Useful And Unfair - The Rise Of Bots On Steemit

in steemit •  3 years ago  (edited)

In the beginning all progress is unfair. The more disruptive its effects, the more turmoil it generates.

The First Farmer And The Plough

Let’s try an exercise of imagination. Let’s travel back in time, 10.000 year ago, when Homo Sapiens discovered farming.

It must have been a very disruptive thing. I mean the realization of the whole process: isolating seeds from produce, putting them into ground, taking care of them and waiting until they ripen. This was big. I don’t think everybody was aware of long term impact of this thing. I imagine that in the beginning there were a lot of people still advocating hunting and gathering big time. And only very few were seeing the benefits of agriculture.

It’s kind of like Steemit versus Facebook. In Steemit you put some seeds, grow them and then you wait until they ripen (I’m not talking specifically about Steem Power here, but merely about the whole idea of putting a complex economy, backed by a crypto-currency, behind a social media website, decentralizing it and generating revenue directly for participants). The vast majority of people, right now, are on Facebook. They are advocating Facebook big time, just like 10.000 years ago some people were advocating hunting and gathering. And just like the first farmers, Steemians are kind of marginalized now.

Are you following?

Good, because we’re taking this even further.

Now, let’s focus a bit on the farmers. They’re just a small lot, but even in this small lot there are people willing to do more than others. Some of them realize, at some point, that if you scratch the ground a little, the seeds will grow faster and the crops will be stronger. And they invent the plough. And they soon think to multiply their power by using animals to pull the plough.

They invent a tool. And this tool will have the interesting effect of multiplying their results by an order of magnitude. This is huge. Like really, really huge.

Now, and I want you to be really, really honest: how do you think a normal farmer feels about the guys who are using ploughs?

I’ll tell you how: he thinks they’re having an unfair advantage. They tend to think that this whole plough thing is deeply unfair.

But you know what? The plough is also useful. Extremely useful.

The Bots Are Both Unfair And Useful

Voting bots on Steemit are nothing more than a tool. We may have a little bit of a hard time understanding that, because they’re just some digital algorithms stored inside of a computer, but they’re fundamentally just some cows pulling a plow. They’re multiplying the results of a Steemit farmer. That’s all.

Are they unfair? From the point of view of a farmer who never used a tool and always did his curating manually, well, they are unfair.

Are they useful? Of course. Not only they are generating relevant income for their owners but, because they are learning, they are impacting the whole ecosystem by promoting more relevant content.

I don't have - yet - a bot on Steemt, but given enough free time, I would gladly start to write one.

I think in the near future - 5 or 10 years - bots will be mainstream. And I'm not talking only on Steemit, but in many areas. There are dozens of use cases in our daily lives in which bots will be relevant, from making reservations to a restaurant, a flight or a holiday up to assisted learning.

Just like 2000 years ago you measured the wealth of somebody by the number of his or her cows, you will measure someone's value by the effectiveness of his or her bots.

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I'm a serial entrepreneur, blogger and ultrarunner. You can find me mainly on my blog at Dragos Roua where I write about productivity, business, relationships and running. Here on Steemit you may stay updated by following me @dragosroua.


Dragos Roua


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Bots serve a purpose here. We also have humans voting and manually curating dozens of posts each day. I prefer the manual voting, but it is very time consuming. Good post!

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Thanks, being a part of SteemTrail I'm very aware of that. It's funny though how our tools evolved from ploughs to bots. Properly used, some of these bots are really useful.

I also use a bot in combination with manual voting. It is simply impossible to curate everything by hand unless you make it your day job. A bot is useful to support the writers and projects that you want to support (like project curie) without haveing to look for them every time.

I do like to leave comments as much as I can when I manually vote because I think they give a post more value. As a creator, I like receiving comments maybe more than upvotes. It's nice to know when your stuff is actually being read. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

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I think voting and commenting are two different things. One is passive and it shows detached appreciation, the other one is involved and shows the desire to connect, somehow. If you use both, the effect is bigger, obviously, but voting in itself, at least in Steemit, is very well parameterized, hence, it makes sense to use a tool to increase its effectiveness.

