I've laid out some of the issues that are currently immanent to Steem in one of my latest posts here, and now it's time to try and become a bit constructive and make some proposals. I've been thinking about these issues for a while, and I'm happy that @steem-ua is trying to address some of them.
However, there's still some issues that don't get addressed with @steem-ua.
The new user problem
Ok, so what happens when a person new to Steem(it) wants to get a new account? First of all, we need to have a look at how new users get dragged onto a new social platform (I'm saying platform and not blockchain because, after all, they may not be aware or don't care that Steem is a blockchain):
- You click a link from a news article or social media post
- You consume the content
- You want to react by clapping / upvoting / liking the content or writing a comment
- You sign up
This goes for pretty much all of the usual media types: articles, photos, videos...
Now, wherever you get pointed to, whether it's busy, Steempeak, dTube or any other app, you typically get directed to
Note: There are some serious improvements planned regarding account creation for hard fork 20, but surely not all of the issues mentioned get solved there.
So, a potential new user has to submit their phone number and wait a couple of days (currently 1-2 weeks) to get their new account. Alternatively, new users can go to @anonsteem or @blocktrades (both of which are excellent in what they do) and pay a little fee to get their account pretty much instantly. However, one issue here is that new non-crypto users won't have a Steem, Bitcoin or Ether wallet with topped-up to directly pay for their Steem account even if they wanted to.
Improvement #1: Accept fiat payments for new accounts
Next up, it would be great if users could have kind of an instant, free trial that would give them a hint of what it's like to be part of the community and potentially earn a few (very few) Steem / SP / SBD. They could get a 15 (or whatever) SP delegation for 7-30 days, and if they don't add SP themselves (by earning or buying), their account will become unusable after that period.
Improvement #2: Free & instant trial period
So, now that we got them registered and hooked up on Steem, we need to get them engaged. Some of them might vote content or even comment, some might even create their own first post(s). Typically, these posts won't be of super-high quality, but it would still be nice to see some activity and have them at least try. But where do you upvote / comment and why would you do that?
Upvotes should have an immediate effect. While it's nice that someone's post gets 1000 upvotes, it's meaningless if the $ figure next to the upvotes is close to zero. Unfortunately, none of us (myself included) is looking for "fame" (like on Medium or Reddit), but for hard cash. This is kinda sad, but because of the nature of Steem, we're apparently bound to that fortune. Or are we? How about showing the number of upvotes vs downvotes, not their monetary value, or at least make the $ number smaller or just a tooltip? As I'm not sure whether that's an actual improvement, I'll call this one a suggestion ;-)
Suggestion #3: Focus on Number of upvotes instead of payouts in the UI
In addition, one could obiously use a different metric than 0..100% for voting weight, e.g. as with the number of claps on Medium, and have different numbers representing the curation value. Something similar can be seen on @steemhunt, which is a really nice project.
A change like the above would also ameliorate the experience of new users when it comes to having a feeling of influence on the platform. With 3 SP (as after creation via Anon) or 15 SP, but even with 30 or 40 (which I had after months of activity on Steem), you click upvote and the payout doesn't change at all, which is really frustrating. You simply don't have the feeling that you've just added value.
In general, new accounts will likely never be able to catch up with whales, even if they produce the best content ever. This is sad, because it's unlikely for new, potentially prominent accounts to ever see Steem as a valuable source of income that could actually reduce influencers' dependecy on Instagram or Youtube.
Obviously, this depends on two main factors:
- As the total number of Steem issued per time period is predetermined, it depends on the share of upvotes from the total reward pool
- The price of Steem
The price of Steem will only increase if a lot of people want to actually buy it. I'll get to that in one of my next posts. As far as the share from the reward pool goes, it's unlikely even the most prominent influencers will ever surpass old Steem users (and their voting puppets) who accumulated millions of SP. This is a real problem.
One small improvement here could be to penalize huge piles of SP on single accounts, e.g. through quadratic voting. While this will not really solve the problem (large accounts will just open and redistribute their SP), quality controls at registration could actually make sure these accounts are controlled by real people, but suggesting KYC for registration would probably put the whole thing ad absurdum.
So, the best I can come up with, is non-linear voting and curation mechanisms that differ from just vote-buying, just like @steem-ua
Improvement #4: Non-linear voting
Improvement #5: New curation mechanisms
I think that's enough with regard to new users, I'll probably go to sleep now. Please let me know what you think about the suggestions and what other possible improvements you see.