A response to the perpetual question on Steem to curators: what is 'Good content'

I may be off my debate game having been away from the Steem world of blogs for some time, so don't be scared to call me out. But here goes anyway.

Being a part of SteemSTEM, I get to see a lot of complaints, and if I'm being totally honest, 100% of them are unfounded or ignorant.


But seriously, we rarely get criticism on how we are built, how our voting system works, how we curate. We certainly never get suggestions on ways to improve or do things differently.

What we do get, is called out as 'elitist'. Quite often. This puzzles me because:

noun - a person who believes that a society or system should be led by an elite.

I don't know about other curation initiatives but this is demonstrably opposite of what we're doing. The very point of SteemSTEM is that anyone, white or black, big or small, animal or plant, can publish digestible STEM topics and be rewarded for it, rather than those who publish in inaccessible journals in language people can't understand.

There's more to us than that, of course, but I think what people are actually saying when they call us elitist is:

Nehhhhh you won't support me with your stake for going against your guidelines nehhhh

In a way, I get it I suppose. People don't expect that when they take an image owned by someone else and use it for a simple, innocent blog, that it would be a big deal. People don't expect a couple of copy-pasta'd sentences will harm anyone. So it can be frustrating, even confusing when you don't get support, or worse, a flag.

But, come on. Elitist? We are doing exactly what the rest of the civilised world does.

Objective requirements

What we're doing isn't special or nitpicky. Copyright protection is a global, multi-billion dollar industry for a reason. People make stuff, that stuff belongs to them unless stated otherwise.

Thus, if something isn't yours, and is in fact, someone else's, you don't have the rights to it and don't deserve to be rewarded money for it - unless stated otherwise. People go to court for this constantly. That's how the world works. Why should Steem be any different? Because your blog is small?

What happens if one day your blog isn't small? Ever seen people dig up twitter posts from 7 years ago and the next thing you know a famous CEO resigns or a comedian goes to court? What if SteemSTEM becomes big news in 2030, and the next thing we know, Bloomberg is pointing out all the copyrighted content we've directly supported since 2016?

Hyperbolic I know, but the point is still valid.

So, being the original content creator, not being BS. These are our objective requirements.

What about Subjective requirements?

This probably applies to most curation groups here. I get it, people want to be all philosophical about subjectivity and terminology. What is quality?

This outlook on the world is flavourful and we can see it across history in all art, from the serialism in visual art, the minimalism in music, the abstraction in the avant-garde. I mean, one of the most famous pieces of music among classical musicians is literal silence. (...or is it?)

But come on. We don't need individuals with advanced degrees in quality control to know what our particular group of curators will agree upon as quality. Humans have this innate ability, within reason, to know when something is 2 minutes of garbage, and something else is 4 hours of hard thought and work.

Does the duration and effort matter? Maybe, that's for the curators to decide together, as a team. If I remember right with OCD, it came down to substantial votes across dozen-ish curators. The selected posts with the most votes got the upvotes.

With SteemSTEM, we not only require at the very least a second opinion, but we have a team of 'honor members' to keep us in check, and every action is publicly visible for anyone to keep them and us in check in turn. Often, they do. On numerous occasions we've been asked 'why did you vote for this?' and sometimes we do indeed remove votes.

If people's idea of quality is different to our own, they are welcome to pander to other curation groups instead, or, they can be voted by individuals - of which there are still plenty. Or hey, they can even start their own curation team that favours their idea of quality.

This is not decentralization

Saying curation teams are stealing votes away from users by concentrating all voters' votes into one initiative is kind of like saying 'dem immigrants be steelin all ahr jahbz!.

If you were better at your job and demanded a smaller salary than the immigrants, it wouldn't be an issue. Obviously that's not ideal but again it's how the world works.

In the same vein, people who support curation groups are trusting that group to do a decent job that falls in line with what they consider to be quality content. People who support steemSTEM trust, based on years of voluntary service and consistent behaviour, that we will do a good job curating academic content.

If we were to stop functioning, would these supporters who entrusted their VP to us suddenly and frantically curate manually for academic content on the main Steemit feed, day after day? Unlikely. If they wanted to do that, they wouldn't have given us their VP support in the first place.

