How to Bring the Elusive Engagement: The Case for Groups and Communities in Steemit and a Better Separation of Content

in steemit •  3 years ago  (edited)


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

@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

  1. Steemit to be successful,
  2. The value of STEEM to go up.
  3. 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.

For instance.

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:

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.

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Exactly. I've been saying this for a while too. For example, I'm an active member (somewhat less now) in a FB group called 'Choose Yourself'. It was started by a writer-enterpreneur, James Altucher. That was how I initially siphoned off my friends from there to here....for example, infovore, kaylinart, ericvancewalton, and others were all members of that group. I wrote about Steemit in that group sharing my experiences here with them which convinced them to come here. Many came directly from that group because they are mostly self-starters, entrepreneur types. If I could announce that we have started a Choose Yourself Group in Steemit, then they could ALL come over here. There are maybe 6,000 members, or more. As it stands right now though, many don't have a good feeling about Steemit due to some issues, that used to be worse than they are now. But as it is right now there's a real lacking in cohesion with the way it's just individuals. It's simply not as fun as a group thing. Groups bring people, and they are way more fun. YES TO GROUPS.
Perhaps the best part of this scenario is that if there were a Choose Yourself Group within Steemit, then maybe James Altucher (who has some serious connections to big name entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk (sp?) would come here as well. I'm Facebook friends with James and I asked him directly to come visit Steemit. He didn't seem too interested at the time. He's busy and has a very successful blog already. But if we started a group in here that is his fan group, he might drop by to see what's up. This could be really powerful. YES TO GROUPS

I total agree. At the moment there are 125,000 users. Imagine what it would be like when there is 125,000,000. You'll never find anyone..!! Stephen

Very true!

You've made some good points here. I'm having trouble convincing my wife to join Steemit precisely because she doesn't want to leave her niche Facebook community behind. She needs a way to port that community over to Steemit before she'll give it a chance.

I also find it requires a lot of effort to craft posts here. I spend maybe 10-12 hours per post. But then, I write long posts with carefully chosen images and spend a lot of time tweaking the formatting before I'm satisfied. The stuff I write here, I would never bother putting on Facebook which I view as the fast food of social media sites.

I don't mind the content chaos personally, as I enjoy fine tuning my feed which for the most part then makes it easy to view the content I like. But nonetheless, I would find both communities and tag following to be welcome additions to the Steemit toolbox.

Great insights! I think using the tags to aggregate the community content is an excellent solution. Today there is a problem with the long url adress like that become difficult to brand and spread. It could be possible to overcome this using a third party custom url shortener like or This also could work like a owned tag if the tag were original or branded enough. If you're interested, I also wrote about this issue (Steemit Knots idea) refering to Orkut Communities, Facebook Fanpages and Groups and Medium multiple users "publications".
Congratulations, thanks and good luck again!

While a lot of these issues are probably frontend UI issues unrelated to the backend blockchain development, I think they are relevant when it comes to discussing engagement in a long term sense. It will take both front-end and back-end changes to improve the situation and it is worth discussing both.

I watched the Boxy video........ 0_0.....I've never been exposed to that before. It's very .....Millenial.... :-D

No! Boxxy is NOT millenial in nature. Boxxy represents the good in life.

Haha...well maybe I haven't seen enough yet. :-) I should watch more? I don't know whether mind can take that kind of punishment.

Boxxy is an acquired taste.

I can compare it to my attachment to Julia Nunes.

Not my type, but I can respect that.

Boxxy seems nuts in a good way. I had never heard of her before.

Separating ourselves has led here, better we get to know each other as we feel confident in our willingness to reach out.
If we sequester ourselves hope for improvement dies a little.

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

Even with group functionality, Steem will be very open platform where users are constantly exposed to different topics. I don't think trending-page should disappear, so seeing what other users are doing will only a one click away.

And because Steem is a public blockchain, groups won't be secret societies. They will be open for everybody to read and follow.

If you don't like groups, how would you solve the "too much noise" problem? Users are already seeing too many posts so that many good ones will be forgotten immediately, or even not seen at all. Good writers don't get the attention they deserve. It discourages new users because they can't get any followers. Without groups, it will be very hard to get any upvotes or comments in the future because there is just too much content.

Subscribing is your first group, hashtags your second, muting your third, how many walls do you need to isolate yourself sufficiently?

I don't like the ideas of communities. It was the first nail in the coffin of Google Plus. I expect it to happen here but I don't have to like it.


How did the groups made Google Plus worse? I stopped using Plus mostly because my friends weren't there. Also I didn't like the UI.

In Facebook groups are one of the best features. It's easy to find like-minded people and discuss stuff that I really care about.

