Steemit and the Web of Trust: A Potential Love Story

in #steemit5 years ago

Yesterday the Powers That Be posted the request for public commentary on the Steemit 2018 roadmap, their list of ideas that they would like to implement over the next year, enhancing both the steem block chain and the platform Steemit, itself.

From the position of a relative newcomer to Steemit, there are a number of issues which make it difficult to become an active and useful member of the community, from the relative paucity of on boarding process to a simple failure to speak to an essential question: "What can I do here that is meaningful?"

Meaningful Choices With Impact

That's a powerful question when applied to the areas of user interface and social media that I'm from, particularly as regards games. Sid Meier, one of the pioneers in video gaming and an extraordinary designer put it best and I'll paraphrase him here:

Sid Meier at GDC 2012, from

A good game is a series of meaningful choices made by a player.|

Note that these choices must be meaningful to that player, not just in the abstract. The results of those choices need to be clear and indicated in order for the player to feel as though they are receiving enough understanding to make a new cycle of good choices.

Social media architectures function under the same requirements. The user needs to know why they're there, what they come to do. They need to be able to affect the "world" (as defined by their visible interface) in meaningful ways which make it better for them. Their modes of interaction need to be flexible enough and sufficient in number that they can convey information to the system so that the system can provide them even more meaningful choices. This is the feedback loop that keeps people going to Twitter, going to Facebook, going to Google+ – that makes social media a real thing.

Getting Out of the Coin-Box

Which brings us, in a roundabout way, back to my comments of yesterday to the Steemit Powers That Be. I'll go ahead and quote that content here so that we have a basis to proceed on.

I'm going to go out of the box, way out of the box, and suggest an orthogonal technology:

We really need some sort of "web of trust" system which will give individual users more control over what they view and what they interact with on Steemit.

As an example:

I find someone that is a very good curator. I follow them. I get their content in the content that they think is good, and everything is aces.

I find someone who consistently produces absolute garbage. Maybe they're a bot. Maybe they're completely insane. Maybe our tastes are simply deeply divergent. I want to see less of them – but I don't have any way to tell the system that as far as I'm concerned they should be less often in a stream that I'm exposed to.

In a web of trust system I would invest some "trust" into the first person which would automatically distribute some amount of trust into the people that they trust, with the assumption that I consider their judgment good. I would invest some "distrust" or negative trust into the second person, and from my perspective that person and all of their trusted people would become less prevalent in my stream; they would evaluate as "less valuable."

And for the people who both of my targets share in common? They would be adjusted by the relative strength of trust/distrust moving through the network out away from me.

This would result in an orthogonal sorting mechanism, informed by chronology (because many people may have very similar trust levels from my perspective), but with content that I am most likely to want to see at the top and content that I am very unlikely to want to see at the bottom.

If I find a bot who keeps getting into my stream? Distrust it. It and all of the content that it touches becomes less valuable. I see less of it, naturally. People who trust me, because of the quality of my posts, or comments, or just good curation, likewise see less of it – because I distrusted it.

A good web of trust system would go hand-in-hand with the 2017 roadmap's increased focus on subset community building, because I don't necessarily trust everyone equally on every subject. That, however, is something that can be put in place after the basic handling of trust comes into being.

Maybe this is best handled as some other form of token currency which doesn't touch Steem, I leave that to others who have more experience with the block chain that myself. (I'm an old-school symbolic AI and computation guy, myself.)

This would solve a lot of problems that we are seeing with bots, spam, and pollution of the streams in general. It certainly something worth taking a look at.

Who Do You Trust?

Classically, the "Web of Trust" refers fairly specifically to something that predates the block chain but has certain similarities, the Pretty Good Privacy public key infrastructure. The idea being that keys existed in the world but you should only trust that you had a key associated with a specific entity if you can trust all the entities who were in possession of that key between you and the person of concern. Since it was essentially impossible to meet and verify every person/entity engaged with key signing, a certain level of trust was necessitated.

