How Narrative Beats Minds by a Mile

Service: Narrative

How Narrative Beats Minds by a Mile

Service: Narrative

Hi everybody,

There are a few other social media crypto-based platforms out there which I feel are, in a certain sense, natural competitors to Narrative. One of the best of these is Minds.com. What follows is my take on Minds versus Narrative. 

Minds is a good one to look at. Besides being quite slick and high on the usability spectrum for a crypto social media platform, the most visible part of Minds is organized similarly to Narrative. 

MINDS HASHTAGS VERSUS NARRATIVE NICHES

For each post, a user may select up to five hashtags. Users subscribe to hashtags and other users. 

This hashtag strategy is really front and center. Every user selects hashtags to place on their main bars, so as to be able to quickly view posts associated with the desired hashtags.

This may seem identical to other ways of implementing hashtags. It is not. By limiting the number of hashtags associated with a regular post to five, this actually disincentivizes the use of highly specific hashtags, as people try to capture users subscribing to hashtag streams. This is an attempt to organize the user experience around something like concepts.

However, what it ends up doing in the main stream is limiting the user's ability to categorize and tag their posts as they see fit. Content ends up being better and differently presented and organized in the Minds content stream "groups" the organization of which is defined by the users and group creators. The main stream is vastly inferior to early Twitter, even though it is essentially a Twitter clone.

Even though each Narrative post is similarly limited insofar as folks can only associate a post with a very few niches, niches end up being more similar to what is in Minds, called a group. In addition to the existence of a description (as opposed to a mere group of letters aka tag), Narrative niches really are organized conceptually. Apart from eventually being associated with each other to mirror a true concept map, the lack of duplicate niches means that the niches track a topic or concept, not a group of letters, or a certain group of people's thoughts about that particular topic. There is not e.g. one knitting niche for Bob's friends and another knitting niche for Mary's friends. The knitting niche is for content on the topic of knitting.  

As far as I can tell, niches do a much better job than Mind hashtags or groups of organizing content in a better way than traditional hashtags, which is what everybody wants.

Note: This is not to say there isn't a place for hashtags. On the contrary, I think one of the mistakes of Minds is having not functionally split up their by necessity more general/conceptual hashtags from traditional hashtags.

MINDS CONTENT CREATOR EMPHASIS

Another point of commonality Minds and Narrative have is trying to reward content creators in a way that makes sense. Other platforms like Patreon et al have already begun to show just how powerful it is to truly compensate folks for that portion of the internet which they themselves create. 

On Minds this means BOOSTS. You can use your crypto ducets on minds to Boost your own posts or the posts of others. This boosting functionality is highly visible everywhere. You can boost with one time payments of ducets. You can also schedule reoccurring boosts. 

Boosts supplement, rather than replace, likes and dislikes.

In my opinion, the high visibility of boosts is a big mistake.  It makes Minds look like exactly what it seems to me to be right now - a place for crypto-enthusiasts and content creators who will do anything to get compensated. And importantly, NOT like a place trying to also create an amazing user experience for the consumer. 

I don't want to knock Minds too much. If you check out the platform, they clearly have thrown the kitchen sink at functionality. Every kind of anything you want is in there. But the "give me crypto" "pay crypto to get more views" is so front and center, the crypto-unsavy consumer may, in my opinion be put off.

I know the Narrative team is making a huge effort to appear and be accessible to the consumers, and I can't wait to see how this takes shape in the Beta and beyond.

I do think it's worthwhile for folks to look at Minds. It's a gorgeous platform visually. And I know that thinking about the way they use groups and hashtags helped me clarify for myself why I was so immediately and intuitively drawn to the whole notion of niches.

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Interesting and timely post.  I joined Minds about a year ago, and quickly abandoned the platform.  It felt to me like a half-assed FaceBook, and I saw nothing to recommend it.

It's interesting that you feel the crypto nature of Minds is "front and center."  I never got that feeling at all.  In fact, I think crypto is much more in-your-face at Narrative, and it's one of the things that will drive away casual users.

I do think a comparison of the two platforms is premature.  We can see what Minds is, but we really don't now how Narrative will feel when it launches.  I think there are some real issues around how niches will work...  there's been a lot of community discussion and recommendations, and most silence on the part of the Narrative staff.  But again, I guess we'll see how it works once it launches.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

Thank you @MichelleG - very valuable considerations for us, and more importantly for the team.

