Meta November 11, 2020

Why Indie Hackers is infinitely better than Hacker News... imho

Benjamin @c0nsilience

Paul Graham's book, Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age is a fantastic read, which I highly recommend to anyone that wants to digest a slice of history as seen through one of the originators of web apps. He is a tremendous writer & analytical thinker and has reams of wisdom and experience to impart to even the greenest neophyte. But his forum, Hacker News, is a little less than stellar.

Why is that? Here are some plausible reasons, based solely on my own experience with HN:

  • Too many self-aggrandizing folks
  • Way too much self-promotion
  • Has an air of snobbery that isn't quite intellectual
  • Relies way too much on the prestige of YC

There are times where IH wears me out as well (i.e., roast my landing page... know who you are! 😉) but not for the same reasons as HN. Perhaps it's because I identify more readily with the Basecamp school of thought and it is diametrically opposed to VC-backing? Who knows.

I do know that even though I am a tech nerd, I get a 1000% burnt out on the pompous mentality that sometimes accompanies hard skills, usually to compensate for a severe lacking of social graces. No one likes an asshole.

What are your thoughts?

  1. 20

    HN has it’s issues, but it remains one of the best communities on the internet in terms of the quality of contributions and quality of moderation. And I say this as someone who is frequently annoyed by both attitudes on HN and by it’s moderation, but I still recognise it’s the best out there.

    I find that IH is much lower quality, to be honest. Self promotion or the promotion of products is the name of the game, and most posts are thinly veiled wrappers around ads for products and services. IH also has an obsession with no or low code tools and newsletters that I find bizarre - is a newsletter a tech product? Is a writer now considered a hacker? Generally, both the depth and breadth of conversations that take place on IH are lower than on HN. Which is a shame, because more thoughtful, insightful conversation would be much preferable to another blog entitled “How I made $1000000 in 25 seconds with my no code substack newsletter!”

    1. 6

      Have to agree with this. I've learned a TON from participating in HN, although I haven't been on there much lately as I have been just too busy.

      IH is a much friendlier place to hang out, but I admit I am becoming a little jaded with the same old stuff being rehashed here (every day there seems to be a "lets hack Twitter..." or "what is your favourite programming language?" or "what stack should I use to build my startup" questions popping up on the main feed). It is getting harder to find the real nuggets of wisdom, and I get tired of trying to help, and ending up answering the same questions repeatedly.

      On HN, I was regularly talking to domain experts in all sorts of fields, not just startup people or developers - I have had great conversations on some of my other passions such as music, guitar, motor racing, kendo etc. Yes there is an air of snobbery there, but generally, I find if you engage on an intellectual level, and are open to showing the ability to learn and that you are not just there to state your opinion as fact, then the interactions are of better quality.

      And I also agree that the level of moderation on HN is a sterling example of how it should be done. They rarely just shut down a poster unless they are being outright dicks, and they tend to let non-popular viewpoints be heard, and all the while manage to keep things respectable.

    2. 4

      The "Show HN" section also has people who want to share open source work and side projects that aren't intended with profit in mind. In contrast, stuff posted here is always some hustle.

    3. 3

      Just a small note, IH doesn't relate to hacking in terms of development, but 'hacking' the business with your own hands and little or no VC (I guess). So building a Newsletter very much belongs to IH. And you get more topics on the table that are very important for startups, but have nothing to do with IT. Best, Thomas

    4. 1

      Not to mention job boards, productivity apps, podcasts etc...

  2. 4

    I think HN and IH are both great in their own ways. I’m favoring IH more because:

    • People are more willing to support and connect
    • There’re tons of channels that tailors to your preference
    • It’s a for open and fair forum for anyone to share knowledge
  3. 3

    I quit trusting hacker news after they were caught red-handed favoring their own startups over the other Show:HNs submitted by the startup community or foss developers. This was being done silently until it was called out.

    IMO, it is a conflict of interest for a VC firm to own and moderate a “bottleneck developer” community that produces major startups anyway. And without the transparency of how and what is moderated and pushed to the top it is safe to take most of what is promoted there with a large grain of salt.

    I think these issues have long persisted on HN and even though they try to downplay it, the resultant dynamic becomes somewhat of a driving force for the other newer communities like Product Hunt or Indie Hackers to take off. In the end, I think it is a good thing to have competition and a less toxic community where you can simply be yourself is always better.

