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100 Comments

I watch how IH is turning into a marketing sink, and I feel sad :(

Now I see most posts are just the links to the off-site resources what means their authors just use IH as a marketing sink, and much fewer articles and stories have been published on IH.
And it's pretty sad.

  1. 104

    I blame the "build an audience first, then build a product" trope that has become popular in the last year. Everyone is out there trying to self promote with nothing to show for it.

    I'm looking at the IH homepage right now and only about 10% of posts are from people actually making something. The rest is marketing fluff. Sad indeed.

    The thing is, I don't disagree with the "build an audience first" theory necessarily, but it's hard to execute that en masse without the world getting very noisy and irrelevant.

    1. 27

      The more the community tends towards marketing instead of building projects and engineering, the less interesting it becomes. I get it, marketing is important. But it's called Indie Hackers, isn't it. What is a hacker? The original term was what early computer enthusiasts and programmers labeled themselves. Ironically enough, hackers eschewed building software for any kind of profit. It's sad how "hacking" has became all about getting the most followers on twitter and shouting as loudly as you can into the void in order to "build an audience" before you even have anything to show.

      1. 4

        I'll take a contrarian view here and point out that without those people shouting on Twitter and trying to get many followers, some of the stories you're referring to would probably not exist.

        What is the purpose of a platform if you can't use it to your means? If IH has a spam problem, then perhaps the problem is the platform and the way it moderates posts and not the user?

        I also hear many people complain about Twitter shouting and shallow posts - last I checked it is free to leave at any point.

        Marketing is one of the hardest things anyone can learn to do well. There is an abundance of software out there and people making new things every single day, but very few of them ever make the light of day. Go to app sumo and see how much software is available that does the exact same thing. I can't blame an indie hacker prioritizing marketing over building if their current product is sufficient to start with.

        IMO building an audience before you build anything is brilliant. I can't tell you how many people I've spoken to personally who are building something that solves an imaginary problem. Had they spoken to people they are building for, perhaps we'd have fewer people struggling in the first place.

        1. 2

          I don't know, if how I market my thing matters more than how good it is, I'm not sure I want to be in that space doing that kind of product. That's not why I got into programming. Now, I'm not advocating "build it and they will come" to the extreme, but I'd first make sure I'm providing something that is at least 2X, 5X or 10X better than what came before it. If I can't do that, maybe it's better I work a normal job. This is my personal preference for building stuff, and I know it's not for everyone, but I also think it aligns better with the word "hacker". The base motivation of a hacker is building new and cool stuff.

          1. 1

            I agree building a quality (at least 2x better) product comes first. But that's hard to do without talking to customers and having an audience that can give you feedback.

            That's what the lean startup is about. I'm new here so I don't fully understand the original culture. What your saying sound awesome, a platform for hackers by hackers.

            I might have to learn to code🤞

        2. 2

          I agree marketing is hard to do well, and that's precisely why a whole bunch of folks using copy-paste tactics i.e., build a twitter audience, email list etc. start seeming like obvious attempts at money-grab.

          The best marketing doesn't feel like marketing at all. That should be the goal IMO

      2. 2

        👏👏 +1. very well said.

    2. 21

      I've mentioned this on Twitter to @csallen - we have a great feature on IH which is sharing your projects and their updates. Why are they not on the home page, with a dithering of up-voted quality posts?

      Tell me how you won a company over. Explain how your SEO strategy failed. That's far more interesting than "10 keywords you should be tracking on Reddit".

      1. 10

        I agree with this a ton. I've tried posting about products and commenting on other people's products, but there is little to no engagement or conversation happening on those. Since 2020, I've moved to Twitter to talk about my product. I remember in early 2020, it was a great place to discuss and provide feedback on each other's work.

      2. 2

        A couple of weeks ago @csallen literally said this is his number one priority:

        (My #1 concern is the lack of visibility of products and product posts, #2 is the lack of availability of invite codes.)
        I'd also like to see more discussion posts. It's probably my #3 concern at the moment, so I should get to it in the next month or so.

      3. 1

        1 Year ago this section was on the first page at the top, That time everything is going amazing.

        Most posts get good engagement and the same for product updates.

        But things changed when they move that section to the bottom.

        And the forum section at the top.

        Now for extra engagement, everyone is posting about their products update in forums.

    3. 9

      I would love to be able to filter it and only show "Local" posts that aren't link outs.

