Feedback on niches from Google+ land

Hi all,

So it has been eye-opening already, this little foray into Google+ land.

I've gleaned so far that to some folks, there's resistance to the notion of having to pay for niches, which is compounded by the seemingly high NRVE prices of niches, and confused further by the fact that those prices fluctuate alot from auction to auction.

People are coming away underwhelmed from their visit to the alpha, and there are multiple layers to the problem.

Paying for niches

I too was initially turned off by Narrative auctioning niches, and was pretty vocal about it.  That was before I fully understood the paradigm change of the content economy.  On first impression, auctions can seem mercenary - especially coming from a land of free communities.  

Here is what I wrote on Google+ to respond to that concern - let me know if this can be improved upon, and perhaps someone from the @Narrative Network Team might consider collating all these points and more, in a blog post, so it can be addressed directly from the proverbial horse's mouth.

Remember we have been accustomed to 'free' on Facebook and Google, but in exchange, we have been giving away our content and attention for free - assets which both companies have capitalised on to the tune of billions upon billions per year, often by allowing unscrupulous and anti-democratic entities to exploit our data. If we want to return to a model where our data remains our property, and our online efforts are rewarded without being exploited by the platform, then we have to accept to return to a world where fake 'freebies' disappear. I know what my preference is. $75 doesn't only buy you a community on the platform - it buys you a piece of the content economy and you will receive income based on your niche's activity. Your moderators get paid. Your content contributors get paid. It is a much fairer model. You get to be a real stakeholder, rather than a worker-bee exploited by the network.

Be prepared though, for people to have other gripes.  For example community owners on G+ can create categories, that can be used to filter the content on the community.  Many Narrative community members have been clamouring for this, and some form of content featuring.  It seems like some of these notions have made their way into the Narrative mind map document, but we're not messaging about it, and these millions of Google+ users are going to want to hear about this, or they will find our implementation inferior to what they have.  My guess is both Diaspora and MeWe offer these features, so it is imperative that we not be perceived to be without them.

High, inconsistent NRVE prices for niches

I provided the straight forward explanation:

The niche auctions start at the equivalent of $75 - the amount of NRVE fluctuates depending on the value of NRVE at the time the niche auction starts.

But beyond providing this explanation more prominently, perhaps there are other ways of getting ahead of this?  Perhaps there should be a display of this equivalence on the auction page itself, so the first impression a new user gets is not negative, and they are able to realise immediately that the actual cost is about $75?  In this sort of scenario, more often than not, there is no second impression, if the first is this bad.

Another 'blockchain' solution

So we're suffering from a negative stigma of blockchain projects - and specifically because of environmental concerns surrounding electrical consumption of proof of work.  As I posted previously to the community, we're missing a great opportunity to broadcast the ways in which NEO's proof of stake is far more sustainable, and that joining projects that use it is a way to influence the future of blockchain for the better.


I'll let you know as I discover more.

Original Post

Hi @Malkazoid - thanks for digging in on this subject.

Narrative isn't really a "blockchain project" anyway.  We use blockchain only for the cryptocurrency- the currency of the network.  The rest though is not blockchain and does not require proof of work or any other type of blockchain "proof".

We're of course following many of the principles of blockchain regardless of the underlying technology. Specifically, the goal is to be as transparent as possible and to give all members autonomy- eliminating the "middleman" that typically assumes management control over the content (and members).

I think this is an important point to make. 

And of course, it will cost nothing to post on Narrative. No one is forced to own a niche, so that is not really a barrier to entry.

I think a bigger hurdle in the future will be the cost associated with owning a publication, since people are used to free blogs.  But I think that will be justified pretty easily when we explain the level of control those owners will have relative to personal journals... as well as the true ownership they have over their content and domains (compared to other "free" services that have middlemen).

Thanks for the report!

Thanks @Ted.  So any means you folks can think up to make some of your points more readily apparent to fresh alpha users could help.

Regarding the cost of niches, and publications - that's only relevant to community and group owners on other platforms - but they are very important to us because they are influencers.  When a community from those platforms chooses Narrative, they are going to bring with them hundreds, thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of their members.  So please do not disregard the need to explain to them upfront, and early, why their 75$/ x,000s of NRVE are a better deal than their so-called free G+ and Facebook groups.


The hurdles I see, and perhaps this is another topic entirely, is not the $75 entry fee per niche, it's the unknown effort avenues and unknown ROIs that are, well, unexplained in layman terms.  

1. The $75 entry fee per niche is fine so long as the niche owners are not tasked with ever-increasing responsibilities for little to no ROI or even any model of future ROI. Paying for niches using Crypto is also problematic (riddled with hassles). But because of the mysterious 'next phases' during the beta, the value of being a niche owner and the ROI is also a mystery. Right now it is clear that the current system requires niche owners be vigilant and watchful to defend against similar niches that might get voted up and become competitive (despite the tribunal, etc). Suffice it to say, there's more work in being a niche owner than perhaps the ROI may produce. But we just don't know either way at this point. 

