Feedback from a niche owner I introduced to Narrative

Service: Narrative

Over the past 12 months, I've been wavering about whether the current execution of the platform is of a standard to warrant reaching out to people about Narrative.

After the recent release, I've reached a conclusion - trying to involve other people with the project currently is almost certainly a waste of time, and a waste of that precious first impression.

Denis Wallez became aware of Narrative when I started posting about the project on G+.  I've had a number of exchanges with him on G+ about the platform (he never joined this forum because he thought it was lame it required an entirely separate account to the alpha).  I invested a lot of energy in helping him understand Narrative, during our discussions on G+.

Denis joined the alpha and has purchased four niches.

He is now convinced Narrative is scamming people, since the certification release, and the revelation of the charges involved for initial submission, and resubmission attempts.

Denis definitely comes across to me as above average in intelligence and temperance.  By joining the alpha, buying four niches, and participating in niche suggestions, voting and commenting on the alpha, he has demonstrated he is among the rare individuals who are willing to adopt a project like Narrative early, and to give it a real go.  And yet from the discussion I will link to below, you will see his patience with the project is now spent.

I also think it safe to say that virtually every committed Narrative Alpha user experienced a strong loss of motivation after the recent release, and the ensuing efforts to discuss it here, as well as during the fruitless efforts to raise the alarm about unowned niches not being able to receive content.

I hope this can serve as a reality check for the @Narrative Network Team and lead to some adjustments in priorities, implementation, and level of sensitivity to customer expectations and patience levels.  

Denis is an early adopter, hands-on, persevering kind of person.  When we open up to the public April 2nd, we will realise just how unrepresentative our current group of Alpha testers is of the general public.  They will have FAR less patience with their Narrative experience, and we've identified at least one major area in the current release plan that will severely challenge their motivation to stick around (inability to use niches that have been community approved, but nobody has paid $75 for) - an area in addition to the factors that put off Denis and are challenging many of us.  

Here is the discussion:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+D...ez/posts/QQZuMZvPA8V

As you'll see, I tried to reason with him regarding his issues, providing indications that our current problems are probably not due to Narrative being a scam, but rather to tone-deafness to how the project is coming across.  I had to give up because he has clearly made up his mind, and his experiences have pushed him beyond his temperance.

Denis is just one person - of course.  But he's also someone who invested far more than the average Alpha user has, during his time on the platform.  We would be collectively and unforgivably foolish to ignore his experience with Narrative - and frankly, our own experiences too.

It is time to be real: the current missteps don't bode well and there is a lack of acknowledgement from the @Narrative Network Team that something in the planning and communications about the project needs to change.  It is irrational to repeat the same behaviour over and over again, and expect different results.  We've attracted some exceptionally committed early adopters, and we've gone a good way towards alienating them.  I and others have started investigating other platforms.  The one I'm looking at currently, after being alerted to it by another Narrator, actually reversed its own version of a pay-to-play barrier to adoption, after community feedback.  Given our current lack of responsiveness from the team on a similar issue, that detail about the other platform is particularly appealing right now.  Narrative needs to know this, although I am disappointed it has come to this point of people feeling this way and having to say so.

Shifting from Denis to myself - what I need to hear from the Narrative team is that allowing posting to unowned niches is going to be included in the roadmap.  I've given up on my conviction that releasing public Beta without this is an unwarranted and dangerous gamble that will convince yet more users that crypto platform Narrative is scammy.  But at least communicating the intent to remedy the unowned niche lock out, would go some way to reassuring people this is due to needing to revise the model, rather than the unwavering intent to hold tags to ransom, and practice what will be perceived as the first instance of a platform imposing content Darwinism - the survival of the economically viable subject matter, deemed to be viable arbitrarily: not by market forces but by the Narrative Network Company. 

Pay to play is becoming WAY too prevalent on Narrative, and people are not going to like it.

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Great post @Malkazoid. As the second most active person on the BOTH Narrative platforms, I very much concur with what he has said. One, only has to immerse themselves in another burgeoning community similar to Narrative, to understand immediately, how it is universally understood that pay-to-play or specifically pay-to-say, is not the way to get to mass adoption, in the early stages.

@Narrative  This isn't a game. It isn't am experiment. Many of us gave you real money out of our real lives. We aren't trying to be brats, or thorns in your sides. We are committed to a project that we believed in enough to hand over our money in the speculation period. That is an honor to your vision. But as the vision unfolds, there have been some big glaring cracks that the users see as really obvious. Some of these cracks are in the foundation, and they need to be fixed if you want to build a sturdy platform. End of story.

