What Steemit Must Change to Stay Competitive

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3 years ago

Will Steemit's competitors like Publish0x kill off Steemit? The possible death of Steemit, and the collapse of the value of STEEM and Steem Dollars (SBD) has a lot of  Steemit users, including myself, feeling very worried. Let's just say I'm glad that I diversified and started publishing on Publish0x and read.cash in addition to Steemit.

First a little background - I started blogging on Steemit back in early 2018. I still post all my articles there (https://steemit.com/@pirateofthedtube) and plan to continue doing so. I have over 300 followers and a decent idea of the workings of the site, associated controversies, Dapps associated with it, etc. However, over the course of my two years on the site, I have noticed a number of significant issues. Unfortunately, many of them seem to remain unaddressed.

First, let's talk about the immediate crisis you'll find most people on the site talking about:

STEEM has fallen from being worth over $7 to being worth around 25 cents. At its lowest it was only worth around 12 cents. SBD, which is supposed to be pegged to the U.S. Dollar (ie. one SBD should always be $1) fell all the way to about 60 cents. This is a serious problem. More disturbingly, despite my bullish predictions last year, STEEM has not recovered, even as other cryptocurrencies have! To me this is the most disturbing problem of all: If STEEM is not increasing as Bitcoin, Etherium, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and pretty much every other coin have been trending up in recent weeks, then when will STEEM gain value? And what will happen when the market becomes bearish at some point in the future? 

My fear is that STEEM will not be helped much by market upturns, but may still be impacted by downturns, leading to a damaging cycle. 

Work Like a Normal Website

My Publish0x readers who are not also on Steemit are probably deeply confused at this point. Many probably do not even know what STEEM is, let alone SBD. Simply, Steemit is a blogging platform built on the STEEM blockchain, and payouts on the site are in the form of STEEM and SBD. Although payouts may also be in the form of STEEM Power, which is just STEEM but put on the account in such a way as to make it difficult to access. Why would anyone want STEEM Power in that case? Well the more SP a user has the more their upvotes are worth. Of course, the value of STEEM/SBD also impacts what upvotes are worth. Think of this idea as some what similar to proof of stake - The more one is invested in the site/currency the more they are rewarded. There is a delay to turn SP back into normal STEEM so that a major holder can not just tank the entire currency by suddenly putting it all on the market.

If this still seems confusing don't worry! It is confusing to most people and many users do not fully understand it. More advanced Steemit users will undoubtedly take issue with some ways in which my explanation was oversimplified and general. But to be fair, users will have anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to read up on the currencies and site, since that is how long it takes for accounts to be approved. 

Then we have the bid bots and bought votes, which are generally accepted on Steemit. I have become more open to this idea over time, but many newer users are turned off and confused about how bidding for votes could be acceptable on the site. It is mostly because this is one of the only ways to grow when you are a small creator, and these votes can be slightly profitable for the user.

Obviously this unusual way in which payouts work, and the length of time it takes accounts to get approved, is a major turnoff to casual users. When it comes to a blogging platform this is especial unfortunate, as people will join and stay on the platform due to the community. Blogging platforms are almost always aimed at attracting as many users as possible to build community, but the way the site runs is anything but friendly to mass usership.

To be this whole process reeks of an unfortunate attitude in the crypto community - usability is secondary and it doesn't really matter if most people struggle to understand it. As cryptos try to go more mainstream this attitude is going to become more of a problem. 

Lack of Basic Blogging Features

Why on Earth can I not save a draft on Steemit? How does a blogging platform not allow users to save multiple drafts? Have fun having to focus on only writing one thing at a time, even if it is an in-depth article, since you can not save your progress and start on something else. Now, if you do have a blue screen or your browser crashes or something you should be fine with your one article, as Steemit does automatically save a draft of the one thing you are writing. However, the inability to save multiple drafts means I now always write on Publish0x and just copy and paste things over to my Steemit blog. When it comes to a longer post like this one I will pretty much always want to save it and put out another, shorter, story while in the process of writing the longer post so my readers are not left without content for an extended period of time.

Steemit's editor also leaves a lot to be desired. I have to give it credit for allowing users to simply copy and paste images (a feature I wish Publish0x would add); however, the lack of formatting features like underlining, bold, italics, and changing how paragraphs are aligned is deeply disappointing. Yes, it is possible to do all of those things manually, for example through the classic (*) on either side of a word method and liberal use of the tab key, these things are unnecessarily difficult. Why not just have a button to press like every other site. How has Steemit been around for years, and yet hasn't managed to implement these features? 

Lack of Progress/Updates

In fact, Steemit has really not improved much in my time on the site. To me this is the most damning statement I can make about the site. All sites have issues starting up, and I want to give them some slack since cryptoblogging is such a new idea, especially when Steemit started up. However, it is worrying to see a lack of progress on the site in terms of usability. Change comes slowly, even in emergency situations. in fact, some updates have created emergency situations.

