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58 Comments

Is it just me, or is it getting harder and harder to get some engagement on IH? 🧐

Everything is on the title, but don't get me wrong: I'm still in love with IH. Love the content here, love the experience shared, and love the quality of the community.

BUT I have this feeling that it's getting more challenging getting some engagement from the community.

... Or maybe I'm just writing terrible posts, and nobody wants to answer them, who knows? 🤭

  1. 35

    I've just posted something relevant to this in META.

    It seems more and more to me this place is becoming the home of personal brand builders and not profitable business builders.

    I'm getting really tired of all the personal brand building B.S.

    1. 14

      I agree but this should have been expected. For the last year, or more, a lot of sites and podcasts in this "indie hacking" space have been going on and on about the value of an audience and a brand. You're finally seeing the impact all of that talk has had on people.

      You see this same phenomenon happen, but much faster, over at Product Hunt. There are folks there always chasing the newest fad. Months of crypto apps, then remote work/job boards, then Figma and illustration projects, and so on and so on.

    2. 8

      Gotta say, Mick, I agree 100%. Brand building, personal or otherwise, is awesome but the truth is that I want to see others building a product.

    3. 7

      Agree but there is also an attrition problem.

      Indiehackers may be a great place for "profitable business builders" to get started but the more profitable a business gets, the more busy a founder gets, and the less time they have to interact with the community.

      So by default, the majority of active users here are in a very early stage. And there's a vocal segment of people in an early stage looking to "hack their way" to success, which affects the noise to signal ratio of the site.

    4. 4

      I think this is exactly the point. The problem is NOT Indie Hacker. The problem is to sort great posts from all the self-branding posts.

    5. 2

      Legit. The homepage has turned into marketing driven blog spam pool.

      Somebody posted a feature suggestion for muting users privately so you won't see their posts. I believe this is the best way forward.

      IMO the best place is the still the interviews section. Pure gold.

      1. 2

        I've asked for bothe the ability to mute people and to mute groups.

        I've also diligently flagged posts that are self or affiliate promotion in cases where I don't believe its in the best interests of those who might read them.

      2. 2

        I agree with this. Being able to mute certain users OR mute posts that are links. That would solve a lot of the problem for me @csallen

    6. 1

      May I ask you something? Do you believe that brand building is not a good strategy for individual Indie Hackers or are you mostly tired of people promoting themselves on here?

      1. 20

        The problem is similar to what was discussed in the ‘tech ponzi scheme’ post. More and more people are building ‘products’ that target indiehackers themselves so this whole site is getting more and more into a self promotion site...

        1. 3

          That's so true. Thanks a lot for sharing your perspective. :)

          If you (like me) were looking for the link, here it is: https://www.indiehackers.com/post/how-to-run-a-ponzi-scheme-for-tech-people-c940e9d6c7

      2. 7

        Personally I actually don’t think personal brand building is all that important. Think Of all the businesses in the world. All of them.

        From airlines to hotel chains to clothing companies to... the companies that make parts for machines... even to Facebook, Airbnb, uber.... think of ANY and ALL companies.

        For the vast vast vast vast VAST VAST VAST VAAAAAASSSSTTTTT majority of them, nobody gave a shit who the founder was.

        1. 1

          A strong brand is important. Since indie hackers are often alone building their products, they put themselves as brand to make it more human, more accessible. I don't think it's a bad strategy, especially if you're competing against a bigger company. It's not the only strategy, however, and not necessarily the best in many cases.

        2. 1

          We live in extremely narcissistic times. It was bound to happen with the explosive mixture of A) The hyper-coddled, everybody-is-special-and-deserves- a-medal-generation. B) Global-reaching , free, and easy to use social media.

        3. 1

          Thank you so much for your insight! It really helped me put things into perspective. Thank you!

      3. 4

        The problem is faking self-promotion.

        1. 1

          What exactly do you mean by "faking" here?

          1. 13

            Posts like :
            "Share your link here and I will tell you what I think about it....
            .... because with MY AWESOME NEW PRODUCT you can improve your SEO blablabla... "

            Those posts got tons of upvotes/comments. They try to hide sel-promotion by giving low-quality content.

            But hey, just my opinion.

            1. 4

              Thank you for sharing! :)

              I get what you mean. It can be very annoying.

              That said, sometimes people give very good advice, even though they are trying to sell you something. In these cases the upvotes are justified in my opinion.

              1. 2

                Absolutely!

                Giving valuable content AND self-promoting is more than acceptable.

            2. 2

              ahahaha this happens everywhere. I want to tell an example I encountered last time. Someone on LinkedIn shared some superficially low quality content and got 900 likes.

