As a new user of Narrative, I'd like to share my initial thoughts. I've already made an investment in the platform: I've spent time suggesting and voting on niches, and I've already submitted a bid on one. But I consider this investment to be speculative, because I think the chances of Narrative being successful are small.

Here are my thoughts (some of which echo those of @Peter Wagner):

(1) This feels like a platform built by geeks, for geeks. I participate in a lot of social media platforms, and I believe I have a good sense for the general audience. I think if you take the average Facebook user, and drop them onto Narrative, their reaction is going to be "WTF is this?"

I have not seen any compelling advantages for the average, casual user. And without those ordinary folks, you can't build a successful broad-based community.

(2) Cryptocurrency? Seriously? Why would you even CONSIDER this? How does it add to your core mission? This is a good example of the "by geeks, for geeks" feel of the project.

(3) The niche bidding system has the feel of a ponzi scheme. It will also seriously limit site growth. Many, many good topics will go unaddressed because nobody is willing to "buy" the right to build the niche.

(4) Niches badly need some sort of categorization. This is already a pain point. If I want to suggest a niche, how do I know whether there are already similar niches? Once the site launches, how will people find topics that interest them? A category hierarchy or ontology is de rigueur for sites that attempt to organize large volumes of content. Why did you decide that you don't need one?

(5) Why do I need to register separately for the Narrative site, and for the Community section? Shouldn't that be automatic?

(6) You need user documentation. (And no, the FAQ is not enough.) This should be developed and deployed in parallel with code. There are two reasons for this. The first is that, quite simply, it's needed. It's hard to figure out how things work. The second reason is that documentation is a great way to validate your UI. If you have a hard time explaining how something works, that's a good indication that your UI needs improvement.

(7) The content editor feels "over-engineered." I reminds me of the new Gutenberg editor in WordPress, but without the power. Again, this feels like "by geeks, for geeks." A simple text box with a toolbar at the top - like that used for posts in the Community forums - would have been much easier to implement. In fact, it could be built in a day or two using off-the-shelf components. And it would have the great advantage of being instantly understandable by anyone who has ever used a word processor or a blogging tool.

(8) I am frankly dubious about user-run sites. It's a social experiment that has been tried many times, and generally failed. What happens - in almost all cases - is that the site ends up being run by a petty bureaucracy that eventually drives people away. This is one of the things that killed DMOZ. I hope I'm wrong in this case, but like I said, the history is not good.

(9) The content review process:

"If someone reports content and it is found not to be a violation of the AUP, the reporter will receive Conduct demerit (receive negative points for Conduct)."

Wow. So if I report something that I believe is a violation of the AUP, and the content review process disagrees, I get penalized for making the report. OK, fine... you've just created a disincentive for reporting violations.

(10) LEGAL. You say that you will "take action if mandated to remove content via an official legal edict/injunction/warrant/request from a government authority."

What about DMCA takedown requests? These requests are not initiated by a government authority, but if you do not comply, you open the site to direct liability.

ON THE PLUS SIDE:

The design is engaging, and that can go along way toward attracting users.

There seems to be a committed core of people who want to see the site succeed.

 

Original Post

Thanks for the feedback, Robert.

One point of clarification, regarding #10-- we will definitely support reporting copyright violations. We simply do not have any public-facing content yet. Our terms make clear though that copyright violations can be reported.  That is not an option for niches because niches themselves are not content- they are just subjects.

@Robert Nicholson Normally, I enjoy diving into a post like this and addressing new members concerns, trying to provide answers, and fix misconceptions. 

Unfortunately, I really don't like you calling everybody here geeks, and declaring the odds of this platform reaching success very small, and on your other post, insinuating that people whom chose to keep their rewards in crypto as some sort of cult-like  Jim Jones Kool-aid drinkers. Is this your typical approach to establishing yourself in a new community?

Given your post, It seems pretty obvious that you haven't yet discovered the Narrative Specs. so here you go.  https://spec.narrative.org/docs

There are a ton of community posts that will help you understand that so much has happened on Narrative before you arrived. Many of the things you mention have had solutions discussed and implemented many moons ago. Such as categorizing niches. But these things will all be revealed in the BETA release. We are currently in the very first Alpha release, with some excellent features added to it. Alpha is only for the early adopters; we get to use the abridged version of Narrative, while the team actually builds the fully functioning platform. 

If you decide to stick around, despite your skepticism, what you will probably learn is that one of the amazing things that Narrative has going for it, is a really interesting, intelligent, dynamic, and surprisingly supportive community of each other. I believe this to be true, in part because of what this platform is trying to do with its self governance, it's generous disbursements of the financial reward system for content, and because sometimes the Narrative team is really listening to what the community is saying, and look to modify elements of the platform to better suit what the community wants. That has never happened on Facebook.

