I've talked about this before, but I'm doing it again because I now have more followers and there's potential for more exposure. I also have some more comprehensive arguments, as well as new arguments to make.
First off, you should read this https://steemit.com/steem/@samupaha/another-way-of-looking-at-discussion-incentivization
@samupaha has also talked about this a lot, alongside followable and ownable tags, both of which I support.
With the proposed change to how comments are being rewarded, by introducing their very reward pool, Steemit attempts to incentivize conversation and engagement.
It's a worthy cause, and we should all want that if we want for
- Steemit to be successful,
- The value of STEEM to go up.
- Steemit to become more fun in general.
I think the third part is something that's not getting enough attenton.
The Case for Groups and Communities
Currently, it's a lot of work to look for content that interests me. I'm sure it exists, but it's buried beneath a lot of stuff that's just not my particular cup of tea. That's not to put down the content I find, it's just that I'm not interested in the topics.
Selected posts will make it to the trending page every day, but making it there is largely based on the votes of a few users, so if my tastes differ from those of theirs, that's not much help, either. And again: I'm not whining about the "whale problem", I was never part of that group. Nor am I complaining about what posts make it to trending. That's all fine by me. My problem is just I've noticed that make it to trending rarely have my upvotes, which tells me that my taste seems to differ a lot from the consensus. Again, in and of itself, this is fine.
But as things stand right now, it does hinder the user experience for me. And I doubt I'm the only one.
Luckily, there is a great solution for this: the concentration of content into specific groups/communities.
Why Google Won the Search Engine War
Years ago, I remember reading a report on a study made about why Google reigned supreme as the search engine of choice on the internet. I'm old enough to remember multiple search engines racing to the top spot; there Altavista, AskJeeves and others. It wasn't even the UI that gave Google the crown, it was the fact that it was a search engine, through and through.
Just a search engine.
You see, the other services were trying to be more than search engines. They tried to have some small, additional services on top of working as a search engine, but the consumer wasn't interested; the consumer looked for a search engine, and Google was just a search engine. That made the consumer look for Google when he looked for a search engine. That was the key.
The situation with Steemit is somewhat similar
Right now, when searching through through the New feed, I get bombarded with lots of posts about lots of topics. Everything is being covered.
If I'm a non-Steemit user, taking a look, it can be extremely difficult to get a grasp of what it is that makes Steemit tick. It sort of tries to offer something for everyone, but when you try to appeal to everybody, in the end you appeal to nobody. This is a fact in the entertainment world.
Of course, the fact that we have bloggers who write about a big number of different topics is a great thing. But it's only a great thing when the content is found by the people who are interested in it.
The less there is social engagement, the more weight the user puts on receiving monetary rewards, and therefore aims to create content that appeals to the vast majority.
But when the created content that's just kinda nice, and not something that anyone is particularly passionate about, Steemit will stagnate, I'm afraid.
Communities Bring Engagement
Due to the nature of Steemit, and the fact that we all want to make money, the discussion revolves around the rewards. Not a bad thing, per se, but when it comes to engagement, I don't think that reinventing the reward pool is necessarily the way, or at least not the best way, to do it.
What we've learned from Facebook, Twitter, et al. is that engagement can be brought to a platform even if it's not rewarded monetarily. There is always a reward for engaging, but it's the fact that it's fun.
I'm a rather prominent member of pro wrestling group on Facebook, which currently stands at 5,114 members. I've been a member for years, and have garnered a reputation as someone whose opinions people care about. I make a thread in which I review a show, or otherwise give my opinion, and receive tens, at times hundreds, of likes and comments. They always end up as very long threads.
We comment, we debate, argue, make jokes. For free - because it's fun.
We're people with an interest in the same topic, the knowledge to have deep and comprehensive discussions about the topic, and also we know that we have an audience for what we have to say.
The last part struck me today as I realized that it's a really big incentive for posting over there. Especially since there are a number of members there who have our own inside jokes with, so it becomes fun to insert those jokes into the conversations because we know that certain people will get them.
That's the very essence of engaging.
People are not bringing their friends over to Steemit a lot right now, and that slows down Steemit's growth, since the lack of friends means that the social aspect of Steemit's social media ends up lacking. It's hard to leave all your friends behind and switch Facebook for Steemit, since Facebook is the pond where all your friends swim, and Steemit, in the beginning of a user's journey, is a desert.
