What is a Post? The Evolution of Steemit

in steemit •  last year

We are entering an interesting time in the evolution of the Steem ecosystem. A number of new apps are developing into solid platforms; the issuance of SMTs (Smart Media Tokens) also encourages further development of niche communities. Whether dealing directly in Steem or in convertible SMTs, the number of applications interacting with the main blockchain is due for a major increase. In this new landscape, what is the role of the flagship Steemit website?

What is a Post?

Steemit is promoted as the primary Steem application and as a blogging environment. Users are encouraged to create original and engaging content in the form of articles. But there has always been some tension as to what can legitimately be called “original content”. Communities such as photographers and artists seem happy to accept single images as the products of their creativity; the blockchain does not store images directly, so such “posts” appear merely as a title and an image URL. At the other end, authors and bloggers expect to see properly crafted articles, diligently edited and with a professional-looking layout.

Beyond that, we see probably too much plagiarism and copypasta that can honestly be consigned to the dustbin, but we also have snippets of information, links to longer articles and even “thought bubbles”. Should these latter posts be considered as “adding value” to the Steemit community? Before answering that, let’s see what is happening beyond Steemit itself.

Beyond Steemit

Steemit is the primary User Interface (UI) to the Steem blockchain, but we are now seeing a growing number of posts being made from outside the Steemit website. Busy is also a blogging platform, chainBB is a forum, DTube is a video platform, Zappl is a microblogging app, plus other apps that facilitate interactions with the blockchain. I chose those examples because they all provide different kinds of posts compared to the traditional blog – and all of their content also appears on Steemit.

The idea that the perfectly crafted blog post is the only legitimate form of post has already been eroded, and will further disappear. A chainBB discussion can be initiated by a simple question; that question will appear as the original post (OP) with comments below it. A Zappl post has a limit of 240 characters; impossible to write an essay. You get the idea. The format of a legitimate post depends on the platform that is used to generate it – but, I repeat, all posts are seen on Steemit.

Steemit as an Aggregator

All of this means that Steemit is no longer just a blogging platform, it is the aggregator of all the steem blockchain activity. Sure, the real aggregator is the blockchain itself, but people need a more natural interface. I think that Steemit as the hub of an individual’s disparate social media activities is a really useful development.

Every website has the obligatory social media icons of Facebook and Twitter, possibly Google+, Pinterest, Reddit and others. There are ways to integrate them but they are not natural and certainly not seamless; you can’t see your Facebook timeline on Twitter, for example. People appear to accept that these are different websites run by different companies and create their own individual form of integration as they flip between different kinds of interactions.

But Steem has developed the other way round. The integrator – the aggregator – is already there at the very beginning: the blockchain. Rather than trying to merge fundamentally different websites, new social media experiences are fanning out from the one blockchain. Ironic that a decentralized system performs the task of centralizing different apps, but so be it. I think that in the coming months this could potentially be the most powerful function of Steemit.

Development of an Aggregator

However, there is one key feature that the Steemit UI should implement so that it is a seamless, fully-integrated social media aggregator. This is something I have seen many people ask for in many different contexts: the ability to see different content streams.

We already see different streams for Blogs, Comments and Replies. One extra stream often requested is to separate author Blogs from Resteems. But here the issue is wider: to stream different sources of communication. There could still be one master stream, but to allow the UI to add dedicated streams from, say, chainBB, Zappl and even Steemit itself would make the user experience far more manageable and meaningful. The irony here is that fragmenting the sources leads to a more integrated experience.

Some years ago, I used Stumbleupon a lot precisely because it was easy to create different content streams, mixing my articles with external sources I found useful. On one page, I could glance at each stream and pick whatever I was interested in at the time.

The key for Steemit is that all sources are already integrated via the blockchain and all one is doing is allowing the user to select the form of integration they prefer; there is no need to pull different feeds from across the web. This shouldn’t be difficult to code; in the footer of chainBB messages, one can already see the source of each message.

