The highlighted quote and central thesis of "Everyone’s upvote is equal — my upvote counts the same as yours" misses the point that the product selection process is opaque, and the updated FAQ of "we receive so may products per day!" does not absolve PH of that. (it's a 2 year old startup. They no longer get a pass on scalability issues).
Speaking of the FAQ, here's the update discussing conflicts of interest:
> "Do I need to disclose that I’m invested or advising a company I post to Product Hunt?
Product Hunt is a place for authentic, honest conversation and we highly encourage people to disclose any potential conflict of interest in the comment thread."
...which misses the point entirely. The conflicts-of-interest are with the moderators themselves, and friends-of-friends of the submitters. And given the culture of PH, very few people will disclose a conflict of interest willingly if it hurts them.
I'm not reassured that anything will change in the near future.
EDIT: Added my comment to the comments on the Medium article.
can you tell me more about this? I do have a PH account, I have hardly used it, so I don't know much.
How Product Hunt really works by Ben Wheeler https://medium.com/@benjiwheeler/how-product-hunt-really-wor...
I have another post in the comments here that explains the context a bit more as well.
1. There was a controversial Medium post 6 days ago accusing Product Hunt's ranking system of being unfair amongst other things.
> How Product Hunt really works (medium.com)
687 points by brw12 6 days ago | 222 comments
2. Then the same day someone started a signup sheet to build an open version.
> Let's Create a Better Product Hunt (docs.google.com)
222 points by BetterLaunch 6 days ago | 98 comments
3. Then someone built and launched it.
> Show HN: Open Hunt – an open and community-run alternative to Product Hunt (openhunt.co)
1072 points by mhurwi 3 days ago | 176 comments
For most of the day on Friday, Open Hunt sat at the #1 spot on Product Hunt, and Ryan Hoover was a good sport about it.
<person1>: Seems bad for @ProductHunt. Changes my perception of them. <link to article>
Ryan Hoover: sad to hear, <person1> :(
<person2>: That's all you have to say, really? Jerk.
Someone pointed to this conversation in the OpenHunt discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10759879 -> https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10760462
Hoover's response is weak. He's basically saying that they have improved their FAQ. Woo, that's really reassuring. Anyway, I'll take my chances with Open Hunt, or anywhere else that values an open community for that matter.
Just as a matter of taste I don't want to spend time on the outside looking in on an invite-only community. I'd simply go elsewhere. I'm not a huge fan of elitism and exclusivity in general.
One situation where it's not quite as bad if there are very transparent, specific criteria. E.g. "you can't comment unless you've built a product >10,000 people use" is much better than "you can't comment unless you're on our social graph".
I think this is what was intended for Product Hunt, but somewhere along the line something happened and this became a bit skewed.
I've never met Ryan, but I know many that have. It sounds like this was not a product meant to build on the "boys club" but to let people know about cool shit people were building. Eventually it became THE place to find new products and services to a point where, if you were launching a product, posting and having it upvoted on Product Hunt was/is a must.
From my perspective, that's not being a horrible person. That's creating something that people trust. Sounds like innovation to me.
All successful social software is going to perpetuate the existing power structures at the expense of outgroups in some areas, and empower outgroups at the expense of the mainstream and the insiders in other areas. As it should.
Can you think of good examples where this has actually happened? In most cases you have situations like where everyone has access to the sum of all human knowledge for free, but where high-SES kids have more time and ability to benefit. Part of the issue is that social software is built on networks, and networks naturally concentrate power because of Zipf's Law.
Most design elements are also really just double edged swords. E.g. lots of people argue that Facebook's real names policy is bad for the LGBTQ community or whatever. But at the same time, Xbox Live isn't exactly the world's most LGBTQ friendly community either.
One of my favorite quotes on social software is still this old one from Joi Ito, "You're not a leader, you're a place. You're like a park or a garden. If it's comfortable and cool, people are attracted." It's important to be cognizant of power structures when designing structures, but at the same time what really makes good social software is seeking out and accentuating the interstitial. But this usually eventually results in the creation of new power structures, and the best we can do is try to give a wide variety of folks the opportunity to benefit.
This is an example of A16Z killing a startup. They only care about about the big hits, so they'll happily dump too-many-millions into small products like ProductHunt and RapGenius, trying to force them to Get Big Fast.
ProductHunt should've been operated by two people for 5+ years but they raised too much money. Communities can't really be bought with money. You have to grow them organically and authentically over many years. Hacker News and reddit are perfect examples to emulate.
Digg is an example of the VC way of doing things.
Google Trends "rap genius": https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=%22rap%20genius%22&c... 
Remember at Demo Day in their W11 batch, they had both: more traffic than every other startup in the batch combined, and more than any other YC startup at any demo day in history .
1: Source: The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator
2: I think the fall off in the last year is due to rebranding to just Genius.
"No one told me that I didn't have to take the money!"
It's not a bad thing, but you don't need it. And if you're counting on it having a major impact on your traction, you probably shouldn't be.
The only people that should really care about PH's ethics are makers. But if you're a maker, you shouldn't care at all about PH. You should be busy talking to users and building product. If you're not seeing traction by doing those two things, then it is nigh impossible that getting on PH will do anything for you. And if you do have traction then getting on PH won't matter!
I know this is a gross simplification, but it's really worth trying to focus on what matters because there's so many ways to get distracted.
If you are honestly relying on PH to bring you users your startup is already dead.