              The same person shared useful and more detailed content and got 200 likes.

              I guess people like superficial and low quality things.

              1. 1

                It's easier to digest. We're attracted by what's easy, even if it's not necessarily what will fulfill our needs.

  2. 26

    👉 General Answer

    Mathematically speaking, yes. There are more posts than ever on IH nowadays, but the homepage is still the same size, so engagement is therefore more competitive.

    That said, the groups add some additional surface area for post discovery + there are more people browsing the homepage than ever + our technical SEO is doing a better job ranking good posts on Google. So there are some recent advantages as well.

    More competition is a good thing for IH. I still think the bar is too low to make it onto the homepage. We've got some plans in motion to encourage higher quality posts. If that works well, it'll force everyone else to be more thoughtful about their posts if the want to be good enough to make the homepage.

    Ultimately, a lot more people read IH than post on IH. I want the site to be great for people reading, not just people posting, and that means encouraging the latter group to make posts that are less repetitive, more valuable, better written, more selfless, etc.

    👉 Specific Feedback

    I can take a look at your recent posts to give you some feedback. I only see one from today, one from yesterday, and one from November. Here are my thoughts:

    Is it just me, or is it getting harder and harder to get some engagement on IH? 🧐 (Dec 2)

    • You asked a straightforward question in the title, and it's extremely easy to understand. That's great!
    • The title is also compelling. There's some controversy there, some conflict. It's always good to express raw emotion and honesty, even if it's frustration.
    • The title has a lot of reach. It's about IH itself, and it's posted on IH. A large % of readers will care. This is good for obvious reasons: If you want more engagement, appeal to more people.
    • The value to readers is clear. It's a call-to-action. You're saying: click this post to answer my question or to read answers from others. As a reader, I know that if I click, I might learn something valuable about posting on IH, or be able to express a strong opinion which is also fun to do.
    • This post is about you, sure, but it's also about everyone. Anyone can learn from this discussion. So it's the perfect combination of selfish + selfless. Again, the value to readers is clear.
    • The body text is short but sweet. It's straight to the point and easy to read. You're not wasting time with fluff, you're not forcing people to read through ads for your own product, etc.
    • Great post overall, imo. And it shows in the engagement: double-digit votes and double-digit comments.

    [ROAST] MistralCSS Build faster with +100 HQ Tailwind CSS 2.0 components (First Pre-sale customer 🥳 ! ) (Dec 1)

    • This title is extremely hard to read. You've got brackets, parentheses, an emoji, multiple product names, multiple numbers, an announcement, and a pitch in there. Why so much? If you want to do multiple things, make multiple posts.
    • There's no call-to -action in your title. I guess you put the word "Roast" but I guarantee that's unclear to most who read it. You're not giving readers any reason to click.
    • I think you're trying to advertise your product too much in your title. Your title should not be an ad. People don't want to click ads.
    • Putting your product's name in your title is almost always bad. Unless it's famous, nobody knows what it is. It's just a confusing, meaningless word to them. Why would people want to click something they don't recognize or understand? It's a big sign telling them, "This post is not for you." Again, the only purpose of your title is to get people to click into your post. That's it. Nothing else. It's not the place to advertise your product. That doesn't work.
    • For example, a much better title would've been, "Roast my landing page!" Or, since you posted in the Ideas group, "Roast my idea!" or "Can I get some feedback on my new product?"
    • In general, this is what I'd call a "selfish" post. That's not bad on its face. It's fine to ask for help, and I want IH to be a place for that. But realize that you're not really providing anything of value to other people with posts like this. You're not starting a helpful discussion, you're not sharing educational information, you're not telling an engaging story, you're not helping them get help themselves, you're not allowing them to get something off their chest. You're just asking for feedback for yourself. So of course posts like these will always get the least engagement.

    More broadly, everything you do on the Internet should be done with other people in mind. People are busy. They have their own rich lives. Sometimes you catch people in a selfless, helpful, giving mood, sure. But that's maybe 10% of people 10% of the time. If you want people to interact with your posts, your blogs, your tweets, your products, your services, your podcast, your anything, the very first question running through your mind should be, "What's in it for them?" And everything you create should be created with that in mind, first and foremost.

