Steemit for the Future: The Fine Line Between Responsible Curation and Freedom of Speech

in #steemit7 years ago (edited)

These are exciting times, here in the Steemit Community!

New members are joining us in record numbers, and many "old Steemians" are out there, encouraging people to join us.

Steemit is "Censorship Free..." but...

Daisy with a Cabbage White butterfly

Of course, with new arrivals and the community growing, we also get some of the problems that go with growing communities.

Among those, an increasing influx of users who are not really here to "create content," let alone to "create QUALITY content." Their sole intention is to try to milk the system for gain... using whatever means they can.

Now, we like to stress that Steemit doesn't "censor" people, the way many have experienced with their YouTube, Facebook and other social media accounts... but this morning I got to thinking about where that "freedom of speech" actually ends... if at ALL?

When do downvotes (aka "flags") actually become appropriate, as a means to responsible curate Steemit to ensure a positive user experience, overall?

How do we Curate "Trash Posts" and comments?

Over the past week, I have come across an increasing number of what I would call "trash posts." They make me feel uneasy, as I have seen "their kind" invade dozens of content sites before.

Good weeding makes a beautiful garden

You may have seen some-- typically, the entire post looks something like this:

"Is this legit? i want 2 make money here. please upvote comment and follow me, i will do 4 u also."

Sometimes there are 20 or more consecutive short posts like that from the same user, in the matter of an hour. At other times, a person will create numerous posts consisting of nothing more than a link to some article with the words "What do you think? Please upvote and follow me."

These days, I am also seeing an increasing number of comments that might read something like "I also wrote about this-- (followed by a link)-- please upvote and follow me!" And the inevitable "Nice post, please read my posts and follow me" comments.

Quality Content... and Long Term Community Survival

What makes a community thrive, in the long run?

For me, it means there's "something there" that makes me want to return over and over and "be part of it." That means some combination of people, interests and activities. It also means (and I feel this is important) that "irritating aspects" of the community-- whereas unavoidable-- are kept to a minimum. And to that end, that community members have the tools to keep the community healthy.

California Poppies

A community is not unlike a garden-- we'd like it to be attractive and healthy; we'd like it to have some diversity... but we also need to tend it, and be willing to pull and get rid of the weeds.

The longer term ramifications are important to consider, too. 

If we are out there "selling" the promise and benefits of Steemit, it's nice to be able to pull people to an amazing and worthwhile community. That's how we grow...

On the other hand... who's going to put much effort into telling their friends about a venue that's pit of illiterate one-liners, dank memes and copied links? 

Which brings me back to the original question of where people get the freedom to "post whatever they want," yet we also tend the Steemit garden in such a way that the "weeds" don't overtake the healthy plants?

Yes, I'm a little oversensitive about this issue... and I have peripherally written about it before. But it's only because I have seen how really excellent content sites have gone down the drain-- repeatedly-- while the founders and "serious" members idly stood by and offered platitudes that "it can't cause that much damage.

I'm hoping some of Steemit "power players" and those who have been here since the early days will chime in with an opinion or two... 

What do YOU think? Should there be an active effort to curate "trash posts" out of view? Or at least to "discourage" them? I have come across various "early" Steemit members who were flagged to negative reputation scores for various forms of trolling, plagiarism, spamming and antisocial conduct. Should that be applied to newcomers who make it patently obvious that they are trying to "game the system?" Leave a comment-- share your opinion-- start the conversation!

(All text and images by the author unless otherwise credited. This is original content, created expressly for Steemit)


Hello @denmarkguy

What a wonderful post! I feel invited to talk about it.

First of all, what you have seen before will not happen to Steemit. The reason is that the Steemians can fix things, espesially when we start talking about it.
Thank you for doing that!

I have noticed what you write about myself, so what is going on these days? Well we see the "Facebook people" coming in and they do what they did there. They have to learn what we are doing here.

How can they learn that? By us talking to them! How should we talk to them? Well, I do not think we should agree on that because we do not want Steemit to be confirmatory like Facebook.

I think we should look at what options we have:

  • Write a comment and explain, give a hint or give them a better way of doing it. Do not explain to much at once, people do not like to be told what to do.
  • Upvote. We can choose to upvote at once to show good will or wait to see what they answer. We can not make a rule of this, everybody has to make the judement on what they think is the best way to deal with it.
  • Downvote. If the person do not want to talk with you in a "nice" way do not start a discussion or answer back. Simply say: "Okay then I will downvote you" All the people I have downvoted so far have ended up saying: "I am sorry." Then I upvote and give them a comment like: "Thank you, we have all been new here on Steemit. I like you."

