Dinner with @timcliff and @sneak at SteemFest - Discussion about Communities

in steemfest •  last year

SteemFest was an amazing time! There was a lot of useful information and fun activities. My favorite part of the whole conference though was getting to actually meet so many of the cool Steemians that I have spent the last year+ getting to know online - in person. So fun to see so many of you face-to-face!

On day three of the conference, I walked into the room where everyone was sitting down for dinner. A lot of the tables had started to fill up, and I was looking for a good place to sit. I saw that nearby there was an open spot next to @sneak. @sneak and I have gotten to know each other quite well over the past year through our interactions in GitHub, and he was someone I really wanted to spend some time with. When he invited me to sit down next to him, I was thrilled - @timcliff and @sneak together at SteemFest - how perfect! :)

Most of our conversation was actually about non-Steemit related things. @sneak is an amazing person and leads a very interesting life. One of the things that I found most interesting about him was how he applied the principle of cost/benefit analysis to various areas of his life. He seems very able to take a step back from whatever the situation is, and make a calculated decision about what is best for his life.

After spending most of the dinner talking about life, we eventually segued into Steemit related topics. It started out with @sneak sharing his views on several of the mainstream social media platforms out there - Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and many more. One other thing I learned about @sneak, is that the guy loves his social media! He seems to use and know tons about pretty much every platform out there. What works, what doesn't, why people use them, and what can be improved. I have a lot of confidence in @sneak's ability to bring the Steemit website, Steemit mobile app, and the Steem blockchain into the leading edge of Social media.

We eventually transitioned into a deep-dive of how communities will work. Everything that follows is my understanding of a fairly complex technical conversation that we had a few days ago. It should be fairly accurate, but I just want to throw a disclaimer that some of this may be slightly off from what Steemit actually plans to implement. Also, I'm sure Steemit reserves the right to change any/all of this during their implementation.

Communities are going to drastically change the platform.

Right now, all Steemit content is presented to users through a 'fire-hose'. Everything all at once, either through the trending page, new/created page, or a user's feed. Users are all competing for a brief glimpse of attention before their post is shoved off by the thousands of other posts shooting through the hose. Communities are going to change all of that.

The Steemit homepage is going to consist of a handful (probably around 20) pre-selected communities, which are the defaults. These communities will be broad topics that appeal to wide audiences, such as news, gaming, music, funny, etc. Users will have the ability to keep the defaults selected, or chose different communities that are more tailored to their personal preferences. Users will be able to drill down into any of the communities to browse the content within them. Users also may be given the option to follow a community.

At a technical level, a community will start out as a 'regular user' account and will be converted into a community. The reason for this is so that communities can eventually share in the revenue from the posts that are created within them (more on this later). When a user creates a post within a community, it will still be posted under their own account on the blockchain, but it will have JSON that designates it as part of a community. Hivemind (a new back-end application layer that is being built by Steemit) will interpret all of the data to determine how the post is handled for the communities.

Communities will either be public (anyone can post) or restricted (only moderators and approved users can post). When a user creates a post, they will either post it as an individual (within their own blog) or in a community. Posts that are created within a community will not be shown on the user's personal blog. If a user tries to post in a community that they are not authorized to post in, Hivemind will just ignore the post for the community, and it will be just be shown in their personal blog.

Communities will have moderators. Moderators will have the ability to hide any content that appears in the community which is not in line with the community's rules/standards. This includes both posts and comments. Users who are interacting with the community may be given the option to turn off the moderation - so they can see everything (even if the moderators hide it).

For content that is not posted within a community, the user who posted the content will have moderator control over their post. Users will have the ability to hide any comments that they do not want on their blog. Hidden content will still be available on the blockchain and possibly other UIs, but they will be filtered out by Hivemind for the data that is presented on Steemit.com.

Communities will eventually support payment splitting, where a portion of the posts reward is shared with the community account. Community admins will be able to set this amount as a percentage (from 0-100). When enforced, a post will only be allowed within the community if the author shares the required percentage of the rewards with the community account.

Eventually moderation may even be expanded to allow anyone to moderate a community, with users being able to choose which moderator(s) they want to have filtering their content. This is a revolutionary idea that may change the way that we consume content!