Thus, their stake will likely go to waste. Even if they did turn to manual curation, they are suddenly diving into a world of scams, plagiarism, copyright infringement and disinformation without the faintest idea of how to spot any of it, compared to us curators who have been figuring this stuff out on Steem for literally years.

This isn't unique to Steem. Twitter deletes about one million accounts per day, up to 70 million across a 2 month period.

So yes, things become more centralized through curation groups, but only via decentralized means. Nobody has a monopoly on academic content, nobody has a monopoly on art. People must sign up to Facebook in order to access the services facebook has to offer. Nobody has to do anything to access the same content SteemSTEM rewards.

People are welcome to go around SteemSTEM and do their own decentralized lifestyle. It's just... humans have a tendency to centralize. Reflect back on all of humanity, from individual families to tribes and all the way to governments, blocs of nations and the internet. There isn't some evil force of elites making us centralise. It's just what we tend to do.

But Steem is beautiful in that you don't have to join. You can be a nomad, a vagabond, and your position will be just as valid as anyone else's. Some people want to just sit back and watch their stake be used wisely, others want complete control over everything their stake goes to.

I personally see nothing wrong with either direction.

I do see a potential issue with smaller users getting unnoticed because if votes are all concentrated into one block, it's much harder to see the whole savannah. But I dunno, this seems far more a problem with the inherent flawed design of steemit etc than curation groups.

Why can't these users just find their niche, and join that community. In reddit, if you like, say, jokes, you type 'jokes' and then you join '/r/jokes'. At this point, you tell a joke, and other people who like jokes upvote your joke.

On Steemit, you simply can't do that. It's not a thing. They proposed it over a year ago alongside STD's - er, I mean, SMT's - but I haven't heard anything about it since. So we all have to suffer the same fate. A platform/platforms that are simply badly designed to discover content we like.

Curation teams actually help in this major deficit. People learn to recognize the names, and follow, curation groups that support things they want to see. Rather than just going

steemit.com/trending - Arggg!!

They actually have somewhere to go, something to look at and, in the case of SteemSTEM and many others, a community to join and engage in, be it on discord, telegram or elsewhere.

What's wrong with that? Seriously, I'm rusty to the culture here and don't mind being corrected and informed.

Comments 26

I agree with most parts of what you wrote... The only think I cannot fully agree is that there are some parameters that can be collectively stablished (plagiarism protection rules are out of the question, but writing styles and other stuff shall be open to debate). Also these criteria shall evolve with the platform, otherwise the project will suffer stagnation.

That being said I really like STEEMSTEM, when I successfully manage to have some time to write I would love to share chemistry related content.

Best regards.

15.09.2019 05:55

I think everyone is evolving daily, which is why so many people have problems with it, because humans aree typically averse to change, its a constant struggle!

You are of course welcome to write content with us! Join the discord, learn how things are done etc. We're one of the few groups that can guarantee an upvote every time a user posts accordinig to our guidelines =D

15.09.2019 06:14

I am familiar with stem guidelines for posting content, but are there some guidelines to vote as well?

15.09.2019 22:52

Oh you can post what you want, there's no guidelines for that. They only apply to whether you want a vote or not. We're not going to flag you if you post stuff that doesn't meet our standards of course

16.09.2019 00:53

Is there any benefit posting used the STEM front end of Steem?

16.09.2019 03:58

Yep. If you publish through Steemstem.io, you automatically get 5% stronger vote. If you add Steemstem as a beneficiary (any amount), you get another 5% on top of that. So 10% benefit.

You also (once we fully establish this system) get to feature on the front page, be whitelisted, and other things in the works

16.09.2019 06:07

How cool, and you guys have Ann steem-engine token?

17.09.2019 02:21

No, no plans for that. For me there's no evidence tokens will yet be worth anything, or even come to exist with any value at all. Wait and see

17.09.2019 02:33

If SteemSTEM's front end would gain traction in the scientific sphere, and you guys start to sell consultant-like services with your token it could certainly have lots of value. STEM tribe is the only one I think could have concrete use cases for their token immediately...

