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YouTube and Facebook Are Losing Creators to Blockchain-Powered Rivals (bloomberg.com)
317 points by rbanffy 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 283 comments

Roughly half of the content is about cryptocurrencies. The other half is stolen content (e.g. https://d.tube/#!/c/nba-highlights ).

I don't think YT and FB are sad about losing those types of "creators".

YT wasn't very sad about stolen content when they were starting up...

They still are anything but sad about it. The amount of pirated music on their platform is mind boggling.

A lot of that is fully monetized by the copyright owners.

Now maybe, but not when starting up.

Or the random person who uploaded it.

Youtube automatically identifies almost all copyrighted music when videos are uploaded and copyright owners can decide who will be the one to monetize it. Almost all of the major players have the monetization assigned to themselves.

Do you have any data on that? In practice I’ve only seen this for semi-recent top40 major label releases.

I’m referring more to the sheer volume of back catalog older/indie music that users have digitized from vinyl. I’ve talked to several indie label managers who gave up years ago trying to monetize/fight youtube with c&d letters.

This system actually is renowned for false positives and generally poor classification with no recourse for fixing its mistakes. A funny and telling related story: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-42580523

How do you know that?

There are tons of whole albums which are definitively not "monetized" by their makers.

E.g. old stuff where the band does not exists anymore or all the low selling genres where nobody cares. It is not a bad thing since i discovered a lot of cool stuff like that.

There's some long tail stuff that isn't, but the large majority is.

A breakdown of how the system works (they're trying to sell music for you to use, but it's still a good writeup):


I wouldn't say that they're "sad" about it but they clearly seem to put the effort to remove it, it's possible to find some pirated content (movies, music, TV footage etc...) but it's definitely a lot more difficult than any other streaming site I'm aware of. Go to a website like dailymotion if you want to see a "mind boggling" amount of pirated content (and even then, it's relatively tame compared to even smaller streaming sites).

It's a clearly a consequence of Youtube being owned by a tech giant and having such a high profile, all the right holders are willing to tell their lawyers to pull the trigger if they find their content hosted illegally on Youtube. It's probably easier and cheaper for Google to be proactive about it than dealing with the probably tremendous amount of complaints that would be generated if they waited for right holders to make a move.

Look up Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Youtube.

If you can steal from Disney, Youtube doesn't care. And no these videos are not being monetized by the creator.

> And no these videos are not being monetized by the creator.

How do you know that?

You could upload one yourself and you would get a notice if it gets monetized by the creator.

>You could upload one yourself and you would get a notice if it gets monetized by the creator

It may or it may not; I fail to see how that test would lead you to a conclusion here. You're making an assertion and really you have no idea.

We know because when Disney finds their content on Youtube they have it removed, they don't compromise their premium channels for the pittance in ad revenue they would get from pirate garbage.

The uploaders get through the filters with really strange editing tricks, cropping the screen and editing random bits together. It's not a level of quality that Disney would like to have associated with their brand in even the most unofficial way.

> The uploaders get through the filters with really strange editing tricks, cropping the screen and editing random bits together.

That they do, not wrong there.

I remember I started using Youtube originally because they had pretty much every season of every TV show uploaded there.

I'll be the guy this time: copyright violation is a different thing from stealing. I'm surprised after so long this meme is still going strong.

It's still going because that's the way people talk. You can actually "steal" an idea, even though it's not physically possible to remove the original from the person's mind. You can steal a kiss. You can steal second. Words mean what people use them to mean, and it's a perfectly acceptable use of the word "steal" to mean something like "adopted use of an artifact for the purpose of deriving a benefit rightfully belonging to its creator".

I'm personally surprised the "copyright infringement isn't theft" meme is still going strong.

> Words mean what people use them to mean

Semantics matter though when even courts start to become confused by the inexact use of terminology.

Here is a copyright infringement case that had to be taken to the US supreme court to reverse a guilty verdict for "interstate transportation of stolen property": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowling_v._United_States

The difference is that there is no loss. In the circumstances that you list there actually was something taken from someone, e.g time taken from something else, or I guess kissing someone you were not supposed to.

You can argue that a person might have gone to see the movie if they hadn't downloaded it, but that's kind of a dumb argument.

>The difference is that there is no loss.

In this thread, we recognize the existence of supply / demand.

It is exceptionally ignorant to claim that increasing the supply of a relatively scarce thing has no economic impact on the creator / owner.

Actually, what is really exceptionally ignorant is to apply laws of supply and demand to digital assets.

What I find really ignorant though, is you've decided that lowering demand is equivalent to theft. Does that mean competitors are "stealing" from one another.

It's only ignorant to apply supply and demand to digital goods if you start from the premise that copyright shouldn't exist.

1. Copyright shouldn't exist. 2. If copyright didn't exist, anyone would be able to get any digital file easily without restriction. 3. If you can get any digital file without restriction, then supply is infinite and demand doesn't matter. 4. If supply is infinite, then supply and demand doesn't matter and you're ignorant for trying to apply it.

That's basically the argument you're making, and you're rather trivially just assuming the consequent.

On the second part, that's just a really faulty analogy. Competitors aren't "stealing" from one another for the simple reason that they haven't taken anything. Copyright infringement isn't "stealing" demand. It's stealing an item that has demand. It's the infringement that's the theft, not the consequences. The consequences are just the justification for having the law in the first place. To repeat, competitors aren't "stealing" when they lower demand for the stupidly obvious reason that they haven't stolen anything.

It's only ignorant to able to apply the laws of supply and demand to something where supply _is_ infinite.

Copying a file is free, it's weird to make it equivalent to theft when there is no loss on behalf of the studio. Perhaps a better example would be one friend sharing a dvd with another friend.

That's what I'm saying though, it is stupid, to call file sharing theft. Theft involves loss on behalf one party. If simply taking profit(file sharing media companies would say) is enough to count as theft, then regular competition does that.

Another analogy: suppose you had a technology where you could clone real life items, you could copy food, cars, precious metals etc. you wouldn't call that theft. However in computing that technology readily exists.

Another thing, you're conflating laws with morality, just because something is illegal doesn't mean it's immoral. Copyright has been extended again and again by the Disney company afraid to lose their mouse.

And the correct lotto numbers tomorrow are free once you know them once, but that's not how prices work.

And what I'm saying is that you're simply declaring by fiat that there's no loss to the studio when you copy a file they own the rights to, and from there, building up to a conclusion that there's no loss to the studio when you copy a file they own the rights to.

It's a circular argument that falls apart because I reject the premise that I suffer no loss if you infringe on my right to profit from my own creation. You're not going to be able to argue me away from that by just saying the opposite is true with no further evidence.

Again, theft isn't depriving someone of property. If I go to your house and say, "ooh, cool guitar" and you give it to me, no theft has occurred. You've been deprived of that guitar, but I had the right to take it because you gave me permission.

Theft is committing an act of taking something that you don't have the right to take. The value of that thing doesn't determine whether or not it's theft, it determines damages. Regular competition or loaning a DVD to a friend don't consititute theft because you took no action you aren't allowed to take. The law allows you to make a competing product or to loan your books and movies to a friend for personal use. That's the whole reason why we don't refer to that as stealing something.