      1. 3

        +1 to this. I like writing stories but more importantly I like reading stories. And in particular it's what drew me originally to IH. Stories about indiehacking from indiehackers. Just people trying a bunch of stuff and then seeing what works. doubling down and sharing the journey.

    4. 6

      Oh man, this is soooo spot on! I used to read IH like 10 times/day, and lately, it's just once every few days, realize that most is just bull, and move on with my day.

    5. 5

      Seconded. I created a thread [0] about this a couple months ago where I suggested a visibility decrease for external links, starting with a complete ban on Twitter threads with no internal context.

      [0] https://www.indiehackers.com/post/ban-twitter-threads-5398620001

      1. 2

        As did I even even more months ago.

      2. 1

        I even didn't see it :-(

    6. 4

      pretty accurate assessment i think

    7. 2

      Never upvoted a post harder.

    8. 1

      rightly said.

      I still believe there could be a happy medium between marketing efforts and valuable insights sharing with the community but I totally agree that it's just way more reasonable stance to actually be promoting something which has a valuable substance.

  2. 69

    I think you mean "10 Reasons I Feel Sad About The Indie Hackers Homepage (And You Should Too).

    Agree.

    1. 8

      I am modifying that to "10 Reasons I Feel Sad About The Indie Hackers Homepage in 2022" just for some extra SEO love from google.

    2. 4

      Number 5 will surprise you 😂

    3. 3

      Why is this not the top comment 😂

    4. 1

      LOOOOOOOOOOL 😁😁😁😁😁😁

  3. 26

    I've only been here since the start of 2020, but even a year ago this place was completely different. I used to procrastinate on writing my thesis because of all the interesting discussions taking place on here.

    Now it's become a pit of shameless self-promotion of shitty blogs that post about the same f* topic. Every headline is now "How I made $500k MRR in 20 mins", "300 billion in sales in the first 2 days!!". Looking at some people's projects claiming great success, you instantly know they are full of shit.

    If anything this site has transitioned from a serious and creativity-sparking discussion forum and community, into a Turkish bazar. An ego-sphere of people screaming "i i i! ME ME ME!" just go get some attention on their recycled SaaS-idea.

    Isn't this supposed to be a community? "Providing value" has become synonymous with "Let me spam you to death with my content"

    Plus: Been at least year since I saw something original on here.

    I think most people who've stuck around here for a year or two can agree that when @rosiesherry left, this place turned to sh*s.

    1. 4

      I think you are right, I forgot @rosiesherry left, I think she was doing a great job. Coincidence or not, I feel like I stopped browsing IH when she left.

    2. 3

      I used to procrastinate on writing my thesis because of all the interesting discussions taking place on here.

      I remember quite a few of them being started by you back in the day. :)

    3. 2

      I've been here a year and still don't see the bad with Indie Hackers. I still like YouTube even though they now throw like two ads at you every two minutes even on channels that aren't monetized right now. So I truthfully don't think anythings going to change. Once money rolls in, things go wild.

    4. 1

      What does the ideal Indie Hackers look like

      1. 1

        I would disable Link only posts and external links only to trusted sources. Many people are just here to grow their twitter. Evidence: Home page

    5. 1

      Well, nothing wrong is with promo posts if they:

      • are not just links to their own resources
      • have some stories/lessons inside.
      1. 3

        But that's the problem with the posting format: You can just post a title and a link and call it a great day for promotion. Zero effort required.

        1. 1

          But in most cases, zero effort means zero results. Aren't they aware of it?

          1. 1

            If you ever been on the internet you'll notice that often people with zero effort are still somewhat successful. Look at Tai Lopez and the like.

            It's not unlike in the wild life. The loudest animal wins.

  4. 21

    As a marketer I 100% agree. Came to indiehackers 2 years ago due to my interest in indie hackers, startup founders and saas businesses.

    Now all the marketing people are spamming this community with horrible content. Just for the sake of getting some traffic. I barely find interesting content to read. I even feel ashamed of it.

    I am 100% sure they have some friends upvoting/commenting on their content so it reaches the front page.

    1. 1

      Or they've just created several accounts 😁

  5. 13

    Some kind of "minimim words per post" or disallowing only posting a link might help.

    1. 14

      Honestly, I would completely remove the possibility to drop the link as a post content.

      1. -2

        This comment has been voted down. Click to show.

