This is neither an informative nor self-aware summary of Product Hunt.
- Hyperbole is counterproductive to making a cogent point: “blacklist”/ “sunk by competitor”/ “prove their worth”.
- Lack of a FAQ exhaustively explaining each individual feature and flow is as unreasonable for Product Hunt as it is for Facebook or Twitter.
- In design, there is a difference between something being discoverable vs. intuitive. Look at your iPhone; how do you delete an app? Most early iPhone users struggle with this. The “hold your finger on app until it wiggles into Delete Mode” feature is considered discoverable, but not intuitive. It may not be intuitive upon first glance that not all products posted to PH go straight to the home page, but click “See All” on the home page and now you’ll see a filter that says “Featured”, which would imply not all products are featured. Sure enough, if you click the dropdown, it reveals an “Upcoming” section which reveals a slew of products. This is not intuitive, but it is discoverable.
All of which is to say: Product Hunt isn’t a conspiracy. It’s also not mystery. It does require investigation, as with any marketing channel.
Critiquing marketing channels is good. Chastising them is also good, when they’re doing illegal or unethical things (see: how big box retail takes 70–80% margins). In this case, Product Hunt is doing nothing either illegal or unethical. And that is the central point of this piece: that PH is acting unethically by not being more clear how the product works. My point is: PH is effectively as clear as it should be, and here’s why:
Many of us post things to Product Hunt because we tacitly understand PH offers great reach. It is now an established marketing channel. Like any marketing channel, there is a balance of responsibility between the channel and you as the marketer to understand how the channel works. The channel (Product Hunt) makes it clear that a) products are posted, b) some make it to the front page, others don’t, and c) there is a mixture of direct guidance in the FAQ and indirect guidance one could discover by looking more investigatively into the product, which together form a complete understanding of how Product Hunt works.
If you advertise on TV, become a viewer yourself, do your targeting research, look at what made others successful, make a considered decision, etc. So too with Product Hunt.
I, too, wrote a post called “How to Product Hunt”. My goal was to inform with facts and well-reasoned opinion based on experience. I believe the information I covered is available elsewhere; my post serves simply to centralize it, making it less work for others.
If this post interests you, consider reading my post as well for a concise, specific take on how Product Hunt the product works, what the Product Hunt community is like, and what products do/don’t work best within that community and product.