A lack of development? Or micromanaging into obscurity? Why not both?
I want to talk to our friends at Steemit, Inc. for a moment.
In my previous post about Steemit a few weeks ago, I talked about the identity of the platform and the lack of investment in it. What is Steemit? Where are the influx of new users? Why do people not stick around? Where are the investors and the currency seekers/users? What can we do to make things better?
A little over a week later, we received word of some changes that may be coming to Steemit on the economics side. These ideas were overwhelmingly welcomed by the community. It felt like there was a celebratory atmosphere around here for several days. However, I think too many people may be thinking that the problems with Steemit will now be solved by the next fork.
The problem we’re having with users and investors is not an economic one. Yes, the fundamental economics of Steemit play a large role in investor confidence and eventual buy-ins, but it’s not what will add value to the platform that bootstraps the Steem currency. The value of Steemit – and consequently, Steem – relies on a vibrant social media community that can attract and retain users.
We don’t have that.
Steemit is floundering, not because of inflation rates or market cap. Those are merely effects. So, what is the cause?
We’re trying to solve the wrong problems
A lot of the discussions on this platform have been centered around Steem prices and post rewards.
“How can we raise the price of Steem?”
“How can we keep users happy by spreading the rewards around?”
“Let’s create another curation guild to give rewards to users who aren’t getting votes and comments!”
“Let’s burn Steem Dollars so that we can fix the debt and market cap ratios!”
These aren’t solutions that will fix the problems we’re having. The biggest problem – by far – is the lack of user interest and the inability to retain most of those who join.
So, why aren’t people interested in joining Steemit? Is it because they don’t think they’ll be able to make money? Is it because they joined and weren’t able to consistently make the trending pages? Is it because they don’t like where the price of Steem is currently sitting? Is it because they see the platform rewards as grossly unfair?
It’s possible that many users see these as a huge problem. However, I don’t think that’s the case. Why don’t I believe that? Because I see millions (billions?) of people using other sites where they don’t earn a single penny and they don’t follow the stock prices of the companies running them. So, how can rewards and Steem prices be such a huge barrier to joining or be such an infuriating issue on Steemit?
Honestly, I don’t think they are. The reason that people use a site like Facebook or an app like Instagram is the ease of use. It’s the functionality of the site and apps. It’s the simplicity involved in communication. It’s the features and customization.
Steemit is lacking in all of these areas to varying degrees.
Another curation guild isn’t going to get us profile pages. Tweaking the inflation rate isn’t going to get us an on-platform messaging system. Changing vesting periods isn’t going to get us a virtual store for the Steem currency and for customizing our blogs.
WE NEED DEVELOPMENT – AND WE NEED IT NOW.
I don’t know what’s happening inside the halls of Steemit, Inc., but the lack of development is concerning at this point. We just recently added a couple of new features – notifications and an actual avatar. Seven months into this project and we can finally add a tiny image to our “profiles.” Well, we can upload the images to a hosting site and then copy and paste the link here on Steemit. I suppose that can be celebrated...if this was 1996.
Prior to these last two features being added, what have been the big feature developments on Steemit? Re-blogging and promoted posts. The “Re-Steem” feature leaves things quite messy and hard to parse when trying to find content from the users that you follow. It needs a little more work. The promoted posts feature has so far left most users quite unimpressed and can’t really be called much of a success.
So, in seven months, we have seen two and a half minor, but useful features added to the platform. During that time, how many thousands upon thousands of dollars of Steem have been powered down and/or sold to allegedly fund this meager development?
Again, I must ask – where is the leadership from Steemit, Inc.? What is your plan for developing this site? Where is the roadmap for development? Do you have one?
Forget about powering down, investors, Steem prices, and all of the economics of the site for a moment. The fact of the matter is this: Steemit is not very user-friendly!
Sometimes the promise of money just isn’t enough.
What do I mean when I say that this site isn’t user-friendly? Well, first of all – the design is boring and it’s not the least bit customizable for users. As cryptocurrency-focused miners and developers, you may not think that this is very important or that it should be a priority for development. If that’s what you believe, then you couldn’t be more wrong. A blogging or social media platform needs to at least have basic profile features and customization options for its users. There’s absolutely no excuse for overlooking this or for not developing even minimal features for seven months.
I get that the design was to be somewhat modeled on the Reddit design – but Reddit isn’t exactly the epitome of social media. Its design doesn’t attract a large number of new users. It has its user base because it has been around for a long time, but still, its numbers are dwarfed by other platforms. If widespread adoption is sought, then a much better design is what’s needed. If you’re not going to improve the design, then at least add the features that many users have been requesting – features that should be the bare minimum for a blogging/social media site. As mentioned already, here are two that we really should have by yesterday.
Profile images and biographical information
Users should be able to customize a profile page or tab on their blogs. It should include an option for at least two or three images. There should be adequate space for several paragraphs of personal information and a place for linking other social media profiles and pages to their Steemit profile page/tab. These should be the minimum features for a user profile.
