Reddit and Hacker News (HN) are both great places for launching products and gathering feedback. The users are eager to try out new things and proactively leave comments. However, both places have tough crowds to please, basically they’ve seen it all, tried it all and aren’t easily won over. This post will share our experiences on the pros and cons of launching on Reddit and HN.
Reddit is good for announcing your initial launch
Reddit is a great place to generate that initial spike of traffic. We got about 3000 in an afternoon. But because it has both down and up vote functions, users get excited about down voting just as much as up. Reddit makes it difficult to post the same link twice, and users generally don’t like seeing the same thing again and again. This means any repeat content gets down voted almost straight away. So if you’ve already launched and are announcing new functionality, unless you are Apple, don’t bother resubmitting to Reddit.
In terms of comments, we had a interesting turn out. Comments were generally constructive, bar a few demanding why Pictonic is not free, or reframing it as an attack on open source and free alternatives. These were difficult to reply to and we got downvoted while the community focused on them. Luckily, other users came to our defence, responding that not everything has to be free and deleting or downvoting attackers’ comments. The attackers subsequently desisted.
On a more positive note, we received some great feedback too. As I mentioned in our monthly update, Reddit users quickly helped us realise that most of our target audience was in the US, and found our GBP pricing confusing. As you could imagine, this was a crucial thing to realise early on. We quickly added US pricing before posting to HN and no one mentioned the issue again. It’s great to test updates on a different crowd later to confirm the issue was solved nicely.
HN - for genuine feedback
HN is truly an amazing community, the diversity of content on there can keep me reading for a whole day. Getting on home page is difficult and the traffic only kicks off if you get on there. HN only has an upvote, so if people genuinely find your content interesting you won’t be sabotaged by those who don’t. Timing is very important, make sure to check this great app for the best time to submit for good pick up rates. We normally use 2pm London time, which is when people in the US start reading news in the morning with their coffee.
Traffic really spiked when we made it onto the homepage, which generated us about 6500 hits in a couple hours. The comments were all constructive with lots of actions we could start working on right away. Icon and feature requests started to come in, and people gave genuine accounts of issues they had experienced on other icon font services. Not a single troll in the entire process, just a very supportive community. You can see the our HN post here.
Subsequent submissions have been positive too. We submitted another post after doubling our icon count from 1000 to 2000. HN picked this up and responded with more comments.
Pros and Cons of Reddit
+ Can choose your targeted audience via subreddit
+ Passionate, honest audience willing to engage with your subject matter
+ Immediate traffic spike, new submission go straight to home page
+ Great way to get initial feedback
- Only good for initial submission, not updates
- Get down voted quickly
- Has a few trolls
Pros and cons of HN
+ Constructive feedback
+ Highly intelligent audience with a culture of providing objective and helpful comments
+ No trolls
+ Can submit again once more updates released
- Difficult to get on homepage
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