Several days ago, a Steem user who goes by @therealwolf asked in a post for people to respond about why we’re still on the Steem platform. The subject has been sitting idly around waiting for me to get a roundtoit.
I decided that I would write about the platform and why I’m still here after two plus years but I would do so as if I was talking to someone who doesn’t really know what the platform is.
You, dear reader, may actually be someone who doesn’t know what the platform is as I’ll be posting this off the platform as well as on it.
What is Steem?
The Steem platform is a blockchain which produces the token STEEM. Unlike bitcoin, STEEM is not mined through energy sucking algorithms running on high-end computers. STEEM is mined through what is referred to as proof of brain. The use of the blockchain to produce content generates STEEM.
The blockchain is the brainchild of Daniel Larimer who is currently part of the EOS project. The first block on the Steem blockchain was produced in March 2016. The first project running on the blockchain was the website steemit.com and was opened in July 2016. I joined in August 2016.
What is Steemit?
The Steemit site is a blogging site. The design is rather rudimentary compared to most blogging sites out there. It’s power is not in it’s design but in the blockchain that powers it. The posts on the Steemit site receive STEEM when those who hold stake upvote their posts. The amount they receive depends on how much stake the voter has.
Big Deal, Another Blogging Site
If you arrived at steemit.com and looked around you’d likely yawn and move on. As a front-end access to the STEEM blockchain, steemit.com is sort of like arriving at a high-tech mansion and finding the front yard covered in weeds and junk. It leaves a lot to be desired.
I remember my first visits to Twitter and Facebook. Yeah, I’m old enough to remember their early years. They weren’t pretty nor particularly functional. I took at look around and thought they wouldn’t be around long as they lacked any particular appeal. Called that didn’t I? … NOT!
My Journey on the Platform
I remember when I arrived back in August 2016. I had fallen down some rabbit hole on the Internet and landed on the Steemit website. I’d heard of bitcoin. Well, at least what I had read in the media about Silk Road and Mt. Gox. Enough that when I saw ‘cryptocurrency’ a sane person should have run. Who said I am sane?
I arrived during the early adoption rush. The value of STEEM had shot up over $4US each and posts on the Trending page were displaying amazing payouts. My curiousity was aroused.
I wondered if it was real. I had also recently made the decision to pursue writing in a more serious manner. If this STEEM stuff actually could be converted to fiat money (what regular people spend), this could be the start of my writing generating income. All it was going to cost me was some time and willingness to learn. I plunged in.
I did the obligatory introductory post. It garnered a few cents and a few comments. I was disappointed but I also knew that, like any site, it would take doing more than one post to get noticed. I explored the content that was up there for some ideas on what might be a more effective post.
There were a lot of posts on crypto and anarchists. Not content that particularly interested me. Travel and food posts had some traction but not something I’d be inclined to write about. Then I noticed some history posts were getting some notice. I like history.
I wrote a post about a local WW1 war hero who I had known. I had to go off to attend to some real world responsibilities. I returned to my computer late that day to discover the post had a value over $100. I was excited. If this was actually real currency, getting paid anything was way more than any other site was delivering.
Then, as now, one of the ways to build a following on the site is to read and comment on others posts. I started each day spending hours doing just that. Wasn’t long after I started when I decided to make use of those hours by curating the better posts. I would select the best of the ones I read and write up a summary post about them. I called the series the “Steemit Ramble”.
Over time I developed a following. People who were seeking quality content but didn’t want to spend the hours reading to find it that I had spent. One of the downsides on the platform, and continues to be, is being able to discover good content amongst the dreck.
After some exploring I figured out how to move the STEEM I was earning to an exchange, convert it to fiat and send it to my bank account. By then I had also learned that I needed to treat what I was earning as an investment. The $4 STEEM had given way to a value as low as seven cents but the prevailing wisdom seemed to be that for all the issues being identified, this platform had a future and it would go back up.
One of the downsides to the platform was an inability to form groups of like-minded people and to be able to interact with them. To be able to share content and ideas. By early 2017 people had found and started to setup communities on the Discord chat platform. You could open a server and have multiple rooms for text or voice chat. Communities exploded.