Personally I am very excited for communities, and the changes to the landscape that will come along with them. I am also very excited for the long list of additional changes that Steemit has in the works!

Thanks @sneak for the fabulous dinner conversation! It was one of my biggest highlights from SteemFest, and a night that I will always cherish :)

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So if we are interested in starting a community as soon as it's possible, would you suggest creating that separate account now?

I have been moderating the @foraging-trail for the SteemTrail initiative (although I have slowed down a lot since they swept all the Steem Power away without notice or explanation). Consistent outreach and engagement showed that Steemit has some stellar foragers -- and there is an overall interest in the subject, too. There really is a sense of community based on the values of foraging, learning skills, and sharing experience and questions.

I would seriously like to moderate a Foraging community, which requires a certain level of expertise and oversight, because wrong information can be dangerous. I think I can even see how SMTs would be useful -- for people to be rewarded for developing their skills, and to use their SMTs to buy badges, worksheets, training, and even participation in events, to further their skills.

I could use a separate Foraging account right now, to get started. Do you have a sense about whether an account like that could then be rolled over into a Steemit community? Thanks.


I would suggest creating the account now, as it will be able to transfer over. As far as using the account, I'm not sure. I don't know enough about how a community will work to know if an account that has blog posts, comments, etc. will be able to be used as a community. To be safe, I'd recommend just holding it unless some more info is posted that indicates it is OK.

one question: will users be able to create their own communities? or will only be confined to predefined communities?
In ChainBB any user can create its own forum and I'd like to see something like that for Communities too even if there was a cost involved (e.g. ChainBB requires 10 Steem for a new forum)


Yes, any user will be able to create communities.

Glad to have you back @timcliff, safe and sound. That communities feature will be a great addition. Right now the current sections (trending, new, hot) are a bit chaotic in my view. I rarely even look at the trending page anymore, it's mostly the same whales featured every day on it. From what I understood, communities will bring structure, balance and order to major topics. It will be interesting for sure, looking forward to it.

The communities Idea sounds really great. An area for new members posts would be great as well. Thanks for sharing your dinner discussion with us @Timcliff!

Hidden content will still be available on the blockchain and possibly other UIs, but they will be filtered out by Hivemind for the data that is presented on Steemit.com.

From what I'm reading... Hivemind is specific to Steemit.com and will be licensed out to other providers if a suitable financial agreement is reached.

...it sounds like Steemit isn't going to make communities available on the blockchain itself, and will own the rights to Hivemind.

I understand that Steemit wants to bring extra value to its own website, but what is ironic about this, if you implement "communties" that only exist on one particular website, you end up disrupting the community who uses steem on a whole across multiple platforms.

Obviously each website can implement their own "hivemind" compatible system as well, but that would involve them having to develop it themselves just to compete with Steemit.

Do you know about this privatization of Steemit's Hivemind? Or am I the first person to make you aware that it sounds like it will be a steemit.com only feature?

The reason why I think this is based on the quote I've taken from what you've written above.

If communities were open source, and not specific to steemit, all it would require is a hardfork of the steem chain.


They are going to be implemented using JSON/hivemind, and will not be implemented directly in the blockchain. I am 99.9% sure that hivemind will be open source though. I will try to confirm.

OMG... Why nobody told me that Tim cliff was at Steemfest ? :D I would have loved to thank you in person for all the amazing articles you write and allowed me to translated in french to help the french community grow (and it's finally happening after 5 months of working on it as a full time job ;-)) (and also and for sure about the really good job you do as a witness).

Thank you for everything @timcliff ! And ... See you probably at Steemfest3 !

With, I hope, the Community feature implemented ! I can't wait for it... :-)



Thanks 🙂
Sorry I missed you there. Hopefully we will meet at SF3!

sounds wonderful but much like the SteemCity concept that @dragosroua was working on. I think he had it in alpha before he put it on hold. Too bad he and @sneak couldn't compare note.
I'm READY for something like this. Drinking from the firehose get's my beard all wet.

That's awesome you were able to have that conversation with him. Between you and lukestokes being there, I definitely regret not making it.

The communities idea is interesting, curious to see how it plays out.

This sounds great, i'm sure the quality of content will rocket and spammy users will be reduced.

