We posted on Hacker News – and messed up.

2 min read

After we had quite some success with our Product Hunt post, we thought it was finally time to list Riddle on the other great site for community feedback (and traffic) – Hacker News.

Hacker News allows you to list your own site in the Show section. However, as we did not want to troll the site, we first engaged heavily in other discussions. In the process of posting other useful links and commenting, we became big fans and daily users of Hacker News. When we felt Riddle was ready, we posted this:

“Show HN: Riddle.com – create Buzzfeed-like content in 60 seconds (riddle.com)”

It is common practice to give yourself a few upvotes in the early minutes after a post so we did. Other HN users found Riddle interesting and also upvoted us so that we made it to the #4 spot on the Show Hacker News page, which is pretty awesome.

The Hacker News Rookie Mistake

Then however, we made a rookie mistake. We pointed a few active Riddle users to the post – being all proud about the top 5 listing there. Our users wanted to do us a favor and leave positive comments. They even went through the pain of registering a brand new account, which is when it all went bad.

The Hacker News mods quickly saw that a bunch of comments were left by users who had only registered to make a comment – and left a harsh but true statement:

A collection of comments showing how we messed up on Hacker News
A collection of comments showing how we messed up on Hacker News

I tip my hat to Hacker News. They do a great job monitoring the postings and they were right in removing us.

We should have let it ride and be happy with the #4 spot. Pointing existing Riddle users to the listing was against the Hacker News terms and conditions and our post got deleted.

While it was up though (for 2 hours maybe) we signed up 95 users and if that would have continued, Hacker News would have brought us more users than Product Hunt (sorry Product Hunt, we still love you lots).

A good lesson learned…

  • When posting on Hacker News let the community decide if they like you or not.
  • Do not ask your current users to comment.
  • Even though all comments on were actually honest, well meant comments from actual Riddle users – they were not from actual Hacker News users and that is all that matters.

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