The Decentral Authority

We’ve been big fans of Reddit since it was part of the first Y Combinator class ten years ago this summer. We’ve watched closely as it emerged as a community powered mostly by its users. There was a period when the entire company was one or two developers. And yet not only did Reddit survive that period, it actually thrived during it. It is a quintessential example of the lightweight people powered app that we look for and love at USV.

The growing pains that Reddit is going through as it evolves into something more are particularly interesting to us. We’ve always wondered if a people powered community that is owned as much by its users as anyone can work as a traditional corporate entity. We’ve been through similar situations in our career (Geocities and Twitter among them) and we know how hard it is to reconcile the needs of the users, the management, and the shareholders.

I am not going to come down on the side of any of these stakeholders in this current situation. They all have very valid needs and desires and there are no easy answers to the struggle that Reddit faces. I am particularly sympathetic to the need to manage the trolling activity. Twitter also struggles with this issue. Free speech has an ugly underbelly and when you stare at it up close and personally, it makes you want to puke. And yet where do you stop on the slippery slope of deciding what is acceptable and what is not?

We have also wondered what the first killer app of the blockchain is going to be. Is it going to be personal finance (bitcoin), is it going to be peer to peer connectivity (mesh networking), or is it going to be something else?

There’s a chance that the answer to the struggle that Reddit is going through will also answer this question. It may be that there is no viable middle ground between a centrally controlled media platform and an entirely decentralized media platform. You are either going to police the site or you are going to build something that cannot be policed even if you want to.

The interesting thing about an entirely decentralized media platform is that you can have clients that choose to curate, police, and censor and clients that choose not to. Twitter, as originally architected, could have headed down this path. But for many reasons, reasons I supported to be clear, it chose not to.

But someone is going to go there. And I think it will happen soon. And I think it most likely will be built on the blockchain. There have been plenty of attempts to do this before. And none have succeeded. So why now?

Well for one, the blockchain is here and waiting for its killer app. And there are no shortage of entrepreneurs who want to build it. And platforms like Twitter, Reddit, 4Chan, and others have fed the desire to have something more but for reasons that are entirely valid are coming up empty for some.

The demand is there. The supply (technology) is there. And we’ve seen a bunch of teams working on this. I think one or more will get it right. And I think that will happen soon.

To be clear, this does not mean the end of Reddit or Twitter or any other of the current media platforms that are out there. They will likely move more and more into a centrally controlled media platform. I think that is the natural evolution of platforms that need to cater to the needs of management and shareholders. There is a good business to be had in a centrally controlled platform.

But there is also a very interesting opportunity to build a truly decentralized media platform. I am not sure it will be a good business. I am not sure it will even be a business. But it can be a very powerful community and platform. And there is a market for that. A big one I think.


Comments (Archived):

  1. kidmercury

    i doubt the technology is there. or rather, the experience will be so clunky that only those who so passionately believe in the anarchist ideology will appreciate it. i’m skeptical of how viable that audience is in size and in its ability to accomplish anything aside from complaining about rules.

    1. fredwilson

      I used to think that. But I don’t anymore

      1. David Semeria

        This is a very insightful post Fred. But I have an issue with:The interesting thing about an entirely decentralized media platform is that you can have clients that choose to curate, police, and censor and clients that choose not toThis reminds my of Italy where defendants in a legal case talk about their own “truth” — implying that multiple different truths can exist about the same thing.I suspect, just like in court cases, people will want to cut to the chase, and get straight to the absolute truth, or at least its best approximation.

    2. Mark Essel

      It’s a beautiful set of opposing forces – uncontrollable yet self organizing. You can certainly influence, engage and entertain communities, and that’s where the business opportunities lie.

  2. CJ

    I love the idea of an unfiltered stream of information that can then be curated by the individual client rather than dictated from on high. You choose your level of comfort by choosing where you get the information. Brilliant.

    1. Anne Libby

      Yes. As search gets messier and less useful because of the volume of stuff to search — plus the pressure to monetize that creates clickbait — this is already more and more necessary.To be sure, it’s one reason that many people come here!

  3. Khalid

    I think an uncontrolled media community will not be susseccful. Instead of that, it has to be a community which controlled by the community itself. It has not to be controlled by one person, institution or party, it has to be from people to the people, technically it is possible, the key factors are morals and values.

    1. CJ

      Morals and values are subjective. Achieving agreement on them and a diversity of content is a huge challenge.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        That’s why I think the concept of community is important. More shared values and principles, and in some cases, morals. But even then, subjectivity comes into play, doesn’t it?

        1. CJ

          Yes, which is why you’ll often see schisms as communities grow larger. Maintaining shared values and morals over a large group of people is almost impossible without religious levels of charisma and leadership. Even then, it’s not assured, look at all the various branches or Christianity and Islam. Drawing an allegory to the startup scene, you also sometimes see the same schism form between co-founders as a company matures. The tests of those values and morals increase over time and sometimes, often subtly, you realize the person/people you threw your lot in with, don’t always respond to situations the way you would or think they should.Over time those small chinks add up and create a schism that will divide/destroy a community unless tackled. This plays out in every community or tribe, if I’m invoking Seth Godin correctly.

          1. Drew Meyers

            Community is hard, in every way. And I completely agree, it breaks down in large groups very quickly.I think size of community is the largest factor to Coushsurfing’s recent struggles: http://kernelmag.dailydot.c

        2. Twain Twain

          It could be that Google’s machines decide what’s moral and valuable for us:*

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Fascinating stuff.

          2. Twain Twain

            Naturally, without female X code, the machines and distributed networks have 0 hope of discerning the emotions inherent in language, morals, ethics and wit which determines values.This is why tech needs women now as much as the world needed Ada Lovelace to make Charles Babbage’s original computing machine to work!:*).After all, IBM Watson’s creator called his own invention “akin to a human autistic savant” and this is the case with ALL the Machine Intelligence built by Google, Facebook, Baidu, Amazon, Apple SIRI et al and every AI built by men in the last 50-60 years since Turing’s paper ‘Can machines think?’.*…For the machines and distributed networks to deliver value and not destroy Humanity and the global economy, we don’t want them to think…We want them to do what women do so naturally…CONSIDER (think and do with care).

        3. Anne Libby

          Anyone who has ever been to a community board meeting — anywhere — knows how hard “community” is.I don’t see why it would be different, anywhere, than it is in Real LIfe.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      I may see where you are going with this. A community has shared values and this helps govern content to some extent. Not as sure about the morals part — well, yes in some situations where the community has a more defined set of moral standards. But I think you can have shared principles that are not as clearly stated yet understood.That might be the case with the AVC community: shared interests for sure, some shared values, some shared principles. The problems seem to come from those who haven’t bought into the community, who pop in with an agenda and then pop out. We have mods, but largely the community seems to be self-governing. A few times I’ve seen someone come into the comments with an agenda gone awry and as the community goes into action, I think of the words of Mr. T: “I pity the fool.”

