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throwaway194747 on June 9, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite

The biggest problem to me is that while IH started out as a curated collection of interviews, it's turned into a forum where basically everyone has advice in the form of articles they want to share and success stories...even when they're brand new. The early content had a sense of authority and assuredness that the tips and successes were genuine.

There's a thread on IH right now called "Why would a company lie about their revenue on IH?" [0] that perfectly exemplifies this. Earnings mean absolutely nothing if people lie. One bad number can spoil the whole lot. It shouldn't because that's just how statistics works, but it calls into question every non-verified number on the site. It's not motivating that people claim to get $x thousands of dollars per month without something backing it. It just starts to look like fake critical mass.

As counter-intuitive as it is, I'd like to see less company names. More founder names, less companies. Less "here's how I got my first users for SUPER PRODUCT" articles, because it feels like it's all just a way to promote SUPER PRODUCT. SUPER PRODUCT made $100k a month (and you've never heard of SUPER PRODUCT). That might help cut down on fake revenue numbers and inspire more integrity. As it stands, it seriously does feel like a part time ad forum.

[0]: https://www.indiehackers.com/forum/why-would-a-company-lie-a...

Agreed. IH used to be well curated and information-dense. Now it's essentially indistinguishable from /r/startups

Although it's a bit harder to find at the moment than it should be, the early content on Indie Hackers still exists and we're still conducting interviews at the same pace as in the past: https://www.indiehackers.com/interviews

Thanks for responding. OP's post actually inspired me to browse the site for content and now I'm listening to one of your recent founder interviews =)

My advice is put your interviews and podcasts back on the homepage. Attention is in short supply. Especially amongst entrepreneurs. When I see your reddit-esque homepage, it makes me feel like I'm wasting time and should get back to more productive tasks.

Agreed. I just listen to the podcasts lately because my podcast app makes it easy to find new content.

The IH site is not that great anymore, its hard to find new interviews and the forum is just noise - for me personally at least.

I think the focus should return to the interviews and podcasts, with the community aspects being secondary. People were initially drawn to learning from successful product builders, not chatting in an /r/entrepreneur type forum.

Maybe it's time to focus on the central value prop again?

I mean, it takes literally one click to get from the homepage to a list of interviews, ranked chronologically, with pretty awesome filters.

Get your sh*t together Courtland :)

I am still a very active member of IH, read a lot of the posts and comment often. The thing that bothers me the most is that it is currently shifting from a group of people that are helping out each other to a place for people to share their (success) stories. Don't get me wrong there is currently plenty of both but it's shifting towards a more egocentric vibe.

Someone created a popular thread a while ago (3th most popular post of all time) discussing this precise thing [0]. People with posts asking for help, or just starting out (often not the most exciting content) would get lost in the noise and disappear, I often scroll down the 'new' tab a bit to catch those 0 comments posts but sometimes I am just not in a position to answer these, often due to inexperience/lack of expertise on the subject.

I don't know what the solution for this problem would be, to be honest I don't even really know what is causing the problem, an excess of 'wantrepreneurs', a problem with the audience or if the more successful IH-ers got tired of summing up the ways to monetize your side project, I don't know if a very strict 'FAQ - READ THIS BEFORE POSTING' is going to solve this or if it just needs more of a personal community feel but I do think the quality of IH as a forum is degrading by the month and that I am sad to see it do so. Fortunately there are currently plenty of gold nuggets to find between the plethora of posts that sometimes seem to resemble what is in my Medium feed.

[0] https://www.indiehackers.com/forum/indie-hacker-etiquette-no...

I'm pretty active on IH as well. Haven't really seen the phenomenon that you're describing yet, but I agree that 'copy paste' fatigue is a bit of a problem - I'm definitely struggling to find the energy to post the same response to what amounts to the same question for the fifth time.

I'd like to see the community split up into different threads/sections (like subreddits). We could have a section for [show IH] posts, a section for self-promoting advice articles, and a section to ask for advice.

What I'd really like to see is a Stack Overflow-style suggestion which pops up before you submit a question, prompting you to check out a few previous threads which might answer your question instead of submitting a new one.

"Subreddits" are coming eventually!

