With Hardfork 20 on the horizon, it begs the question: Where is Steemit heading from here?
As I have engaged with the Steemit community so far, I see so much potential in the site. I believe that we are on the cusp of a new model for content creation and distribution.
Table of Contents
- The Old Model - Patheos.com
- A New Vision with Steemit
- Limitations of Steemit
- A New #Philosophy and a New #Religion
The Old Model - Patheos.com
If you aren't familiar with Patheos.com, it is a site that connects people of all faiths, opening the door to genuine and respectful dialogue. Their tagline is "Hosting the conversation on faith." Over the years, they have developed a library of thousands of articles, blogs, and videos connected to exploring faith and the impact it has on our lives.
The site is divided by specific channels, broadly based on specific faith backgrounds (Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Nonreligious, etc.) There are also channels separated by topic, where you can get many different perspectives of contemporary issues from diverse faith backgrounds.
The site is curated by an editorial team. They have writers and bloggers on staff, who are paid to create and engage with content. They also link to prolific bloggers who have a significant following. Even more, they allow everyday users to submit articles to the site, though these must be reviewed and accepted by the editors, and users are not paid for their work.
This is a very quality site (one of my favorites), and I am often on it keeping up with current trends in theology or looking for other perspectives to challenge my thinking. Yet... this is the old model for sites with curated content. And now, Steemit has ushered in a brand new paradigm!
A New Vision with Steemit
How has Steemit's model opened the door for something new?
Because Steemit is decentralized, it allows anyone to post anything they want, anytime they want. There are no editors or managerial teams that act as a gateway to user publication. No one has veto power to disallow someone from posting to the site. A user only needs a personal account and they can begin posting whatever content they feel would benefit the community.
With so much content posted to the site, hopefully (ideally!) the cream rises to the top. As more and more users upvote and comment on articles, these articles become more and more valuable. Popular articles are easier to find by sorting through the "hot" and "trending" lists within each channel. Every user's vote counts (though those with bigger stakes have greater weight). This is as it should be, as those with greater stake are more invested in the site overall. But the key thing is that everyone has a say. If you have a voice, you can use it!
On top of this, Steemit allows for compensation towards quality content. The principle is that the more your content is judged as valuable by others, the more you are rewarded financially. If someone is putting lots of time into research, writing, and editing, creating exceptional content for everyone to appreciate, I want them to be paid so that they will keep going!
Because of the decentralized nature of Steemit - crowd-created, crowd-curated, crowd-funded - the quality of Steemit posts will continue to get better!
Limitations of Steemit
Though Steemit is breaking new ground in the social media arena, there are still sizable obstacles to overcome.
The Minnow Experience
It is still challenging for users to get connected on Steemit. It is especially difficult for those that are not technologically savvy or for those unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies. There is a steep learning curve for the uninitiated.
And even once someone creates their account and begins to post, it can be discouraging to see your post instantly get buried under hundreds and thousands of other new posts. You see others making hundreds of dollars on a single post, yet you are lucky if you get a few cents.
A Whale's Share of Votes
On top of this, there is a vast difference between a beginner's vote and that of a whale. You can have hundreds of new users upvote your content, and only make a single dollar. While a single veteran user can upvote a post and increase its value by $20, $50, or even $100s with a single click. This means that unless a whale happens to come across your post - and likes it! - you can only expect to make a handful of cents per post at first.
True Steemit Community
Part of the answer to the above problems lies in the need for built-in communities. A site that is purely decentralized can also feel lonely and isolated, an expected outcome of the great freedom we all have. This is an area Steemit is still growing into, and has promised in an (unspecified) upcoming hardfork.
(See the Steemit Blog: "Proposing Hardfork 0.20.0 'Velocity'")
The development team has spoken to the need to bring people together. When people are working independently, it is hard to bring direction to the content. Everyone just does their own thing, hoping to be discovered and followed by others. Many have used Discord and Steemit.chat to overcome this barrier, but more internal investment within the site is needed.
A section of the "School of Athens" fresco by Raffaello Sanzio (Wikimedia Commons)
A New #Philosophy and a New #Religion
To make something like Patheos work on Steemit, there needs to be an active community that helps curate the content and is invested in its success. There are a number of support groups out there that actively look for new quality content (@minnowsupport and @curie to name a couple), but they tend to focus more broadly on all categories.
While I am eagerly anticipating future enhancements to the Steemit site to make this type of support more sustainable, for the time being we must look elsewhere.
I love the vision of @SteemTrail, a community that invests in a multitude of topic areas, allowing users to rise up and bring forth their own areas of passion and specialization.
I've been chatting and posting in SteemTrail's Discord channel since I started here on Steemit, and I have found it to be a helpful place to connect with others.
- To join @SteemTrail's #philosophy-trail Discord channel, click here.
- A helpful list of active trails: Trail Guide: Category Map & Opportunities
A few of my own ideas:
While I have a few thoughts that could be implemented right now, I know that they would fall flat without the support of others. I would appreciate your input on these ideas:
To begin growing a community, I imagine a group of individuals from many different backgrounds - different thoughts, different faiths, different cultural backgrounds - all working together towards a common goal. I see this as a guild of sorts, open to all that desire to participate. The SteemTrail community provides a great space to make this happen. I could see it helpful to have a designed logo that could be added to the signature of members' posts, identifying them with the group.
A weekly digest that lists all of the week's prominent posts coming from guildmembers, as well as noteworthy articles from others outside the guild. This post could be organized by type of content and annotated when necessary. A consistent naming format for the digest would allow for past issues to be easily found.
Group commissioned topics that can be collectively decided on: reflections on current events, engagement with famous (or infamous!) philosophers and theologians, or discussion of contemporary issues. Members could volunteer to write up a post on the subject, or perhaps many would like to write different articles exploring the topic from different perspectives.
Collaboration and peer support will keep the group sustainable. Not only would the #philosophy-trail channel on Discord be a place for community involvement and discussion, but each member would work hard to comment and engage with other members' posts.
With all that said, I'd like to give a formal invitation to any and all who would like to help contribute to setting a direction within the #philosophy and #religion channels. Come drop by SteemTrail's #philosophy-trail channel on Discord (click here). My handle is the same there as here: @abishai. Ask a question in the channel or PM me if you are interested. I'm on at least once a day, and will get back to you.
Thanks for your listening ear, and Steem On!