By the way. You said you have a real handle on facebook, and that the average user would think WTF if dropped into Narrative. I was a very early adopter of Facebook, in fact when I joined, it still was real-time counting how many people were joining . The platform informed you what number you were in your city and the whole platform. I was the 9,040th person in my city of 1.3 million, to join facebook. There was not yet a million people on the whole platform. I knew nobody on facebook.. no one. I ACTUALLY watched every single person that I know, drop into facebook and say "WTF is this". So ya, this is new and will take people some time to adjust. Just like every other disruptor platform has done before it. 

Narrative may, or may not be the next big thing. But I take offense to your mischaracterization that it is made by geeks, just for geeks, and therefore has a greater capacity for failure. I suspect I am not alone in my feeling.

 

I'm a bit pressed for time right now, but I wanted to thank @Robert Nicholson for a very well organised and clear expression of first impressions.

I am in agreement on some fronts, in partial agreement on others, and would like to provide you with some information on yet others, Robert.  Please bear with me as I am traveling, with a tight schedule until I return to the office.

But in the meantime, welcome to Narrative!  Your impressions are valuable to this place.  When I first joined, I had a lot of constructive criticism - and still do.  Constructive criticism has helped Narrative in many ways, large and small, already.  I think yours will too.

Malkazoid posted:

Constructive criticism has helped Narrative in many ways, large and small, already.  I think yours will too.

Starting off your criticism by making a blanket statement that this platform is for geeks --by geeks, isn't constructive in my opinion.  I too have provided much feedback, good and bad, without painting the community with one brush mark. 

I don't consider myself social inept, I don't think the community here is socially inept, and I don't think this is a social platform for the socially inept.

Also, I say welcome to Narrative. Certainly, please provide your feedback...But don't call me a geek, and don't infer with your idiom, that i am part of a cult, because I use crypto.

 

 

Emily Barnett posted:
Malkazoid posted:

Constructive criticism has helped Narrative in many ways, large and small, already.  I think yours will too.

Starting off your criticism by making a blanket statement that this platform is for geeks --by geeks, isn't constructive in my opinion.  I too have provided much feedback, good and bad, without painting the community with one brush mark. 

I don't consider myself social inept, I don't think the community here is socially inept, and I don't think this is a social platform for the socially inept.

Also, I say welcome to Narrative. Certainly, please provide your feedback...But don't call me a geek, and don't infer with your idiom, that i am part of a cult, because I use crypto.

 

Hi Emily,

I don't have much free time right now so will spend most of it on the issues themselves rather than arguing about Robert's manners.

But I do want to point out to you that geeks are not always considered socially inept.  The modern meaning of the word encompasses people who have an in-depth knowledge of something that is not mainstream.  Many people consider the word to be a compliment.  I'm a geek when it comes to Python scripting, artificial intelligence driven crowd simulations, audio-visual production and a few other things.  Hopefully you won't think less of me!  But the main point is that my areas of in-depth experience do not define my limits: I'm very comfortable in social settings and have a fairly good set of general knowledge to draw upon.

It is not my place to tell you how to react to people, but I am also quite certain he was not singling you out.  In fact, I'm pretty sure he was including himself in the geek arena since he has told us he is of the small minority of people who have used cryptocurrencies, and he is here with us, after all.  I think all he was saying is that despite the Team's best efforts, Narrative will feel inaccessible in various ways, to the average Facebook user.  I agree with that, and particularly in relation to point (3) (inability to tag posts to niches that have not been bought). 

So TLDR version: geeks are great, and Narrative does indeed need to be more concerned about mainstream accessibility.

Malkazoid posted:

 

Emily Barnett posted:
Malkazoid posted:

Constructive criticism has helped Narrative in many ways, large and small, already.  I think yours will too.

Starting off your criticism by making a blanket statement that this platform is for geeks --by geeks, isn't constructive in my opinion.  I too have provided much feedback, good and bad, without painting the community with one brush mark. 

I don't consider myself social inept, I don't think the community here is socially inept, and I don't think this is a social platform for the socially inept.

Also, I say welcome to Narrative. Certainly, please provide your feedback...But don't call me a geek, and don't infer with your idiom, that i am part of a cult, because I use crypto.

 

Hi Emily,

I don't have much free time right now so will spend most of it on the issues themselves rather than arguing about Robert's manners.