I was particularly interested in your take on the "boosts" functionality.  I agree with how that comes across, and I'm very glad Narrative isn't implementing anything like it.  I hope it doesn't have plans to.

That said, we have shown signs of considering measures that would have a similar negative effect.  For instance charging $5 in NRVE to make niche suggestions - an unnecessary step that would also make people feel Narrative is too focused on grabbing cash (regardless of what motive the Team may actually be operating from).

Our homegrown problem of all niches costing at least $75, and being unusable without that payment, already creates our own jeopardy in terms of crypto-grab, pay-to-play impressions on newcomers.  As Robert Nicholson noted, the Team has not acknowledged this problem, let alone determined how it might address it... so we certainly have our own issues.

Minds is currently so far ahead in terms of functionality, that I think they have the advantage.  Our niche paradigm can still end up being a huge advantage for Narrative, if it is fixed.  Right now, in practice, I fear it will be more of a hindrance to newcomers.

Right now, niche ownership is little more than a bet on the future success of the platform, with a style of engagement in the actual life of the niche that is indirect and unsatisfying (owners expect to be more than mere promoters).  With a price tag of $75 regardless of the niche subject's potential for earning, people will be frustrated: they are led to expect the nichescape is limitless, but in practice it is VERY limited by the policy to inflict a $75 price tag on all niches, and to hold approved niches hostage until that price tag is paid.  

Comparing this to Minds' boost problem, I'm torn as to which one is greater.  I think both platforms can fix their problems relatively easily - the question is, which one of the two will be adaptable and responsive enough to do so.

But I sense Narrative's problem is more serious.  Minds will still appeal to millions of crypto-minded people.  After all Minds has a serious lead in terms of overall functionality, AND Steemit became relatively successful while pushing a very crypto-centric, 'grab the crypto' approach. 

Even those same crypto people who use Steemit will find Narrative's $75 dollar barrier to a tag being usable a serious challenge, in my opinion.  It goes beyond the undignified mercantilism of Steemit: it is also almost certainly detrimental to the content economy as a whole.  People are willing to suffer a degree of cost if it clearly makes sense for the greater good of which they are a part.  I don't think one can convince people that is the case with our niche pay-to-play scheme.  They're coming from the tried and proven world of big social being entirely free to use, and revenue coming in from advertising, not their pockets, and certainly not to do something as elementary as to open up less popular topics of conversation.

So although these examples of the platform's respective problems can readily be solved, I believe the consequences of not solving them would be more immediately dire for Narrative than they would be for Minds - and that's a serious implication because I intuit the size of our dev team and the means at their disposal may be more limited, and Narrative is more vulnerable because of the stage of development being relatively embryonic compared to Minds.

 

Robert Nicholson posted:

Interesting and timely post.  I joined Minds about a year ago, and quickly abandoned the platform.  It felt to me like a half-assed FaceBook, and I saw nothing to recommend it.

It's interesting that you feel the crypto nature of Minds is "front and center."  I never got that feeling at all.  In fact, I think crypto is much more in-your-face at Narrative, and it's one of the things that will drive away casual users.

I do think a comparison of the two platforms is premature.  We can see what Minds is, but we really don't now how Narrative will feel when it launches.  I think there are some real issues around how niches will work...  there's been a lot of community discussion and recommendations, and most silence on the part of the Narrative staff.  But again, I guess we'll see how it works once it launches.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

Facebook? Nay! Good gracious me. It's clearly a half-assed Twitter with every button anyone on Twitter ever asked for plus BOOSTS!!!  

Malkazoid posted:

...With a price tag of $75 regardless of the niche subject's potential for earning, people will be frustrated: they are led to expect the nichescape is limitless, but in practice it is VERY limited by the policy to inflict a $75 price tag on all niches, and to hold approved niches hostage until that price tag is paid.  

Comparing this to Minds' boost problem, I'm torn as to which one is greater.  I think both platforms can fix their problems relatively easily - the question is, which one of the two will be adaptable and responsive enough to do so...

Oh, so... I thought that the plan was for that to change sometime in the future to straight up NRVE bidding. I think there'd have to be some changes to the system for that, and I'd like to see advertising go in prior to seeing straight up bidding actually.

That's modulo other concerns in the same general vicinity. Gives a meaningful glance over to the allowing people to post in unowned/abandoned niches threads.

