What Adds Value to Steem? A Response to @timcliff's "Open Letter to Stakeholders"

in steemvalue •  5 months ago

Some of you may have read a recent post by one of Steem's top witnesses @timcliff entitled "Open letter to Steem stakeholders: What adds value to Steem?"

Since "value" should be important to all of us here, I thought I'd take up Tim on his invitation:

I encourage all stakeholders (large and small) to create a post within the next month answering the question: What adds value to Steem? 

Perspective and Frame of Reference

For the record, I have been here since January 2017, and my perspective is primarily that of content creator, intrigued by the idea that I can gradually become a stakeholder through building a social media presence. 

Yellow Daisy

It's not that I "don't care" about the rewards; however, I have never regarded Steemit as a "cash dispenser;" this was always a long term opportunity to build equity/stake in the platform.

I have been an active blogger since the late 1990s and have been part of "rewards for user content" sites since my first experience with a review site called "epinions" in 1999.

For me, the appeal of Steemit has always been that it seems a bit like a throwback to the type of "social blogging/content" sites that enjoyed a great deal of popularity around 2002-07, when they were largely displaced by the "tiny attention span" popularity contests that were/are MySpace and Facebook.

The appeal is also that there seems to be a more respectful and "intelligent" atmosphere on Steemit than on most social sites — fewer trolls, more real interaction.

Speculators vs. Investors

The first thing in Tim's post I'd like to address is this:

Cryptocurrency markets are largely driven by speculation. Speculators typically buy tokens with the hope/expectation that someone will buy them later at a higher price. 

A busy bee...

I would toss the question out there whether we really should care about "speculators." Speculating is notoriously fickle and typically oriented towards short term thinking. Speculators run for "the next great thing" at the drop a hat. Specific to Tim's question, speculators don't care about value, they only care about FUD driven fluctuations they can profit from when the "sheep effect" runs rampant.

So I'd like to submit that perhaps we should be more interested in investors; that is, a class of risk takers who see Steem more as a long term opportunity to participate in expansive growth than a chance to profit from short term volatility.

Although I am not an investment expert, I have come across bits of evidence to suggest that at least some of the reason Steem seems to stay in a fairly narrow trading range is that it's seen by some as a "utility coin." That is, it's backed by actual apps being built and run on the blockchain, not just "wild promises" that have never been functionally implemented.

I bring this up because I feel we should be trying to match where our investment funds come from to the personality of the investor. 

"Value" vs. Quality

Getting back to the main event, I feel there's some ambiguity over "adding value" vs. "quality content." I have written on this topic in the past, and whereas both are definitely subjective, something can add value without necessarily being of great quality, from a publishing standpoint.

Blooming lilacs

For example, @surpassinggoogle's recent "Ulogs" phenomenon adds value — in my esteem — because it "humanizes" the community and offers an entry to Steemit and to the blockchain that pretty much anyone can relate to.

In his post, Tim talks about "onboarding thousands of new users," and the advent of something like Ulogs answers a couple of crucial questions: One, what do we tell new users they can do here and two, what can a person find here that would be appealing enough that "mass adoption" might happen... sooner or later.

Anyone can share bits and pieces from their life. So that's a plus.

And yet, it takes nothing away from those who would prefer to publish lengthy philosophical pieces, beautiful travelogues and exceptional fiction. Or one more piece on "Building apps on the blockchain."

What Does NOT Add Value

On the other hand, what does not add value is the "contributions" of those who see the current front ends a little more than a giant "money grab.

Madrona Tree overhanging the ocean

Naturally, all systems have their scammers and manipulators... but I think we have some mismarketing to deal with or undo: Far too much emphasis has been placed on the "make money" end of things and not enough on the "social content" end. 

It might look like a nifty idea that you can come in and "make money" but if the content created serves no purpose but to serve as a "place holder" for payouts... how attractive is that going to look to an investor, six months, two years, five years down the road?

Although Steem is not network marketing, we can still learn from the world of MLM: The oldest and biggest (names like Avon, Tupperware, Mary Kay, Amway) persist because they are backed by viable products. The sketchy failures crash because they have lots of promises and little substance

Some would argue that growth would be painfully slow without heavy emphasis on the rewards... but you seriously have to consider the question of whether you want a Klondyke-style "gold rush" ending in nothing, or slower but stable and sustainable growth. Which loops back to my initial distinction between "speculators" and "investors."

