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Does the endless stream of IH Milestones feel like a Facebook feed of humblebrags?

@derrickreimer shared some really interesting thoughts about IH Milestone emails on the Slow and Steady podcast this week (audio clip here).

I can relate to his feelings... sometimes all the milestones feel like people are only sharing the positive side of indie hacking and even stretching to make things seem more impressive than they really are in some cases.

I think it could this effect could be mitigated a bit if the New Milestone prompt suggested that we provide an "Actionable Advice" takeaway for each accomplishment. Or another thought is encouraging people to post "Anti-Milestones" (Failstones?) with lessons learned.

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    I've considered this before. It's come up a lot not just with milestones, but also the podcast, the forum, and even the interviews, since the very first day that IH launched.

    It's likely true that spending a ton of time reading good things about other people can cause one to feel worse about themselves. But on the flip side (and I'd argue more often), reading good things about others can be inspiring and drive us to do more. I wouldn't have started Indie Hackers if not for the success stories posted by commenters on Hacker News, and many of those commenters wouldn't have gotten started if they hadn't encountered success stories from others.

    Pretty much everything in life has ups and downs, and sadly part of the human condition is that we acclimate to the good in things and hyperfocus on the bad (see: almost all commentary on phones, air travel, social media, and technology in general). I'd like to avoid following that impulse, as it leads to throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    So I really like your suggestion for a more surgical approach that involves mitigating the downsides, especially your suggestion to encourage people to share more actionable advice. That's kind of the goal now, and the most-upvoted milestones tend to be those that share lots of great information.

    I could probably reword this screen per your suggestion:

    Instead of "the story" perhaps it should say "some actionable advice…" 🤔

    We've also been thinking about making a group for to share their hardships and get encouragement from others, but I want to be careful about this. In the same way that success stories inspire people (with some negative side effects), failure stories often work to demotivate people (with some positive side effects).

    Facebook ran an interesting experiment a few years back, where they showed people a bunch of negative posts in their feeds, and the result was… readers beginning to make more negative posts themselves.

    That said, I do think there's a lot of value in cheering up and supporting those of us who are struggling, which requires encouraging people to share those kinds of posts to begin with.

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      Glad to see this is something you're thinking about.

      That's kind of the goal now, and the most-upvoted milestones tend to be those that share lots of great information.

      This hasn't been my perception. My observation has been that milestones receive upvotes based mostly on their titles:

      None of the examples above contain much substance or actionable advice, but they were the #1 or #2 milestones the day they were published.

      It's a hard problem to solve because very few people want to read through ten 2,000-word milestone articles every day. It's much easier to just upvote a headline that sounds nice like, "Just crossed $5k MRR" without worrying too much about whether the author shared any useful introspection about how they arrived there.

      It would be interesting to see what percentage of upvotes come from the main forum page vs. people who actually read the post and upvoted based on the content.

      Instead of "the story" perhaps it should say "some actionable advice…" 🤔

      This might be helpful, but there are a lot of subtle cues on IH that we're not expected to write in-depth posts:

      • The starting box for comments and milestones is pretty small, implying that posts should contain only a few sentences of text.
      • There's no preview panel that shows you a rendered view of your content.
      • The forum lacks support for Markdown features that could break up large content (e.g., headers, horizontal rules, tables).
      • At one point, there was an explicit popup for long posts that warned the author that nobody would read it if they were so long-winded. Is that gone now?

      I'd love to see nudges that encourage people to write and upvote in-depth content and actionable advice. De-emphasizing the importance of headlines would be great as well.

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        These are mostly good points. I have some stuff on my long-term to-do list to investigate that should address some of them:

        • better UI for post creation, that includes preview mode and saving drafts
        • investigating new types of reactions to posts, e.g. differentiating between "congrats" and "thanks this was helpful"
        • potentially categorizing/tagging milestones and sorting by most helpful in each category, so for example you could easily find the most helpful milestones about making SEO work, launching on Product Hunt, etc.

        I doubt I'll do anything about the headlines. I experimented with minimizing the importance of titles on the forum earlier this year, and the results weren't great. I think it'd be even tougher to get that to work on a leaderboard, where the headlines serve the crucial purpose of informing people as to what's worth clicking into in the first place. As you pointed out, it's too time-consuming to read dozens of long posts before deciding which one to go back and upvote.

        That said, I just checked and 2/3 of milestone upvotes come after people have opened up the page for the individual milestone they're upvoting. So arguably lots of people hold off on voting until they've seen more info.

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          Cool, those changes sound great, especially the first two.

          That said, I just checked and 2/3 of milestone upvotes come after people have opened up the page for the individual milestone they're upvoting. So arguably lots of people hold off on voting until they've seen more info.

          Oh, that's good news. That's much higher than I expected.

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      To piggy back off of @mtlynch, what if milestones was just renamed to "updates"? Where milestones (to me) implies that something good happened, updates is more neutral. And while I'm all about more advice focused posts, that would make it difficult for someone like me (still trying to get their app off the ground) to participate. I really want to share stuff because I see a lot of value in building in public and this community. But I'm still in the early stages and trying to figure out most things.

