In Response to Current Conflicts Regarding Social Media and Engagement
The science of politics is the one science that is deposited by the streams of history, like the grains of gold in the sand of a river; and the knowledge of the past, the record of truths revealed by experience, is eminently practical, as an instrument of action and a power that goes to making the future.
- John Dalberg-Acton
I have tried to remain as objective as possible while writing this, and I do not mean to question any intentions of any individuals, however there is intention, then there is action, then there is result.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is where the TL;DR of news goes. It is an engagement platform that can do wonders for outreach and growth. It can also kill or otherwise hinder an entity. It is best viewed as a front facing entity that introduces and engages people. Many of us like long form news and thoughts, but there is no denying that twitter is powerful and serves a purpose as a tool.
Ideally there would be many twitters run by contributors to our network. Brod has a twitter, for example. Follow him @tomasbrod_sk. For now, however, we have this huge community run twitter. Until we grow, it is the primary tool for disseminating information and encouraging engagement.
The history of Gridcoin's community twitter
It began with a community member making a twitter way back when. They ending up leaving and the adminship was taken over by Quez and CM. Quez then made a call for those with experience in PR/social media and it was answered by a few folks, including myself.
We spent months redefining the format, content, processes, and intent of the community twitter. It was not always smooth, but for the most part we treated each other with respect and our sails were full. We were moving.
There were 4 or 5 of us that contributed to every tweet that went out for about a year. We also expanded into Medium and Facebook. One of us (who can step forward if they want =)) went so far as to respond to every incoming message and question, which was a lot.
Here are the names of those who worked nearly every day to turn twitter into an intentional engagement outlet. Some of us were there longer, some had just recently joined the team when things started to collapse -- but for the most part these were the contributors.
Oversight came from CM and Quez though, and I'm sure they would agree, things were largely run by those named above. There were also developers and compilers in the channel to help when we had technical or emergency tweets like updates or bugs.
For the most part, it worked. After many conversations, some laughs, a few tears, maybe a capslocked line or two, we had nailed down the type of content that would form the foundation of engagement moving forward. This foundation was ~3-5 tweets a week of content that was 100% related to Gridcoin or BOINC projects. I know that might sound obvious, but once you get into the details it's more complicated than it seems.
We had also built a process that generally guaranteed that no profiteering or conflicts of interest could corrupt those of us contributing. This involved discussion, collaboration, and voting. As much as we trusted each other, we knew that a process or protocol would always be more secure than a person.
Let's break this down then:
- There were 8 of us. About 4 of us would contribute to every tweet.
- We had spent time working toward intense intention and had worked out foundational content on which to build.
- We had a process that was for all practical purposes incorruptible.
- We had formed a team.
- Some of us had real world experience in engagement and SEO.
So what happened?
None of the contributors above insisted that they join the social media (engagement) team. After the original call to action, everyone was invited based on their public contributions to the community. As such, none of us really felt like we deserved to be there. Rather, we felt that it was a privilege to have been asked to contribute and we took our responsibility of representing the community on such a large platform very seriously. For example, two hard rules were:
- No tweets about the price of GRC
- No tweeting links to monetized content
Rule 1 was there to ensure that we would not get caught up in any hype cycles or pumps that are common in the crypto space. We were there to disseminate accurate and unbiased information. The number 1 goal of this type of twitter in this space is to communicate honest intention and information about the thing we are building along with why it is worth building.
Rule 2 was there because many of us were either invested in or had very public accounts on monetized platforms like Steemit. In order to ensure that none of us used our position of power for self-gain, we (most of us reluctantly) agreed that it simply made sense to ignore monetized content. This made more work for all of us. Anything one of us posted that could be tweeted content had to be reposted (and often completely reformatted) on non-monetized platforms. You can follow this with my posts on steemit, reddit, and medium and also with Barton's developer updates that were posted on steemit, reddit, and medium. Only the reddit or medium content was tweeted. It was a pain in the ass... Reddit markdown is completely different from Steemit markdown which is completely different from Medium, which doesn't use markdown.
The air began to turn when people started to insert themselves into the process without respecting the past work put into the endeavor. There were polls and posts and accusations and misrepresentations.
Despite the reputations of these people, we invited them to the team. We ignored their history and their views on wealth and power. Turns out that along with their history, they also did not believe in rule 1 or 2. After several “my way or the highway” arguments, I elected to take the highway. I was volunteering there while also working to build other things both inside and outside of Gridcoin. No time for that nonsense. I cannot speak for the channel after that, but content dropped to near 0 shortly thereafter.
Content and contributions stopped largely because, intentionally or not, morale was sapped.
Historical examples of these people's previous tweets that show their attitude toward rule 1 and 2:
Where Is Twitter Now?
- Those with experience in engagement and SEO do not contribute
- Tweets are made one after the other followed by long breaks (this is bad for engagement)
- Engagement metrics seem to have dropped drastically
- A wealth contest is dictating who will control the community twitter
- Polls that were not thought through, do not follow any of the admittedly loose guidelines of the community (this is not the first time the poll creators have failed to follow these guidelines), and have misleading titles or 0 information are going to dictate engagement leadership and policy
- The contributor poll, for example, implies that these people will be contributing alongside the old contributors. They will not -- the two people in the poll would be the sole contributors
- Not everyone, but some people asking for power have expressed publicly the desire for 0 oversight on content and 0 collaboration
- Monetized content has been "approved" through minimalist polls while engagement is expected to be led by individuals incredibly invested in those monetized platforms
- There is still much work to do in order to build an actual engagement outlet, including fixing the list of people the twitter is following, which folks offered to do years ago but can only be done by an admin
- The current proposal/poll does not grow the twitter team, it shrinks it even further
What is Medium
Medium is one of the leading blogging platforms on the internet. It is used by major entities like hackernoon and Jeff Bezos along with cryptocurrency and blockchain communities and thought leaders. The way it is being described by a few folks is entirely self-serving and deceptive.
