May 22, 2019

Ask IH: Have you ever gotten beat up online?

Andrew @andrewpierno

I put up a kind of mvp site for a new idea ( and got beat up on hacker news. just curious how you guys / gals have handled those kinds of situations.


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    A few weeks ago I had a similar experience with Reddit. I received comments like "A big FU to you for creating this product." and (this is my personal favorite) "Fuck you and the horse you road in on." I replied to every comment (including the insulting ones) politely and asked them to elaborate on their 'feedback'. To my surprise, some of the haters wrote a few paragraphs explaining their thoughts. This was quite useful for me as I now understood what was going through their heads when they wrote "fuck you this is an asshole idea".
    You can try replicating some of that and see how the community responds.

    Lastly, I think you should focus on people who love your idea. Following Paul Graham's advice of 'making something that few people really need', you shouldn't care if a couple of HN users hate on your idea. I saw your site somewhere (maybe HN) 1-2 days ago. I skimmed through the site for like 45 seconds and did not hesitate on joining the waiting list. I almost never do this. This is a really cool idea and I hope you keep going.

    PS: Use my link instead of Andrew's so I get bumped up in the waiting list :D. Thanks!

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      Thanks @fvarela for the kind words!

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    Have you ever gotten beat up online?

    Lots of times! Especially on Hacker News. Indie Hackers content has been on HN many dozens of times now, as was the IH acquisition, which was very personal. The crowd there is brutal. The culture revolves around finding some way to disagree or finding something to critique.

    Nowadays I just try to learn from the experience. We're all afflicted with the curse of knowledge — we know more about our efforts and our intentions than anyone else. That makes it easy for us to be compassionate to ourselves. Others tend to be more compassionate if they know these things, too, so it's really an exercise in communication. How can I better communicate my knowledge, efforts, and intentions to others? That will require me to put myself in their shoes and figure out what they do/don't know, and what they do/don't like. That's a useful skill to develop for marketing, sales, product design, and business in general.

    I'll also second what @nlowell said. There's a certain etiquette to be observed when dealing with criticism online. The three options as I see them tend to be: ignore it, respond with kindness and sincerity, or apologize authentically. Any other responses is basically a mistake that will make things worse. Of course we'll always feel tempted to respond defensively or argumentatively — I still do that occasionally — but learning to overcome those emotions and respond appropriately to both public and private criticism is important.

    Of course, jerks will be jerks. It's not always on you.

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    Pretty much anyone who posts on HN will get some pretty strong criticism. When I first posted Stowbots, someone commented, swearing at me and complaining because I wasn't open-sourcing it and because I asked for emails or something. You can look at HN's comments when Dropbox and Twilio:

    Main idea: criticism usually doesn't matter.

    1. Copy-pasting terms without removing the previous names is a serious mistake (may even have legal liability) and should be corrected ASAP
    2. It's a mistake to engage with criticism online, especially if you're in an emotional state. The only responses that look acceptable to the public are polite apologies or polite corrections. Never respond to the same person more than once or you're going to be dragged into some kind of argument.
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    I get a 404 when trying to access your site...
    Is this happening to anyone else?

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      Sorry man. Got a cease and desist. I commented below.

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      Yup. Me too. Is your site down @wrannaman?

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    I once posted on LinkedIn with a story I put together from diving through analytics for trailers, and I called it "Top 10 Movies Chicks Love" or something like that. It went out on Twitter, and I got BLASTED on Twitter from some feminist groups who railed against me assuming I know what they liked. It took a lot of de-escalating quickly to stop it from getting out of hand, and it was headed for disaster quickly.

    But the best thing you can do when you make a mistake is to own it quickly!

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      That's a good one. thanks for sharing. I similarly got beat up on Twitter once (okay more than a few times) for scraping 10,000 emails from github cold emailing. People are allergic to cold email intros!

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    Sorry everyone I got a cease and desist order from these guys. So I took the site down for now. Likely will have to rebrand or talk to a lawyer about some options.

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    Hi Andrew, this should helpful

    "If you’ve created something that will delight and astound 10% of the marketplace, there’s a 90% chance that the first person who encounters your work will dislike it. He might even hate it." Seth Godin

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    Where did you get those cool graphic designs? Also I think it's a really neat idea. Passed the word along to some ppl I know who might be interested.

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    Not everyone is going to like what you do.

    Not everyone is going to support it.

    If you did something wrong which is causing the hate, own up to it and fix it.

    People have short memories (usually) so just keep shipping.

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    How are you getting around accredited investor laws?

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    This comment was deleted a year ago.