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      I love listening to the podcasts because I find those inspiring, but seeing the Milestones section as the first thing in the forums bums me out. It's an immediate reminder of what I haven't accomplished.

      My preference would be to indeed see more "actionable items and tips" and perhaps make it easier to find and search through these resources, including individual experts on different aspects of Indie Hacking, such as digital marketing, product development, outsourcing, market research, etc.

      Love the different sections at the bottom of the forums. My go-to section is the Growth Hacking one. I think those sections shod go on top. Just my two cents 😁

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    I would generally agree, except for the humble part. It's basically a combination of a marketing channel (which was by explicit design) and chest-thumping.

    I hate the milestones section stuck at the top of the screen as a reader, but I'll definitely try to exploit it as a marketer. Since I have no influence or ability to change it, might as well make the best of it as it is!

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    For me, my milestones are a personal motivator to continue my work with ForAPiece and not give up.

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      same.. motivates me to have another significant milestone to post

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        It doesn't necessarily have to be a significant milestone in my mind. If it is, then great, but progress is progress. I try to follow the principles of The One Thing. Try to do the most important thing. I have a bunch of To Do's and every morning when I sit on my laptop I pick out that one thing.. Who knows where my project is going to go, but I feel good :D

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    In my opinion, users should get from the milestones section what they need.

    I agree with you that some accomplishments are not particularly impressive and others stretched to impress, but I don't see that as a problem.

    If people need compliments to keep going, why not?

    And I would argue that many times even people who share failures are fishing for compliments, just a different kind.

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      Just playing devil's advocate here, but I think the argument would be that, like a facebook/instagram feed, when people distort the image of their lives or work on social media by only sharing the highlight reel it can cause unhealthy fomo, jealousy, low self-esteem, or unrealistic standards inferred by those reading.

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        Honestly, if people are jealous or feel low self-esteem because someone finishes his MVP, gets to 1k MRR, 40 paying customers or 2k email subscribers (over 90% of Milestones are like that, a lot even less impressive like "launched on PH" and got 40 beta users), then maybe it is their problem and they should do more/work smarter.

        I find really really hard to believe that jealousy and low self-esteem can be attributed to the IH milestones.

        Facebook and Instagram feeds are very different. You are comparing yourself with the best of the best in every field you can imagine.

        I don't see Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg sharing their Q3 revenue here, not even close. I see a lot of super normal people, some of them with a bit of success (like Ghost and Email Octopus), the vast majority of the others with tiny accomplishments.

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    Yeah I heard the same podcast :)

    I do like the fact that you get to support people in their wins, but we also need to support people in their failures, which normally happen a lot more.

    I posted https://www.indiehackers.com/product/versoly/bootstrapped-saas-is-slow-we-have-added-services--LsLY8eGOlSXNHVfem2m after listening to the podcast as I wanted to show that not everyone makes a SaaS and is earning 10k MRR a month.

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    Milestones has turned into more of a therapeutic diary / blog for me.. don't expect many to read it but it's motivating for me to have a new milestone to look forward to. For me it's inspiring to see others make progress.

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    For me it feels more like Instagram than Facebook. But understandable because you only want to share success story. Failing is hard enough but to tell everyone about it? That will take some effort. But I definitely agree that we should share more fail story.

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    In a certain sense, milestone are meant for bragging, or feel good about your own achievement. Some might use the milestone for "fake it until you made it" strategy: keep posting good progress to create an illusion of success/good product, so that people will take their product more seriously.

    I think what you are looking for is the "lesson learned" or "advice on how to achieve this milestone" section. Though I am interested with these lessons as well, but I doubt most people would frequently post these info together with their milestone announcement.

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    Milestones are great and although I won't post about my success as I am possibly the most discret person imaginable, I don't see them as humble brags. It really comes down to what sort person you.

    Half full or half empty guy.

    Half full will see this as motivational and inspiring

    Half empty will compare themselves and see this as a reminder they don't measure up.

    There are even half empty guys who despite success still have imposter syndrome.

    Least we forget IH's very foundation was built on the very thing this thread challenges. Without the success stories from entrepreneurs I doubt IH would had got much traction. Success begats dreams, dreams are the fuel to our engine. This is why we are here.

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    like failory.com :D I try to share more sort of a progress update - the milestone looks good but I like to add a bit of the struggle there.

    For example - made this new feature, thought it would take a day, took 2-3 weeks. It's great but I have delayed a lot.

    Maybe in the milestone, it could have biggest struggle to achieve milestone>?

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    I feel like milestone section is more of a free marketing channel for most, has high visibility and many users there make posts without any substance.

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    I hadn't thought about it like this before, but now you've pointed it out - yes, it does.

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    Interesting clip. I get where he's coming from.

    I think one persons opinion (just because they've got a platform) shouldn't mean more than the collective. Worth running a poll or doing a thread about David's point to see if others feel the same way.

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      Worth running a poll or doing a thread about David's point to see if others feel the same way.

      Does the endless stream of IH Milestones feel like a Facebook feed of humblebrags?

      I thought that's what this was 😆

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        I guess it is haha!

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      Perhaps we should do a poll about your opinion that we should do a poll, first! 🤣

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        Haha! Let's do a poll about this comment, suggesting we do a poll about my opinion that we should perhaps do a poll.

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