Hacker news is a daily habit for my novelty seeking brain. Most hacker news discussions rarely seem to allow you to get to know the commenters very well. Discussions threads bounce cacophonously between multiple commenters, multiple threads talking past each other. On posts that don’t have that chaotic discussion, there are only a few comments. This isn’t to say that conversations on Hacker news are without value, just that they are impersonal. Hence, it stays as a source of links and what “The Hacker News” has to say about things.
Lobste.rs is like a small hackerspace, compared to HN’s startup enthused sky-scraper. On Hacker News, I’ve often seen interesting projects, such as the Oil Shell, Mu, or Leiningen, where on Lobste.rs, I’ve been able to actually meet the people behind said projects. This is still possible on HN, but much less likely, just due to the volume of people that discuss things there. Those conversations lead to things like learning how to use GDB(which for this Go/C# dev, is not something I commonly use), or the means of interacting with mailing lists, or cracking a cipher for a hackathon, or discussing the various differences between different implementations of virtual machines, interpretors and programming languages.
Facilitating much of this discussion is #lobsters, a companion IRC chatroom to the news site itself, which hosts quite a fun crowd of people. Also enticing is Lobster’s tightened focus on technology, rather than the mushy hodgepodge of loosely tech and startup related news on HN. The only downside of the smaller community is that it does generate less links per day compared to HN, so I still end up reading both, since my appetite for reading can be rather large depending on the day.