You can't steal something if you didn't steal something, regardless of the impact your action has on someone else. But in copyright infringement, you took something. You took the exclusive right to distribute a piece of content. That is an actual thing that is recognized by law and by common everyday economics as a real thing that has value. Depriving its rightful owner of that thing can be reasonably described as theft.

I haven't mentioned morality at all. I haven't even mentioned my personal stance on what I'd like to see IP law become. The only think I'm doing is arguing against this notion that it can't possibly be considered "theft" unless there's physical piece of plastic involved.

Ok, what is the loss when I copy a file and give it to a friend? You haven't stated what the exact loss is. If your answer is that it deprives you of possible future profit, which seems like a bizarre thing to protect.

Obviously I meant unwillingly deprived, now you're just being pedantic.

But let's make your analogy more accurate, it would be more like me walking into your house, drawing it, and reproducing it at home.

> ... The law allows you to ...

You are in fact making the claim that something is (morally) wrong or not because it is illegal.

I will explain why competition doesn't count, because even though you make less money, they aren't directly taking it from you.

The loss I've suffered is the loss of the right to attempt to sell your friend the file under the terms I want to set. I have the right to set those terms because I did the work of creating the artifact. You're completely allowed to find that a bizarre thing to protect, but you're not free to just declare that view the only reasonable one and expect no one to argue.

If I made my livelihood by designing homes, and I was good enough at that job that people demanded my services, then yes, copying one of my designs and distributing it without my consent is stealing something from me.

And I'm not conflating morally and legality. I'm really not. The two correlate pretty highly here (as most laws do for obvious reasons), so I guess maybe that's what's confusing you. But if I write a novel, and you put the original file on bittorrent, I created all the value here. You dragging a dropping a icon representing the bits on a hard drive isn't valuable work. And I believe that morally, the nearly infinitely greater amount of productive work I did to create that copy than what you did entitles me to more creative control. I believe that completely independently of whatever the legal system says. I also know that the legal system agrees with that determination and sets penalties for violating rules set up to enforce it. But I'm not using that as evidence for my moral position. It's not immoral because its illegal. The causation goes the other way around. It's illegal because the shared ethical framework of the people and society that drafted the constitution found it immoral.

> but you're not free to just declare that view the only reasonable one and expect no one to argue

To be fair, I believe I am free in my expectations and declarations. I didn't and don't expect that however.

> right to attempt to sell your friend the file under the terms I want to set

To attempt a sale is not a right, at least not one I am familiar with.

> You dragging a dropping a icon representing the bits on a hard drive isn't valuable work.

Actually, in as much as that is included in the archival process, I disagree.

> It's illegal because the shared ethical framework of the people and society that drafted the constitution found it immoral.

Good thing Disney has nothing to do with it, otherwise copyright might stretch out to over a century.

> To attempt a sale is not a right, at least not one I am familiar with.

It's called "copyright". You have the right to control distribution of your creative work. A direct and unavoidable implication of that is the right to try to sell it.

> Actually, in as much as that is included in the archival process, I disagree.

Archival doesn't produce a creative act by either common sense or legal interpretation. You can add value of course by writing backup programs or just doing the work of backing people's files up, so arguably I didn't choose my words carefully enough there. But the thing you created was the process of doing the archiving. You're entitled to control of and credit for that work, but not the actual files that your process created. Writing a program that saves the text of an ebook doesn't make me the author of the book.

> Good thing Disney has nothing to do with it, otherwise copyright might stretch out to over a century.

I completely agree, but it's irrelevant to the discussion of whether or not copyright as a concept should exist.

It's not exactly a basic human right, it still comes down to the fact that file sharing is not theft because there is no direct loss as a result of the sharing. A person could cause indirect loss as a result of many things, but it is not inherently wrong.

By violating the copyright of the content you are stealing the creators money. I'm surprised the meme that copyright violation is "different" than stealing is still a meme. Yes, copyright violation is not "stealing", but the majority of the time the end result is "stealing" money from the content creators.

Who is stealing which money when I watch a video of a song on Youtube? Do you really think I would have bought all those songs if they were not available on Youtube?

If you are a content creator on youtube and I reupload your video and place ads on it, I am stealing ad revenue from you.

So if you don't place ads on it you're good, or is that also stealing?

In most instances you are stealing views from the original creator and as a result of those lost views, revenue.

If those songs weren't there for free, would you be just staring at a wall doing nothing?

You may not be stealing directly from the people whose works you are entertaining yourself with, but you are stealing from the people whose works you would have otherwise bought if you didn't have this free entertainment that you consider unworthy of your purchase yet still view anyway.

Am i stealing from McDonalds when I decide to stay home and eat the tomatoes from my garden instead of patronizing their establishment?

That's a flawed analogy. Eating tomatoes from your own garden would be akin to listening to music that you yourself composed and recorded.

If you enjoy content and declare "It isn't worth the price, and I wouldn't have bought it anyway, so what's the harm, right?" you are still satisfying your urge to be entertained. If, without this access to free, overpriced entertainment, you would have otherwise sought out and bought other entertainment that you deemed worthy of your money, you are stealing from the people offering worthy entertainment.

If someone owned a practically infinite supply of water from a spring and bottled water for $50 per 12 oz bottle, and you said, "Hey it's fine if I sneak on their land and drink from their spring, because I wouldn't pay for their water anyway, so who am I hurting, right?" regardless that there is tap water that you would have otherwise bought at $0.03 per gallon, but now have no need for.

You may not be hurting the spring owners, but you are hurting the utilities selling the tap water.

IMO, this is why entertainment mostly sucks nowadays. It's very hard to make any money in it, because people are all watching/listening to crap movies/music, turning their nose at it and refusing to pay, and then going in for a second helping. /rant

Do you really think that supply / demand only applies to tangible goods? Do you really think that there would be no financial impact on Microsoft if they removed all of their license / activation technologies and relied on honor code?

I do know that supply/demands work very differently for goods whose marginal cost is 0.

Much of YouTube's own early content was stolen from elsewhere. Subversive can become mainstream surprisingly fast.

>I don't think YT and FB are sad about losing those types of "creators".

Hardly think YouTube is really in a position to be held up as an example of good taste or quality considering the sort of content they've been peddling to kids the past few years until very recently.

Not all. I am another one who love steemit and create original content for it.

Can you give a link to your original content? I'm curious what HN'ers create!

Not from the poster above, but here's my original content on Steemit


not stolen. the NBA is loose with their digital rights, even the videos on nba.tv. do a search on YT for NBA highlights, you'll get much of the same.

All platforms kickstart within a niche. Remember when Facebook was just for students? Or when Bitcoin was "just for drug dealers" (it wasn't, but that's what the media got everyone to believe).

Seeing some downvotes on this but TBH Silk Road and the underground economy _is_ what originally drove the lions share of demand for bitcoin as a currency, not miners and enthusiasts - everything else ballooned out from there.

Is Bitcoin for something other than drug dealers and speculation yet?

> what originally drove the lions share

I think that is known to be false (although it is repeated ad nauseam on HN). The best estimate around 2011 / 2012, is from this study: https://arxiv.org/abs/1207.7139

which estimated SR transactions to be between 4% - 9% of the total Bitcoin transactions. Hardly what I would call "The lion's share".