Come For the Money, Stay for the Community
Oddly enough, it is community which holds people on the platform. Not the communities which form on the platform but the ones which form on sites like Discord about the Steem platform which unites people. There isn’t yet a mechanism to form communities on Steem. That is expected in 2019.
Friendships form. Friendships at a level that when you meet those same people offline, other than a pause to register what they actually look like, conversations carry on like you’d been meeting for coffee for years.
The Steemit Ramble and Pimp Your Post Thursday
In the fall of 2017 I opened a Discord server and called it the Steemit Ramble. Originally, it was meant to be a place for people to nominate posts for me to curate and for other curators to be able to promote their work.
In early October 2017 I decided to make use of being able to be in a voice chat channel and a text channel at the same time. I started a weekly curation show where others could participate promoting their posts to each other. I called the show Pimp Your Post Thursday.
The concept caught on and quickly became two shows on Thursday to make it easier for people in other timezones to participate. Soon after an online radio station started streaming the shows live.
A year later, I’m streaming those two shows along with others on a network I have formed called Rambling Radio. Currently shows can be heard Monday through Friday. Once a month I host a community chat on a Saturday. The next one takes place November 17th.
The Welcome Wagon
During one of those chats back in April there was much discussion about the challenges of user retention on the platform. There is a lot to learn when you join the platform and it can be confusing. That leads to many giving up before they have had chance to even get started.
One of the attendees, @dreemsteem, started chatting in text about possible solutions. Others chimed in and by the end of the chat a small group had the beginnings of what would become the @welcomewagon.
The group seeks out new people on the platform who show potential of being able to become solid members. When they find a candidate an invite into the program is issued. Their time starts with a week of intensive training by Steempeers and then ongoing support and encouragement afterwards. Their current retention rate is an impressive 80%.
The Writers’ Block
I’m part of several Steem communities on Discord including a writers community which has some big plans. The Writers Block discord is a place for writers to gather, even those who are not part of Steem.
We use voice to hold workshops and chats and are able to share links to Google Docs to critique each others work. We’re currently mainly focused on fiction work.
TWB isn’t stopping there. They currently have a new Steem front-end under development which will be called Wordrow. It will feature curated fiction writing to give better exposure to the fiction writers on the platform.
The third part of the plans is a mainstream publishing house called Steemhouse Publishing. It’s been incorporated and will be putting out its first fiction offering in the very near future with other titles in process.
Community driven solutions to platform problems.
It was in one of the first Discord communities where I first heard Ned Scott, CEO of Steemit Inc, the company which produced the blockchain and the website, speak about the platform. I remember hearing him say that Steem was an experiment and that a growing ecosystem was going to emerge that would change the way we look at the online experience.
I remember thinking at the time this guy was delusional. Well,here we are two years in and there is a growing ecosystem of apps and uses of the platform and more on the way. There are problems and debates about the problems but there is growth and development in exciting ways.
The development is driven not by Steemit Inc. but by members of the platform. Future development is limited only by the skills and imagination of those who embrace the platform.
Steempress for WordPress
One of the many apps which has been developed allows people with WordPress blogs (self-hosted not wordpress.com) to post on their WP blog and have it cross-posted to Steem using a plugin called Steempress. So, when I post on my WP blog, I can gain the income from the Steem post and still be able to monetize my content on the WP blog.
There are currently over 400 apps under development on the platform. Some exciting projects in the pipeline and I expect even more to come in the future. They wont all be winners, but some of them will be.
So, Why Am I On The Steem Platform?
To return to the original question. I remain on the Steem platform because I’m intrigued to see just how far it develops. It also keeps me motivated to write. The diversity of the platform has drawn me to try things I’ve not tried before, like doing online radio and more recently turning posts like this into podcasts.
The price of STEEM moves up and down with the markets. It’s been as high as $8 and currently is sitting around eighty cents. Who knows where it will go, I’m not to worried about that. The income hasn’t been large but the experience and the friendships which have been formed, those are priceless.
There are other blockchains forming where people will be able to earn for content creation and in some cases content consumption. I’ll try some of them out, but Steem will always be my main choice.
Having said that, this post will go up on Medium first and then be posted in other places. After all, I did write it for people who don’t know the platform.
I am @shadowspub on Steem