What Narrative does next will reveal everything. So many Narrative members, the ones that are your brick layers on the front end are asking themselves these questions. (Trust me....they are.)

Is the team really in it to build this thing long term?

Do they truly value the input from the alpha testers on what is working and what isn't?

Is the team just about "get the money", and building a sustainable product really doesn't matter much?

You still have people who believe in the project. I am still here because this community is the most diverse, intelligent and interesting i can find so far. I am here because of the community, first and foremost, it promises to be the most interesting. Except Narrative keeps wanting to cut off it's best asset at the knees (!!) by forcing a pay-to-say system. If the community goes to a platform that better serves them, well then the community goes. (myspace)

@Ted your reluctance to budge on ownerless niches has infected your community. It happened as soon as we could see that we could not post our content to the niches we approved. (It doesn't matter that it was in the white papers.) They are here because the platform by design sets itself apart from the myopic topic approach of steemit and Trybe. But you want to gag that asset of self-expression with a "pay up first".

Ted you had a great vision, and this alpha community gets it, but it has a bigger picture vision at the moment, that you really should consider. Or at the very least you really need to buck-up and explain why you are so steadfast on your maintaining your original position. You haven't given any justification to yet.

ONE last thing. I know that the niche money doesn't go to the Narrative team. It goes into our collective rewards pool. The community gets it. and still we are saying that you need to let us tag niches. That is because we have faith that once this thing gets going, the niches will get purchased.

You can road map this into existence, and give yourself time to launch and build the moderator center, and floating moderators for ownerless niches. You will win over the community again. 

That is all. I am done. My face is so blue.

I concur with your findings @Malkazoid and @Emily Barnett.
My experience with Narrative has been to walk through the entire concept from a layperson's perspective, and the endless struggles from early adoption to each new phase of discovery of even more unnecessary, unexplained complexities, and more pay-to-play schemes (like the dual competing platforms of Narrative Niche Content and Publications for example). All in all my experience has been a list of diminishing returns over time instead of excitement about what's happening. Because truly, what is actually happening after all? 

@Malkazoid - thank you for sharing your thoughts, and in particular for making public your discussion with your friend.  My initial impression of Narrative was that the platform felt very disconnected from reality, and my experience since then has not changed that.

I get the impression that the Narrative Team has fallen in love with their own vision, and isn't seeing the 'visuals' they are creating.  At this point, I am not promoting Narrative, because I can't make a compelling argument for why this platform will succeed, and why it's worth investing in.

I agree whole-heartedly with your belief that allowing posts in unowned niches is necessary to expand the community.  My own experiment showed that 9 of the 12 topics on which I wanted to post are currently unowned.  So Narrative will be getting 25% of the content that I would otherwise contribute (and that other people may want to read).

I also feel strongly that the fee for certification is both stupid and damaging.  I have worked for two startups that required online certification through document verification (a neighborhood level social network, and a local business rating site).  In both cases, the company absorbed the charges as a cost of doing business.  I can't recall EVER having to pay a fee for a verification service.

And by the way, for the businesses I was involved with, our cost for ID verification started out at about $3, and dropped to around $1.50 as our volume increased.  If the current vendor is charging $15, Narrative should be shopping for another vendor.  

I have made a small investment in Narrative, and I am sticking around to see where it goes, mostly due to the community.  But I really hope the Narrative Team wakes up to the fact that the current vision of the site is going to be a hard sell.  If they can't even convince the early adopters, they are going to have a very hard time "crossing the chasm" to reach a mass audience.  

 

@malkazoid I appreciate what you’re saying and respect your opinion, but I don’t agree with your assessment of the project. I’ve been involved with a number of start-up projects, from apps to non-profits to large websites to video games and am not at all dismayed by where Narrative currently is. I think it’s important to acknowledge that we are in ALPHA. Obviously development stages are somewhat arbitrary, but when I think back to when, for example, I was alpha testing one of my currently favourite video games (about 7 years ago), it was a fraction of the game it is now. In fact the beta didn’t launch until 2 years ago and that was a fraction of what it is now.

I’m not concerned about people that don’t ‘get it’ at this stage. Narrative could very well be a disrupter and the team has given me no reason to doubt they can get it done (I’ve dealt with many teams and people where it was obvious that they weren’t going to deliver). Having said that, I haven’t been actively promoting the platform. I mention it to the odd person and community and manage expectations. Most people I’ve talked to aren’t interested, and that’s fine, but I’ve recruited a few who ARE very excited, though not vocal on these forums. I have no plans of attempting to actually recruit until we are well into beta and we have something to admire.