They say "Good artists copy, great artists steal". :-) I'm not sure whether it's true or not. Just saying...

I actually said that originally.

That's not what that means.

You know what's interesting? A Decentralised media platform used to be huge and actually is still huge: Torrents.

There's a huge community that consumes media that's not hosted anywhere particular and there are apps like Popcorn Time that offer viewing experience almost as good as Netflix.

The problem, of course, is that up until now there was no way to reward the creators and almost all the media consumed on Torrents is illicit copies of copyrighted material that don't bring direct benefits to its creators.

It is a huge topic in the blockchain community to find a way to reward content creators and we see early attempts that may or may not succeed at this.

Another issue is the "Averagisation" of the content. The moment that you make a content that advertisers might find controversial you risk losing your reward for that content so advertising financed media fails to capture anything beyond the mainstream entertainment. This has another unfortunate outcome, which is that people who don't want to get a direct reward for their content but hoping to be rewarded with political influence can afford to continue producing content that tends to be extremist(veganism, left and right politics, racism, conspiracy theories - you name it). So we end up with extremely light content that's something between product unboxing and funny videos not touching any sensitive topic and extremely edgy content that depicts the world as black and white and if you are not one of us you are one of them. Your average monetised content on Youtube is extremely light and your average popular non-monetised conted is extremeley heavy.

At this time you'll find that these new decentralised platforms are full of the extremist's stuff, as it is just another platform to spread their influence but in the long run, I believe that they will be diluted and will offer a platform where non-extremist but alternative cultures can flourish.

You certainly don't need blockchains and distributed databases to reward creators, centralized solutions like Patreon work perfectly fine. If you want Netflix style monetization, that is not a technical problem but a social one, Netflix relies on the concept of copyright. Any community that does not respect copyright will switch to the free alternative, leaving voluntary donations as the only monetization option.

Maybe there is a blockchain niche where content is offered freely but ad supported, with the experience painless enough not to motivate users to switch to the ad-free alternative. The revenue would then be necessarily modest, but would be redirected to the creators almost in full, compensating the massive Youtube cut.

I don't agree with your Netflix story. Most people don't prefer free, they prefer convenience.

Spotify almost works properly as a centralized platform because almost all music is on there. But I know a few albums that aren't, and it's too bad.

For Netflix, I have a subscription. But guess what I do when I want to watch the latest Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. I want it convenient, preferably legal, but most of all convenient.

For Game of Thrones it's not such an issue, but I do feel bad if there's e.g. an old BBC film I want to watch, but there's no way to get it legally, sometimes at all. Other times it's £20 for a DVD. No way I'm paying three months of Netflix subscription (or a large fraction of a license fee) for that.

The BBC has such an extensive and amazing back catalogue of content they wholly own. Why they don't chuck it on iPlayer is beyond me. I know they have it all on a digital platform internally already, format is not an issue.

The BBC has such an extensive and amazing back catalogue of content they wholly own. Why they don't chuck it on iPlayer is beyond me

The infuriating thing is, we’ve already paid for it. Anything BBC should be “free” to anyone who had paid their TV license in the last year it was broadcast. We own it already, it’s sheer extortion to make you pay full price for a DVD.

> The infuriating thing is, we’ve already paid for it.

No you didn't. For the example, the BBC typically only pays independent production companies (which is about 40% of their output) a fraction of what the content costs to make because the indie retains distribution rights afterwards and can make up the rest with sales. Same with scriptwriters, or actors.

> The BBC has such an extensive and amazing back catalogue of content they wholly own.

No it doesn't. The BBC wholly owns virtually nothing.




And more importantly, the things it does wholly own, it very rarely knows, legally, that it does wholly own, as the records aren't reliable. So it would involve a vast amount of legal time and risk to investigate.

It would be awesome if blockchain could solve the issue of rights management at the scale of media content. Tracking ownership of the individual parts (script, logos, video, etc) as well as the transfer of ownership of those parts.

The underlying data is unreliable. Throwing technology at it doesn't change that.

Agreed; but could we start with new media? This is a real nightmare for the industry.

> Why they don't chuck it on iPlayer is beyond me.

Because they would devalue new productions. The more license-payers watch old movies, the less they will watch Top Gear or Strictly or whatever it's supposed to be big now. This would mean less interest in new productions, less stuff sold by BBCWorld (or whatever it's called these days), less money going around... like all companies and organisations, the BBC wants to grow, not to stall.

No, it's not that. The BBC is tied up in the same licensing mess as everybody else in the media industry. Everything is licensed... scripts, individual rights, director rights, ownership is transferred, tracked, ends up with third parties. It's a complete, unholy, worldwide mess of ownership spaghetti under the hood, and that's at some level why the only alternative is torrents.

And much of it predates people even thinking about this stuff. Thus, you have a TV series like Northern Exposure for which the music was a fairly integral part and you can't even buy DVDs with all the original music included.

Even today, I was reading that one Black Mirror episode for which the closing song was just so on had licensed it for 15 years. Which is a long time but hardly forever.

Wierd to License something like that for only a few years. What happens in 15 years? They have to renegotiate a license or re-edit the show?


Which is quite common (Scrubs for example has had to re-edit library music into most of it's episodes for most uses, instead of the original tracks).

What a pain in the ass.

If you own the song, seems like you'd want to avoid leaving money on the table. I wonder how common relicensing is vs. editing.

The problem is that when it comes time to relicense, there's probably very little value in the show left to the studio. And whoever is negotiating the relicense couldn't care less about the artistic vision of the 10 year old show's creator who picked the original songs. And whoever the right holder of the music is probably doesn't want to offer steep discounts because it weakens their negotiating leverage on other matters.

The main issue is that it's very rare for someone to "own" a song. The publishing, label, composition, mechanical and performance rights might all belong to different entities in different territories and sometimes even in different windows. Relicensing is pretty common for films, but less common for TV, because there's less margin. And collective licensing for broadcast happens in lots of territories and not for on-demand or internet distribution.

Licensing is generally complicated but it's often for some fixed period of time. I expect part of the problem is in the incentives. I get the credit if I can negotiate a lower licensing cost today. If the license expires in 10 years rather than 50, that's probably not my problem.

This idea is based on the assumption people who'd watch stuff from BBC's old catalogue would, instead, watch Top Gear or Strictly. These are probably a couple different demographics, distinct enough to warrant separate delivery options.


The Charter calls for "distinctive output" but it also calls for umpteen other things including innovation in service delivery. They cannot "distort the market" but if the market is minuscule or simply does not exist (how many streaming services have access to the BBC back-catalog?), there is nothing to distort.

I do share the political outlook but I don't think that's what really matters in this particular circumstance. There might be occasional issues with royalties/copyrights and whatnot (production contracts in the media industry are notoriously byzantine), but imho the main factor remains a strategic choice.

Perhaps a commercial BBC that could actually sell it stuff to people who want it would help a) the BBC b) people who want it?

> Tories are always looking for an excuse to shutdown the BBC so their donors can pillage the public commons and eat the corpse.

Or maybe it's because it's not the government's job to run TV channels and radio stations, nor is it the public's job to fund them?