    Welcome to IH ❤️.

    1. 2

      I don't think it was being done silently - there are 3 things HN does for YC founders that's pretty widely-known:

      1. Promoting launch posts. Note that this can only be done once per company. All subsequent re-launches or pivots have to go through Show HN just like everyone else.
      2. Promoting hiring posts of YC startups.
      3. Showing YC founders' usernames in orange.
        Of course a lot of users also don't know these things - I wouldn't say they were being "called out."

      That said, I do like the IH (and also PH) user groups a lot more - I think they are way more friendly and less entitled than HN.

    2. 1

      I trust Hacker News for technical subjects. Anything else (e.g. political content) tends to veer into classic Engineer's Disease.

    3. 1

      Y combinator own and operate the forum, they pay a full time mod team and they don’t run ads or use trackers. They shouldn’t get anything out of it? HN should be a charity run for your benefit? You seem enormously entitled.

      1. 2

        YCombinator and its companies already get a great deal of benefit in terms of PR, recruitment, marketing etc out of proportion to the effort and cost in running the site. Any forum however relies on trust, and favoritism undermines that trust.

      2. 1

        You dislike Indiehackers for the following reason(s):

        I find that IH is much lower quality, to be honest. Self promotion or the promotion of products is the name of the game, and most posts are thinly veiled wrappers around ads for products and services.

        But at the same time you also feel that:

        Y combinator should promote their products because they own and operate the forum.

        See the hypocrisy in there? All I can say to you respectfully is that if you don't like indiehackers as much, why spend your time and energy over here then?

        1. 2

          There’s no hypocrisy involved. On HN posts are about interesting, varied subjects from many different sources. YC’s launch HN, hiring posts etc. are clearly marked. Here posts are largely content marketing vehicles for the posters own businesses, and so tend to be less interesting and of lower quality.

          Frankly, I could have been much harsher about IH in my initial post. Unfortunately, I’ve found it very close to useless, even for advice around bootstrapping. It’s mainly people high-fiving each other and praising bad products.

  4. 2

    This is mostly because IH users are founders - we understand how hard it is to build new products, get even just 10 users, and start making any revenue.

    Most users on HN never tried to start their own business/startup, so they have no idea how difficult it is and don't feel bad criticizing products & founders. Most of them also don't understand how product iteration works or how startups become successful. When an idea is presented to them, the first thing that comes to their mind is "how is that different from X" or "here are 100 reasons this wouldn't work" instead of "hmmmm I can see how that could get really big."

  5. 2

    My main frustration with HN is seeing comments that are presented as fact but are completely wrong. You also get a lot of fringe opinions based on erroneous conjecture on HN. IH I feel is much more down to earth and experience -based. That said, HN has many subject matter experts posting, but it can be hard determining who actually knows what even with the upvote system.

  6. 2

    I find HN to have much higher quality discourse, especially because people feel free to criticize without needing to be nice about it, which I find IH can be, overly so in certain cases. This doesn't really help because customers might say one thing but think another when they use your product, which you can't figure out if everyone just praises your product.

    1. 3

      I’ve found the exact opposite in my experience. Several times, I’ve tried to get a deeper discussion going on HN - to no avail. If you look at some of my posts on IH, I don’t tend to sugar coat anything in favor of honesty. Am I going to be brutal for the sake of being brutal? No, but if someone asks for a real assessment, I’m going to give them a real assessment.

  7. 2

    Well said. I recently joined IH because I like the community a bit more. Specifically, I relate to the community more. My software company was a startup with zero funding. My goal was never to obtain funding (still don't want it despite getting weekly emails from VCs begging to get a share).

    In any event, this is more my crowd and one that I feel like I can offer up practical, experience driven advice. HackerNews is cool though to visit, but probably no one wants to hear from someone who was successful without startup capital and a quick exit.

    1. 2

      You are definitely in the right place. The folks here are a little more empathetic and truly outside-of-the-box thinkers, and, more importantly, doers.

      I’m a little hardlined, but I do think exit strategies are mainly for sociopaths. Money only really matters if you don’t have it and we know what power leads to...

      Welcome to IH. 👍

  8. 1

    This comment was deleted 2 months ago.

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