2. The 'moderator nomination' or recruiting element, and the importance/reliance of/upon them within the construct seems to be, once again, vague and uncertain (who is tasked with recruiting them, what their commitment and responsibilities are, how they are compensated, etc). It's still a mystery. For a niche owner, how will they be limited or how will they benefit from moderators, and what will niche owners do if the moderators aren't working for the niche (who manages them). 

3. The content producers... again, the problem is still the unknown and lack of clear direction... where will this content publish? What will the publishing platform be (Medium)? It's clear that they will receive 60% of their articles ad revenue, but what does that look like to consumers of their articles (content)? 
I know all these questions have been discussed by someone in the founder's circles, but since I have been sharing and inviting in new people, I'm running out of answers to important questions. 

This comes full circle back to "paying for Niches", and what's it worth. Well, from a niche owner's perspective, I see potential. But it's been an agonizingly slow trickle of answers to questions about what everything is going to look like when everything is in place and operating. I guess that's called 'clear vision'. The direction message is perfect, but what's it look like down the road is at best a mystery. That makes the valuation of niches nearly impossible in my opinion. 

Spot on @Erik Blair.

We're not any closer to answers to many of those questions, than when the first niches were bought right at the beginning of the Alpha.

I think our resource documents are due for a refresh.  Some of them have outdated stats being reported (for instance our how-to-guide for buying crypto dates from July and mentions 1000 users in the Alpha - we're now close to 6000).

But mostly, they should be refreshed to provide as much clarity on some of these questions, as possible.

I know what it is like to know one's own project inside out, and to have difficulty understanding the confusion newcomers can experience!  We have to constantly make a very deliberate effort to open our ears extra wide and truly hear and believe that something is confusing or unclear for the new person.  Being able to do this, and acting on the conclusions, means the difference between low adoption, and high adoption.  Success really hinges on it.

The only thing from your list that I can help you with is the 60% revenue for content creators.  It isn't from their ad revenue - it is from the total revenue of the platform.  So even if your article isn't particularly commercially viable from an advertising perspective, it starts out on equal footing with other articles.  Then it is the degree of engagement your article generates with users that gets further factored in to how much it earns.

Regarding ROI, I posted the following recently on Google+:

If you put the effort you are used to putting into building your community - reaching out to good content creators, and posting good content yourself, that will be achievable (recouping niche fee) for all but the most obscure niches.
But the way I see it - even for those few niche owners who leave their communities idle, if they make up just half of the 75$, $40 is still a fantastic price to pay for true data independence, and being part of a platform where users actually govern and are rewarded. If the cost of online democracy and data sovereignty is $40 dollars a year, I say that's great. But anyone serious about their community will make more than the fee back.
If the economics don't pan out that way, it is highly likely the Narrative team will revisit their fee structure to be a sliding scale, so the less popular niches pay less. This has been discussed on the Narrative forums a fair bit.
The first year will not be representative of the years to follow - if and when the network effect kicks in and revenue really starts to flow, recouping your niche fee will become much easier. But one has to expect the first year to be a period of initial incubation and sluggish economics. Just as joining the alpha now isn't all one would want it to be, the first year of Beta will have the functionality, but the economics will require a little patience.

That's me going out on a very small limb, but being an independent person, I get to do that.

Once I know more about what the publishing platform will look like (praying Narrative has partnered with Medium), I may consider doing all three, Niche Owner, Niche Moderator, and Niche Content Creator--to diversify and expand my Narrative portfolio. But at this point, I have established my virtual foot in the door and await further info before I march forward into prosperity  

Erik Blair posted:

Once I know more about what the publishing platform will look like (praying Narrative has partnered with Medium), I may consider doing all three, Niche Owner, Niche Moderator, and Niche Content Creator--to diversify and expand my Narrative portfolio. But at this point, I have established my virtual foot in the door and await further info before I march forward into prosperity  

That's smart, and I think it is all we can expect our friends on Google+ to do.

Join the Alpha, take a small stake with perhaps one niche, build their reputation a bit, and see how things pan out.

I think the publishing aspect is going to be Narrative's own implementation, but I would be very surprised if the style deviates very much from Medium's.  But that's just me hypothesizing.  


Ted posted:
Malkazoid posted:

I think our resource documents are due for a refresh.  Some of them have outdated stats being reported (for instance our how-to-guide for buying crypto dates from July and mentions 1000 users in the Alpha - we're now close to 6000).

Hey, we are over 6,000 now.

Nice - the latest round had a good rate of sign ups then...

Easy to take the stats page for granted now that it has been with us all of one month!  The tech era has spoiled us rotten.  But when I remember to, I really appreciate it being there!

Add Reply