> Or maybe it's because it's not the government's job to run TV channels and radio stations, nor is it the public's job to fund them?

Public broadcasting is great, so many wonderful shows in the US would not have been able to have been made without it. But go ahead, sacrifice public media to the god of market economics. You might not miss it when it's gone, but it will be a sad day indeed.

Comparing PBS to the BBC doesn't make sense: PBS isn't publicly funded nor is it mandatory to donate to PBS.

Feels to me like a distinction without a difference. Public arts funding has always been something we want more of.

Then it sounds like you'd be OK with the BBC moving to a PBS style funding model. Great, me too.

I don't know what part of "more public arts funding" made you think that, but whatevs.

The fact you were happy with the PBS funding model in the comment I replied to.

The creators of iPlayer must have had a meeting with the specific goal of making it worse than realplayer

Is it that bad? Compared to any other TV services' online offerings, it's leagues ahead.

How is subscribing to HBO inconvenient?

It's a combination of price and convenience. There's some upper limit to the monthly price you (and everyone else) is willing to pay for content.

HBO Now is a much worse experience than torrents. The navigation is slow, the updates to new episodes are poorly placed under a bunch of clicks, there are ads for other hbo shows over and over (even after I watched every single West world episode they still show me ads about a “new show”), streaming bugs (Although this improved quite a bit).

It wasn’t the price that moved me away from HBONow, it was their lack of convenience compared to a torrent rig.

It ended up being HBO’s design was more for themselves rather than me (“we want to show you ads” vs “you want to watch your shows”). It was still very old in its philosophy of content.

Netflix however is awesome because it’s very UX focused.

Ultimately, I think only OSS/pirate are closest to the use desires.

> Netflix however is awesome because it’s very UX focused.

Except for the thousands of A/B experiments that incessantly drive you to spend every ounce of attention on Netflix. E.g. the auto-playing preview that starts whenever you stop moving the active selection. It strongly encourages you to start playing the thing rather than being thoughtful about whether you actually want to or not. Personally I hate this - it drives my anxiety nuts - and I find HBO's tactics much less user-hostile (although agreed the ads for HBO's own content are outright stupid).

HBO has long been against providing streaming service, and only seemed to begrudgingly with a "fuck you, this is going to be an awful experience" attitude

Yeah, the HBO UI is terrible. Netflix is great except it seems to constantly change what it is showing on Roku. Sometimes my "continue watching" is up top. Sometimes it is nowhere to be found. I've had to literally search for a show I started the day before to continue watching it.

>>Netflix however is awesome because it’s very UX focused.

I find the Netflix UI, especially the one for Xbox utterly slow and too jammed with information. Its not that great.

If you have Amazon Prime, you can subscribe to HBO via Prime Video and watch it in Prime, both the library and live streams.

I agree about HBO's ads but I think the UI/UX is fine on the Apple TV. I have not had any streaming bugs.

Well for me, in my jurisdiction HBO just simply isn't available. That's hands down about as inconvenient as you can get.

In jurisdictions where it is available it's often only available as a part of a larger cable package. If you're signed up with another provider that's pretty inconvenient also.

There is a well worn cartoon on this topic that sums up the position of many quite well [0]

[0] http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones

You'll notice that in the HBO Go screen there was an option to subscribe if you don't already have it through your cable plan.

Don't even know what a "HBO Go" is - never seen or heard of one before.

EDIT Actually, I'm going to put aside disingenuity for a second.

I actually have the closest equivalent of HBO with my provider, it's called "Sky Atlantic" and it's only available through Sky, of course.

So I'm fully paid up and legit as far as GoT is concerned but only coincidentally. If a competing network were to start showing $competing_popular_tv_show you can be guaranteed I wouldn't be switching, or taking on a second subscription ...

Take my $$$ by all means, but if you get greedy you'll get nothing.

That was to subscribe to HBO from your cable provider if/when they decided to offer HBO GO, the streaming service.

When this comic came out(2011) HBO Now (confusingly separate from HBO Go) did not exist.

"HBO GO. It's HBO. Anywhere."


"To access HBO GO℠, you must reside within the fifty states of the United States of America."

Some time ago while traveling I actively tried to find a way to pay to watch Game of Thrones. I failed miserably.

Also I really don't like having to have and manage subscription for various providers, nor do I like to be locked in with one. I would love to have a single subscription or even better pre-paid option somewhere which can be used across services and my money gets distributed accordingly.

Same with news media. I would be more than willing to pay a set amount per year for consumption, but I'm not willing to pay that amount exclusively to you.

Basically this - a lot of the time the options just aren't there for the rest of the world.

I think stuff like Netflix, Spotify, Steam, etc have proven that when content is priced right and delivered in a convenient manner folks are more than happy to pay.

News media is one of the worst for not figuring out how to adapt. I'd love to read some newspapers, watch a couple news networks, etc - but i'm not willing to plop down $100 a month and deal with a bunch of different apps to do this so I stick with online.

In order to subscribe to HBO in Canada, I'd need to call CTV, get a cable hookup to my apartment, schedule a time for the cableman, stay there while he's there, he'll hook up some box to the wall, I'd set up one account with CTV then another with HBO, and then after paying two companies and a real-world three-week delay, I'd be able to watch HBO. (Not to mention this would cost around $80/mo.)

First of all I live in Belgium, so no HBO here (some other European countries do have it I see, it's basically a lottery).

There is indeed an upper limit for everyone. If I need to pay >50 euros/month and still get ads, no thanks.

People are willing to pay for convience, but only so much. A lot of what gets torrented is easily and very conveniently available on iTunes, Playstore, or Amazon Instant, but it costs 5 bucks.

What isn’t convient about HBO Now (assuming you are in the USA)?

Pay per view is not convenient. You have to make a decision each time "do I really want to watch this, is is worth it" and then have buyers remorse afterwards.

Pay a monthly, automatically recurring, fixed fee is convenient. Out of sight, out of mind.

I generally feel the opposite. It's much easier for me to buy a movie or box set outright than subscribe to a streaming service. It's pretty much the same with all fixed recurring payments -- I always feel pressure to use the service and I'm constantly evaluating whether its worth it.

That sounds like price anxiety to me. If you didn’t care about cost you’d just buy. If Netflix cost 100 bucks a month you’d have the same anxiety.

I'm very skeptical about arguments that it's about convenience and not price. Yes, especially outside the US, there is some content that is difficult to get legally for any amount of money. But there's also some upper limit to what I'm willing to pay for physical media that I'll watch once (even if I can acquire it with one click on Amazon) or what I'm going to pay for a monthly subscription even if it were a hypothetical all digitized content ever made for one monthly fee.

I don't understand your point, HBO Now is monthly and automatically recurring.

> For Netflix, I have a subscription. But guess what I do when I want to watch the latest Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. I want it convenient, preferably legal, but most of all convenient.

What is inconvenient about subscribing to HBO Now? You have to do more work to find/download an episode of GoT compared to streaming via HBO Now. Or you could stream the episodes from Prime. Same with Walking Dead. There are rarely inconvenient streaming options.

I live in Belgium, and so it already ends there.

Ah. Yeah, region limitations are a really annoying issue.