MichelleG posted:
Malkazoid posted:

...With a price tag of $75 regardless of the niche subject's potential for earning, people will be frustrated: they are led to expect the nichescape is limitless, but in practice it is VERY limited by the policy to inflict a $75 price tag on all niches, and to hold approved niches hostage until that price tag is paid.  

Comparing this to Minds' boost problem, I'm torn as to which one is greater.  I think both platforms can fix their problems relatively easily - the question is, which one of the two will be adaptable and responsive enough to do so...

Oh, so... I thought that the plan was for that to change sometime in the future to straight up NRVE bidding. I think there'd have to be some changes to the system for that, and I'd like to see advertising go in prior to seeing straight up bidding actually.

That's modulo other concerns in the same general vicinity. Gives a meaningful glance over to the allowing people to post in unowned/abandoned niches threads.

I'd love for this to be true (that there's a plan to switch to NRVE bidding with no minimum, if that's what you're suggesting).  But I haven't seen anything in writing about that, and I think I've been involved in all the threads about this topic?  If you know where to look, can you point me there?

I agree the biggest priority of the two is for people to be able to post to all approved niches, whether they've been bought or not...

Malkazoid posted:
MichelleG posted:

Oh, so... I thought that the plan was for that to change sometime in the future to straight up NRVE bidding. I think there'd have to be some changes to the system for that, and I'd like to see advertising go in prior to seeing straight up bidding actually.

That's modulo other concerns in the same general vicinity. Gives a meaningful glance over to the allowing people to post in unowned/abandoned niches threads.

I'd love for this to be true (that there's a plan to switch to NRVE bidding with no minimum, if that's what you're suggesting).  But I haven't seen anything in writing about that, and I think I've been involved in all the threads about this topic?  If you know where to look, can you point me there?

I agree the biggest priority of the two is for people to be able to post to all approved niches, whether they've been bought or not...

Oh, you know what? I'm crazy. What I'm remember is from the white paper where it said:

"For Niches, the annual fee for new Niches will be set at the start of each month based on the following formula (20% of average ownership payout per niche): 

( ( (Previous Month Network Rewards Fund Value * 0.10) / Total Niches) * 12 ) * 0.20"

But you're right the $75 minimum still applies. I was just remembering something purely based in NRVE.

Now that I'm looking back at that formula, the really small niches won't stand a chance if it stays that way. And the large niches will suffer from lack of smaller niche support to leech off of for cross-posting. Or... maybe with ENOUGH small niches it would just stay $75 for everyone forever, but once enough small niches die off it'd be an over 20% tax on anyone making below the average. Even the median would probably be better.

Looking a bit further at Minds, it seems they've gone open source.

Smart move - their content economy will grow faster if the whole community can develop for it.

I wonder if Narrative plans to be open source one day?

Malkazoid posted:

Looking a bit further at Minds, it seems they've gone open source.

Smart move - their content economy will grow faster if the whole community can develop for it.

I wonder if Narrative plans to be open source one day?

Highly unlikely. Narrative’s Alpha was initially built upon a closed-source codebase (of the Hoop.la platform used here) for which people pay subscriptions to use.

The only situation for when I believe the team might consider going open-source is when Narrative is on the edge of failing, but of course we’re all hoping for it to succeed.

Slaz posted:
Malkazoid posted:

Looking a bit further at Minds, it seems they've gone open source.

Smart move - their content economy will grow faster if the whole community can develop for it.

I wonder if Narrative plans to be open source one day?

Highly unlikely. Narrative’s Alpha was initially built upon a closed-source codebase (of the Hoop.la platform used here) for which people pay subscriptions to use.

The only situation for when I believe the team might consider going open-source is when Narrative is on the edge of failing, but of course we’re all hoping for it to succeed.

I hear you Slaz.  I suppose it depends upon the potential Narrative sees in the platform.  If they see in it the potential to become a much bigger business than their previous activities, and if they recognize that open source can help fulfill that potential, they may recognize the value of going open source at some point in the future.

We are often faced with the choice of letting go of things we once valued, in order to make room for things that will suit us better going forwards and outpace that which we once thought was success.  This may be that type of choice for Narrative in the not-too-distant future, if the platform performs well, grows, and presents them with an opportunity to become a diverse ecosystem.