      1. Anne Libby

        The visible active community here is also not huge in size.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          And often not completely limited to this blog.

  4. JLM

    .The organizational approach — including the presence of authority and any sense of hierarchy — is in many ways a function of the size of the organization.A few people can organize a sandlot baseball game but it takes a bit more organization, discipline and hierarchy to organize a baseball league.Same product, essentially, but hugely different challenges.Size matters.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Alex Pack

      Size of the community matters, but anonymous and pseudo-anonymous forums have been going strong on the Internet since it’s beginning.For the most part, they do so by abiding by some variation of the Nobel Prize-winning economist Elinor Ostrom’s Common Governance Design Principles. And Ostrom identified these by looking at traditional (offline) commons-based property regimes around the world that go back thousands of years. Here are the principles:——1.Clearly defined boundaries, which define who has access to the CPR.2.Appropriation and provision rules which are tailored to local conditions.3.Collective-choice arrangements, that allow most resource appropriators to participate in the decision-making process.4.Effective monitoring (monitors accountable to the appropriators, or are the appropriators )5.Graduated sanctions for resource appropriators who violate operational community rules.6.Conflict resolution mechanisms that are cheap and rapidly accessed.7.Self-determination of the community recognized by higher-level authorities.8.Nested enterprises. Larger CPRs are organised in the form of multiple layers of nested enterprises, with small local CPRs at the base level.”—–The blockchain could be useful as a tool to automate enforcement of some of these Design Principles, but you would have to be careful to not make a completely hands-off, i.e. dictatorial, protocol, and thereby abdicate control instead of decentralize it. Self-determination and collective decision-making are crucial for governing commons-based communities.

    2. awaldstein

      The interesting thing is that in either organizational or not, the role of the leader is not that different.Authority in either case has to be earned–and leadership and the success that proves it–is the criteria for that authority.

  5. Dave Pinsen

    Not a user of Reddit, but from Twitter commentary I’ve seen, it seems the issue wasn’t opposition to moderation per se but the firing of a beloved employee who guided the moderation, by a CEO who seems to leave a trail of destruction and enmity in her wake.

    1. pointsnfigures

      Ya, does seem like the CEO is overwhelmed.

      1. CJ

        Hard to turn the Reddit ship while fighting a highly publicized discrimination case in court as well. I don’t envy anyone holding the Reddit CEO job, the challenges to turning Reddit from a community where the animals run the zoo into something resembling a company that investors can see the hope of future profits are formidable. Just one of the reasons I found that choice an odd one.

      2. ErikSchwartz

        Perhaps distracted too.

    2. Laurent Boncenne

      as far as i understand it, the position of Reddit moderators is that the firing of a loved employee of Reddit, inc. who handled almost all of communications with certain entities for AMA’s (scientist, pr reps etc.) was only the tipping point of some of the struggle and frustration that the mods of different subreddit had to deal with.the biggest being the absence of proper transparency and communications with some of the bigger subreddits whose active and independent nature meant that they pretty much did their own thing as best they can while relying on Reddit’s broken admin and moderation tools which meant making things a whole lot difficult to manage (one example being the absolute need to rely on an extension not officially provided by reddit to do their work called /r/toolbox, and the lacking functionality of the messaging system, with modmail replies disappearing after a few days).the trouble with all this is that most of the biggest communities within reddit were operated by volunteers who kept things working and dedicated their free time to something which they are now realizing and feeling like they don’t matter in reddit’s grand scheme of things.the CEO’s lack of actual use of the platform she runs to communicate with her user base certainly didn’t help.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        operated by volunteers who kept things working and dedicated their free time to something which they are now realizing and feeling like they don’t matterCritical warning for anyone running a decentralized business or community. Not just volunteers but the supply side of a marketplace company. Seems like the ones I’m most familiar with are figuring this out. Recent searches for roles involving the leading of supply side operations have a strong community cultivation component.

        1. Laurent Boncenne

          I think when you look at things as a whole, even a normal company needs to have transparency with their staff and communicate with them.Nothing is more frustrating for an employee to feel out of the loop within the company they work for with no sense of real purpose for how the future is going to look like for them.That’s how a lot of small business fail when they transition from a micro to a small biz to a slightly bigger one.Policies and procedures need to happen but the lack of communication during the decision making process really makes an impact.At the end of the day, whether it’s a community or a company, both are made of people.

          1. CJ

            Not just small businesses. I’m working for a medium sized business with well over $500MM in annual revenue and no one has clued them in to this fact. Because of that, and some elements Fred touched on in the Mercenary vs. Loyalist post, they are currently seeing a talent drain that will leave them wondering what happened in a year or two as the consistent earnings growth starts to reverse.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            Loyalist vs. Mercenary can be applied to companies as well. Interestingly, mercenary companies often hire really good people. Who people like me later recruit to more deserving companies.

          3. CJ

            Totally agree. Mine is transforming from the former to the latter.

          4. Donna Brewington White

            Yikes. (if I am reading correctly that the company is becoming more mercenary)It may take a while but they will experience the residual effects of this.

          5. CJ

            The company is definitely becoming more mercenary and sacrificing values and culture over the pursuit of the dollar. The sad thing that the current CEO doesn’t realize is that the culture and values are what allowed them to get to their current point in the industry. Our employees deliver outsized value due to the great working environment. Well we used to anyway. /sigh

          6. Donna Brewington White

            So sorry to hear this.

          7. PhilipSugar

            This is a great comment, but the problem I have always had is mercenary companies always overpay.Therefore I don’t want to be the person on the rebound I want to be the one after.Also this is a great example of why when people just side with one person because of their gender for instance, it is a horrible thing, the same as politics.I would say Ellen Pao now has a line, not just dots associated with her reputation.

          8. Donna Brewington White

            Many of them probably have to overpay, Phil, in order to attract good people. But unless they are in a poor job market or people take on the attributes of the culture, they won’t be able to keep those people. There is a certain company in my area that pays well (or at least they did when I was recruiting in that particular industry) and hired top tier people. If someone was there more than four years, I wouldn’t touch them because this meant they had acclimated to the culture. If they had become a VP then I knew what they had to do to get to that level and I wouldn’t wish that person on a client.”rebound” — I see many candidates who worked for the same company for a long time spend a much shorter time at the next company and not find their groove until the company after that! For this reason, I will still reach out to someone as a prospect even though short term at their current company if I see they have a stable history. But if they are open to leaving because they realize they made a mistake, it is critical to find out what they’ve learned from the experience.

          9. Donna Brewington White

            So right! Getting the people part right (internally as well as externally) seems to be as integral to successfully scaling as anything.