But I do want to point out to you that geeks are not always considered socially inept.  The modern meaning of the word encompasses people who have an in-depth knowledge of something that is not mainstream.  Many people consider the word to be a compliment.  I'm a geek when it comes to Python scripting, artificial intelligence driven crowd simulations, audio-visual production and a few other things.  Hopefully you won't think less of me!  But the main point is that my areas of in-depth experience do not define my limits: I'm very comfortable in social settings and have a fairly good set of general knowledge to draw upon.

It is not my place to tell you how to react to people, but I am also quite certain he was not singling you out.  In fact, I'm pretty sure he was including himself in the geek arena since he has told us he is of the small minority of people who have used cryptocurrencies, and he is here with us, after all.  I think all he was saying is that despite the Team's best efforts, Narrative will feel inaccessible in various ways, to the average Facebook user.  I agree with that, and particularly in relation to point (3) (inability to tag posts to niches that have not been bought). 

So TLDR version: geeks are great, and Narrative does indeed need to be more concerned about mainstream accessibility.

@Malkazoid you are correct that I don't consider the term geek to be pejorative.  But the geek population is definitely not representative of the general popular.  We often like to think of ourselves as early-adopters and trail-blazers, but too often we are off in the weeds pursuing things that fascinate us, but which leave the average person feeling bewildered.

Right now, that's my general sense of Narrative:  

"We have a revenue sharing model!  We're community run!  We use cryptocurrency!"

Uh...  OK. 

None of that is going to matter to the average person.  And it's that average person you need to bring in.  There isn't going to be any money for content creators to share if the platform doesn't attract a HUGE audience (because that's what it takes to make money on the web.)

So maybe the current value proposition is just intended to attract the early adopters.  Maybe there's a plan to change the pitch to attract a broad audience.  But if not, then that's something the community needs to be thinking about.

 

Ted posted:

Oh, I forgot to mention one other thing, regarding point #4... please see:

https://blog.narrative.network...-niches-c681470a7478

Thanks Ted.  I had not seen that.  There is no mention of niche organization in the spec.

I think the system outlined in your blog post has merit, in part because, as you explain it, the system would allow a niche to have multiple different connections.  This capability is lacking in many traditional hierarchical maps (although some do allow for a niche to appear in more than one place.

One problem to consider is that, without an overall hierarchical structure to start, you'll end up with islands or connected niches, with no connection to one another.  It will take a long time to build out a fully-connected map.

This will be exacerbated by the fact that many niches which might be useful anchors or connection points for other niches simply won't exist because nobody buys them.  

Hi @Robert Nicholson,

I'm super new to the platform as well, so I can share some of the elements I've found out recently to help answer some of your concerns.

I agree that the barrier to entry for cryptocurrencies is huge. However, I personally believe the benefits outweigh the hassle. Firstly, it takes a lot of the 'banking' out of the hands of the Narrative team. The don't have to establish relationships with various banks, offer currency exchanges, etc. I don't know if you've dealt with a site like Fiverr, but I found it super frustrating that they take $1 out of $5 from the customer and the vendor and then a cut when you try and cash out. (Apologies if that's no longer correct it's been a while). Sometimes platforms don't accept Australian Dollars and then that's a whole big thing as well. By using Cryptocurrencies, Narrative can award people in tokens, and then those people can either spend those NRVE tokens on niches or tips, or decide to cash out.  So, I think there's huge hurdles to get into the ecosystem, and then life is much easier once you're in.

I personally think that the success of Narrative will come down to content creators finding the platform more appealing pay-wise than any other system.  Obviously established social media has a much bigger usebase, and will for a long time yet, but if the content creators find they make more on Narrative than on traditional social media even with a smaller use base, then they'll move across and bring their audience with them,.

Don't forget, there are a trillion* blogs out there (*statistic made up) that have to create great content, build an audience (via social media), find a way to monetize (products, courses), continually work at promoting their blog and driving people to their website, and drive and grab e-mail addresses to help sales.  I've read that successful bloggers only spend about 5% of their time actually creating their content.  Compare all that effort to Narrative where instead of creating products (which is a gamble since you have to do all the work upfront) they can just create the content they like, and get paid in tokens.

While a small percentage of Instagrammers get paid by sponsors, millions of people are creating just as great content, and get nothing... they get a ton of likes, but not real remuneration. I've got quite a few friends that have put hours and hours and hours into Instagram content only to have really just earnt some free protein powder.

These are all the people that Narrative should hopefully appeal to.. and if they jump aboard and are happy with their remuneration, they'll bring their fans with them. 

In regards to point 3, I think that's all still under discussion.  I liked the idea that the Narrative Team would own any unbought Niches.

