Opinion: Steemit is an engineer's platform seeking a designer's elegancesteemCreated with Sketch.

in steemit •  2 years ago  (edited)


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I touched upon this in SteemMag last weekend, but wish to rant a bit more.

Steemit, is by all accounts, overly complicated. As is the Steem network, but one could argue that it needs to be. However, there's no debate for unnecessary complexity on Steemit, or any user facing frontend.

Convenience wins every time.

It's a simple no-brainer. Simplicity is a key necessity to attaining critical mass. Every product needs to be as elegant, minimalist, convenient and simple as possible. In the tech industry, we have seen many competitions between convenient products and powerful, complex products. Every single time, the convenient product has won, while the complex one fills small, geeky niches.

What an attractive platform looks like.

I would feel welcomed on this platform, if (Please note these are end goals, not solutions, which is of course the hard part) -

  1. A single token system. Three tokens are confusing at best, and bewildering at worst. With inflation down to ~9.5% Steem Power is pretty much redundant, not to mention any kind of lock in - 3 months even - turns off any serious investor. To be clear, there can be multiple currencies behind the scenes, but only one should be visible.

  2. Direct payments to / from fiat. It's a complete chore going from Steem > Exchange > BTC > Fiat, and even worse trying to power up. It should be a one click process whether I want to buy with my credit card or withdraw to my bank / PayPal account.

  3. A delightful registration process and Home page. A quick, easy registration process which introduces users to the basics of Steemit. I expect basic features like password recovery. On a related note, a usable Home page which is not just a dump of all posts/resteems from the very many authors I may follow.

  4. Back off from over-regulation. Rules like the 4/day limit; the 4 tree limit or voting power loss on votes for comments actively discourage engagement. Measures to fight spam and bots should never come at the expense of user engagement.

  5. Easy content discoverability. The tag system is rudimentary at best. A substeem system would be welcome down the line, but for now, the basics like search should be covered.

  6. Advanced Mode for geeks. Of course, engineers and geeks alike thrive on complex, wholesome systems. Give them the option.

  7. While simplification is always desirable, transparency is key. Such as separating out author's and curator's pending payouts, so there's no unpleasant surprise at payout time.

Of course, there's also a lot of functionality lacking, particularly around the social aspect - easing interaction and engagement between users. I hope they make their way to the platform in an elegant manner, and not a hacky solution that's the current notification system.

Just to be clear again, I'm just painting a picture of a platform I would be comfortable with, irrespective of how it can be achieved. I'm not a designer, or an engineer, so this has been the perspective of an involved user. I'm aware some of these are on the roadmap, while others may be challenging. But that does not change user's expectations.

What do you think? What would you like to see? What have been the friction points to getting your friends on Steemit?

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I can definitely see the benefit in a basic mode where casual users could just set up their account with PayPal and it autonomously parcels out the Steem in a recommended fashion sending leftover monetary reward to the user with no further steps taken by the user. If the user happens to want to manipulate how the rewards are allocated or deliberately dive into the sophisticated mechanisms of this technology, he can choose Advanced option to meet his needs. As for me, I look forward to the capability to convert currency (Btc & Usd) without the limited 3rd parties making it overly complicated.

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Yes, that could make using Steemit as easy as Reddit or Facebook.

As someone who does both engineering of systems and design it can often be a struggle of what's doable in a respectable time frame and what could be done with unlimited time and resources..

I think Steemit it just the first step.. With busy.org and other explorers on the horizon it should be interesting to see the progression of what is out there.

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Of course, and this post is for them. :)

I leapt to viewing this because of its title.
However, once I read your action points... I can see why you used that image above.

  1. could probably be accomplished by having one token and 3 types of bank accounts. That is just a semantic change, and can be done, and may in fact clarify things to a new user. However, the three tokens are very important for the stability of the platform. Albeit the steemDollar may be redundant.

