A Tale Of Two Steemits

in #steemit2 years ago

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If you've been an active Steemit user for the last few months you've probably seen one or two articles about the use of upvote bots and the effect such things are having on the broader community here at Steemit.

I'd like to talk about that a little bit.

Two Steemits

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What's happening is nothing less than a schism:

A schism is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization, movement, or religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a split in what had previously been a single religious body, such as the East–West Schism or the Great Western Schism. It is also used of a split within a non-religious organization or movement or, more broadly, of a separation between two or more people, be it brothers, friends, lovers, etc.

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In Christian history, the 11th century brought about what is known as The Great Schism. This is the event that split the canonical Christian church into two separate branches: the Western Rights of Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox Church. There had been several branches off the master of early Christianity, but this schism split the church so completely that the remnants of its former order ceased to exist.

A succession of ecclesiastical differences and theological disputes between the Greek East and Latin West pre-dated the formal rupture that occurred in 1054.[2][3][4] Prominent among these were the issues of the source of the Holy Spirit, whether leavened or unleavened bread should be used in the Eucharist,[a] the Bishop of Rome's claim to universal jurisdiction, and the place of the See of Constantinople in relation to the Pentarchy.[8]

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What's happening on Steemit right now is galvanizing users into two groups: those who use bid bots and those who oppose their use.

Why use a bot?

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Many people join Steemit because they are attracted by the prospect of making money on content.

They are persuaded by the idea that it's just like Facebook or Reddit, except upvotes are worth more than just trending -- they're worth ACTUAL MONEY!

It's exciting!

And then, the experience of many users in their first month is disappointing. They make a few posts, and the bucks do not come rolling in like they thought. Part of this disappointment is due to unrealistic expectations: if you haven't established an audience with some influence, your posts aren't going to get much traction nor will they make money.

Getting an organic audience to make your content "pay off" takes a lot of work and time, the sort of thing that people looking for a quick buck are going to avoid like the plague.

I've seen post-mortem articles and videos of people expressing their experience with Steemit and their disappointment with their inability to make a ton of money right away. The common thread in these things is that I never seem to see people explain how they went about building an audience, how they approached networking with other users, how they marketed their channel, or their general business approach.

They basically thought they were going to come here, casually post a few articles here and there about this-and-that, not reach out to the community as a whole, do no networking, and somehow make tons of money off of each of their posts.

This is why bots are so appealing.

With upvote bots can get you a very attractive dollar amount under your post. And, probably more importantly, they get articles onto the "trending" tab -- big time. In fact, it's likely that a good portion of the posts in the "trending" category at any given time are using bots to upvote their content.

The ability to buy this exposure and return can be seen as a way of marketing your page and your content.

After all, there are ads on Facebook and YouTube, and promoted tweets on Twitter

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Other social media allows people to buy space on people's timelines.

The Rise of Markiplier

Markiplier is a gaming YouTuber in the vein of PewDiePie.

I had no idea who he was before 2014, until suddenly every ad on my YouTube page was one for this guy, Markiplier, and his let's play videos about horror games.

This must have been a terribly expensive campaign, and white a risk for a lone individual to build their brand. He must have had a great amount of confidence in his ability to live up to the hype he was creating, and he must have had a lot of passion for making videos on YouTube.

And this has paid off for him, as he now has over 20 million subscribers and an estimated net worth of several million dollars.

Why am I talking about Markiplier?

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Because he's an example of how someone can do an advertising blitz to build a brand and an audience and then transition into 100% authentic content for an authentic audience.

I think there are many people on Steemit who are using bid bots to do the same thing.

However, there are some very distinct differences between using bots to get your posts onto trending on Steemit and buying ads on YouTube to get subscribers.

Firstly, on YouTube, ads are part of a centralized structure of the site. It is set up to handle ads, and for someone to use ads to increasing a YouTube following makes a lot of sense because they're marketing directly to people who are already on the platform and can easily click that red button to subscribe. On Steemit, it's different: Trending was not designed to handle bot manipulation, and there is no centralized system for advertising on Steemit.