For content that is not posted within a community, the user who posted the content will have moderator control over their post. Users will have the ability to hide any comments that they do not want on their blog. Hidden content will still be available on the blockchain and possibly other UIs, but they will be filtered out by Hivemind for the data that is presented on Steemit.com.

Looks like a censorship tool.
Hidden comments should be like downvoted posts: hidden yet still expandable/visible to whoever may wanna look into what the OP tried to hide. Having all traces of a comment deleted means we won't even know if a comment has been removed. There must be at least a notice on Steemit saying "comment removed" so we then know when to look on the blockchain for a hidden comment.


I believe that will be an option. Worst case scenario, someone can build a UI that shows all the censored content.


Nothing that happens on steemit.com constitutes censorship. The blockchain is immutable. The contents of this website are a private affair, and it would be censorship to restrict the editorial control that is the right of the owner of the steemit.com DNS domain name.

See relevant XKCD #1357: https://xkcd.com/1357/

Nothing obligates Steemit Inc to host anything it doesn't want to on the steemit.com website.


Having all traces of a comment deleted means we won't even know if a comment has been removed.

The blockchain does not support this functionality, and won't be updated to do so. Removal of content will be strictly UI. There will be no way to delete "all traces of a comment".


Hidden comments should be like downvoted posts: hidden yet still expandable/visible to whoever may wanna look into what the OP tried to hide.

Note that every other blogging platform in the world allows the author of a post to choose what other UGC is displayed below/alongside their own writing, to their audience.

Not having feature parity here is both a disincentive to those with large audiences, as well as unfair to them - it says that "to blog on steemit, you must give equal time to every shithead who wants to place their words below yours". That's super uncompetitive as they will simply blog elsewhere that gives them that control; but also it's just unfair. If you spend years or decades building an audience, you do not owe access to that audience to any second or third party who has an opinion about you.

It's not censorship, as you can always write your response/attack post on your own blog, where your own audience (likely much smaller) can read it if they choose. Nobody is entitled to access to someone else's audience, despite what Drunk Kanye thinks.

Presently, my Serious Blogging is reserved for my own website, which I control, due to the fact that the traffic going to the permalink sees only what I choose for them to see. If they want opinions of others about my writing, they can go to those other peoples' websites. There are too many loudmouthed whiners on the internet for me to direct my readers' eyeballs to a page I do not totally control.

I can't wait for communities. Right now social is the biggest value proposition for new steemians. It can be a weird place to show up and takes time to find your tribe - so I'm glad to see work in this direction.

sounds like it was awesome!I hope to go next year. Thanks for sharing

Sounds like a really good and needed development. As an aside, you can get most of this functionality now on @jesta's chainbb. It makes consuming steem media infinitely better than on steemit.com. When steemit finally gets this feature, I think then we'll have the social media site that can start really challenging some of the big boys.

Thanks for sharing this news @timcliff; I'm glad to hear communities are still part of the working gameplan... and it sounds like they will have many of the working features that made paces like epinions really durable in the "content for rewards" arena, almost 20 years ago. It also makes me really happy to hear that there is activity in the social content end of things... as of late, it has felt a little like much of the emphasis has been on independently developed apps that run on the Steem blockchain... so, for me, good new all around!

It is indeed a necessity. Without the communities, steemit will become irrelevant.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us Tim! Wish I could have been there and seen it firsthand. Looking forward to the the new implementations.

Hey Tim... "Users will be able to drill down into any of the communities to browse the content within them." Please elaborate if you can? Searchable by user, title, subject, content? Keyword searches?


sorry, I wish I had more info, but that's all I know for now.


Thanks regardless. I'm following you now. Looking forward to many gems of wisdom or suttlebutt for that matter! Ha! Take care.

Sounds like it was awesome! I hope to go next year

Hopefully this will be a more decentralized & less conformist version of reddit.

This is very exciting, Thank you!!

I simply love your articles, what great content and quality of posting you offer the community here on Steemit and abroad.

Thanks a lot :)


Thanks :)

Finally you enjoyed that trip to Lisbon and fest too.. and sorry Im not able to post and missed your last posts and I'm being busy these days.. and finally u enjoyed steemit fest. And I just get to know that it's logo is completely changed ...