The question then: who do you trust? How much do you trust them? Is there an unbroken chain of people whom you trust, and the people that you trust trust, and so on back to the originating entity?

That's a big deal for distributed public key crypto without a central organizing body. And it worked. Not only did a large body of trusted intermediaries build itself up from individual actions but isolated islands of mutually trusting entities without contact with the main body also spontaneously arose, sometimes even intentionally, which defined trust pools.

Web of trust is a larger concept than that, however. The idea that by defining to a system what sources that you consider valuable and what sources that you consider value-destroying, then letting the influence of both sets spread out across a network of sources with the result being an ordering of all those sources, presumably based on a recognition of what you consider valuable and trustworthy – that's an important tool.

The Dawn of Time and Jaanix

Back in 2008, well before the social media landscape actually existed as you would recognize it now, there were people like myself working on the problem. One of the actual systems that got implemented and effected on the net was called Jaanix. (It no longer exists; take this as a fair-sky warning for folks pioneering in socmed.)

Jaanix is Pandora +

Mashable, Feb 27, 2008:

Jaanix is a new social bookmarking tool that offers you personalized recommendations based on your interaction with the site. It's kind of like Pandora's preference system being applied to a bookmarking service. What you get is a real-time look at the bookmarks in jaanix, according to your personal preferences.

You can add your own items, vote others' items up or down, tag and save items, and also leave comments. Individual users' bookmarks can be viewed, as well as those that have been recommended to you, based on your site activity. There are sliders that appear along the right-hand side of the site that let you change the filters for the current page in real time.

The top three sliders let you filter by recent and popular submissions, as well as by comments. The rest of the sliders let you filter by topic, so if you're looking at my submissions, you can narrow them down by various topics like art, math, funny, YouTube, or programming, to name a few.

What is your opinion on Jaanix? Does it work for you? Is it better than reddit?

3,545 days ago

I'm a founder of jaanix. Just a bit of background - jaanix is not a regular social news site. First of all everything is personalized - and not just by tweaking some settings or selecting your favorite tags, but in a machine learning way - the system tries to guess what you will like and acts accordingly. It uses implicit feedback too, so it tracks your clicks and tries to learn from it, but you can always see how it learned and what it thinks about you in the sliders.


The main purpose of the site is to let you find stuff that you will not find on other popularity based systems. I find stuff that is on the front page of digg or reddit almost 100% noise, at the same time, the posts that I care about are buried or ignored by the majority. jaanix is not a democracy, it is more of a trading place for links. Your reputation matters, your feedback matters, the quality of the links matters. In return jaanix will try to give you stories just for you.

It's interesting to look back on some of the commentary about Jaanix, and how much of it is talking about exactly the same issues that we see coming up in every other social media site since.

I was a regular user of Jaanix back in the day, ironically because I was a huge believer in the power of folksonomy – what evolved over the years into the modern concept of "tags" and seems to have found a place in every single possible facet of human/digital interaction. The web of trust ideas were nice, but not my interest. Eventually, because of the strong focus on folksonomy and the fact that it truly proved itself as an organizational tool, Jaanix went the way of so many of the strong social media precursors.

Web of trust never really got to play it deserved, and were living in a world shaped by the fact that people still believe that there is an identifiable quantum of "quality" in all things which merely needs the mob to see it and judge it, and that level of quality is quantifiable for everyone, all the time, forever. That's the basis of the idea that the blockchain can and will save the world by democratizing access to ideas, currencies, and media. "If only enough people see and judge and curate, the best stuff will float to the top and those creators will be justly rewarded."

Who Do You Trust And Who Trusts You?

It's an interesting idea, as far as it goes. But it is inherently authoritarian. It's inherently a top-down imposition of value on all who interact with a given architecture. It ignores the one thing that web of trust systems make central.

