Hi Narrators-

I'm looking for community feedback on how we should handle this scenario...

Assume a niche comes up for renewal and the current owner decides not to renew.  That will automatically put the niche back up on the auction block to find a new owner.

What should happen if the niche does not find a buyer, however? 

The niche may or may not have much content associated with it.  The niche also may or may not have moderators managing it. (Niche owners are REQUIRED to have moderators in order to qualify for niche owner rewards, but of course there is  a chance it is temporarily without moderators, as well.)

The general rule we are trying to achieve in the system is that each active niche has an owner and at least one moderator (so that each niche has real caretakers).  Thus, if the niche no longer has an owner (even after being put up for auction again), what should happen?

Some options:

1.  Suspend the niche after it fails to attract a buyer after 30 days, but keep the niche on the auction block indefinitely (as an inactive, but available niche).  The niche would not be accessible until a buyer is found, but once purchased all of the content previously inked to the niche would still be there (assuming the content creators maintained the links to the niche).

2.  Keep the niche active, but without an owner. This would mean that the niche has no mechanism for adding or nominating moderators.  The niche would remain on the auction block indefinitely, until a buyer can be found.  The biggest drawback here of course is that the niche may not have any one managing it and so the quality of the niche may deteriorate.

3. After 30 days, immediately deactivate the niche (since it failed to attract a buyer).  Any content associated with the niche would be permanently disassociated.  The niche would no longer be on the auction block and would be treated as a dead niche, unable to be converted to active.

There are pros and cons to each option, and perhaps you have an alternate option.  Let us know your thoughts!

Original Post

Scenario Option- What should happen if the niche does not find a buyer, however?

Possible Solution-

  • Assuming a Niche does not sell in the General auction, I would suggest giving the moderator/s the option of privately bidding on it.
  • If there is only 1 moderator then I think they should have the right to purchase the niche for the minimum price.
  • If there are no moderators or if none acquire the niche, then I would suggest opening the private auction to all members of that particular niche.
  • If at this point a buyer is still not able to be found, I would suggest opening the auction up to the entire community again, this time reducing the minimum price or disposing of it all together.
  • If we make it all of the way through this final auction without a buyer, then I would suggest the Niche be removed altogether.

 

Just a thought

 

So interesting to be delving into finer real case scenarios.

To me, the most undesirable situation is to completely remove the niche and disassociate all content, especially if the niche has some activity: even minimal.  I think at that point, the damage done might quickly rival or outweigh a lack of moderation for what might end up to be a relatively short period.

Would it not be better to lock the niche so it cannot receive any new content, until it can be moderated again, but allow people to still see it in the list of niches they use to browse the site?  

It could even help the niche find a new owner, and or a new moderator, if people wanting to post content to the niche still see it in the list bearing a mention such as 'moderator wanted/temporarily locked'.

I think the aim of having every active niche have an owner and at least one moderator is great, and says we're serious about quality.  But as long as no new content can be posted to the niche absent a moderator, the old, approved content shouldn't be disassociated?

A question: could a niche continue to be active with just a moderator, and no owner until a new one acquires it?

I like the idea from Closetcrypto, of moderators being given a chance to acquire the niche.  To expand on that, if the moderator(s) of the niche aren't interesting in bidding on it, perhaps the general list of moderators on Narrative might be if they stand a chance of buying it at the minimum bid price?

Another notion would be to encourage an owner to appoint a successor, should they lose interest, or become MIA.  Sort of like writing a will?  Perhaps niches with an appointed successor who has agreed to own the niche of the current owner leaves the picture, could have a discount on its renewal fee?  Or something of that nature?  Voluntary transmission by the niche owner is something valuable, because they get to consider who might best fill their role if they are no longer there.  Our entire system lacks a human element in the selection of who might make a good owner, as opposed to someone with wealth and a fleeting interest in the niche's topic?  

If there is no successor, or if the successor declines to take the niche or does not show up, then the niche could go to auction.

I see downsides to every approach, so these are just extra thoughts for the mix...

More later if I think of anything.

Ted posted:

Hi Narrators-

I'm looking for community feedback on how we should handle this scenario...

Assume a niche comes up for renewal and the current owner decides not to renew.  That will automatically put the niche back up on the auction block to find a new owner.

What should happen if the niche does not find a buyer, however? 

The niche may or may not have much content associated with it.  The niche also may or may not have moderators managing it. (Niche owners are REQUIRED to have moderators in order to qualify for niche owner rewards, but of course there is  a chance it is temporarily without moderators, as well.)

The general rule we are trying to achieve in the system is that each active niche has an owner and at least one moderator (so that each niche has real caretakers).  Thus, if the niche no longer has an owner (even after being put up for auction again), what should happen?

Some options:

1.  Suspend the niche after it fails to attract a buyer after 30 days, but keep the niche on the auction block indefinitely (as an inactive, but available niche).  The niche would not be accessible until a buyer is found, but once purchased all of the content previously inked to the niche would still be there (assuming the content creators maintained the links to the niche).

2.  Keep the niche active, but without an owner. This would mean that the niche has no mechanism for adding or nominating moderators.  The niche would remain on the auction block indefinitely, until a buyer can be found.  The biggest drawback here of course is that the niche may not have any one managing it and so the quality of the niche may deteriorate.