The bots are essentially using the trending tab as a promoted tab.

The problem with two Promoted tabs -- transforming Trending into Promoted

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Nobody checks the Promoted tab.

I don't, and I don't think anyone else does. We don't check it because we know for a fact that the items on the tab aren't there because they're necessarily "good" -- they're there because people paid to put them there. I'm not saying that all the posts there are bad, but that's not the reason they're there.

So we don't check it.

And if Trending becomes something similar to Promoted, people will stop checking it, too.

Whales are INVESTORS!!!

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Most of you are not whales.

You come to Steemit for your own personal amusement, and if you're a content creator -- which I assume most of you are -- you're hoping to build a brand, gain followers, and have your posts curated.

Well, it's kind of different for whales, and it might be helpful to see things from their perspective in order to better understand this topic.

Whales have skin in the game. They have invested real money -- sometimes hundreds of thousands or more -- into this platform. They don't invest that kind of money for fun; they do it because they think that putting their money here will grow it into more money in the long-term.

They see Steemit as a place that is designed for super easy investing with a fantastic RoI if the platform does well.

When they see people using bots instead of authentically growing an audience and being curated because people simply like the content, you can imagine how that might be a threat to their investment.

Try to look at it from a whale's point of view.

My personal thoughts

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I don't use bots and I don't plan to.

I have nothing against people who are using them, however -- it's an open system and these are tools that are currently available for use. And I also know that people use them for different reasons.

But I DO think they are not long for this world.

Bots in their current form are not going to be around for much longer, in my opinion. The people who have real investment in this platform are constantly developing ways to increase the soundness of the platform so their own investment can grow. There are even counter-bots that will FLAG content that is heavily using bot curation services.

Steemit is a community platform. It is wide-open for people to develop on top of and use however they want.

It is also still in Beta, so keep that in mind. It's possible that the core developers have been keeping a close eye on this and are writing code right now to mitigate the impact of bots on the platform.

But tell me what YOU think!

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What are your opinions of these bots. Do you use them? Do you hate them?

Let me know in the comments.

Get free images at https://pixabay.com

Follow me @shayne

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I want to be successful on steemit. I think bot usage helps me achieve that goal and I would rather I get the earnings on a bot than some of the spammers that are using the bots.

Hey Shayne,

I spent close to 18 months trying to do the things I thought were good for the platform. Manual Curation, leaving comments, putting together reasonable content. I am not an aspiring Author and I certainly don't think we should limit the site to that type of content, so I wasn't trying to get to the trending page.

So, I spent a lot of time and energy, watching everyone else's stake grow while my account was lagging behind. One ends up leaving a lot of Steem on the table when you don't use autovoting and such.
At one point Pharesim was following my vote because he knew I was manually curating and picking some good content. Because he did not want to be accused of abuse, he made sure that I didn't benefit from this directly. The end result was those I was curating were out earning me every step of the way. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated the weight he brought my vote, but there was nothing in it for me. I was watching the Chosen Accounts that received first support and later delegation from SteemIt, dominate the trending page day after day. Everyone seems to have forgotten the site quit being about content long before the bidding bots.
I don't even think that "Quality Content" should be a goal at this point all the discussion about it stifles and intimidates new users and limits engagement. Cream rises to the top, let people post and vote and eventually, the steady content creators will gain attention.

During that same period while I was "doing things right" I also realized that SteemIt, Inc. isn't going to develop the front-end in any manner that is going to make it attractive to "mainstream" and our end-users and fiscal policy make our content a bit edger than other sites and most people can't take it.
Steemfest was the final blow. All the focus on SMTs and Communities. I knew that SteemIt Inc was going to encourage other applications being developed on the blockchain that will ultimately compete with SteemIt for traffic and visibility.
The game for me changed. SteemIt is just a distribution tool for steem and the reward pool is there for networking and distribution until there are more "Mission Centric" apps built.
At this point I am gathering Steem. If someone isn't using their voting power and they want to sell it to me, I am buying it.
I still manually curate, respond and engage in the community, but I am over thinking that we are building a site built on content here. That will be up to communities and app builders.
So, yes, I am using the bots, and I do not feel the least bit bad about it. I am trying to make up for lost time as well.
Thanks for asking and I enjoyed your calm non-judgemental attitude.