To wit: I don't trust you. You don't trust me. We have no reason to trust one another. You don't have any reason to trust my judgment in media and I don't have any reason to trust your judgment in media. You have no reason to trust that I will make things that you like. I have no reason to trust that you will make things that I like. And no matter how many other people that I don't know and don't trust decide that they like what you make or the decisions that you make about what's good – none of that is applicable to me.

The blockchain is a very good at imposing the will of the masses. It's extremely efficient at providing a marketplace within which individuals can trade for their own interests.

It's absolutely terrible at giving me what I want.

This is of huge importance to anyone who cares about the new user experience on Steemit (and more broadly the new user experience with cryptocurrency in general, but we'll leave that for an entirely other day).

Social Media Hinges On One Question -- Okay, Maybe Four

As a new user, the most important thing for me to know is "why should I be coming back?" What is it that I get out of visiting your community? Why should I come back tomorrow, or even later today? What meaningful decision will I make that will improve my experience after I've made it?

Steemit provides one possible response to those questions: "you have the chance to make (some) "money" if you create things other people vote up or if you vote up things people have just made and shared." And that's really it. We know that the new user on Steemit really has no power to affect the things that they are presented with; the fact is absolutely institutionalized in the very nomenclature used on the site. Steem Power. It's right there in the name. You are told you start with none except a little bit that's loaned to you and if you cultivate that tiny little bit just right and play to the lowest common denominator as hard as you can, maybe one day you can be a rich whale.

Is it really any wonder that most users who stay focus on creating effectively ephemeral, throwaway content which is intended to garner votes quickly, require little digestion, little attention span, and have little longtail value?

That's what we are encouraging. That's what the system of rewards actually rewards. There is no advantage for curators to look for content which has evergreen value. They will never get rewarded for surfacing content older than a week. If they care about the author being rewarded they have under 30 minutes to find the content and upvote it.

We get what we reward, and only that.

I don't have the numbers from the site, but I wouldn't be surprised if 90% of new users who come by Steemit bounce off in the first day or two and go do something that's actually more rewarding, like post to Facebook or Twitter or Google+. Or anywhere, really, where there are enough people that the network effect is strong and they can actually get ahead of gratification for reaching an audience they're interested in.

Enter the Web of Trust

Web of trust provides a mechanism for new users and long extant users to interact with the system, interact with the community, and actually get meaningful advantage, meaningful effect, personal gratification, from the meaningful choices that they make, every time they come and interact with the site. In some sense it could operate as an orthogonal axis of scoring, along with Reputation and Steem Power, except that it is an inverse relationship with the greater world. While the steem token economy exists as a pool of power external to the user which they are vying to get more of, Trust (which we'll use a capitalized form of to refer to trust-as-a-resource) is vested first in the user and intentionally spread outwards in the form of a directed graph which distributes Trust away into a broader network. Users and user-like entities acquire Trust for downstream distribution naturally, simply by existing and through being trusted mechanically by others.

The ultimate intended result is for there to be another metric for content to be presented to a user, ordered both by Steem Reputation and by amount of Trust from the user and those whom the user has trusted, diminishing as you go down the chain of Trust between user and media.

I get the feeling that some diagrams might be useful.

Sample Universe (With Porn)

Let's start with a very constrained universe. We have four Users and four Media postings. They exist independently of each other in the world, in a state of discovery flux. Some Users have posted content (marked by black arrows). Alice has posted porn, Bob posted a picture of his dog, Carl has posted that he's selling Steem and a music video he's liked, and Dougie is just surfing for cool stuff.

Initial Universe

Now, no one trusts anyone to any particular degree at this point so the universe of Media elements is presented to everyone in an effectively arbitrary order (randomly or reverse chronologically are the usual suspects).

Dougie is reading along and he really likes Carl's music video, so he pops some Trust on him. He also likes Alice's porn (maybe it's homemade), so again, pops her some Trust.