The other phenomenon, of people asking the same question over and over, is an interesting one. Unlike StackOverflow, sometimes the same question (e.g. "How should I improve my landing page?") has a different answer depending on what your business is. That said, it would still be nice to do the SO-suggestion thing, and maybe surface some articles as well as some previous threads on the topic.

I think that the quick solution to help the current situation is this:

1. Allow sorting threads by the time of creation, so discoverability of threads with no responses is much easier. (you can have default and by creation time sorting, this won't be to complex I assume).

2. Maybe finally add a link to interviews to the navbar? This request is simply ignored for months now. You are running a community and you need to be clear on why you are not willing to get it back (after all, its just adding a link).

3. Provide an actionable roadmap with estimated times of completion? For now, there is quite a lot of promises and plans but tbh, the features requested by members the most are usually ignored/forgotten and it seems there are very little changes to the website (besides products part). The roadmap will help the community to see goals and plans for IH and voice concerns before getting forced to accept new features most people won't like. Even a thread every month explaining what will be done. It will help the community to discuss it.

You can click "Newest" at the top of the forum to see threads by creation date.

I'm planning to rework the nav bar. It's not as easy as simply adding a link, as there are numerous links people want faster access to, not just one. I need to design a navigation system that's scalable and responsive to accommodate what I know will be an ever-growing list. There are also a great many other features and bugs I spend time on that people have been requesting for months, not just navigation, and imo navigation is by far the easiest to work around oneself for anyone seriously inconvenienced at the moment.

I share plans for IH on the forum sometimes. I should do it more often for sure — the monthly thread is a great idea. And of course people in the community are free to make threads with requests/questions, and to send me DMs and emails, which I respond to. However, I'll probably never have a public feature roadmap with date estimates.

Sounds good!

I mean, you're just reinventing webboards here, so sticky threads and user-footers/.sigs are logical features to implement. Footers so people have a place for their own repetitive info, and sticky threads for the site's own repetitive info.


> Unlike StackOverflow, sometimes the same question (e.g. "How should I improve my landing page?") has a different answer depending on what your business is.

Definitely. One of my pet peeves is people asking these questions without providing context. Although luckily the IH community is slightly more measured/forgiving in response than on SO ;)

I actually track this (roughly), and the percentage of people asking for help hasn't decreased over time. It increased in January of this year and has stayed relatively steady since.

That said, one thing I may investigate is either removing link-only posts altogether, or limiting them to users who pass some minimum standard. Link-only posts are generally easier to abuse and less useful on IH than they are on a site like HN, where people come to discuss news.

Given what you just said I think that's a great idea!

You last line suggests you value Medium as much as your used to value IH when IH was at its peak.

Am I right here?

Ah no sorry, I meant to insinuate my Medium feed is a list of useless 'inspirational' articles without real value.

That "immature" community you speak of is one of the best parts of IH. As someone who joined IH and the maker community in general last year, there are few other places that I turned to beforehand to get basic and/or "dumb" questions answered about entrepreneurship. Hacker News is far too elite for that kind of environment.

For me, it's a place to feel "safe" to ask questions that might get ridiculed or passed on elsewhere. It's not just about the informative podcasts and interviews, but also about being around people who have the same goals as you, but are at different stages. It just so happens that many of us are at the beginning. And there's nothing wrong with that. We're all learning together!

I joined IH when the interviews were on the front page. Got a lot of value out of reading them.

When the forum was introduced I was bummed at first but it’s really turned into a fantastic community and resource to me. It’s what I feel HN might have been like in the early days.

HN draws a really diverse audience beyond founders and the even smaller niche of bootstrap founders. People that I feel might shut down basic or “dumb” questions about business and marketing. I like HN just the way it is but it’s not an effective platform for these discussions.

The IH community is smaller so that I feel like I’ve gotten to know a lot of regulars. My questions and requests for feedback spark real valuable discussions. It’s been a really motivating and helpful resource for myself as a solopreneur.

All that being said, I hope (and know) Courtland and Channing can find good ways to serve everyone who gets value from the IH brand and content.

The problem with all these communities is they quickly turn into "marketers growth-hacking to other marketers". Just like ProductHunt which is truly a joke now.

The irony is the discussions always stress so much about solving a problem and all that. Then the submissions are all garbage sites.