  2. Don't ever bring that up again! It is along the lines of when anarchist's dream comes true and govern-cement dies, then #2 can be accomplished. Until then, don't even talk about it. Unless you really want to see steem disappear from The U.S., U.K. and any other country controlled by a central bank.

  3. should have been done a long time ago. And there are people working on a faq / welcome page. They really need some designer help.

  4. Voting on comments really is throwing your vote away (unless you are a whale.) So, a loss of voting power equal to voting on a post is an undue price to pay. Would it be better to have no vote power loss on comments or a 1/10 vote power loss on comments. We should run some simulations.

  5. This will have to be done before this site becomes much larger. I have tried to start discussions on it, but it usually goes nowhere.
    Subreddits are basically just specific, agreed upon tags. Steemit's current tag system is only structured in an organic way. And has a large propensity to get out of alignment.

First thing steem needs to decide is if we want subgroups or just to continue relying on tags.

If we continue with tags, we need to allow for favorite-tags ( a button/hyperlink) that will limit the feed to a stored tag. favorite-tag-groups that will limit the feed to a group of tags. (such as steem, steemit, steemdb)

Also, we may want to change the tags (when posting) to combo boxes/drop down boxes of often used tags. Maybe even have the first tag be constrained to a certain set so it always falls into a subreddit like category.


I will be glad to hash out any of these in further detail. Maybe even code some of them... if I ever figure out who to push changes to.
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If Steemit wants to be an "anarchist's dream", it will forever remain a niche product that the vast majority of the world's population wouldn't be interested in. Of course, that's a valid route to take, but I wouldn't want to be part of it either. Thanks for your comments on the other fronts :)

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I meant #2 in the same way as what happened to that guy who was "supposedly" in charge of the silk road. People are being suicided for less. So, don't ever bring it up again... unless of course you are a govern-cement shill.

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if I ever figure out who to push changes to.

Is it possible at all? I mean, if I wanted to change or add something, is there a way to do it (via established development process of course), or would I need to, um, talk to the big fish directly?

Indeed, there are 2 visions of Steemit: that of the developers and that of the users. Developers work on the structure: blockchain and steem. Users would like a more user-friendly and social-networked interface. Both are possible provided there is consensus.
Why, as you mention, would not there be two levels? A beginner level for social media users (posts, comments and rewards) and a more advanced level for crypto users (transactions, exchanges, etc.).
A good team of "designer" and "marketer" could certainly propel Steemit to a high level.

I think Steemit has struggled to identify who its target market is. In all my conversations with others and presentations I have watched, Steemit has been compared to Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, as a platform for authors, as a platform for microbloggers and so on. Each of these platforms target different users and different behaviors (with some overlap) which require different tools to be developed. I don't think that Steemit has sufficiently defined what that initial niche is.

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Nice post.good work.thank you.liberosist.greets from Germany

Simplicity is a key necessity to attaining critical mass.

HOW THE FUCK DID I MISS THIS POST. IT'S GENIUS.

Great points but I am thinking about #7

While simplification is always desirable, transparency is key. Such as separating out author's and curator's pending payouts, so there's no unpleasant surprise at payout time.

While transparency is the key, obviously, revealing to public is another part. Information should be accessible by anyone at anytime, but it shouldn't be thrown to everyone if it may cause negative experience. I noticed that AKASHA doesn't show payouts of other's posts, and it provides different perception to me.

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That's an interesting model. I can't imagine how that would work with Steemit, but worth a thought experiment!

Regarding transparency, something I neglected to mention is, we probably need a better balance between transparency and privacy. I know a lot of people expect basic privacy controls to hide their comments, their votes, their wallet, their transactions etc. Not saying we need to do all of that, or go as far as having private blogs - but there definitely needs to be some privacy built-in. Currently it's too wide open and open to privacy invasion abuse - of which there has been a fair few cases. (Yes, I'm aware this may need a lot of work blockchain side, and some features like anonymous transactions may be in the works - just pointing out what people expect on a frontend)

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Well said. I totally agree with you.