Exactly, convenience is the most important part and here is where netflix et al has failed miserably.

1. All clients suck immensely.

2. The catalog is really poor.

3. DRM. I don't think you could describe inconvenient better than with those three letters.

If I could pay, say $30 a month, to legally pirate (not from any official source even) any movie/series I want I'd pay that in a heartbeat ($30 is still more than I consume if I were to buy it in a store). But now I don't have any service because it isn't worth it. I don't get the convenience and I don't get a decent catalog and I would have gotten it with DRM.

I'll grant you #2 since tastes vary and even the catalog varies from month to month. But for the vast majority of people, #1 isn't true, and #3 is irrelevant. Neflix's (growing) subscriber numbers are all the evidence you need for that.

Netflix's client has some warts but if you're looking for a specific movie or show it completely gets out of your way. HBO and APV have somehow managed to make it difficult to find things you know are already there.

That #1 and #3 is "acceptable" is simply because there are no (legal) alternatives.

I'm not really sure what you're looking for, then. Your wish for the ability to "legally pirate" content makes no sense, since by definition that's an oxymoron.

What I'm saying is that pirating is still much more convenient and results in a vastly superior experience than paying. Which is rather sad.

I don't agree with that. I'm a technically inclined person who has in the past done a ton of pirating, but nowadays I will always reach for a legal streaming service first. I actually do find, say, using Netflix much more convenient than firing up a usenet or torrent client and pulling down a video that takes 5-10 minutes to download.

And that's just me. The masses of non-tech-savvy people out there don't want to deal with pirating things. For these people, paid services are far, far superior.

Patreon has on a multitude of occasions exercised its centralized right to block creators and payments across its platform. This is why centralization is bad.

With centralization we're delegating the act and responsibility of filtering to third parties.

> With centralization we're delegating the act and responsibility of filtering to third parties.

Assuming that third parties have better information than the average person, that's not a bug, but rather a feature. The issue is that information asymmetry makes it difficult for average consumers to know which third parties actually do have better information and which ones are just gatekeepers collecting tolls.

In general, I'm inclined to believe that centralized third-parties are better at keeping out shysters and low quality content than a free-for-all. People always like to claim that 5-star scales driven by normal consumers are adequate filters, but the fact is that these are easily gamed by sockpuppets or the end-user's ignorance of what they're rating (i.e., you can go to one dentist with many 5-star ratings who was a good bedside manner, then go to a better dentist who has to undo all the fuck-ups that the first dentist made, and which you, as a non-specialist, were ignorant of). Crowdsourcing doesn't triumph over the groupthink, pluralistic ignorance, and other failings of collective intelligence.

The primary reason decentralized solutions are enticing is because of a lack of centralized control. That control not only functions as a single point of failure, but also as a single point of corruption or otherwise negative influences.

Patreon has had, to a much smaller degree, the same issue as YouTube. Somebody posts something somebody else doesn't like on the site. One group argues for removal, another group argues against it. In the end the company can do literally nothing to please everybody. Decentralized solutions remove any notion of implied endorsement and so what is there is simply what is there. And of course there are monetization issues. Companies want to increase their profit, users want to pay as little as possible (outside of what is donated). These interests can and do come into conflict. But more importantly, even if they had not had such issues, experience is showing us that it's only a matter of time until they would. So by suggesting some alternative to Patreon, it's just kicking the can rather than actually solving anything.

Lack of centralized control = inability to be censored.

Which often leads to calls to censor the platform altogether. Further down the stack then you do have centralisation, e.g. ISP, where this censorship can occur. We've seen this with various torrent sites in the last few years.

Patreon works only for artists in a few countries. The point of cryptocurrency is to be inclusive; anyone in anywhere can benefit from it.

Patreon does not work perfectly fine. It has already shown it will ban people it doesn't like.

Part of the promise of distributed, permissionless protocols is the lack of top-down censorship.

Not so well for small amount donations, in case you forgot the recent controversy surrounding Patreon.

Also, I think it's better not to depend on a single company for such transactions (remember PayPal, and it's awful censorship?). Plus, I believe cryptocurrencies offer much better liquidity once you start to use any cryptocurrency.

Most of the torrenting happens at best in grey areas. That's what makes semi-anonymous payments so attractive.

>centralized solutions like patreon work fine

Patreon, like existing solutions, is willing to remove people they don't like. In order to fully disassociate yourself from the whims of a corporation, you need to have a decentralized solution.

The other monetization option is of course public funding of the arts which could neatly avoid the issue of copyright and make shows legal to copy.

Patreon is better, because a few relatively wealthy supporters can fund zero-cost release of cultural products for the many free riders.

Paetron can be better. But it’s not going to fund something like Game of Thrones.

Nor is anything besides mega-scale capitalism. But TBH, if I had to do without super shiny movies to end capitalism, I'd give them up in a heartbeat.

You have people trying to mix cryptocurrencies and torrents as well to achieve this exact purpose. The two main ones I know are Upfiring (https://www.upfiring.com/) and VTorrent (http://vtorrent.info/)

Perhaps the biggest problem with Youtube is discoverability. Youtube's algorithms determine what you will see next.

How is that solved on the decentralized platforms? How does discoverability work, what assumptions does it make, and can it be "gamed"?

It depends what you mean by "discoverability". YouTube's algorithmic search may surface related videos, but what if you want to discover other views of a topic, for example, a timeline of all the news, including videos, on a topic[1]? That's not really a decentralization problem, more of a curation problem.


Good question. For discoverability to work well, you'd have to be able to identify a particular user, then track their viewing habits, then develop a viewing profile for them that you can do matching against.

The technical aspect of this is a mostly solved problem (YouTube and other distributors do it) but getting past the privacy aspects will be challenging - the type of person to use a distributed platform will also likely be using it to avoid this sort of tracking. Or they're in a country that has GDPR-like laws.

Why does the algorithm have to show you what content to watch? Just have it a good search and tagging system and the user will figure out what they need.

Surfacing content you don't know you want is something an algorithm can be quite good at. I don't know that I would have ever discovered HISHE, for example, without it.

A search system cannot replace a recommender system and vice versa, they are very different use cases with very different needs.

For any type of media, whether it's songs/bands on a music streaming service, video content on youtube, or even complementary goods in an online store, a good recommender system can and will suggest things that I would never have thought of (because I didn't know it existed) and thus could never have found with any search or tagging system.

How do I search for a song that's similar to those that I listened just now (and genre tags don't really work, they're far too broad, subjective and inaccurate) and that's explicitly not one of the songs which I remembered and just heard already?

Since when not eating meat and animal derivatives is considered extremist?

I actually find this very same sentence to be extreme..ly.. stupid.

It's as if the Indian subcontinent doesn't exist or that its people don't hold 'normal' values/habits.

They’re probably referring to the political and social activist subset of vegans that make a lot of noise and aren’t of the “live and let live” variety.

Bitcoin and bit torrent suffer from the same decentralization problem. Centralization will always be cheaper or the system will fail to sustain itself. Either these systems are not profitable to participate in and no one bothers, or it is profitable at which point it will be dominated by key players that either participate in the network or simply launch a centralized competitor. Specialization leads to cost cuttings and the large actors increase their quality, margins and market share squeezing out the decentralized players.