3. After 30 days, immediately deactivate the niche (since it failed to attract a buyer).  Any content associated with the niche would be permanently disassociated.  The niche would no longer be on the auction block and would be treated as a dead niche, unable to be converted to active.

There are pros and cons to each option, and perhaps you have an alternate option.  Let us know your thoughts!

Another thought would be to maintain a list of 'moderators on call'?

On call work generally attracts higher pay, and this scenario would be no different.  People who would sign up to be on this list would be people who need a little more incentive in order to be interested in moderating, or who are interested in doing so for shorter terms?  A sort of moderation gig economy?

When a niche finds itself in need of a moderator because it has become orphaned, the Tribunal or an algorithm could assess the niche's activity level, and if it is high enough to warrant it, a moderator could be assigned from the gig pool to prevent the niche becoming locked from new content?

Malkazoid posted:

Another thought would be to maintain a list of 'moderators on call'?

On call work generally attracts higher pay, and this scenario would be no different.  People who would sign up to be on this list would be people who need a little more incentive in order to be interested in moderating, or who are interested in doing so for shorter terms?  A sort of moderation gig economy?

When a niche finds itself in need of a moderator because it has become orphaned, the Tribunal or an algorithm could assess the niche's activity level, and if it is high enough to warrant it, a moderator could be assigned from the gig pool to prevent the niche becoming locked from new content?

We already have plans to support a "Moderator Pool", which I see being a major component of the system.  And that will be the place where moderators and channel owners can connect- moderators soliciting their services and channel owners finding talent. Thus, the moderator "gig economy" is already in the plans.   


That said, I don't think that solves anything in terms of the proposed scenario.

Ted posted:

We already have plans to support a "Moderator Pool", which I see being a major component of the system.  And that will be the place where moderators and channel owners can connect- moderators soliciting their services and channel owners finding talent. Thus, the moderator "gig economy" is already in the plans.   


That said, I don't think that solves anything in terms of the proposed scenario.

Can a niche be considered viable to remain unlocked if it has a moderator but no owner for a while?

The moderator could approve or disapprove of new content for the interim, perhaps?

I was just preparing to write a post called "Little Orphan Nichie" and make a few observations and suggestions. 

Once A Niche, Always A Niche 
If a Niche holds content, it ought to be preserved. Not everyone topic lends itself to a team of "caretakers". I realize that is how Niches have been proposed to work, but... there are infinite (presumably) potential Niches and that's a lot of middle-management.

The Niche on "Dogs" might get a lot of content from dog-lovers, but not require a whole lot of management. That topic is also so comprehensively obvious, that any content that did not fit the bill would have the satisfaction of the swift and immediately hostile pushback from the participating community.

In this case, a Niche really serves as a content tag. Some narrator writes up an anecdotal story about their fun-loving pup and an unexpected encounter with a lugubrious clam at the beach. They think, "Hey, I bet the community over at narrative.niche.dogs would love to read this one." And, they add the Niche tag. Their story gets lots of positive response, activity rewards are generated, and the NRVE are appointed to... whom? I say, they just go right back in to the pile.

An orphaned Niche still has value to the community at large, despite no one manning (or womanning) the helm.  I know the @Narrative Network Team doesn't want to be in the business of managing content... so, this is where the second string moderators come in to play: the actual Niche community participants. This same content score could be what triggers/notifies moderators of a potential issue for content that "got past them", or whatever. 

If the story above is really more about sad clams than it is about canine-clam conundrums, then the community downvotes it, or uses whatever appropriate mechanics are available for them to "evaluate" Niche content. 

But, for all those dutiful dog-lovers diligently discussing everything from Daschunds to Dalmadoodles, the platform ought to enable them to continue to do so, and benefit all involved.  

I like the idea proposed by @Malkazoid for the niche to be locked, i. e. do not allow new content but preserve the old one. The old content together with the inability to post anything new would encourage users to purchase the niche.

Disassociating the content will be dangerous. Some posts, which were attached only to this niche, will be completely removed? I think we should prevent this from happening. And imagine that someone will finally purchase the niche in several months. They will get a completely empty niche even if there have been a lot of posts before. This is also no good.

So I vote to keep all the content available at least for reading. Posting/editing/commenting/voting may be suspended.

I feel like I have said much on this topic in other threads, so I will be concise with my words. 

I think that a niche should be allowed as long as it has a moderator. Even without an owner. I don't see a downside to it. So what if it doesn't get promoted. As long as the moderator is keeping it on task to the topic. If the niche is getting rewards, that are just getting dumped into the pool, someone will buy it. Letting people post content on the topics they suggested far out weighs in benefits, then collecting for niches at this initial juncture. I think there will be a frenzy to purchase niches after the first reward payouts are posted.

If that is not an option, then I think a locked niche, would be the second option. BUT I would allow people to still tag their content to this niche, but code it in such a way that when you click on the niche in the auctions, it says something like, This niche has 8 articles waiting to be published, once purchased. It could be done similar to how you are calculating the to 10 niche page on the reports. 