I view the bidding bots as the greatest equalizer we have seen so far, that allows end-users to promote their content and get visibility over those we watched dominate the platform for so long. I am happy they are here and I applaud those that are using them.

For those who see this, @whatsup wrote a post in response to this one: https://steemit.com/steemit/@whatsup/in-response-to-shayne-s-post-a-tale-of-two-steemits

:D

This.

nothing much to add there...

I have to nuancate that I have used steemvoter pretty much from the beginning and the bots as well but I do not feel I am abusing the system. Getting higher payouts on the posts gives more interaction and makes it feel more rewarding.

and true, the thing is now to get as much SP as possible because when SMT comes then this earning through blogging is over

A real interesting topic @shayne!
I do think that most whales don't use bots because then don't need them. If they would upvote their own post with 100% then it would be top ranked on the trending page and it get's even more interesting when another whales upvotes the post of another whale.
So, I don't think that they see them as a tread of as something else. They are just not interested in using them because they would just make a negative investment!
When arriving on the steem blockchain I was really against bot, but after some discussion I did understand that it could be seen as advertising! Why would you promote your post, when every steem you use for it, would be burned, if you can use a tool which return around 90% of your investment. So they pay actually only 10% of the actual cost to promote their brand, which will attract new followers and does score some upvotes!
People do still believe that when the payout of a post is high the article must great and some kind of FOMO jumps in!
So, my views on bots have changed to more neutral! I did try out some bots, and yes it did increase my reputation, the posts did get more attention and my followers number was increasing but .... Yes there is always a BUT!
Using bots did give me a false feeling of appreciation. When I did stop trying them out, I stood back with my feet on the ground and to be honest it was a deception to notice how much value my post were really worth according to the steem community!
Secondly I did understood that not much of the gained followers were real genuine followers. At least they did not interact with me. Were they just following me, because they knew I was using bots and tried to get some curation reward or were there other reasons? I don't know and will never know!
So, I will not swear never to use a bot again. But I know have peace with my status within the ecosystem, which maybe doesn't have a lot value but at least it is genuine.
I try to increase my circle of friends by browsing for new authors I did not know, and if an article is good, to write a genuine comment!

This site is not very good at user retention.

I couldn’t stop myself to listen Tool while I’ve reading this.

First of all I need to mention that English is not my mother language so my vocabulary is quite limited, this always cause me a little bit trouble about what I actually mean, I hope I don’t offend anyone.

I see that you compared the advertisement systems of those mainstream websites, we have that option as Promotion tab as you already said, and yes I didn’t check that page neither as trending or hot.

When it comes to thinking whales as an investors yes they are investors but not long-term investors while they supporting/delegating to bidbots. We have a perfect promoted tab for it and I actually admire who uses there to build their brands. I just checked that tab and saw many innocents trying to build their brands without hurting steem. Those author basically burns their money which is making steem valuable..

And if you compare it to your youtube example, that means you wouldn’t watch what you want to watch. You just have to stare at that gamer.

Promoted tab could be the best place to building brands if whales/investor could realize the long term value instead of daily RoI’s. Upvotes to contents on promoted tab will make their authors to stay alive, while their spendings for advertisement burnt. Which would leave us a better, cleaner content in the main pages.

I’m not a content creator but I abandoned all other social media platforms yet I don’t find any place to communicate in here, I don’t know why I can’t find a few people who likes rock music for example and shares it talks about it. I can’t find a few good designers there is a community sndbox. I’m bored to read their weekly curation posts nothing exciting, nothing special.. Everyone focused to get money, what I was expected from this platform is using this place as an alternative to facebook, twitter or whatever and enjoy the extra income. When everything turn into money it doesn’t feel like it’s the right place stay long.

