The key to success for a BCH Based Reddit Clone

21 189
Avatar for dave_gutteridge
3 years ago

Imagine you're with some friends and walking down a downtown street, looking for a place to eat. One of your friends sees a sign for a place that looks interesting. As you approach, you look inside the large windows into the dining area, and see a table of men who are clearly neo-Nazis.

Do you go in to eat anyway? I wouldn't.

There are a lot of variables at play here, but for the purpose of the analogy, imagine you have no doubt that those dudes you are looking at are straight up racist garbage. For me, even if the restaurant looks like it has decent quality food and the atmosphere seems enjoyable, the presence of this group of people who I have zero respect for raises so many questions in my mind about what kind of establishment the place is, that I'm going to tell my friends we should keep looking.

A similar kind of thing happens online. Have you heard of Voat? It was, maybe still is, a contender to rival Reddit. I'm not sure of Voat's current status, because it seems that if you go to the site, you are directed to a login page without any option to look at any content before having an account. Something I can't be bothered to do right now, because when I checked it out a few years ago, it was like looking into that restaurant with the table of Nazis.

There was probably a lot of other content on Voat that wasn't gross, but I don't know. Certain content is like one tiny drop of petroleum in a cup of water. Very little makes the whole thing undrinkable. I saw enough garbage to kill my motivation to find out how much was not garbage.

A while back, there was some issue with Reddit's CEO changing or some other issue that Reddit fanatics thought was important. Lots of Reddit users were talking about how there needs to be another, less censored version of Reddit. That's when I heard of Voat and decided to check it out.

It wasn't that I was experiencing any problems in using Reddit, but I'd like to have eggs spread out into multiple baskets if possible. I don't like that Reddit is largely a singular player in the kind of service it provides. But I gave up, because Voat was not the alternative I was looking for.

The reasons why are worth thinking about, because I feel like there is a gap in the world of Bitcoin Cash based online services, and that is a decent BCH based Reddit clone.

I think a BCH based Reddit is a no-brainer in terms of taking services people clearly want and making them better with BCH. With respect to the makers of this very site, a Reddit clone would be have even more potential impact than how Read.cash clones Medium. Medium already has a model of paying contributors, so Read.cash has a slightly harder time differentiating itself on the benefits of BCH over other payment systems.

One time, on Reddit, I posted a comment in response to someone asking about why people laugh. I wrote a book about my own theory of how the human brain processes humor, so it's a topic I can dive deep into. I ended up answering a bunch of peoples questions, and racked up a few thousand Reddit upvotes.

Which means just about nothing.

Sure, there's some tiny value in getting upvotes in that it gives you a vague sense of validation, and a minor amount of credibility.

But how much more awesome would it be if each of those votes was worth 0.1 cents? An amount so trivial that everyone feels it's no burden to press the upvote icon, but in aggregate the people getting upvoted get a nice little kickback for having provided content people want. That would be incredible.

Almost nothing else needs to change. Just have Reddit as it is now, except that votes have objective, real world value. If such a site existed, then it could very well be a challenger to Reddit itself. I think we can all see that if you could convincingly tell people, "Do everything you do on Reddit but you can also earn from it," then that would be very enticing.

Of course, there are challenges specific to BCH that make it hard to make that happen. In addition to the very important issues of BCH price volatility, there's also the difficulty of buying it in small enough amounts.

But those are technical issues, and I believe they are solvable. Exactly how is a topic deserving its own article. But, just so that the question isn't distracting by a lack of any answer at all, I think they're solvable by creating a token so that people don't vote in BCH, but vote in increments that obscure the volatility. I intend to write about that sometime soon.

The point I want to get to here is that a third, slightly more murky obstacle to creating a BCH based Reddit clone has to do with the ideologies of the BCH community.

There is a project of creating a BCH based Reddit, called Member. I haven't looked at every aspect of its technical merits, so I can't tell you if it's good or bad in terms of the underlying code. I'm going to assume it's fine.

But I don't have much confidence it will get anywhere, and that's because, from what I can tell, the underlying philosophy behind its construction is not geared towards making it popular.

Going by what I've read about it on r/btc, the posts themselves, or some record of them, are somehow stored on the blockchain. And this has to do with keep things provable and verifiable and safe and all that. This probably has a lot to do with how many people on the r/btc subreddit feel that the r/bitcoin subreddit unfairly removes posts and controls the narrative to push a certain agenda. Coming from that background, you can see how some people might be motivated to create a form of Reddit where posts have a sort of permanent record.