I think in 2018 there is room for a much more private community without upvote/downvote/ranking and with stricter limitations about posting links and stuff.

Basically take away the problematic incentives and create a discussion focused community.

You could just list the submissions based on time like the old school forums.

I used to constantly refresh indiehackers in its early days just to see if there was a new interview. At that point, the website was straightforward; you have just stories of people who have built something and you get to know how they did that. They just lay it out in the open and you take whatever you seem fit.

Now, the site homepage just looks like a mashup of all the 'start scratching your own itch' books giving 'agile/practical' ideas.

I wish the homepage focussed on what the site was originally about (like it used to be) - stories on how people actually built a small(profitable) tech business. It should be left to the visitors to find their way to move to more subjective realms like forums, posts discussing 'practical business ideas' etc

Feel free to email me with suggestions! courtland@indiehackers.com

EDIT: I should say that the navigation is a work in progress, and the interviews/podcast/etc will eventually be easier to get to.

Hi Courtland, as my username suggests, I am a big fan of IH but I've almost completely stopped visiting. All feedback/suggestions are in good faith.

- Blog : this was the single most valuable part of IH in the early days. Your struggles to grow, make money were so relatable. While the numbers might not have given you an idea of how wonderful the blog was, I'm sure people who've read it feel the same. Please consider restarting the blog. Share your struggles, what metrics you track, what goals if any Stripe expects you to hit, life post acquisition, why you make certain decisions (pushing for signups which IMO is a terrible idea) etc. The blog can be a great way to get feedback before making changes.

- Don't push for signups. Someone mentioned that signing up was required to read the transcripts. This pushes people away. While the numbers might be great, moving away from a no BS design rarely works long term. It's good that you reverted that signup requirement.

- Community participation : You and your brother's participation is extremely valuable but I've noticed that you guys are taking a back seat and letting the community grow organically. In theory it sounds good, but I urge you to reconsider. The community is not large enough to be self sustaining.

- Development speed : Why do you take sooo long to make simple changes like changing the navbar? If there's a reason, I'd love to learn why this is so. Please move a little faster. All the changes like badges, changing the podcasts page. interviews page, adding Stripe verified revenue actually make the experience worse. The interview and podcast pages are unusable now with so much going on. It's so cluttered. The old one was way better. The new design has actively pushed me away from the interviews and podcasts. Focus on building features that actually make a meaningful difference : DMs, software to organize meetups etc.

- Speed : the IH site is slow and full of junk tracking. Please make it work faster. SPAs are great in theory but are almost always worse than server rendered pages.

You're hitting me with the tough questions, appreciate that they're all in good faith :)

- I enjoyed blogging about IH, but it was also quite time-consuming, and not that many people found it interesting relative to the other stories we feature on the site. So it was just a tradeoff on what's the most effective way to spend my time. That said, I do have a "product page" for Indie Hackers where I will occasionally share what's going on: https://www.indiehackers.com/product/indie-hackers. You can find similar pages for other companies or create one of your own here: https://www.indiehackers.com/products

- Pushing for signups was an experiment that I'm happy to have reverted. Appreciate the feedback I got about it from multiple sources.

- Channing and I spend lots of time on the forum. We do a lot of moderation, emailing people individually, encouraging and suggesting posts, and making comments ourselves. Much of this work is invisible. But I do think that as the forum continues to grow (which it hasn't stopped doing), we'll become a bit harder to find, like two needles in an ever-expanding haystack.

- I'd like to move waaaay faster. It's tough. I do feel slow, especially during the last couple of months. (Lesson learned: say no to giving talks, say no to most meetings, respond to fewer emails.) There's also just a ton of work involved in running all the different parts of IH. There's a lot to prioritize, including numerous issues at any given time where a solid case could be made that "this is the most important thing." We're hiring a couple of engineers, so in the long run this should improve.

- Aware of speed issues. Will improve over time. Again, one of the many things to juggle prioritizing. MLK once said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." I'd like to think the arc of Indie Hackers' development is long, but it bends toward a better, faster site.

Thanks for the feedback!

> Please make it work faster. SPAs are great in theory but are almost always worse than server rendered pages.

This. How often I post a comment, want to edit it, and when I visit a link, the comment is simply missing. I need to go to my profile page to see it.