        1. 6

          Give me any example of how it can kill usability. When IH just started there was not such feature and nobody suffered.

    2. 3

      I like this!

      also, what about ranking posts with links much lower? Giving an opportunity for text posts to surface up longer and start conversations.

      I find there's less conversations on link posts

    3. 1

      Ideally, this would self-regulate by users not engaging with link-only content and therefore, these posts will never make it past the 'newest posts' page.

  6. 9

    Agree, I miss IH when I first found this site 4 years ago. Every day I always open IH.

    I learned so much here, especially in the interviews section, but now it was not updated since January

    1. 1

      Agree. Miss those times. I used to open IH and stay long times back then. All there was, is missing now.

  7. 6

    Fully agree on this, I'm on this site to engage with Indie Hackers, not promotional content from others bloggers. Even if the content is qualitative, they need to rewrite their posts so that it can match Indie Hacker's mentality / way of doing.

  8. 5

    I was one of the most prolific contributors to IH in its early days and have felt the same (and this isn't even my original account!)

    I absolutely loved the initial value proposition of founders helping each other succeed. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for the site to become flooded with people trying to succeed by selling to the IH audience itself. Some did succeed and I don't begrudge them. I also understand how it was in IH's interest to take a very permissive approach towards self-promotion, but it was frustrating for me as a user.

    I'd love to have a place where people are genuinely trying to help each other without a direct financial motivation. It's not very rewarding to be in a community where most of the contributors treat it as a marketing channel.

    1. 1

      I absolutely loved the initial value proposition of founders helping each other succeed.
      I'd love to have a place where people are genuinely trying to help each other without a direct financial motivation.

      Make friends with cool people on here and talk to them in private. One of the best things I've done this year. :)

  9. 4

    I don't have anything to add that wasn't said before, but: SAME! I only joined IH a month ago or so, have tried to be a good community member, and take part in threads with actual substance. It's been hard getting a reply, even from the person who started a thread.

    Over half the time when I click a subject that's asking a question – that I think I have a possible answer to – it's actually a link to a bad take on Twitter or some company blog that pretends they are the answer (while having close to zero actual experience in the field they pretend to be an expert in).

    To be honest, after spending hours on here in the first week figuring out why IH is supposedly great, I came to the conclusion that it isn't (for me). While I think I'm in the target demographic; I consider myself a hacker and have been building for the web for 20 years, as a software developer and a business owner.

    I'm a founder of a successful SaaS. I don't have all the answers, but I do have plenty of experience and stories to share. But instead of finding like-minded hackers, it's mostly self-promoting wannabe influencers linking to their take on how someone else has a great SEO strategy that they had no part in.

    Talk about what you learned through success or failure of your own, otherwise, I have no clue why it belongs on IH.

    1. 2

      I too was tricked by that stupid bait and link-out tactic when I tried to chime in on some "questions." Really annoying...

      agree that sharing the real success and failure lessons is what IH should be for.

  10. 4

    Same. Have "complained" a few times but the founders disagreed and mentioned it's the future of IH, fine... content farm wins and high bounce rate ruling the internet.

    I used to visit IH daily and read their digest, now I come weekly just to see if there's any interesting content to read.

    1. 1

      Do you happen to have any link reference to their response ?

      1. 1

        Same group. There are quite a few posts on Meta about this. Everytime, same response.

  11. 4

    Has it ever been otherwise?

    1. 4

      It was. Before Courtland @csallen added the possibility to just drop a link and make it a post, it was a normal forum.

      1. 1

        TBH, I think the main problem with the links is that regardless of whether you click on "comments" or on the link itself, IH sends you to the comments.

        Anyone who actually wants to see the link has to click twice.

        1. 3

          Sorry, not sure, what you mean.
          To me, the main problem is I don't want to go anywhere. I just want to read what one indiehacker would tell others. Instead, it's a 100% promotional material referred to the third-party resource I'm not willing to visit.

          1. 1

            Can't I or others share resources we've found useful? I did that before link posts were even a thing. They weren't links to my stuff or promotional, they were just things I genuinely thought were helpful.

            IMO the problem is the self-promotion, more than the format. But if it's off site, I don't want to have to click twice to get there.

  12. 4

    I came across this platform as a place for 'independent hackers' to bounce ideas, tips, and advice from each other in building their own projects. It has benefited me a LOT.

    I conceptualized it like a virtual co-working space.