But it all depends how you guys plan to develop the STEN platform.

17.09.2019 02:38

I actually need a second platform, but seems impossible to find a web designer. If you know any, throw 'em my way!

But yeah the idea has been on the table but a token in and of itself is worthless symbolism right now. I don't want to create a pump-dump speculattion market on what we are, I want to create a loyal userbase and a proof of concept that can thrive in and of itself. The less focus on tokens and coins to start off, the better

17.09.2019 02:46

You offer an unagitated and clear view of things. I find myself in many things and cannot and will not contradict you. A view that I would like to offer: It is obviously difficult for people to distinguish between what is actually the case and what is offered at SteemSTEM and what happens in the chats, where the team faces the questions of the users and where much is discussed. From my point of view, the impression of an elitist group has arisen because it happens that the moderation speaks from a certain height with chat visitors which strike condescending to very rude.

If everyone were quite insensitive and calm, the conversations on discord would be perceived differently. But every interest group that wants to achieve something needs moderators who have experience in managing an editorial office. If even the slightest impression of dishonesty, favouritism and discrimination emerges, you are dealing with a reputation-damaging debate.

Personally, I removed myself from the discord chat because I noticed that I started to react emotionally when I found that one of the moderators leaned a little too far out of the window. Basically, I am informed enough to know what criteria a Steemstem article needs to follow.

From my point of view this is still in the experimental phase with mistakes between both sides: the Steemstem headquarters and the interested parties coming into contact. A reputation grows over a long period of time. Steemmit as a platform for the communities that have formed themselves as a central place are still too young for that. We all could take that as a learning experience though.

Sometimes I get the impression that one produces content for the sake of content, but somehow has forgotten what one actually wanted. The miserable research possibilities on Steemit are a real nuisance. And the seven-day windows let old content rot in the basement. Nobody cares what you posted a year ago. I don't know if one wants to meet this circumstance at all. You might think you could start by referring to Steemit content, for example because you're writing a science article and referring to other steem-stemlers. Personally, I would lose myself in the tedious research and therefore prefer to resort to the large Internet, where I can offer PDF papers in full length and quality as a source.

Other than that, you make some really good points and I am in favor of the way you express them.

15.09.2019 09:35

You are likely referring to Alexs1320 or whatever, who was consistently 12 times ruder than anyone else and is no longer a part of the team. He was hyper-aggressive constantly, in and out of steemstem. Oh JTM had some issues too, that he was open about dealing with, but he has also since left. That being said I can't think of anyone else who was rude to anyone, unless it was me, which I find pretty unlikely? Either way, I haven't seen any rude or aggressive behaviors in weeks or months

The 7 day thing has always been a point of contention and I for one have, for the longest time, had deep issues with the very fundamental concept of how steem works. However, this has led my brain to come up with my scholarship scheme which I think works in a very complementary way, just not the way we're used to.

People are and will always find a solution, and steempress, for example, demonstrates another angle. We just gotta wait it out.

A final point about the elitism bit, whoever you're referring to, they are presumably human as we all are, and humans tend to succumb to psychological deficits, shame of being wrong, fear of change, confirmation bias and so forth. But the human personality is not part of what steem stem, or curie, or OCD, are.

15.09.2019 10:27

No, I don't even know the people you mentioned. I tried to give an explanation why one might have got the impression of "elitist", nothing more. Whether you seem rude or arrogant to someone is not in your hands. The perception of people is very different. My perception when observing interactions in the chat came to the edge where I found communication difficult and so I kept it wise to take the focus away from there and silently decide for myself whether to support the STEM community. I have delegated a share. Which I equate with the fact that, by and large, I trust the concept, but I wasn't always completely satisfied with the way it was led or communicated. These are two different pairs of shoes.

We could now argue whether my impression was not justified and you want to dismiss any form of misconduct other than those you mentioned. I had emphasized that people become extremely critical when they see even a hint of improper leadership. Personally, I have not clashed with anyone, you or anyone else.

But the human personality is not part of what steem stem, or curie, or OCD, are.
No? I'd say it is always a part.

