It's All About The Trending Page
Trending or Bust
Success on SteemIt is all about the trending page. Every blogger wants to get there. It is the place where everyone looks first, and many never look anywhere else. Sure people browse the new or hot sections from time to time (does anyone look at promoted?) but trending is where the money is. The trending page controls what users see and read and therefore it indirectly controls what posters post.
The algorithm for the trending page is part of the SteemIt site, not part of the Steem blockchain platform itself (correct me if i’m wrong here), so other sites are free to implement their own algorithms. I very much hope that some other sites, or even SteemIt.com, try some different trending page implementations and see what kind of results they generate.
A Comment on Comments
An example of something I would like to try is to surface high valued comments on the trending page. Currently the trending page focuses solely on posts and doesn’t have any focus (as far as I know) on comments. This is, in my opinion, a shame. The only other blogging / news site I read regularly is Hacker News and I consider it far better than any other site I have come across - not because of the content posted there - but entirely because of the comments and discussions.
No matter what the topic of the original post there are always people who are experts in that field who add extremely valuable insights in the comments section. Many times if I see a post headline that interests me I will skip the post entirely and jump right to the comments because I typically find better information there!
When I read content on other sites I instinctively look for more information in the comments section and then I am disappointed when either there are no comments, or they are low quality. I think it can be a lot more daunting to write a blog post than to write a comment, and I suspect there are a lot of people who don’t want to take the time to write/edit/publish their own post but can add a lot of value commenting on posts made by others.
Show Comments Some Love
In my opinion one of the best parts of Steem is the ability to upvote comments in the same way as the original posts but I feel that the comments are not currently getting the love and attention that they deserve. I think we’re losing a lot of valuable “proof-of-brain” work by not rewarding valuable comments in the same way we do for posts. As I mentioned above, to fix this I think we need to start with the trending page.
I would love to see comment discussions surfaced on the trending page right along with original posts based on the value of the votes. I consider a “discussion” to be the top-level comment and all of the other comments nested below it. All “discussions” could be valued based on the sum of the votes on all of the comments in the discussion, and the discussions with the highest total rewards could be shown on the trending page just like a regular post.
Additionally when comments are sorted within a post they should be ordered by the total value of the “discussion”, not just the value of the top comment. Sometimes a great comment is nested below a less-voted top level comment and then becomes hard to find.
@lexiconical also adds even more reason to focus on comments in this post: https://steemit.com/minnowsupportproject/@lexiconical/quality-comment-creation-for-maximum-follower-gain-how-to-win-followers-and-influence-people-on-steemit-part-3
That’s just one idea - I think there are other ways the trending page algorithm could potentially be improved as well. For instance I would like to see what happens if posts are shown based on number of votes rather than value of votes. This would help content that’s popular with minnows but not whales get surfaced to the top as well. I understand this would potentially incentivize people to create multiple accounts just to get more votes on their content, but I still think it would be a good experiment to try and see if it surfaces a more diverse set of valuable content or not.
Perhaps even a combination of number of votes on the original post and number of “discussions” (meaning multiple levels of nested comments) in the comments section could help mitigate the multiple account voting issue and surface content that provokes discussion.
Let's Set A New Trend!
Anyway, my point here is that the trending page seems to dictate what happens on the site, so I would like to see some experimentation with it to see if we can achieve some better results as far as what type of content is surfaced. If anyone reading this is planning to work on a Steem-based site (which I hope is a lot of people now with the announcement of SMTs!) I would urge you to consider some experimentation with your equivalent of the trending page.
Let me know in the comments if you have other thoughts on how the trending page could work - FWIW (about $0.90) I always upvote good comments and would love to get a good discussion going!