Of course, we may already have reached a point where this is a genie we cannot stuff back into the bottle...

What Adds Value for ME, Specifically?

Community and Engagement: Even though I hear complaints, the level of genuine engagement and sense of community I have experienced here is light years ahead of "posting cat pictures on Facebook," or having political discussions in some web group. 

Red sunset

Any additional tools to facilitate and encourage interaction and engagement adds value.

Whereas I recognize this was originally a proposal of Tim Cliff's, I feel that any ideas of increasing the "dust threshold" (minimum payout level) would be a mistake since "redfish accounts" would find it even harder to gain traction. 

Again — to put it bluntly — if you're eventually shooting for mass adoption, don't remove the tools that drive mass adoption!

What I generally upvote: Original, informative, unusual, personal, interesting content. And it will be content I have actually read. It can be short, it can be long, it can be text,  it can be photos, it can be video... but when I see it, I feel pretty sure that "a person created this, and they did their best."

Typically, I'm most likely to upvote content that's loosely within my niches: writing, psychology, photography and a couple of others but that's not a hard and fast rule. Generally, I will NOT upvote memes unless they are original to the person posting them.

What I would Downvote: Plagiarism, copy-pasta, spam, vote/follow begging, spun content, "naked" photos, videos and memes.

Joshua Tree in evening light

Couple of points of clarification there — By "naked," I mean posts where there's a photo, video or meme and the original poster says not a single word as to why they thought it should be posted, nor what it's about, whether it's even theirs and there's zero description. In other words, it is content that seemingly has "no reason for existing."

"Spun content" is a phenomenon that originally peaked around 2010 where software was developed that would automatically generate whole articles if just given a couple of keywords. OR you could copy an entire article or webpage, and the software would rewrite it to such an extent that it would be unrecognizable by copy protection checkers. I bring it up because not only have I recently seen a few examples of spun articles, I actually saw someone post a promo piece for an "article spinner."

Why should we CARE? Because Google hates spun content... and Steemit's current "good graces" in search engine standings would vanish like mist before the sun. Trust me on this one...

What I would Delegate to: I don't have much available to delegate, but assuming that I did, I would delegate to any manual curation initiatives; any initiatives seeking out newcomers (say, rep. 40 and under) who add value (as per my previous description) and give them a fast start. I would also delegate to any initiatives trying to develop the Steem Economy because I feel it would help us all in the long term. 

I would also be willing to delegate to any initiatives focused on suppressing scams, spam and plagiarism.

What WOULD Add Value: A Wish List

Although @timcliff doesn't specifically mention or request this, I think a sort of "wish list" of what might add value down the road is relevant to this post, so I will end with that.

Easier Content Discovery: I know "Communities" and "HiveMind" are in the pipeline, and have been promised for some time... and I don't pretend to understand the scope of how and when they will be released. 

Apple Blossoms

However, as we start talking about content on Steemit and other front ends in terms of billions posted pieces (currently about a million pieces of content are shared on Facebook... per MINUTE), we're in desperate need of some kind of master "directory tree" (like eBay) or fixed tag structure (the tag already prefills when you start typing the 1000(?) most popular tags). 

Right now, content discovery — on any specific topic — is quite cumbersome.

Improved UI/"Container" for Steemit: Assuming for a moment that Steemit remains the "flagship" window onto the Steem blockchain, we could really use an update, IN PARTICULAR including fixed tabs or a menu that connects "live" to the various front ends. 

I am talking about a drop down menu that includes Busy, D-mania, D-tube, D-live, Steepshot and any other "majors," and then automatically signs us into those as we go. These platforms already exchange information through the blockchain.

Yeah, I know... "But we're DECENTRALIZED!"

Cherry blossoms

Sure, that's fine and beautiful, but it doesn't mean jack to the next "average" social media user when we start getting to the tens of millions of users. All they are going to care about is "How do I get to my stuff?" And if they have to load 17 separate apps to do that? Guess what's NOT going to happen? Mass adoption. 

Somebody really needs to be in charge of ease-of-use. 