You’re hiring engineers for IH?? Have big plans for the future? :)

For me, the $$$$/mo requirement and focus was a turnoff to participating.

No idea if that will ever change (or if it has), but I’d imagine there are other people like me who enjoy building things and talking about the process, but are not interested in sharing such personal details.

Out of interest, are the MMR $ amounts independently verified?

I have the sense some founders are inflating those figures but I could be wrong.

We shared our true figures when Chessable got on IH.

I don’t see what could be the motivation behind lying?

If one did hoping to catch investors eyes, investors would quickly uncover the lie, as they definitely do check!

It could be a viable way to catch potential customers' eyes as a B2B startup. "Hey everyone my company definitely makes $50k/month so lots of other folks trust us and you should too!"

Yes, all of the MMR on IH are verified by Stripe. No really independent of course but I think reliable enough for everyone.

Thanks for putting out the podcasts. I’ve enjoyed all that I’ve listened to that are available on iTunes. I do think forcing people to sign up to read your content, interview transcripts and text interviews I’d counterproductive. You’re playing a long game, why optimise for signups instead of brand building?

Thanks for listening! You can read the transcripts, etc without signing up now, as of a few weeks ago.

I found out about IH later than you did so I don't know how it used to be. I liked their forum at first but now it seems to be a recycling of either a success story, a not always well thought out ask for help, or showcase of a prototype, etc.

Where I have found value is in the in-person community. Channing & Courtland hosted a meetup a couple months ago in SF and I got to meet some awesome people. There's definitely a lot of want-a-preneurs in the group, but once you get past them and to the serious members, you can make some valuable connections.

This might be odd but I've always stayed away from their success stories. Being in the game right now, I'm laser focused on a goal and have my compass locked tightly to a north star. I've found the stories, while inspirational, to throw me off course.

Maybe the original idea behind IH was to provide success stories to learn from. It seems to have evolved though.

To me, IH is a community of people going through the same struggle. Some are just starting, some are in the thick of it, and some have made it to the other side. All of which have their own role in a community.

I see a lot of blind leading the blind comments, but I don't think it's about leading and following. It's about doing something together with people doing something similar.

For that reason, I still find value from IH.

Haven't used IH a lot, but I do remember reading few the blogs when posted here and enjoying the interviews. It felt authentic and different content that you would often read on other blogs or website.

A month ago, I actually went back to read more but I had similar reaction that many here mentioned. Where I am I, what am I supposed to look at here? Even in the learn section now reads like self-help section of bookstore or like some health forum where people give out their "10 quick ways to lose weight" "this is how I made to #1 product hunt", which is not the content I'm not really interested in.

Both PH and IH communities seem to be to be obsessed about promoting, rather than building. Obviously marketing is important to any business, but it seems some of the energy might be better spent on the actual business and product and not writing blogs posts in these forums.

I agree that the learn section needs a lot of work. For one, it's tough for the user-written articles to be as consistent as the native content we produce ourselves, so I'd like to create a cleaner separation.

I only ever read Indie Hackers when something is posted to HN and makes the front page. And when I saw today's post, I clicked through, read several of the vignettes (which read like a hybrid of a story and an advertisement), and wondered:

Isn't this basically the same thing that I read on Indie Hackers last time it was on HN?

Perhaps I just got unlucky and it happened to be very similar to the last IH post I read about on HN, but this was my reaction. It made me slightly curious to know if there was more to IH than this (and I can see now that there is).

But mostly I felt like the linked post was not terribly valuable, and that it was upvoted by people who had written a story of their own in the HN comments, and then upvoted to get more exposure.

Sorry if this is too cynical, but it's my honest feedback.

As indie entrepreneur IH is super valuable to me. I find podcasts most useful amongst all the content. You get lot of genuine, practical advice from people who have done it before. I don't even have to visit the IH website to consume this content (PlayerFM app works).

I agree with your observation that the maker community is little immature and forum discussion are not super high quality. I look at it as an opportunity to encourage and help people who are just starting out. In return hopefully somebody much ahead in the game would help me out. Karma. That's what community is, ain't it? Plus I like the positive vibe in the conversation there (vs. HN where people seem to want to bite each other).

I find IH to still be incredibly valuable. Sure, the interviews/podcast are still the best part but, despite being relegated to the footer, they're hardly hidden! It's not like they've gone anywhere.