      2. John McGrath

        The story of Reddit gimping along with two developers is legendary, but this is how that chicken comes home to roost. Tooling, analytics, spam and abuse filters, etc are a really important part of managing a community at scale. Sounds like they spent a long time just trying to keep the site up, and neglected those.

      3. LE

        most of the biggest communities within reddit were operated by volunteers who kept things working and dedicated their free time to something which they are now realizing and feeling like they don’t matterEssentially they most likely feel like schmucks and are mad at themselves for all of their effort considering they have no equity and their power is (I am guessing) being challenged or stripped.

      4. Dave Pinsen

        Worth mentioning here that the employee in question had just recovered from a bout with cancer and was eager to get back to work when fired by Pao, who allegedly questioned the woman’s ability, as a cancer survivor, to do her job.As for the CEO not using the company’s product, that seems like a problem as well.

        1. Dad

          That’s really messed up ethically/morally if true. it also seems like grounds for a lawsuit since the legal protection of disabled individuals, which is what is implied by the statement questioning ability due to a medical situation, is pretty strong.

          1. CJ

            You don’t treat people this way, but more importantly for her, you don’t treat people this way when you run a website that routinely exposes this sort of thing for the lulz. That’s just asking for it.The company I work for is a bit on the shady side. Very publicity adverse, very tight-lipped. People may or many have been terminated without cause many times. Those people may or may not have signed a NDA before leaving. And further those people may or may not have cashed a hefty check as a result.My point is that you can’t be a dick and be a miser. If you want to be a dick, then you have to pay for the right to pull it out.*Edit to add that we have never – to my knowledge – severed ties with a person due to illness. In fact, we’ve gone above and beyond for those people and kept them employed and paid throughout their illness, even changing a person’s job as much as necessary to allow them to work. However, we have cut ties with people due to BS and in those cases, those people tend to leave rather happily due to a new found financial windfall.

          2. JLM

            .Strong meaning protected by both State and Federal law.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. Laurent Boncenne

          I think there’s a misunderstanding here as i was referring to /u/chooters (Victoria Taylor) who used to handle & greatly help mod teams of major subreddit’s like /r/iAmA or /r/Science who was terminated without warning or explanation which was the tipping point of all things.The major concern wasn’t so much that she was fired, but that they weren’t told anything about this nor given enough time to prepare as Victoria was liaising with a few high profile PR and press teams of very high profile people (Stephen Hawking being the major one) to assist the teams of the Science subreddit with organising everything.To top it off, it then became the major point against reddit’s admin and lack of communications as well as their inactivity surrounding helping moderators with the tools they needed to manage their communities.The employee you’re referring to is /u/Dacvak who was terminated abruptly by Pao earlier in the year which added fuel to an already excruciatingly burning fire all around reddit when he did his Ama.he was initially about to start working for reddit as a community manager, but was diagnosed with leukemia a few days before starting and reddit at the time decided to keep him under payroll and pay for a year’s worth of treatment, but ultimately Pao decided to fire him for no apparent reason to those not in the’s definitely telling that everything leading to this event was in part due to the changes in policies and Pao’s management/leadership style took a tool on the global community, but she’s definitely not the entire problem here (a good chunk of it i’ll give you that).Don’t get me wrong, i’m not trying to downplay her role and unsympathetic attitude towards all this, but the major issue is that reddit as a company doesn’t seem to care for the 1% of its community who handle and manage the remaining 99% of their users and as such, impacts their traffic down the line.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            No I was referring to Taylor as well (the cancer survivor), though I may have described her role imprecisely.

          2. Laurent Boncenne

            ha, I’m fairly certain she doesn’t have cancer :)Dacvak did or has.

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Sorry, my mistake then.

    3. LE

      Let me add to the ad hominem and say that said CEO is a mess in general and loves being in the limelight. If you view some photos of her before and after the verdict was announced in her legal case, you see her smiling in a very genuine and satisfying way as if it doesn’t even matter that she lost (or might lose) the case as she bathes in all of the wonderful trailblazer publicity. Her lawyers of course didn’t appear so happy after the same loss.

      1. Twain Twain

        I don’t necessarily see or agree with Ellen Pao as the standard bearer for women in technology or in VC. Mostly because she doesn’t code and hasn’t invented / built / invested in any tech from scratch (unlike Ada Lovelace, Hedy Lamarr, Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, Adele Goldberg and other women I’m inspired by and see as my own personal role models).Nonetheless, last week I also read the below statement from John Doerr which communicates “But most of all, we are very sorry it is so hard for women and minorities in the tech and venture industry.”Agree / disagree with her, what Ellen Pao did resulted in this admission from John Doerr: “about the good that emerged from the trial, namely a renewed focus on diversity by the tech and venture industry.”The solutions can’t be found in the same-old-same-old “male vs female” conversations or lip service about “the pipeline”. It’s counter-productive and wastes time for both genders.Change will happen with the male+female invention of new data and metric tools that transforms the whole of the technology industry as well as the global economy.Those tools will better enable us to VALUE products, people (male & female), relationships, productivity and brands.And, yes, if women in technology want to earn more respect they should be inventing, making, investing in and delivering those tools to market.+++++++++++++++++++++Emily Chang of Bloomberg TV recently interviewed my partner Dr. Beth Seidenberg and me. We answered questions about the Pao trial and the outlook for Kleiner Perkins.The litigation limited our communications with you, our friends and partners. We are sorry you had to go through it. But most of all, we are very sorry it is so hard for women and minorities in the tech and venture industry.We talk with Emily about the good that emerged from the trial, namely a renewed focus on diversity by the tech and venture industry.Another bright spot is the support we have felt from our community. The notes from so many of you have meant the world to us.You can view the interview here. Beth has written a blog post about our new initiatives here.As a father of two daughters, this is personal. I am committed to help get to a 50/50 world, one with opportunity for them and everyone. This is important for social justice, and because it is better for business. And because diversity is a core value at Kleiner, a partnership I love and am proud of.We are very grateful for your support. We’re moving on and look forward to serving you.Onward!John

    4. Pete Griffiths

      I was highly confident that her past would be dragged tup. Didn’t take long, did it?

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Why shouldn’t it? It’s relevant to perceptions of her character and business ability (or lack thereof). For that matter, her husband’s corrupt, litigious, and possibly criminal past (and present) is relevant too:

        1. Pete Griffiths

          So her husband’s past is relevant too? Why is that?

