Crowdmind Interview: Behold the Carl!
Howdy Steemians, are you enjoying your holidays? Today we talk with @carlgnash - one of the most friendly people on Steemit, a multi-talented person with a great sense for humor and eye for the content, Plane Traveler, He Who Walks Behind The Blocks...and who knows what more.
But, before we proceed, it is enough to say that he is the role model for a blogger who actively contributes to the value of the whole ecosystem with each activity he performs.
CM: Speaking of your activities within this platform, it is a little bit hard to start interviewing you with the right question. You are engaged in different community projects, and your comments are something we can see on many exceptional posts around. These comments are always carefully crafted to provide valuable feedback to the authors. For many of us, they prove that this platform actually lives. Now we all speak about the importance of great posts, but do we need to encourage the comments equally?
I think that becoming engaged in the comments is the single easiest way anyone can make a valuable contribution to the long-term success of Steem platform. User retention is horrid, although those numbers are tough to gauge accurately with the number of bot, farm, alt, and otherwise not human accounts constantly being created. One thing is clear though, users who actively comment on other authors’ posting are far more likely to remain active on the platform than users who do not. Steem has succeeded in creating many vibrant communities, and engaging in one or more of these communities is a strong predictor for longevity and success on the platform.
To your question, I definitely think we need to encourage commenting, but in particular, to encourage true back and forth engagement that goes beyond “nice post” :) The resource credit economy actually has done a pretty decent job in disincentivizing spam commenting, but that comes at the cost of newer accounts having a very limited number of comments. So there needs to be a combination of education at onboarding (new users – you have to make your comments count! Treat each one like gold! They are your most precious resource as you try to grow your account...), and the possibility of receiving reward for a single well crafted comment (vs. for instance a contest that rewards users for total number of comments or similar, which precludes new users from even competing). Higher stake users would be well advised to reserve a portion of their vote power to curate their own replies, and many of the more forward-thinking higher stake users do this currently. Really, all users should consider reserving a portion of their vote power for comment curation. And that doesn’t just mean upvote every comment you receive, obviously – it means, upvote the best comment(s) you receive :) I would love to see a curation effort specifically dedicated toward rewarding good commenting, and here I have to give a shout out to my favorite bot @gentlebot which uses machine learning to do exactly that (upvote good comments).
CM: When we decided to make the community project aimed at empowering the wisdom of the crowds we knew it will be tough. Many people heard about it, almost everyone agree it is important, but they usually don’t have the idea how to approach it. How do you see it in general?
I think some things are very well suited for crowdsourcing and decentralization in general, and others are not. Making predictions on outcomes is a great use case, but that is in part because of the narrow focus. Governance, maybe not so much, or at least not without major hurdles that have to be overcome that would be easily bypassed by some degree of centralization. So, I think the challenge is in moving beyond the “crowdsourcing is good” part, and finding those specific applications where the wisdom of the crowd can actually be focused into actionable insights.
CM: Crowdsourcing can be a very powerful method with almost unlimited potential. If we analyze it through the blockchain context it gets even better. With the Steem based platforms, what we earlier knew as tools available to the crowd, now becomes the natural ability of the crowd, unrestricted by rules of the middleman. But is the Crowd ready to unleash it? We can take a look at the @witnesssurvey initiative which crowdsourced its questions. The results were mixed so what can we learn from it? There is no doubt the idea is great but was the crowd ready to participate in it? How to make it better in the future – should we work on general awareness about specific topics, or the better Crowd approach? Or both?
Is the goal to create the best survey questions? Or is the goal to get whatever questions the small handful of people who randomly saw a post on Steem blockchain and were motivated enough to comment thought up on the spot? For crowdsourcing to work, first there has to be an actual “crowd”. A handful of people replying to a post is not a crowd in the sense we are talking about here, so naturally, the results were terrible. And second, as mentioned above, the question or task posed to the crowd has to be focused and clear. Prediction crowd markets work because the question is clear (will stock X go up or down? Will team Y win or lose?) and the variables are known or can be known to anyone willing to look them up (earnings reports, win/loss records, player injury status, etc.).