The goal seems to be to build a system where there is enough transparency and accountability so that no one can be censored. Unfortunately, this is likely to kill any chance at adoption.

Voat also aspired to be "censorship free." Without getting bogged down in the details of what exactly "censorship" means and how it manifests, the intention was to try and create methodologies in how the site works so that no human can come in and seize the position of a moderator with too much control and have too much influence in any one community.

It's a noble aim in theory, but in practice, it's a huge Achilles heel.

The first people who sign up to something marketed as "censorship free" are the people who have not found a home in other, more generalized communities, where they were rejected for their gross ideas. Their bigotries, their exclusions, their biases, their hostility.

So what you get is Voat. A place that quickly gets a reputation as a home of the incels, the racists, the hateful, the gross. If you think Voat is not a good example because it never reached enough critical mass, consider 4chan. 4chan had years to establish itself, has a fair amount of traffic, but nonetheless still has to contend with a reputation as being a hotbed of problematic viewpoints that inhibits its mass adoption, market appeal, and profitability. Is it even profitable? I don't know.

Censorship is a bad thing, but it matters how you define censorship and at what level you fight to keep things free.

The internet itself should be censorship free. Everyone should be allowed to make a website. But within individual websites, the people who run them should be able to cultivate their communities. Censorship is fought on the level where people should be able to choose to go to other websites.

Similarly, Bitcoin Cash itself should be free to use by anyone for any purpose. But any one buyer or seller can choose for themselves what business they want to engage in.

For a Reddit clone to work, someone has got to take the reigns and impose community standards so that users who enter feel it's a safe place where they can look at pictures of cats or whatever without feeling like they might get attacked by some angry incel for some random reason.

Moderating a site is an art, not a science, and there's also some luck involved in terms of which content providers and consumers show up. The only way to really deal with those unavoidable variables is for a few different groups to launch their own Reddit clones with slightly different approaches to community building, and see which ones get the best response. In an ideal world, there would be two or three good Reddit clones, a healthy competition that keeps any one of them from monopolizing that category of service.

There is a heavy ideological slant in the BCH community to view any inhibition on freedom of speech as fundamentally problematic. They want to get human intervention out of the way, and make technological constraints that are objective and dispassionate. With the right constraints in place, you can set it and forget it. Build it, and they will come.

But it matters who comes first. Later when you have critical mass, you might be able to have a strong enough community that general attitudes push out unwelcome extremes.

But to start with, someone has to keep the Nazis out of the restaurant. If they don't, no matter how great a Reddit clone based on BCH could be, most people won't come in to find out.

1
$ 1.10
$ 0.50 from @Read.Cash
$ 0.50 from @DrNums
$ 0.10 from @Barakz12
Avatar for dave_gutteridge
3 years ago

Comments

In Member you can assign mods which moderate the content for you, but if you want you can always find everything posted. I think that's a good middle ground.

$ 0.10
3 years ago

It's a reasonable system, but it might not be enough. Even if within the site the community of people who like pictures of cats is protected from the people who post racist views, if the racist community is ten times larger, then the overall site gets a reputation that prevents fewer cat lovers from joining.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

What if the site gets the rep that everyone can enjoy what they like there, from cats to racism, and they don't interline.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

What I'm saying is that it doesn't matter how much the two communities interact on the site. So long as both of them are sharing the same domain name, then that domain will get an overall reputation for the content that creates the most drama.

Consider the reverse situation. What if the "we love cats" community was a thousand times larger than the "we are racist garbage" community. But, if just one member in the "we are racist garbage" community goes out and commits a hate crime and kills some people, the only thing talked about in the news will be how that site is a hotbed of racist garbage, regardless of all other content.

Very easily, the ensuing reputation could conceivably not only stop new people joining, but also make existing "we love cats" members reconsider how much they want to be attached to a site known for horrible things.

In short, it's in every site's interest to foster certain standards and exclude certain behaviors, regardless of the size or interaction of groups within their site.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

I'd have to disagree. For example iMessage was used for terrorist acts and the gov even tried to make Apple add a backdoor so they can decrypt such messages - Apple refused. This didn't make iMessage any less popular, quite the opposite.

If a product is usable even for bad stuff, it's a successful product most of the times, just like money.

