145

Is it just me or did DN use to be more interesting?

over 1 year ago from , Product Designer

I used to check DN every day and there was always some interesting conversation going on or some useful piece of news, but lately it feels like it's just full of promo articles and ads to silly products.

Does anyone else share my opinion?

Update: thank you for all your comments. I have to agree with Jonathan's solution: down voting would fix everything. It cannot make things worse than they are now and we either do something or lose the community to promo blogs.

There are a lot of interesting ideas here and we should keep them in mind and try to address our problems later on, but none of them would have as big an impact or be as easy to implement as a simple down its button.

62 comments

  • Mike Wilson, over 1 year ago

    DN was never that interesting, it's why I spend most of my time on Hackernews and only come here occasionally.

    Here's what I wish could be improved:

    1.) Expand the scope of topics discussed outside of UI/UX Design. DN is like going to the bar with a guy who ONLY talks about work and what wrench he uses. I also want to hear designers opinions on current events and other things they have going on in their lives. Hacker News nails this one.

    2.) Attract more designers who don't exclusively live on Dribbble. In about 60% of the comments here I often get a sense that the author has zero understanding of the design world outside of what is posted on Dribbble. What about academics, traditional graphic designers, communication designers, brand designers, etc. etc.

    3.) Get aggressive about killing off links to content marketing. It's a huge issue here. Generally if the link comes from a 'UX' article farm, Medium, or the blog of a company, it's hollow crap.

    4.) Find some way to get older designers on the site. This would be helped by expanding the scope of topics discussed. If I had to guess, the average age here is 22. I'm 31 and every time I post a comment I feel like I'm talking to college kids about how the industry works and not getting much wisdom in return.

    5.) This one might be controversial, but de-emphasize the use of real names on the site. Hacker News thrives as an anonymous community. I often get the impression people posting here are doing so with the sole purpose of looking good when someone searches your name. It feels artificial and fake, and we rarely get controversial opinions here as a result. I want to hear what you REALLY think, not what you think a recruiter is going to want to see when they search you.

    86 points
    • Clay MacTavishClay MacTavish, over 1 year ago

      Veteran opinions would help drastically. It is clear there are a lot of young designers here with very little experience on what it is like to make a living as a designer.

      14 points
    • Laurens SpangenbergLaurens Spangenberg, over 1 year ago

      I feel like 1. is a problem that's reflective of the UI design community as a whole. I've always felt that UI designers are kind of stuck in this bubble compared to the other big fields that seem to be more interconnected to both each other and other fields of work.

      Isn't it odd that we're all user interface designers here, yet at the same time we've also been so disconnected to the architecture and industrial design community, whom also has to think about interaction and some of the same principles as us.

      Or if you look at some (high quality) graphic design sites, they also tend to also look at artists and musicians in connection to design. Unlike UI design, they also don't demonize aesthetics. While I agree that UIs should be intuitive, at the same time we have to acknowledge that we're (most of the time) working in a visual space. It seems to me that many UI/UX designers seem to confuse good aesthetics as "unnecessary visuals," whereas it really means good communication trough a visual medium. In discounting the value of aesthetics and its importance we've in place created the idea of blindly following design trends to communicate ideas.

      When I read a few classic industrial and graphic design books, I was surprised that they thought so differently compared to UI designers. For instance, in Thoughts on Design, by Paul Rand, Rand consistently discusses "aesthetics" in such a way to think about how to communicate.

      The problem I found, however, is that there aren't many too many good design sites of the above mentioned design fields in the first place. In graphic design, most of the blogs have the same crap content that UI design blogs have, only in place of thoughtless marketing they have thoughtless visuals, that too, follow trends. In architecture, I found only one good critical blog, Failed Architecture. (Note: I'm not affiliated with that blog in any way.)

      15 points
    • Ryan Hicks, over 1 year ago

      I say what I think regardless. I'm not hyper-sensitive and I don't post while caring if others are. If you're publically posting on a "social network" then you're asking for opinions and you'll get them (at least from me).