I think with any potential distruption tool, you really need to win over the "geeks" first, and a strong content editor, etc, helps with that.  The fact that Niche's are only purchased for a year at a time takes the ponzi-ness out of it for me.  I actually think the 1st owners of a niche at the ones with the highest risk of not making back their investment... but I also like that the niche owners and moderators are incentivised to grab amazing content creators from other platforms to make back their investments. We'll see a lot of purchased niches make nothing, and I think that's a good thing.  This first year is going to require a huge hussle from all of us.. but great content should win out.

 

 

@AussieNinja - I agree with your point regarding content creators. You are right that anyone in the content marketing business spends more time on promoting their content than writing it!  If the Narrative platform can bring in enough traffic, it could be attractive.  Though I expect the payouts to be very small, and that will be disappointing for content creators...  mostly because most content creators have no idea how little money their content generates.

I still don't buy in at all to the need for a cryptocurrency.  It's not true that using the existing financial system creates a lot of work for the platform.  You set up a relationship with ONE bank (and you shop around to get the best rates and services).  And your bank deals with all the other banks, credit card companies, etc.  

So again - I've yet to hear a cogent explanation of how the cryptocurrency benefits anyone.  All I see is an additional barrier.

 

 

@Robert Nicholson - Ah, I think it's because cryptocurrency is so much more scale-able.

Let's say one month Narrative has a million users.  All of those users have earned 4 transactions for posts, comments, moderation or niche ownership. This means that a bank will have to process 4 million transactions... take fees off each of those transactions, take international fees off where applicable and do whatever they need to do... except, maybe most of transactions are less than $0.01, so they don't get processed because the bank can't take fees off.

One of the benefits of the cryptocurrency model is the benefit to having way more decimal points.  If I produce a post on Narrative, that a million people all give me $0.005 (half a cent) for, then that's $500,000 for me... but no bank would want to process all those transactions.

Platforms like YouTube I think make you earn $100 before they'll let take that money out and then you might have to wait for their bank to clear it, then my bank to clear it and both those banks only operate during business hours.

Continuing the comparison with fiverr.com. There was a user called VoiceOverPete who was extremely successful, and then fiverr just kicked him out without notice, warning or explanation. He had thousands of dollars in his fiverr wallet that he can't access and fiverr.com have ignored his efforts to get in touch. He unleashed a YouTube army against them, so fiverr.com have spent time deleting all these comments from their social media pages. 

If Narrative banned me, my money is actually in my NEON wallet and not on the Narrative platform at all. 

I'm not sure if you're in the US, but if I wanted to give you money now, I'd probably have to withdraw from my bank account into Venmo (4 business days), give the money to you, and you'd take 4 days to get it out again. If we're in different countries, then Swift, Western Union or Paypal... Alternatively I could give you NRVE tokens and you'd have it in 5 minutes and could have it spent 5 minutes after that.

So, in summary; speed, transaction scale, non-geographical barriers and we're not at the mercy of Narrative to ban us and keep our earnings.

Adam Waring posted:

@Robert Nicholson - Ah, I think it's because cryptocurrency is so much more scale-able.

Let's say one month Narrative has a million users.  All of those users have earned 4 transactions for posts, comments, moderation or niche ownership. This means that a bank will have to process 4 million transactions... take fees off each of those transactions, take international fees off where applicable and do whatever they need to do... except, maybe most of transactions are less than $0.01, so they don't get processed because the bank can't take fees off.

One of the benefits of the cryptocurrency model is the benefit to having way more decimal points.  If I produce a post on Narrative, that a million people all give me $0.005 (half a cent) for, then that's $500,000 for me... but no bank would want to process all those transactions.

Platforms like YouTube I think make you earn $100 before they'll let take that money out and then you might have to wait for their bank to clear it, then my bank to clear it and both those banks only operate during business hours.

 

But credit will not be paid out for all of those microtransactions.  It will just accumulate within your account.  I assume you'll be able to transfer out your balance at any time - but that can (and is) regularly done with legal currencies.

As for the number of decimal points available...  same thing.  It can be tracked and accumulated internally to any arbitrary degree of precision.

Robert Nicholson posted:

As a new user of Narrative, I'd like to share my initial thoughts. I've already made an investment in the platform: I've spent time suggesting and voting on niches, and I've already submitted a bid on one. But I consider this investment to be speculative, because I think the chances of Narrative being successful are small.

Here are my thoughts (some of which echo those of @Peter Wagner):

(1) This feels like a platform built by geeks, for geeks. I participate in a lot of social media platforms, and I believe I have a good sense for the general audience. I think if you take the average Facebook user, and drop them onto Narrative, their reaction is going to be "WTF is this?"