Incorporate something like steemit.chat into Steemit’s UI. Messaging your friends and followers is one of the most important aspects to any social media website or app. If you can’t do that without leaving the site, then you have a serious social media problem.
There is no reason why these should not be the priority for developers. If a profile page or tab can’t be functional by next month, then the developers at Steemit, Inc. need to be fired. If users are what we want here, then you need to make this site appealing to average users. Some basic added features will help with that. Get it done. What are you waiting for? You have the money to do it. So do it.
While that’s being done, we need to have some of the functionality cleaned up.
“Re-Steeming” is a nightmare for many users. The Re-Steemed posts really need to be separated from user posts on their blog page. Create a new tab for it and send the Re-Steems there. Again – this is something that shouldn’t take long to code and implement. Why it hasn’t been done already is a complete mystery. This has been mentioned by many users since immediately after the function was implemented.
The Promoted Posts feature needs a reworking if it’s to be kept on the site. Having a separate tab for it doesn’t seem to be appealing to users and the way that one competes with other promoters quickly prices a large majority of users out of the market. This may be the intent of the function – I’m not really sure. If it is, then it’s just not a feature for the average user and it really means nothing as far as development goes. If it isn’t the intent, then it’s broken and needs to be restructured. (Right now, it actually appears to literally be broken. It’s not working.)
The notification feature should include when someone gains or loses a follower – and it should tell you who began following or stopped following. It’s an easy way to connect with each other and to recognize new users, or to simply know who you have gained or lost without searching through several pages of followers. This is something minor in the grand scheme of things, but it adds something that users would appreciate, as well as something that most other social media sites and apps currently have.
There are plenty of other features that can be added or improved. These are just some of the things that we should have at minimum. If these things can’t happen in a relatively short time, then the platform will continue to lose “steam.” Pun intended.
What happened to gamification?
Not only do we have a problem with a lack of development, but we also have a problem with a lack of gamification for user features. There’s no reason why we can’t make some new features part of the gamifying aspect of Steemit.
Do you want your own profile page or tab? Then you need to earn 1 M-vest.
Do you want to be able to Re-Steem more than five posts per day? Then you need to have a reputation over 50.
Do you want a custom avatar from the SteemStore? Then you need to develop the SteemStore and the custom avatars – because they don’t even exist.
If you want a few ideas about what can be done to help with both gamification and currency use, see this post.
Seriously Steemit, Inc. – you’re dropping the ball here. I’m looking at a @steemit account that’s sitting on over 100,000 Steem Dollars and almost eight million Steem. Another account – @steemit1 – is sitting on another 135,000 Steem Dollars. And you have all of your various personal accounts on top of that. That currency will be no good if it’s worthless because the website was never properly developed!
What’s the problem that Steemit has? A lack of user interest. Why aren’t people interested? Because the site isn’t attractive to social media users. Why isn’t it attractive? Because of a lack of development.
GET IT DEVELOPED!
Use that money to add value to the platform instead of throwing it away on billboards or by flying around the world for relatively small meet-and-greets. You want enthusiasm from the community? Then you need a community! We can all meet up and celebrate when the development has given us a site that at least has a somewhat sustainable user base.
Don’t get the wrong impression.
I’m not saying these things to be a jerk. It’s just frustrating for many users to see basic UI features consistently not being developed and implemented. That is the reason for nearly all of the problems with Steemit. We wouldn’t need to worry about curating guilds, interest rates, or placating everyone who’s threatening to leave if Steemit was attractive enough to bring in new users and keep them here. The only way that happens is if this site is a real, easy to adopt and use, and a somewhat aesthetically pleasing social media platform.
Users can learn about the currency and how to spend or withdraw it. Users can learn about curating groups and why some people like them. Users can learn about interest rates, arbitrage, curation trails, category tags, and anything else that they might not know about when they join. But if they don’t like how the platform looks and functions from the average social media user perspective, then none of the other stuff matters. They’ll go back to Facebook. They’ll go back to Snapchatting. They’ll go back to Medium.
That’s the truth. That’s how Steemit moves forward. Either we start making this place more attractive for Aunt Sally and her attention span-deprived millennial step-son, or we watch Steemit wither away as we try to micromanage votes and payouts. I would rather see Aunt Sally here posting cat memes than watch the entire platform crumble. Now that doesn’t mean we have to throw all of our money at Aunt Sally just because she’s posting. But having her and her step-son here, their friends, and the friends of their friends is the point of all of this, isn’t it? They are the ones who will be voting for our posts and spending their Steem – and ensuring that the site has value as a social media platform.
That’s what we need. That’s how Steemit lives on. Make it happen.
I truly hope others share my sentiments. Agree or disagree, or have ideas of your own? Let us know in the comments.