Anyways, I just wanted to temper these forums a bit and assure the team (and lurking community members) that there are people who are quite pleased with the way things are proceeding, but might not be very vocal.

@Gord thank you for speaking up. Like all on this thread, I too stopped trying to initiate bringing new people on to the platform. It is complicated to explain in the speculation phase. But for me, after brining in 4 people, I felt that I just don't want to risk my own real life reputation, until I see how this thing plays out.

I agree with @Robert Nicholson about suspecting the team has fallen in love with it's own vision, and isn't currently seeing it's own visuals. 

Only time will tell. I am still maintaining hope, and as I have said on other threads, working on content, but with each new round of people, many not from the crypto world, we are seeing the same reactions to not being able to tag their content unlimited to the niches approved, and frustrated with putting money first, rather than community building first.

It is hard not to add that up.

@Malkazoid You told me that this user, Denis, has 366,520 followers on G+.

I hope and I am pretty confident that the @Narrative Network Team has some secret strategies at hand how to bring people with such a huge community of followers from G+ to Narrative. I can't imagine how sad it would be to let this great opportunity pass. And regarding Denis himself, may I ask if he or the Team have talked with each other about those issues? I mean this would be the most reasonable way to do, speaking about the most urgent problems and how to solve them, right? Both parties could profit enormously from it.

New Social Media posted:

@Malkazoid You told me that this user, Denis, has 366,520 followers on G+.

I hope and I am pretty confident that the @Narrative Network Team has some secret strategies at hand how to bring people with such a huge community of followers from G+ to Narrative. I can't imagine how sad it would be to let this great opportunity pass. And regarding Denis himself, may I ask if he or the Team have talked with each other about those issues? I mean this would be the most reasonable way to do, speaking about the most urgent problems and how to solve them, right? Both parties could profit enormously from it.

Hey -

Well I can see why you're sharing the information of Denis' followers, but I was somewhat deliberately not making an issue of that for two reasons.

a) I did not know he had that many followers until fairly recently and it is not why I initially engaged with him.  I was simply aware that he headed up a large community of Buddhists.  He was actively seeking new platforms, and our conversation just grew from there.  I've spent time with other folks who have virtually no followers too... but when I realised Denis could bring many Buddhists to the platform, I felt there was a real opportunity for the culture here to receive a great influx of thoughtful people who value balance.  The numbers are great - even one tenth of his followers would multiply our community size by 6...  but I didn't want anyone to think it was all about the numbers.

b) If Narrative isn't aware of the opportunities they are missing one after the other, my will to point them out has run dry.  

I wrote a lot more - but have decided to delete it and end this post here.

I know you mean well.  Thank you for trying.

 

I had not considered reaching out to Google+ users until I saw this thread. There's a dying community. After April, they'll be no more. Where will their users go? This is an opportunity for the Narrative team.

But ... like others, I'm beginning to cool on promoting Narrative until I see how beta rolls out. A good number of folks I've introduced it too have left with a bad taste in their mouths. Some of that could have been avoided. Management of expectations is a part of the issue. But I am in agreement with those who say that not being able to post in unowned niches is going to be a huge de-motivator for many new people. Some of the barriers to entry need to be lifted.

Hey @Malkazoid,

    I read the conversation between Denis and yourself.  I think you rebutted most of his outlandish claims quite well.  He specifically called out how he is promoting his own alternate platform, how everything is so much better in half the amount of time, yada yada.  

I really don't get all of this outrage over the certification fee.  All of this 'BUYING REP, YOU ARE BUYING REP'.  The reputation formula, as you have mentioned, is currently, and will continue to be, in flux until we get some actual data points and people using the system.  I agree with you that screening out BOTS is a GOOD thing.  People keep on saying, why can't Narrative just eat the cost??  I think in an ideal world, they would, but that might not be the financial position they are currently in.  I would rather see BOTS screened out from the beginning, rather than trying to deal with something further down the line.  I might even be inclined to agree with you that the certification percentage of the formula could back down to 20% or something.  The point is you can participate in basically every aspect of the Narrative platform (except for moderation due to content age restriction issues), which @Brian Lenz has previously pointed out.  You can still have an amazing reputation without getting certified...I really don't get this 2nd class citizen argument at all.  It's not like Narrative is making bank off of this, in fact it sounds like they may even be subsidizing each certification ($5 off currently, originally costs $15, now $10).

