I am excited today to announce the release of the next version (0.4.0) of chainBB.com! Since I'm not making it to SteemFest this year and it's hackathon, I decided to hunker down and have a hackathon of my own. Looking forward to seeing/reading about whatever work all of you at the actual hackathon produce. Keep us posted!
As with all of my chainBB posts - I'd encourage you to continue reading this post on chainBB to get a sense of what it is. Here's the link to this post:
What is chainBB?
chainBB is a discussion forum interface for the Steem blockchain. chainBB isn't a replacement for blogging on Steemit - but a different way to interact with all the same people and content on the Steem blockchain.
It's a platform designed to make it easier to engage with each other. It steps outside of replies on one another's blog posts. Writing a post in a forum is much less daunting than writing a blog post. No need to worry about formatting or picking out images, the goal isn't to make it to any frontpage or even earn massive rewards. The goal is to have a conversation, ask a question, or share an idea.
Continue to blog and earn rewards through Steemit (or your favorite app) - but also consider joining a few different chainBB forums to be a part of the conversation.
Want more information? Here's a few older posts for a bit of history:
- chainBB v0.3.0 - social feed, following, and forum subscriptions
- chainBB.com - a blockchain forum platform for Steem
- ChainBB - A Review of what may become way bigger than steemit.com (by @cryptoctopus) / https://chainbb.com/chainbb/@cryptoctopus/chainbb-a-review-of-what-may-become-way-bigger-than-steemit-com
- Diversifying My Steemit Experience: In Over My Head With Awesome ChainBB (by @prufarchy)
- chainBB - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The code behind chainBB is open source and can be found in the following repositories:
- Frontend: https://github.com/aaroncox/chainbb-frontend
- Services: https://github.com/aaroncox/chainbb (will split into individual repositories in the future)
chainBB 0.4.0 - a focus on forums
Inching closer to what I'd consider a version 1.0 - this update at a high level includes:
- User created forums
- Forum moderation
- Redesigned forum interface
- Server upgrades & bug fixes (including the annoying jumping cursor)
The next few sections of this post will dive in deep on what these features do (and what they mean for chainBB). Towards the end of the post I'll give a brief look at what's coming up for chainBB.
Thank you to everyone that's been involved in providing feedback, listening to me rant, and helping me solve some of these problems. It's very appreciated.
User created forums
Up until this point - the forums that existed on chainBB were forums that I created, either because I thought it a good idea or someone requested it. All of those forums have now been removed, and chainBB is whatever the community wants it to be from here on out (well, within reason).
Any user can now create their own forum with a setup cost of 10 STEEM.
I won't dive in too deep on the cost in this post, there was a good discussion about it on the post I wrote last weekend about revenue. I am pretty comfortable with where pricing is at and don't expect it to change - but it could. I've never run a business based on blockchain powered forum hosting before... but who has? :)
I've also created a forum specifically for users to announce their forums which can be found in /f/new-forums. I'll be moderating this forum and giving each forum a chance to introduce themselves.
So, what is a forum?
It's a collection of people and their posts which are normally all related to a single topic. A forum on chainBB is somewhat similar to a subreddit on Reddit.com, a Facebook group, a traditional PHP forum, or what a "community" will be on Steemit.com in the future. It's a place for people to congregate.
Why would anyone need a forum?
The best way to understand the benefit is a real world example. I'll use my needs as this example since I'm in a position to need a forum.
As a developer - I write blog posts like these to keep everyone informed. I engage with users and typically it's in responses to posts like this - sometimes months after the post was created. I also get a lot of random message in various chat programs with questions and keeping track of it all is insanely hard. I need one place to point people to.
That's where forums come in. With a forum, I can direct everyone to one place to talk to me (or each other), instead of in the comments.
Let's compare my options currently between Steemit.com and chainBB.com. It's slightly unfair because realistically the comparison should be between forums and communities, but this is what exists now to us currently.
The two pages have very different content for a number of reasons but are both populated by the Steem blockchain. Steemit itself shows you the recent content (which at the moment looks to be spam), where as chainBB shows what's being talked about even on all the older content.
It also prompts users to create a post and will automatically tag the post appropriately to be a part of the forum. This leads to an area that we can engage in conversation, ask questions, provide support, and collaborate in any number of ways.
So with that being said - from here on out, /f/vessel on chainBB will serve as Vessel's home on Steem.
Rewarding the forum organizers
Back when I launched chainBB, I added a 15% Beneficiary Reward to all posts created through the site. At that time, I stated that I felt it was a bit on the higher end and the goal was to not increase it in the future. This new feature was the reason why I initially went as high as I did. With the launch of these new forums comes a new way to reward the community organizers - a share of that 15% beneficiary reward.
chainBB now features a dynamic beneficiary rewards sharing system that increased the rewards to the individuals behind each forum. This reward starts at 1% immediately upon creation and scales up to 10% (or 66% of the 15%) in increments of 0.25%.
This change also doesn't impact users - instead it reduces the percentage that chainBB receives.
This chart illustrates how the beneficiary rewards scale between the Forum Owner and chainBB. As the forum increases it's share, chainBB decreases, leaving the end-user of the forum unaffected at 15%.