Indeed, the relationship between Steemit and chainBB is a good example of the utility of an aggregator. Every post made on Steemit can, in theory, be seen on chainBB, but the forum structure means that if you only use chainBB then you will not see many messages posted on Steemit. Similarly, the chainBB forum structure encourages use of specific tags to define each forum; these tags also appear on Steemit, but would be difficult to find by pure chance. The two sites currently serve slightly different complementary functions and would be really useful for a user on their aggregated dashboard to see if a comment was part of a long discussion or a response to a blog post.

So, moving forwards, what is a post? It seems like it is any communication that engages an interaction between people. Just as our senses are integrated into a holistic experience so different online expressions can be aggregated into one social media experience.

What do you think?

images: Pixabay [1,2], @rycharde and @juliakponsford [3]

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If Steemit just turns into effectively a "blockchain explorer", then it has no value to me. I want Steemit to be a place where creative people come together to create content. Thats why im trying my hardest to find new content and flag bad content. There's already far too much "no effort" content on here where people are either just scraping from reddit or pulling images from stock photography sites. Having all sorts of different feeds with their different types of content (including their own type of bad content) coming here in a cacophony of chaos is just going to ruin this site, UNLESS there is some kind of way of filtering that out. I don't want to see "twitter style" posts on here with people saying "Im out eating my dinner". If that sort of stuff is going to fill up the "New" posts feed then how am I meant to find new, curatable content?

I don't know the solution to this. Maybe we need a 6th tag on posts that can only be set by the API in which the app puts its name. Then we can use this on Steemit to filter on that tag. It has to be quite an easy technical problem to solve surely?


Yes, good points, but at the moment we are seeing the Steemit tag-streams having content from every platform - zappl tweets mixed in with video links etc. We haven't yet reached the point of the "I'm on the bus home now" micro-message, but that surely will happen if that platform becomes widely adopted.

So if the consensus is that Steemit shouldn't become the blockchain aggregator, then all the more reason to add (as you say) a filtering system so that different types of messages can be differentiated.

I think we're heading in the direction messages are not always going to be actual posts, hence my idea that this should be discussed before it becomes unmanageable for many users.


That is a question that the community will likely have to answer going forward, whether or not Steemit should be the aggregator. There are likely a number of paths that could be taken. Steemit could become an aggregator, while a number of sites pop up using the technology. It could end up that a number of users move to sites dedicated to specific types of content, or use multiple. It could also end up that the Steemit community eventually rejects the new content, and either automatically filters content from other sites, or allows the user to.


If Steemit just turns into effectively a "blockchain explorer", then it has no value to me. I want Steemit to be a place where creative people come together to create content.

We can do both, I think.

I don't want to see "twitter style" posts on here with people saying "Im out eating my dinner". If that sort of stuff is going to fill up the "New" posts feed then how am I meant to find new, curatable content?

Any filtering/querying tools we build in the UI will allow for negation, too, so you'll be able to say "everything that matches X" as well as "everything that doesn't match X". I have a lot of ideas around this you'll be seeing peek out into the product in the future.

Maybe we need a 6th tag on posts that can only be set by the API in which the app puts its name.

This is actually already inside the post's metadata on the blockchain, it's just not displayed by the UI, but could easily be used to filter.


Thanks for the reply @sneak. That makes me feel a little more confident in the platform as it progresses. It also reminds me that I must take some time to look at the API. I have ideas, just no time to execute them. Maybe I need to find time.


Hi, Im very new to steemit, possibly you can answer a question I have been trying to understand. Your comment here suggests that in it's current form steemit has value to you. Where does that value come from. Why is the system able to award currency for posts? My understanding is that where as Facebook and Instagram gain value when you post things that are quality making more people want to use it. With steem you are awarded for that added value. But if steem is not selling your information or advertising to you how is it gaining value? Please correct me if my understanding is very wrong. Again I am new to all things crypto but I am excited to learn and get involved.


Take a look at this post


There are loads of other posts on here that detail where the value of Steem comes from if you search for something like "Where does the value of steem come from"

The reward is not just financial. I get a warm feeling in my undies when people comment and say they like my work :)


Appropriate comment for great post. I 100% agree and like your comment .