$ 0.00
3 years ago
  1. The problem with your definition of censorship is that you just renamed it to cultivation. The fact that users should be free to leave was available in the internet from the beginning! Yes every Youtuber who had +100k followers and suddenly got suspended was free to go to Vimeo, but they actually lost every followers that they built on that platform. If it's not timestamped on the blockchain, it can always be censored at will.

  2. Member provides protocol level innovation for moderation with the right to choose the moderator for your content. Instead of giving a traditional admin to a bunch of users and make them follow the rules, users can choose who should moderate their content for them.

Implementation is not perfect I do agree, but I believe if it's not in some way timestamped in the blockchain, there is no real value or guarantee of having a censorship resistant platform. If you just want to build another Reddit with BCH tip buttons, Reddit tip bots are already doing it in some way, but it's not game changing, is it?

$ 0.10
3 years ago

I am not defining or redefining anything, you're just restating a part of my thesis.

Member's implementation is fine, and so is the concept of committing data to the blockchain. I just don't believe any technical or protocol solution will solve the problem I outline without significant overall human moderation.

I think there's a massive difference between a system that has occasional voluntary tipping, and another that makes every vote a consistent and mandatory value. The latter very well could be game changing, but we won't know for sure until someone builds it.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

Well you literally mentioned "How we define censorship that matters", moderation is a kind of censorship! Do we still need moderation? Yes but a moderator should not have the power to take away what's yours.

Protocol level moderators are a noble way to fix the exact problem you are mentioning. You take away the power of moderator over your data and enable people to choose different moderators for the same type of content, which change the definition of moderator from "admin" to "filter"

I totally agree with you that people who look for political correctness need higher level of censorship and people with anarchist ideas need very little of it. But we need to fix the problem in Bitcoin way, not in the traditional way.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

I don't agree that moderation is a kind of censorship, or that people's ideologies determine censorship "needs", or that protocol level moderation solves the problem I outline. However, to unpack all of these concepts would require writing far more than I would like to about topics that are not on my agenda.

I think if these are issues that matter enough to you to write lengthy comments about, you might want to consider writing your own standalone articles and see if they get traction.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

if you don't appreciate people writing lengthy comments to you when they are opposing you I would consider to not participate in your posts anymore.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

As you can see, I make the effort to respond to everyone's comments in order to foster dialog. However, I also factor in the cost to benefit ratio of continuing a debate where the points of contention drift so far apart that it does not seem like there is anymore meaningful exchange of ideas.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

I mostly understand where you're coming from, but I think there has to be a better analogy than "neo-nazis in a restaurant." IMO, that analogy easily borders on supporting censorship. As you certainly understand, different people have different ideals, but at the end of the day, I think they need to coexist. The way I see it, suggesting that a restaurant in San Francisco should be able to kick out neo-nazi individuals or groups is no different than suggesting that a restaurant in rural Georgia should be able to kick out BLM individuals or groups (and extending that same argument to individuals or groups of a certain race or sexual orientation only invokes selective legal protections that shouldn't be necessary, it doesn't truly change the nature of such action). The way I see it, either both of those suggestions are right (including to the point of discrimination against a legally defined class because a restaurant is private and can choose its clientele), or both are wrong. To that end, even if I strongly disagree with some of the clientele in a restaurant, I think the fact that the restaurant is tolerantly providing food to humans instead of judging its customers is a terrible reason to avoid it. Don't get me wrong, I understand avoiding it at a point in time if a certain presence would make you or a member of your group legitimately fear for your safety, but I don't think presence of a third party that you disagree with should be considered to speak to management's opinions or justify avoiding the place infinitely.

Regarding whether or not exclusion is acceptable for a social website at the beginning (or throughout time) may arguably be more debatable, but it seemed to me like you countered the necessity of your closing suggestion earlier in the article where I inferred from your comment about having a login landing page that you might look at Voat a second time if you didn't have to create an account or sign in to do so. As I am not familiar with Voat, I will also say that it may also be worth considering that the separation of communities in reddit might be as effective as choosing a user base to begin with. In any case, I agree that a reddit clone could be a great idea for onboarding, even as horrible as reddit is. TBH, I think this could be true even at 100 satoshis per upvote with no anti-volatility measure in place (from an "it's free money" point of view, but with the unfortunate side-effect of everything needing to be custodial to support the 100 satoshi transactions). That having been said, if it was effective, it would need a major up-front investment and/or to monetize really well, because it would quickly require a very large team to deal with legal requests and everything else that falls beyond user-provided moderation.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

I think I don't agree with your definition of censorship.

