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57 Comments

A lot of posts on Indie Hackers are just guru sales pitches

I've been cruising IndieHacker again after a little bit of a break, and something that I am finding is that people are constantly posting tips/guides etc. in an effort to pump their personal brand.

I guess I can just move along, but it's starting to feel like Warrior Forum to some degree.

  1. 38

    Heard. We're working on some stuff to bring back a lot more of the "old" feel of Indie Hackers, back when there was quite frankly more in-house content like the text-based interviews. Should be coming out fairly soon.

    1. 20

      Could we get rid of link only posts?

      1. 0

        That doesn't solve the issue the original poster mentioned, but IH could at least stop making 80% of the homepage just external links...it's not going to become hackernews, no matter how many links hit the homepage.

    2. 8

      I miss old indiehackers. I know and like this site because the interviews section. The interview section is where I can learn from who already made it

    3. 3

      I've seen other communities address this with a shill your project channel, and then be fairly aggressive about moderating folks who shill outside of that channel.

    4. 1

      How about introducing a reddit-like karma system?
      Or how about removing the ability to post links at all?

  2. 16

    I agree. When I first found this site, it was amazing. It was a site where everyone was trying to help each other and maybe they could get some users too. Now, so many things are just marketing and the usefulness has diminished. I still check in for the occasional great post, but the signal to noise ratio is definitely worse than it used to be.

    1. 3

      I feel that. I try to answer legit questions on here and offer feedback/get feedback. Just need to sift through a bunch of BS.

    2. 1

      I definitely feel that as well. I used to try and answer as much as I could before to help others, but know it's discouraging to just waste 90% of my time skipping content that are just people selling stuff or posting links to their solutions 😔

    3. 1

      Should we give a name to this kind of phenomena: Twitterization?

    4. 1

      I wouldn't say those posts are just marketing.

      If they were, they would actually be helpful since many IH struggle severely with marketing. (As demonstrated by the millions "I built X and no one is buying it, how do I find customers" posts.)

  3. 12

    It’s made me use the site less, sadly.

    1. 5

      Me too. There's still some good posts on this site, but often I'm just not interested in sifting through the guru garbage to find the gems.

  4. 9

    I agree
    You can't avoid these types of posts.
    One more thing: if indiehackers website will not allow posting links, then I could bet about 50% or more users will leave the website and will not come back...

    Why? Because for those people it is just a marketing channel.

    Those posts "how I made 5K MRR with my SAAS in 2 days" most of the time are garbage. Clickbait headlines trying to get more hype/leads/visitors/customers.

    Obviously, everyone wants to copycat success, or expect to get valuable information. But when you click on that post you get something -->"not as expected".

    Being in this industry for some time I understand: that no one will ever spend time creating valuable content for free. The Internet is wild and people fighting for attention.

    Best advice: skip those eye-catching titles if you don't like them or move anywhere else.

    1. 2

      The problem is that those posts exist for the same reason that there are more fast food restaurants that serve junk food than there are fast food restaurants that serve healthy, low kcal salads... it's what people want.

      Whenever there's some clickbaity, superficial post, it gets a ton of upvotes. Never mind that it's riddled with cognitive biases and logical reasoning errors.

      Whenever there's a well-thought-out, carefully examined post, it rarely does well.

      So just like YouTube or Twitter, the content is a function of what people are telling (with their attention/engagement) the creators they want.

  5. 8

    What's worst, prominent indie hackers show up here only when they have a new product out. They do just enough content marketing to get the sales they want and disappear until the next product.

    1. 4

      I believe it happens when any community grows big enough to steer away those who are looking for a personal touch and attract those who see this community as another marketing channel with good audience segmentation.

      1. 1

        Couldn't agree more. I think it's an inevitable arc every such platform is bound to follow. It would be great to see one escape it.

  6. 6

    I don't think this can be solved easily. Based on recent polls here and here, people want these things the most (above 20%):

    1. Place to highlight indie product launches - 20%
    2. Educational / how-to guides - 25%
    3. Personal stories and experiences from IHers - 26%

    #1 asks for a place to highlights product launches. Is that because people here want to only build products targeting side-hustlers and indie hackers? Otherwise why would anyone need 1000 and 1 places to highlight a product launch. Almost all interviews (that everybody seems to love) say that launches have little-to-no effect. Validation, positioning, marketing and pricing do the job in 99% of cases.