There is one more thing I do that I do not know how to explain, so I just show you. I always end the comment to "Facebook people" or new ones like this:

Have a nice day and a good laugh:

Great point, I guess time will tell.

Hi @cheekybuggy

Thank you.

We have fixed things like that before (I have been here for 10 months).
It is all about letting them see that this place is much nicer than anything they have seen before, if you ask me.

Since you are new here maybe you have not seen this:

Have a nice day ;-)

I have been on here for months and never saw this vid before. I thought it was really well done and am going to tweet it and share on FB!!! Well done!

Hello @barbro, and thanks for your thoughtful comment!

I am hopeful you are right about previous destructive patterns that have sunk other social content sites not happening here. I would very much like to see Steemit succeed where every other one has failed-- I am very fond of this place even after 4 short months!

I'm all in favor of finding ways to communicate with newcomers... this works very well with those who are sincere, but simply because they are new to the community, they don't yet know how things work.

When I see someone who is clearly doing something that seems "off," (Let's say they put up 50 one-sentence posts in a couple of hours, none of them with meaning-- just to "fill space") I try to comment on "how to do well" on Steemit. I generally reserve an upvote for someone who actually replies and says something about wanting to do well. On the other hand... if they say nothing (or even tell me to "get lost"), that's when I want to take some kind of action... just like we would want to do if someone keeps walking past our house and throwing their rubbish on our lawn.

The intent behind my post was really pointed towards that last scenario. I appreciate your comment, especially because you have been here almost since the beginning!

Hello again @denmarkguy

WOW, I agree with you totally!
You should have seen this place in the beginning, people asking for money, criminals, fake introduceyourself posts, you name it. So someone came up with bots to deal with the problem and we downvoted posts so much that we used to much Voting Power on that and did not have much left for Upvote.

Then people got used to downvoting to much so they started to downvote on disagreement's.

One of the reasons for this video:

If someone "throwing their rubbish on your lawn" please let me know.
I have a few Steem Powerful friends. We could send them to oblivion.

Thats hilarious, I would love to know what the heck he is talking about

He's a Spanish comedian known by the stage name "El Risitas." The original clip is from a 2007 TV interview... which has since been used for all sorts of parodies because of the laughter sequence.

As I understand it, he was a dishwasher at a seaside restaurant and left some caked-on pans in the sea to soak overnight... and the tide took them out to sea, and he's trying to explain this to his boss. Or something loosely along those lines. One of those "HOW dumb can be...?" things. It's kind of hard to understand because he speaks with the "Andaluz" dialect which is prevalent on the south coastal areas of Spain.

Thank you for that amigo, one things for sure hes laugh is infectious

@neoxian did a post about the Robot9000 that is a place to start. Good points to consider.

Thanks for sharing that... seems like a really good starting point.

censorship free.
there is no but
either it is or it's not.
Flagging is wrong.
if you see something you don't like...ignore it or mute it.
if it wasn't for bots spam would NOT be rewarded.

Censorship free is a nice ideal... in principle.
I guess I need to make peace with "the lowest common denominator rules."
That's the only effective outcome of no censorship I have seen.
The rats and roaches will inherit the earth!

Hi @denmarkguy

Censorship free is a nice ideal that works. Censorship never do in the long run.

advertising huh?

Have a nice day @everittdmickey

Really well written and balanced article.

I agree with most of the comments, but I would like to throw an alternative into the mix. Instead of trying to stop the content, the spammers, the one liners, is there any way we could filter out that content?
Maybe not the full solution but part of the solution. The reason I would propose this is as steemit grows and content become more diverse we will get stuff that looks like spam if you looking at it through the medium of a browser. If your here to look and read articles you may not want to see posts of pictures, recipes, travel posts etc. I am going to think some more about this, and maybe write a post about it but I am convinced that Steemit will look very different when we have a large group of users and it will be too hard to police with just downvotes. The influx of new users and methods of getting followers in the last week is a case in point.

You make a good point... I feel hopeful that the promised "Communities" feature (whenever it comes along) might address some of the issues of "filtering" content to where we're more likely to be able to only focus on what interests us. This would become an increasingly important part of the Steemit Interface as the number of users grow. Right now, it feels "manageable" with less than 200,000 users, but imagine the content flow with 20 million users! Definitely something to keep in mind...

