Meta August 19, 2020

"Create Group" did more harm than good to IH.

Nic Getkate @TheWonderingZall

I'm a big fan of Indie Hackers, and I use it regularly, I browse, I comment, I post, and I also try to give more than I take as I owe a lot to IH for the early growth of my side project, but the group thing has kinda been getting me and within my own circle of IH friends who I've gotten close to because of this platform, I'm not the only one.

I initially loved the idea of being able to create a group, and I'm sure all of us made our own groups at some point, I know I did and after a while, I started to notice this endless abyss of just redundant and useless groups that are completely dark and inactive that just clutter the group's section, and I instantly regretted making that group because I realized that I formed part of the problem.

I remember just before create a group was even a thing, there were a small number of groups available on IH and maybe 1 or 2 would come out every now and then at the discretion of the mods, and that was great! The number of groups was at a healthy number and there wasn't an overwhelming amount of redundance like there is now. There are literally 283 groups (Yes I counted) now and a large majority of the groups are actually pointless.

From the Indiehackers that I have made friends with and who I keep in contact with on a daily basis, they seemed to have moved to either private a paid communities, and already I can start to see IH becoming "unbundled".

If I remember correctly, there used to be around +-40 groups that were the OGs, shout out to this few;

  • Growth
  • NoCode
  • Indie Swap
  • Ideas and Validations
  • Meta
  • Daily Standup

By the way, all of the above are still going strong and the mods have done an amazing job with them and they continue to do so. Shoutout to @rosiesherry @csallen @channingallen

I'm not saying that "create group" was a bad idea, it wasn't and there are definitely some great new groups that have been made, but there are a lot and I mean A LOT of bullshit ones too.

I just don't think IH should have given EVERYONE the ability to just make a group as they please, and there should have been some sort filtering process whereby a group gets accepted or rejected, that way the there won't be this deep dark abyss of groups.

I don't know how other people feel, so that's why I made a pole here, so if you don't want to comment, just tick the box.

Are there too many groups?
  1. Yay
  2. Nay
  1. 12

    UPDATE (Sep 4, 2020): I made a huge improvement to the Groups page to make the best groups more discoverable, and groups now also appear in the global search.

    Discoverability: I'm planning on redesigning the Groups page to make it more scalable soon. It is indeed a mess with there being so many groups now, and no real organization to the page. In the meantime, there is a workaround you might find helpful. Simultaneously with opening up group creation to everyone, I made it so the groups you've joined show up in the sidebar on the homepage, so it's easy to keep track of the ones you really care about.

    Inactive Groups: I'll eventually do something to clean up groups that get abandoned by their creators. Specifically, I want to do three things: (1) prevent them from cluttering up the group discovery page as mentioned above, (2) make their names available for others who want to use them, and (3) make it more clear to group creators the effort involved in running and growing a group. For the latter, one idea I've had is to not allow a new group to go live until its creator has recruited some minimum number of people to join it.

    Too Many Groups: Aside from the two issues above, I don't see a problem with the number of groups. As long as discoverability and inactivity aren't issues, I'm not sure what the downsides are of there being "too many" groups… unless anyone has the goal to read/join every single group?

    Unbundling: I similarly don't see a reason to worry about IH becoming "unbundled." If people want to create offshoot communities or private Discords/Slacks, that's great. It doesn't seem like something to fear. In fact, it's already been happening since the early months of the forum years ago, and has continued to increase throughout IH's lifetime. I think it's largely irrelevant to the health of the community, so I look at other indicators to measure health, and right now those indicators are good. If anything, it seems there's a direct correlation between the amount of unbundling and a community's value — the most valuable sites (e.g. Craigslist, Reddit) are the ones that get unbundled the most.

    Thanks for the feedback overall!

    It's my fault for not getting to this sooner, I said I would a few weeks ago but I've continued prioritizing other things instead.

    1. 3

      I loved browsing the growth group and answering questions there, but now all those marketing related posts are scattered throughout multiple groups and it's not the best user experience.

      Since I don’t have the time to browse all of them, I stopped going into the growth group and I just look at what makes to the homepage.

    2. 2

      You definitely hit the nail on the head with all these points. 🙏🏻

      I also think there was a novelty factor when the create a group system was initially introduced so to speak, but I guess that’s to be expected, well at least on my part.

      Thanks for transparency @csallen! 👍🏻 It makes me keen to see what’s in store in the coming months for IH. 😃

    3. 1

      For the latter, one idea I've had is to not allow a new group to go live until its creator has recruited some minimum number of people to join it.

      I've seen it on other places, also in mmorpgs. It's another reason to spam.

      I'm not sure if it exists, since the difference in between Join and Subscribe is not clear for me. An option to follow groups as we follow users, could resurrect and populate those inactive groups.

  2. 9

    To be honest, the day IH launched groups, my IH time decreased 10X. It's becoming a mess now. And I played my part in it by creating an inactive group.
    I wish to get the same IndieHackers experience I was enjoying 2 months ago.

    And if IH doesn't have a check&balance, IH unbundling is not so far.

  3. 4

    I'm getting a lot out of the Course Creators group

    1. 1

      That's great! 🙌 The Course Creators group is very active!

  4. 4

    Big +1.

    I spent a good 10 minutes going through all the groups and opening the ones I thought would be interesting in new tabs... only to find that none of them were active. Womp womp.

    1. 2

      Same, just joined a few days ago and thought I’d join a few groups... nope, couldn’t find any active ones by scrolling through the list...

      1. 2

        Back when there were 40ish groups it was amazing!! Every group has its own people and they were all active...