And a question for you too: If you don't like groups, how would you solve the "too much noise" problem? Users are already seeing too many posts so that many good ones will be forgotten immediately, or even not seen at all. Good writers don't get the attention they deserve. It discourages new users because they can't get any followers. Without groups, it will be very hard to get any upvotes or comments in the future because there is just too much content.

I've never been on g+ and fedbook carded me in '12, then locked me out of my account of 7 years, soooo, they can jump in a lake, afaic.

I don't see any problem with 'noise'.
You get to build your first group by subscribing.
Do you subscribe too many authors you don't like?

Hashtags are groups, did you not find yours?

Groups are going to happen, it is just a damn shame in my book, those people will never have a chance to stumble upon the message that could solve their most pressing issues because they would rather escape into cat videos and forget for a little while that their apathy is murdering children worldwide.

I disagree. I think being exposed to content one does not care about makes Steemit less attractive.

I'm sure it does, but to only allow ideas that conform with ideas you already have is to be set up.
How are you going to know if you are wrong if all you hear are sycophants?

I do support you in your attempt, but I hope they don't do that.

Most people are on the internet and social media sites to have a good time, not in search for the holy grail of Truth.

All the better to slap them with it,....

No. Exposing people to content they don't care about is being a dick. People can look for content, it shouldn't be shoved down their throats.

Also, people who preach the "Truth" are usually wrong and/or lying, which is why I avoid them like the plague.

I totally agree, but I don't need walls to control my behavior, if I don't like it I just change the channel.

You don't, but some others may want them. Maybe even the majority. If you force different people into the same community, they will get into fights.

This is why it's a good idea to separate people into their own separate communities.

Everybody wins.

People will self segregate, we need to bring us more together, though, if we eliminate rule by force, it won't matter.
As long as rule by force is the norm, separation perpetuates the brutality.

You live in this cotton candy fairytale land, where people can be "brought together". They can't. There are too many factors involved that make people and cultures different that trying to "bring them together" will just lead into conflict. Look at the mass immigration into Europe as a recent example.

The 60s are over, the hippies were wrong and you people need to let it go.

Let people separate from the people they don't, and never will, like, and that is a step towards peace.

Most people are annoying anyway.

Wow, where do I start with that?
If we don't learn to live together, cooperatively, death and brutality win.
You live in a dystopic nightmare that I read as fantasy as a child.

The people think what they are led to think.

There was no 'mass immigration', those folks were bombed from their perfectly comfortable lives by miserable psychopaths that currently engineer the consent.

I've already agreed that folks will self segregate, there is a mute function if you need another level of that, but to cut folks off into smaller herds is to make them easier prey to ideas they have no idea even exist.

If we don't learn to live together, cooperatively, death and brutality win. If we are all forced into the same community that's when you run into the conflicts.

(Here)We can't be forced into the same community, we can be walled off from it, though.

You chose what to read, from the titles you choose which posts interest you, of those you choose which to comment, and vote, you have been forced to do nothing, but pass on titles that repel you.
If those titles get to be too much you can mute their authors.

But, by creating groups you build walls to keep out ideas that don't agree with your confirmation bias.
This is exactly what led to those folks being bombed out of their good thing, and into your difficult situation.

Those of us that have read history are doomed to watching those who haven't repeat the mistakes of yesterday.

I'm sorry, but I don't know what to tell you.

Ok, good luck in your endeavor.

You, too.

ha ha! yes!

exactly. There's a reason humans evolved from tribes.

Communities are a double edged sword. They will make the platform more user friendly and people will find their comfort zones. The problem is people will find their comfort zones and not venture out into the world. This will hurt the Steemit community. As a 1st Gen user of Google Plus I watched it happen on that platform. We were rocking until communities came along and then the main stream became a ghost town.

I know it is human nature to desire this comfort of familiar ideas. I for one am not a fan. Give me chaos and let me learn new points of view.

I can't see Steemit as a competitor to Facebook, like Google+ tried to be. This is a strength, as you don't need to get your friends on Steemit for it to be fun to use. However, it's even better for you, your friends and Steemit that those who are interested in a platform like Steemit can find their way here.

However, UI is truly a challenge. I dislike strong communities, but even very narrow groups or tags can work very well. You could have larger groups and sub-groups and still use all of these in your posts. Like about food. You could have food, subgroup of baking, and then subgroups for.. cakes, bread or something similar?
Now even when going through content under one tag I get easily lost and can't find anything specific. It's easy to miss a lot of interesting content.

Liking and resteeming because of Boxxy.
Good ideas too, I guess. XD
Hahaha, just kidding, I love the ideas man, and definitely support them! I was imagining steemit move in the direction of sites like 4chan, that have "boards" and then there's /b/ which is random and we can congregate there when we want to hear new ideas.

Great article. The changes will come in time. Facebook took years to become what it is today. Thanks for the post :)

Wow, this is an interesting idea. I could definitely see groups and communities helping with discovery. Thanks for posting this!