This can't be altogether fixed, and it's also just the nature of things, but finding communities of people with similar interests would help immensely in making new friends. I've made some new friends on Steemit, and it's great, and it makes posting more fun, but this could be made a lot easier with communities, I think.
Personally, I'd love to advertise Steemit in the group I just mentioned. But as things are right now, I wouldn't have great arguments besides the potential monetary rewards. And you need to add on top of that the fact that for example wrestling is a really, really niche thing, and wouldn't receive attention anyway, so their efforts as content makers would likely be in vain.
However, if I was able to say that I've formed a group there, where people interested can join and we can have fun discussions, and there's a lot more to Steemit, and a possibility of rewards, it would become a lot more attractive.
These are 5,114 very enthusiastic and engaging members, and it'd be great to bring a number of them to the platform.
And I'm sure there are many members who are interested in something and would enjoy creating a community for that topic and bring more users in by advertising it.
Here's also something I've said about this earlier:
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.
Also, I've noticed that for whatever reason, crafting a post on Steemit seems like a lot more work than posting on Facebook. I haven't yet been able to fully figure out why this is, but perhaps I'm not the only one. However, if we want to attract new users with the reward system, engaging in conversations is a great way to do it, since even if good comments only make less than a dollar, in a very deep conversation, the good comments add up, and within a community there are sure to be several conversations to which one can leave comments. So, after a while, the cents have added up to noticeable rewards - and this was done while having fun.
I find commenting to be more fun than creating new posts, for some reason. Let me know if you're the same way.
Could Groups Be Owned?
@samupaha has also talked about ownable tags: https://steemit.com/steem-ideas/@samupaha/feature-proposal-ownable-tags
Again, it's a good idea and he makes a good case for it.
In addition, I was thinking of the possibility of ownable communities. Forming a community having a price tag could be a way to create a demand for STEEM/SBD that is currently somewhat lacking. Perhaps forming the community would send the money to @null, which burns it out of circulation, then users could be able to buy or sell communities within themselves.
An owner of a community seems like a must since someone has to be able to kick harmful members out to discourage trolling and bullying.
Maybe the engagement within the community could reward the owner? So that it would be sort of like an investment when someone decides to form/buy a community. It would also incentivize the owner to take care of his community; engage, start discussions, etc.
This is all just speculation on my part, and it may be unfeasible altogether, people smarter than me can let me know. But it's an interesting idea.
Separation of Content in General
Followable tags have been brought up, and I'm in support of better content separation in general. Right now, I have 198 followers, and I'm discouraged about posting about something that I know 99% of them are not interested in, since I don't want to spam their feed with noise.
And hey, like we all know, we can't just concentrate on pleasing the greedy 1%, we need to take care of the 99%!
Wait, what, wrong topic. Moving on.
I'm fine with following users, but the following mechanic could be changed into a two level system, sort of. I can follow a user to receive all of his content on my feed, or I can choose to follow a user for posts that contain my followed tags. Someone may have great posts about bitcoin, but he also makes McDonald's reviews that I'm not interested. Or then someone may just interest me in general, so I want to get all of his content.
This would encourage to post about different topics because I'd have the knowledge that people who follow me for all of my content are interested in all of my content, not just a fraction of it. And those not interested wouldn't have their feeds flooded with noise.
And then of course I could just follow tags in general, even if there's not a particular user that I have in mind.
Some followable tags could be chosen by the user when he first signs up to Steemit, so when he joins, he immediately finds content that he is interested in.
Back in the day, I had a portable CD player and was more than happy with it. I chose a CD with me when I went for a bike ride or a walk with the dog, and would listen to what I chose.
Nowadays, with basically all music in the entire world at a click's reach with my phone, I often struggle trying to come up with what to listen to.
It's been studied, too, that more choices is not always for the better, since it can paralyze us and prevent us from making decisions when there are too many choices.
I'm sure it can happen to people who join Steemit when they see posts about food, posts about cryptocurrency, posts about photography, posts about sports, posts where people complain about posts about sports, posts where people complain about people who complain about posts about sports..
It's a lot of variety, and maybe too much.
The interesting content should be brought to the user immediately, so that he could get right into the thick of things.
If you agree, re-steem both this and the post by @samupaha linked at the top of the post.
Of course, my ultimate goal is to create a community in which we do nothing but post Boxxy videos.