We get a good number of views (~50-100 views per post within 3 days of posting) for not having a long standing presence on the platform. Moreover, when we don't post, people continue to read older articles. I'm not near the data at the moment, but can get full metrics toward the end of this week if anyone wants. The original “What is Gridcoin” post is pretty popular, if memory serves me.
Medium is a professional outlet. Steemit is not. Medium cannot be used for profit. Steemit can. Medium is meant to extend reach (yes, despite the popups which can be worked around with a few clicks), while Steemit, like most crypto oriented platforms, is not growing. Medium can be linked to in articles without showing bias toward any particular author (see @sensi-stats recent post here for an example) while Steemit cannot.
Why am I saying all of this?
People have begun playing politics. If you are going to play politics, history takes center stage.
It is important that folks are making informed decisions based on the history and reputation of a contributor to an aspect of the community, as that is how open-source volunteer organizations must operate. Deception, whether intentional or not, cannot beget power. Power cannot beget power. Wealth cannot beget power. Only the contributions and character of an individual can dictate the power given, never assumed, the power given to an individual.
If there is a theme here (and if history is a proper teacher), it is that power is meant to be given, not requested or assumed.
And to be honest I’m not sure that representative voting works in online anonymous situations where sybil attacks are easy and definitely not in an experimental system where money is equivalent to direct power.
We have countless trusted individuals involved in media and engagement. Some of them built a standard volunteer style collaboration team based on contributions and invites. That team, after a period of transition, was growing and functioning well. Why not continue using that time-tested process instead of switching to an untested and highly experimental polling system meant to guide decision making.
For an example of a flaw in our system that illuminates why the polls are meant to guide, not enforce, view this recent transaction (click “view raw data”) and you will find a nice message:
change your twitter vote to YES, get 1000 GRC
I like to believe that there is a reason many organizations over the past 40 years, particularly open-source, volunteer style online organizations, use reputation and invite systems. I like to believe that a public ledger makes those systems even more secure because anyone can now trace money when corruption is a question.
The point of decentralization as we know it is two fold. In a technological system it ensures no single point of failure. In governance it serves to localize decision making.
Decentralization as a governance model has been around for decades if not centuries. It is not a blockchain thing. Blockchain is a tool through which we can decentralize the management of a ledger, nothing more (for now). That said, decentralization is largely a buzzword. Many things should not be decentralized because the only benefits to decentralization (for now) are to remove a single point of failure (technology) or localize decision making (governance).
If the tech that an organization is based on is decentralized, and that technology also serves as the principal decision maker (the only vote that matters is the vote that stakes a block), and all other decisions are already extremely localized (small community), a decentralized governance model would only slow down decision making and action. This would be how you get too much or otherwise flawed bureaucracy.
All of this is not to say that we cannot distribute responsibilities across an array of individuals or groups.
For example, we recently took the foundation wallet keys out of the hands of a single individual and gave them to several, thereby strengthening the system by removing a single point of failure.
A way we could continue this process is by distributing responsibilities into categories and assigning different people or groups to each responsibility. Examples are:
This is generally how organizations operate across the spectrum, including Bitcoin and other beloved open-source/volunteer organizations.
Without getting too far into it, a major difference between open-source/volunteer (grassroots) organizations and corporations is that a corporation or company would have a CEO or board of directors or some other oversight entity tying everything together. That entity serves as a centralizing agent for the system -- all decisions ultimately move through them. If they and they alone desire, power is distributed among their subordinates thereby localizing decision making down the ladder (regional manager, branch manager, shift manager, etc). This centralizing agent also disturbs the formation of any new-style decentralized system… without that centralizing agent, who knows what sort of system the continued contribution and reputation based distribution of responsibilities, power, and people might form over some decades or generations. Perhaps decentralized governance beyond the simple localization of decision making.
The oversight “entity” in that idealistic decentralized or distributed system would be the connections between the individuals or groups. In graph theory, the edges, arcs, or lines. This would be a fluid system where the strength of connections and the nodes that are directly connected to one another would be constantly changing based on the needs and wants of the system, or context.
Each node would act independently while following a set of rules defined both by the technological protocol and the network at large.
This would be an endeavor to build.
I’ve gotten too far into it.
Expect a larger discussion thread on this in the future.
The Human Solution
What we need now is level-headed, honest, and trustworthy individuals experienced in specific fields leading teams of dedicated and honest individuals with or without experience toward the specific goals of a node. I believe that the reputation and invite system is the way to build this (in concert with some other things). I also believe it is the system we have been using and I’m not sure why we are suddenly switching to a direct wealth = power system.
For example, in the development node, repo access was not given to someone who got the most money behind them in a vote. It was given to those who proved their dedication through contribution.
For example, in the foundation node, the key holders were not wealth-weight voted into power, they were chosen based on their proven dedication through contribution.
For example, in the community node, discord moderators (and emojis) are chosen based on the proven dedication of an individual through contribution.
For example, in the BOINC node, the managers of the white/greylist and project contact leads are chosen based on proven contributions and reputation.
I believe that engagement leadership should be chosen by those who spent the months working to build a cross-platform engagement team and from those who contributed before this politicking began. There are some amazing, level-headed people in that group who have continued to make deep contributions to this community through the bull, the bear, and the abuse, and who have never asked for more power.
As the current poll stands, I see too many conflicts of interest, too much deception, too much questionable history, not enough proven history, and too flawed of a voting system to support it in any way.
In the future I hope we can continue to work toward a practical governance model that combines both technology and people.