    This shows that people see IH as a marketing channel.

    #2 asks for more guides and how-tos. These are all over the place. Do you really need another guide on how to build a Twitter following? How to do keyword research? How to price a product? How to validate an idea? Honestly, overabundance of resources makes these less valuable. It's like banner blindness. Oh, another guide? Cool, I'll come back to it later.

    #3 This is what everybody loves. The thing is the majority of guides and how-tos are positioned like they come from personal experience. So why the hate? You asked for personal experience -- the person wrote a guide / story on how they launched. What's the problem?

    It's getting hard to distinguish which guide is experience-based and which is just a recycled version of a few articles on the internet. That's the problem. Everybody links to their websites and uses IH's authority to backlink to their own websites.

    It's still easier to find how someone "grew to X MRR". Otherwise you have to follow everyone to see their journey (updates) and get any insights.

    I did a small research and found that the majority of makers here (I mean makers who build products, not readers who read forums) seek feedback and advice. But discussions spark little engagement.

    I have no clue how to make IH less of a marketing channel and more of a discussion-driven community. This has to be human psychology, that quality feedback requires too much effort that we're not willing to put. But when we need something, we are ready to evaluate the benefits of this community (it grew big and authoritative) and hope we can promote something here.

    And by the way, Interviews with successful founders got only 11%. Which is weird.

  7. 6

    Totally agree. That' inevitable with any social network. It's the same with Twitter, and I imagine Reddit has it's share of gurus. The best thing you can do is downvote guru-style posts, ignore all the shit and refrain from posting comments. They will eventually fade away.

    The reason it works for these people is that the rest of the losers here need constant back-patting and gain confidence that their projects have a future, that their time is well invested, etc. To which I can only say: it doesn't matter, as success from one person is not replicable. It depends on so many factors and there's no cookie cutter. The best we can do is ignore all and stop spending time on these kind of sites.

    1. 3

      Agree, I dont comment on them, but they are good at clickbait titles, damnit! ha

    2. 1

      It's a good channel to sell information products or community-related products, so a lot of people use it.

      The worst part is that the audience likes it whereas others who can really bring some value or have questions to find an answer do not get enough impressions because of too many "marketing" titles here.

      But more or less, there are a lot of good people here and the site has a lot of useful tools, links, and tutorials, so it's good to skim it on a daily basis.

  8. 5

    I think a basic rule of ethics is not to sell to your peers. When someone comes on here promoting their business they're either saying their not your peer or they are unethical.

    If I want to come in here to sell my product, I'll say I'm here today to promote my product (e.g. a database, nocode tool, list of links etc.) . Even if it's an indie product and I'm an idiehacker, I'm not going to pretend that in that moment I'm acting as a peer.

    1. 2

      It depends on your perception of sales. Can you call it unethical when you offer a product that will solve someone's pain?

      However it becomes a problem when there're too many posts linking to the generic products that majority of the forum doesn't want. It becomes a waste of time for the forum visitors and we may consider it unethical

      1. 1

        It's extremely nuanced and my original comment has been playing on my mind a bit.
        Although, as I said, if someone makes it clear they are the owner of a product and acting partially or entirely in their own interest, then there is probably no issue. However there still could be.

        A problem which causes a lot of pain for new hackers/entrepreneurs is "You must do X" type advice. Then it transpires that the person claiming this is selling an e-book which shows you how to do X. However not before whipping people up into a frenzy thinking they have to do X and those people coming on here to ask how to do X. Meanwhile X is optional and has opportunity costs or worse.

        1. 1

          Yeah I agree it may be annoying oftentimes

  9. 5

    There was a good thread by @emredemirel where he expressed similar concerns:

    https://www.indiehackers.com/post/not-a-shovel-business-manifesto-b97ac7b939

    It does seem like the focus of Indie Hackers has shifted from bootstrapped software products to newsletters, ebooks, membership sites, etc.

    1. 4

      Ugh, can we just get back to software... sorta over the newsletter movement.

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        Same here. I don't know if I can stand to click on another post saying "$5k MRR. Here's how I did it!" and find out the product is a newsletter about how to bootstrap your indie startup.

        1. 2

          Exactly! This goes along the lines of my thread recently that so many are peddling their own communities.