Yes, the fundamental concept also always gave me headaches. Do you have some more information about your scholarship scheme? Sounds interesting.

Steempress I never have dealt with.

Waiting it out is always a good idea. :)

16.09.2019 08:04

You don't know jtm? justtryme90?

I'm not the 'extremely critical' or 'dismissive' type don't worry. If you have something to say about the way we're run that you think can improve of course i'd like to hear it. As I said in this post, we rarely get that, at least anymore.

I vote that you join again, a lot of things are changing, and its not exactly very active these days like the rest of Steem so, low stress environment and we all value your presence & content.

But I get your larger point and though i certainly recall a time when things could have been seen as elitist, on the basis that i refer to in this article, I don't see it. The way people behave? maybe yeah. Things to do to enjoy votes? Nahhhh.

Ok regarding scholarship thing I can send a text wall in a DM if you like, i dont want the idea blockchained and public just yet cause its too good to be stolen by less trustworthy folk!

16.09.2019 10:45

HaHa, LOL, of course, I know JTM but was not sure about the short cut of his name :)

Yes, I think work improvement is always a possibility. I decided to let it run and watch from a distance to get a clear mind. Also, from a systemic point of view I observe a system and try to decide whether the leading figures do maintain, for example, an autoritative or democratic style and whether they bring enough experience with them in having led a team. I decided that not all were experienced but can learn in trying to and becoming more advanced during time.

After I put my own nose into becoming a team member, I felt that they style was not for me and I dropped out again. I felt having no mandate in explaining you guys what I was after and already communicated within my steemstem posts.

Putting some distance between myself and my STEM articles was needed. I knew I was giving a lot into the sphere and I ran out of topics. I said it - so far - all in that particular field. "Systemics", "Systems Theory" and all related themes are a special interest of mine. Also very much work related.

Maybe now it's time for another article as I notice that "systemic consensus" could become a hot topic. It's an idea which is ahead of it's time and as always, not recognized as such :)

I guess I gave you a longer background you have asked for :)

Yes, I will go to discord and DM you. I understand why you don't want to spoil it.

16.09.2019 14:36

Hopefully you've gotten some inspiration, see you there!

16.09.2019 14:57

Quite an elitist point of view
Elitist ? To be part of an elite, and talk and walk as part of an elite, to promote the elite and make sure the elite stays in place, to think the whole world thinks like the elite ... and many more
but many debates are won by dictionary when someone runs out of arguments however in this case i suspect someone bored enough to try and pick a fight, definitely not someone trying to be part of the elite existing (see gremmarwise that works just as fine as 'existing elite') but in essence a populist could already use that ... :)
Not that i'm saying ... but i'm surprised
and confused ? are you talking STEEM, STEEM-IT or STEEM-STEM here ? its not quite clear across the post, moreover, on the subject of curation, someone living in china should know curation is not fighting copyright abuse , its just a dictionary word used to hide another one ...
if you were talking about steem-stem i wholeheartedlly and completely understand. One does not simply take someone's research paper and publish it with one's name on it ... THAT is seriously baed ... If you were talking about steemstem i don't understand how 'anyone' could post scientific articles in understandable language for everyone as one does not simply whip up some science-in-a-jiffy to post, certainly not in understandable language. Luckily i have the stemwitness for a witness or maybe you would think i'd think it elitist sometimes (as in my language and clearly not that dictionary, and that's assuming intelligent beings can derive the meaning from the context in a living language but we could start the talk on presidential debates and how elections are won again ofcourse there (not that im starting a debate here, i just wake up i have 7% RC and this is in my face (much to my surprise (and i still speak in brackets, it's just how my brains works ...))))
if you were talking about steem-it ... i wouldnt say linking an article on football or crypto or a youtube video you like is plagiarism AT ALL and answering "wonky" on a whale's post with a question for the title "how would you describe steem in one sentence" does not warrant a downvote into oblivion and 'hidden remark' status, neither does posting a post on "please go easy on the downvotes" putting some bids and a bounty on it warrant finding out two hours later that all your money has been 'burnt' (something that seems to be popular these days : "in the name of the emperor who refuses to fix the core problem: inflation, "burneth they money, bring a friend and take his money and throweth it in this pit tooo oo oo" ...)