Steem Economy and Commerce: So far, we have seen a few half-hearted and poorly funded attempts at creating marketplaces based on Steem. PeerHub ( @peerhub ) poked at the edges of it. We have @steembay. We have had @steemshop which didn't get far. Then we have @steemgigs which at one time was a services exchange but now serves more as @surpassinggoogle's witness account. 

In an ideal world, someone would develop a "commerce" front end that takes the best of craigslist and eBay and puts them together... so we can all trade goods and services with each other, using our "internal currencies" without a need to go out and exchange to BTC, and then to fiat.

Distant mountains

Where's the VALUE, you might wonder?

The value is multi-fold: One, we thoroughly establish a solid "economic reason" for the existence of the Steem token; there is an active economic system where you can actually use it as a currency. Which, after all, is what it is! It provides that all important marketing component "differentiation." We would have something 99% of other coins don't.

Part two: By establishing an "Alt. Economy" here, we create another "point of attraction" for potential newcomers wanting to set up shop to trade "off the books," so to speak. A whole new category of user who might not be into creating social content, but might be into creating social commerce. Imagine what that could do for the demand for Steem! And it's NOT a new idea — Facebook has already been doing it for a while.

Part three: It makes it a whole lot easier to answer the question "What can I DO with these tokens?" Not only will the answer be simple, it'll be front and center. And there's even a "fringe benefit!" If people can actually use their Steem/SBD, it won't get pulled out and sold... it'll stay within the system.

Long-Term Planning and Stability: This aspect of adding value is perhaps more limited in scope... but — quite honestly — I don't know about YOU, but I'd like to still be here, doing this, in another two, five and ten years. 

A large part of the reason people are so hard to dislodge from Facebook is that they have ten years "invested" in the platform. When there's a "Long Term Plan" it suggests to current and potential users that they are getting involved in something other than "a novelty" or "a flash in the pan."

This, in turn, creates that very important attribute called "stickiness." It's what Facebook HAS when we tell people about Steemit and they say "Nah, all my stuff is already here on Facebook." And it's what we want, especially when someone decides to develop a Steemit clone. We GET it by letting people feel they are part of building something long-term.

That Should About Cover it...

Appreciate the opportunity @timcliff; this may have been a bit more than you asked for, but hopefully some of this is useful.

I also would like to invite anyone reading this to pipe in with their commentary, or go write a post of your own! 

Remember, Steem/Steemit is a decentralized structure. That means WE are the "they" that usually runs organizations. So your voice matters!

Thanks for reading!

created by @zord189


(As always, all text and images by the author, unless otherwise credited. This is original content, created expressly for Steemit)
Created at 180609 14:47 PDT

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the level of genuine engagement and sense of community I have experienced here is light years ahead of "posting cat pictures on Facebook," or having political discussions in some web group.

Maybe you don't get out enough but unless someone with quite a name recognition writes a article inquiring about changes and/or wants to initiate a specific change almost every site you visit on here it is quite evident that outside of maybe a couple two, three comments all the others consist of the article producers sock puppets they created for their account or some sort of spammers. This is never going to have the participation of FB because FB is inclusive of everybody no matter the ability to write/produce quality content. I had this conversation the other day on a blog whereas someone asked why aren't those who are on utube attracting the same audience onto Steemit. The answer was quite simply. Some people are good at producing content, others are just good at following content, if people who follow people could produce content they'd be content producers not followers. I mean how much more logical could that really be. Like I wrote Bill O'Reilly back when he had his show and was harping on people who need food assistance. I told him if we all had the where to all, know how, intellect, etc., to become millionaires who'd clean the bathrooms? Cleaning bathrooms doesn't pay that well but hey let's not let people go hungry because that may be the only job that person may be able to intellectually handle. That's the whole problem here on Steemit, the audience often gets run off because intellectually they are lacking, these people are actually a needed component to make the site competitive to FB. Who really cares that they want to form a club to share "cat pictures" with each other in between scouring the site and commenting. I don't think they'll break the bank, that'd have to be one hell of a cat picture, on the other hand though they'd make people producing content a audience instead of having to create sock puppets to do it for them.