    This was perfect since I worked alone so it also became a place for a bit of camaraderie and community since we don't work in an office alongside other co-workers.

    If you're at a co-working space would people come to your desk and interrupt you with their a page of their content? No.

    Somewhere along the line it transitioned to a place for 'new startups' and their marketing teams to spew clickbait articles for generating traffic.

    1. 4

      Yep! There are good points made here, but it's also true that every 3-6 months there's a popular post here or on Twitter about how great the IH forum used to be, and now it's devolved into a marketing cesspool. This has happened like clockwork since the very beginning 5 years ago, literally since a couple months after I first launched the forum.

      And usually the reasons are the same: too much self-promo, doesn't feel like it used to, etc. We've added link posts, and removed them, and added them, and removed them numerous times. We've changed the algorithm a bunch of times. We've seeded the forum with great posts, increased AMAs. We've had it overrun with spam, we've cleaned the spam up. We've hand-curated the forum, we've used an algorithm. Same complaints no matter what.

      So imo, it's not really about the forum. It's about the fact that we as people grow and change, and so our relationship to the forum changes. All the content that used to be new and exciting becomes duller, and the junk stands out more.

      You can go back in time and look at the forum from 2 years ago and the posts really aren't much different. I know, because I've done super detailed analyses like this time and time again. Also, you can look at what new people are saying who join the forum today. They love it just like we all did when we first joined. I know, because I email every one of them when they join, and ask them to fill out a survey as well.

      The forum hasn't really changed.

      That's not to say there aren't things worth fixing. I would love for the forum to be a place that never gets old, that we never outgrow. That's what we're working on, but it's not easy. There's a reason there aren't any other large community forums of entrepreneurs out there.

      (cc @SeaCat)

      1. 2

        Well, thanks for your response, I really appreciate it.

        Same complaints no matter what.

        You must know better for sure, it's your forum, you know it best but... I just see that nowadays there is - literally speaking - nothing to do here. I put the screenshot as a cover and we can see there are much more link posts what makes the whole forum much less valuable.

        You do a great job but. But it's always up to the host where to direct their baby. If you really would have your forum valuable from the content point of view, you would:

        • remove the link posts
        • add the downvotes to the post

        These two things would help keep the forum cleaner and more valuable.
        But I think you understand the value differently than me and many other people. You may think "people will complain anyway so I want to help those who need a free way to promote their products" and it's your right.

  13. 2

    I've noticed the same thing, you used to be able to find lots of interesting articles with people showing actual progress on them building their projects instead of all the marketing hype. Plus I noticed (although this could be just me, maybe I'm not interesting :)) but used to get a lot more responses on posts regularly but a lot of the time, posts seem to go into a black hole where they never get seen again, I've seen some posts in a similar situation in the past. IH has definitely changed a lot in the last year.

    1. 1

      vicious cycle I suppose. the more BS ppl there are posting nonsense, the less the legit indie hackers are willing to come to IH to read/comment, which BS ppl may take as signs that they are awesome because everybody is crushing it with their killer content...

      1. 2

        yea its a shame, I used to look at IH at least once a day and found lots to read and I used to post more, I've been doing it less and less recently which is a shame.

  14. 2

    Wow!

    I am so disappointed to see all of this after signing up again for Indie Hackers a year after I stopped using it. I was hoping to find the same thriving community it used to be.

    What happened to the milestones?

    Why is everything a link now?

    1. 1

      I keep posting milestones for my project, I think they are interesting and genuinely reflect my struggles and successes trying to build a product, but nowadays they get exactly 0 reactions (comments/votes).

      I still see milestones from other people, because I stopped all IH newsletters apart from the milestones/product updates ones.

    2. 1

      Oh I was so disappointed with IH for several months that I even visited it and didn't notice they disappeared. :-(

    3. 1

      everything is a link lol :(

  15. 2

    You are totally right, it's so annoying you want to read a post and you need to go inside a link instead.... I'm usually not reading this posts because I hate redirects while I'm reading.

  16. 2

    I wonder if some segmentation between 'discussion' posts and 'link' posts a la Hacker News and Reddit would be useful here?

  17. 2

    I also suspect that a bunch of these people are gaming the IH algorithm with artificial upvotes from fake or biased accounts.

    When I see a marketing link post with no comments but a bunch of upvotes, that's what I think is going on.

  18. 2

    What about changing the home page to only show posts from your followers and people you follow? something like how twitter does it?