This will incentivize purchasing. In fact I really think you should do that now for all the niches.  @Christina Gleason mentioned that she has content for unpurchased niches. I do too! I am sure their are others.

2.  Keep the niche active, but without an owner. This would mean that the niche has no mechanism for adding or nominating moderators.  The niche would remain on the auction block indefinitely, until a buyer can be found.  The biggest drawback here of course is that the niche may not have any one managing it and so the quality of the niche may deteriorate.

Revisiting this thread now after many moons, I feel more strongly than before that solution 2 is the best, with some measures to make sure someone is still managing the niche in the interim.

The General Moderator pool is an idea @Banter and I put forth months ago, which @Ted seems to be saying is part of his plans, although I'm not certain we're talking about the same concept (because Ted seems to be saying this pool wouldn't help the current scenarios being examined, whereas the General Mod Pool most certainly would).

The General Mod Pool is a slightly different concept from the Mod Pool the @Narrative Network Team have communicated about.  Their's, if I have understood correctly, will be a pool of people interested in moderating, and users could browse through the listings and nominate people they think would be appropriate?

The General Mod Pool would be a list of moderators who are specifically interested in being called upon to moderate ownerless niches when there is a need.  This would solve the ownerless niche problem: as long as the number of General Mods outstrips the demand for them, moderation will still happen just as swiftly as with owned niches, but perhaps with lesser quality since the general mods will be less specialised.  This could be improved upon by having General Mods describe their areas of interest (which I think all users should do upon sign up so the system know what niches to suggest to them to get started).  Then the system could send posts from unowned niches to mods who have an interest in the field, or a related field.

Even if the demand outstrips the supply of Gen Mods, that would simply result in a slowdown for content approval... which I think we can all agree is still vastly better than no content approval at all.

This pool does not have to be separate from the existing concept of the Mod Pool.  Each person who signs up for the mod pool could be asked if they want to make themselves available for General Mod duties (could be a check box in their profile that they can check and uncheck).  

With this in place, I see no real upside at all to disabling niches that are without owners.

For those of you who are familiar with the concept of long tail content, it will be very apparent why removing unowned niches from the content economy would be a bad thing.  The long tail refers to the low amplitude but high surface area zone of a curve on a bell curve or inverse type graph.  The surface area can be surprisingly high because of the length of that tail section of curve.  It does not impress by its y value, but it makes up for it in its x dimension.

In our content economy, that section of curve represents less popular niches, with lower activity, and on average, more of them will be without an owner because of this.  But there will be so many of these niches that they will make up for anywhere between 2-20 percent of network traffic (my very vague guesstimate, and entirely dependant on how we define low traffic niches).  Even if it is only 2%, losing 2% of an entire economy is unsanctionable and should be avoided.  The difference between growing at 1% or growing at 0.5% is significant for economists.  We may never reach the size of Facebook, but if Facebook had lost 2% of its profits for 2017, that would have amounted to roughly a loss of 340 million USD. 

Losing 2% or much more, for the entire life of the platform, is not to be taken lightly.

The good news is, it is easy to avoid.

Everything that @Emily Barnett and @Malkazoid said today. I have a lot of long tail content languishing on my mostly abandoned blog that I'd love to re-work for the Narrative platform, but while I've suggested the niches that they could go in, I'm not sure it makes financial sense for me to use the rest of my niche slots to buy them. (And there would still be some I couldn't buy because of the 5 niche limit.)

I would HAPPILY moderate these niches.

And on the financial side for Narrative as a whole, there's 10% of an unowned niche's earnings that go back into the general revenue pool or whatever. This amount could be listed on the niche's auction page saying something like, "If you had owned this niche last quarter, you could have earned XXXX NRVE."

I think this needs to be addressed ASAP. We have over 100 pages of niches up for auction. That's a lot of content that can't be published under the current "niches MUST have owners" rule. This will result in people not bothering to stick around until they can contribute everything they want to create or find the content they want to consume.

Malkazoid posted:

PS If the @Narrative Network Team already intend to address this, and make unowned niches available for posting - it would be great if someone from the Team can stop in to post three words about it, so we all stop wasting time arguing for this and use that time more productively.

Not only so that we can stop discussing it (so far nobody from the community has said they even have a problem with an unpurchased niche being active) But addressing this, will allow people to start writing content for the niche they want to post on, but currently cannot

True that. At some point I'd like to post content to unpurchased niches too.

The amount of existing content tagged to a niche gives an indication of how much it's worth for potential buyers.

And although it's been said before, to me the best solution would be for the % of revenue that would normally go to the owner, to stay into the rewards pool. Or something along those lines. If enough interest gathers for an unpurchased niche, this should financially sustain itself in the long term.

I found the following in the spec. It looks like a decision to go with locked/read-only niches. Not sure though if the spec was created after this post or before.

Orphaned Niches

An owner may abandon the niche at any time, for any reason, via the Niche Settings area of the Niche (accessible by owner only). If abandoned, the existing moderators will stay in place and the niche will go back up on the auction block. The new owner will inherit the existing moderators.

