds you have ever met. It also became a home and the place to spend sleepless nights for many of us on the team, and we’re excited to share a few ideas on where we are headed going forward.
But before we do that, let’s look at some data.
We’re thrilled to report that over the last two years, Hackaday.io has grown from zero to a 121,158-member strong community, who have together created a total of 9,736 projects. To put this in context, it is more than a two-fold growth from last year’s milestone of 51,838 users / 4,365 projects. And it doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down.
Though these “vanity” metrics sure are a nice validation, the number that gets us the most excited is the fact that the 9,731 projects currently on the site have been created by a total 4,966 different users. What’s even better is the fact that 949 projects are a result of collaboration between two or more people. Altogether, a total of 7,170 different users have participated in the creation of the vast body of engineering knowledge currently residing on Hackaday.io.
But what really boggles the mind is trying to picture just how many project are in this collection of (almost) 10 thousand? Anytime we go out to browse projects on the website, we find ourselves overloaded with information before even reaching 100. While this probably has something to do with the fact that you can only process so much data while still having a meaningful user experience, we thought it would be fun to give it a shot. So the other night we whipped up a quick visualization that might help you get the sense of the overall project space:
You can also explore the SVG version at hackaday.io/projectscape/.
We always think of Hackaday.io as a “virtual hackerspace” – a place to get inspiration and meet people who can help in making your ideas a reality. Or, it could simply be a place to have fun while learning and sharing knowledge (we like to call this “mindful entertainment”). So, from the very beginning, we tried to build in mechanisms that help you discover relevant projects, connect and collaborate with other members.
From a quantitative point of view, the easiest way to think about this is in the form of a directed graph with nodes representing projects/users and edges representing user/project follower relationships. A year ago, this graph measured 88,703 user->user and 105,315 user->project follower relationships. Today, it’s an order of magnitude higher – 868,698 user->user and 795,160 user->project follow relationships. The “social” thing on the site seems to be really taking off.
Another major feature we released over the past year is the support for real-time private “conversations” between project members, which has resulted in an explosion of micro-communities on Hackaday.io. Our favorite abuse of this feature is the Hacker Channel. With it’s 775 members, this project has become a source of non-stop entertainment for many of its participants and lurkers alike. Here’s a little illustration of the daily activity you can expect if you find yourself in this corner of Hackaday.io:
The Public Side
Though we all know vanity metrics shouldn’t matter, a few of us can’t resist the small hits of dopamine that we get when someone gives our projects a little bit of love. After all, why should we? Projects take time and energy, so whatever keeps our motivation up and gets us going is probably a good thing.
There are plenty of ways to share the love on Hackaday.io: project views, follows, skulls, and comments. Here are a few stats on the distribution of these metrics across different projects:
A couple of exciting points that immediately stand out:
- The top 100 projects on Hackaday.io each got more than 17,500 views, 705 followers and 101 skulls
- The top 1,000 projects got over 3,000 views, 243 followers and 17 skulls
- 50% of all projects on Hackaday.io each got more than 272 views, 100 followers and 8 skulls
The last point is especially important, as it indicates that no matter the kind of project you put on Hackaday.io, it is very likely to get significant exposure, which can easily turn into just the kind of feedback you need to keep it going. We have heard numerous stories of people putting their projects on .io and immediately meeting their new collaborators, jointly iterating on the project, and on the wings of all the encouragement they got from the rest of the community, ultimately turning their ideas into successful Kickstarters and companies.
This concludes all the patting on the back that we deserve for this year, and now, it’s time to get back to work. Here are some of our priorities for the months to come:
- Issues/Bugs: Though the supply of these is infinite, our top priority is always to be as responsive as possible in resolving critical issues and to continually work toward improving the overall quality of the platform.
- UX Refresh: It has been two years, and we feel like it’s time to take a fresh look at both overall design and the core User Experience. Though we’re not planning any radical changes, nor trying to drift away from our “dark” theme, we are looking at a better navigation of project pages and a major polish of personal profile pages as well as the ability for users to customize certain elements of the layout.
- Tindie Integration – Tindie has been a part of the Hackaday.io family for a while now, and we believe a lot of great things can happen by bringing the two closer together. To start, we’re working on incorporating Hackaday.io into Tindie seller profiles as well as tighter coupling between Tindie products and Hackaday.io projects.
- “Idea marketplace” – Collaborative hardware development is something we’re really passionate about, and we feel like we need to build better mechanisms for people to find collaborators and form teams around ideas. So we’re working on it.
- Better BOM/Schematics Data management – This is the one feature from last year’s list that we haven’t yet delivered on. We’re working on making it a reality as soon as possible.
- Collaboration Improvements – Team messaging is just the beginning. We have some awesome ideas on how we can expand it with features that significantly improve the overall project collaboration flow.
- Mobile App – A lot of people have been asking for this, so we’re adding it to the queue. Being able to update project logs and interact with team members directly from your phone is a priority.
- Jobs Board – The success of the Jobs Board project has been a complete surprise for all of us. So we’ll be turning it into a full-blown feature.
- Contests – Other than the Hackaday Prize, these haven’t been much of a focus for us, and most of the “contest” support at the moment is just a hack on top of the standard project view. However, the community seems to thrive on the motivation that these kinds of challenges bring, so we’ll be working on improving support for contest self-provisioning, as well as a much nicer user experience for all the contest participants.
- Hackaday.io Physical Layer – First and foremost, we are an online community, but our core mission is fostering Collaborative Project Development. And for this, we need our community to connect in the real world too. We’re working on something exciting that should help with this.
Most importantly, we’re looking for your feedback on things we should improve and features we should develop. If you have ideas, comments or bug reports, please send them our way. The core development team is on Hackaday.io most of the time, so if you just feel like chatting, feel free to ping us directly.
Finally, a huge thanks to the entire Hackaday.io community who has been incredibly supportive and helped us get this far. We’re looking forward to the equally exciting Year #03!