So we get the votesuckers, re-affirming the elite by saying nothing but what they thing the whale wants to hear and scour all high powered accounts hoping for a vote that's worth a cent or ten cents, not really saying what they think (if they think at all) who might as well be bots ... we get "the masses" , which ojou-sama who's name i shant mention as i put her on ignore for being offensive to my momma who is supposed to have a steemit whitepaper next to her bed for a bible but in real life needs help with the remote, so desperately tries to onboard while calling them normies (=elitist, language is a living thing and lives in the context, not the dictionary ...)
A walled-off community the world has never heard of , where sardines pretend to be sharks and call themselves whale because that brings out an image sympa but in fact once outside this little pond would be nothing but the hunted and the squashed , elitist ...

It's all normal, you walk and talk around in your own cave long enough, call it sub-culture or niche, you start to believe the whole world does and thinks like that, simply because everyone around you does and thinks like that. As it is normal for a scientist to think he or she uses understandeable language and the words are in fact plain english ... but frontier genetics is frontier genetics, particle physics is particle physics ... and people on facebook ... with billions of everything, post "good morning facebook" every day, for free, without losing money or curation , cute puppies, 'my team won last night' ... 'im ready for the week-end' ... and #stuff in #general

anyway :-) ... i just woke up so i almost felt an attack but im sure that's not it and i'm sure a wise-guy like yourself wont take this as one either :)

RC is always short on this 60sp account as my rattle rarely stands still when triggered (and i think they do it on purpose) so, even if not tomorrow or next week , if it takes a month, so please :

in most cases is see on hi-powered reply sections :

sometimes a record talks, sometimes a parrot talks ... people will forego their opinion (if they actually have one, some people simply ARE followers) hoping for that value-vote , others will forego their opinion, interests or way of expression for fear of that value-downvote ... one company and 20 people dictate the law and the propagande goes "it belongs to everyon"

i'm far from Cat Marx ... i <3 money, not for having but for spending BUT ...

well ...

if i can even post this with the 7% i have

Plato ... niche communities, maybe that clarifies more

15.09.2019 11:05

You really gotta cut down on these monolith walls of text man! But I know it's in your blood =P


All of 'em in different paragraphs

If you were talking about steemstem i don't understand how 'anyone' could post scientific articles in understandable language for everyone as one does not simply whip up some science-in-a-jiffy to post,

I disagree. Of course not literally anyone. Not that Indian farmer who has never even seen the internet and speaks some unknown dialect and is otherwise illiterate. But anyone who has an interest in the subjects of course they can. We have mentors specifically to help n00bs figure their way around and get up to scratch, and nobody needs a PhD to write about anything - I certainly don't. Actually we discourage releasing actual research papers - that's not what we're about. Science communication is often better rom laymen, because they can ONLY use simple terms to explain things, appealing to a greater audience. Researchers on the other hand tend to get very technical assuming the base knowledge is much higher than it is (I should know, I do the exact same thing with music).

if you were talking about steem-it ... i wouldnt say linking an article on football or crypto or a youtube video you like is plagiarism AT ALL and answering "wonky" on a whale's post with a question for the title "how would you describe steem in one sentence" does not ettc...

I never said this? SteemSTEM actually never flags anything, we simply don't vote. And we don't not vote because you link something, we don't vote because you DON'T link something. If you copy somebody else's content and do not credit them for it, that's simple theft.

I thiink the same applies to most other curation teams on Steem. Flags happen, and thats in anybody's riight and nothing to do with me or SteemSTEM, though

16.09.2019 10:54

~Smartsteem Curation Team

15.09.2019 12:16

This post has been included in the latest edition of The Steem News - a compilation of the key news stories on the Steem blockchain.

15.09.2019 17:53

That pianoman had me, until that second interlude.

15.09.2019 19:48

Pretty intense, right?

16.09.2019 00:53


16.09.2019 05:02

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17.09.2019 06:10

@steemflow see, you already got it

20.09.2019 18:19