If a niche remains without an owner for more than 30 days, it will become read-only (no new content or comments permitted) until a new owner is in place. The existing moderators will be removed once it goes into a read-only state.

https://spec.narrative.org/docs/niches

Ivan Rygaev posted:

I found the following in the spec. It looks like a decision to go with locked/read-only niches. Not sure though if the spec was created after this post or before.

Orphaned Niches

An owner may abandon the niche at any time, for any reason, via the Niche Settings area of the Niche (accessible by owner only). If abandoned, the existing moderators will stay in place and the niche will go back up on the auction block. The new owner will inherit the existing moderators.

If a niche remains without an owner for more than 30 days, it will become read-only (no new content or comments permitted) until a new owner is in place. The existing moderators will be removed once it goes into a read-only state.

https://spec.narrative.org/docs/niches

Thanks for finding this @Ivan Rygaev.

I wonder what the rationale is behind removing moderators and going into read only...  That seems disruptive.

It made sense to me that a niche without moderators would be a problem, and would need to be locked, particularly if we have not implemented a pool of general moderators who can cover for niches without dedicated moderators (if this ever gets implemented, it certainly won't be there at launch time).  But I can't see the reasoning behind taking a functioning niche that already has a team of moderators, removing them, and locking the niche, just because there is no owner.

There may well be a rationale to it, but It isn't leaping out at me.

If the niche didn't find an owner in 30 days, how much less likely will it be to find an owner after we've stripped away the moderators, and killed the niche's momentum by locking it?

How many content creators who posted mostly to that niche might think: 'I'm blocked from posting just because there's no owner?  This is lame, I'm out of here.  Network [x] doesn't do that.' ?

We're welcoming a number of Google+ folks whose first criteria for a new home is going to be: "a place that doesn't turn the lights off on us".  And yet that's precisely what we're proposing to do here: stop niches dead in their tracks with only 30 days notice.  If there is a reason for it, I sincerely doubt it will be one that users will take the time to care about.  All they'll see is that other networks don't shut down their communities in this way.

I'm curious to hear @Ted's thoughts, or anyone else who might have a moment.  @Rosemary, or perhaps @Brian Lenz?

Malkazoid posted:

But I can't see the reasoning behind taking a functioning niche that already has a team of moderators, removing them, and locking the niche, just because there is no owner. 

I think whatever the reason is it is the same why we have niche owners in the first place, i. e. why we have to buy niches. The platform could go completely without niche owners, right? Once a new niche is approved and gets moderators assigned it could be made available for posting.

I don't know the actual reasons but I guess it is related to some kind of 'proof of popularity'. The buyer either believes that the niche topic is popular and will generate revenue or they are planning to make it popular through their own posts. Otherwise, it does not make sense to purchase the niche.

And if someone abandoned a niche and it was not purchased again in 30 days, that means the niche did not meet the popularity expectations. Maybe the topic is too narrow and people prefer to post to a broader niche with more followers. Or just the topic lost popularity over time, and so on. 

I think it is a good and healthy thing to keep the list of active niches actual to the trends and to deactivate the niches which nobody is using anymore (but still keeping their existing content intact).

Ivan Rygaev posted:

I think whatever the reason is it is the same why we have niche owners in the first place, i. e. why we have to buy niches. The platform could go completely without niche owners, right? Once a new niche is approved and gets moderators assigned it could be made available for posting.

I don't know the actual reasons but I guess it is related to some kind of 'proof of popularity'. The buyer either believes that the niche topic is popular and will generate revenue or they are planning to make it popular through their own posts. Otherwise, it does not make sense to purchase the niche.

And if someone abandoned a niche and it was not purchased again in 30 days, that means the niche did not meet the popularity expectations. Maybe the topic is too narrow and people prefer to post to a broader niche with more followers. Or just the topic lost popularity over time, and so on. 

I think it is a good and healthy thing to keep the list of active niches actual to the trends and to deactivate the niches which nobody is using anymore (but still keeping their existing content intact).

Interesting.  You may be right - maybe this is where it is coming from.

This would completely destroy the notion of long tail content economy (see this post).  Less popular niches generate less activity than popular ones, but are also a lot more numerous...  From an economic perspective, discriminating against them makes no sense - let alone from a human, freedom of expression and cultural value perspective.

Narrative isn't meant to discriminate against less popular subject matter.  I had several exchanges with the @Narrative Network Team very early on to make sure this was not the case, and was reassured that this was definitely not their intention, and that they understood the economic value of long tail content.  And in any event, discriminating against long tail content would fly in the face of the very word 'niche', one of the meanings of which is a specialization addressing a small subsection of the human interest.

However it is entirely possible that they have changed their minds.  This would be very important for us to have an open exchange with the Team about, if that is the case, because it would be a huge departure from what many of us signed up for.

Niche owners are desirable primarily for two reasons:

1) at the outset of the platform, they start the economic engine by pledging funds and the accompanying commitment to work to build their niches by attracting talent to them

2) on an ongoing basis, they have 'skin in the game' and will be motivated to maintain or grow the activity of their niches over the years after launch

We can see that for number 1), niche owners are indispensable.