Personally I could write more content if I really sat down and did it but writing to talk to myself and earning two cents just isn't my kind of motivation to do so. Now when I someday, many moons down the road can up vote my stuff to make it worth my wild, like about ninety percent of the people on here or some generous whales takes a huge liking to me (which is highly unlikely given I am so outspoken) and piles on a huge pile of delegation the only time I am going to write is when the mood hits me and that's not very often..though something has motivated me today that I might spend a bit on tonight, I'll see.


Let's face it, Farcebook is the 600lb gorilla of the social market. Any comer knocking FB over is on the same scale as opening a store to compete with WalMart... just don't.

By extension, FB caters to the lowest common denominator. Which is why I can 50 thumbs up for a picture of a kitten (no disrespect to kittens; I have two cats) on FB but if I post a piece of social commentary, crickets chirp OR some troll who has zero interest in dialogue but 100% interest in disruption comes along.

Steemit will always be a niche market. But it can fill a space vacated by the likes of Xanga (in 2006, hosted 34 million bloggers at its peak), namely social content for people with more than a 140-character attention span.

And yes, you're quite right, some people are content creators while others are consumers. I'm a little bit of both, but there's a reason I'm only following 500-ish people (300 of whom are very irregular posters), while almost 4300 have decided to follow me. Whereas I interact with 100+ people very week, most of it happens in my own comment sections.

As for anyone else, yes there are people with sock puppets and toadies... but such is life, it seems. This place seems to draw wheelers, dealers and schemers like flies to honey. Which is sad, because it's a pretty cool concept, all in all.

I hope you get your "identity issues" sorted out with whomever is so mad at you...


By extension I agree, that extension is why it will continue on. There was a guy who ran a pretty good local issue based forum on FB I use to participate in, that was my first foray into social media contact, don't know what really happened to him. Then I wondered upon the local news Disqus forum, that was a lot of fun until they went to using FB instead. After that I went to Disqus blogs. I just sort of got addicted to blogging. Must be in my roots, I was on the debate team in high school. This forum is a bit rough around the edges in that some site owners want you to just agree with them all the time. Most times I just let it slip by the wayside without commenting unless it hits home with me. That's what happened with the "identity issue" someone just didn't like that I took something to heart. Trying to pacify someone who is distraught over the possibility of losing their children because their husband got caught taking their daughters medication that Texas law says diversion of medication can only be charged in cases where insurance is involved just hit a nerve with me. We are talking about someone losing their children, now isn't the time to feed them stuff like that to cause additional argument and strife between them, the social worker and police, especially since anyone with any shred of common sense would know that's not the only statue on the books. Jesus, don't make things worse. Their usual my sympathies would have been better, better to even say nothing then anything to fan the flames. Same people who got mad at me for saving that eighty percent of Indians are alcoholics or have alcohol related problems....I've been through it, I have two kids by a Indian, I had gone through rehabs programs with him, statistics don't lie, and to make sure they hadn't changed over the years I went and researched current data and it's the same. Ironically they called me angry and hostile but I wasn't the one who spent the last twenty four hour scouring over all their stuff plotting with their buddies from another site to get them banned but that's exactly what they were trying to do to me....who's angry?...I wasn't even thinking about them after that debate....but I found myself drag into defending myself all day long against all their deceit and lies, luckily they didn't prevail getting steem cleaners to abolish me before I realized what they were up to. Some people get a little power and it goes through their heads.

Excellent post. I've heard a lot about how quality is subjective, but I think with respect to content, there are two kinds of quality: intrinsic and extrinsic. Any given content will typically have a mix of both, though some content may have very little intrinsic quality. Intrinsic refers to the actual utility of the content. Extrinsic refers to contextual factors such as audience size and the audience's needs. One example from the data quality world is an astronomy book that has the sun and planets rotating around the earth. Such a book does not have high intrinsic quality, but its extrinsic quality may be high, if one is interested in the history of astronomy. So extrinsic quality depends on lot on the consumer's goals and on the number of consumers. This is why value based on quality can vary so much. A second point is that the most valuable property is often intellectual property with lasting value, such as copyrights, patents and brands. My biggest concern with Steemit is that it does not reward lasting value, except through the brand of the content producer. In some very real sense, Steemit actually devalues valuable content.


Thanks for the kind words @toddrjohnson!