      0 points
    • Michael Nino EvensenMichael Nino Evensen, over 1 year ago

      Very well put Mike. Echoes my feelings exactly. When I first heard about Designernews I always had hopes of a thriving community of discussions and dialogue around design. Principles, methods, problems, systems tips and tricks - knowledge sharing basically. But I always felt from the start that Designernews has always largely been ruled by very junior designers posting portfolio links, no depth all fluff. I'm 32 myself and I've always wanted a place to share experiences, even work in progress and have fruitful critical / non-critical discussion about my work, but to me Designernews just isn't that. I echo the comment about Hackernews being much more active and somehow more grown up and reflected. I for one really feel that what Designernews is now really doesn't benefit the design community as a whole, especially when you compare it to the discussions happening on Hackernews, as it sort of reaffirms this superficial impression that people can have about design as a practice. I would absolutely love to log onto Designernews one day and see a big emphasised post / thread discussing in detail (or even semi-detail) why someone has made this or that choice.

      1 point
    • Luis La TorreLuis La Torre, over 1 year ago

      Response to 4) How much value do you feel young designers provide?

      0 points
    • Jim SilvermanJim Silverman, over 1 year ago

      I also want to hear designers opinions on current events

      please no.

      8 points
  • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, over 1 year ago

    The solution has already been done and proved: We need to introduce down voting.

    46 points
    • Cristian Moisei, over 1 year ago

      Upvote.

      4 points
      • Ken Em, over 1 year ago

        Perhaps this has been discussed previously, but what's the rationale for not having downvoting? Fear of hostility as a result?

        0 points
        • Sean LesterSean Lester, over 1 year ago

          I'm really torn on information democracy systems. They obviously have benefits, but they also pretty consistently lead to collective ignorance and gaming by the nefariously motivated. I guess it's hard to escape the humanity of it, but on places like Reddit you see how communities turn into echochambers where signalling your compliance with groupthink is rewarded and dissent, even if you have something valuable to say in-so-doing, is immediately buried and punished.

          1 point
          • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, over 1 year ago

            I agree this is an issue but not having a downvote doesn't solve this issue in the smallest. People will still be nudged into posting what they know will get votes. Having downvotes lets the community fight against spam/marketing bs/and those that hurt the community.

            1 point
            • Sean LesterSean Lester, over 1 year ago

              True, I think simply not having a downvote as opposed to entirely not having an information democracy is more a way to keep communities positive, to keep people from being buried entirely and having bad experiences that create resentment and hostility. People often have strong reactions to being downvoted that result in unnecessary conflict which can turn communities toxic. Good behavior is better reinforced by a community being committed to its values and rewarding such behavior, keeping it positive. Particularly with DN's "Be nice. Or else." ethos in mind.

              1 point
              • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, over 1 year ago

                Thanks for elaborating. I could see how that would work. Not that there needs to be for it to be true, but are there any examples of this working well in larger communities?

                1 point
                • Sean LesterSean Lester, over 1 year ago

                  I can't think of a single one. I know a forum I used to frequent switch from an upvote/downvote to upvote-only system and it seemed to improve the vibe as far as I can tell, though engagement tailed off — unsure if that is related to the voting system or just aging user base slowly moving on from the community.

                  For clarification I don't mean to argue that upvote-only is the ideal system, just humoring some arguments I imagine factor into the DN team's reasoning. I think flaws are pretty easy to find in all three systems. A fortune awaits whoever solves them.

                  1 point
                  • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, over 1 year ago

                    Yeah, you bring up some good points. How do you preserve good vibes but allow the community to filter out the cruft? If I hear you right, you are saying that while downvoting solves the issue of filtering out cruft, it also sacrifices the cultivation of good vibes.

                    I guess we need some other solution that gets us both. In the mean time I think HN is a good example to follow. downvoting and some smart algorithms help keep the quality high. Its not perfect but it works.

                    It solves this important problem.