So, moving forwards, what is a post? It seems like it is any communication that engages an interaction between people. Just as our senses are integrated into a holistic experience so different online expressions can be aggregated into one social media experience.

I agree with this definition, and with the idea that Steemit has graduated from a blogging platform to a arbitrary services platform. This is good and bad I think.

It's good because with the ever increasing variety of use cases Steemit can wear lots of different hats and this ultimately creates value for everyone, both in adding cool tech and thus (hopefully) bringing up the price, and also in the enjoyment of being able to use the services.

It's bad many of the inputs and outputs are mismatched. You might log on wanting to read a certain kind of article and have to wade through rivers of copy pasta, spam, even photography, memes, etc. The tag filtering of chainBB is really the way forward, and we'll see what happens with communities but that's going to change everything too. Perhaps use cases can be siloed in their respective community and we can get a bit more focus. But in some shape or form we need better filtering.

Ultimately is the economics that are driving things so whatever is profitable to do will be done by those with capital. Vote selling is the latest best thing, but some of real innovative projects are taking of, like DTube, so that's interesting. And it will be interesting to see how SMTs play out.

That is to say nothing about the current state of incentives, but that's for anything opinionated comment 😉

i think this main site shouldn't be an aggregator, in fact i dont think there is anything useful gained from having an aggregator. I think this site should be a host for medium-long form blogs, ala Medium. I think the current UI is best suited for that kind of content.

The thing is, steemit.com is the most popular of all the front ends. So it needs to have a specific goal. It needs to concentrate on a specific kind of content(which currently, it seems to be a medium length blog post. But it should be even more tailor made for that kind of content). That's the best way of getting new users.

And then, maybe create a simple, small site for those who want an "aggregator" or something that shows all blockchain data.


Hi, similar sentiments to @markangeltrueman, and not to repeat my reply to him, I'd like to ask what you would suggest to do with the current tag-streams that are currently filled with everything from every steem blockchain app? Thanks


Tags were designed to be anarchy, and they will remain so.

Communities are the solution to the problem you raise, I believe.


Hi, thanks for both comments. On the above point, how will the Steemit Communities be defined? I assume you were referring to the upcoming Communities capabilities. Will it be similar to chainBB, where a forum is defined by its tags?


Thanks for the link. Similar to what I expected, although adding the ability for members to elect their mods may have interesting consequences!

Thanks for sharing! A link to your post was included in the Steem.center wiki article about Post. Thanks and good luck again!


Thanks very much!

Steemit is a slightly more humanised block explorer / generic presenter of content. Other content types and communities will benefit from other UIs that are more tuned to their needs. Surprise, surprise, I think we'll see the greatest amount of innovation and smart AIs on those new UIs.

I struggle on the end with the words, integrated and aggregated.

Aggregation is always limited, therefore it is not holistic.

I really enjoyed reading about #steemit as a stream aggregator.

Steemit (the blockchain) is the container which contains the stream (content). Without the stream (content) there is no container.

The Container is the Contained, is the stream (content).

Steemit as an integrated (not aggregated) holistic human experience.

You were spot on!!! ...great writing...

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Having a filtering system sounds incredibly useful. I have a few more ideas about that which I can write about later, but I agree that as the platform grows, the lack of structure will become even less user-friendly.

Definitely support the concept!


Thanks! Though seems to be an even split at the moment.

Being able to fine-tune the streams we see does not, in itself, conflict with being a blogging platform. On the other hand, do we need multiple blogging platforms? For example, the Wordpress Steem plugin looks interesting.


Yes, people need multiple blogging platforms. Steemit is nothing like Tumblr or even a more standard blogging platform. Many entries here are much more like articles, with a bit of blogging mixed it.

Very interesting. I had no idea that there were so many forums operating outside of Steemit but still remaining connected to it. Steemit as an aggregator is a unique concept I think. I don't have a lot to add to the conversation but I find it interesting to learn how Steemit is evolving.

Good article.
The issue of the reblogs is something I've already noticed, and I just registered. It could be solved by a checkbox that says "Include Reblogs".