Now Bob comes along. Since Bob has no web of trust connections, we present the content to him just as we did to Alice (with the same arbitrary ordering). We could just as easily order by overall inherited Trust but in the long run that's not a winning strategy because it breaks the agency of the individual model.

Bob loves Alice's porn, so he kicks up her Trust. But Bob is a hardcore anti-capitalist who opposes trade on general principles, so he dings Carl's Trust from his perspective.

Here comes Carl. He doesn't have any extant web of trust connections so he, too, is presented with an arbitrarily ordered list of Media elements. Carl, though, hates everyone and everything except trying to pump up his own relative value, so he disTrusts everyone he sees.

Alice drops by to skim for stuff and she's really into Bob's dog picture, so bumps his Trust. Nothing else really appeals to her, so that's her only bump or cut.

Day Two, Dawning Blue

An arbitrary day passes. Some people post new things. Alice posts more porn. Bob posts a cat meme and a screed against capitalism. Dougie gets bold and posts a long and complicated article about web of trust systems.

Things are starting to get a little complicated, but bear with me.

Bob comes back to check out the day's wonders.

Now we get to talk about presentation order. Bob has bumped up his view of Alice's goodies but told us he doesn't trust Carl to be providing good content for him. Thus Alice's posts are bumped toward the top and Carl's are pushed down the stack. For the sake of argument, we'll assume that the arbitrary ordering is reverse chronological because it makes things easy to recognize. Bob also doesn't see his own posts; that'd be silly.

From Bob's point of view, here's the Media order:

  • Alice's Hardercore Porn
  • Dougie's Web of Trust Article
  • Alice's Porn (seen)
  • Carl's Music Video (seen)
  • Carl's Selling Steem (seen)

The stuff he's most interested in seeing has lifted to the top.

Bob decides he really likes Alice's porn and pops her another bump of Trust. That's two boosts for Alice from Bob. That's the only nudge he makes.

Carl logs in. Because Carl has only given negative Trust and that equally to everyone, the arbitrary order is the only ordering pressure on the Media. He sees:

  • Alice's Hardercore Porn
  • Bob's Cat Meme
  • Bob's Anticapitalist Screed
  • Dougie's Web of Trust Article
  • Alice's Porn (seen)
  • Bob's Dog Picture (seen)

He decides he really just hates everyone again, but despises Alice's sex-positive flesh-trade most of all and dings her Trust. Now he's double uninterested in Alice's goodies. If he dinged everyone again, there'd be no real impact to his overall Trust distribution. Only relative differences are meaningful. (In that sense, dinging everyone on Day One wasn't actually helpful or useful, but Carl's kind of a douche. It wouldn't have even been necessary to enter it into the database, given it applied to all members.)

Alice comes to check out the new hotness. The only meaningful Trust relationship she has is with Bob, so the Media presentation for her is relatively simple, too:

  • Bob's Cat Meme
  • Bob's Anticapitalist Screed
  • Dougie's Web of Trust Article
  • Bob's Dog Picture (seen)
  • Carl's Music Video (seen)
  • Carl's Selling Steem (seen)

Again, the things she's interested in float to the top.

Alice decides she likes the cut of Dougie's jib, so bumps his Trust, but Bob's rant was just too off-putting for someone that makes their living selling a desirable product to willing consumers so she reluctantly cuts her Trust. Because it's only one bump, it dissolves entirely. Carl's music video grows on her so she bumps his Trust up, too.

It's getting a little messy, so let's change up the style of presentation.

Here comes Dougie. This is the first time the issue of inherited Trust comes up, and it's a big deal. He has a positive Trust relationship with Alice and Carl, while Alice also has a positive Trust relationship with Carl. That means that Carl is actually most Trusted to be providing the best content at the moment.