I've on Steemit for almost 18 months and one of the very earliest concerns I laid out was that there's no real value in — or incentive to create — "evergreen" content here. Which really makes the Steemit format more like a newsfeed than an archive of information. Which, in turn, seems contradictory to the entire premise that by putting information on the blockchain, you are storing it more or less "forever."

If there's a single thing that makes me shake my head around here, it's the distinct impression I get that Steemit was created by plenty of genius-level developers and blockchainiacs, but nobody seemed to think that it might have been important to hire some people with serious experience in content management to give guidance on how to set this up.

I get what you're saying about extrinsic vs. intrinsic value but I don't have a useful explanation to give context in the Steemit environment, alas.

Well if you didn't notice they did make a couple of changes the other day. The money sign up, the up arrow, the amount of votes, where it says reply, and the number of comments are all green now.

I read Tim's post also but I honestly can't say what I think will add value. I really do hope smt's and hivemine do what we're all thinking that they will do..... which is to increase the value dramatically and give us a more fun to use site where things are easier to find. I know that our coin is worth so much more than what we've got it listed at..... we just need that push.


I am hopeful that SMTs will add some value. For me, part of the problem with SMTs is that they are being marketed to developers and very large content creators who might like to create their own tokens. That's all fine but that's a process that exists at the "wholesale" level. We really don't need to make that many more people at the "wholesale" level happy, we need consumers.... end users at the retail level... where the SMTs and other stuff are actually being used. We need more emphasis on making end users happy.

Yes, I noticed some things became green. I was beside myself with excitement at this change....

i too would love to see it going for many more years. it's difficult to conceive of what that will look like given the platform changes and SMTs... i think if more thought like you, we'd have a better ecosystem here! glad to hear your thoughts and thanks for the reminder to answer tim's questions!


I don't know how these changes will play out... I think Ned & Co. are putting too much faith in the ability of SMTs to change the world, but I reserve judgment, for the moment.

I agree with many of your points. I am still getting to grips with this platform and all its foibles. I agree, though, it's not a get rich quick scheme - don't know much that is. I started blogging on Wordpress for 2 reasons - I wanted to explore an other-than-professional-voice for writing - and build up a portfolio with a view to trying to get other writing gigs and perhaps earn something. Only the first happened. None of the other 2. I need to read your post again - it's been one of those days - it's been open all day and I've had a gazillion interruptions and there's a lot to absorb. I may well come back and have something else to say because this is serious food for thought.


Well, it's definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme. It is an interesting "alt" blogging platform, through; it reminds me a lot of blogging in pre-Facebook days... a lot of sincere engagements, as well as a bunch of fluffery.

Discovery page for new content will definitely make this site more better, I am actually struggling to find people with my particular interests on this platform (they’re quite rare) so that level of user engagement is hard to come by, nevertheless I stick to it because I obviously want to build a following based of my own interests rather than just find one for the sake of upvoting and viewership.

Improving the steemit UI would also be a step in the right forward, especially if they add an option to physically delete posts or accounts. There are a lot of dead accounts and they don’t reflect the true following, therefore It’d be wise to do that.


There are several things they could do... I would like to be able to bring up a list of posts by primary tag; then sort THAT list by number of comments (level of engagement) or by writer's rep, or some other metric. None of these things are particularly hard to code...

I would love to have a "delete" function for followers... some variation of how Facebook works; you have to "accept" a friends request. It would enable me to get rid of the estimated 1000-1200 "shell account" and bot followers I have... and don't WANT.


I would love to have a "delete" function for followers... some variation of how Facebook works; you have to "accept" a friends request. It would enable me to get rid of the estimated 1000-1200 "shell account" and bot followers I have... and don't WANT.


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 upvoting this reply.


Giving you a small upvote because even though this IS a bot, you're actually providing something that's of value to people.


it would be cooler if it read it in your voice! ;)

Photography capture a lot.

All photos are natural.


At times, I am truly stunned by extent to which people can miss the point...


This is by far one of the best and funniest responses I've heard in my 2 weeks on Steemit. I truly am LOL. I really like your main post, but will respond to it as a main reply.


Sometimes you just get some headshakers, Todd. And I'm willing to attribute it to foreign language translators gone bad. Doesn't make it less funny, though!

The part value vs quality has impressed me. You have written well. I think it will help me in my writing. You deserves a thanks for your good job.