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20 Comments

Building in public - a different opinion

So I may be a contrarian (no maybes about it - I am) but I don't get the whole "build in public" thing.

My understanding is that it keeps you "accountable" or "motivated", but really if you need to be kept accountable in order to be motivated then I think you've already lost the game. To me its somewhat analogous to people who install apps to remind them to drink water. I mean... really?

I'm trying to think of all the great technical achievements of the past few hundred years, scientific as well as in the product world. Did anyone need virtual pats on the back from strangers to keep them going?

Please don't misunderstand me; I'm all for contributing to a community like this and sharing updates, asking advice etc. What I'm on about here is the whole "build in public" thing and apps like wip.chat where folks go on and literally post daily checklists of what they want to do.

Am I missing something (highly possible)?

  1. 35

    My understanding is that it keeps you "accountable" or "motivated"

    Building in public is about getting exposure. Anything else is extra, capitalistically speaking.

    1. 6

      +1.
      You start marketing beforehand. As an extra it helps you to validate the idea while you are on it.

      I think wip.chat and makerlog are the worst executors of the idea. I literally saw a todo "drink water" over there. Instead those todos should be more informative and provide value to grab attention. It would be more interesting if people shared how they handle those todos.

    2. 1

      A very to the point yet accurate answer.

  2. 5

    My understanding is that it keeps you "accountable" or "motivated", but really if you need to be kept accountable in order to be motivated then I think you've already lost the game.

    Sorry, but I would disagree. It's actually not so bad to have some outer motivator. Sometimes it's not easy to start, not easy to keep working, not easy to do something on a daily basis, and if it helps, why not?

    To me its somewhat analogous to people who install apps to remind them to drink water. I mean... really?

    Yes. I never tried such apps but some day I found I don't drink enough, and developed the habit to drink much more. I did it without any app, but if it helps, why not?

    For me, building on public has several points.

    1. It's really fun. When you are working solo, building on public gives you some kind of socialization that you would never get working silently.

    2. You can get feedback. If you do something stupid, or wrong, somebody can notice and give a piece of advice. It's very good to have feedback on a regular base.

    3. You can find your potential customers - they will know about your product much earlier than the launch day, and if you do it right, you also can collect emails.

    4. It's not only good for you - it's a great thing for others. It happened to me many times - when I wasn't sure what to do and where to do, but someday read some article on building a product, and thought "That is it!" and it really helped to move on. Sometimes you just need a small push, or clue to move on.

    5. And yes, accountability. Development habits not only to work on something on a daily basis but also to publish daily - it's superimportant for introverts and all the people who don't post often.

    6. There is a chance you would find a co-founder or even you can make a friend.

    7. It's a very easy and effective way to build a network.

    8. It's an easy way to build your reputation what it very important.

    Btw, wip.chat is not for posting checklists of what they want to do, it's rather daily reports on what they doing. Some kind of twitter for makers. I like the idea, generally, but I don't like the implementation. It doesn't motivate me in both way - nor a watcher, neither as a contributor.

    1. 1

      100% agree with that. Enthusiasm will only get you that far. In any serious project a grind and burnout will eventually kick in. That's when you would need the "building in public" ways.

  3. 5

    There used to be other discussions on the topic, due I can't currently find it

    Basically, your trying to solve a psychological thing with an analytical paradigm while not even borrowing the few analytical tools that are in the field.

    The best that I can give you in a moment
    "
    In 1872, Charles Darwin attempted a self-study to eliminate this innate fear of snakes. He went to the zoo regularly and stared at a poisonous viper called a puff adder behind glass. He vowed to himself he would not move or flinch when the snake tried to strike. Without fail, Darwin found himself recoiling every time the snake lunged at the glass even though in his conscious mind he knew the snake could not hurt him from behind the glass.
    "
    Somewhere I read he attempted this for an entire year
    This is mainly to say with great conviction that we think we are in control and everything passes our thinking and we can be rational
    but there are some things that bypass our thinking entirely

    Other ways you can observe it is high emotional state like hunger, anger or arousal
    (for examples try to starve yourself for a few hours more than you are comfortable, be around 1 or more people who know you and ask them the next day about your behavour)

    If you want something productive positive to experience I'd recommend going full in on GTD

    I can recommend these if your interested
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8Xc2_FtpHI&list=PL22J3VaeABQAT-0aSPq-OKOpQlHyR4k5h
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYYJlNbV1OM&list=PL22J3VaeABQApSdW8X71Ihe34eKN6XhCi

    Other related
    keystone habits
    tiny habbits
    gamification
    marketing / sales
    startup school / ycombinator

    1. 1

      Is Jordan.... he is very interesting.

