This blog post is mainly focused on the rules implementation prospect of the platform, Utopian.io itself. Rules implementation as well as changes are crucial for the future development of the platform. Various arguments are being carefully reviewed and proposed.
What is Utopian.io?
As mentioned and explained by many introductory blog posts before, Utopian.io is actually a truly innovate platform of utilizing STEEM blockchain to incentivize people who made their contributions for an Open Source Project. Incentivizing is done by upvoting a contributor’s post using Utopian vote bot.
Now keep in mind that the idea is still in a very early stage of development and we still have a lot of newcomers joining the platform on the daily basis. The idea as a whole, serves as a great addition to STEEM blockchain because it will, in overall, increases the quality of the content, and adds value to the content-rewarding model of STEEMIT.
However, it is worth mentioning that, due to a high influx of contributors, there comes an enormous increase of contributions as well. As attached below is a statistic which clearly shows the current number of contributions at the time of writing.
As shown above, we can clearly see that currently ‘Translation’ and ‘Suggestion’ occupying the largest portion of the Utopian pie. As a moderator myself, it is worth to note that the categories occupying the largest portion are often having the largest amount of ‘Spam Content’ and ‘Abuse’ as well.
What are the causes?
When we are discussing this topic, it is necessary to mention the underlying theory to give a clearer picture of what’s going on. Thus, we will have to look at one interesting effect which is The cobra effect.
Brief description on wikipedia about the cobra effect is shown below.
The term cobra effect originated in an anecdote set at the time of British rule of colonial India. The British government was concerned about the number of venomous cobra snakes in Delhi. The government therefore offered bounty for every dead cobra. Initially this was a successful strategy as large numbers of snakes were killed for the reward. Eventually, however, enterprising people began to breed cobras for the income. When the government became aware of this, the reward program was scrapped, causing the cobra breeders to set the now-worthless snakes free. As a result, the wild cobra population further increased. The apparent solution for the problem made the situation even worse.
Does it sounds familiar? This is exactly what’s going on for the Utopian.io platform. The reward program which started out being a good intention of bringing more good to Open Source Project might in turn, do more harm.
The statement is not directed to ignore or belittle the contribution brought by the platform, however, it should serve as a reminder of how the nature of people comes into work for scenarios which involves bounty.
You should never underestimate the power and influence of monetary reward on people. Which in this case, it is starting to cause more harms to the platform.
How can we stop them/improve the platform?
Before we go into this chapter, let us skip it for now and have a look at an interesting point of view in the book The gift relationship by Richard Morris Titmuss on 1971.
The Gift Relationship
In this seminal book, Richard Titmuss argued and proposed that monetary compensation for donating blood might reduce the supply of blood donors. This seemingly contradicting hypothesis, often referred to as “crowding out”, was initially met with skepticism indeed, but slowly gaining support by various economists and socialogists.
the following part contains various technical terms
It is stated that intrinsic motivation (for example, volunteering) can be negatively affected when an external reward is offered. The change can be caused by changing the way the situation is perceived or by changing the individual’s self perception as being controlled by the reward (for example, when a contributor truly wants to contribute, but deterred by the concept of reward).
Also, in particular crisis situations, which in this case, shortages of human blood, the prize for blood goes up. In another word, blood banks are willing to pay or raise the rewards for the donors to give blood. This attracts those people who don’t necessarily give blood for the purpose of serving a higher good, but those who don’t donate and are desperately attracted by the additional income.
In his seminal work, he carefully examined and comparatively studied the blood donating in the US and Britain. It is found that the commercialized blood markets in US as compared with voluntary system in Britain, has higher wastage and poorer quality.
So now, let us go back the the core of the topic, how can we solve them?
To be harshly honest, the author could not give a definitive answer to that. However, the author thinks that the mentioned aspects should be considered when implementing future rules, specifically, the potential monetary reward shares and quality control. More importantly, the ultimate purpose of serving good to Open Source Project should be kept in mind and rules should be carefully examined so that the perfect balance will be able to achieved.
The time will tell, albeit this might seems a little cliche. But truthfully, we should give some time to the new rules and see how they work out.
With that, I will rest my case.
P.S ironically, the author is using the Utopian platform as well. Oh well.