Here's Dougie's ordering:

  • Alice's Hardercore Porn
  • Bob's Cat Meme
  • Bob's Anticapitalist Screed
  • Carl's Music Video (seen)
  • Carl's Selling Steem (seen)
  • Alice's Porn (seen)
  • Bob's Dog Picture (seen)

If Carl had posted something in Day 2, it would have been at the top of Dougie's reading list. As is, it did percolate to the top of the Day 1 list, and if he'd not actually seen it then, he might see it now.

Dougie decides he really prefers Alice's naked-time to Bob's ranting so increases her Trust and decreases Bob's.

At the end of Day 2, that's how the Trust relationships stand. Alice is the most Trusted to provide good content and Carl the least -- but that doesn't matter to any individual's view of the content. In fact, nothing globally matters to the individuated view of the universe of Media. Almost every action by an individual user has a direct impact on their experience in an observable manner.

Zed's Not Dead

Let's on-board a new user. Meet Zed. He's a friend of Dougie. Because he comes on knowing Dougie, he has an established Trust relationship when he starts, with all that implies about an established web of trust. Because Zed doesn't have any other ties, even though Dougie's influence is diminished, in absolute terms it's identical. They're friends, they probably like similar things.

Zed's initial view of the Media universe is the same as Dougie's, the same ordering. But after he joins up, Zed decides that Bob's cat memes and dog memes are cooler than his screeds are annoying and he bumps his Trust. Things are now somewhat different.

Let's consider the network from Zed's position alone, tracing the links.

  • Dougie has a full Trust.
  • Bob has a full Trust.
  • Carl has a an inherited Trust.
  • Alice has an inherited Trust.
  • Bob has an inherited negative Trust!
  • Alice has a 2nd order double-negative Trust!
  • Bob has a 2nd order negative Trust.

... You know what? Walking a directed cyclic graph by hand is kind of a pain. Let it suffice to say that computers are far faster and better at doing these things than humans, along with having far better methods of doing so than a straight walk, including cell-based spreading energy activation networks and so on.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Trust?

Nothing says that all of the participants in the web of trust network need to even be humans. Any arbitrary entity which is capable of being associated with Media can be a member of the web of trust. Imagine a software agent representing a particular tag or taxonomic cluster which users submit content to as they post it and which likewise links to that Media. Ascribing positive Trust to that agent would mean that content submitted to it would naturally be presented before other content. Likewise, ascribing negative Trust of that agent would mean that content would be de-prioritized.

This naturally suggests bots could be a useful part of the web of trust ecosystem, as long as some user finds them useful. It also means that bots which individual users don't find useful, either because they don't actually link to good content or because someone just hates bots, don't actually have the opportunity to be disruptive for long.

Consider the degenerate situation in which an entire swarm of bots attempts to subvert the web of trust by Trusting each other. Until and unless a user Trusts one of them, they can remain an isolated mutual appreciation society forever. Their only impact is that they consume some resources doing whatever they do, interacting with the rest of the network. Should people deliberately adjust their Trust of one of these isolated bot island members, this too is self adjusting and self-correcting. If even a significant minority of the user base distrusts the bots, they all have significantly more difficulty getting their content seen.

Not Quite Square-Cube Law

The most important factor to keep in mind is that every step away from a primary Trust contact reduces the impact of that user's Trust contacts. The Law of Diminishing Returns guarantees that as long as we bail out of the recursive descent when changes become incrementally small, we don't get stuck in an infinite regress. (Again, recursive descent is probably not the ideal algorithm for calculating the result but it's useful for discussion as the most brute force method of getting results. A flood filling algorithm might be the second most brute force method of getting results.)

There are two incredibly important issues that a web of trust solves which currency-based solutions simply cannot:

  • Every user receives an experience which is customized to their needs and desires. Their choices make an immediate and notable change to the environment.

  • Because new users can rapidly hook into the web of trust and began getting results which are incrementally better the more they engage with the system, on-boarding is easy to communicate and self-sustaining.