  5. 4

    I noticed this same thing the other day. I spent quite a while just reading through groups that had one post and never were posted to again. I think we may need to remove those and go back to not having the button. It really just didn't work out.

  6. 3

    I totally agree. I think on the surface it makes sense to want to have all the discussions in one place, and not jump between sites. But it doesn't make sense because you're not getting the value you'd want.

    For example the 'Laravel' group on IH. I love Laravel and 90% of my projects are using that stack, but I'm not on IH to discuss a specific language/technology. If you want to get help or discuss Laravel specifics there's many better forums out there. That being said, the 'Developer' group is great and broad.

    1. 1

      Yeah I made the Laravel group and I agree it's pointless. However I don't see what harm groups are. You can use and enjoy the site just fine without acknowledging groups even exist.

      1. 2

        For sure. I mean I joined the Laravel group. If there's gonna be Laravel discussion I want to see it! 😅

        I don't think they do harm, but processes are put in place for a reason. The more broad a group is the more people join and the more engagement there is. The problem I see with so many niche groups on IH is the overall user count isn't high enough across the site and your question/discussion won't reach enough people. It might be valuable to someone who didn't think to check in this very niche group.

        BTW, I only used the Laravel group as an example because it's a group I wish had a bigger following and was the first to come to mind.

  7. 3

    Agree, I don't like this change. It also happened when I was away for some period so I knew about it (read on twitter), but later when I came back it was total mess.

  8. 2

    I agree. This isn't reddit where there are millions of potential users to join groups. Here there is less than 100,000 active.
    Most groups here are dead, being buried by other dead groups before eventually 100% inactive.

  9. 2

    I didn't know you can make your own groups. I thought they were created by the admin. But yeah, it is getting a bit too messy.

  10. 2

    Gotta give groups some time, they are essentially micro-communities and the amount of posts coming through atm is just too much for small amount of groups.

    We are monitoring it closely and adding in functionality. Many will naturally fail and that's probably ok.

    On the plus side, it's nice to see by @mubashariqbal make use of the groups. This is where things can get pretty interesting. It really is tough finding relevant content if it isn't in a 'good place'.

  11. 2

    Groups are a good idea but I think they lack three critical capabilities:

    1. There needs to be a way to sort them (by number of questions, users, recent activity, etc)
    2. A way to see only the questions in the groups that I joined
    3. Recommendations/related. For example: you should join group X because you like Y and Z.
  12. 1

    Yep - agree. Would prefer to have a curated groups. If more topics become common, then IH staff should make a group for it.

  13. 1

    Been thinking a bit about this. A great model would be the Spiceworks forum community. When you make a post, a mandatory field asks what group you want the post in. As well, it searches for keywords in your post to suggest relevant groups. Might work here.

  14. 1

    I agree, it's a mess. I tried to find out a place I could ask questions, post feature requests etc and couldn't find anything IN THE MENU WHERE IT SHOULD BE cough but my search for things like "help" "support" drew nothing, so I created a group for it. Then I saw "meta" and went ohh....

    I can't even find the group I created now because it isn't listed in my profile (at least not that I can find). Would be helpful if the admins here actually responded to inquiries, and I'm sure they get an overwhelming number but the mess is sort of a byproduct of this site's success.

  15. 1

    I've been casually poking around this site off and on for a while (love the podcast!) and I find it's gotten more confusing over time. It's very hard to find "how do I get started" type information.

  16. 1

    Personally I don't even really acknowledge the concept of groups. I just live in the homepage. I started a group too; novelty factor. It's now basically dead.

    I dunno why they bother you so much. I visit IH several times a day and never even think of groups.

  17. 1

    Yes, I think the intent was great, but given the entrepreneurial userbase, I guess it was inevitable that everyone thought they should create their own group.

    Imagine coming to the site for the first time and having a question you would like to post.

    Is this person expected to go through all 200+ forums to figure out what's most appropriate? Keep in mind probably at least a few will seem relevant to the topic they want to post about. Then they go to the first forum they see that's relevant and post, but it turns out no one sees it because it's an inactive forum.

    Though I find the current set-up annoying, for someone new to Indiehackers, I think it's enough to leave with them a bad enough experience to not want to come back.

    It was a worthwhile experiment (and one I would have expected to work) but I think it's becoming more clear that the negatives outweigh the positives.

  18. 1

    Groups are fine, UX is not. What my Data group have done to you so far? One issue with it, there is not enough people to populate every subject. And other one, people doesn't use groups properly but to spam popular ones. Which is again a UX problem.

    It's like saying reddit would be great with just r/politics and r/memes.

  19. 1

    I think groups are great, but the way they're organized, accessed, and displayed right now is the problem. I have a hard time even finding my way back to a group. One big list is great for 5-40ish items, but for hundreds it becomes frustrating. It needs to be more intuitively designed and organized and I think I'd love it. It reminds me of subreddits, where some make the front page but otherwise if you want to just talk to developers, you can do that. It does fragment the community some, but it's also getting to the size where it would be too big if we didn't split it into smaller groups a bit as well, IMO.

    Edit: I missed the bottom paragraph of your opening comment, and I think you're right, it would be better if there were some quality control mechanism before making a group public. Maybe a creator has to personally invite people and a mod has to approve it for public display once it has some decent content and engagement.

  20. 1

    I agree and disagree, groups don't hurt you, people will just post in the big groups and some will post in the smaller groups.
    I would say 90% of people STILL post in the larger groups.
    I also agree that creating groups should be limited by user-activity, active users with good track-records should be allowed to open groups, not just ANYONE!

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