Oh I forget to mention that, there is something called “ads getting smarter” this is how brands built imo, this is how community helps each other. I don’t know where or when I started to follow whatsup. But I’ve found this post’s link on his(most probably her) blog. And here I am. Without a help of bidbot or trending page

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awesome golden temple picture i some days ago visit there

OK, I get your point. Now I'll share mine with you and your readers.

I completely agree with @whatsup, I have had exactly his experience. And the result is that now I am using the upvote bots.

But I never withdrew steem or SBD from my wallet. I reinvested all my rewards in Steem Power and I think this is good for Steemit.

You don't use upvote bots but I looked at your your wallet and I saw you withdraw all your SBD and Steem from your posts. Do you think this is good for Steemit? I think you have a hypocritical attitude, because I think that don't invest in Power up is worse than invest in upvote bots.

Calling me hypocritical for withdrawing funds from my account is rather privileged, don't you think?

If you don't need to use the money you get from Steemit -- good for you. I do, because I have a life that is not always easy. The fact that I actually use my Steemit funds for real-world purposes is exactly the sort of thing that gives Steemit tokens value in the outside world, anyway. If nobody used Steemit tokens for anything real... well, I wouldn't see the point.

I also think it's wrong to call me hypocritical on this topic generally because I didn't say anything bad about people who use bots. Nor did I make a case for the position of investors vs users

If you agree with @whatsup, maybe you should read the article he wrote in response to my post, which starts with:

Shayne wrote a calm post about pros and cons of the voting bots and how he thinks they will play out... Here is Shayne's excellent post:

I told that your behavior could be a "hypocritical attitude" not that you're a hypocrite... because you speech for the sake of Steemit against upvote bot but on the other side dont invest in Steemit.

While I am glad you agree with my position and I support yours as well. (I also put my steem back into steem, but I have had good fortune which allows me to do this)

It is in my opinion beautiful that people who want and need to can withdrawl, spend, save, use, and invest their earnings. It gives Steem a real economy and is part of the reason with all of our issues that I WANT to invest.

I think you're projecting your own worries onto me. I just read my article again and I think you would really have to try hard to consider it to be "against upvote bots".

I directly mentioned several times that I'm not.

You use bots and I think for some reason you are threatened by my post, or maybe by me. I don't know and I don't want to know. It's your problem and I don't have the time to help you with it.

Get thicker skin. That's my last piece of advice for you.

Shayne, yeah, I agree people are in different phases of their life and may have different financial goals. I also agree it is the fact that people are actually using Steem that adds to it's value.

Also, I thought your point of view was well presented and not judgy at all.

Thanks. I was trying to present my thoughts without being judgemental. That's what makes the comment kind of annoying. Oh well -- can't please everyone! 🤗

I was annoyed also I guess.

The thing is that the promoted tab never worked.
There was serious flaws with promotion, and the developers just ignored it.
Plus, at that time, i could scroll through the New tab and find interesting stuff and people to follow.

What steemit really needs is better searching and sorting.
They still haven't implemented the resteemed tab they were working on over a year ago.

A simple addition would be when you go to someone home page, to see a list of their top used tags. Then you could sort by tag to see what you came looking for.

Another easy thing would be a New tab with filters.
New posts with more than 100 words or some such would be really nice.

Right now, i could write all of that, but it would abuse the steem blockchain. Basically, it would (get the next 20) discard 19 of them, and repeat until you had a list.

And, i really don't know what i would do about promotion.
This site really needs it.
Before everyone sorts by vote count instead of dollar amount.

Very sound ideas!

I don't use Bots either. I sink or swim on my own capabilities. Congratulations on winning the Donald Marshall challenge. If you get a minute I would appreciate if you could read my article... I could see the temptation for using bots. After putting hours of hard work into creating something you want people to read it. If it doesn't get votes no one will read it. I have one article with over 40,000 views and it only made $1.65... Then I see articles with less than a hundred views that make over $100... Page views sould count as something because it's driving people to this platform...

I have a similar post that's at around 65k views by now. It was an accident that happened well after the 7 day curation time. It earned me $0 and it has 1 comment.

