By Marquis Kurt ‘22
Getting exposure on a project you’ve worked for long is a gratifying and difficult process. Marketing takes time and effort to master and you’re guaranteed to make mistakes along the way. However, taking the time, effort, and motivation to get your project known to the world pays off; people notice your project and others may reach out to work with you. One of the ways you can get a project noticed is through Product Hunt, a website and platform that lets creators publish their product and receive feedback from the community as people tumble across your product. If people are interested in your project, they may upvote it. I joined Product Hunt this past Friday morning in hopes of getting exposure on two of my major projects this semester: The Costumemaster, a puzzle game about switching costumes, and Unscripted, a visual novel video game about software development. When I woke up the next morning, I was greeted with a handful of emails and Twitter messages regarding my work on Product Hunt.
At first, I was ecstatic: I was getting more traction than before with the marketing on Twitter and other social media. My reaction quickly changed its tune when I began reading the emails and messages. All the messages were business pitches, which I am familiar with since I get many of them as a result of Unscripted. These requests, however, were unusual; these requests offered “guaranteed top spots” on the homepage or an influx of upvotes (i.e., buying upvotes). Thus, a moral dilemma arises. Getting on the front page or having a lot of upvotes is ideal; it indicates that your project is popular enough and that people will notice it more than before. However, is it worth it to pay for a shortcut or cheat the system to get there? Should you have to do these kinds of things to get the exposure you want?
For your work to be the best it can, you need to have integrity in your work and the people you work with. Having this integrity shows that you deeply care about the work you’re doing and the people that look at that work. It shows that you prefer to go more honest and transparent routes to benefit you, the people you work with, and your customers/consumers/players/what-have-you. This integrity is a small portion of the pride you have for accomplishing your work, and taking those shady deals undermines that pride and integrity. Furthermore, you may be like me where I value upvotes as more than popularity points; they are a crucial piece of feedback that gives you a sense of how people understand and react to your work. Taking the aforementioned deals and routes takes that information away from you, leaving you clueless as to how people honestly feel about your work.
In the end, I went through every email and message with those deals for front page privilege and guaranteed upvotes, declining every single request. I posted to Twitter as a warning to everyone who attempts to pull the same stunt. Let my experience be a lesson to all who are getting started with publicizing their work; don’t let anyone persuade you to be dishonest with your work.