Owning a diverse and popular ecosystem would probably be much more profitable than the Hoop.la subscriptions... if Narrative attains the ambitious levels of success I think we are all aiming for.

I think Narrative can become an diverse ecosystem without going open source, but only if the platform takes pole position.  If it grows, but struggles to dominate the space - going open source should be considered as a strategy for further success.

Intriguing comparison. I've felt like Minds is more "social network with blog functionality attached" than Narrative is. And I will admit to having used the free tokens to promote things occasionally, though I don't think it's really worth paying for.

Heidi Hecht posted:

Intriguing comparison. I've felt like Minds is more "social network with blog functionality attached" than Narrative is. And I will admit to having used the free tokens to promote things occasionally, though I don't think it's really worth paying for.

I'm not opposed to the ability for content to be given more visibility if people pay for it - but I think if we do something like that, the implementation should be thought through carefully.

The way Minds has done it leaves me with the scummy feeling that unless you have a big following, the only way for your content to rise in their algorithms is for it to be boosted.  There is a fine line between surfacing quality based on reputation and quality, and creating an environment where people feel their only chance is for their posts to be boosted.

Curation of featured content is something we need to figure out - based not solely on people paying for visibility, but primarily on humans choosing quality content to put forth.  As long time Narrators know, I've always supported niche owners having the ability to curate content in some fashion for numerous reasons.  But in addition to that, every Narrator should be able to curate custom lists of what they have enjoyed the most, publicly and privately.  Their public lists become a good way for content to be discovered.  If I love @MichelleG's content, naturally I'll be curious to check out the lists of content she has chosen to curate.  

In this way, without spending a dime, your content has a chance to show up on lists curated by niche owners, and Narrators alike.  If you end up featured on lists by Narrators who have a big following, it can mean some good exposure... but truly getting on anybody's list is a leg up, and you never know which list is going to connect your content with the person who loves it so much that they go and share it all over Narrative and other social media platforms.

Malkazoid posted:
Heidi Hecht posted:

Intriguing comparison. I've felt like Minds is more "social network with blog functionality attached" than Narrative is. And I will admit to having used the free tokens to promote things occasionally, though I don't think it's really worth paying for.

I'm not opposed to the ability for content to be given more visibility if people pay for it - but I think if we do something like that, the implementation should be thought through carefully.

The way Minds has done it leaves me with the scummy feeling that unless you have a big following, the only way for your content to rise in their algorithms is for it to be boosted.  There is a fine line between surfacing quality based on reputation and quality, and creating an environment where people feel their only chance is for their posts to be boosted.

Curation of featured content is something we need to figure out - based not solely on people paying for visibility, but primarily on humans choosing quality content to put forth.  As long time Narrators know, I've always supported niche owners having the ability to curate content in some fashion for numerous reasons.  But in addition to that, every Narrator should be able to curate custom lists of what they have enjoyed the most, publicly and privately.  Their public lists become a good way for content to be discovered.  If I love @MichelleG's content, naturally I'll be curious to check out the lists of content she has chosen to curate.  

In this way, without spending a dime, your content has a chance to show up on lists curated by niche owners, and Narrators alike.  If you end up featured on lists by Narrators who have a big following, it can mean some good exposure... but truly getting on anybody's list is a leg up, and you never know which lists is going to connect your content with the person who loves it so much that they go and share it all over Narrative and other social media platforms.

Okay good point. I did kinda feel like comparing Narrative to Minds was like comparing apples to oranges anyway, and sorry if I implied that people should be able to pay to boost their content. I feel like doing such a thing would drive away people who don't have a lot of money to pay for promotion anyway. I'd rather reward people who can create quality content.

Malkazoid posted:
Heidi Hecht posted:

Intriguing comparison. I've felt like Minds is more "social network with blog functionality attached" than Narrative is. And I will admit to having used the free tokens to promote things occasionally, though I don't think it's really worth paying for.

I'm not opposed to the ability for content to be given more visibility if people pay for it - but I think if we do something like that, the implementation should be thought through carefully.

The way Minds has done it leaves me with the scummy feeling that unless you have a big following, the only way for your content to rise in their algorithms is for it to be boosted.  There is a fine line between surfacing quality based on reputation and quality, and creating an environment where people feel their only chance is for their posts to be boosted.

 

Here is something to consider, and it's only a theory. This is for the community, because I am pretty sure @Narrative has looked at the idea already, whether it is their intention ...I have no idea.

