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Wow, this looks like a great resource for a difficulty I've been struggling for myself since a long time.

For the love of it, I can't understand what makes other GitHub repositories stand out over mine.

I'm blogging about my work, I've added more information in the readme and over the course of a view years, I've also gradually shifted course to a more appropriate process. I always wanted to be the owner of a busy open source repo. I find the idea of making this experience fascinating.

But many of my repos are still stale though I think my code is good enough.

Actually, seeing that the repository probably needs a much better designed readme makes me sad to realize that also for something so deeply rational: it's the looks that count.

On the other hand, it's true. Deeply living with a problem and solving it in code is a though challenge and I'm not sure I'm committing enough for my work to be popular.

But I'm anyways happy to now realize that I'll have to market my repos better too.

First off, I have no ideas, just questions.

Have you tested your writing? project titles, readme, docs, etc?

I learned to test everything. Basically SEO, but for good.

I've done UI design, technical writing, ad copy, and so forth. Draft project plans, press releases, headlines. I've spent a ridiculous amount of time naming things, crafting pose, framing, messaging, etc. I even obsess over my trolling, sharpening my zingers.

I just scanned your repos. Know that I am not your target audience. So I have no direct feedback. At least none that should be trusted.

Your project for running C++ in a browser, via WASM, is the one I'd be most curious about. My guess is that's the one with the broadest appeal.

I'd compare your written artifacts with similar projects. Push and poke it every way you can think of. Stuff like dropping each project's keywords and phrases into google to assess discoverability.

I'd also test your writing on everyone you can. Peers, non-peers, randos. Both native English and German speakers.

IIRC, didn't @danluu do something about naming repos? I'm probably misremembering.

FWIW, for my last FOSS project, I spent a bit more time on writing than programming. Roughly 55/45 split. (I logged my time on that project. I was curious.)

Lastly, testing writing is in addition to all the other good suggestions. "Yes and", not "Ya but".

Happy hunting.

OK interesting. Great idea on trying to compare my projects with others and then adjusting the copywriting.

Then about testing for engagements: I've done similar things with the headlines of my blog articles. I usually have a few different ideas and I can test the engagement by e.g. resubmitting after a while on HN.

Do you have ideas on how to get improve the pace of my feedback loop? E.g. for testing three headlines of a blog post: Where can I test their engagement quickly such that I get live results?

Sorry, I don't. Learning how to do that is on my to do list. I've read articles about using Ad Words to validate notions, but have never tried. My own efforts to date have been torturous unending manual trial and error. Not optimal.

Actually, Veritasium posted a brilliant way for optimizing thumbnails and headlines to improve click-through rate on Youtube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=S2xHZPH5Sng

I plead guilty and say that I've repeatedly posted the same link on HN but with different query parameters to understand its performance.

But I've come to understand that users will notice this behavior and start to generally downvote.

As a creator with a small audience, the only success with tapping into a high throughput feedback loop has been by painstakingly write articles and submit them one by one to HN.

I've gotten much better at it already and frankly I've also noticed that engagement and "likes" isn't everything either.

I've realized too that if you truly do what you believe in consistently, I've found that I suddenly start having "impact", which I think is different from engagement.

How I see it:

- Engagement: clicks, views, comments

- Impact: The world changes, there's consequences and substantial changes as a reaction

But I think you can't have one without the other. High engagement means you're a popstar. High impact means you're a politician. Ideally, I want to be able to pick my position on the gradient.

re Veritasium video. Thanks.

Mea culpa: Rereading my initial reply, I see that I was more telling than asking, contrary to my stated intent.

Engagement and impact. Absolutely. Where do you choose to put your focus? I've always preferred "finding my tribe". Building tools for other people like me. Others who have needs like my mine which aren't fulfilled by today's popular hammerspoon.

Instead of persuading people to use my tools, I hope to be found by people who have framed their problem like I have and just haven't found a suitable solution.

For instance, one niche tool I made was a UI layout manager rooted in graphic design's notions for a "design grid". Kids today would call my bespoke solution "opinionated". At the time I described it as "visually and logically correct".

Alas. My strategy has not made me rich.

I'm actually semi-blocked on releasing more of my tools, because I haven't figured out how to pay the mortgage.

Happy hunting.

im beginning to realize tons of things in life MUST be sold (or a case built which i see as a form of "selling")

want a new code convention? best make a writeup and pros/cons for it to make it digestable to your fellow devs.

want a code fix on a third party lib? best make a case for why its a value-add for the maintainers.

want a new friend? best be interesting enough that the person has a reason to remember you.

everything is a sell, though the buyers arent always buying with their wallets

> im beginning to realize tons of things in life MUST be sold (or a case built which i see as a form of "selling")

While this is true, one is better off from thinking about this from first principles, such as what are some undeniable truths that are constant over time given an intractable problem space. Evolving software over and over around those constants, under the constraint of that one problem space, makes for a viable sell (but one does have to sell) especially in a b2b setting. Note that, early adopters don't need much of a selling-to, by definition, if the software as much as interests them and fulfills a tiny modicum of their needs.

Ref: https://apenwarr.ca/log/20211024

I recently submitted a 2 character fix because someone used . instead of \. in their regex. Terse explanation because obvious. Rejected!

More seriously, some of the best friends I have made is because I randomly took the initiative to start a study group with them despite the fact that we had never spent time together as a group. There is always an animator making things work. If you want to actually do interesting things, you very often need to be that person. While you might not get the ego boost of being a 'chosen' one, you will occasionally receive thanks from those who recognize what you did to make things happen for everyone.

Isn't this just making the metric the target? We want popular projects because popularity is a sign of quality[0], but by focusing on becoming popular we're just gaming the metric.

[0] supposedly. I'm not convinced.

The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord.


"But many of my repos are still stale though I think my code is good enough."

The reality is just like with sellable (software) products (code) quality doesn't matter when it comes to "success".

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