                    • User1 posts something. 5 People liked it, 50 people disliked it
                    • User 2 posts something. 4 people liked it. 0 Disliked it

                    Which gets the top spot? Which sinks to the bottom?

                    Upvote-only puts User1's post at the top. Upvote/downvote puts User2's story at the top. The community as a whole disliked User1's post, maybe it was too marketing but in the current state of DN it would rise to the top.

                    Anyway, this would be a fun product/problem to work on thats for sure.

                    2 points
                    • Sean LesterSean Lester, over 1 year ago

                      "If I hear you right, you are saying that while downvoting solves the issue of filtering out cruft, it also sacrifices the cultivation of good vibes."

                      Yes, though I'd add, too, that downvoting doesn't necessarily work as described as it tends to aid in collective ignorance. If early downvoters are wrong about something, then those who are inclined to look to this social proof to decide what is good and bad information are likely to follow suit. Then a pattern is formed of a community deciding certain things are wrong and should be buried regardless of merit because, well, everyone else in the community has silently said as much. At the very least you find that communities with upvote/downvote trend toward reinforcing only a single paradigm and punishing all others. This isn't an exclusively bad thing, but if a community heads in the wrong direction it will be fully committed to that wrong direction and it will likely resist innovation of thought.

                      So ultimately this would require a cost/benefit analysis and some testing, I suppose. YouTube is a great example of a community that was utterly toxic with no voting system at all and improved by having upvote/downvote.

                      0 points
                      • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, over 1 year ago

                        Good point. Another shortcoming of downvoting is early downvoting can have a big impact. I wonder if the solution there is a grace period. Show no up or down votes for a certain period and then rank it.

                        1 point
  • Matthew BlodeMatthew Blode, over 1 year ago

    Its seems near impossible to wade through the crap of marketing blogs and ux gurus. As a long time user of designer news it feels like it is falling as the quality of the content that is posted here slips. I feel like sidebar.io is what I should be using for design news as it is curated and selected but there aren't enough posts each day to fuel my news addiction... Hacker News maintains a very high standard of news through their system as opposed to where DN has been heading. Maybe design news was never all that interesting and I'm finally growing up to realise.

    21 points
    • Cristian Moisei, over 1 year ago

      Perhaps you're right. I mean there are very few actual news in the world of design (Adobe screwing up again, some big agency coming up with a new project, a major redesign), so perhaps it's best we call it a day and move on to tech sites for news and forums for conversations.

      DN was nice while it lasted.

      5 points
    • Sam SolomonSam Solomon, over 1 year ago

      Hacker News caters to a much wider audience outside of engineers. Often the most interesting articles are those about art, health and society—things you wouldn't expect on an engineering site. A better comparison would be to Lobsters, which is purely engineering.

      I think that, perhaps, there is a mixture of a few things happening here:

      • There's a limited amount of design content. Other than actual design work, it seems like few designers write.
      • The active community is still comparatively small. Perhaps, we should try and broaden to topics outside of tech and design?
      • There is a ton of marketing posts here. A self-promotional article every now and then is fine, but post other things. I called out the guy from Repick last week. The only thing he's posted for the last six months were links to the company blog.

      Edit: As a side note, I'm not a huge fan of letting people choose a badge for their post. There are a ton of mis-categorized posts.

      10 points
      • Laurens SpangenbergLaurens Spangenberg, over 1 year ago

        I really like the idea of broadening up the scope of things. One thing I enjoy about Hacker News articles unrelated to engineering is the discussion that comes from it. Ideally, I would love to see articles that are less related to design and see a discussion from it that discusses it from the perspective of designers.

        3 points
      • Sean LesterSean Lester, over 1 year ago

        I don't come to DN to be entertained, though. I came here and come here because it was at least at one point a fairly professional site with quality information, studies, advice for learning how to be excellent in the field of design. I attribute my success in my career to the voracious learning I did as a result of having access to this place and people like Sam Hulick. DN also used to have a membership that included designers and product people from top tech companies such as Amazon, Google, Etsy etc. You could trust a lot of the information here because the userbase was serious.

