Transforming Content Promotion on Steemit.com Through Better Use of the "Promoted" Functionality

in utopian-io •  last year  (edited)

The way the "Promoted" tab on Steemit.com is intended to work is rather efficient. By "burning" the payment for promotion, this allows for the growth of the token value. Unfortunately, it doesn't work and it's unclear if Trending should even be "the real Promoted". I propose a possible solution I have yet to see elsewhere in hopes of starting a discussion on the topic.

killtrending

Repository: https://github.com/steemit/condenser

The Promotional Problem & Steemit

Like any social content platform, Steemit has reached a point where the sheer quantity of content published creates competition. Normally, the platform owners step in to sell content promotion. This is also the main revenue model of most social content platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Medium).

Steemit is different. The company and platform are not one, and being an open source solution, Steemit was expected to grow organically and produce its own solutions to the problem all social platforms face. That didn't quite happen.

To attempt to provide a solution, Steemit created the "Promoted" tab. If you've been on Steemit for more than a week, you know quite well that this solution does not work. No one looks there, and no one uses the mechanics to promote their content. The actual promotion happens in "Trending" through the use of bidbots and vote purchasing services or automated community upvotes.

Many blocks on Steem are filled with opinions in favor and against bidbots. I've been reading many and observing the situation as I clawed my way through to Dolphin status without ever using a bidbot. The purpose of this post is not to start another argument on the role of private bidbot services, but rather a discussion on how the current mechanics of "Promoted" can be applied to the reality of Steemit.com

The Steemit "BidBot" & Let's Kill Trending

The very thought of having a Steemit-owned vote-selling service that allows for the purchase of upvotes as a promotional tool can be terrifying to many. But if you think about it, it's already there in the abandoned "Promoted". It's just not being used.

Imagine what would happen if the "Trending" tab was simply removed. Instead, we'd have "Hot", "New" (AKA Spamfeed) and "Promoted". If you're a bidbot investor, you might be sweating now. Don't worry, I have some ideas for you as well.

If the "Promoted" mechanics that "burns" the money used for promotion is applied, within the Trending feed or with it being completely removed the UI, this can only result in the growth of the token value in exchange for content promotion. As it should be.

Alternatively, Steemit can choose to "burn" only some of the funds, while investing the rest in professional platform development, community activities, STEEM promotion on crypto-exchanges worldwide and a lot more. Either way, I would prefer my SBD investment in promotion end up in the hands of Steemit than in the pockets of passive whales. Wouldn't you?

The Investor Problem & My Obvious Solution

One of the main arguments in favor of bidbots and vote-selling services is how lucrative and profitable of an investment it is for cryptocurrency HODLers. Investors who care little about content quality or platform growth can simply make a passive income "renting" out their Steem Power to bidbots and voting services. If one of my suggestions is applied, and Steemit becomes a "competitor" for the current bidbot ecosystem, this can potentially endanger the overall value of the token by scaring away these investors.

I've been giving this a lot of thought, but however I spin it, the answer seems obvious to me - delegating to curation initiatives and dApps. What if instead of investing in bidbots, the same passive whales delegated their power to curation initiatives like @curie , @steemstem and @utopian-io and other awesome initiatives that are popping up every day? They would still get an a positive ROI on their delegation, but would also be contributing to the growth of the Steem ecosystem.

So the question is a mathematical one, I believe. How much would Steem curation initiatives and dApps (like those mentioned above) need to offer investors in order to draw to give them a fair alternative to bidbot services if those are forced to disappear or have a significant reduction in demand. I suck at math, and have no idea how investors think. So do enlighten me in the comments.

Summary

I hope @knowledges will forgive me for not structuring this post quite like he recommended. I wasn't sure if it should even be submitted as a Utopian.io suggestion contribution as the goal of this post is to start a discussion about the current state of the Promotional Problem and reward pool and power distribution on the Steem blockchain.

Disclaimers:

I am currently the CMO of @utopian-io and a (very inactive) collaborator with the @buildteam , the wonderful group of individuals behind @minnowbooster. I am not an investor, developer or crowd psychology expert, but I am a marketer and technology journalist with over a decade of experience with startups, innovative technologies and social platforms.

GitHub Account

https://github.com/@techslut

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Alternatively, Steemit can choose to "burn" only some of the funds, while investing the rest in professional platform development, community activities, STEEM promotion on crypto-exchanges worldwide and a lot more. Either way, I would prefer my SBD investment in promotion end up in the hands of Steemit than in the pockets of passive whales. Wouldn't you?

Lack of funds isn't a problem Steemit Inc has.

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Let it burn.

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That will never happen. Probably be the single best thing that can be done for the price of Steem.