        2. 2

          What if IH introduces a report button "misleading clickbait"?

          For example gurus post a link that you described above. IH users just click the report button to show that the post title doesn't match with the content inside. These reports accumulate above 50 and author of these posts receives a noticeable red mark "Posting misleading content" after admin review.

          All their posts will get a badge "Possibly misleading content" and will be downranked by the system. Gurus can't just create a new account without permission from the admin, so this rating system would work well.

          IH will have less spammy content and more useful content.

        3. 1

          lol, I just snorted beer out my nose....

      2. 2

        sorta over the newsletter movement

        You're not alone :D

        I also think that the newsletter craze isn't sustainable.

        Reminds me of how in 2016 you had all these political commentators on YouTube monetizing with Patreon.

        The most successful of them are still around today, but they aren't generating the same subscription revenue that they used to.

        IIRC, one particular content creator was making around $2k - 3k/month on Patreon, now it's just $1222.

        Despite him having at least 100k, probably 200k more YouTube subscribers than he did in 2016.

        I think we are going to see the same thing with newsletters, the phenomenon where the audience is growing, but the subscription revenue is going down.

        1. 2

          Ha! True, and the real winners are the platforms that host these newsletters.

          1. 1

            Are they, though?

            Because if the paid newsletter craze isn't sustainable, then businesses built on it aren't sustainable either.

            Also, Substack is the biggest name in the game, but are they even profitable?

            This whole thing seems like a house of cards to me.

            1. 2

              I think the big reason substack will remain viable is because they don't have super harsh woke censorship policies... All the really great journalists are on there, because most of the mainstream news outlets have been taken over by the extreme left.

              1. 2

                They are using lack of censorship as a selling point now, but as Substack's popularity grows, they will likely start banning people.

                Again, reminds me of YouTube in 2016, there were a lot of "edgy" political commentators who built audiences on that platform.

                A lot of them got kicked off of YouTube since then.

                Stefan Molyneux is an example that comes to mind. IIRC he had 1M subscribers when he got banned. Now he has less than 100k on BitChute last time I checked.

                So YouTube built a platform with a "wild west" approach, then once they could afford to start banning people left and right, they did exactly that.

                I suspect we might see something similar with Substack, but on an accelerated timeline, especially if payment processors start threatening the company.

                Of course, I might be wrong, the company might plateau before reaching the point where they can afford to start censoring.

                Plus it's unclear what the political views of Substack's leadership are.

  10. 2

    This is probably what “sells”. I wrote a lengthy post about boostrapping my software business and got a single upvote 🤷‍♂️ https://www.indiehackers.com/post/how-i-bootstrapped-my-software-business-to-1-000-mrr-3239bfb707

  11. 2

    First time posting on Indie Hackers. Curious, what kind of content do you want to see here the most? What the “old” IH looks like?

  12. 2

    Agreed. I use it a lot less now for sure.

  13. 2

    I used to like the interviews, a lot. I don't know why they have removed that section. And let's be honest, all the people who add their product here is for the purpose to advertise and I see that most of them won't update their product page, after creating the first post.

    When I discover and follow new products that I am interested in, there is never a follow up to what happened after the initial launch.

    1. 1

      I wish they would feature the podcast more.

  14. 2

    Agreed. I wonder if this could be somewhat avoided by there being a group that doesn't allow links. Maybe then the only reason to post would be to start a genuine discussion? Seems like most of these types of posts include links to twitter/a blog/a project.

    1. 1

      That's a great idea.

      1. 1

        This comment was deleted 2 months ago.

  15. 1

    This post made me find out about Warrior Forum, lol.

  16. 1

    The Truth. Nothing more annoying than an interesting title wich turns out to the be a super general list of things that everyone already knows they should do. 😅

  17. 1

    I am not very old user of IndieHackers. But whenever I come to this site I get motivated to do more stuff.

  18. 1

    That's so true. Wish the posts were more about the journey of indie hacking rather than people just occasionally posting revenue milestones

  19. 1

    Platforms may be different but it’s the same people misusing the platforms like Indie Hackers, Reddit, Twitter etc.

  20. 1

    I agree , most of the post are just a sort of sale pitch. But at least they are not spammy like some platforms.

  21. 1

    Sort by newest instead of top

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