Warning : a potentially longer post ahead.
In my previous post, I said I wouldn't post meta content about Steemit, but it turns out I lied, since I noticed that this was going to be my 500th post, and I was always planning on making a review for my 500th post.
I joined Steemit in August and published my first post on the same day. It was an old analogy that I had created way back when that had proven to be popular. The post ended up making around $120 which was a pretty good start, I thought.
Since then a lot of changes have been made to Steemit and the community has grown a lot. I thought that since this is my 500th post, it'd be as good a time as any to take a comprehensive look at Steemit and do an objective review.
Overall, I enjoy Steemit. There's consistently at least a dozen or so blogs that I find enjoyable to read. And lately we've seen the rise of more short term posts, too, which is a nice thing because it adds to the social media aspect of Steemit. Not everyone has to be a Pulitzer winning writer to participate.
I enjoy the fact that I can find posts by new people every day, as opposed to Facebook where I tend to read stuff from he same people, which is fine a lot of the time, but as someone who just enjoys reading in general I like to find new stuff. I'm too lazy to actually go out of my way and discover blogs on the internet, so in that sense Steemit is a great platform to content discovery.
There are more like-minded people on Steemit than a site like Blogspot, for example. I've also found a variety of content to read, not just the same topics. And I follow people who post a lot of different stuff, all who add value to my day pretty much every day.
The monetary aspect of Steemit is a good thing, but also a bad thing, but I'll focus on the good parts here.
The fact that I can earn rewards is something that's rekindled my enjoyment of writing; I'm usually pretty lazy when it comes to creating stuff, but the possibility of earning money is gives me the extra push I need to sit down and write, and that's something I'm thankful for because, in the end, I do enjoy it.
I've also been lucky(?) enough to earn some decent rewards and can't really complain. There are a lot of hard working posters who don't really earn that much, so I've felt blessed in that respect to having been able to gain a bit of a following and been discovered by people who enjoy what I produce.
The Steemit community is a great community, in my opinion. I have noticed bad apples during my time here, but the rest of the community has been pretty good at spotting those and taking action. Also, @klye made a post about his crappy situation with his living arrangements and basically said that he needs help, and the community made him number one on the trending page. I felt that was pretty cool.
When I joined Steemit, we had @msgivings making bank on the front page with plagiarized material, while a lot of bloggers with original material were suffering. It was always the topic of the day that a lot of posters were not getting any attention and were leaving Steemit because they felt that it was unfair.
Whatever you may feel about "unfair" - I have my own views about it - the community has taken a number of steps forward in making Steemit a better experience. Projects like @curie have been able to reward a lot users with a small following whow ere struggling to get noticed, the community is now better at spotting plagiarized material, and discussions are being had at how to better the experience for new users - who we should be catering to, I feel, if we think about growing the community.
When I joined, we didn't have the home feed yet, and that addition made it easier to filer out the stuff that wasn't interesting. Later on became the Re-Steem feature, which allowed for users to share interesting stuff to their followers. The Re-Steem feature has garnered some negative feedback from the community since it's sometimes hard to spot the author's own content in the midst of all the Re-Steemed content, and this is true, but it's my understanding that a new feature that splits the Re-Steemed content and the original content has been created and will be implemented.
We also got the notifcations feature from Facebook which makes it easier to follow conversations. It doesn't seem to work all the time, though, so more on that later.
I like the fact that on Steemit I know that finding my posts is up to my followers - it's not something that's controlled by algorithms, and what I see on my feed is not controlled by corporate interests. That was something that was the selling point to me when I decided to join.
This is a hot topic currently with everything that's going on with YouTube and Reddit and whatnot. Steemit should really market the idea that it does not control the content your followers get to see. It's a really big deal.
There are lots of people on Facebook that I converse with daily, yet only a fraction of their content finds its way to my feed, which doesn't even make any sense, since obviously I would engage with their content. Instead, I get a lot of stuff that I don't even care about. Facebook also shadow bans a lot of content that it doesn't want its users to see. It's been demonstrated.
YouTubers right now are furious over the fact that YouTube - or rather Google - has changed up the algorithms, which makes it harder for people to find content from the people they've been subscribed to. The underlying cause for this seems to be that people want YouTube to be turned into more like television. Which, of course, nobody wants since people, such as myself, watch YouTube because it's not television. If they turn YouTube into television, there's no reason for me to watch because I could just watch TV and there's a reason I haven't owned a TV in eight years.
This is where alternative medias come in, and Steemit is one of said alternative medias. I think people who are upset with the traditional medias should just leave and seek alternatives. Voting with your wallet - or in this case your time and attention - is the way to evoke change.
I also enjoy Steemit as a type of game, so to say: I write something and see how popular it gets, and what type of rewards I get. I'm pretty okay financially - the only good thing about my stressful job - so I don't count on the money earned from blogs for anything, but it's a fun thing to try and create something that people find value in. Not all the time, though, since sometimes it's fun to just post about stuff that I want to post about, and pretty much every topic I've covered has found some sort of an audience. This is really nice and something not present at Facebook. Not for me, at least.