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Which is why I suggested it. Move whale investors to steem services that pay a premium for using the SP for good, and move promotion where it belongs while burning that cash. You smart tech and math people can probably figure out a way to make it happen.

disclaimer: This is turning into a huge late-night ramble, apologies I couldn't make it shorter.

I've been thinking about communities on here a lot, especially what makes them grow and thrive. It's kind of interesting times for that because we have a range of quality communities all in different states of growth.

So far, I haven't come up with a list of factors which are both necessary and sufficient, but it's certainly a huge boost for a community to have some serious steempower behind it, either in the form of a centralized account with a large upvote (usually from delegators) or powerful trail.

Incentivizing an ROI for delegation to communities makes a lot of sense then if one wants thriving, good content. It would be hard to capture numerically, but I am choosing to believe that the long-term investors would be ok with taking an ROI hit vs bidbots if it meant a stronger (and thus more profitable and long-lived) system.

I, unfortunately, don' t have the problem of more SP than I know what to do with, but I'd like to think I'd choose to delegate to a curation/community centered account. I already sort of do that with @trufflepig, who gets about 10% of my incoming SP each week. I don't make enough for it to really affect their vote strength, but I like doing it because a) I really like the project and the gems it finds for me b) the ROI isn't amazing, but it's kind of fun to see those little returns in my wallet.

The major problem I see is that a lot of the nascent and smaller communities have trouble organizing - it's hard enough to get a core around a discord server with maybe a chatbot. Much harder, unless you're lucky, to build community driven vote bot (e.g. Stirner's in #steemstem) or massive back-end (utopian).

What you do see is that a lot of them have some sort of trail. The difference being that it's extremely simple to set one up and show others how to sign up using a service like steemauto.

So, my sleep-addled conclusion is that for something like this to take off, it would be extremely useful to have a tool accessible by communities for easily setting up such a delegation/rewards system. As to how to implement it, well, one of the luxuries of rambling in a comment is that I don't have to fully bake my idea. ;)

There is actually some work being done on this:
https://github.com/steemit/condenser/pull/2908

TLDR: Mix in promoted posts between the trending posts shown on the trending page.

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I've looked at that PR, and that's also what I understood. I asked @elear to help me understand it better, but he was busy. Since I can't fully understand the code, how would the two be balanced? Just one promoted every X trending in the feed? Some kind of formula to calculate some "average promotional score" to organize these?

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I haven't really reviewed the details. Once the implementation is put in place though, then we are free to tweak the algorithm for how to choose which posts get shown. Nothing is set in stone :)

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I am just going to continue lurking and hoping you smart math and code people figure out some way to solve the promotional issue we're faced with now.

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Sounds good :)

As you have said, the Promoted page is pointless now and Trending is useless for finding good content. People tell me they have to buy votes to get noticed, but when some are spending hundreds of SBD it gets ridiculous. They don't even make much from doing so and the vote sellers are the ones getting rich. Okay so some of them distribute the rewards to those who delegate to them, but none of this is about quality content. It just turns into a bidding war to get to the top of the page as that's what most newbies will see.

For a while some whales were flagging some of the trending posts, but I'm not seeing that so much lately.

You will see I'm using the #nobidbots tag on my posts to show my view. The pages for that tag have some good stuff on them that I will support.

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I just looked at trending for the first time in my year here. I started in the last two weeks and look daily now. There are good posts in there to my surprise. I was expecting the worst and did not see it. I did not analyse to see how much is bot driven, but there have been a lot of interesting posts with lots of comments and some controversy.

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I tend to see the interesting posts on my feed as others will share them. I don't have time to search through trending

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This is the first time I have ever looked. I does not change much day-to-day, so it is a quick check now. I follow 4200 people so my feed is useless. I mostly use steemnow to find posts, which is how I found this one.

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I limit how many I follow exactly so my feed is useful. It's a very select group of people :)

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I follow everyone on every platform on the theory that about 20% of everyone is obese [40% in the US] and so might follow me back and find me for that work.

At steemit all anyone has to do is make a good comment somewhere and they are in. I find this interesting that I have so few I'm following after a year of such action. I'm sure there are many topics I do not follow here, but I thought I be following more by now.

This made my day -->

"New" (AKA Spamfeed)

  ·  last year (edited)

I have never once looked at promoted and just looked at trending starting this week. I've been here a year and just never went there, but now I see why people are upset.

@trufflepig has a daily post to show what would be on trending without bots and it is an eyeopener.

I think it would be a great idea to put bot-funded posts on promoted since that is what they are. As you say this, I do not know why it has not already been done.

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Do you mean @trufflepig maybe?
And yes this one is quite cool.

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Yes! I guess I had bots on the mind. I fixed it. Thank you so much :)

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The theme of the trending page is "all hail haejin the downvoter."

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I was surprised not to see his posts there. He must be farther down the page now since he no longer posts crypto topics.