          1. Pete Griffiths

            That website looks to me like hate mongering rather than bona fide journalism. I’m not suggesting that her husband doesn’t have issues. I have seen them reported elsewhere, but this is not a source I would rely on for a balanced view. I remain a little unclear why you are so confident why the sins of the husband should be visited on her. I understand it is a natural inclination, but I think it is something to be VERY careful about. If everyone in life was judged by the actions of their spouses, kids or friends slurs and their consequences would be widespread indeed.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            I don’t think I can make it any clearer than the blogger made it at those links. You seem unwilling to connect the dots. Here is another blog post, by a different blogger, with several excerpts from and links to relevant articles from mainstream media organizations: http://penetrate.blogspot.c

          3. Pete Griffiths

            And I don’t think I can make it any clearer that smearing a person because of the acts of their spouse, brother, sister, lover, father or minister is to say the least extra judicial. The husband may be a dreadful scumbag for all I care. But you have to make a serious case for the relevance of his dark nature to the wife or all you are doing is tarring someone by reference. And that, IMHO, is something that one should be extremely careful about. I don’t expect any better from various lowlife bloggers but hoped we held ourselves to a higher standard until the case is proven. Otherwise all we are doing is mindlessly piling on.

  6. Pito Salas

    Is Wikipedia a counter example?

  7. JimHirshfield

    Peer reviewed media exists. It’s not fully decentralized, but it demonstrates a part of the point you’re making, I believe.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      What is a great example?

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Ah, good one. Thanks. And I see from this that the concept of peer review is far from new.

    2. aweissman

      Mineplex, for example, is the largest Minecraft community and service (I think) and is similar – almost fully decentralized review and norms system. More interestingly, designed and run by 14 year olds, basically

      1. JimHirshfield

        Legit. Just verified with my 10 year old.

      2. kidmercury

        i don’t see how the mineplex community is decentralized. they have mods, bans, appeals. once you have stuff like that, you essentially have a centralized structure. if there are only a small number of mods, that means the structure is essentially more centralized, as those small number of people wield great communal power.

        1. aweissman

          if your definition for centralized is that at some point some person can make a decision, that sure, nothing can ever be the case of mineplex, there are hundred and hundreds of mods of every stripe and flavor, adding new types all the time

          1. kidmercury

            with blockchain decentralized discussions, i am assuming, perhaps falsely, that there is some type of a vision for a world in which the rules of governance are determined automatically; that there are no “human governance” decisions, like ban appeals in online forums or like the court system in nation-states. i don’t see how that actually happens with blockchain systems in a manner that is somewhat user-friendly. i can see it sort of happening if you pay with coins to post, though then you have a “might makes right” situation in which the wealthiest are the only ones who can vote, which is probably okay with some, though that is generally not the vibe i’m getting when people speak fondly of a blockchain-based decentralization.

    3. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Wouldn’t Stack Overflow be a great example here? I feel like it’s a great model for this kind of thing, but rarely gets brought up as such.

      1. JimHirshfield

        But isn’t it centrally organized by the company behind it?

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Yes, but I think it’s pretty close. The rules have been set up by the company. But it’s driven (I think!) almost entirely by unpaid moderators and participants.Obtaining more ‘authority’ within the system is something that’s a result of actions taken and positive peer review. It requires a quantifiable minimum amount of dedication to bettering and building the body of content and peer approval.Somehow they’ve managed to create a pretty troll-free environment, vs say, HN, (along with an epic body of content) without requiring an army of paid moderators or community managers (aka by letting the community manage itself), I believe.

          1. JimHirshfield


          2. Gene @

            I love Stack Overflow model of karma-based access control, in other words you gain very granular access rights based on the value you bring in. And the governance of this type is ripe for blockchain.I am also baffled by the fact that it has not reached the critical mass. Is it because there are too many rules at SO, and they have not been generalized?

          3. Kirsten Lambertsen

            It’s a good question. So so so many developers owe so much to SO at this point. You’d think one of them would have gone out and built something like it 🙂 Maybe they figure SO will get to it before they can.

          4. Gene @

            indeed, I once generalized the SO model and my team even built it up, but we never brought it to market, perhaps one day

  8. Twain Twain

    Worth re-reading this 2006 article ‘Digital Maoism’ by Jarod Lanier:*…It’s interesting to track how online democracy may potentially redefine offline democracy. Blockchain certainly puts “Who owns what — when and where” into socio-political context.

    1. William Mougayar

      Indeed the linkages between online and offline are key, and the extent that these 2 are well integrated.

      1. Twain Twain

        I don’t see Blockchain’s biggest potential utility being about creating a “truly decentralized media platform”. I can, though, see the mesh networks potential married with…COMMERCE.For me, media is about influence whereas commerce is about decision-making and bottomline relationships and experiences borne of network effects which is much more interesting (and harder to do technically => higher barriers to entry => better moats).This is what’s in my mind with System #2 and yesterday this article appeared in TC:*

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen


  9. William Mougayar

    I’ve written about DAOs, Decentralized Autonomous Organizations and what it takes to properly see them take shape. But we’re not there yet. It’s mostly theoretical.But do you believe this play is about an organization itself or about the enabling (blockchain) technology that makes this happen?What if there was a software play to this, where you overlay the “decentralized operations” and plug it into the real way that you operate? And why choose “media” only as a target segment? This could apply to any vertical potentially.And finally, why can’t Reddit do it with that 10% they were talking about? There is tremendous value coming from users already. I’d like to see this applied partially to mature platforms that are running.

    1. awaldstein

      Damn you are such a geek my friend!Decentralized authority–that’s English and I understand it.DAO is code for too complicated to understand for simpleton’s like myself.

      1. William Mougayar

        btw- did you see the Elon Musk memo banning all acronyms at SpaceX?Indeed, I like to think about all the pieces of a puzzle. Decentralized authority is one piece of that puzzle. Just being realistic about it.

        1. awaldstein

          I don’t hate acronyms. I really dislike obfuscating thought by cluttering it with pieces that confuse.

        2. falicon

          That was mentioned in the biography on Musk (great read by the way).I’ve always tried to avoid acromyms throughout my programming life…I still remember the feeling of starting out and not knowing what people were talking about 98% of the time (only to realize that I actually *did* know the tech. behind what they were saying, I just didn’t know the acronyms they were using to communicate around it)…early lesson that really stuck with me and helped through the years.

  10. awaldstein

    Is it a kiler decentralized app, blockchain or no, if you can only monetize it buy bolting on the same old centralized advertising model on it?

    1. pointsnfigures

      I don’t think it has to have ad revenue attached to make money if it provides a service in a different way. Here is an example: The USDA publishes stats on crop reports. What if a decentralized blockchain app crowdsourced better data than the government in some way. Interested parties could subscribe monthly to get the data. There are currently agencies that do this with crop, and economic data. They are singular, and reap pretty decent SaaS profits from subscription based services. The blockchain might be able to do it more efficiently, and it might be able to do it with better certifiable results. Government stats are generally revised month after month, just watch non-farm payrolls or GDP numbers.

      1. William Mougayar

        That’s a great example of something that could run autonomously on the blockchain.