Boosts...or lets use the more accurate term advertising your post. If this is what the "featured post" refers to, well then it has to run through the 2 day advertising approval list. So if this is actually a component of the platform, that posts can be advertised as a featured post, well if it is poor quality then the community has a built in system to vote it down, if it is not worthy of being "boosted". 

This seems like it would create a closed loop, in that one would have to be pretty confident that their post was strong enough actually be approved by the community, otherwise why subject it to negativity.

Or featured posts could just be posts that are preforming well, but that does tend to be called trending.

Anyway, just a thought.

I think @MALKAZOID is on to something with having ways to curate. Lists would be one way, and I wonder if there aren't more. Content that any reader, not just niche owners, liked so well they'd repost to another platform, I think should have some way to gain more visibility beyond where it was originally posted. And since there's going to be a lot niches, a way to curate favorite posts would also give the post's niches some visibility, too. 

Emily Barnett posted:

Here is something to consider, and it's only a theory. This is for the community, because I am pretty sure @Narrative has looked at the idea already, whether it is their intention ...I have no idea.

Boosts...or lets use the more accurate term advertising your post. If this is what the "featured post" refers to, well then it has to run through the 2 day advertising approval list. So if this is actually a component of the platform, that posts can be advertised as a featured post, well if it is poor quality then the community has a built in system to vote it down, if it is not worthy of being "boosted". 

This seems like it would create closed loop, in that one would have to be pretty confident that their post was strong enough to be actually be approved by the community, otherwise why subject it to negativity.

Or featured posts could just be posts that are preforming well, but that does tend to be called trending.

Anyway, just a thought.

I think your comment highlights just how many nuances and considerations there are surrounding advertising and how it will work.

If you pay to boost your post, does that simply make it rise in some sort of final visibility score?  Does it guarantee that your post will be seen by X amount of eyeballs, with a degree of targeting to a tailored audience?  Does it mean your post appears in a specific type of display for boosted content, that is on the main home page, and/or the discover page of individual Narrators, and/or the home page of certain niches?

I make a distinction between boosting posts and advertising because strictly speaking, an advertisement is content specifically designed to sell a product or service, whereas boosting a post can be done to an advertisement, or to a blog piece about how much you love your mother in law... as long as she's on the other side of the country...

I agree with you that trending posts should find greater visibility somewhere, and this happens in part, or in totality via the application of algorithms.  I also agree that featuring a post should be something different: it should involve curation.

 

Colleen Ryer posted:

I think @MALKAZOID is on to something with having ways to curate. Lists would be one way, and I wonder if there aren't more. Content that any reader, not just niche owners, liked so well they'd repost to another platform, I think should have some way to gain more visibility beyond where it was originally posted. And since there's going to be a lot niches, a way to curate favorite posts would also give the post's niches some visibility, too. 

The more ways we find, the better!

Perhaps we could give Narrators a fixed amount of Boosts, for free, to use every week.  Perhaps 3 or 4 per week?  They can choose to apply it to any content they choose, but they should choose carefully because they only have the 3 or 4 Boosts to spend each week.

Or they could be charged a very small amount of NRVE (and I strongly believe it needs to be small enough as to be a hurdle for nobody) - but still limited to those 3 or 4 per week, so the system does not become one where wealthier people can boost more.

Another idea would be for the @Narrative Network Team, as part of their advertising budget for the platform, to periodically select some of the best content on the site - either with algorithms or human curation or a mixture of both - and to advertise them on other social media platforms like Facebook.  It is a win for the content creator and the niches the content was submitted to, and it is a win for the platform because it gets represented by some of its best content when seeking to grow interest in the platform.

A limited number of free boosts sound interesting, except I'd personally prefer it be called something else - favorite or something. Favorited posts would be other than one's own, so if it was monetized, would the NRVE go to the post author? If so , I think it's a great idea. And it would be super if @Narrative Network Team circulated some human curated "super posts" at least site off site - really good bet for attracting interest all around. For on-site it might be too much work, but some kind of a show case, rather than just a "what's new" feed...

I have to think about this more. I'm generally apposed to boosts, even not in your face because by design they pollute the natural quality metrics. As opposed to boosts, I prefer sponsored content identified as such. (A.K.A. ads linking to your post.) But I will think more on it. 

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