For number 2), they are desirable, but a niche will be able to function without an owner for a period of time.  It will do so sub-optimally, no doubt, especially if the previous owner was doing a great job.  But locking the niche doesn't fix that - it exacerbates it.  At least people were posting.  At least a team of experienced moderators who knew the niche were present.  Disband both contributors and moderators, and you have a niche that loses a lot of whatever value the niche had.  It just doesn't make sense to me.

For some niches, a niche owner replacement might take 60 days or 90, or 120 to find.  Especially during economic downturns when entrepreneurship dips or tanks.  Conversely, during those periods, the value of freelance type incomes (content creator on Narrative fits that label) typically increases.  If a part time content creator gets laid off from their day job, they may well double the amount of time they spent creating content in a bid to raise their Narrative revenue to a point where it helps them bridge things to their next job.  That's precisely when you don't want lots of niches locking out new content, just because niche owners are in shorter supply.

 

Deactivating a niche does not mean that all new potential content for it now does not have a place to be posted in. It won't be lost, it will be posted to other niches, probably with more followers, which is beneficial for the content and for the community in general.

For example, if Carcassonne niche becomes read-only I still can post to Board Games niche and even attract new people to play Carcassonne. This increases the visibility of the content.

That's how I see it.

Ivan Rygaev posted:

Deactivating a niche does not mean that all new potential content for it now does not have a place to be posted in. It won't be lost, it will be posted to other niches, probably with more followers, which is beneficial for the content and for the community in general.

For example, if Carcassonne niche becomes read-only I still can post to Board Games niche and even attract new people to play Carcassonne. This increases the visibility of the content.

That's how I see it.

Good point, but people become attached - we're human. And the more obscure the subject matter, the more human nature tells us the contributors will be geeks on the subject matter, and hypersensitive to being forced into a box that does not fit their topic as well as the perfect one they had chosen as a home. 

Some will leave.  Not all, but some.  Especially if they don't understand the necessity of shutting down their preferred niche.  Hence the need for the Team to have a compelling and rehearsed explanation handy.  They can try it out on us, now.

Some will spend a month posting less simply because they don't adapt well to change - a common trait among humans.  So the network loses some momentum - I would say needlessly.

And again - the niche itself that is being locked down loses momentum, and becomes less desirable to purchase.  So we still damage our pursuit of attracting a replacement owner... again, I would say, needlessly...

You will always have people leaving, disliking one or another feature of the platform. They already started appearing:
https://alpha.narrative.org/m/feltbuzz (interestingly, you cannot find this account through search)

Any change you make - you will lose some users.

But if someone really wants to post into a specific niche which became read-only, they have an option to purchase-and-post.

But I agree, a voice from the Team would be more than welcome.

Malkazoid posted:

For number 2), they are desirable, but a niche will be able to function without an owner for a period of time.  It will do so sub-optimally, no doubt, especially if the previous owner was doing a great job.  But locking the niche doesn't fix that - it exacerbates it.  At least people were posting.  At least a team of experienced moderators who knew the niche were present.  Disband both contributors and moderators, and you have a niche that loses a lot of whatever value the niche had.  It just doesn't make sense to me.

 

I agree. It doesn't make sense to me either.

Ivan Rygaev posted:

But if someone really wants to post into a specific niche which became read-only, they have an option to purchase-and-post.

 

Not true. Many of us are at our 5 -niche cap. If I thought it was as simply as plopping 75 USD down to free up content choices, I would. But given that i own 5 niches, i no longer have the option you are referring too.

To address another point you made @Ivan Rygaev where you referenced Carcassonnes and Board games, not all niche subsets have over arching niche topics yet. Also you may be able to post to a larger niche, such as you want to post to underwater photography, but it isn't active. So you have photography as an option, but it is such a massive posting niche and your photos can't compete. But you know on an underwater photography niche you are heads above the rest. You really want to post to this niche but you are on Narrative to make money, and you simply don't have an extra $75 to purchase a niche. Now your odds of getting rewards, is greatly diminished, unless you can magically come up with the money, to post your content to the most accurate niche. 

This is going to leave people with a very sour taste. Like @Malkazoid has said. it is only  a matter of time before there is a rival for Narrative, that touts that all niche's are active for posting on, even with out being purchased. And where will the content makers of all our inactive niches go? 

If the team has a reason for keeping it locked only unless payment has been made, I think they should communicate it. This issue will only intensify, and currently there is no financial reason that makes sense to not allow posting to it. And not having an owner isn't a guarantee that it will go down in quality. It may go down in popularity, as it no longer has a promoter, but that just further incentivizes a content maker, or moderator of this niche to spend their earnings on purchasing it, once they have made enough from the topic.

I see no harm to the platform in making niches post-able with a moderator in place.

A primary purpose of niche ownership is to substantiate that a niche has value.  If the niche has no owner, then it likely has very little overall value (not worth the equivalent of $6.25 per month).

As I stated in the original white paper for Narrative, we are trying to build a content economy (without a middleman).  There are a couple of ways to interpret that.

1.  We want to incentivize people to add value to the network by rewarding them, based on their roles and impact.  This should be impartial too, not a system where we, as a company, are picking winners and losers.

