Building for a Highly Opinionated User Base: Lessons from Reddit and the Hierarchy of Marketplaces


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 22, 2023

4 min read


Building for a Highly Opinionated User Base: Lessons from Reddit and the Hierarchy of Marketplaces


When it comes to building products for a highly opinionated user base, there are valuable lessons to be learned from platforms like Reddit and the hierarchy of marketplaces. In this article, we will explore the common points between these two areas and provide actionable advice on how to effectively cater to opinionated users while ensuring customer satisfaction and growth.

1. Identify and Measure Your Trust Vault:

One crucial aspect of building for a highly opinionated user base is understanding the level of trust your customers have in your company and its products. Reddit introduced the concept of the Trust Vault, which represents the amount of trust the customer base has in you. By measuring trust using tools like the Edelman Trust Barometer, you can gauge how much your users trust your company and its decision-making.

It is essential to consider the impact of product changes on specific user groups. For example, if a product change threatens to increase the workload of moderators, it is vital to assess the trust score of moderators before proceeding. Delaying the launch or making adjustments based on feedback can help maintain trust and ensure a positive user experience.

2. Find the Right Customer Voices to Listen to:

When dealing with a highly opinionated user base, it is crucial to listen to the right customer voices. The loudest users may not necessarily represent the majority or your ideal customer profile. Negative feedback often outweighs positive feedback, making it challenging to assess the attitudes of most users accurately.

To determine the significance of feedback, consider whether it represents a substantial portion (10% or more) of your user base and whether the users providing feedback have the power to influence others. Additionally, if you decide to deprioritize a group's feedback, communicate the reasons behind your decision to help them understand.

3. Take Actual Discussion out of the Public Square:

Reddit's experience highlights the importance of moving nuanced product discussions out of the public square. Public forums often lead to unproductive debates and do not foster clarity or alignment. Instead, create an advisory council consisting of passionate community representatives with whom you can engage in private, safe discussions.

To encourage reasonable discussion within the advisory council, foster a culture that rewards candid feedback and thoughtfulness. Consider using live conversations, forums, or chat rooms to facilitate discussions depending on the volume of items being launched. Establish a process and cadence for connecting with the advisory council, ensuring their feedback is relevant, and building trust.

4. Listen, but Act:

When seeking feedback, it is essential to consider its potential impact on user happiness. The goal of a marketplace is to make buyers and sellers happier than any substitute. Measure happiness by focusing on quality growth rather than vanity metrics like Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV). Pursuing happiness will lead to growth, but the reverse is not always true.

While it is crucial to listen to user feedback, not all suggestions should be implemented. It is acceptable to explain why certain feedback is not being acted upon, as long as the reasons are communicated effectively. Building long-term trust involves being transparent and considering the needs of both existing and potential customers.


Building for a highly opinionated user base requires a deep understanding of trust, effective communication, and prioritization. By measuring trust, identifying the right customer voices to listen to, fostering private discussions, and considering feedback while prioritizing happiness, companies can navigate the challenges of catering to opinionated users successfully.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Regularly assess and measure the trust your user base has in your company and its products using tools like the Edelman Trust Barometer.
  • 2. Identify the voices that truly represent your user base and consider their influence before prioritizing feedback.
  • 3. Establish an advisory council or private space for nuanced product discussions, fostering a culture that rewards candid feedback and thoughtfulness.

Remember, building for a highly opinionated user base requires a delicate balance between meeting user expectations and ensuring sustainable growth.

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