I'm going to be critical of Steemit in the "Bad" section coming up, but I'd like to underline that I do enjoy Steemit and see potential in it. I think in the not so distant future we will see even more of a demand for a social media site on a blockchain, since the control of content will get stricter - and I don't think it's even a conspiracy theory at this point, this stuff is already happening. It's great that whistleblowers and the like can have the alternative of posting their content on a blockchain that can't be censored arbitrarily.
And something that is also worthy of mentioning is that I've seen a number of posts by people who have said to be cryptocurrency noobs and seeked advice. This is a great sign since it shows that Steemit has managed to introduce the world of cryptocurrencies to a lot of people - probably many of whom otherwise would not have found it. So, that's a success for Steemit.
The more people are into crypto, the more utility there will be for crypto and the better off we will be, since current FIAT currencies are not built to last.
I am personally not looking to power down anytime soon. In fact, if the price of STEEM hits the $0.10 mark, I will probably buy more. Not that I have huge amounts of SP, a little over 3k, but still. I'm looking to be in for the long term. I'd like to have enough SP to make a noticeable difference when upvoting, that way I could feel like I'm rewarding someone for creating something that made my day more enjoyable.
It's actually pretty cool that we have a community like this that is willing to reward other people, and a system in place for it. Like, people are free from any government mandated policies here, yet they are willing to upvote content based on feeling that the author deserves it. Yes, there are the curation rewards, but I've seen people upvote for the sake of upvoting the content, not just to collect curation rewards.
That brings me to another thing that is noteworthy about Steemit: I don't see a lot of trolling or otherwise childish behavior.
Yes, there is the occasional flame war every now and again - and it's usually the same people - but considering that this is the internet and I have years and years of experience on the internet, it's pretty amazing that we don't see more of it. Clearly the system in place is one that hugely discourages stupid trolling, and encourages mature conversation - and the fact this has been accomplished on the internet is a feat in and of itself.
I would use Steemit even without the potential of monetary rewards. I don't know if I'd blog as much, but I'd definitely read and engage.
The platform is not without its problems, though, so let's take a look.
These are meant as constructive criticisms in case a higher up comes across this.
First off, even with the improved home feed, I still feel that it can be a pain to discover new users and content that interest me. There is simply a high noise-to-signal ratio.
I could see this being a problem for some new users who get scared of the amount of content and retreat back to the loving arms of Facebook.
It's actually been studied that too many options disable us: it's easier for me to choose from, say, three to four songs to listen to while at the gym, than it is to choose one song to listen to from the entire Spotify catalogue. I could see new users being overwhelmed at the amount of content that they need to start searching for content in.
I would love for us to have followable tags, first of all, then possibly a few favorite tags at the upperhand bar. Perhaps even when registering, the user could be asked to name a few of his or her interests and naming them would then create his or her favorite tags, or alternatively set him or her to follow those tags. This could make it easier for the user to find the content that he or she likes, and the user is more likely to stick around.
Something else I'd like to see are groups or communities. For engaging with users who share interests with me, for one, but there's another, big point to this.
Message board users are already doing what everybody does on Steemit: creating lots and lots of content about a particular topic they enjoy. Message board users also complain about powerhungry nazi moderators all the time, so there's a clear market there for Steemit.
You take a popular phenomenon like, say, the Walking Dead, and you'll find a number of active forums with tens of thousands of active users. And there are as many message boards as there are topics, pretty much.
Imagine if we had groups or communities and we could market Steemit to those people, saying that "Hey, you can discuss Walking Dead here with these people who also enjoy it, and possibly get paid to do it".
I'd be surprised if we didn't get new active members that way.
The thing about people who frequent message boards is also the fact that these are the most hardcore fans of any given particular subject. If you post on a message board about Walking Dead, you're a huge fan. And the way hardcore fans are is that they can't get enough of whatever they're into.
These people are the perfect fit for Steemit - if we get groups and communities that we can show them and get them interested.
I put over the Steemit community in the Good section, but there's something bad about it, too.
I've noticed that unless the post is about Steemit specifically, comment engagement isn't that huge. I think it has to do with Steemit still being in its infancy and most of us here are content creators, worried about our own content, but some of it may have to do with every user on Steemit being a potential upvoter, which leads to people being reluctant to potentially piss anybody off. So, even if people disagree with a post, they won't engage in a conversation, but rather just ignore the post completely.
Sure, it can be a viewed as a good thing that there aren't many pointless arguments on the platform, but personally I would also like it to be pointed out to me if I'm wrong. So, I'll make it known here and now that you are not risking any future potential upvotes by disagreeing with me, as long as the debate is civil and mature.