        Seriously, I'm reading in this thread that "we're all visual designers" and "everyone here is just a Dribbble user" but it used to be the case that you couldn't escape the think pieces whining about what Dribbble has done to design and how it isn't a real design site because it's so superficial.

        The idea that it's a PROBLEM that Designer News has FOCUS is absurd. Go to Reddit or something, go to the rest of the internet. There's plenty of the kind of content you're looking for. Designer News is what it is (or was what it was) BECAUSE it had focus, identity, because it was a serious site for design professionals.

        2 points
  • Nice ShoesNice Shoes, over 1 year ago

    I agree with many of the points here. Too much UI/UX posts. Too many sketch articles. Too many code articles. Too much shady marketing.

    Ever since they opened the regrestration it's nose dived.

    Can it be fixed? I don't know. I for one no longer check it daily. I used to do it every few hours. I expect it would be next to impossible to fix the issues.

    DN should start again. Shut it down and put more value on content that cover a wider spectrum of design. Curate authors but allow comments.

    11 points
  • Ken Em, over 1 year ago

    A bit yes. Two things that I notice constantly, despite being specifically spelled out as being "unwelcome stories" in the guidelines, are:

    "List-format articles, especially those intended for SEO purposes" (there are two on the Recent page as I write this)

    "... posting to the same URL multiple times in a given timeframe or exclusively to the same domain"

    That second one is especially frustrating. There is a dingus in place that alerts you if the link you are posting has already been done so. But I guess people are just ignoring that and posting anyway. So then we end up with multiple topics on the same thing.

    Maybe I'm expecting too much, but I don't think it takes much effort to look at the Recent page to see if the thing you are going to post has been posted already, especially if it's a big news item.

    (This isn't something unique to DN. People rarely actually read the thing they are replying / posting to.)

    8 points
  • Steven CavinsSteven Cavins, over 1 year ago

    There are a lot of truly boring marketing posts that can achieve lift off with as little as two upvotes. So the signal v noise ratio isn't too acute at the moment.

    But perhaps even more alarming is the hot-take economy of web publishing, so it takes a lot of energy to sift through the "why you should/shouldn't use tool/process" posts from designers who've managed to see a short-term gain in a professional but incredibly subjective choice they've made and want a little taste of that sweet hyperbolic Mike Monteiro/Jared Spool pie.

    So we could blame DN, blame marketers or just blame ourselves. I'm tilting towards the latter.

    8 points
    • Cristian Moisei, over 1 year ago

      Could you rephrase the last part about Monteiro? I don't understand your point and it looks like an interesting one.

      0 points
      • Laurens SpangenbergLaurens Spangenberg, over 1 year ago

        I think he's referring to designers that make rather narrow-minded absolutist positions as an attempt to sound like an insightful thought leader and get fame.

        An example would be the cliched idea that "all designers should code," where the reality is more in line with "it depends." This is of course discounting the fact that most designers outside UI design have little to no use of coding.

        Jared's recently infamous "Everyone that influences the experience of something is a designer," also springs to mind as an obvious simplification of the world and a self-congratulatory message towards (UI) designers being the center of things.

        12 points
  • Jffry VskJffry Vsk, over 1 year ago

    I notice that there is a post about a new Krakow logo from 13 hours ago (this thread was posted 16 hours ago) and not a single person has commented. Isn't this the kind of content people want to discuss around here? Why is that not happening (I don't know, I'm just asking)?

    From my own experience, a couple times in the past year I posted threads asking somewhat common design related questions and I had no response. My guess is that people don't answer questions around here period or this is not even why people visit anymore.

    Remember when nobody knew all the designer patterns and we were just making shit up as we went along - building the web. That was great...and discussions were everywhere. Do people still make projects like this or is it entirely the same center justified whatever framework based stuff?