      2. awaldstein

        On the light side–as soon as someone says crop reports I think of Trading Places–one of the all time great movies.Interesting but you are skirting painfully close to sounding like a technology in search of a market rather than a behavior fulfilled by possibility.

        1. Anne Libby

          I love that movie! Ahead of its time in so many ways. (And yes, of its time, too.)

          1. awaldstein

            “It was the Dukes!”

          2. pointsnfigures

            Saw a lot of funny stuff happen on the trading floor. Lots.

      3. LE

        The blockchain might be able to do it more efficiently, and it might be able to do it with better certifiable results.How do you prevent the crowdsourced participants from gaming that to their benefit by supplying misleading data in an organized or unorganized way?

        1. pointsnfigures

          One way is via reputation. If you continually game the system and are found out, you could be blocked from sharing or getting information from the group. (similar to what we did in trading pits which were closed groups)

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Monetization. Always comes back to this, doesn’t it.

      1. Dan Moore

        We all gotta eat, right?I think there has been some tremendous gifts to the world (in terms of consumer surplus) from the internet, and I expect more, but event the givers of surplus end up with business model. (Linux, Google, etc.)

      2. pointsnfigures

        Capitalism lifts more people out of poverty than anything else!

        1. Donna Brewington White

          I’m a true believer.

    3. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Whenever I see this question, I think about Automattic ( The founder is one of the original developers of the open source software upon which it runs, but it does not own that software now (far from it). It built a great business by selling hosted services, add ons, premium enhancements, etc.I can’t help but feel this kind of thing would be the winning (or at least healthiest) framework for a de-centralized app.

      1. awaldstein

        Interesting.I understand the upshot from an open to a hosted from a free to a paid.Whether this is an analogous continuum from decentralized to centralized paid I certainly don’t know.What I do know is that most open source communities fail to monetize. I ran one, one of the largest and we just couldn’t find the way.

  11. William Mougayar

    There are 2 parts to this Decentralization: 1/ the operations of the platform itself, and 2/ its governance. Both could be bolted on the blockchain.The hardest part is to link the value provided by users to actual value appreciation to the company, and deciding how to “price” that value in terms of what users get to keep or re-use that is tangible for them. I’ve been looking for these models as well.

  12. Dan Ramsden

    “21 rooms but 1 will do… I don’t wanna buy it, just want to rent it for a minute or two.” This was another social experiment that blended commerce & improvisation, central authority & decentralized participation: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytim… Interestingly related, on reflection, and could be worth looking to as a study in parallel or contrast, depending.

  13. Donna Brewington White

    AVC the app. Still waiting.

    1. William Mougayar

      True, if there’s a good example of decentralized community-based value, it is that.

    2. William Mougayar

      The App, or the Coin? we’re talking blockchain 🙂

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Is there another name for currency on the blockchain that isn’t, well, currency… at least in the sense of having monetary value?

        1. William Mougayar

          A Token or a Colored Coin. Pegging it to value (whether monetary or not) is a discretionary decision by the one that issues them.

        2. Dave Pinsen

          Why not let it have monetary value? There used to be a talk radio host in New York who sent a silver dollar to every kid who called in with a question. Fred could revive that tradition, and expand it to adults, but perhaps limit it to top rated comments. And pay in Bitcoin. Or fractions of a share of Twitter or something. Annual winner gets an offseason weekend in one of Fred’s houses. House could be stocked with goodies donated from subscription delivery services for the promotional value (annual winner guest blogs about her weekend).

    3. Drew Meyers

      What would the app do? Just let you read avc?

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Good question, Drew, and probably why I am not a product manager. I’m thinking that it would be good to bypass the browser to read AVC and leave comments. Also to receive notifications. There’s probably more, but this is what I occasionally think would be good to have. I know it’s just a pipedream and maybe not feasibile.

        1. Drew Meyers

          I’ve seen no shortage of startups aiming to let publishers/bloggers give their audience the reading experience inside their very own app. The problem is the end reader most certainly doesn’t want separate apps for every blog they read.I think it would work for AVC because of how passionate this community is, but for 99.9% of blogs in existence, no one would open a separate app daily or weekly just to consume that content.You may find this product idea interesting:

  14. pointsnfigures

    In this case, the source of the problem was a very pointed question to Rev. Jesse Jackson.Quoting from The Daily Caller:-The top question stated that he is, “an immoral, hate-filled race baiter that has figured out how to manipulate the political system for your own gain.”-Jackson’s answers then became confusing and evasiveIn this case, the problem might not be with the platform, but with the person. I find that “internet people” are pretty tolerant when it comes to a lot of speech. They realize there will be a lot of garbage along with the gems. If you are empathetic to Jesse Jackson and agree with his actions, speech and world view, you were probably as offended by the question as he was. But it’s important to remember that the program he was on was “Ask Me Anything” and they can.Other celebs might not go on such a program anymore. But, if you haven’t read Bill Murray’s Ask Me Anything Reddit you will miss such a thing if it ends.I am also reminded of attacks on people that have lost their jobs. People that have spoken out against things where organized mobs attacked them. That seems to be a feature, not a benefit of the internet.One thing I have observed is social networks sometimes make it much tougher to be individualistic. It can be harder, or more difficult to take risks. Would Galileo have been punished by society on Twitter back in the day if it existed?Your thought about a centrally controlled platform is interesting. Once I was at a lunch with Mayor Bloomberg and he said that he liked the news industry better before the internet when everything had to go through editors and corporate newsrooms.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      It isn’t necessarily true at all the Jackson’s AMA was the cause of her firing. There are many rumors swirling at the moment. Her AMA’s were known for being better than most.

      1. pointsnfigures

        My gut tells me Jackson’s people had a chat with Pao. That’s how they roll.

  15. Jonathan Libov

    “I am not sure it will be a good business. I am not sure it will even be a business.”Or if, in the case of Reddit on the Blockchain, it would get you 1000 businesses, where each moderator is running an independent service that is aggregated by larger service providers, which are also businesses.What’s also interesting to me is that there are ways to build this on the Blockchain that don’t get you much further than the current centralized model. Say that each moderator owns the lone private key for his community and doesn’t like that a beloved moderator was dropped from the world’s most popular Blockchain Reddit aggregator: He could shut it down himself and then, in a sense, everyone but him loses. There are also models that don’t use the Blockchain and still do abide by protocols (namely, a system where many instances of the app are run on individually owned servers) that could work just as well. The move to decentralized models could be driven as much by a greater eagerness to abide by protocols these days as much, if not more than, what’s made possible by the Blockchain.With that said, there are governance systems you could build on a Blockchain-based Reddit that are much better than these systems, and I’m curious to see if the first media network on the Blockchain emerges because of traditional network effects (that’s where all the people are) or if everyone is patient enough to wait until the best governance system emerges.