Willing to give the community some time to build up steam: these things are hard and take a long time. Better that they're starting now and working on improving it.

For me, I think IH has increased in value in some ways. They are doing more meetups, so its nice to be able to converse face to face with people. The newsletter provides curated summary of the best content, so you do not have to spend a ton of time in the forums. In general, the forum is a great place to ask questions and get great answers. It is more niche focused than say HN so your chances of getting an answers are certainly higher. The podcasts for me were much better in the beginning, but I do occasionally listen to one.

At some point, if your going to build something, you have to get off websites and just get your hands dirty building it.

I agree. It is almost exactly the same as r/startups and it's just ebook authors and newsletter owners marketing to themselves. The value of the forums is incredibly low, and the signal to noise ratio even lower. The interviews and podcast do still have value though.. But the forum, is a cesspool imo.

Yup, I visit IH no more. I feel there’s way too much noise now.

I think IH switched to collecting sign ups too soon -- and they push it too hard. It used to be one of my favourite websites, now I do not visit at all.

If someone made a new version of IH that was more about the content and less about being a business, I would visit often.

I feel the same. IH was a site I visited on a daily basis but now I rarely remember of checking it even once a week. I thought being acquired by stripe would be a great thing for Indie Hackers but apparently it wasn't the case.

I've had exactly the same experience, but I'm not sure whether the acquisition by Stripe played a role in this. There might be an advantage in having a lively community of people asking for advice if some of them are asking "which payment processor should I use for my project", but I haven't seen that happen frequently. For me, reading about successful startups using Stripe was much more powerful than an off-hand recommendation by an anonymous forum participant.

It would be interesting to read a blog post by Courtland where he shares engagement/views statistics pre and post the decision to make the forum the home page. Maybe there already is such a blog post, but if there is, I wasn't able to find it ;)... But even if engagement increased significantly, I wonder whether that's a good metric to optimize for, for a site such as IH? As it stands, I don't understand the need to pivot if a site is successful.

>> For me, reading about successful startups using Stripe was much more powerful than an off-hand recommendation by an anonymous forum participant.

1. What works for others won't necessarily work for you 2. Forum participants are rarely anonymous. Normally, you'll find a profile, comment history and product (with verified revenues) attached to that participant.

>> As it stands, I don't understand the need to pivot if a site is successful.

I see this sentiment (and the rest of your comment) expressed often on HN regarding Indie Hackers. Maybe you (and others) should take a step back and ask/work out what Courtland is trying to achieve with Indie Hackers, before criticising how he goes about it.

Thanks for the feedback. I haven't written a blog post about it, but the TL;DR is that engagement and views are significantly higher than a year ago.

We've experimented with a variety of different homepages, including the old list of interviews, and also a mixed homepage that included the forum + interviews + podcast. Ultimately, there isn't one answer that works for everyone. However, I can say with confidence that more people get bored of reading interview after interview and stop coming back than is the case with the community forum. If I were to simply revert to the old IH, it wouldn't be long before there was another thread like this one, but with a different subset of people asking me to move the community back to the fore.

I think your question about the value of metrics is an important one. Why attempt to grow at all? My thinking on this is simple: as long as IH remains an inspirational and educational resource that's a net positive for those it reaches, then the world is better off if it reaches more people.

The risk of course is that growth involves change, and that change might be for the worse if we're not careful. This is something I think about constantly, and one of the reasons feedback threads like this one are helpful.

Unfortunately the internet is pretty efficient at turning useful signal into “marketing channel” noise. Not sure about IH specifically but all things go this way.

simply stated: go back to the old format, it was better. Nothing says that you have to stay this direction. Sometimes things don't work.

Agreed. I can fully understand Courtland's motivation to grow a community (to keep people coming back more frequently / to create engagement) and the best way to do this is putting the forum front and center, but at the moment, the community is much too immature to be valuable. Lots of people asking for feedback (often with zero replies), self-promotional articles disguised as advice from first-time side-project creators, and even if there happens to be a lively discussion once in a while, it often feels like 'the blind leading the blind'. The value (for me, at least) of IH was the amazing interviews and podcasts - Courtland consistently pushed out great content that was a joy to read/listen to. Sure, these are still available and I still visit the site at least once a week to check for new podcast episodes, but I stopped reading interviews because they're so hard to get to and it takes 3+ clicks to see which ones are new.