  4. 4

    According to Stefan Vetter, who grew his company to $1000 MRR in 94 days, being an "Open" startup has four key benefits:

    • It creates trust in your team and with customers
    • It fosters innovation, because your own team has more information at their disposal to - make better decisions
    • It promotes fairness, for example when it comes to salaries.
    • You will receive more helpful feedback
  5. 2

    I don't know if this counts but I'm sharing what I make with my consulting business monthly.

    There are two reasons I do it:

    1. Building an audience for potential future product revolving around consulting and freelancing space (not likely to happen)
    2. More personal, empowering contractors from second and third world countries. People rarely share this but contractors in my area think they can't charge "western" rates because they don't live in first world countries which I think is bullshit. Of coirse there are people who outsource their work to lower-income countries to get cheap labour but there are also people who want to hire based on skill and not location.

    TL;DR building audience and motivating people

  6. 2

    My understanding is that it keeps you "accountable" or "motivated", but really if you need to be kept accountable in order to be motivated then I think you've already lost the game.

    I can give you a different perspective. If you don't talk about your products everywhere - you've already lost the game. Accountability is great but the exposure is the thing that matters.
    All the enterprenuers are bulding in public just in different ways. If they don't public - you probably never heard about their product.

  7. 2

    Building in public is all about validation. Yes, there's no use in trying to get a few pats on the back from your Twitter followers if you build a hyper-niche real estate app, but if you get into the right circles, public building is the best way to build early attention.

    Point in case; currently building a very niche no-code app. None of my followers nor anyone on IndieHackers would be too interested in it, which is why you didn't hear about it yet. But people in those niche Facebook groups care. I've built it publicly for them. I also have 1,000 very targeted people on a waitlist, well before even thinking about launch.

  8. 2

    There were different opportunities and constraints.

    These days, you can 1) build an audience, 2) receive feedback, and 3) get motivated as you build your product.

    Great technical achievements of previous decades didn't have to consider social media noise, digital payments, internet access, time on screens, etc.

  9. 2

    While I second @most 's comment, I will also have to admit that exposing too much is not good either...

    But yeah, is about exposure, ...

  10. 1

    Here's what I think you're missing.

    If you're in the final stretches of building your product / you're deep in discussions with your users / you're just about to launch a new marketing campaign / you just got an exciting new hire - yeah, fosure you don't need any pat on the back.

    But what about when you're starting out / when the end is so far away you can't quite see it?

    I'm 100% self taught computer scientist. Say what you want but the first book on C wasn't "fun". Learning calculus wasn't fun. Grinding through udemy / coursera often isn't fun. Writing 135th unit test isn't fun.

    And that's when you need a pat on the back. When things are tough, you need to develop a habit or you won't succeed. And I think it's 100% ok to use ANY means to develop them - community, technology, whatever.

    And yes, I did set a reminder to drink a glass of water 3 times a day until I got used to it. Now I'm 3 glasses of water / day healthier than before. Don't consider this a bad thing:)

  11. 1

    By building in public you leave an audit trail which can help build user trust (in a very real game theoretic way)

    1. 2

      I think on my original post I’ve missed a huge point which I’ve since come to realise.

      Building in public is only useful (maybe) if the people who use your product are developers / makers too.

      My customers can be very far removed from this maker bubble we live in. Shockingly so sometimes (one customer emailed me because they didn’t know what “copied to clipboard” meant).

      So I think the caveat in any of these discussions falls around who your user base are.

  12. 1

    Am I missing something (highly possible)?

    I would add Luck Surface Area to the list of major positives.

    Adam Wathan would never have made Tailwind into one the fastest-growing major CSS framework or earned millions TailwindUI if he weren't working in public.

    Back when he was working on a SaaS that was mostly a failure, he was streaming on Twitch as he built it. At the time, he was using an early version of what later became Tailwind purely as a tool to get his work done. But the livestream viewers didn't seem too interested in the project and instead, kept asking about how he was doing his CSS. They wanted to know where they could get the library...

    After enough people asked, he realized he was onto something and open-sourced Tailwind!

  13. 1

    All people are different. There wasn't so many productivity apps if people would not find them helpful.

    For me accountability is the second benifit. The biggest benifit is exposion of you and your products. The more you are talking about your products the more people will know about them.

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