    1. William Mougayar

      Yup, I mentioned governance as a key aspect.Another chicken and egg situation: network effects vs blockchain-governance?Why not both? And it would be the case, if there is a “value effect” as part of the network effect which is overseen by the governance, but benefits users.

      1. Jim Canto

        William… though I am Blockchain ignorant, which may render my comment to be seen as off topic, your last paragraph resonates with me.Since I began contemplating the use of white label community platforms in ’08 (Ning as it was back then) “Governance” has remained the factor I’ve not been able to reconcile. Governance always seems to negatively impact the value proposition for the user. And, for me, the prospect of perpetual growth has always held “value to the user” as paramount.Alas, I’ve long since taken down my two communities and remain in search of the equipoise you outlined.Pass the Excedrin.

        1. William Mougayar

          Good points, but what if you make users as part of the governance? Partially at least, so that it’s not a burden, but part of their routine involvement. That’s what Reddit has done basically with their community moderators who are paid nothing btw.True that an online community might be a good example of seeing a visible trickling of value effect, where each user that contributes a comment or discussion makes the community better. Maybe we need to abstract that into other use cases in different scenarios.

          1. Jim Canto

            Sorry William… I thought I had replied. I’ve got to get Disqus dialed in better. Please pardon the lag in response.I love the idea of “users as part of the governance” … just need to figure out how to govern that. :)Oh, and to be clear; when I said “value to the user” … I meant value they receive (not monetary) for participating. Whatever their reason for being there…that’s what is paramount. (was the point I was trying to stress.) Does that change your answer at all?Of course the community becomes more valuable as a whole, incrementally, when members participate. However, I think that will happen naturally if the individual user is getting what they want from the community.Again… thank you for your patience.

          2. William Mougayar

            I think we agree. Some users provide value by participating, others could have a say in governance or parts of it. I’ve written about the theoretical operations of a Distributed Autonomous Organization, and feel free to email me at wmougayar Gmail & we could carry on the conversation.

          3. Jim Canto

            Wonderful, William. I’ll give it a read as that’s a hot topic for me these days. I look forward to your insight. jim at is how you can reach me.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      Well, if you think further into it – any platform that aggregates content that’s copyright – and who have money – will be sued unless they’re curating it off the platform. Likewise, platforms that don’t curate and likely aren’t trying to do it for money – or making money through unofficial ways – are likely going to attract more users because of the copyright content they do have. And then someone like Buzzfeed will come along and do an editorial on a subject and include a curated bunch of images or videos – and can link to all of the copyright material on third-party sites.Also, centralized bodies have a better chance at A) getting funding, B) managing the ecosystem. Most ecosystems are badly managed or are controlled subvert the user though.

      1. Jonathan Libov

        In my formulation they’re not really aggregating content so much as aggregating the moderation. In a decentralized world the content would live on third-party servers so the responsibility for hosting copyrighted content lies at the edge of the network and perhaps also with the first line of moderators.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          I don’t see it happening – there’s no room for management. Would be cool if I was wrong..

    3. Faith

      I can tell you that there is already a decentralized media based on bBockchain. Check it out

  16. Laurent Boncenne

    what i’m really looking forward to is a twitter-like platform that behaves like a protocol for short form messaging, in a decentralized way rather than a one and only system where policies need to be implemented to try and please everyone across different countries (thinks what twitter or google had to do to cave to europe’s demands in some ways).The Reddit situation right now is only showing what Twitter had to endure when they changed some of their policies back then (third party clients) and it will affect them in a major way and – provided they reflect on it and take the feedback – allow it to grow even more at the expense of minor – but vocal – communities that relied on that given platform to express themselves.something tried to do way earlier but failed to catch on for many reasons.

  17. falicon

    The demand is there from the builder side, the technology side, and probably even from the investor side…but I’m not so sure the demand is *really* there from the user side (and that’s the side that makes it all go ’round).I’ll continue to state that it can’t just be “same thing but built on the blockchain”…it has to be something revolutionary and amazing that can *only* be done on/because of the blockchain…then the world changes.

    1. CJ

      You build user demand by offering them the service that they desire package in a way that they’re familiar. No reason why a blockchain community can’t look like Reddit or Digg or Yahoo to the user community while running on a stack that takes advantage of the blockchain.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Agreed. It’s old time marketing truth that the hardest thing in the world is getting people to change their habits (i.e. Twitter and Reddit). Look how awful Reddit is in so many ways! And people still won’t leave it :)We have to think about how the blockchain aspect will make people’s lives easier and/or more fun. I keep thinking there’s something there with, say, email or streaming media, but I’ve got too much else going on to actually _think_ about it, ha!

      1. Faith

        As I mentioned earlier, there is a new platform DECENT built on blockchain. Check it out

    3. awaldstein

      dunno–of course without demand all is not.the pundits seem to intentionally confuse whether this is a consumer facing change agent or simply plumbing–like RSS or even what Disqus was.can it be a change agent and simply be smart plumbing that the customer really doesn’t experience except tangentially?

      1. falicon

        absolutely – plumbing all the way…but who guts the house to change the pipes unless the current pipes are causing a serious problem?Maybe you go high end on a new construction…but only if there is some long term advantage to justify the cost…

    4. kidmercury

      this is why i really like blockchain tech as a technology that enables greater scalability of centralized platforms. for instance, AWS, salesforce, dropbox, box, google, youtube, facebook — all the players with huge data center costs are ultimately encumbered by that centralization. they could partner with miners to externalize some of that cost and enhance their scalability. however, i really doubt that model can work with bitcoin as the coin that fuels the system; i think the coin needs to be centrally managed, and mining rights need to be granted on a careful basis to eliminate nefarious pooling schemes. just like it is with nation-states: there is a central bank with a designated number of members; not anyone can roll up and start printing money. even in the hard money world, a central bank/treasury still regulates the value of the hard money, and a government issues mining licenses.

    5. Gene @

      in many parts of the world where the government censoring of the free speech is a problem, this one feature could be a game changer.

  18. Justin Fyles

    Just had a discussion about killer apps on the blockchain the other day. One particularly interesting idea was a wiki-style semi-moderated API for location data. Right now, the most clean location data APIs are expensive or run by a single third party (Google, Foursquare) with their own set of rules and motives. Starting one on the Blockchain would help to ensure no one party controls the data, and might make an open API possible.It’ll be interesting to see the cool types of stuff that get built when decentralization is default.

    1. Drew Meyers

      Indeed that is an interesting one, given how few players there are in that market & how many other services need to access to function.We open sourced our location sharing platform last year, if it could be of some use to someone, that would be great:

  19. Matt Zagaja

    E-Mail of course was one of the original decentralized communication platforms. The web another. One of the interesting things is that when bad actors get too annoying users often innovate their way out of the problem in ways that impose much collateral damage to legitimate users. Spam filters get too aggressive and you miss important e-mails, ad blocker programs spread and cause online media sites to lose revenue and collapse. People use CallerID to screen for telemarketers and political calls, but that also means that they aren’t picking up when NIH researchers are conducting public health surveys.

