Reply to "General Thoughts and critique on Narrative"

@Emily Barnett - I typed a long reply last night, and somehow deleted it, but I think it's important to discuss, so I'll try to recreate it.

Please understand that this is a discussion of opportunities and risks for the platform.  

Narrative needs to succeed as a business, and in order to do that, it needs to articulate a clear value proposition for various different communities:


Advertisers want to be able to target their ads.  The more precise the targeting, the more they will pay.   But that usually means collecting user data, and using it for targeting purposes.  Can Narrative provide some meaningful level of targeting without being intrusive?  Perhaps, through niche level targeting.  But that means having a hierarchy or ontology, so advertisers can select ad placement by categories.  Without that, Narrative will be reduced to low-priced "run of site" ads, which will greatly reduce the revenue opportunity.

Content Creators

Currently, this is where Narrative is focussing its pitch.  I think revenue sharing is an interesting idea.  However, I think that most content creators have an unrealistic idea of the value of their content.

Big platforms make a lot of money because they get hundreds of billions page views.   But the revenue generated per per view is tiny.  So, a content creator can spend hours working on an article, only to find that the revenue generated is a few dollars.  That's what I mean when I say content doesn't have much value.

On most platforms, a small percentage of pages generate the bulk of the revenue.  So I expect that a few people will make a decent (or even large) amount of money if the platform is successful, but the majority will make almost nothing.

If the value proposition (and motivation) for content creators is to make money, then I think a lot of them will be disappointed.  

Maybe there are other things that could add value for content creators.  

Content Consumers

In order to succeed, Narrative needs to attract a lot of content consumers (readers).  From a business standpoint, the readers are the product, which is sold to advertisers.  To make money, you need a lot of product.

I haven't read everything on the Narrative site, but so far I haven't seen any discussion of the value proposition for readers.  There seems to be an assumption that content creators will migrate to the platform, attracted by the revenue model, and that their audiences will follow them.  That may or may not prove to be true.

But even if it is, I don't think it will be enough.  Narrative needs to delivery a very large number of readers in order to retain content creators and advertisers.

The question that I think needs discussion is, "How will Narrative attract and retain readers?"

Right now people have an incredible range of choices, including social media platforms, news feeds, blogging platforms, podcasts, etc, etc.  I suspect most of us could spend all day consuming content online if we didn't limit ourselves.

So what make Narrative worth spending time on?  Why should I take away time from my other content sources to spend time (as a reader) here?


If I were building a new community/content platform, I would focus on the value proposition for each of these three communities.  My general business sense says that you need to do a good job in all three areas, and a great job in one.  Right now the focus is on content creators - and that's appropriate at this stage - but I think that the "make money" value proposition is going to fall flat for most content creators, when they see how little they make.  And that represents a big risk for the platform, which needs to be mitigated with other values.


I know you don't like my criticism of cryptocurrencies.  Personally, I think that there are massive problems, and I choose not to be involved in them (except when forced to).  I'd be happy to discuss my reasoning in a separate thread - but let's not get into that here.  

But my reason for calling out the use of cryptocurrencies in my initial post has nothing to do with whether they are a good idea or not.

No - it comes down to the success of  the business.  Narrative must be successful in the three areas I've outlined above.  Each has significant risks.  

And yet, Narrative has chosen to add a fourth risk factor, which is entirely unnecessary to the success of the business, and will limit the attractiveness of the platform for a significant number of Content Contributors.

That's what I mean when I characterize Narrative as a platform "by geeks, for geeks."  The creators of Narrative are off in the weeds putting energy into something that has nothing to do with the core business.  And that does not bode well for the future of the platform.