The one caveat to this is that torrents are cool because its a system that can arguably edge cache better than CDN locations but with today's low upload speeds and pings for consumer connections it seems the CDNs do win.

Vegans are not that extreme—some people do it for religious reasons (i.e. Hinduism), some for health reasons, and some due to their moral beliefs. Maybe you are referring to the extreme actions by the vegan recently?

This is exactly what TRX (Tronix) cryptocurrency is trying to achieve. They want content creators on their blockchain to distribute content and want to reward them with coin as payment.


> It is a huge topic in the blockchain community to find a way to reward content creators and we see early attempts that may or may not succeed at this.

What of the "information wants to be free" faction which is indifferent or hostile to the idea of content creators being rewarded?

I expect there continue to be polarization where most creators of commercially viable content remain within establishment channels despite all their problems. Both hand economic power to distributors over creators, but only the upstarts pursue the ideological delegitimization of creators.

I don't think the faction is "hostile to the idea of content creators being rewarded" per se, but people are hostile to content middlemen being rewarded, and they're hostile to what I call "content prevention services": the real work of MPAA et al is not in distributing content, but in preventing content from being distributed.

They're fine with content creators selling t-shirts, but they are hostile to the idea of creators being compensated for the distribution of their creations, or having any control at all over the propagation of their work -- because that necessarily constrains the ability to copy "information" at will.

The big winners in a world without copyright are ISPs, who achieve instant vertical integration of both content and distribution -- facilitating end-user lockin to their portals.

> that necessarily constrains the ability to copy "information" at will.

Well, yes. The alternative would have been to give the music and video industry a total veto over all consumer electronics, including computers, all operating systems, all content manipulation software, and so on. This would also have included repeated charges for moving media between devices and premiums for certain types of use; setting a song as your ringtone would cost several dollars, for example. There would be no Spotify and no Netflix. There might not be a Youtube, but if there was it would be impossible to watch it on Linux using only Free software. There might be iPods, but you'd have to re-buy all your music for each device. There might not even be videotapes. The end-user lockin would be at absurd levels.

The only middle ground is a scorched no-mans-land.

I'm confused by this response. We live in a world with copyright and so creators have a say and copying information cannot be done at will, yet what you describe did not come to pass: Spotify exists, etc.

Did it sound like I was advocating that creators be compensated for every last copy? That would not make sense: copyright holders can and do license content to allow such usage, and of course copyright law itself allows for copying under certain circumstances.

Spotify only exists at the price it does because piracy exists. It's a compromise price that takes enough people out of the piracy scene.

At the rates for on-demand streaming that the labels were demanding in the early 2000s, a Spotify subscription would be several hundred dollars.

As recently as 2012 someone was charged $9,250 per song download in punitive damages. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/minnesota-woman-orde...

Well, until creators of commercially viable content get offered a better deal, they'll remain allied to the establishment copyright middlemen and will continue trying to make life difficult for the upstarts. Better to be exploited than to be decimated.

I hope for a future where the innovators in this space do find ways to reward creators. (Patreon is a good start, and maybe there's hope in the blockchain.) That might actually win powerful allies as commercially viable content authors migrate, and the long-hoped-for disempowerment of the current copyright middlemen comes within reach.

I don't see that happening when content creators are treated as acceptable collateral damage in the war to found an "information wants to be free" utopia, though. It will have to be a different faction that successfully negotiates the alliance.

Not exactly what you had in mind, but checkout Joystream.


You basically get paid in crypto (Bitcoin Cash) for seeding torrents. Inversely, you can also pay BCH to get "high priority" speeds.

as for a platform to reward content creators, check out


<s> Such a big problem with people hoping to be rewarded with political influence. Even Paul McCartney has been diluting Youtube with extremist videos[1] about veganism. </s>

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnNFryHonQo

I think I just triggered a Vegan :)

I have respect for Vegans despite being a huge meat lover. What I mean by extremism is that Vegans are extreme and controversial form certain philosophies and eating habits and those serious about Veganism more often than not claiming that people who eat meat are murderers and should be treated as such, framing this as "Us the spotless goodies vs them unredeemable baddies". In my books, that's extremism.

But hey, I get your point and I'm more than excited about lab grown burgers so we can have all the meat we want without harming the animals.

I think you may be conflating vegans in general with extremist vegans. Perhaps most normal vegans simply don't create YouTube content.

Vegans are already extremist vegetarians. Extremist vegans are extremism squared.

We already have Quorn burgers and they're great. The problem with going vegan isn't burgers; it's decent cheese, and milk to put in my tea. And something to replace eggs in cake. And something to make boots out of if veganism is to go beyond food. I hope these problems will be solved one day.

We can't stop animals from getting harmed. They harm each other in the wild in terrible ways. All we can do is keep our own hands and mouths clean and avoid trashing the environment with livestock farming on an industrial scale.

Those other things are actually easier than lab-grown meat. There are startups right now working on lab-grown milk, egg whites, and leather, expecting to get products to market in the next couple years. For details, see the excellent new book Clean Meat.


Interesting note, veganism effectively requires the extinction of most farm animals, since these species very likely could not survive in the wild.

It is already true that most (nearly all?) breeds of domestic animal are no longer used for food: they are kept as pets, in effect, in farms that specialise in preserving unusual breeds and displaying them to the public, with notices next to the pens explaining how there are only 150 of them left and feeding time is at 3.30pm if you want to watch. The same fate awaits today's popular "production" breeds, whether they are replaced by Quorn or by an improved breed.

You also (unintentionally?) shed light on a potential link between cryptocurrency rewards and piracy authors. Given the progress in the Confidential Transactions world, e.g. RingCT and Bulletproofs, which could – whether you think this is bad or not – significantly incentivise pirates.

Can you give a bit more detail on the term "Averagisation", couldn't find much about it from a quick google.

What you describe sounds more like polarization.

I just coined that word, but you are right that it is polarisation in a sense that it's either too light or too heavy.

However, what I mean by "Averagisation" is that all the content begins to look like the previous one and as the trend is to drift either to the most monetizable or most politically extremist.

I wouldn't call this polarisation because these are not polar opposites. The "nice, advertisers friendly" content is not polar opposite to the extremist content, they co-exist without any conflict. So, the content becomes more from the same, just they are in two categories.

What you're describing seems to be pretty much exactly polarization.

You get one set of creators who want monetary gain and so their content fits within certain limits. Over time this will create more similar content as they watch what works for other people.

The other set of creators have different goals and don't care about monetary gain. The popular parts of this content will also tend to local maximum based on the level of extremism that's popular.

An iPhone unboxing video is not a polar opposite of a video complaining about feminists.

I wouldn't call this polarisation even if it can be described as the polarisation of income models because my concern is about the content of the videos.

I find it disturbing to see comments on HN completely disregarding the content and context and default to monetary optimisation.

I believe that people and their creations are what matters and the business models around those are incidental, despite the fact the business is influencing the content.

People always sing songs but the way they profit from this keeps changing over time. Selling tickets, selling recording, selling streaming, selling right - all change as the technology and society changes.