  20. creative group

    We are familiar with what has been written about Ellen Pao and have notformed an opinion until this post.It is a shame that because a resume includes being a Jr. Investor at Kleiner Perkins would qualify anyone to be a CEOof a company. (What are we missing? Can anyone add value to why she is CEO)———————Ellen Pao is an American lawyer and the interim chief executive officer of Internet company Reddit. Pao was previously a junior investing partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and a corporate director at Flipboard.———————-Promoted us to think about how former DC Chancellor of Education Michelle Rhee management style was viewed.Is there real substance in questioning Ellen Pao skills and style or is this just people just not liking her opposed to liking the employee?

  21. Brandon G. Donnelly

    so people powered communities emerge and chip away at the traditional centrally organized media platforms. then the people powered communities shift towards more centrally organized media platforms (become the new incumbents) and a new era of decentralized media platforms emerge to chip away at them. is that how the cycle works?

  22. vruz

    The answer as always is: something else.

  23. ppearlman

    Thanks for sharing on this through your lens Fred. Was hoping you would.

  24. Alex Iskold

    Fred, I don’t see how the approach would make it any easier to consume the information. What do you envision as the end user/reader experience in that world?

    1. fredwilson

      Whatever you want it to be. Anyone can build a client. Kind of like Twitter and RSS

      1. CJ

        Usenet. What you describe is essentially Usenet where filters, kill-files and the like were all handled locally. All of the information was on the servers which were then shared out in part or total and the individual was in control of viewing only what they wanted.The key is keeping the servers free because that’s where the information lives. As long as the information stream is unmodified then various companies can utilize that information in whole or in part and cultivate their service to fit whatever values/morals/content they desire.The same information can essentially be used as the backbone of a heavily modded community and a company that is wild wild west.

      2. John Terrence

        Fred, i don’t think you could go fully decentralized, because: You need centralized key management. The way bitcoin manages keys is not easy enough. But let’s say you can get that from a trusted neutral source like amazon.You need per community centralization, because mods need to do their work. or do you think it could work without ?And if you need that , it’s not far from those apps that aggregated forums into a mobile app. And the technology isn’t complex, not sure you even need bitcoin for that.

      3. Alex Iskold

        Yep. How does this solve the problem of quality content? Maybe I am misunderstanding, but I don’t see blockchain solving for that.

        1. Sergey Nazarov

          You could choose to exclude certain groups or individuals by only downloading the data you want into your version of the client. The user would have the control to exclude others from their experience.It wouldn’t create quality content, but it is quite possible that it could allow you to filter out people or groups who you don’t want to interact with, while still participating in one ecosystem.If there is a trusted identity layer that is linked to actual identity then you may even be required to meet certain requirements in order to participate in certain conversations eg: no verified identity, no entry.

  25. hypermark

    Using a “general ledger” mechanism like blockchain could be a very effective way for media companies – big, small, centralized, decentralized – to federate the rating, rank and good citizen-worthiness of community participants, including the underlying accounting of shaping actions (ala a credit score).Media entities could apply governance filters based on the governance criteria that matters to them, and both past, current and changing values would be **transparent** to the entire community.If the governance values change too dramatically, community members and the media entity would have a more objective way of arguing the value change or a clear basis for leaving the community.A note aside, it’s a wonder no one has applied this model to breaking the broken, corrupt and non transparent credit rating business.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      “A note aside, it’s a wonder no one has applied this model to breaking the broken, corrupt and non transparent credit rating business.Sweet Jesus, YES.

  26. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I’m struck here by the use of ‘media network’ instead of ‘social network/platform.’ I consider Reddit and Twitter social networks/platforms. Or am I just old skool? Or naive, even?When did we start calling those media networks? Or is me showing off my witty banter in 140 chars now considered media?

  27. Sebastian Wain

    Streamium was recently launched, their slogan is “…allowing anyone to broadcast live video and get paid by viewers in real time, without middlemen”. They have some of the attributes you are talking about. Some members are BitPay alumni, so they know something about this stuff.They are also early implementors of a micropayment channel protocol that may be very promising.

  28. Dorian Benkoil

    Fred, not sure I understand your point about the blockchain in the context of media?

    1. William Mougayar

      The blickchain’s consensus logic enables you to run an autonomous governance service with less intermediaries needed.

      1. Dorian Benkoil

        Understood. I can see how it becomes a payment (or other verification) fulfillment mechanism without having to go through a third party intermediary such as Apple store or Google Play. Thinking from perspective of a publisher, I can see how this makes fulfillment easier, and moves toward a unified and more simple solution for those on open Web.Thinking further, though, from the perspective of a publisher, does this also become a tracking and/or payment system as content moves around the network? Separately, does it even become a way to attribute ads and better understand their value?There is a quandary for publishers: The need to distribute content to reach people vs. the need to accrue value for the creation and consumption of that media.Am I making sense? Barking up non-existent trees?

    1. fredwilson

      i had not seen that. thanks Brad

  29. Mark

    Fred, I agree this will happen.This post resonated with me. I run, and recently wrote a post about how the social aggregator is a terrible business model:…We are searching for the middle ground between selling our users, and that which comes with complete decentralization. I have a feeling that Bitcoin will provide the solution. It’s not yet clear how, but we are working on it.

    1. Faith

      There is a decentralized platform already. Check it out at

  30. deepakthomas

    Once upon a time there used to be something called Usenet …



    1. Rieko Nakao

      Just trying to be democratic. I believe in the freedom of speech.

  32. Ari Cohen

    One thing is for sure, anyone who has any success of building out such a decentralized platform MUST first build a centralized version of it to know the business logic and game mechanics.To me the most interesting projects are the ones who will get more bitcoin into peoples hands as this is still the biggest pain points. The guys building Paxful should talk to the bit square guys and see what they can do. in the meantime, if anyone wants to buy any bitcoin, checkout my offers

  33. Donald E. Foss

    Soundbite of the day: “Free speech has an ugly underbelly and when you stare at it up close and personally, it makes you want to puke.”Reminds me of the thought “Democracy is the worst form of government possible, but the best one we have.” Free speech is mandatory in any society I wish to be part of, however until we become more Trek-esque, it will always have it’s problems. These community driven issues have been with us for quite some time, and a solution seems no closer than when I first became involved with them over 35 years ago.