I agonized over using a bot, because I thought it was impolite to vote when I was away from the keyboard, not reading and evaluating the post. But then I noticed that some people had excellent posts that I missed while sleeping or otherwise distracted. So the bot I use is online, steemvoter, and I manually input the people I want to vote for while I am AFK. Not just everyone, but people I already know are producing good stuff. Then I read the log and click over to read their post.

It's an excellent tool, it helps others, and allows me to find posts that have been pushed way down the stream.

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good input. A tool is just a tool, just like a knife. You can use it to cut bread or you can use it to hurt other people.

Bot's process...they do NOT curate.
Bot's can't tell if something is good or bad...
exhibit A: junk posts that garner a ton of votes...because of bots.
I'm against bot voting...they can't do it properly.

As mainly a contributor here, I was finding bots useful. I didn't have to guess when voters would be around to see my work. The owner of the bot first had to accept my stuff as quality, so it's not like I did nothing to earn the vote.

So I'd get many votes and a fair reward. Then I'd put more effort into each post. Then, magically, I'm now back to square one earning pennies. I really don't want to skimp on quality and go for quantity. I don't earn half of what many others earn, yet I create 100 percent original stuff from the images all the way down to the words.

I keep telling myself, "Self, more people will come, eventually, and this will all stabilize."

I hope I'm right. It takes a lot of time and effort to make everything from scratch. I look around. I see many using another person's hard work included in their own and making a decent reward for it. I really don't want to take that route.

I'm all for bots if that's what it takes. I've also worked on an organic farm. I see how much waste goes into that effort. I'm all for fertilized crops as well. I can get shot for saying both of these though.

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Until the advent of farming communities were headed by women. They picked fruits and ensured survival. Men hunted randomly. Then, when the barns were full, men took over. Now on Facebook women lose time. Meanwhile the men on “SteemIT” order information chaos. They know how to get better results with less effort. Could that be true?

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I can't speak for other people.
From my personal perspective, I realize if I were to create or simply share a meme, more people would be prepared to process it and know if it's something they like much sooner. What I do is unexpected, for the most part, or at least I strive for that effect. My craft depends on loyal followers who've been exposed to my style. A meme creator has a template. The context is still to be respected. It's not as easy as it seems to create a clever meme. I respect their craft. Their followers already know how to react so it's easier to gain a larger audience. It's a proven business model, in a sense. It has more to do with the audience than the producer. There are markets in existence and then there are markets one creates. The first meme producer had to go through the same process.

I'm tired. I hope that at least makes a bit of sense.

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I hear you...

I would like to see an additional type of quality voting, which is not linked to the curation system. Where people could rank your post. The best reward is when people leave a meaningful reply. This could be linked to the curation system and be rendered botproof if the receiver of the reply has to confirm the nature of the reply in order for the boostvote to be counted.

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Sounds a bit complicated, can you explain it to me like I'm 5?

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I get that reply often: as if I am 5. I'll explain as if you're 8. First I meant that people can give you a grade for your post like at school. Secondly I meant that if you receive a reply you can get extra votes or Steempower reward but only if you approve of the reply. By doing so you also confirm that the reply was not an automatic reply by a bot. Is this better understandable? I have a 6 year old who wouldn't understand this, but my 8 year old will. 5 year old children just miss too much commonsense knowledge which they rapidly gather between 6-8. :)

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:) thanks for upgrading my age, appreciated.

It looks like an interesting proposal, but I see room for gaming it. If they know they can get rewards for comments "approved", people will start to clog the comment area with content, just for the rewards. If the reward is automatic, as it is right now, it's easier to parameterize and control. But it's something interesting and I'm going to think more about it. Maybe until I'm 8 and one month...

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You're probably right about the clogging, in that way. If the reward is solely for the Author of the article this can be avoided, but then the incentive to post comments is gone. Perhaps the comment reward can be coupled to the average grade received. Or the author can decide whether the replier deserves reward, so that only quality replies can earn something. Worthwhile brainstorming on.

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I suggest to let that cook for a while and revisit the idea in a few weeks. Yes, I like brainstorming this too.

This post has been ranked within the top 25 most undervalued posts in the first half of Nov 19. We estimate that this post is undervalued by $10.38 as compared to a scenario in which every voter had an equal say.

See the full rankings and details in The Daily Tribune: Nov 19 - Part I. You can also read about some of our methodology, data analysis and technical details in our initial post.

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