    6 points
    • Cristian Moisei, over 1 year ago

      I'd say because nobody tried to start a conversation. 'Here's the new Krakow logo and I think it's interesting because X and Y but Z could have been done better. What do you guys think?' Not just a link to an outside side.

      0 points
  • Ken Em, over 1 year ago

    And enough already with the "Should designers ___________?" links!

    5 points
  • evan kosowski, over 1 year ago

    To quote Ghandi: "Be the change you wish to see in DN"

    4 points
  • Ryan Van GattenRyan Van Gatten, over 1 year ago

    If people would access the links and stop voting just "the title" DN wouldn't have a problem.

    There are a lot of cool submissions every day. You just have to look at it and vote. Stop waiting on others to do it.

    3 points
    • Rakesh KRakesh K, over 1 year ago

      I'm not sure if there are a lot of quality submissions but whatever there is never reaching the eyes of many DN users is an issue. I ran a poll and found two-thirds of users are not checking out recent news. I tried to start a discussion on this but was as usual left to die alone under the recent tab.

      1 point
  • Mike Abbot, over 1 year ago

    Dunno how you guys & girls are using this site, but DN it's a part of my morning routine. I take 10-15min before work and check my favorite sites, including DN, out. And that's it for the day. Maybe think about evolving the UX more into this "morning routine" direction. It could work, but again this is just my practice.

    2 points
  • Andy LeverenzAndy Leverenz, over 1 year ago

    It was more interesting to me when it was still new. Now it's a platform where everyone goes to try to figure out a way to monetize something. The same goes for medium, dribbble, and more. I can hardly stand to give anything a chance anymore. Sucks!

    2 points
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, over 1 year ago

    This community it's way to vertical. And it lacks of members, lot of them, in order to have good amount of content to enjoy. It also suffers from spammers, but well, we just promote them to the frontpage so we have to think about it twice before promoting bad content again.

    2 points
  • Oz ChenOz Chen, over 1 year ago

    Hm I feel the same. Whereas I used to check DN every day, it's more about once a week now.

    2 points
  • Mike HeitzkeMike Heitzke, over 1 year ago

    ... and then maybe the solution is more of us finding interesting content, or posing questions. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    The forums that suffer from spam the most are the ones with the least new activity.

    2 points
    • Cristian Moisei, over 1 year ago

      When a bunch of people asked for a feedback section a while ago, we were told the fresh section is enough. When people post questions or ask for help, barely anyone replies.

      3 points
      • Mike HeitzkeMike Heitzke, over 1 year ago

        I don't disagree at all. First step to fixing a problem is realizing we have one, right? I'm quite fond of the community so I should try to post more as well.

        0 points
  • Simon EvansSimon Evans, over 1 year ago

    Mostly just a byproduct of rapid growth - happens to every board/forum.

    2 points
  • Chris CastilloChris Castillo, over 1 year ago

    It used to be a pretty great place. I'd love to see the average number of comments across all articles after open registration happened compared to what it used to be.

    0 points
  • Russ BrownRuss Brown, over 1 year ago

    Thank you for finally saying it, I used to always find two or three really good pieces on DN. Now I'm lucky if I find one every other day.

    Crummy click bait UX and design articles, what has gone wrong?

    0 points
  • Jonathan KelleyJonathan Kelley, over 1 year ago

    Ban Hammer?

    0 points
  • Saffad KhanSaffad Khan, over 1 year ago

    This has become like product hunt - a dumping ground for links and products. The fact that I can't even find this post through the homepage and search shows that the algorithm sucks.

    Went downhill ever since it went for open registration.

    0 points
  • Luis La TorreLuis La Torre, over 1 year ago

    I would spend a lot more time upvoting and commenting if I get more in return. (10 year of experience designer). I only get 3 colors with over 300 Karma. What is this? The cover of DN would be so much better if more people upvote or comment on the recent posts, but there is not really good incentives at this point.

    0 points
  • Nick Orland, over 1 year ago

    One of the reasons: too many trolls and self-centered people.

    0 points