Therefore, I think that the polarisation is not the right word here as there is no polarisation of the content of ad-friendly and controversial content. They might be polarised among themselves tho, like iPhone vs Samsung and MAGA vs Antifa.

The content of two videos don't need to disagree with each other for the general effect to be called polarization.

The polarization isn't about income models, it's about the different kinds of content (light hearted safe content that aligns with advertisers vs extreme content that doesn't). I may have confused things by mentioning gain. The different goals of the creators was just my basic explanation as to why similar content continues being created because the effect is already in place.

I find it disturbing that you disregard the effect of capital. Advertisers are 100% focused on monetary optimization, and they're very good at driving creators to what will work best for them.

Of course content and context is important. But, money drives the content creation. Even when it isn't used to pay for the original content. Advertisers want impressions and clicks. Content creators want more viewers. The type of content aligns with advertisers goals -> money becomes involved -> more similar content. And other creators see this and want part of it.

No, I don't disregard the effect of capital. Actually I clearly said that the capital influences the content, just on the next sentence.

Anyway, the content is a cultural product and if not treated as such you'll end up losing your business to someone who does. In that case, if the blockchain people figure out a way that to reward content in a different way than pleasing advertisers then there's a huge opportunity to disrupt Youtube.

At the end of the day, despite what your analytics software says, it's not just impressions what your product gets - it's people watching videos. Content creators don't necessarily want more viewers, they want more influence or more money or more appreciation.

After all, there's a reason why don't consume the same content since the invention of camera and advertisements.

> What you're describing seems to be pretty much exactly polarization. [...]

It is, but its also more.

OP wrote:

> The moment that you make a content that advertisers might find controversial you risk losing your reward for that content so advertising financed media fails to capture anything beyond the mainstream entertainment.

This described self-censorship. Wikipedia has a nice article about that, including many examples. [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-censorship

Yes self censorship is part of the system.

It's a process that maintains the existing polarization.


(Why ice-cream stands on a beach bunch together in the middle instead of being conveniently - for customers - distributed.)

"Uniformization" sounds like a better fit, if we are searching for a more conventional word.

Maybe. I just don't want to use a well-established word to tag a new phenomenon because people can start judging the situation by the wider meaning of the word "Uniformization" or maybe different people will understand something different.

Instead, I coin a word and proceed to explain it. I find that using words with precise technical definitions or words that are jargons is dangerous in an informal context.

Or “Homogenization”

I think this is the more established term.

Sounds analogous to Stross' concept of a "beige dictatorship" in politics.

Is it related to “regression to the mean?”

You might find more results if you look up "self-censorship" [1] although averagisation might be more subtle than that.

There are certainly examples of things like UK newspapers downplaying reports of crime by their advertisers [2], newspapers with advertorial "the real russia" supplements being less critical of russia, local newspapers that rely on ads from estate agents not reporting on crime by local estate agents, and suchlike. There's not much reporting of this stuff online (who'd report it, after all?) but if you can get a paper copy of Private Eye, there are regular reports of this sort of thing.

And of course, you can easily imagine Youtube video creators not wanting their videos demonetised - while demonetising seems pretty inscrutable, "don't offend advertisers" seems to be the name of the game.

There's also a subtler process at work than reports just not getting run; it's that journalists know they won't find it profitable to focus their career on scrutinising big businesses, and youtubers know channels that talk about sexual health and prescription drug costs tend to not do well - so they focus their careers/channels in different areas.

In this case, there's no spiked report or tagged video serving as a smoking gun - just a "lack of interest" as interested people focus their energy elsewhere.

[1] https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=self-censorship+advertisin... [2] https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-media-telegraph-id...

Just the opposite. The content becomes more bland and inoffensive over time, as advertisers don't want to take the risk of offending even a very small subset of viewers.

Conforming, consciously or subconsciously, due to the ubiquitous presence of surveillance. Averagization is a great euphemism for the beginning of the slippery slope to censorship.

Have you looked into LBRY?

This article is pure clickbait. Make some half-assed, sensationalist, barely verifiable claim, sprinkle some crypto / blockchain / bitcoin seasoning on top, and to the moon you go.

Yeap. I'm deep in crypto. I have literally a company making money by providing service for masternode holders.

Yet even I recognize the tech is nowhere close to be user friendly for even the most basic use.

Youtube loosing anything to blockchain solutions ?

Yeah, in 10 years maybe.

Right now we are still working hard to figure out how to makes things work, and make money without scamming people.

I mean, come on, I regularly have to compile wallets from source to make them work, sometime fixing the build process in the meantime. I have dedicated app armor profiles that I have to custom make for each one because you basically can't trust any of them.

Why is this article even on HN ? Who upvote that ?

Either we have a lot of new users with a completely different mindset than a few years ago, or we have PR agency pushing some agenda. And given the article is on Bloomberg...

The title is a perfect mash of subjects. FB bashing, a few shots at YT's monetization policy, and a blockchain alternative to replace them. This is a trifecta for drive-by voters - even if it is pure clickbait.

>Youtube loosing anything to blockchain solutions ? >Yeah, in 10 years maybe.

I think it's way more likely for Youtube/Google to implement some sort of blockchain based system to reward creators.

I doubt it. That would make it either way too transparent and open, or just a blockchain implementation of a centralized black box.

Blockchain implementations in centralized black boxes are more likely than not the future of blockchain. As soon as regulation gets rolled out usable blockchains will be controlled by governments and/or private companies that comply with the rules. Not that I'm not in favor of a truely decentralized solution but I doubt "they" will allow this to happen.

Well they never managed to shutdown torrent or tor, so decentralized is still alive and kicking.

But yeah, we are likely to see a lot of people using the "blockchain" label for marketing reason, not using the tech for any of it's benefits.

But that's silly even from a technical point of view: if you don't need decentralization and transparency, then a blockchain is a very poor alternative to a blackbox built on postgress.

Clickbait implies that it's devoid of real content or has a misleading title. I had never heard of DTube, Steemit or Steem before this, and the title seems accurate enough. What's the problem?

click·bait ˈklikbāt/ noun informal noun: clickbait; noun: click bait

    (on the Internet) content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.
Note that it doesn't say anything regarding being devoid of content. You can have clickbaity articles with actual (although questionably useful) content in them.

I see a lot of articles talking about ad revenue. For most YouTubers ad revenue is minuscule compared to what they make on product placements. Someone in the lifestyle/beauty segment with say 300k subs on YT (and similiar IG following) might make 500$ in ads a month on YouTube but 8k to 10k per product placement. This doesn't include multi-post deals (usually YT and IG combined) that will yield (from what I have seen) 40k to 60k in collaboration with e.g. big beauty brands.

The odd video I’ve seen where YouTubers talk about revenue makes it sound the same. Once they’re big enough, it’s almost crazy for them to be beholden to YouTube. It would be interesting to see numbers that take the cost of serving the video into account. There’s got to be a point where content creators would be better off if they could move their fan base to a self run platform.

Well, product placements are still advertisement. It simply means that these ads are not managed by Google but other agencies that match Youtubers with advertisers. I wonder if Google is happy with that?

I doubt it. I wouldn't be surprised to see a situation that content creators would pay google for visibility (notifications, showing up in subscribers feeds etc.) in order to satisfy their product placement contracts.