I feel like the really big thing that people are hung up on is the 'posting to unowned Niches discussion.  I've already made my thoughts on this known.  I'm happy to take a wait and see approach and see how people interact with the system as it stands.  There is nothing preventing the @Narrative team from implementing this functionality after the beta if the majority of the community agree it is the right step.  I think at this point they are just heads down working on the beta.

Finally, I got around to reading the discussion. Denis does make some good points, despite going too far in his accusations. Like @Banter, I don't get the flak over paying for validation. It's a minor issue compared to other user experience issues. Some things could change on that end perhaps, but unowned niche content is a much bigger issue, IMO. Bigger than that even, is not listening to your Alpha testers. It seems like there are quite a few early Alpha testers who are upset about some things. That should be a red flag for the @Narrative team. I get being focused on Beta, but if you roll out Beta too soon, you are shooting yourself in the foot. I'd be willing to hold off just to fix a few things first.

I'm not a developer, so I have no idea about the technical aspects of the technology and biz model. As a user, I can tell you that few people are going to have the patience to wait and post whenever their favorite niches are paid for. They're going to want to post when they walk in the door. And since this is Alpha, the time when, as @Malkazoid pointed out, the Narrative team should be listening and tweaking based on feedback, why isn't content being published right away? Denis brings up a good point about certain niches being so full of content right now that early posters will likely have fewer views when Beta launches. That makes sense. Alternatively, those posts could be read by Alpha testers right now, voted on, shared, interacted with in other ways, as a way to test the process before the Beta users arrive. This just seems like common sense to me.

There has also been some talk about attracting content creators from Google+, since that platform is shutting down.

I don't really know how feasible this is.  I think it would actually take some investment...  possibly ads specifically targeting Google+ users.

In any case, it represents a one-time opportunity to attract people with established followings looking for a new home.

But it won't work if those users come to Narrative, only to find that there is no place for their content.  

Robert Nicholson posted:

There has also been some talk about attracting content creators from Google+, since that platform is shutting down.

I don't really know how feasible this is.  I think it would actually take some investment...  possibly ads specifically targeting Google+ users.

In any case, it represents a one-time opportunity to attract people with established followings looking for a new home.

But it won't work if those users come to Narrative, only to find that there is no place for their content.  

I completely agree.

Robert Nicholson posted:

There has also been some talk about attracting content creators from Google+, since that platform is shutting down.

I don't really know how feasible this is.  I think it would actually take some investment...  possibly ads specifically targeting Google+ users.

In any case, it represents a one-time opportunity to attract people with established followings looking for a new home.

But it won't work if those users come to Narrative, only to find that there is no place for their content.  

Hi @Robert Nicholson,

    I agree that it is potentially a great opportunity to reach people looking for a new home.  I mean it could go one of two ways, these people will check out Narrative and say, "hey, I have a following that I want to monetize, or I don't have many followers and I just post occasionally for fun."  If you have someone with a moderate to large following and they are looking to monetize their content (because why wouldn't they??), purchasing a Niche or two that they write content for seems like a no-brainer to take advantage of that potential.

    I think one of the issues is that while beta will allow content posting, it won't have a complete production ready / every feature of the white paper implemented perfectly.  Perhaps eventually the platform will even allow for posting to unowned Niches.  So...all that to say...some people like being early adopters of things...others prefer a tried and tested 2.0....I think it will really depend on the individual and the goals for their content.

Again, let's not put the cart too far ahead of the horse. Garnering interest is one thing, but talking about converting hundreds of thousands of people is premature IMO, being that nothing has even been published yet. Why not take the next couple months to internally test things and then start crafting strategies for truly building the community.

Take in mind that about 15 years ago Facebook was being beta tested within a single campus. I want to see Narrative kick off as much as anyone, but I have to be realistic about its growth. 

Gord posted:

Again, let's not put the cart too far ahead of the horse. Garnering interest is one thing, but talking about converting hundreds of thousands of people is premature IMO, being that nothing has even been published yet. Why not take the next couple months to internally test things and then start crafting strategies for truly building the community.

Take in mind that about 15 years ago Facebook was being beta tested within a single campus. I want to see Narrative kick off as much as anyone, but I have to be realistic about its growth. 

Dear Gord, you are right, these things will take some time, but on the other hand, such an opportunity like getting so many people on board right now, should be taken. Once these people have found a new social media home, they will very likely stay there and it would be much harder to introduce them to Narrative. We must act now and we need the support of the team, they could provide us with some kind of official template, which states that Narrative explicitly welcomes google+ users and will provide individual solutions depending on the quantity of the community they bring- discounts, simplifications etc. This could change the game for Narrative rapidly but only if both the team and we as supporters act now.

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