Community Building May 23, 2020

Would the Indie Hackers community be where it is today if it were a subreddit?

Marcel Kooi @marz0

Do you think the Indie Hackers community would be where it is today if it were a subreddit? Why or why not?

Just a thought experiment.

Personally, I don't think it would have worked as well as a subreddit (or facebook group) but I can't really tell you why. It might be a lot of small factors around it such as there being lots of founder interviews, a podcast, a product directory, etc. that are all associated with it in one place.

Or it could be that reddit tends to attract a different audience. Or maybe it's something else I'm overlooking, like the distinctive blue background? 😄

Curious to hear what the community thinks.

  1. 14

    This is an interesting question. The average Reddit user seems less friendly and helpful than the happy and generous folks at Indie Hackers. There are certainly exceptions and I'm sure a subreddit could have been successful but in its own way. The culture is just different on Reddit, which is fine.

    Based on the mods and rules of most subs, I imagine things like Ideas and Validation would have been a lot different on a subreddit, if it existed at all.

    With all that said, the community here is what makes it special so I can theoretically seeing it being just as successful on another platform if the same members joined and the same culture were adopted. Theoretically.

    1. 3

      This. Reddit can be quite toxic, and while sharing success is celebrated here, it’s mostly frowned upon in the entrepreneur subreddits. As @cohoist said, it’s just a different type of audience.

  2. 11

    Reddit doesn't have Rosie. Enough said.

    1. 7

      Oh, thank you, best compliment ever. 🥰

    2. 2

      btw i like your project name "Dogger"

    3. 1

      if you are thinking about building community @rosiesherry can help u haha

  3. 8

    There are many reasons why it wouldn't have succeeded as a subreddit, I'm sure @csallen will have many things to say about this, but what springs to my mind right now:

    • the culture: which is very much founded upon Courtland's ideas and goals. The idea of being open about revenue, being helpful & honest and then also the desire to encourage independent products being profitable. These are all things that Courtland has crafted into the entire experience. I don't think many reddit users would truly understand this. I also think it would be a nightmare from a community management perspective. I ❤️ how little drama there is on IH.
    • growth: I doubt Stripe would've acquired IH if it were a subreddit. Having it built on its own website + tech is a sign of a commitment to growing the product/community. Not enough people see community as a viable business opportunity, as a result they end up using 'out of the box' tools. This helps them in the short term, but longer term it probably doesn't make it easy for them to grow.
    • more on growth: I'm really not sure how you can grow a community effectively on reddit. I really struggle with how IH could grow multiple email lists, onboard members, share a podcast, create a product directory, publish interviews and content pieces plus make the place genuine on a sub reddit.

    It's really underrated that IH is custom built. SaaS's are (generally) custom built, more communities should be too!

    1. 1

      This is gold. Thanks Rosie

  4. 7

    I've been getting less and less value from reddit for years now. There's just too much moderation of ideas and content (Ironic for Reddit, right?). If you don't subscribe to the reddit Hive Mind, they have no interest in your advice, help, information or value.

    It seems at some reddit became a place unaccepting of new users and way too specific subreddits were created because the main channel subreddit had rules or mods the others didn't like. They just keep branching off into new subreddits, lessening their reach with each divergent temper tantrum.

  5. 6

    absolutely f****** not

    reddit/startups is a shit show. And every tenth posts whines about how much of a shit show it is.

    1. 1

      Reddit culture is the worst

  6. 4

    I have been here over a month now, and the only reason I keep coming back, it’s because the community here is different.

    My experience on:

    • reddit: I get hate comments, random people just say the nastiest things to me, not interested, also they abuse the thumb down option
    • Hackernews: doesn’t matter what you post, it gets flagged, your comments receive thumb down and you don’t even know why, don’t know if this is encouraging, Not for me (Theres a reason why fb doesn’t have a dislike button)

    Anyway happy to be here and not on a sub reddit

  7. 3

    but I can't really tell you why.

    One big reason is that many people here are not anonymous. Just seeing a friendly face makes a difference, not to mention the ability to verify that someone knows what they are talking about.

  8. 2

    I think IH is definitely better as it is as a standalone site. I go on reddit daily. I read the front page, and some subbreddits for jokes and puppies. Sometimes you get the roadrage videos and other things that's just not healthy when it's repeated exposure. And a community needs moderators, it needs people to maintain it, ask the right questions, curate content like interviews and well IH now has it's own subs so to speak - not just interviews, but questions on growth, idea validation, landing page feedback. These subs cater to people at different parts of their startup journey. That may just not work with a subreddit workflow, with user profiles not really showcasing side projects. Also in the way they handle audio/video media most of the time is just a different workflow that I don't think will have a good retention rate for contributors.

    One final thing - I'm a lurker on reddit and I only have made accounts here and on HN. I last logged into HN maybe 3 years ago to post a comment. There's this saying that as a community gets larger the quality just degrades. And I think it's mostly that the best people just leave and move on to other things. There's points/karma and wanting to help out people that's the incentive but eventually few bad apples spoil the bunch. So that's what I think. IH is still very much in it's early days with a supportive community. I certainly hope it stays that way for a long time.

  9. 2

    I probably found IH through reddit, and I'm so glad. r/entrepreneur was horrible. It was too broad, reddit users seem like the most miserable bunch. I'm skeptical of everything I see on Reddit because I have no idea who it's coming from.

    Also the local groups. I love IH, but I'll use it for a while and get burned out. The local groups (San Diego Indie Hackers shout out!) provide a lot more value at times - people who are following each others struggles and successes and helping out with actual context. It's like a mastermind group, which I always thought IH needed :)

  10. 2

    It could have started as a subreddit or Facebook group before it becomes IndieHacker as well. And maybe that would have shortened the process of getting community populated.

  11. 2

    I think what makes indie hackers what it is today is that is has it's separate platform. Don't get me wrong, I am an avid reddit user however it's much less focused on community, collaboration and support and more about virality. After all, reddit's mantra is that it's the "front page of the internet".

    What I love about Indie Hackers is how supportive everyone is, no one is here to judge you. People just provide the most honest advice they have. I think it would be very difficult to replicate that on reddit even with a ton of moderators as it's just not built for that.

  12. 1

    No, it would not work imho because there are more features needed than what being a subreddit offers. Also by being a separate focused application it attracts genuine users and avoids spam / trolls.

  13. 1

    Absolutely not. Reddit is an overwhelmingly negative echo chamber where every subreddit is its own hivemind, and god help you if you go against the hivemind's logic. (However, you get a pass for Rick & Morty references, I guess.)

    Personal distaste for Reddit aside, it generally seems decidedly anti-commercial (so how is sharing one's startup supposed to work?), unsupportive, and lacking in positivity. The opposites: permissive of commerce, supportive, and positive, define IH for me.

  14. 1

    Reddit tends to be pessimistic and cargo-culty, happily describing itself as a "hivemind"... traits which don't tend to work out with entrepreneurship.

    I think IH does well because it's attached to real identities and encourages people to share their real revenue numbers so you can have a good idea who knows what they're talking about and be treated like a real person.

  15. 1

    Not at all, here we have real people willing to provide very useful information and on point with the topics discussed. Reddit? Not so much, anyone can join, start posting useless stuff, criticizing everything and making a ruckus just for the sake of it.

    Facebook is worse: people who have absolutely no idea of anything at all just joining and then posting useless information, spammy links, etc.

    I am very glad this community exists and we have a very friendly and dedicated community. Reminds me of the good old times of internet dedicated forums pre-Facebook era around 1998-2003, keep it like that, I love it here as a very specialized website.