Just look at this HN post:
Show HN: Open Hunt – an open and community-run alternative to Product Hunt (openhunt.co)
How about their ranking system:
Isn't this how it always goes? Something controversial happens, someone shows an alternative, it gets praise and a flood of users and is within a week forgotten about. E.g. reddit > voat recently.
Digg > reddit doesn't count, as they actually broke their site.
Of course they won't change it. The whole "game" is to provide a system that on the surface looks meritocratic, but actually isn't, in order to give visitors the impression that the arbitrarily posted products / sites are popular (because they must be to have made it to the front page), and thus drive traffic to them. It's dodgy.
- Front page of HN, check.
- Top trending weekly product on GitHub. Check.
- Ability to get the in-crowd at Product Hunt to approve of my product for voting on their site. NOPE.
The response was the same canned one that others have mentioned. AZ buying a product news outlet to advance their other startups is a vague accusation, but in my world not in the tin-hat territory whatsoever.
It looks like it was posted and got a few upvotes, but only shows in search results after clicking "Show all" on the right. I'm not positive, but perhaps this is a way upcoming posts are differentiated from front page posts.
When I view the Product Hunt frontpage, I see nothing to indicate that a submission has been 'boosted' and that seems to be an area that could be improved if "early insiders" will continue to have the boosting ability.
A more democratic approach to this would work much better than the insider model they've adopted. Hacker News isn't a business, Reddit is, yet both are egalitarian. There does exist a balance that works.
They've solved the problem of sorting good/curated products based on upvotes, but that is not the true problem.
The harder problem is ensuring new products can reach the front page fairly. Reddit would not be the amazing community it is today if there were a curation team at Reddit determining what should be on the front page. If I were PH, I would focus on this problem.
I would urge them to address the issues that the community is bringing up. His post does not seem to indicate any change will occur.
As I've said previously on here I'm a capitalist and I respect greed, but I don't tolerate liars. If you going to build and insiders promotion site, then do it, and own it. Don't backpedal when someone calls you out.
It started off as a curated newsletter and became a portal. It never fully embraced a community-driven approach (as evidenced by their opaque curation policy) nor a pivot to a more search engine/yelp-like community. In essence, they have yet to conquer their scalability problem: how to maintain quality while increasing quantity of products. It's a bloomin' hard problem to be fair to them.
What I am most disappointed by is that with network effects, it is beneficial for a community as a whole to have one dominant portal. The one thing you want for a dominant community platform is transparency (there's an argument for decentralization too), a requirement that has yet to be met.
> Everyone’s upvote is equal — my upvote counts the same as yours — and ultimately upvotes determine what rises to the top of Product Hunt.
To me, this was a direct contradiction.
This is a response to the traction openhunt is getting. Another version of "I'm sorry we got caught".
Ryan, maybe had good intentions at the beginning then got carried away with the "stardom" and of course, with $6 million in the bank, a bit of arrogance took hold.
His initial response to the Medium article was "lol", while that of the posse was "fuck the haters". He forgot his remit was building a massive community and not a small clique.
Competition is good. It makes people humble.
Product Hunt cannot change. It's "community" is vested in ensuring things remain the same. Just like fat cats.
Reminds me of a certain logo.
Edited: $6million not $16 million series A
Also, I'd argue that Product Hunt's Series A was almost modest in light of their popularity and growth last year.
And then Digg v4 got released in 2010, with a huge community uproar. People flocked to Reddit, and within 18 months Digg gets sold for $500k.
Product Hunt, your clock is ticking. Fast.
I've been on both sides - I've coordinated a launch with the help of PH & I've launched my own things at my own times. I've had great success and some flops doing both. There are pros & cons. But again... the frequency of this is certainly decreasing.
It's not that you need an insider, but if you really want to have a "launch" they help... If you want to share something cool you made, and think it's good, and garner some useful feedback... Post away!
I know Jeff and can confirm that he was a huge fan of Ryan and Product Hunt before ever meeting him. Jeff is the epitome of a super fan. He networked hard and moved to a new city (SF) to make the connections he has and to get his job at Meerkat, as well.
He also doesn't angel invest, so he doesn't have anything to gain by posting the products he posts or tweets.
Here's the other thing, there are a ton of other people around the world just like him. They're a big part of the reason why PH has been successful and has struck a cord with product fans and makers all over.
I could have also pointed out a) he contributed to the source Medium article and b) he had openly criticized OpenHunt in the PH thread for "it's not Product Hunt."
The point is that super fans are good for Product Hunt, but not good for people trying to get into the ecosystem based on merit instead of pandering to a brand.
>>> "Unless you’re one of the early members of the community (those that helped get Product Hunt off the ground and continue to be instrumental in curating great products), all posts submitted to Tech first start in Upcoming. "
Eliminating that loophole completely would help in restoring faith.
PH is not made so you can promote your startup, it's made so that product loving people discover new cool stuff every day. Ensuring the quality level is what PH team is after, way more than ensuring that "meritocracy is respected", or whatever hate in disguise HN is fantasizing about these days.
To achieve this goal, Ryan took what we all know as the usual discovery channel - tech press - and opened it to a lot of people he gathered. They now try to find ways to scale this up, while keeping up with the high quality they expect from a curation process. Basically PH is a "opened press blog", not a "closed whatever you wish would help your startup".
Edit: read Ryan's article again at this light and tell me he is not addressing this misunderstanding.
This is circular logic. How did the insiders get the great content to post? By excluding other viable content posted by others.