I don't know how to deal with that lol 😂

That SUCKS!!!! Makes me feel like all that work was for nothing... If a tree falls in the forest and no one's there to hear it does it make a sound??? I feel like I'm writing articles and throwing them into an internet black hole... If I don't know how many people are reading them how can I gauge my success or failure???

Interesting thoughts! I haven't quite decided where I land in the debate. However, it's great to read posts like this that at least get us all thinking about it.

wow!!! this is a great research work, thanks for taking up you time to work on this.

To listen to the audio version of this article click on the play image.

Brought to you by @tts. If you find it useful please consider upvote this reply.

Many people are dissaponted and frustrated while others are happy. Thats the situation and I read about 5 or 6 posts regarding the bots/human war.
I used bots before and use them now once in a while. I dont see anything wrong with that. Bots are supposed to be for Minnows to help them promote their posts and gain some visibility.

  • Whales using bots! Thats what I find wrong, because they have enough SP and will rank on the top automatically.
  • Bots upvoting bad content or plagiarism is wrong as well. And as they are bots and dont check every post, what makes it difficult to keep everything under control.

My suggestion is:

  • Limit the usage of bots. Put an SP limit for users. Whoever has enough SP and a good upvote value shouldnt use bots.
  • Push all promoted posts whether by bots or Steemit to the "promoted" section. That way everything will be nice and clean :)

As a web developer myself, I know it would be hard or almost impossible for an automated system to tell what posts were being promoted by bots and which weren't and to create a long-term solution such as an SP user limit for bots and pushing bot promoted content to promoted, because the bots are an external system.

I'm sure there is something out there that developers are working on. Most likely from the private/user sector. Perhaps the core devs have their eye on this and are watching to see how the community responds... maybe.

Thanks for your suggestions! It's important to be results-oriented sometimes.

I must admit that I have used bots a few times, especially when I'd just joined the platform. I saw it as a chance to get some exposure, but truth be told, it simply led to a negative ROI.

I understand why people use them, just as you've outlined above. However, I am now of the opinion that they're detrimental to the platform. Potential top quality content is being washed away in favour of content that has been paid to sit at the top of the trending list. There is no quality control. If you pay the price, you get the upvote.

It seems to me that these bots simply allow the rich to get richer, while the reward pool isn't being shared on merit.

I understand the desire to take advantage of such a service, especially when you're new. The RoI is a curiosity, too. I have a feeling that it ends up not being as profitable as it seems.

this certainly put a different spin on things. After reading this and @whatsup post, I begin to see things differently.
Now, I don't have anything against bots or bot users. I don't see myself using it anytime soon, but I'm tempted. I write science and fiction and most of it, especially the fiction disappear under the whale load of content on steemit.
Yeah, I'm tempted.

Hello Shayne. I must admit that so far I haven't encountered so well written and explanatory article which aligns so much with my views on this topic that it scares me.
For the very reasons you have discussed in this post I do use bots sometimes.
For my time here I can sau that I have begun to build organic audience but I am still very far from where I actually want to be.

Why I use bots?

Well, I find it really discouraging not to have any votes or visibility on a well-written and interesting post on which I have spent a few hours.
Whenever thia happens I use the bots to advertise. I cannot say that today bots are a tool for profit as in the end of the seven days, if you do the math you would find that the ROI sometimes do not cover the investment itself.

The RoI is a tough one. I think that honestly the best way to do well here is with whale support 🐳

If you can manage to find a few regular influencers to call friends, then you might be able to get some serious RoI.

But two things about that: 1. The "whales" who have become my friends here are really awesome people. The kind of people that I would let babysit my kids. 2. It cans be about the RoI all the time. That'll just cause burnout and sore feelings, imo.

I absolutely agree. Like in life, Steem(it) is all about connections. And when you have good connections, ROI and financial benefits are only a small piece of the picture.
It is funny how most of is start with the idea to earn some money and step by step we realize that the financial part of Steem(it) is only one side of the coin.
Hopefully I would find what you have and be able to enjoy the platform at hundred percent.
Until then the grind is real.
Thank you for your reply and honest advice!