  34. Blaine Cook

    :thumbsup:A few observations:1. There will be many communities, not just one. The real opportunity is a set of media platforms that are able to evolve. Moderation not right in this one? Fork it, tweak the moderation, and lose none of the network effects. And so on.2. Twitter is struggling with exactly the observation you made to me so many eons ago; the orders of magnitude are different from what I, and I suspect you, envisioned, but the same truth: “Centralised, Twitter can be a big fish in a small pond. Decentralised, it could be a small fish in a much larger pond (but potentially still larger than standing alone).”3. The communities [probably] won’t be underpinned by the blockchain – identity and reputation, though, will be. I’d argue that the problem I tried to solve with webfinger remains open, and an open sore for adoption of bitcoin / blockchains in general.3a. Twitter’s success has been premised on the strong concept of identity (pseudonymous but clear, understandable, and communicable) both in usernames and hashtags.3b. Facebook can’t allow (pseudo-)anonymity because discoverability is a huge problem for them.3c. Bitcoin identities work like phone numbers and IP addresses; they’re opaque, and can be copy-and-pasted, so that’s *okay* but fails for large networks where the ability to “say your name” is important; c.f. Twitter’s success with brands and e.g. bus ads vs Facebook’s. Contactless works only in some situations.Thankfully all of these problems are very solvable with the existing bitcoin / blockchain infrastructure (and in fact is aided by it, as per the many projects to address it).;-) But you knew all this already – more than anything this note is to add my voice to those still hopeful for this future, and grateful that folks like you are, too.

  35. Sergey Nazarov

    Totally makes sense to me.I think the initial use case will come from a community that has been poorly served by a centralized party, but still wants the value which that centralized party provided in an earlier form eg: Couchsurfing… if you talk to any Couchsurfer who registered before 2011, they will all say they want the community they had before, but they are powerless to effect that change and switching to another platform that could change it’s mind one day just isn’t appealing to them.I am not clear on who would be championing these networks though; in all the cases I can come up with there needs to be someone pushing this network as an alternative to an existing centralized network.

    1. Drew Meyers

      There is definitely a crowd of former Couchsurfers who are still interested in a smaller, more intimate network existing…one that is a true community, as opposed to people who just want to party/sleep for free. I hear from them regularly as a result of them finding Horizon.

      1. Sergey Nazarov

        Cool app, good work Drew.If there was a way to pull in people who left couchsurfing that would make sense, but they would probably need a reason why this same community won’t massively change it’s priorities from the top down because of a funding event.Not sure how interested you are in applying the blockchain/decentralized computation to this problem, but it might be interesting to just ask them what they think of such an offering, if it were to exist. Just an idea.

        1. Drew Meyers

          I’m unclear exactly what that would entail. What needs to be decentralized? The community moderation? Revenue generation?

          1. Sergey Nazarov

            Initially, everything that would be needed to reconstruct a user account on meaningful dimensions like identity, reviews and P2P ratings. Eventually, automated moderation could also be done “on the network” rather than through a centralized party via decentralized computation.If Couchsurfing was decentralized in terms of valuable account data like “vouched for”, then that data would remain in some kind of decentralized data store and could be accessed/relied upon regardless of centralized decisions. It is indeed quite likely that the dominant community around this user data would emerge from a company other than the one that initially placed the majority of that data into the decentralized data store.

  36. agraham999

    After the subprime meltdown, I put my startup on hold and took a gig running the community aspects of a large online property from a major media hub that did somewhere around 50B uniques a year. One of my responsibilities was overseeing and managing a very large forum of passionate people who were there to discuss everything environmental and of course that was also a very (at times) political community.I had the idea that we’d operate it with quite a bit of leeway, freedom, and a lot of flexibility as far as what you could say, how far you could go, etc. I didn’t want to be thought of as the heavy hand of censorship. I also paid three of the volunteer moderators a small stipend out of my own paycheck, because they put in quite a bit of work dealing with not simply helping people, but spammers, scammers, and just rabble rousers (trolls) who like to cause trouble.What I realized very early on is that allowing communities to organically exist with very little oversight was impossible. Between the trolls, the diametrically opposed personality types, and even the well intentioned passionate people, things would get out of hand rapidly if you didn’t manage it…which sometimes meant being a hard ass. The amount of times every week that things came to some boiling point made it obvious that without one singular centralized and balanced person making final calls, it would be complete chaos and the community starts to die because one or two people are often intentionally pushing the best contributors away.At one point we had one person who was so disruptive I had to ban him from the forums (eventually about 8-9 times under different logins and IPs). He was so angry at being “censored,” that he threatened my job (writing to all the execs at the company), threatened to sue us, and even went as far as to threaten my life. That’s when it was truly nice to have the lawyers of a billion dollar company step in.The three years that I managed that community was tedious and emotionally draining, but what I learned about dealing with people was invaluable. For example, I could tell rapidly if someone was going to be a problem or not, and even in private conversations where you would try to have a civil discussion and take down the anger level, some people are simply incapable of being civil.If you have a truly open decentralized system where all speech is welcome and there is no censorship, you have to be prepared for the fact that you will not only see the best of humanity, you will see the worst…and if you drive away all the best of humanity from that community…eventually you have nothing but the husk of an entity that no one wants to participate in.

  37. Faith

    I would like to tell you that there is already a decentralized media platform called DECENT. Check out their web page. It looks really promising

  38. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Another great share. Thank you!

  39. kidmercury

    how would people decide on the legitimacy of the mod? by upvoting/downvoting with records published to a blockchain? if so, who pays the transaction fee?

  40. bitverse

    @kidmercury:disqus . I suggested a decentralized moderation model that works without the need to change the “financial” model. The model I discussed aims to solve two recurring problems with reddit, first the interference from top management, and second the closed nature of mod teams opening them up to all potential mods.

  41. kidmercury

    i guess i don’t understand how the blockchain fits into the model you are suggesting.

  42. bitverse

    A blockchain based platform REQUIRES a decentralized moderation model cause it’s based on a p2p network, meaning that each user can act as a moderator, and no user or manager can block or fire other mods.

  43. Gene @

    Actually blockchain-based platform DOES NOT REQUIRE a decentralized moderation model. Blockchain can be used as a proof of publication, while the validation rules for posts, up/down votes and any other activity can be done on the client side, thus allowing both centralized, decentralized and mixed moderation models. Validation on the client is the model Counterparty uses and all other bitcoin’s embedded consensus systems. Ethereum on the other hand has a richer way to do validation of actions on-chain, but it may prove to be too expensive, so validation may still migrate to the client nodes.

  44. bitverse

    In our case, the blockchain is supposed to be the backbone of the new monetizing model, in other words to decentralize the current financial model where money flows from advertisers to reddit Inc, which pays for the hosting. So to fully solve this problem you also need a p2p network to host the new platform, like in this proposal:… Such setting I think it has its own implications, which make it more suitable for a decentralized moderation model.

  45. Gene @

    it can help all three – monetizing, decentralized publishing and moderating