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Minds Required No Personal Information, Paid for All Content. Spam is Costing All of Us. Solutions?

dragonAug 7, 2018, 4:48:45 PM

Minds is live. Minds.com passed through Beta in 2016-2017, has sailed through Testnet, is about to move to the Ethereum system on August 13th. It has clearly meant every one of its promises, because for years it kept them all. In addition to open source, crypto and freedom of speech, it promised payment for content creation, optional anonymity and no Minds requests for personal information. In Beta, it delivered. 

The problem is spam. Spammers are a threat to Minds' "payment for work" because spammers by definition cheat, gaming that system. As Minds moves from Testnet to the Ethereum system, the stakes for enforcing honesty could not be higher.  Minds management is caught between 1) its promises to pay for our work and not request personal information and 2) its promise to us of -- and its own need for -- site security. That is a conundrum, unquestionably. What some users question is Minds' solutions. 

Can we come up with better ones?

Here's what has happened:


Minds is the anti-Facebook, the first open source challenge to it. Facebook bases its profit on getting free content from its users while it sells its users' personal information to global corporations, political groups and the NSA or whatever government spy system the host country prefers. Most recently, Facebook is trying to talk global banks into giving Facebook account data for all Facebook users. In strong contrast, Minds does not spy, sell us, or play along with dictatorships.

More it asks no personal information and pays us for our productive time. 
Well. Er. Okay. Uh. As noted, formerly that was completely true.

Trying to suppress a flood of spam, however, Minds has recently quit paying for those things that spammers frequently do, removing the incentive from them but in the process removing payment from us.That is costing all of us. We on Minds were for example formerly paid in "points" (the placeholder for today's tokens) for our time. Points for time spent here easily mounted up, because some of us hung 8-12 hours a day (or more exactly a night) throughout Beta, helping out new people and/or writing and updating blog posts or crafting graphics. 

None of that counts currently for reimbursement. 

In Beta moreover we were paid for postsMany of us curate news, bringing in quality stuff from all over, so being paid at least for posts was good. 

Then thanks to spammers that ended. 

What counts now is not our time, not our content creation, not our posting, but the responses to our posts, purportedly the correct measure of their quality. 

But, well. not exactly....  

Spammers started Liking everything on a channel at bot speed. Now, if
 a given reader Likes more than one thing that you post in a day, most are not credited to you. Only each person's first Like of your posts that day counts in reimbursing you for your work

Well, not even that anymore, not really.... 


Having withdrawn rewards from all the things that spammers (ad we) are most likely to do -- blog posts, other posts, likes, etc. -- Minds was still plagued by spammers. Minds' answer was to form a unique identifying hash for each of us, based on a unique phone number.

Responses to our posts, even new subscribers to our channels, now don't count unless our reader/listener/ viewers and we are "registered". We and our subs and other readers moreover can "register" only by giving Minds personal information, a phone number. 

Granted, Minds already required an email address, but that's easy to fluff with a throwaway email address. Minds Plus already provided you with the "option" of a "verified" badge. ("Submit a request and post your Minds channel link on at least two other social sites so we know that it is you. The Minds team will review the submission and verify that you actually are who you claim to be. This helps our community confirm that you are the real channel and not an imposter.") At least that has been optional. 

As to the phone number, Minds promises not to store it, and since Minds is open source you can see that it does not have any code for storing phone numbers. 

Yet the required phone number has hit stiff opposition from many. Minds has in response said that we could use someone else's phone or use a burner. That did not bring everyone running either. Minds management protested that we're not actually being forced to fork over our phone number -- that "personal information" that it once promised never to ask. 

We can avoid giving our phone number by "opting out" forgoing being paid for any of our work and being paid for responding to the work of others. This in many eyes is -- there is no other accurate term --  discrimination against people who are earning tokens for work on Minds rather than buying tokens with money found elsewhere.  Losing all compensation for work on Minds may be a shock but is no real disincentive for those who buy ads with money that they earn elsewhere. They can still boost posts. Minds' withdrawing its payments is however harsh retribution for those who earn ads by socking work into Minds itself. They'll lose either 1) the constantly-retreating Minds promise to pay for work or 2) the newly-retreating Minds promise not to ask for personal information. 

Remember, however....

spammers are the enemy here, not Minds.

If the pool of tokens handed out each day is to be fair and honest, Minds must
 control the cheaters, without trading away the farm to do it.

Can we as users do more to help slam spam? If you have better solutions than the ones that Minds is choosing, please speak up. For example, I think that Minds should crack down on group administrators who are not controlling spam within their groups -- NOT withdraw incentives from honest content creators -- and give group members a way to reach and pressure laggard group owners. As it stands, group admins are treated as sacrosanct no matter what they do, or more exactly, what they don't do. 
We need to address this as a community....