I referred to arbitrary ordering of Media content for presentation rather than something particularly specific because that arbitrary ordering could be replaced by anything – including Steem Power or Steem Reputation. Web of trust systems can sit over cryptocurrency solutions and provide an orthogonal layer of individual presentation.

Conclusive Conclusions

The current organization and presentation of Steemit is providing a serious hindrance to the growth and intensity of the community. The current focus on "working the system" in order to maximize income rather than working to get compelling content in front of users with the reward system being a helpful adjunct is actively toxic.

Something has to give.

Steemit has an opportunity to get in front of the problem and do something more than other social networks are able to achieve. The tools and the expertise are there. They simply need to be employed.

As always, every problem is an opportunity for those willing to put in the work.

(Thanks go out to @illuminaughti on for her inspiration and guidance in motivating this article and to Joe Petviashvili, original creator of Jaanix.)


Thanks for sharing your thoughts. There are several issues with these kinds of approaches that have shown themselves through existing social systems online. Facebook, for example, already allows use to show more (and I think also less) of 'posts like these' and I think also applies similar logic between people too. With so many people in the facebook network, the result has been that not every post that is made is actually visible to users - meaning that our 'meaningful relationships' can turn into 'echo chambers' or worse.

If I deny significant aspects of who you are, am I really a friend? Do I really know you? If I am blocking out certain things about you/us, then maybe I will never learn more about the topics I don't want to see, that you actually like - and thus never learn more about you either.

A second issue is that as soon as you insert a process of recording fairly detailed information about human relationships into the public blockchain, you expose us all to data mining in a major way. Anyone, anywhere will be able to psychologically profile everyone here for free and without our knowledge or consent. It's one thing to read our posts, but another to exponentially expand the available data to include a level of depth that yields results that maybe we don't even know about ourselves.

Something else to consider is that in China, there is currently a system called sesame that the government is intending to enforce on people that literally limits free will based on their reputation on the network! They may lose the right to travel in real life if their online repuation drops enough! This is based on a kind of 'web of trust' system and actually involves their 'friends' losing reputation if they post something the government says is bad.. It's a dystopian nightmare that we all have responsibility to prevent.

I appreciate the need to organise the posts in a more user friendly way - my most basic suggestion is to make filtering the lists by tag keywords a very easy affair. That would dramatically improve the UI in that regard.

Any solution must be assessed for it's openness and capacity to introduce unintended side effects and limitations.

The system proposed provides far less data than is already on the blockchain. In fact, it would probably just be implemented by an up or down thumb. You could do the same type of AI computations on what you upvote as you would on such a system. Combine that with actual text from posts and comments, and you got way more about you than you intended to share.

fair enough, in my mind's eye i was imagining that there would be levels of public data available that go beyond what is perhaps being defined here. in scanning the way that elements are ordered in the examples above, i am not 100% sure of why certain ordering choices have been presented as being the outcome - given the -/+ options shown. i'll re-read it when i am less busy.


Cool ideas.

To support a version of this, you could just use the votes that have been cast to assign trust on behalf of the user. That is, you could just create another front end to the block chain that adds or calculates this metadata looking at the last 30 days or so or even longer if a user wants. But using the upvote to assign trust would make you want to use down vote to decrease it, but that runs contrary to the general guidelines. So, perhaps store the new weights in the new system and add additional UI elements to let the user decrease it. The first time the user uses the new interface it could assign initial weights based on their voting history. Maybe they could even periodically choose to rebalance based on votes... then flagged users could still be penalized with lower trust values but flagging wouldn't necessarily be how you decrease your trust.

The drawback of using a new front end to accomplish this is that the old one continues to exist and people would continue attempting to exploit it for profit. On the plus side, if it proved popular enough, and given the advantages it probably would for new users, it could help realign the user goals with platform goals and people would aim to create higher quality content because it would be more profitable than gaming the system.

Of course, if the ability to game the system still exists, and if the level of effort is lower than the effort of creating better content, it might still continue to be a problem because nothing will have been done to make it more expensive for the gamers.

