Let’s continue to build Product Hunt, together

Last week was difficult.

A Medium article was published, criticizing Product Hunt. The suggestion of nefarious activity and personal attacks that followed the article, hurt me and everyone on the team. Especially when the claims are counter to our culture and everything Product Hunt stands for. While difficult to hear, the feedback from the post will help us make Product Hunt even better.

Product Hunt has always been about creating a community where people can share what they’ve made, get constructive feedback, and inspire one another.

Ben’s response to a disappointed community member is a great example of the authenticity and encouragement that comes from the Product Hunt community:

Interactions like these make me smile. 😊

What started as a newsletter curated by a few dozen people, Product Hunt is now a global community of people that love to geek out about new products. It’s a place to discover new things made from people around the world, from a Dutch 17-year-old developer to a small startup in St. Louis.

It’s a place to chat directly with the makers — the designer, engineer, marketer, author, founder, etc. — and a community of excited people. This happens online and IRL. In the past year, the Product Hunt community has self-organized meetups across the globe in over 60 cities. We love seeing the photos and videos on Twitter from afar. 🙌

We believe products and makers should earn the attention they deserve by making something awesome, whether they’re a celebrated artist or an independent app creator. Makers of all types need a place to discuss, learn, and inspire each other to continue to build things (and they do).

It’s my responsibility to make this clear and clarify how Product Hunt works.

How Product Hunt Has Evolved

Every great product evolves.

Late 2013

After the email newsletter (the “MVP”) gained traction, I reached out to my buddy Nathan and we launched producthunt.co (yes, we didn’t have the .com yet). It looked like this:

So nostalgic :)

Although anyone that signed up could upvote, we made the decision to limit who could post to the site, inviting our initial newsletter contributors to share cool, new products. We knew that if it was open to anyone that signed up, it might be filled with spam, self-promoters, or just too many posts.

The first group of people who were given access to post were from 7 different countries. At the time, the bulk of these few dozen people were from the US, but we already had early adopters from around the world — Argentina, the UK, Japan and South Africa.

Early 2014

As new things were posted to the site, makers of those products noticed and wanted to join the conversation. So, we invited them to comment and share new products with the community.

We continued to give more people access to contribute, so I reached out to some of our most engaged community members, asking if they knew anyone that might be interested. It was very unscalable but an effective way to grow the community (fun fact: I sent over 20,000 emails and tweets in the first quarter of 2014).

Mid 2014

We continued to extend invites to makers of products featured on the site and those recommended by other active community members, but we quickly encountered a problem.

There were too many submissions. As the one and only community manager at this point in time, I remember waking up every morning at 5:30 am, nervous to discover typos, bad links, or duplicate posts, on the homepage.

With more submissions coming in, many complained that the homepage was getting too busy. So, we stopped giving people the ability to post products directly to the homepage and introduced an invite system to empower the community to recommend new curators.

Early 2015

As Product Hunt grew in popularity, we wanted to give more people an opportunity to submit products. So, we introduced an Upcoming feed to manage the “firehose” of submissions without overpopulating the homepage. Quickly, we started to see more submissions, but too few people were upvoting products from this feed to promote products to the homepage in an algorithmic and automated way. So, we began moving products to the homepage that we thought the community might like. Many of those submissions remained at the bottom of the feed. Many rose to the top.

Today

Unless you’re one of the early members of the community (those that helped get Product Hunt off the ground and continue to be instrumental in curating great products), all posts submitted to Tech first start in Upcoming. Once the product has received a significant number of credible upvotes (those that aren’t manipulated by voting rings) from the community, will be promoted to the homepage within 48 hours. Anyone that signs up can upvote and we encourage everyone to explore the Upcoming feed to help surface great products onto the homepage.

Note that if a product posted in Upcoming never makes it to the homepage and has undergone significant updates, makers can request to have it resubmitted by emailing us at hello@producthunt.com with a link to the post and details of what has changed since it was originally submitted. We understand products evolve and deserve another look.

The Data

As the community’s opened up to more people, contributions have shifted from a small group of early members to broader, global community in over 100 countries and territories. Today, only 15% of posts on the homepage come from early community members, down from 75% earlier this year, as shown here:

Percentage of posts featured on the homepage by early community members

This change is intentional in an effort to diversify the community as it continues to grow.

Ultimately upvotes determine what reaches the top of Product Hunt and everyone can upvote. Today, only 2% of total upvotes come from those early community members.

Over 50% of the people upvoting and 50% of the total upvotes come from people who live outside the U.S. — Canada, United Kingdom, Amsterdam, Japan, India, France, etc.

Everyone’s upvote is equal — my upvote counts the same as yours — and ultimately upvotes determine what rises to the top of Product Hunt.

It’s also interesting to see where these products come from. Here’s a map of makers that have had products on the homepage of Product Hunt, spanning across 115 countries:

Let’s make the whole world blue

Although not perfect, I’m incredibly proud of the impact Product Hunt has made on so many people and thankful to have a team and enthusiastic community working everyday to build a better Product Hunt.

What’s Next

Some people have expressed frustration in understanding how products surface on the homepage. I completely understand and it’s in our best interest to create a more open Product Hunt while maintaining high-quality curation.

It’s a difficult challenge but 100% solvable. Every few months we introduce significant changes (some of which aren’t publicly obvious) as the community grows and new ideas are suggested across the team and community.

So, here’s what we’re doing. We’ve updated our FAQ to clarify some things, including how products are promoted from Upcoming to the homepage, our stance on disclosing conflicts of interest, and details on how community invites work. If you think something is missing, please let us know at hello@producthunt.com.

As the community grows, so will the product.

Now is a great time to discuss how we can build a better Product Hunt. I’d like to invite you to a community LIVE Chat to discuss:

  • Ways to improve Product Hunt’s curation process
  • How we can give more people an opportunity to contribute
  • And any other ideas you’d like to share

Please, join me and the team Tuesday, December 29th at 9am (PT).

Everyone will have a chance to participate, not just those invited by others in the community, in shaping 2016 for Product Hunt. It’ll be fun. 😸