I like to learn from debates. Facebook debates are pretty useless a lot of the time, but I'd love to test out the Steemit community in actual debates. I've been wrong on so many things it's not even funny, so at no point do I think that I'm right about everything that I currently believe.
A negative knock needs to be given to the GUI, I'm sorry.
It's usable, yes, it does its job, yes, but it is clunky - especially in 2016, almost 2017 when everything needs to easily chewable for the average person. I think there is an unnecessary amount of clicks involved with the interface, and some of the features, such as the notifications, don't work correctly.
Also, when I was hoping for notifications, I was also hoping for a notification for upvotes. I think the notification for new posts on the feed could be removed and replaced with an upvote notification.
It could work like the Facebook notification when it counts as one notification when there are new upvotes on a post, so it wouldn't give a new notification for every upvote, since that would get annoying with all the voting trails and whatnot.
The lack of instant messaging as well as wall posting is also something that may keep people from joining Steemit. Instant messaging and wall posting would of course present the problem of all the poor whales being victims of endless spam of "upvote me plz", but perhaps a community rule could be set in place that if you votebeg you risk getting your post flagged.
A few people would do it, others would see their posts get nuked, and it would stop.
Right now, a big reason for people being on Facebook is the messanger; I feel more people reach other through the Facebook messenger rather than by phone nowadays.
I a non-NSA spied messenger could be a huge selling point for Steemit, as well. I've also talked about it previously that the Facebook messenger isn't even that good, so it's not like it's hard to compete with. It's just that it's so widely used. But offering an alternative can always change that.
A recent phenomena on Steemit has been the rise of the content white knights.
People who feel like content such as Steemsports doesn't deserve the rewards it gets. I'm hoping this isn't the beginning of a bigger issue, since we really should leave it to the markets to decide what is valuable and what isn't. Of course, the ability to flag content is also a function in the Steemit market, but I think it should be reserved for abusive behavior, not being a successful content creator - who doesn't spam or engage in otherwise harmful behavior, like I don't see Steemsports doing, for instance.
I've already done a few posts on the subject, and @ats-david had a post about it, too, which I Re-Steemed, so I won't repeat myself much here.
But I bring it up that we shouldn't be so unwelcoming as a community and we shouldn't target a concept like Steemsports just because it happens to create a successful little business for itself. Clearly the people enjoy it, and it's ultimately a good thing for the community.
Now it may be true that due to the visibility that for example Steemsports gets, it may send the wrong message to potential new uers, but it's hardly the fault of Steemsports, or any other content creator, but rather a fault in the Steemit GUI - and in how it presents itself to the outside user.
Perhaps a new feed for games like this could be created.
Something to look into is that the average post on Steemit has a lifespan of a few hours, I'd say, even though the voting period is around 24 hours. Not all posts are winners, but having your post noticed is something that is an issue with users, since it's brought up constantly, especially by new users.
I've been playing around with the idea of a reverse Trending page, sort of, which would feature posts that have gotten upvotes, but lack the monetary rewards. This would allow for people who have been approved by a big number of users with their upvotes, but perhaps have not been noticed by the big whales, to have their posts noticed before the voting period ends.
In the end, I think an area for improvement with Steemit is that the luck factor of having your content noticed should be minimized - it's obvious that it van never be completely eliminated, but the platform should aspire to a certain type of "equality" in the sense that it should be content vs. content with everybody, instead of luck of the draw, posting time, et cetera, et cetera.
And it's not just for the content creator, either, I'm sure the readers would also enjoy discovering a post that has, say, a hundred upvotes, that they otherwise would not have seen, since obviously there was something good about the post according to a lot of the users.
Now it feels like a bad feature to have the voting period be 12-24 hours when the upvotes usually stop after an hour or two for the average users - it's different for power users, of course.
Quicker payout times could encourage spam, but the four posts per day rule is in effect, so I doubt it'd be that drastic.
Or alternatively, like I said, keep the payout times the same and create a new feed for popular content that lacks the whale votes.
The good does outweigh the bad, since I'm still here, but I don't think that Steemit is a mainstream competitor for Facebook - yet. I do think that potential is there, however.
Steemit needs more of the social aspect of social media brought to the table. I think a big reason for Facebook use is keeping in touch with and reading content from friends and family. Most of us here are strangers to each other. While it's great to make new friends, and I have, if people were able to grab a friend or two with them to Steemit, it would no doubt increase their chances of staying, for both of them.
Perhaps we could also have a separate feed for followers only, which would include micro-blogging. Twitter is more popular than Medium, and sometimes people just want to make a quick post about their workday, and get the engagement from people they know. Super long tirades will never be mainstream, but they do have their place - and I like them, personally.
But I don't expect a lot of people to make it to the end of this post, it's just what it is.
The more varied the content and the easier it is to find different content the easier it is for people t grab a friend or two with them to Steemit, who will then grab one or two of their friends, and so on.
Anyways, I'm @schattenjaeger and that's my opinion.