2.  We want to use economic principles to reflect value.  This is where the niche ownership fees come into play. 

Even though anyone can suggest a niche, those suggestions must first be approved by the community to ensure that they are unique and conform to the AUP.  We are incentivizing people to vote on niches through the rewards system.  But simply saying a niche is unique and meets a minimum standard does not mean many people will actually use the niche.   By requiring an annual fee to own a niche, the system ensures that at least one person cares enough about the niche to sponsor it (and hopefully profit from it).  If no one is willing to sponsor the niche, or if they fail to renew it, then the economic value is not there.

Having said all that, I could see how it might be useful (one day) to support multiple owners per niche, so that members could share niche ownership costs.  The point is not to make ownership cumbersome or even expensive, but simply to expect that a niche needs to have some minimum value that is reflected by the community, if it is to remain active and viable.

And of course, even is a niche is deactivate, content is not deleted.  The authors who posted to that niche can associated the content with different niches.

I hope this helps clarify our thinking on this topic, even if you still disagree.

@Emily Barnett Nevertheless, thank you for pointing this out to me. I forgot about the niche cap.

Regarding you example with underwater photography, I think it will work the other way around. It will be more beneficial to post to Photography than to Underwater Photography. Yes, you post probably won't get to Top 10, but you likely will get more rewards just because more people will see your post. Imagine someone posting to Kansas City Street Photography. Your photo can be a perfect fit, but it hardly will be noticed enough for great rewards.

@Ted Thank you for the clarifications! But your last point is not clear enough. Does that mean that the content will not be visible unless it is relocated to other niches? That would be undesirable.

Imagine a niche which successfully operated for several years and then became inactive. Now all the users who had posted to it would need to move all their old posts to other niches to keep them visible? That would unlikely happen and the most posts will be lost.

We need to keep the posts available (at least for reading) in the same deactivated niche.

@Ted - thanks for the clear explanation: very helpful.  It is as I feared: you have lost sight of the long tail... but it is very positive that we've been able to ascertain that clearly today.  Thanks for that.

I have my doubts that just because a niche does not bring in 6.25 USD per month, it should be deemed an economic dud.  Here's why.  (If this seems familiar, it may be because we've been over this before on the forums in several forms).

There is no significant extra overhead for the company or the community: ten low traffic niches, or one bigger niche with the equivalent traffic of those ten niches combined, should be virtually identical in terms of overhead, once the system of the content economy is well oiled and efficient.  Of course nothing scales perfectly, but the additional overhead should not be terribly significant unless I'm missing something.  Ten pieces of content submitted to ten niches, or ten pieces of content submitted to one bigger niche, are still all pieces of content that need moderation, and may give rise to Tribunal appeals, etc...

So from that perspective - turning away from low activity niches is simply turning away from network activity.  It is the long tail. 

I had a very specific discussion about this with @Michael Farris via email before the ICO took place because in my mind, this long tail was immediately identifiable as a big asset to the niche paradigm...  When I joined, I entered into good discussions with various team members about the dangers of rejecting activity that falls below that arbitrary threshold of $75 dollars per year.  My memory, which is far from perfect, tells me that the Team recognized these numbers were arbitrary, and that this might need some adjusting to find ways to not turn away perfectly good activity, just because it is taking place on small niches.

I hope those conversations were not for nothing, and that the Team is still aware of these issues.

Some wisdom from the non-profit world which shines light on the economics of the long tail.  Contrary to popular belief, most non-profits make the bulk of their revenue from small donations.  They have a few big donors who support them, but their real bread and butter comes from millions of working and middle class citizens who part with small amounts regularly to support their work.  If they were to dismiss small donations - let's say 6.25 USD per month and under, since that's the figure we're looking at here, they would lose a scary proportion of their income and would have to reduce their activities or perhaps shut down entire programs and lay off staff.

They would never dream of rejecting those smaller donors not only because of the consequences, but because there is simply no upside to doing so.

I'm truly struggling to see any upside to doing so in our situation too.

Please don't let all this talk of economics mask the fact that there are ethical problems with barring low popularity content as well.  You would be positioning Narrative in a very unflattering way in comparison to the old big social platforms we're all proposing to improve upon.  They don't discriminate at all, against that which is not '6.25 USD per month' popular...

Another consideration that is specific to Narrative's first two years.  This is the period where the long tail may actually prove crucial to your success.  During that period, with the 75$ threshold, you are setting a very high bar of profitability that the network has to achieve, before it stops losing niche owners and niches.  This threshold will always cut of part of the long tail, needlessly.  But when the network is a  fledgling one, trying to achieve the network effect, losing that momentum could spell failure.

Lets say NRVE is at 12 cents after one year of operation.  Lets say there are 3000 niches owned, and 15 million NRVE in the Network Rewards for the year.  That's 1.8 million USD of rewards.  10% of that is destined to niche owners, so $180,000.  With 3000 niches, there will be an average of $60 dollars rewarded to each niche that year.  That means most niches won't be viable in this scenario (which is not particularly pessimistic).  Why set the bar so high?  

And if you want to stick with $75 USD renewal fee, that still doesn't mean you have to lock the niches when an owner bails.  You could let the activity continue.  The activity isn't really costing you, and it makes the niche more likely to be repurchased.  You're not receiving a network renewal fee for the niche during that period, but you're also not paying out 10% of Network Rewards to a niche owner either!  Meanwhile, you keep the users who have adopted that niche happy and contributing to the economy with their content... and one of them is likely to become the new owner.  