    Pricing for Launch Day 🚀 (Nov 19)

    • Again, there's no call-to-action in the title. Why would anyone click this? I think you've missed an opportunity here to give them a reason to click.
    • Your post starts with an ad for your product. Again, it seems you're eager to get what you want (clicks to your product), and that eagerness is causing you to jam your product in as early as possible — in the title, in the opening paragraph — where of course it will just turn readers off, because why would they care what your product is at this point before you've give them anything valuable? You need to think about things from the reader's perspective, not your perspective. If you want engagement, it's what THEY want that matters, not what YOU want that matters. What you want should come as a happy side effect, a footnote.
    • For this post in particular, probably the most valuable thing for readers would be a discussion on pricing. Ideally they could learn something about pricing from your post, or from the resulting discussion, and it would be clear to them in the title. For example, look at how this post did it. Or better yet, look back through the archives to find other successful feedback posts.

    Generally, posting on IH is good marketing practice. The same principles that apply here apply anywhere else. If you want reader engagement, you have to put the reader's benefit first in your mind. Same with customers, followers, clients, whatever.

    Think about why you click and read things on the Internet. It's because they interest you, entertain you, or help in some way, right? As a reader, you don't just go around clicking on ads. So as a writer, you don't want your writing to seem like ads.

    And I think people should cheat more. Posting on IH is an open-book test. From the homepage, you can very easily look at which posts are succeeding, which posts get all the upvotes and comments. I even made it so you can see the top posts by week or month for all of IH's history. I was worried about putting this up at first, but it's shocked me how few people on IH take advantage of this. The patterns for success are super clear if you spend 10 or 15 minutes analyzing.

    For example, posts that encourage people to promote themselves in the comments end up getting the most comments. But vanishingly few people have noticed this pattern, and almost none have found creative and interesting ways to take advantage of it. We just keep getting the same old "let's hack Twitter" posts that we're going to have to ban.

    1. 8

      This is a great response! I learned a lot. Community building has to be one of the hardest jobs on the internet. I think you guys put in commendable effort to keep the quality high here.

      1. 1

        Thank you! Appreciation is always appreciated 🤗

    2. 4

      Woo awesome answer!

      After reading this I'm wondering if the IH stats are public? I didn't know about that last year growth!

    3. 3

      And I think people should cheat more.

      This was an unexpected advice for me. Here is an experiment. I paid $3k for these card designs, did I get scammed?
      So cheat + don't be honest. 👍

      For example, posts that encourage people to promote themselves in the comments end up getting the most comments.

      I believe many people aware of that but it has no value as well.
      Title: Who's working on info products?
      Body: Hey this is my info product. Share yours
      ... and we have a list of info products. Next day, repeat.

      Creative Title: I'm gonna spend $1K on your products, list them.
      Creative Body: Recently we hit this huge goal, and we decided to give back. Here's your discount don't miss out. Now list your stuff we'll take a look.

      And I don't want to talk about the home page, just today I reported 2 accounts, again. With a broken following feed, people still manage to get ~10 votes within minutes without a single reply. And pin themselves into the popular feed for hours. 🤷‍♂️

      And here is my question;

      How do you offer value with a question, with something you already don't know?
      Does indiehackers wanna be medium, shouldn't we discuss more as a "community". Shouldn't we give back to the newbies. Instead of posting/reading same tactics, advices shared on the internet for thousand times.

      1. 3

        I paid $3k for these card designs, did I get scammed? So cheat + don't be honest. 👍

        By "cheat" I just mean look up past examples of what works. You still want to be honest. If you're dishonest, if you have clickbait-and-switch titles, or if you otherwise mislead people into clicking your posts, then you're going to get a lot of negative responses as you discovered. And if people make a habit of posting stuff that everyone hates, we just shadowban them. Luckily that doesn't happen often.

        I believe many people aware of that but it has no value as well.

        Exactly why I think people should find a way to take advantage of that principle, but do it creatively and in a way that provides value. Specifically, value to readers, not just commenters. We're going to start cracking down on all the posts that are only valuable to commenters.

        Creative Title: I'm gonna spend $1K on your products, list them.
        Creative Body: Recently we hit this huge goal, and we decided to give back. Here's your discount don't miss out. Now list your stuff we'll take a look.

        Yes, this is exactly what I mean. This is a creative way to take advantage of the phenomenon. 👏 Although I would still say it's not that valuable for readers, only for commenters. The best is when you find a way to make it so readers can learn or benefit from the comments or the main post.

        How do you offer value with a question, with something you already don't know?

        Asking a question can be valuable, because people who do know the answer can post in the comments, and readers can read the comments. Some of the most valuable posts are questions, including this post from @IndependenceDev that we're presently commenting on.

        Also, just because you've asked a question in the title doesn't mean you can't provide some value in the body. For example, if you have a question, spend 10 or 15 minutes researching the answer. Then share some of your findings in your post to kick things off. That's way more value than most people are willing to provide.

        With a broken following feed, people still manage to get ~10 votes within minutes without a single reply.

