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The Swiftly and Unnecessarily Diminishing Returns of Being a Skilled Writer, Musician or Artist on Minds....and the Remedy

authorpendragonDec 23, 2018, 6:49:26 AM

Sure, I understand the persistent threat to Minds and the imperative for Minds to confront it. To its great credit, Minds has angered a legendarily vindictive Facebook, notorious for crushing any small competitors that it cannot buy. Additionally, Minds' protective attitude toward political speech has pissed off at least one totalitarian government. On top of that, Minds rewards program and the option of Ethereum tokens in its rewards program attract spammers that are now AI-augmented. That attack got vicious in 2018; spamnots were clogging the site. 

Last year, Minds was five programmers and four admins servicing one million users while fighting a spamwar. I can't stress enough; the tiny Minds team was in a huge fight for the site; they did not mean to harm us. Swamped by a flood of sometimes AI-enhanced spambots, Minds deployed its own bots. 

Defending itself, Minds also changed policies, taking rewards from anything that is hard for a Minds bot to distinguish from a spambot. (If you don't want rats, remove the cheese.) Bots deployed to fight spam unfortunately can't tell a fake blogpost containing a slightly scrambled alphabet from one containing this year's non-fiction best seller. Because spammers use the blog platform and post art and so do we, legitimate artists, writers and reporters suddenly ceased to get tokens for posting -- even for posting blog pieces that had taken some days, weeks or months to research and produce. 

As Minds withdrew incentives from whatever the spammers were doing. Minds steadily withdrawn rewards from even highly skilled graphics and textual creators: Writers. Researchers. Artists. 

Writing, art and conversation are appreciated here on Minds to an extent that you rarely see on social media. Truth, I once published a blogpost that ran to 49 pages; yet Minds people read it and took off on a smart, interesting, detailed discussion.There is moreover rich, delicious artistic talent on board. We savor each other's work. Minds also appreciates us. Until recently, it richly rewarded creatives. Minds was not attacking us; it was after spammers. It still does not have the person-power to mark real writers and artists as legit. We could do that ourselves. I've created a group, Minds Content Creators. If you create original content, please go to it and hit JOIN. We'll check you out and if you're not a bot, you're in. Our list of real creatives will help Minds spot the bots. It will also give us a platform if Minds can't sort the rewards out.

I'll get back to that. 


To fix this situation, you have to see it first. That process of inadvertently punishing us because of what the spammers do accelerated last year, 2018, because the spammers did. Until recently, for example, Minds paid for content creation, period. We got tokens for subscriptions, for checking in once an hour, for blogposting and for posting art and news -- and for all the likes and comments on all our posts and for reminding other people's posts.When lots of people liked and commented on a piece, it ended up in the Blog Gallery which was great extra earned ad space. 

Always with several blogposts from both channels in the Gallery, I made plenty from the Minds rewards (not counting wires) to boost my pieces and to thank and aid friends. On and offline, I'm an investigative reporter. On a Minds channel under my name @GailMcGowanMellor, I'm writing an unauthorized history of Minds which contains interviews with the principals, and am writing new installments as the story unfolds. On this channel, @authorpendragon, which I've had for 2.5 years, I often reach out to newbies, writing  Culture Shock: from Facebook to Minds, compiling a Dragon'sTreasure Trove of links to blogposts about using Minds. On both channels, I write blogposts on subjects ranging from the lessons to be learned from a corpse in the front yard, to asteroids and hydras. On both channels, I run daily newsstreams. 

We were told to stay cool, that if we generated quality content, we would be richly rewarded by the subscriptions, likes and comments that our pieces earned. Pay attention to that; it's the point really. 

Minds apparently assumed that spammers could not fake writing a quality piece, so they would not get much traffic on blogs, while we would. It turned however that spammers don't need to fake quality; they just like and subscribe to each other. To fight spam by removing the incentive, Minds as noted had quit paying for posts. Minds soon moved again to defend the site, determined to do so without invading the user privacy of names. Without storing personal data, it asked each of us for a cellphone number (because all cell numbers are unique) then pushed that number through two random numbers to create a unique hash to identify that person's account in Minds records without storing the person's name or cell. 

You can check the code in Gitlab to see. They do not store the original cell numbers. Fine. Now however responses to our posts no longer counted unless we and the responder were both certified not to be spam. Some veteran Minds resented being asked for a cell because they hadn't been asked before and they didn't submit a cell number. Many new people have not gotten around to submitting a cell, so anyone like me who has reached out to newcomers is at a double disadvantage, because anyone uncertified who responds to you does not count toward rewards. If you blogpost or post art or news, then unless your readers submitted their cell numbers, some of your readers' liking, commenting, reminding or subscribing no longer counts at all.

Each reader of a news stream moreover typically "likes" many news posts in succession, perhaps commenting on one or two, reminding others. Spammers however like, comment on and subscribe at very high speeds, chalking up a lot of them. Minds countered. Now only the first like or remind or comment by each given person each day on our channels counts for tokensOne only from each person each day! So especially if your newstream is top quality, the majority of the likes and comments that you get on your multiple posts each day no longer bring any tokens.  Engaged people comment more than once, discuss. Posts that can generate discussions are golden for Minds, yet we're in effect penalized for that too. Most responses to our blogposts on our own channels don't count because  and only one of each person's comments count each day. 


Meanwhile, Reminds of our original pieces are not credited to us, the writers and artists, for rewards. Truth back when we creatives were paid for posting, we were delighted that the reminders were being paid. The person doing the reminding is to be sure giving us exposure to a new audience, in effect offering advertising space. No, I definitely do not think that reminders should have to buy the originals. Thank heaven for reminders. 

We originators however are the primary feed for Minds.If we're posting skilled original work we're as certainly giving the reminder something tailor-made in return, something that is likely to attract readers. It's a collaborative effort. So why are only the reminders paid for the remind of an original piece when we are no longer paid for the original post? 

Credit for comments on a reminded post should sure, of course, go to the reminders; they generated the audiences on their channels. 

They did not however buy our copyright.  Comments on and "Likes" for  an original blogpost or artistic work that took one of us days or months to produce go completely to the reminders; we writers and artists don't get even a percentage, yet readers are responding to our posts not to where they find them. That "rich reward for producing quality content" that we were promised back when blogposting itself ceased to be rewarded? As spammers have darted around, hiding behind us, it's steadily declined.

Again, Minds was not attacking us. 

We're casualties, temporary I hope, of Minds' war on spambots. 

A good friend who makes out like a bandit on Minds -- he seems to succeed at almost everything he tries -- tells me that my bothering to research and write is no longer the way to go here. He insists that if every few days I were instead to find ten jokes (not brilliant memes or even new jokes just good jokes) to post and then tended the comment sections, I'd have tokens running out of my ears. Demonstrably, he's right. In terms of tokens, that's far more time and labor effective than what I do. Suddenly, there's the incentive: collect jokes. 

So Minds, is that where you want the incentive to be? 

In terms of the texture of your site, do you really want all of your users with real skill in graphics or research/writing instead out there finding jokes? if not, then while you're hiring, consider including someone who's expertise lies in brilliantly fighting spams and hacks without (however inadvertently) treating artists, reporters and writers like unimportant collateral damage....

Thanks for listening, everybody. I can't stress enough; Minds did not mean to harm us. They were five programmers servicing one million people while fighting a spamwar. They've just gotten six million dollars, are hiring more engineers; I trust them. I've created a group, Minds Content Creators. If you create original content, please go to it and hit JOIN. We'll check you out and if you're not a bot, you're in. Our list of real creatives will help Minds spot the bots. It will also give us a platform.