I have not seen any compelling advantages for the average, casual user. And without those ordinary folks, you can't build a successful broad-based community.

(2) Cryptocurrency? Seriously? Why would you even CONSIDER this? How does it add to your core mission? This is a good example of the "by geeks, for geeks" feel of the project.

(3) The niche bidding system has the feel of a ponzi scheme. It will also seriously limit site growth. Many, many good topics will go unaddressed because nobody is willing to "buy" the right to build the niche.

(4) Niches badly need some sort of categorization. This is already a pain point. If I want to suggest a niche, how do I know whether there are already similar niches? Once the site launches, how will people find topics that interest them? A category hierarchy or ontology is de rigueur for sites that attempt to organize large volumes of content. Why did you decide that you don't need one?

(5) Why do I need to register separately for the Narrative site, and for the Community section? Shouldn't that be automatic?

(6) You need user documentation. (And no, the FAQ is not enough.) This should be developed and deployed in parallel with code. There are two reasons for this. The first is that, quite simply, it's needed. It's hard to figure out how things work. The second reason is that documentation is a great way to validate your UI. If you have a hard time explaining how something works, that's a good indication that your UI needs improvement.

(7) The content editor feels "over-engineered." I reminds me of the new Gutenberg editor in WordPress, but without the power. Again, this feels like "by geeks, for geeks." A simple text box with a toolbar at the top - like that used for posts in the Community forums - would have been much easier to implement. In fact, it could be built in a day or two using off-the-shelf components. And it would have the great advantage of being instantly understandable by anyone who has ever used a word processor or a blogging tool.

(8) I am frankly dubious about user-run sites. It's a social experiment that has been tried many times, and generally failed. What happens - in almost all cases - is that the site ends up being run by a petty bureaucracy that eventually drives people away. This is one of the things that killed DMOZ. I hope I'm wrong in this case, but like I said, the history is not good.

(9) The content review process:

"If someone reports content and it is found not to be a violation of the AUP, the reporter will receive Conduct demerit (receive negative points for Conduct)."

Wow. So if I report something that I believe is a violation of the AUP, and the content review process disagrees, I get penalized for making the report. OK, fine... you've just created a disincentive for reporting violations.

(10) LEGAL. You say that you will "take action if mandated to remove content via an official legal edict/injunction/warrant/request from a government authority."

What about DMCA takedown requests? These requests are not initiated by a government authority, but if you do not comply, you open the site to direct liability.

ON THE PLUS SIDE:

The design is engaging, and that can go along way toward attracting users.

There seems to be a committed core of people who want to see the site succeed.

 

As a fairly new user myself, I've had some of the same concerns, Robert. I've also heard criticisms from others who have joined and didn't stick around. However, I like to take a more measured approach. I've been more time lately suggesting niches and voting and commenting on suggestions by others. I'm not real impressed with that process, BTW, but we have to remember that this is the Alpha stage. We are all early adopters here, so feedback should be welcomed and encouraged.

Right now, cryptocurrency is an enigma to the average internet user. Most people don't understand and don't want to. But few people were running to buy books from Amazon in 1996 either. And practically nobody trusted PayPal in the beginning. Now, PayPal is a household name, as is Amazon. People's perceptions change with more exposure and increased education.

I do agree with the niche bidding system coming across as a ponzi scheme. Others I have spoken to have said the same thing. I do like, however, that owners and moderators can earn on the promoting and curating of content, so there is an element of investment there as well as incentive to keep the niches full of valuable content that serves readers and users well. The problem with niches, as I see it, is that currently the platform hasn't sold the value of owning them. That's why there are thousands of approved niches with no owners, and no bidders at auction. If no one buys those niches, it's a critical failure. 

#5, yeah, I agree.

On documentation, I really think the average user--the crowd you want to draw away from Facebook, isn't going to read it. Most people are going to jump and figure it out on their own, or try to. Just like instructions for build-it-yourself furniture. Who reads those? If the UI isn't intuitive, people will leave.

DMOZ didn't fail because it was user-run. It failed because it was free to get a site listed and as the internet grew more people wanted a free listing. Editors were overwhelmed with work and couldn't keep up with the competition (like, Google, that would just crawl your site and list it within a day). Communism fell because it couldn't compete with capitalism. User-run sites in the crypto age stand a better chance of succeed as long as users are incentivized to behave the way you'd expect them to in order to move the platform toward success. This is new territory so it hasn't been proven yet, but there is a lot of really good experimentation taking place.

Your PLUS SIDES are absolutely right on. With a core group of believers and an attractive site, some of these obstacles can be overcome. The key is going to be whether users can get their friends to join them here. Time will tell.

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