As you know I am happy for you Tim, that you were able to go, able to connect with some people and things you love and care about, that is just awesome.

Since I already laughed with you but actually lobbied you for Steemit to change back the format we had until days ago when we click on a post and it just opens up and you can vote or reply and then it closes down and your main page opens back up again, I reealllly am finding this new format a big waste of time, resources, loading time, etc.

I guarantee the reply rate as such on posts will drop like a stone.

Since you talked some tech here, figured I would drop this in on you again, I cannot believe anyone really would complain about the format we had until a few days ago.

Literally we could open up a reply or a page on top of what was open, click off to the side or hit the ESC button, and done, super fast, it was awesome!

Please @sneak and dev's -- strongly consider putting this back, it was much much more efficient and matters for engagement as such.

Thanks again, and I am glad you had such a good time Tim, you are a valuable human being and Steemian.


What are you talking about? Please provide the following:

  1. Exact steps to reproduce the issue

  2. Exactly what you expected to happen

  3. Exactly what happened instead


IDK how to explain this any better @sneak.

I know there are a lot of changes going on but not being a tech guy, as @timcliff well knows LOL, these changes took place on here last week, I forget what day.

The coding / changes on this, Tim actually talked with me about on another post the last few days, on this page not opening "over" other pages anymore, maybe he can explain it better than me but definitely I am sure this return to what it was since I joined, would be really great.

I refrain from saying much on techy stuff, not my thing -- but that is also why I run the series I do about How to Improve Steemit --- 20 or so episodes in, to help gather feedback too.

Again, Tim actually had asked for input on that series a cpl mths back so I sent him what I had at that time, likely from about ~15 episodes worth

-- thanks for taking some time for me today.


This conversation was in regards to the removal of modal. There were some people that liked it better the way it was before when clicking on a post/comment opened it in a new modal window.

This is such an awesome idea, looking forward to the changes it will bring and can't wait to be a part of the platform moving forward! Thanks for the insight @timcliff

Good to know, and thanks @timcliff for sharing with everyone. I'm excited about Steemit and have planned for few promotional activities to take steemit to more people.

It sounds like you had an awesome time. I'm glad you had fun and got to learn also.

Thanks for this fascinating insight into how communities may work on Steemit. I'm really looking forward to seeing how (and when) this is implemented. To me this could be the single most important initiative to the success of the Steem platform. Hopefully it gets bumped up the priority order!

One and not only one of the bad things about this communities feature is added complication.
Steemit as is now is too complicated for new users to master.
There are far more urgent changes that need to be done, some of which are related to this miniscule attention window span that new content by less than celebrity status publishers gets.


Communities will solve a lot more than that. They will give users a better way to navigate content that is tailored to their individual needs.

What are some of the other changes that you consider important?


This is what tags and searches are for.
The other changes? In my past and future content, quite a bit in the past part.
I thought you were already familiar with them.


The problem with tags, they tend to be misused or abused.


So do like timcliff does and fight this abuse.
Once moderators are installed, I expect abuse by some of them.
I may be surprised, but it is a matter of time until such abuse will happen too.


I suppose moderators would be chosen based on reputation and trust. The details will be filled with interesting twists. I propose the mods be elected like witnesses.


In specialized matters, where expertise matters, democracy and meritocracy may be worse than pure technocracy, which can yield bad results too.
There needs to be some initial board of electors to elect those worthy and deserving of having a right to elect, which is an oxymoron and recursive.
These are governance issues.


Steem fest is always excited

Happy steemfest

Thank's for sharing with us...
@followed and upvoted

hola @portimcliff como estas estoy muy interesado en todo este movimiento que tienes en la comunidad steemit me gustaria que por favor me ayudaras como se que a muchos, para poder tener mas ingresos en mis post tu sabes que basicamente estamos aqui por que tenemos que generar dinero para ir creciendo y poder solventar problemas economicos si puedes ayudarme te lo agradeceria como aumentar mis upvotas para tener un mejor ingreso gracias saludos espero me respondas estare atento..


Encuentre maneras de agregar valor a la comunidad y publíquelo para ganar votos ascendentes. Esa es la manera de ganar aquí.

I'm very interested

Thanks for sharing like it and upvoted!!