I've enjoyed being on Publish0x for several months now: some of the writers are extremely interesting and on point, some news items I've missed are discussed and dissected. I also enjoy writing posts (although the online editor can be improved a bit - try a numbered list, for example), and interacting with commenters.
However, we all need to stop for a second and admit Publish0x has a major content issue. Not every "post" is a real post, content is sometimes regurgitated or straight out copy-pasted from other sites, and scam content is rampant (whether intentionally or not).
I intend to cover some of these content offenders, that in my humble opinion, make the site increasingly harder to use and enjoy. I also intend to offer some solutions and recommendations to alleviate some of those issue. I'm hoping some of the Publish0x team will see this, and maybe start a conversation, that will end with us improving the overall quality of the site's content.
What Do I Mean By "Content Issues"
Examples of "Bad Content" on Publish0x
This list is not exhaustive by far (in fact, feel free to leave more examples in a comment), but here are my top content offenders.
Note: I can easily add links to every category, to demonstrate the content. I decided against it -0 no need to shame anyone, and I hope we can all learn and improve our content and the site as a whole, without being called out.
1. The Single Paragraph Post
You have nothing to say but you want to post. You find a sentence ("BTC is going to the moon!"), you add some words, and you post a single paragraph.
What's the purpose of your single-paragraph post? You're not educating, or entertaining. You're not adding any knowledge the world; what can people learn from your post? Why bother?
2. The "This Post is Here Just So I Can Share These Referral Links" Post
"BTC is going to the moon! Now download Brave (referral link) and get something from the faucet (referral link) and play this scammy online game (referral link)". Enough!
Don't you get what these look like? You are whoring yourself just to make a couple of cents here or there. Have some self respect. Why not create some real, useful, interesting content instead, and be compensated for it?
Sub-category of this category, are "paid for posts" - to which Publish0x is largely responsible for: "write something nice about Loopring, and you may get $10!", "pump up this wallet, and you may be one of the 300 to get 1 DAI!" - Seriously? That's how much you value your time and effort?
3. The All-Caps/All-Bold Post
Bold/large fonts are used to mark titles in a post, emphasize something in a paragraph, or call attention to something. If your entire post is in bold letters, what in it is important? And why?
Similarly, using capital letters has been perceived as shouting on the internet for quite a while. Be nice - don't shout (unless there's one part of your paragraph that demands extra attention - see bold font).
4. The Scammy Post
You know that the product you're pushing is a shitcoin, or a pump-and-dump, or a pyramid scheme, yet you write a post about it, encoraging other people to fall into the trap. If you're doing this on purpose, there's nothing I can tell you that will persuade you to stop. If you're not - please research what you intend to post, and avoid tripping others.
5. The "There are No News Here" Post
This type of post is typified by titles containing the word "News" or similar. Usually, they're a culmination of lazy effort by a writer who just visited CoinDesk and is here to repeat an article that you can find somewhere else, completely with repeating the opinions of the original writer, and presenting them as his own.
I understand: coming up with original content is hard. I know, believe me. But that's what we're here for. Instead, we have 50 articles about the same thing, over and over.
Please put in some time, research an issue, come up with new angles and interesting perspectives of your own - we want to hear your voice, not you reporting an article from another site.
And if you are quoting or relying on external material, please include a link to the original source.
Hint: if your post ends up just being a list of links to other site - time to write something original.
Subcategories of this type:
1. The "let me tell you about coin x" posts - did you check how many posts on this site explain what Ethereum is, before writing another post about it?
2. The "copy-paste" post - copying and pasting content from other sites, and not giving credit and marking as a quote, is not only immoral, it's illegal.
3. The "shamelessly copy from other posts on Publish0x" post - these are even lower than #2 in my opinion. No need to add anything.
6. The Full of Typos Post
Not everyone on this site is a native English speaker (e.g. I'm not), and not all of us had to learn the syntax and grammar of the language, or write tons of essays to improve our writing skills. So I fully accept that some of the content here will be grammatically incorrect. But in this day and age of spellcheckers everywhere, the only excuse for publishing content with red lines under words is laziness and apathy.
Take pride in your content: improve it, correct it, try to see if there's a better way to say it. Seek help from other people who may speak English a tad better than you. Most importantly: improve your language skills - you never know when they may help you (especially now, when companies are starting to hire more remote employees).
7. The Wrongly Tagged Post
We've all seen this: a post about a new coin or service, tagged "bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin..." - just so people who read these categories will see it.
Tagging is there to allow people to sort through the tons of posts on the site. If EVERY POST is tagged with "bitcoin", that category becomes useless. Please tag your post according to its content.
Why Do We Have Content Problems
Every site that allows users to create their own content, be it Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, or Medium, encounters content issues at one point or another. Unsupervised people may create abusive, misleading, or even illegal content. In recent years, Twitter and Facebook were accused of allowing misleading content that affected the US elections, while YouTube is still struggling with pedophiles abusing its site, and hate-mongers and conspiracy theorists lowering the average content level.