Once users have assigned trust levels, will they ever see random new content again from users with no established trust? I'm sure you addressed this, but my brain must be too tired to recall. I'll have to come back and re-read it later.

Again, cool ideas.

The problem with using extant votes is that votes are associated with a given post, not associated with a given provider. Who should the upvote go to? The curator who voted it up? The original author? All of the curators who voted it up? All of the above? While any given answer is relatively arbitrary, it really should be the decision of the user. (That also means that "why am I seeing this thing?" needs to be a more transparent and answerable question.)

If you continuously rescale Trust values to be between 0 and 1, normalizing to a float based on a moving window, you can integrate some sort of decay function over time. This also solves the problem of your interest in a given provider changing over time. More recent Trust investments will be larger than older ones.

Every system is exploitable. Every single one. Web of trust systems are vulnerable to actual interpersonal negotiation exploitation. That's a problem anytime you have humans making decisions. Nature of the beast.

One assumes that in a system with a nontrivial number of users who are creating content, they should see some random new content from users with no connection to their personal web of trust once in a while. Of course, you can make the option to do that pilot deliberate choice, going to a specific page or tab, part of the site design. I suspect it wouldn't be terribly popular, however. (See the current New tab as it is.)

10-year-old technology. It's amazing.

The problem with using extant votes is that votes are associated with a given post, not associated with a given provider.

The votes in question would be the ones that the first party cast for the second party, thus elevating the level of trust that first party has for the second party.

The curator who voted it up?

Oh, I hadn't considered, but maybe increment the trust the first party has for third parties that also upvoted the second party. But that might be too easily exploited.

That also means that "why am I seeing this thing?" needs to be a more transparent and answerable question.

It could be graphically displayed like those annoying tag clouds... nodes with larger trust values are displayed larger, then color the edges in the graph to show which parties were responsible for it arriving in the users feed.

If you continuously rescale Trust values to be between 0 and 1, normalizing to a float based on a moving window, you can integrate some sort of decay function over time. This also solves the problem of your interest in a given provider changing over time. More recent Trust investments will be larger than older ones.

I like it.

Every system is exploitable.

Sure is.

I suspect it wouldn't be terribly popular, however. (See the current New tab as it is.)

I generally visit that after I've digested my feed. But then it doesn't show me the tags I want to see so then I manually edit the url...

That's an excellent idea. I remember last year getting on Peerhub, in which users trust one another rather than follow or like. And the connection implied by a trust (as opposed to a follow) seems much more useful and nuanced.

That was very elaborate and very agreeable. I think the site needs things like this to lock users in for a longer average duration per day, just like FB does.

I'm not sure it's best to think of it as locking people in. We don't want a lot of people in. When you lot people in they struggle to get out. That's the perversity of man.

We need to not just phrase it but to think of it as giving people a reason to stay. We want to motivate people to engage with one another and we want them to be comfortable with doing that here.

The first way of thinking of it is top-down authoritarian control, the second way of thinking of it is bottom-up invitation. People will always feel better about the second than the first.

Well "locking in" is just a phrase, I think that motivating them to stay on is the same thing. Facebook shows you only the content you actually enjoy and if you get hooked on watching viral videos and drunk people falling on tables then that's what they show and they retain users hard with it. Ultimately leading to more likes, comments and engagement.

But I agree an invitation style is going to be the way

The hardest thing in the world for people with a technocratic bent – and let's be fair, most of the people involved here definitely lean toward technocracy – is to accept that other people like things they don't. There's a lot of assumptive judgment about what things "should" be valued and what things "should" be floating to the top, and what things people "should" be doing here.

Ultimately that is going to be a pretty toxic mindset to developing a platform and a system which people want to engage with their way. And "having it your way" has a long and storied history of being what people want.

In that context I am generally extremely careful about what phrases I use to think about and approach problems where I know I have a non-helpful prejudgment.