  19. 2

    f*ck! I was just thinking this the other day!

  20. 2

    Noticed the same thing yesterday and had the same thought. I wanted to engage in some conversations but all I found were links to external pages.

    But as others noticed in the comments, people engage with those posts, that's why they are in "popular".

    1. 1

      Hopefully it is not like those IG pages where they post marketing tips and all the comments are filled with other "marketing experts" with a similar style of account commenting how "awesome" the tips are. 😅

  21. 2

    Agree as well, most of the recent posts are becoming just promotional in nature to build audiences on external platforms.

  22. 2

    Agreed. I find it borderline disrespectful TBH.

    I’ve been thinking if IH posts showed some metrics (bounces, views, comments, upvotes, downvotes - that are only visible to the author?🤔) about posts to the author it’d encourage people to post higher quality content here.

    Quora provides these kinds of metrics apparently, and much more, to get its users to become prolific in posting quality responses.

    🤷‍♂️

    1. 2

      Views are visible for authors only. Then there is also upvotes/comments which are public anyway.

      1. 1

        I don’t see where “views” are displayed. 🤷‍♂️

        1. 1

          On the left. When you open your own post, you will see the metrics on the left pane.

          1. 1

            Thanks! I only use mobile when visiting IH and it doesn’t seem to show that info. Appreciate the reply!

  23. 1

    I remember when I fell in love with the community in the early days. Literally everybody was doing something and there was great value in every post and comment. Now I come much less and less time because it becoming boring because of this.

  24. 1

    Actually its an interesting phenomenon. Overall agree with everything you have written and most of the comments. The funny thing is that the same is happening with Clubhouse. Hustlers reading their LinkedIn bios and how to make 1m a day are everywhere :) It seems like a pattern when communities and "traffic" scales: https://every.to/cybernaut/cashing-in-on-clubhouse

    1. 1

      Yeah, people try to make money on everything and everywhere. But it's up to the founder whether to encourage such things or stop up. Courtland added this feature consciously knowing it will be used solely for promo goals therefore he has some interest in here - probably he thinks would appeal to more "marketing" and "business" people. And the fact he completely ignores this thread says a lot.

      I'm trying to say that if he would worry about the quality more than about quantity he would stop it up as soon as he sees it's only used for promotion.

      1. 1

        Its kind of strange to be honest, I would assume he would have an official response here considering its quite a concerning topic.

  25. 1

    I recently returned to IH . I received a few comments but all important (thanks). A suggestion - have a day where hackers/makers can link out. Other days are for lessons learned etc.

  26. 1

    Seconded, used to be about IH members journey. These days I can't relate anymore, don't think I visit that often.

  27. 1

    Remove links, starting with (and urgently) Twitter links.

    But yeah, IndieHackers really suck at this moment. I'm enjoying HN/Reddit/FB groups much more.

  28. 1

    What is even more frustrating is the fact Courtland himself didn't show up in this thread at least to explain his position... or is it a part of the plan?

  29. 1

    A contrarian view surely, but I find the power of IH being the conversation rather than the clicks, similar to how Hacker News is all about the discussion. (To be fair IH is probably better than Medium in as much as there's no paywall, but when it comes to posting to your own blog or asking questions directly on IH, what's the difference?)

  30. 1

    I feel like it was always that way. It's just people don't hide it as much anymore

  31. 1

    Agreed. I'd estimate 95% of IH is self-promotion at this point.

    This next point will be in a gray area, but I believe most of these 'How I did this or that' or 'I accomplished this or that' is self-promotion. A few people are genuinely happy and giving back to the community but a majority of them are just reminders for folks that 'hey you haven't seen me post about my product for a month so let me tell you how I grew 2k customers by doing x'. You could argue that this is good for the community but I'd say it's not. It pushes down rookie IHers, who shy away from a new post because they haven't accomplished something.

  32. 1

    What other communities do you think are better? I'm in the process of trying to find like-minded people and totally agree with you😅

    I like HN, LessWrong and The Hustle but it still miss being around builders

    1. 3

      Better? The previous IH when people couldn't just drop a link and make it a post.

    2. 2

      Reddit r/Saas and r/EntrepreneurRideAlong are pretty good, along with some of the subscribable newsletters on here. Those have been my go-to's for a few months now.

      1. 1

        These both are very specific, "indiehacking" is wider. The niche is perfect but implementation got worse :-(

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