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That's cool! I guess it shows how long it's been since I went to the trending feed. Is it relevant content or more of the same?

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I'm actually finding good posts. I just started this about 10 days ago. They do not change much day after day, so I can look quickly through the first few screens and see if there is anything good. I found a post about steempeak on it today and this might be my new home for a lot of steemit work. I'm replying to you from it now and it is so much easier than what I used to go through.

That's a good way to go. In my app for those pages I simply hide content upvoted by any of the major bidbots. It almost looks barren, hehhe.

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I considered the possibility of using such an "exclude" list and move posts tagged as promoted through bidbots to the promoted tab rather than just hiding them. This solution won't work because bidbots will just start creating multiple disposable accounts and replace them every week. I also don't think that punishing and hiding the post of authors simply trying to get more eyes on their content is fair to them.

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I understand that but then the little guy with no money gets destroyed. There should be only the promoted tab for promoting your content. Where steem is burned like witches in England hahah, bad example.
If you see the story tag under trending on steemit and compare it to my app you'll see what I mean. I would have added a screenshot but the noob dev of my app has not added pictures in comments yet. lol.

Hello Ilana

I would really like your consideration about the project that I am doing at steemhost.com (eg https://steemhost.com/@techslut). Instead of burning steem off it sops it up like a sponge. People buy advertisements using steem but it is distributed back in the form of steem power delegation to people who are visitors to the pages or the "hosts" (you are now a host) who have content featured on the site and select advertisements to appear on the pages.

As an example:

This particular advertisement has been assigned a 0.01 payment if viewed and a 0.02 payment if the visitor clicks on it. A total of 6 steem was paid and there is 2.59 remaining payout balance. This is not rewarded in steem or steem dollars. This is rewarded as steem power delegation.

Our bot does the delegation once per day. So far over over 40 steem has been Powered Up and 15 steem has been Delegated away.

Aside from initial teething pains, I can see one stumbling block to deal with. There is nothing to prevent me from cancelling all the delations (taking one week), powering down, (13 weeks) and escaping to some tropical island (slowest robbery in history). I have a solution for this which could be something the steem design team could consider in the future. That would be to have the option to put a quantity of Steem Power into "trust". It could be delegated but could not be powered down. I will post about this in greater detail later.

Aside from using steemconnect to authenticate users (whether as visitors or hosts) we have no need for posting (or other) keys on the steemhost site.

I hope you can give what we are doing over at steemhost some consideration and make any suggestions as necessary.

that's actually quite an idea both the trending-promoting one as well as the passive income for the investors. I think as things continue like that it will only make things worse. Trending page is full of posts using bid-bots, the quality content is buried, the promoted page is buried and some whales keep on earning money without thinking that with practices like that they help only themselves. People start going inactive, others leave the platform, steemit doesn't earn a single $ to use if again for the update of the platform or any other project regarding. At some point something needs to be done for the sake of the platform and to reach it's full potential and ofc for the sake of every steemit member.

The idea of delegating power is really wise. Not only they will earn money, their delegating power will actually help quality content of quality people

I think delegating to curation initiatives and dApps , you could also call them Steem Sub-Communities is indeed the right way to go for the Steem platform. It incentivizes high quality content creation, distributes wealth in a fair manner, and connects people to those communities which positively influences retention rates. Just look at how @utopian-io has already formed a community!

Yes I agree that delegating SP to good curation groups is the most constructive way to evolve the steem platform.

Steemit is only an app build on top of steem and ultimately it might make more sense to see more specialised steem apps emerging in the future.

For example, is Steemit the best platform for utopian-io or should utopian-io have its own app for promoting open source software?

Another thing maybe not to overlook is the possibility of corporate sponsoring. Is this a taboo subject or is there room on the steem platform for companies to sponsor open content?

I would also appreciate an "official" way to promote content on Steemit other than buying votes from bid bots and making the bot operators rich ;) Improving the promoted function on Steemit which is already there, sounds like a great idea 👍

This is a video by @stellabelle speaking with the Oracle.
Lol. Its so much fun.

Goal is that everyone wants to be a millionaire , but when you start on Steemit , you can make big galleries , upload nice pictures and still got only something like 5 cent reward .Feel so poor. I used bots couple of times , can you tell me which bots are good for community ?

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  ·  last year (edited)

I get the whole point. Yes it's really not helping the blockchain and it's a waste of time for the button being there. But let's face it, if para venture bidbots are eliminate or ‘burned’, honestly it'll bring down the number of both big and small investors. It's so obvious, that's the investment window for the blockchain and consider “burning” it may lead to the death of here, and steemit will only be a fun place like Facebook and Instagram.

Totally agreed.

I think it is a big lie that a post is Trending if it was promoted using a bot. It should be in the Promoted rather #techslut