Would I prefer that people didn't preferentially vote up pictures of cats? Absolutely. They do nothing for me. They bring me no value, and as such I don't think they should be rewarded. But does that translate automatically into believing that no one else should want to vote up pictures of cats? Or links to news articles that they find compelling? Or a cool meme that they found? Or a long, rambling article on web of trust? Or a serialized novel, one page at a time? Or…?

You see the problem.

So let's avoid "locking in" and pivot to "giving people a reason to stay." If nothing else it will keep us honest with ourselves.

Well worded, respect. I hope the idea can develop for sure

Interesting... I now have a lot to think about. I have been trying to crack this problem this week.

I suppose it helps to have been involved in all of this (and by "this" I mean the predecessors to what became large swaths of the social media network architecture) since there was a "this" to get involved in.

The things I talk about aren't new things. Their ideas and techniques, methodologies, that have been kicking around actively for the last 20 years and which had pretty decent implementations as recently as 10 years ago. In part, the ideas that turned into the way that Twitter and Facebook sort and present their content streams (when you don't force them to present them in chronological order, because there implementations of order are generally pretty suck) came out of this research and this experimentation.

A lot of the people involved in implementing the current wave of cryptocurrency/blockchain social media experiments don't have any of that experience and haven't done any research because they don't actually believe that anything invented more than five years ago could possibly be useful to them. I think that's a painful blind spot.

But it's fixable.

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I really like your idea! The web of trust is a good concept but it has to be either well represented to the user or just run very well behind the scenes. I still think that this doesn't solve the issue of fast rewards (gratification) for the new user on a personal level. Like sure it will help him have a better, high quality feed, but most new users are looking for ways for them to be recognized by others, and maybe at the begining it might still be difficult.

The secret to depicting a web of trust that workS is to realize that it just looks like telling the system things that you like. It looks exactly like keeping track of which things you upvote and down vote.

We know how to do that. We've been doing that on social networks for a decade now.

If you feel like you want to let the user see exactly what's going on, you can show them a list of people and things that they've liked/upvoted/+1 and there it is. If you want to go the extra step that no one's really done yet, you go ahead and draw a graph up to three or four ranks deep showing the things that they've upvoted in the first rank and all the things that inherit from that underneath. If you want to get really fancy, you have that graph implemented in JavaScript and projected in a lovely canvas or, if you're really going for buzzword compliance, VR.

For new user, the first time that they use in upvote they see an immediate impact. All of the stuff that is presented to them gets in order which is informed by that act. If every piece of Media has a little icon or representation which shows that it has been promoted or demoted based on their decision-making, even better.

Boom. Immediate feedback. Immediate recognition.

One of the problems with Steemit as it stands is that people are, in fact, primarily looking for ways for them to be recognized by others – and going for the big whale money. And when they don't get it, they bounce off the system like a fly off a windshield.

That's unhealthy for the system as a whole and doubly so for those who are looking to get a payout.

One of the things that needs to be recognized in any social network is that most of the participants are not creators. Most of the participants are consumers. You want to provide those consumers access to things that they are willing to reward if you have any hope of those creators being rewarded. It's an ecosystem. It should be viewed as an ecosystem.

Unfortunately, I don't think that a lot of that kind of analysis has been brought to bear, and that's kind of a shame.

Well you can also get in touch with like witnesses, they also make great contributions to note what could be improved and have more contact with the developers I think. You do have some good points and I bet you can even create one extension or client to steemit which kinda does this

Believe me, I've put in my time in the programmer-pits; I have no desire to return there. I'll leave the isue of implimentation to other folk who enjoy it so much more.

Fair enough haha

Wow! thus impressive illustrations want to be as grow my skills to draw like that!

I'm not egotistical enough to lie. I cheated.

GraphViz Online is an amazing tool.

Sorry, buddy – we don't do vote for vote around here. I certainly don't do it for unrelated content being advertised on my work.

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