I am an ethical investor, and this is actually a red flag on both my radar panels: the economic one, and the ethical one: it is a huge turn off, and all the more so because at considerable expense of time and thought, I had done the due diligence to discuss this with your team before deciding to become a founder.  I don't regret my decision because I still believe reason will prevail, but the amount of energy I personally put into the process is seeming inordinately high now that long tail doesn't seem to even pass any of your lips...

Almost everything else is coming together so well for Narrative - I really hope you don't overlook this aspect of things when the time comes.  

Ivan Rygaev posted:

Regarding you example with underwater photography, I think it will work the other way around. It will be more beneficial to post to Photography than to Underwater Photography. Yes, you post probably won't get to Top 10, but you likely will get more rewards just because more people will see your post. Imagine someone posting to Kansas City Street Photography. Your photo can be a perfect fit, but it hardly will be noticed enough for great rewards.

 

@Ivan Rygaev Not necessarily. You could post your underwater image on Photography and in theory get zero votes. Therefore you earn nothing from the big pool of photography where thousands of people are members scrapping  it out each day, to be noticed. And Underwater photography could have only 30 devoted members of say scuba divers, and you may be the only content maker on the niche. Because those 30 members all got a notification of new content that day, excited they went and voted for you. Yes the pool is much less in rewards than photography, but 0% of a lot is still nothing, and  100% of a small amount is still higher than zero.

@Ted than you for the explanation. I can now see where you are coming from. I can appreciate that you want to attach a commercial value, in an effort to demonstrate that content should be rewarded, but I don't agree that this is the line to draw in the sand. It limits peoples freedom of expression on the platform and I think you loose more than you gain by doing this.

I think better work arounds have been suggested, that would allow for people to freely communicate on what ever topic has been approved. I think the human nature to get as much money as they can, would ensure that someone will eventually step up and purchase, if a niche was getting activity but ownership had not yet claimed.

Disappointingly, I don't think we are going to effect change regarding this matter. For that reality, I do think it is a good step to raise the niche cap. But at the very least, I really hope that you will consider a hidden publication announcement on un-purchased niches. It could state:

"This niche has 29 pieces of content waiting to be published, if purchased."

There is no reason why we should not be able to tag our content to all three niches, including unpurchased niches, and have the system do the promoting of - niches to potential owners. Actual posts can go live once payment has been received by Narrative for the niche.

It saves people having to go back and tag content on their preferred niche when\if it goes live, and it gives that content the opportunity for the full exposure it deserves to have. 3 niches-- even if it comes at a later. It also allows people to somewhat feel they have the ability to self-express, and are not completely limited to what other people have paid for to provide as valuable.

(On a side note. I inherently disagree that value is only perceived in the form of commodification. Topics should not be commodified to show value, it isn't the same as rewarding someone for the work they do to create content. There are so many reasons that chip away at this theory for instance demographics of the platform may skew the values, and therefor make certain topics higher risk investments at this point in time, and therefore scare off investors. But allowing the topic to reveal it's value, ie: a proven track record of content, better demonstrates an ROI and can even out the playing field, for uneven demographics on the platform).

I didn't join Narrative as an investor like @Malkazoid did; I joined as a content creator looking for a viable (paying!) alternative to posting my content for free on platforms like Facebook and reddit. Most of the people I've invited are here for the same reason.

As a content creator, what @Ted describes is a NIGHTMARE. It's so backward to basically tell those of us who create content that it's up to US to find the investors to purchase the niches for which we have content READY AND WAITING TO PUBLISH. Niche owners should be seeking out both content creators and content consumers, not the other way around. 

Economically, allowing us to publish content to niches without owners should be a wash. Sure, no one has paid to own the niche...but you also don't have to pay out 10% to owners that don't exist. Meanwhile, content in an unowned niche can still be producing revenue for everyone else! That 10% could theoretically be much higher than the $75 starting bid for niches.

Alternately, why can't @Narrative Network Team itself take temporary ownership of unowned niches? Anything owned by Narrative would remain at auction pending purchase by a legit owner. Then ALL NICHES HAVE OWNERS and everybody wins.

Malkazoid posted:

@Ted 

I am an ethical investor, and this is actually a red flag on both my radar panels: the economic one, and the ethical one: it is a huge turn off, and all the more so because at considerable expense of time and thought, I had done the due diligence to discuss this with your team before deciding to become a founder.  I don't regret my decision because I still believe reason will prevail, but the amount of energy I personally put into the process is seeming inordinately high now that long tail doesn't seem to even pass any of your lips...

Almost everything else is coming together so well for Narrative - I really hope you don't overlook this aspect of things when the time comes.  

Ditto.

Another angle that may speak more directly to you @Ted.

Look at every single one of your predecessors in the social networking field.

They succeeded because they built a bustling network BEFORE they even knew how to monetize it.  They put 110% of their efforts towards getting people to love their platform.  Profits came later.