Currently the beneficiary rewards are set to go to the owner account of that forum. The owner/organizer of the forum is free to use those rewards however they see fit - they could use it to fund their project (as I am), give rewards back to the community, run giveaways, whatever! It's another option for the many communities here on Steem to fund themselves besides just posts and curation.
So how does a forum increase their percentage share? There's two ways:
- Organically: Rewards generated by the forum automatically increase the value.
- Manually: Forum owners (or users) can transfer STEEM to increase the value from the "Upgrades" area of the forum.
The impatient can pay those up front to immediately earn a higher percentage, while others can wait and grow their forum organically through usage, hopefully creating an environment flexible enough for almost all situations.
When setting up a forum, these are the options available to you:
- Namespace (initial setup): This is the unique ID used in the URL.
- Display Name: The formatted name for the forum. Appears in the header and forums list.
- Description: A short description of the forum.
- Tags: The different tags that are required for content to be shown in this forum. Any post that matches this tag as the first tag (category) on the post will be eligible.
- Exclusive Mode: This is an on/off toggle the forum owner can set. Enabling it will change the forum to only display posts made through chainBB.com (and not steemit/busy/esteem/etc). This does not effect comments/replies to posts - which will always be shown on the posts that are displayed.
There's a number of other configuration options I have planned and will announce them as they become available.
A full guide on "how to setup a forum" is in the works and will be posted soon on /f/announcements.
Spam is a problem on the Steem blockchain and the last version of chainBB had a difficult time dealing with it. The old chainBB forum (meant for talk of chainBB) ended up becoming a home of people just posting random things. Why? Because they saw that the #chainbb tag was making money for people and they wanted to be a part of it. This is a common phenomena on the Steem blockchain.
With this new release, the owner of a forum can now remove posts that don't belong in the forums they run.
Look at the /f/vessel forum again, and click the "Show Hidden" checkbox. You can now see (in grey) the posts that I (as the moderator) have removed.
The goal is to have all moderation be a transparent process (it's on a blockchain after all), and to that end, you can check the "Show Hidden" checkbox to see all posts that have been removed. When a post is removed from a forum, it remains unaffected on the Steem blockchain and the moderation action only occurs on chainBB.com within that specific forum. Posts can also be restored to the forum should the moderator(s) choose.
As community organizers, we need a way to combat spam and tag abuse, but it needs to be in a responsible and transparent way. We need a system that helps avoid all the drama we see on reddit (/r/bitcoin) surrounding censorship. With this moderation system - every user will be able to see the actions of the forum organizer(s) and choose to be a part of that community or not.
Redesigned forum interface
With such a massive update to how forums work - I couldn't just leave the UI alone. Each forum has a new header element that allows for navigation within the forum and access to the meta information about the forum itself.
This new forum header is your control center for that forum, outside of the content. The left bar remains as your global navigation.
The "meta" interface
In the screenshot above, the "meta" information button is pointed out in the upper right.
If you want a real working example, here's the meta page for /f/test.
This button brings you to the area that describe the forum and it's operations. This information is public and anyone can view it. It consists of 4 sections, 3 of which are shown below. All of these are a work in progress and will be improved upon with the next release.
- Overview: basic information about this forum
- Permissions: who has access to do what here
- Configuration: how this forum is setup (not shown in screenshots)
- Upgrades: the upgrades this forum has accumulated
The new tags menu
This menu now gives you more fine control over what type of content you're looking for. /f/buildteam makes the perfect example for the benefit of this system in that they have 3 primary types of content:
- #buildteam - about the organization/group known as buildteam
- #minnowbooster - a service they run
- #steemvoter - another service they run
These controls let you shift the conversation to a specific topic and better learn what it's about.
Posting through the new tags menu
This new tags menu also lets you post within these specific tags easily. Clicking "Post" from within a tag automatically adds the appropriate tags to appear in this part of the forum.
No matter which tag you end up posting into, your post will also be displayed on the forum homepage, which is accessible via the Home button to the left of the tags.
Server upgrades & bug fixes
chainBB is still beta, but we shed the beta subdomain. The site now is hosted on a new CDN and through the chainbb.com root domain. You should notice better initial page loads, but some of the API calls still need routing optimization.
A number of bug fixes were also included in this update. This post is already long enough - but they were mostly in some of the annoyances 0.3 had. Feel free to check github if you're super curious.
Features on the horizon:
I've got a number of new features I want to get implemented quickly to make all of this even better. No ETA, but I may gradually release these over the coming weeks/months. Stay tuned to /f/announcements for future announcements.
- Configurable beneficiaries: Owners will be able to automatically assign beneficiary rewards to their team.
- Moderation teams: Owners will be able to assign moderators, who will be able to help keep forums clean.
- New homepage for chainBB: A new homepage will be designed as a curated list of forums (potentially based on performance).
- Subforums: Creating forums within forums.
- User Contribution Tracking: Tracking the individual contributions of all users of a forum.
Features for the future:
- "Communities" protocol: The plan is to fully integrate the new "Communities" protocol into chainBB in the future. Communities will be slightly different than forums and I think they have the opportunity to work well together.
- Post Signatures: Forum users will be able to configure a forum signature as part of their profile that is attached to their post.
- Custom hosting, domain, logo, themes, titles, etc: Features that go the extra mile for the huge communities.