Hackers and Hustlers: Where Next?

As we’re getting close to 1000 users on Hackers and Hustlers, I’d like to start a discussion about the future of H&H.

We used to have excellent discussions on here. A year ago and 600 people less, it was not unusual to see 40+ comment discussions, there was even talk of Facebook needing threading in comments. We were opinionated and expressive. Links posted tended to be relevant to the group’s goal: creating a startup culture in Michigan.

Lately, H&H has been swamped by all kinds of link posts and very little discussion or response. The volume of posts has more than tripled, but discussion and participation has decreased inversely. And the Start Garden endorsement requests are starting to feel like Farmville spam.

I know that this is a well documented phenomena in online communities. Digg, Youtube, Slashdot, Reddit and Hacker News have all followed the same pattern. What starts as a curated or exclusive ecosystem (and quickly gains popularity because of that), is inevitably degrade to chatter and spam.

Nathan Bashaw and I talked several times at the beginning of this year about the direction H&H was heading. We had just hit 600 members and it was the only reason that I ever logged in to Facebook. We talked about the possibility of H&H growing too big for itself, but we hoped that quality discussions and links would float to the top. Instead, they seems to get buried too quickly.

What’s next? Where do we go from here? We are still a solid community of michiganders, hacking and hustling our way through the startup life. Props to Bashaw for adding Kyle Mulka, Ryan Goins and Nate West as admins. You’ve all been doing a great job keeping everything running smoothly. And I’m excited for the H&H stickers too, they are awesome. If you haven’t yet, go check them out here.

So here’s what I suggest: Let’s participate more in discussions and let’s post stuff that’s more relevant to the group. Let’s see the projects you guys are working on, instead of the latest trend on HN! Don’t just ask for an endorsement on Start Garden, post a Show H&H of your prototype or even just your landing page. Give feedback, mentor, and encourage others. And for gods sake, post jobs to hackersandhustlers.org. Thoughtful discussion online (gasp) is not dead!