This is NOT a Publish0x Unique Issue
All this to say: this is not a Publish0x problem - this is a content problem. Every site you build that will allow free, unsupervised content, will face these issues. And as the site grows, and the community coalesces, we expect some curating and filtering mechanisms to emerge - either organically, or by decree. It could be that this entire post is unnecessary, since the team will arrive at these conclusions on their own.
However, Publish0x has a unique aspect other sites don't have: that of direct compensation. If people are monetarily motivated to write bad content, or tag their content in a way that brings more eyeballs to it, they will. "Gaming the system" has been the holy grail of users since systems were invented. It is therefore the job of site administrators and curators to reduce such gaming at the expense of other users, and penalize people who game the system for their direct benefit.
What We Need From Publish0x Team
It's always easy to point at problems, much harder to come up with solutions. The success of the solutions suggested below hinges on several requirements from the Publish0x team:
1. They agree that they have a content problem on the site
It may well be that the current situation and content quality is what they were aiming for all along. Maybe they just want eyeballs on the site. Maybe they just intend to sell it once they reach a certain number of MAU (Monthly active Users) - which is a legitimate goal for a business.
If that's the case, I would appreciate a confirmation from any of them. While I appreciate the opportunity to publish my posts here, maybe this is not the platform for me, or for people offended by low quality content.
2. They have the resources to handle the situation
It could be that, while they may agree there's a problem, the team is busy building the site and working on making it better, and don't have enough bandwidth to handle quality right now. There may be ways around it (outsourcing, or asking the users to volunteer). But even just announcing that they recognize the issue, but will tackle it later due to resources, would do a lot for the site and the community.
3. They are willing to lose some users to achieve overall quality improvement
Let's admit it: if we improve the way posts are admitted an compensated on the site, we may lose certain types of users - specifically the ones who are only here to make a quick buck, or to sell castles in the air. There are ways to retain some of them, and I'll touch on that soon. But like in point 1, if you only care about MAUs, you won't want to lose anyone - I just hope that's not the case.
1. Curation Team/s
A team that will curate posts, suggest improvements to posters, or remove posts if needed (extreme cases: block or penalize repeat offenders).
The team could either belong to Publish0x, be outsources (see Facebook), or be made of volunteer moderators (see Reddit).
Moderators can either be compensated for their service to the community, or do it for the sheer need to improve the site. Moderators can be overruled by, or reported to Publish0x - just to avoid tyrannical situations (again, like Reddit).
Moderators can even be subject matter experts: developers, Technical Analysts - anyone who feel like he's an expert on a subject, can volunteer to curate issues in that field.
2. Different types of posts
Perhaps some people have content to share that is the size of a single paragraph - and no more. Perhaps even the size of a tweet. I'd allow a mechanism for "short posts" to be shared, and tipped - beside the "regular" posts. As an example, look at what TradingView did: they have full posts, and a "StockTwit" on the side, where people share shorter content.
3. Spellcheck articles before publishing
Spellcheckers are free - why not run one upon post submission, and highlight the words the user may need to fix? It's not 100% correct - many of the words we use in our articles are technical or jargon, and have no correct spelling, but it will fix most common typos.
And why not go an extra step and integrate something like Grammarly to highlight and correct grammar errors?
4. Proper Tagging
Like on StackOverflow.com, the system should allow suggesting proper tagging. If someone mis-tags his posts once or twice, he can be pointed to the right tags. Repeat offenders may see their posts's tags changed by the moderation team.
5. "Duplicate" tag
StackOverflow allows people to mark certain questions as "Duplicate of" followed by a link to a similar question. This is done to avoid repeated content, and to encourage people to search the site before posting. I believe we can benefit from a similar tag.
More than that, if I can point to whole paragraphs lifted - as-is - from other sources, the whole post should be removed until the user fixes the accredition. Repeated violations by the same user will be penalized.
6. Sterner reporting mechanism
Publish0x posts have a "Report" button on the bottom, and for the most part, reports are taken seriously.
I'd make the button more prominent, and explain the reporting process better. Penalization should also be clear, and available to all users, with a proper way to appeal.
7. Limit referrals
A referral to your own blog, Github repo, or YouTube channel is encouraged - it shows your dedication to your trade and craft. Millions of referrals to download Brave Browser help no one. I would strip referral links, and plainly ask people to stop using them here, unless you can show why your content is improved by them.
8. Penalize scammers
Scammers are here to make a buck out of you and me. Upon detection, they should be penalized where it hurts them the most - their wallet. Take away their revenue, limit their access to the site (both as posters and commenters), and if need be, limit them by their IP address (as done by Reddit).
Improving the site content is not an easy task. It requires work from all of us: the Publish0x team, the posters, the readers. But I believe we all want a long-lasting, quality site. It could be that this initial period of content issues is just growing pains. Let's all band together and make this site better!
Please stay safe!
PS: to the Publish0x team (@igort) - I would love to hear your opinion about any part of the, or the whole, post.