The most infamous of these updates was Hardfork 20 - a phrase that will make almost any Steemit user who was on the site in 2018 shudder. The entire site became essentially unusable for about a week. They introduced a system where users can only take so many actions on the site within a certain period of time. This might seem fine, but the number of actions was so low that people were having to choose between upvoting articles and being able to upload their own posts or comments. If you left a few comments on other people's articles, you might be unable to give them an upvote or make your own post. The amount of actions allowed was based on SP (I believe), so newer users with less SP were sometimes unable to take more than an action or two on the site. There was a day or two where I could not even log in. 

Imagine you waited a week to get approved for the site, only to log on and find you are unable to do anything. Those people left for the week+ it took to get this fixed, and they never came back.

In my eyes this might have been the killing blow against Steemit, as the number of users fell off a cliff, and I suspect many of them realized that the site is a pain to use, STEEM wasn't worth as much as it used to be, and their time was better spent elsewhere. When those people left they simply did not come back. Shortly after HF20 I wrote the following article about how the site was failing to recover its userbase: https://steemit.com/steemit/@pirateofthedtube/steemit-is-only-just-now-recovering-from-hardfork-20

Declining Popularity

When I wrote that article in December 2018 I was horrified to see that Steemit had fallen from being in the top 1,000 sites in the world all the way to barely being in the top 4,000. Today being in the top 4,000 would be a dream. As of today Steemit sits at around 27,500 in the world. That is the sign of a dying site. I don't want to believe that, but what else could I reasonably conclude? Of course, the recent controversies and HIVE hard fork have contributed to this decline as well.

When so many users leave the site, including some major ones, it leaves us without the community we once had. One of the best writers I found on the site, @ekklesiagora, who wrote extensively and intelligently about Social Democracy and other left-leaning political movements, left the site three months ago. His posts, whether I agreed or disagreed with them, were among the most in-depth and intelligent on the site. Losses like this lead to people no longer coming to the site, simply because their favorite creators are elsewhere. 

The Quality of the Community

As mentioned above, blogging platforms tend to want to attract and retain as many users as possible to build a larger community. However, Steemit's community is infamous for how toxic it is. There are numerous feuds on the site, and sometimes the top ranked articles will literally just be a couple sentences calling somebody else a "piece of shit" or even accusing them of pedophilia without evidence (yes, that really happened). I'm not huge on sites curating their trending content, but something is wrong on Steemit. 

Then there was the DLive split. DLive is a streaming service that was originally built on STEEM and closely connected to Steemit. In fact, one of STEEM's major selling points was that other DApps could be developed on the blockchain, which would likely increase the currencies' value. However, in a scathing post, DLive's founder announced in September 2018 that DLive would be splitting from STEEM to go its own direction. Reasons given included "STEEM is not sustainable for steaming platforms", and the low number of DLive users who actually came from other STEEM DApps. Ouch. After that, what are the odds that other major DApps will think STEEM is the way to go?


I haven't even touched upon other major controversies, such as a site founder leaving, questionable DApps like Drug Wars (which functioned very much like a ponzi scheme), and mass account buying to downvote other users. However, this article only needs to be so long for you all to get the point.

Returning to our original question - will Publish0x, read.cash, and similar Steemit alternatives kill off Steemit? Probably not entirely, but that it just because Steemit holds to one single major advantage - the prospect of becoming one of the elite few who get high payouts from the site. As I mentioned, the highest payouts on Steemit are much higher than on Publish0x, even though the average payout on Publish0x is significantly higher. It is in human nature to hold out for that fraction of 1% chance of massive success. However, if things do not improve on Steemit, the community will continue to dry up. If that happens, then those highest payouts will decrease. At that point, it may be the end for Steemit. 

But that is unlikely to happen immediately. Instead it seems that Steemit is on a slow, painful, decline. More like the end of the Roman Empire than the French Revolution. Is this reversible? In theory I believe it is, as many of the above issues could be fixed to various degrees. Just a more usable site, a more user-friendly way of explaining STEEM vs. STEEM Power, vs. SBD, and the ability to save multiple drafts would go a long way. The biggest underlying problem is that Steemit just does not seem to be making the moves necessary to improve. 


Thank you for reading this far! If you do not already have a Publish0x account it is fast and easy to sign up here, and you can even crosspost your content from Steemit, read.cash (or other sites) to Publish0x: https://www.publish0x.com?a=pnel78MdKB&tid=rc. Why not make a bit more, and reach a new audience on a growing site by crossposting? 

If you are on Steemit, my account can be found here: https://steemit.com/@pirateofthedtube

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3 years ago


Nice article

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