        Some people try to game the system with fake accounts upvoting, and I'm writing software to do a better job catching them. But some types of posts just tend to attract more upvotes than comments, which is totally fine. And sometimes people promote their posts on other channels (e.g. Twitter), which is also fine.

        just today I reported 2 accounts, again

        Thank you! It may not seem like it, but filing reports helps us improve the site.

        Does indiehackers wanna be medium, shouldn't we discuss more as a "community". Shouldn't we give back to the newbies. Instead of posting/reading same tactics, advices shared on the internet for thousand times.

        Novelty is big. I'd love to see people posting different things. The repetitive posts asking for feedback, announcing revenue milestones, promoting PH launches, etc., tend to get old. It leads to churn among IH readers who don't find it useful to see the same things day after day.

        That said, it's a lot of work to come up with new ideas. What I've found is that the people who consistently share the freshest things are those who tend to have newsletters and blogs on the side. And also people who start discussions among the community around current events.

        1. 2

          To be clear, I've put that note tells that was a bait at first place. To show how easy to manipulate, it failed to convey the message to many which is fine by me. Thanks for taking time and checking it out also for this detailed response.

    4. 2

      Hey Courtland! I'd love to see this comment as a stand-alone article. A lot of valuable lessons, not only for IH but also to share content on the Internet.

      I am writing a similar one about Reddit. You gave me great insights. If you don't have time, I happily do it.

      Thanks!

    5. 2

      Awesome! What a response. *taking notes here 🤓

    6. 2

      wow, the best answer ever!

    7. 1

      Wth! this is such a crazy good comment. Blown away. Excellent mixture of enlightenment and entertainment. Great job.

  3. 22

    My experience is actually the opposite, Indie Hackers is the platform I get more engagement on.

    I don't know why. But I can tell you why I personally don't engage with many posts I see here. Because they smell of content marketing and their authors post only when they have something to promote. They treat Indie Hackers just like another marketing or sales channel, not a place to share and learn.

    1. 6

      Yes, it's a problem and I try very hard for many of them to never see the day of light, or to hide them out of sight.

      There's approx 250 new posts a day atm, it isn't always easy to manage the constant flow.

      1. 1

        I appreciate your efforts, thanks. I don't mind those posts that much. I just wonder about the attitude of their authors, who don't know what they're missing.

  4. 8

    I think it's easy to dismiss the importance of a title, but it's pretty crucial for pulling people into discussions.

    I like to see it from the perspective that forum posts can become a practice writing ground for indie hackers. Creating good title, writing clearly, having call to actions for responding and responding to people is a super important skill to have to build a business. And we can all practice here, whilst making friends. 😇

    Also, we're growing a lot and there aren't as many great posts happening. It's important we all put the effort into being mindful, helpful and interesting about what we post.

    So, I agree it is getting harder, but it is also a community effort to try to improve upon it. Somehow.

    I welcome all suggestions on how!

    1. 8

      I don't know if this is the reason: IH is becoming too cluttered imo

      Podcasts, Interviews, groups, newsletters (I mean the subscribe button all over the place), series (the new kinda thing)... so many people doing so many things on each of these.

      1. 1

        The other day I tried to find out how this series work but couldn't find any documentation. :( Amy chance you share this btw.

    2. 2

      Hey Rosie! Thank you for your reply. I appreciate it! 🤗

      You're right; I probably need more practice regarding my Titles, Content, etc... Will try to improve 💪💪 I also need to improve my English skill and get more confident with it!

      "It's important we all put the effort into being mindful, helpful and interesting about what we post."

      I'm not perfect, but I try to be as helpful as possible by answering posts that don't get any answers. I try to answers at least three posts before posting something myself. That's not a lot, but that's my little contribution to IH (who helped me a lot this year!!)

      Have a nice day!

      1. 2

        Every little helps, and I appreciate everyone who sticks around. 🤗

  5. 3

    I've noticed something similar, I thought it was just me but in some ways glad to know its not just me 😀

    I guess its part of the issue as a community site grows it becomes easier for posts to get lost

    1. 1

      Yeah, the "problem" is mainly self-promotion.
      I mean, you CAN do self-promotion, of course! But, I saw too many posts just trying to spam their link this some keywords, and great posts got hidden behind this mass of bad posts.

  6. 2

    I forgot the name, but there’s this law of nature that given enough time, the probability of the conversation involving a comparison to nazis approaches 1.

    Something similar can be said for marketing to startups and aspiring startups whether indie or VC. I’m creating a law that says:

    As the startup founder concentration of a website’s users approaches 100%, the concentration of users marketing to startups on the website will also approach 100% up until the point at which 100% of the website’s users are only marketers and the startup founders have abandoned the site.