It's not censorship if I ask you to leave my house if I don't like what you're saying. I can't tell you to never say it or think it anywhere else, but I can set the terms for my private property.

Similarly, a website or a restaurant or any private business has the right to foster the community they want to foster. If you don't like it, you have the entire rest of the internet to seek out a venue for your opinions.

Censorship only applies if you are constrained in such a way that you do not have the ability or option to seek an outlet for your thoughts regardless of where you go.

Also, I completely disagree that selective protections are merely a matter of degree. There is an entirely rational difference between asking someone to leave because of their openly broadcast opinions, and asking them to leave because of the unchangeable facts of who they are. Kicking someone out because of their race is deplorable. Kicking someone out because of their racism is justifiable.

And, just to be clear, fuck Nazis. They are not merely some kind of opposite equivalent of BLM or any other group. Fascism and Nazis, considered on their own terms regardless of any other group, are cancers in society. So any argument trying to find a rationale for how to provide safe space for Nazi ideology in the name of being fair to everyone is not going to find any haven with me.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

I think I don't agree with your definition of censorship.

Either speech is free or it isn't. As soon as you add parameters to what speech is free, that is censorship. This isn't to say there is never justification for private censorship, but to say that the suggestion that "it's not censorship because society agrees with me" is a pretty weak argument.

There is an entirely rational difference between asking someone to leave because of their openly broadcast opinions, and asking them to leave because of the unchangeable facts of who they are.

50-100 years ago, there was no "unchangeable facts of who they are" regarding certain currently protected classes. There have been studies suggesting that some of these classes are genetically predispositioned to a preference, and there have been studies debunking the same. This is irrelevant. Select protection requires classification to exist, which may well be part of the problem said protection is trying to solve. I agree that it is true that you cannot control your race or other things caused by your genes, but at the same time, we don't know everything about genes, and not every class who may have an unchangeable "fact of who they are" is currently protected, but it is feasible and probably even likely that there would be classes who you would be against protecting if we did. For instance, there are likely one or more preferences that you would find unacceptable. Given one of those, you might also find it unacceptable to suggest that persons unfortunate enough to be genetically dispositioned to have those preferences be allowed to act on them.

They are not merely some kind of opposite equivalent of BLM or any other group.

A hate group is a hate group, and spreading hate because you've experienced hate doesn't change the fact that you're spreading hate. To take any previously reviewed extremes out of the equation, a "christian" group bombing an abortion center is no better or worse than any other group bombing anything else.

So any argument trying to find a rationale for how to provide safe space for Nazi ideology in the name of being fair to everyone is not going to find any haven with me.

My argument wasn't that any ideology should have a safe haven, my argument was that if justice is blind (as it is supposed to be) and equality is evenly distributed (and how can it be equality if it isn't?), then either a private organization can choose it's members and/or patrons, or it can't. "Anyone can say anything they want so long as I agree with it" isn't free speech, and "anyone can come into my restaurant so long as I like them" is discrimination based on something. Using any extreme as an example doesn't change this point. So forget your example and review the context. I'm saying kicking someone out of a restaurant based on their behavior inside the restaurant is acceptable, but is kicking them out based on identity? There may be a grey area between those two points, but if the answer to the second half is no, then wouldn't it also be wrong to assume any individual has taken any particular action based solely on perceived identity?

$ 0.00
3 years ago

I think you're reinterpreting my words into a framework of your world view that does not match my meaning. I never said anything even close to meaning "it's not censorship because society agrees with me."

I'm sorry, but I stopped reading at that point because there is no dialog without understanding, and I don't feel there is sufficient attempt at understanding here.

Thanks for your thoughts, I leave it to other readers to consider your words for themselves.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

I actually originally primarily intended to suggest that you could come up with a better analogy. I suspect that something I said in that comment triggered a defensive reaction from you, and if I'm being honest, your reply to my comment certainly triggered a defensive reaction from me. Unfortunately, I'd agree that acknowledging a mutual lack of understanding is probably the correct path forward.

$ 0.00
3 years ago

Couldn't agree more to everything in this article! About censorship-free, about being in the enjoyable environment, basically about everything. Great article!

$ 0.00
3 years ago

Glad we're in agreement!

$ 0.00
3 years ago

I support BCH as well as you do, Dave. Thank you for sharing with us!

$ 0.00
3 years ago

Thank you for reading!

$ 0.00
3 years ago