> I can fully understand Courtland's motivation to grow a community (to keep people coming back more frequently / to create engagement)

I don't think that's why Courtland is growing a community. I think he is growing the community because he believe's it is the best way he can help indie founders be more successful right now.

Also, please stop spreading untruths. It takes one click to get from the homepage to a list of all interviews ranked in descending chronological order. With some pretty awesome filters as well.

FWIW, if you're reading this comment and were thinking about checking out Indie Hackers then don't let these comments put you off. There is a pretty large group of us on Indie Hackers who have built (and are building) successful software businesses, the average quality of discussions and answers is higher than on HN (albeit more focussed on the topic of bootstrapping and with a narrower quality range), and it is honestly the most positive, supportive community I've ever found online.

> Also, please stop spreading untruths. It takes one click to get from the homepage to a list of all interviews ranked in descending chronological order. With some pretty awesome filters as well.

Not true. On mobile, it takes exactly three clicks, as I stated. On desktop, it takes two clicks. What you're probably referring to, the "browse hundreds" link on the homepage (desktop only), is a list of products, which are different from interviews. Please stop spreading untruths (and being so theatrical in the process).

I never discouraged anyone from visiting IH, I just stated the for me personally, the old focus was more valuable.

> the average quality of discussions and answers is higher than on HN

That's just not true. Probably 30% of threads receive 0-1 replies, there's a lot of blogspam, and the community is very homogenous. There's nothing wrong with trying to grow a community, and I love what Courtland is doing in general, I just liked the "old" IH better.

> Not true. On mobile, it takes exactly three clicks, as I stated. On desktop, it takes two clicks.

Ok, just in case you're genuinely mistaken and not trolling, I'll bite. It takes one click on both mobile (iOS at least) and desktop to get to the newest interviews (https://www.indiehackers.com/interviews/page/1). The link is in the footer (titled "interviews").

> That's just not true. Probably 30% of threads receive 0-1 replies, there's a lot of blogspam, and the community is very homogenous.

Again, I can almost understand why you'd think that if you didn't spend much time on HN or IH.

IH is definitely smaller and more homogenous than HN (in terms of interests but probably not backgrounds). So if you're the kind of person who spends their time on the 'front page' of HN and IH, it's conceivable you'd get the wrong impression.

But you'd be missing out on the bigger picture - check out the difference between the 'new posts' tabs on HN and IH... Maybe 10% of new HN posts are ever commented on or receive more than 2-3 upvotes. For Indie Hackers it's easily 50 or 60%.

> I just liked the "old" IH better.

That's fair.

> The link is in the footer (titled "interviews").

Footer link is not user-friendly imo. Navbar/sidebar are is where it should be. Probably 95% of users won't even know that there is a link to interviews in the footer.

Got a few questions for you:

1. Why not bookmark the interviews page instead of the homepage?

2. Would it be helpful to you if the interviews/podcasts were more prominently linked from the homepage, or is it only sufficient if they are the primary focus of the homepage?

3. If you don't mind sharing, what do you do? Specifically, I'm curious about whether or not you're a founder, what stage you're at, and what you hope to gain from a site like Indie Hackers.

1. Why force people to bookmark it, instead of adding a navbar link?

I do plan on adding a navbar link. However, I don't think this eliminates the advantages of bookmarking or directly visiting the desired URL for someone who finds no value in the homepage. (For example, I never visit Reddit's homepage.)

> Sometimes things don't work.

How do we know that the current format isn't working 100x better than the previous format?

A previous version of the homepage was a personal favorite of mine (and it doesn't exist anymore!), but every change that is made to Indie Hackers was carefully and thoughtfully considered. Courtland and Channing are almost certainly making metrics-driven decisions on what to keep, iterate, or throw away. Even though previous formats were personal favorites to some (myself included), the current format/direction must be serving, engaging, and providing value to more people than before. Don't you think?

It makes me pretty depressed, especially looking at my own startup. Hope this helps.

I used to check it every day. I stopped reading it when they changed the home page to not include the latest interviews (the only interesting content IMO) and put filtering of them behind a login wall.

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