    Note that this law is not only limited to websites. It also applies to events, meetups, and larger events such as WebSummit. WebSummit is largest web summit in the world with over 70,000 marketers marketing to other marketers.

    ![alt text](https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinterest.com%2Fpin%2F554927985336943782%2F&psig=AOvVaw2bF-sftCSgkqqyRKZPNjrr&ust=1607033235521000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAIQjRxqFwoTCJC3q_CnsO0CFQAAAAAdAAAAABAD "3 Spider Men Pointing At Each Other Meme”)

    On the one hand, it seems logical. On the other hand, I think it’s about the quality of the product, the misleading tactics used, the value add, and the relevance.

    I would not worry about self-promotion posts. When the legions of development shops begin really targeting IH, you’ll forget all about those self-promotion posts.

  7. 2

    I know I personally have a hard time not always seeing everything through the lens of my own products/efforts. I come on here most often when I have something I want to show off, get advice on, etc. and not really to just hang out or check out other people's stuff. It's compounded by the fact that we're mostly bootstrappers at the beginning of things, so spending time on things that aren't directly benefiting our efforts feels bad. Writing it out, it feels so selfish but it's also the truth. It's also hard for me to get into reading other people's posts when they're so often thinly veiled ads for their product (which I'm guilty of too!).

    I don't know what the solution is. I know I'd be sad if IH went away though. Maybe some rules like "you earn the right to create a post for every 3 comments you make on someone else's post" would help.

  8. 2

    You are so spot on. I used to be able to count on 5-10 IHers to reply to my typical dumb questions for support and advice - but that's not the case anymore. I went away for 4-6 months from the site and just recently came back. The contrast is stark.

    @rosiesherry I think "Community" should be the top left most link in the IH menu. It's some weird psychological thing but I find myself clicking on that "start here" link without even thinking about it just because of it's placement. I think the community is the crux of this platform, and posts might have more engagement if it were placed in the menu reflecting that it is indeed the most important thing. Could be an interesting experiment, at least...

    1. 1

      Totally agree about the 'Community' link. I always click in the wrong place assuming it's there.

  9. 1

    There is also more competion, you have PH and Makerlog for example..

  10. 1

    I think @csallen summed it up perfectly.

    To add my two cents as a new member: the community on IH is very generous with their time and they are eager to help you out, but you need to make it easy for them and make it clear what you want.

    In your titles explicitly say you need help if you need it, if you have a question, clearly state the question. Get to your point concisely.

    There are 3 post types which, with the right title and content, will do well: support (asking for help), inform (provide valuable knowledge), or discuss (start a discussion which gives people an easy way to contribute).

    If someone does take the time to engage with your post, show some gratitude towards them, such as replying or upvoting.

  11. 1

    I 100% agree. Lately, I’ve been posting questions on problems that I’m sure the indie community has faced before but getting zilch. I was putting it down to my time zone but seems it’s more widespread.

  12. 1

    I come back every few months. Spent few days sharing and learning, and remembering why I left (due to lack of quality content and responses)...

  13. 1

    Sad but true, the same thing what happened to most of the cool communities is happening here.

    Early generation of builders are slowly reducing their online time or leaving. In the meantime wannabes and personal builders are coming. So the overall it slowly changes a skin.

    Imo there is bigger problem. Rant/complaint and clickbait posts are getting enormous amount of reaction which is understandable because of the change i wrote above.

    Solution: I bet Courtland and his team working hard keeping the quality high. But maybe there can be some moderation at least for falsified posts.

  14. 1

    Everyone's starring at each other, afraid to get involved. It's like a high school dance and the mouth spray is descending like a fog over the empty dance floor.

    Depressing.

  15. 1

    Maybe us users should be able to tag posts? "mark as personal brand building"

  16. 1

    I have been here from last 5 months and I think I have the similar experience. I put it in the post here as well https://www.indiehackers.com/post/indie-hackers-is-overwhelming-c8169ef479.
    In the end this is community site and we have to maintain it somehow. Is there any way we can have a point system like stackoverflow ? It might able to fix this problem. Thoughts?

  17. 1

    Similar here - I got this feeling that less users are willing to write comments, give feedback etc than it used to be when I joined around 1 year ago.

    Did it become a place for personal brand builders? I don't know but that sounds like one possible explanation to me.

  18. 0

    Naah. We are engaging perfectly.

    lol

    Lemme also do some personal brand marketing magic. Did you see my recent posts about "$ sign's role on the engagement."
    1 2

    1. 1

      This comment was deleted 4 months ago.

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