My recommendation would be for anyone interested in leveraging Steem blockchain’s decentralized ledger for crowdsourcing/crowd wisdom: Research what approaches are currently working in this field; think about what unique opportunities (if any) Steem blockchain could bring vis a vis proven crowdsourcing techniques; and then spend the time required to develop a focused DApp to accomplish it. I do think there is real potential here, but it has to be harnessed in specific directions.
CM: It would be impossible to skip the curation in this dialogue. We can say it is your trademark. You are one of the Curie reviewers, and your curation results were really impressive from your very beginning. But you are also one of the founders of the @c-squared project which supports all curation efforts on the Steem blockchain. Can you tell us more about it? How did it happen?
For transparency’s sake, I should state that I have stepped away from reviewing and active participation in @curie as a community rep and operator. I am still an occasional contributor to Curie as a curator. I have had less time in general for Steem lately (I am a stay at home dad with two boys age four and age two, @thingone and @thingtwo, and they are a handful!) and I have decided to focus my time on C². Let me make it clear that I absolutely love and support Curie, its mission and all the people there. I decided to spend my time at C² because I am more excited about it, but that is not a knock on Curie.
Very early in Curie’s history, the decision was made to move away from open submissions and to a closed guild model, where only official Curie curators could submit posts for review and only top curators could recommend in new curators. There are good reasons for this, but the end result is still that Curie curation is conducted by a small group of Steem-is. I have always been interested in a more inclusive model of curation and started the @r-bot (a group curation account where I would share the posting key with other trusted curators) and @humanbot (curation link drop where anyone could drop links to posts by other authors) curation efforts to scratch that itch. I was also behind the short-lived curation channel in the Curie Discord where for a time anyone could request the curator role and drop off curated posts.
I would say that C² is kind of the natural evolution of all three of those earlier efforts, and incorporates lessons learned from them. The basic idea is that *everyone* should be a curator on the Steem blockchain. C² is an easy-to-use service for anyone willing to spend a few moments to reward someone else. The signal to noise ratio has been outstanding, mostly because C² does not allow self-promotion in the curation channels and does not provide payment for curation, so the only people doing this are doing it voluntarily and to help others. Knowing that it is a voluntary effort, the goal for the C² admins has been to make the process as painless as possible for participants. It is well established that people will spend inordinate amounts of time and energy online for absolutely no reward, as long as it is for something they care about and the UX is decent or at least not painful. I would like to think C² goes beyond not painful and into the pleasant/easy UX for a curator. The proof is in the pudding, and a steady and very diverse stream of Steem users curate some really interesting posting through @c-squared.
CM: Curation process in the Curation Collective is completely open to the Crowd. Would it be wrong to say that you are truly crowdsourcing it? When Surowiecki states that “under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent, and are often smarter than the smartest people in them” that sounds so obvious. But the key is to create the appropriate environment which would allow it to happen? It looks like you guys succeed in this…
C² is truly crowdsourcing curation, and I think it is a great use case. It isn’t to say that every single post brought in is awesome, but the extra effort required to visit the Discord and drop the link does tend to mean that people only bring posts that really stood out to them. What makes me the happiest is when a new user shows up to request the curator role and starts bringing in a type of posting, or groups of authors, that I have never seen curated before. Or when posters who specialize in a particular area, e.g. musicians, or artists, start bringing in the best posts they find in their area of interest (there is a real value in harnessing the knowledge of experts in a field!). Actually, the #art-curation channel in C² is a great example of how this type of curation can form a positive feedback loop – as more and more art is curated through C², more artists show up and participate as curator... and they bring in more art that catches their eye, and it builds on itself. Many of my favorite Steem artists actually participate as curators in C² from time to time and I always value what their artist’s eye sees. C² has re-invigorated my love for and faith in Steem, to see the diversity of posting brought forward by the community when given the tools to do so and the simple mission to look for posts that deserve more love.
Also posted on Crowdmind.io website with SteemPress : https://www.crowdmind.io/2019/01/04/crowdmind-interview-behold-the-carl/