Big fan of decentralized software and the pursuit of scientific research.
I have been following alternative social networks for a while, infact I made a list. While I was browsing Twitter, I stumbled upon a newly emerging social network called BitClout. I decided to create a profile, and for those curious my handle is AMKN. You can actually follow my posts here. That said, I have some initial thoughts.
#1 Site Glitches
So far the site is very glitchy, which is fine given that it is quite new. Tons of technical problems may arise here and there as the network is scaling. However, a huge pet peeve I had is verification. There was little to no information on how to get that pesky blue checkmark. There is also no verification form that I was able to find on their site. I am running for public office and advise startups. This plus the fact that I am working on a massive blockchain project myself makes me inclined to want to be verified.
Another pet peeve is that if you aren't big on the mainstream social networks or if you have private accounts, the verification process is harder. I heard the best way to reach out is via email.
So to summarize:
- Site is a bit slow
- Needs a verification form
- Some sort of support or ticketing system would be nice.
#2 The Monetization Model
I am both pro/against the monetization model. I think it is unique that each creator has their own minted "creator coin" and it kind of feels closer to NFTs for social influence. The part that makes me against it however, is that some people's posts are 80% pumping up their creator coin price. People who are also doing nothing unique are making themselves sound like the next big thing. It feels like it could be inviting forms of spam or might lead to some sort of unhealthy gambling-like addiction. Social validation also causes problems to people's self-esteem and I think this may have some unforseen consequences in the future.
#3 How Decentralized Is It?
I have yet to fully understand the mining compatibilities or node distribution system that BitClout has. How are we certain they aren't just fully hosted in some centralized server somewhere? Who is in charge of the development decisions? Do they have forums, voting or mailing lists? What algorithms do they implement? Can they have a more open codebase?
#4 The One-Pager
I am hoping for a more technical whitepaper or some sort of preprint on a site like Arxiv, Preprints, or IACR.
#5 Legal Issues
I think there are lots of unforseen legal issues that this might accidentally run into. For starters, many celebrity accounts are reserved on BitClout but people can now "buy their creator coin" prior to the account even having been created by said person. This leads to an issue of consent and privacy that I'm hoping for transparency on. Also, are the SEC okay w/ this?
#6 Celebrities over Creators
I feel like "celebrity accounts" getting featured sort of centralizes the social influence game. If people who haven't even used the site or haven't even created an account are the most trending, then is this really decentralized? Didn't some sort of manual intervention happen for it to show up like that? Also, how are posts ranked and what details emerge regarding the ranking algorithm? There needs to be some form of transparency regarding this and #5.
#7 Technical Suggestions
If they are looking for a distributed or decentralized model for node distribution, I suggest they take a look at my decentralized-internet SDK. It is open source and perhaps people would be able to spin off variations of BitClout nodes off of it, just like how other cryptocurrencies have distributed node systems. It also offers P2P data transfer capabilities.
That said, I think BitClout is quite interesting, but many things need to be answered in regards to transparency. If they do things right, maybe they can become the next big thing.
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