I'm not accusing you of chasing profits - that isn't the primary nature of Narrative's efforts, but you certainly are thinking of the economy to the detriment of the very predictable human hurdles you are setting yourself up for.

Instead of getting to grow to love Narrative for all the things that are awesome about it, our first waves of users are going to simply not understand why all these niches are off-limits.  That they don't have an owner simply won't mean anything to them, and rightly so.

I really encourage the @Narrative Network Team to take the time to step back from the beautiful economy you have set out to build, just for a moment, and consider that users won't be worrying about the Narrative economy when they first arrive.  They'll be in - 'does this place make sense' mode, and if it doesn't, the economy will never materialize.

Tear down the self-imposed hurdles you've erected: the 6.25 USD per month minimum for niches to be 'viable', and the locking down of niches if there's nobody paying niche renewal fees.  Do nothing to impede the user-friendliness and intuitiveness of the Narrative experience.  I am convinced it is the only way to succeed.

The Team is shielded from some of the adverse reactions of users because the community takes care of a lot of it, but nobody is going to enjoy - and nor will we prevail - if we are all in the position of having to explain to people why they can't post to their favorite niche. 

"The niche is right there!  The community approved it.  Why can't I post to it?  It doesn't have an owner?  What does that have to do with me being able to post to it?  You want proof the niche is popular?  Content wanting to be on it is the first step to popularity, not someone ponying up $75!!!???"

You can't satisfyingly answer these questions, in a way that users will care about.

Even if they start listening to your arguments, you'll then come up against:

"So a niche is either worth nothing or worth 75 USD?  Why?  Why can't it be worth exactly how popular it is?  Why can't the twenty people who want to post to it be its value for now... why, why, why?"

You'll hate these questions, and so will we because they are also our questions, and the honest ones among us won't be able to defend your choices.  We'll be like: "yeah, I know, it makes no sense".

Your loyal initial Alpha users are already upset about this - imagine how dismissive new users will be who aren't as committed to Narrative as we are?  The content creators who come here with only one initial expectation: to be able to post their content, with the tags that best describe their content?  "I can't use that tag because nobody bought it?  Whoa..."

Even worse, once they've been posting to the same niche for the first year, and it gets locked because the owner bails - because like the vast majority of niches probably will before advertising is implemented and gains traction, he made less than he's being asked to pay to renew it - the questions will come fast and furious. 

"Why can't I post here anymore?  What do you mean there's no more owner - I didn't even know there was an owner: I just joined and started posting content - why can't I continue?  You're concerned the niche isn't popular enough?  I'm here - me - and so are the other niche regulars, and we never understood the niche had to be popular in order to continue existing!  Are you saying we're not good enough?  Are you saying that if you don't have reams of cool kids swarming the niche, the loyal, passionate people who are here just don't count? "

These are the very human reactions people will have.  You'll be fighting everything they have come to understand is good about the old type of social network.  Give that to them so they can eventually also truly appreciate what Narrative is bringing that is EXTRA, and BETTER...  The content economy needs to be a bonus - the icing on the cake people already know and love.

My idea here is that, if a niche is "orphaned", any revenue that an owner would normally get could go into the Narrative operational pool and Narrative could also have a floating pool of moderators where somebody with a minimum level of reputation could volunteer to moderate an orphaned niche until somebody steps up to claim and/or moderate that niche. But keep that sucker open if it already has content!

Heidi Hecht posted:

My idea here is that, if a niche is "orphaned", any revenue that an owner would normally get could go into the Narrative operational pool and Narrative could also have a floating pool of moderators where somebody with a minimum level of reputation could volunteer to moderate an orphaned niche until somebody steps up to claim and/or moderate that niche. But keep that sucker open if it already has content!

Just to clarify (and this may just be semantics)... saying that the funds that would normally go to the niche owner would go back into the Rewards Pool is pretty much the same as not paying any rewards to the niche (in other words, because there is no owner, there would be no ownership rewards to pay for that niche... and I would think that those un-earned (abandoned owner) rewards would be allocated to the other active owners).  In addition, I would think that the abandoned niche moderators would still be paid their normal share (based on the success of the niche) in this scenario.

The good thing is that we now have a system that will always look to fill open moderator positions.

Ted posted:
Heidi Hecht posted:

My idea here is that, if a niche is "orphaned", any revenue that an owner would normally get could go into the Narrative operational pool and Narrative could also have a floating pool of moderators where somebody with a minimum level of reputation could volunteer to moderate an orphaned niche until somebody steps up to claim and/or moderate that niche. But keep that sucker open if it already has content!

Just to clarify (and this may just be semantics)... saying that the funds that would normally go to the niche owner would go back into the Rewards Pool is pretty much the same as not paying any rewards to the niche (in other words, because there is no owner, there would be no ownership rewards to pay for that niche... and I would think that those un-earned (abandoned owner) rewards would be allocated to the other active owners).  In addition, I would think that the abandoned niche moderators would still be paid their normal share (based on the success of the niche) in this scenario.

The good thing is that we now have a system that will always look to fill open moderator positions.

That would work too. The real issue here would be what algorithm could be used to distribute rewards from orphaned niches. Because everybody's going to have a different idea of how this should be done.

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