Ideally, the Steemit Environment is "Self-regulating" as a product of the peer curation process. Quality contributions get rewarded; "empty" and "spun" content gets ignored and plagiarism gets downvoted. That's the ideal. I do spend a lot of time on this site, and on many days I read upwards of 100 posts. But not everyone does. And not everyone is here because they are a blogger, writer or into some other kind of creative expressionist. I have no doubts that the community will hit a certain point of "critical mass" where the serious curators here will not be able to keep up... time will tell how we work with that situation. But it's good to talk about these things before they arrive!

Agreed, but I am not sure that posting a link to an article you have written in a comment of an article you have read that is of similar content that may interest the viewers that have read and commented on that post should be consisted unethical or improper....or maybe I have misunderstood you? Other wise a fair and good point.
Thank you

I agree that a post that adds to the discussion should be linked to in the comment, and I don't think that is what @denmarkguy is talking about here. I think it has more to do with replies like:

"Cool story brah! Come and upvote my totally unrelated and idiotic post!"

@cheekybuggy, thanks for the comment! You're right on that point... where it's more a case of "situational ethics." Sometimes such a comment is a genuine attempt to help and is relevant... in other cases it can become very quickly evident that it's basically a form of "comment spam," in which case it seems like (at least) it shouldn't be rewarded, and even possibly flagged/downvoted if the person commenting is just posting the same response to every post with a particular tag.

True, and thank again

I resteem this article, because there is not much more I can do as a minnow, but to bring it under the attention of other people that can maybe answer your questions or think about the problems you lay out here. Not that I have lot's of followers :) but it's worth a try.

By the way as I am relatively new I am not surd how to resteem a post, is that with the promote button?

On the left of the reply button.

@cheekybuggy, look for the "circular arrow" icon immediately under the content of a post, immediately LEFT of the word "reply" and click on it to resteem; it'll ask you to confirm and then turn green.

I got this from a reply-er a few day's ago, I though maybe it can help you, as it did me. Good luck.
Steemit FAQ

@wordsword, thanks for the comment and the resteem! You now have another follower... I (just) made it to "dolphin" status after about 100 days of blogging here. I've gotten to care a lot about this unusual community... it reminds me a lot of venues we used around 2001-2007 (before Facebook), and I'm just wanting it to stay around for a long time.

I've gotten to care a lot about this unusual community... it reminds me a lot of venues we used around 2001-2007

I read your earlier post about that. And it's a valid concern if you ask me.
I noticed the spamming too.
I've never been on any other social media, but I see some things on other websites that you don't see here that often, that's why I like it so much here.

Thank you for the follow. I followed you already.
When I came here I had a lot of problems with people that followed me, I didn't know what to do with that, believe it or

Personally, I do not see flagging as censorship, since it does not actually remove the post, just reduces the chances that it will be seen. The author can still link to the post, and promote it by other means.

I tend not to flag posts, unless they are truly horrendous, and openly spammy, though.

I can see some people abusing the flag system, flagging otherwise decent posts that they disagree with.

And that's pretty much what I am driving this discussion towards... is "peer curation" really the same as "censorship?"

Personally, I don't think so. Some, however, do. My experience has been that in an "everything is allowed" scenario, the "weeds" end up driving out the "real plants," metaphorically speaking.

You had me at "dank meme".


In anycase, part of my reluctance to return to any "blogging" or "content" arena has been because the pattern or trend of such places typically succumbs to the call of greed.
Money is not the root of all evil, greed is.

heavy sigh

Greed is weird. And massively inconsistent.

Some will post thousands of pictures of babies and their lunch taco on Farcebook and get zero, zip, nada for their efforts and never complain.

Then they'll post two pictures of tacos on Steemit and get all butthurt because they didn't get $10 for each?? Wait... what???


Oh, that's so much better than Crackbook.

I have posted this pic below some posts:

... and sometimes I have linked to this full article:

Love it! Big fan of @klye's cartoons. Might snag that one for use on some of these occasions.

It would be an hard work, to curate the whole flow of posts - or an impossible work, when the community will grow more.
that's why we need as soon as possible the "sub-community" feature announced a couple of months ago. sub-communities, like sub-reddit, can be managed by teams of users who care about it.
sorry if I'm saying something obvious or already said in other comments (no time to read them all now) :)

Yes, I am also very much looking forward to the "Communities" feature... I hope it helps not only organize the content on Steemit better, but also improve the ability to properly curate.

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