Youtube has been labeling these videos with a paid promotion scrolling warning.

And Instagram has the requirement that creators mark product placements (not sure if they are displayed to end users) and also identify which brands they are advertising, presumably to make brands pay for reach in the future.

similar story on instagram.

STEEM is full of bots and content with purchased upvotes. (most articles have more upvotes than views, funny, hey?) There are only about 60.000 active users and this number is stagnating for months. No way, that Facebook or Youtube are loosing users towards this platform.

Was also disappointed by Steemit. I liked the concept and wanted it to work, but in practice the service was 99% people (or bots) trying to game the system uploading garbage. Any real quality content gets drowned among spam.

Systems that promise to pay for content production create a massive, direct incentive to game the system and spam it.

Yep. Don't get me wrong, I really want these guys to win, but the current system is just not good enough. I don't know how exactly they'll go around solving that problem though.

There are well-established systems to pay for content. The problem is that they're very manual, take a big cut, and are relatively selective. They go by names like publishers, labels, studios, and so forth. They actually work for some definitions of work but you have to be OK with relatively high barriers to entry and with a clearly-defined gatekeeper role.

Sounds like youtube.

All of these "alternatives" suck. Whether you believe in censorship or not (I don't), building a no-censorship alternative to a major media platform mostly attracts the people who were censored because of truly abhorrent content. Gab and voat suck because 90% of the content is extremist bullshit.

The development community needs to stop building "alternatives", with the hope that they become the next big thing, and go back to building things that we want to use ourselves.

>content is extremist bullshit.

Mainly just right+ extremists. No need to beat around the bush.

That's only because the left+ extremists are tolerated, if not condoned, on the SV run platforms.

Probably because left+ extremists don't inherently have dehumanization and genocide as part of their political and moral beliefs. You can disagree with economic allocation theories, but it's really not appropriate to compare the two.

Yes, the only thing they have going for them is that the initial factor they use for putting someone against the wall is economic and not race based. They still put innocent people against the wall. How is this not clear to you?

>How is this not clear to you?

Because it's objectively a straw man and isn't based on anything except your ideological preconceptions?

>the initial factor they use for putting someone against the wall is economic and not race based.

* Huge citation needed

Citation? Lenin, Stalin, Mao, three generations of Kims, Guevara, Castro, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Min. All murdered massive amounts of their own people for not being communist.

That's probably because they're not posting abhorrent content.


Please don't use HN for ideological flamewar. It's off topic here.



If I was, I would have worded my initial, base level, comment differently. Note that I'm not the one bringing up right or left and I'm specifically complaining about websites that have a far right user base.

So, I think you should question if you're projecting here.

How did you jump from talking about left politics on the internet to literally murdering 100 million people?

Would you please also not use HN for ideological flamewar? It's what we're most trying to avoid here, really.


Because that's what has happened at the extreme left (Stalin, Mao). If someone ignores the evils of fascism, would you not inform them?

When somebody makes a post about purchasing something using money, do you wade into the discussion to call them slavers and murderers because of capitalism's unsavory history?

Projection. You’re the one who stated that left wing extremists “aren’t posting anything abhorrent” on social media. Forgive me if I consider “death to capitalists” abhorrent.


The worst thing about the talking point you're spouting off is how unaware you've willingly chosen to be about this topic.

>go back to building things that we want to use ourselves.

Isn't this exactly what Gab is though? It was built from the ground up to house a very specific type of content being banned on Twitter.

We might not agree with what they're doing or who uses it but it is exactly an example of a developer scratching their own itch.

Gab was billed as a "free speech Twitter alt" by it's founders. The people looking for that platform happened to be the folks that have turned it into alt-right Twitter.

I like peertube [1] because it is about getting the Technology working without all the crypto and money making stuff on top. Similar to mastodon [2].

[1] https://github.com/Chocobozzz/PeerTube [2] https://mastodon.social/about

Yours.org is is my favorite example of this. Writers of articles receive Bitcoin Cash from the community. Interestingly, it costs Bitcoin Cash to upvote content and comment on things. Presumably this helps combat upvote bots and spammers.

Edit: forgot to mention that if you upvote content, later upvotes of the same content earn you money. This incentivizes people to discover and promote new content they think will be popular on the platform.

Paying for moderation/upvotes sounds like a terrible idea to me, it basically turn all posts into "promoted posts". If the platform becomes successful what will prevent companies and lobbyists from paying to have their content at the top, always? This is already a problem with popular platforms like reddit (and to a lesser extent HN) where this is actually considered inappropriate and against the rules, I'm not sure it's a great idea to embrace it.

Being able to "tip" the content creator to reward their work is good however, but it's not particularly novel.

>forgot to mention that if you upvote content, later upvotes of the same content earn you money.

Now I can't imagine how anybody could think that's a good idea. It incentivizes you upvote not content that you deem interesting but content that you think other will find interesting. In other words the website pays you to play into the hivemind.

Imagine reddit (which already has huge hivemind and low quality content issues on big subreddits) if you rewarded people for upvoting popular content and punishing them for upvoting more unusual posts that might not fare as good. Sounds like a terrible idea to me. See a funny cat gif being posted? Quickly upvote it to reap an easy reward. See a post about a very interesting but complex essay on the geopolitics of Botswana ? Better not risk and and lose some money.

> If the platform becomes successful what will prevent companies and lobbyists from paying to have their content at the top, always?

The cost?

Let's assume their content is essentially an ad that has no value to anyone on the platform. To get to the top, they'll need to outpay a whole community of people who are incentivized to upvote more interesting content.

Not more interesting, more popular. There's a huge difference. Look at the frontpage of reddit or youtube if you don't believe me.

Besides how much money would the average user be willing to spend daily on such a website? $1? $2? That already seems like a lot to me. Compared to the amount of money being poured into advertising or politics I don't see how the balance could hold. Besides couldn't you recoup a lot of your investment in a voting ring if later upvotes partially pay for earlier ones? Especially due to the positive feedback that popular posts are more visible and therefore tend to become even more popular? And even more so if people are incentivized to vote on quickly rising posts in the hope to make money?

From a game theory standpoint it doesn't seem workable at all to me, at least if your objective is to promote insightful and interesting content over memes and pictures of naked ladies.

I find it an interesting concept, but as with so many of these solutions I don't really see why you have to have Bitcoin Cash to make it work. They could charge your credit card for upvotes and pay you in fiat like Patreon does, and the functionality will be exactly the same from the end user's perspective.

I think it boils down to payment processing fees. For patreon for example it would be super inconvenient (and expensive) to process all payments individually, so payments are made in bulk. This is why monthly payments are the standard.

With crypto you can perform instant sub $1 payments with minimal fees (blocks aren't full so it's super low atm). It also saves not having to handle chargebacks, fraud, etc.

If you need your credit card, then you can be censored. That's why it uses Bitcoin (BCH) instead.

The article has an interesting perspective, but it doesn't answer the perennial question - How many creators exactly?

Then there is this:

> , a growing swath of creators have fled to sites such as DTube to avoid the constraints. Like other upstart sites, DTube runs on the blockchain network Steem, and users can pay creators and commenters in digital tokens.

The article doesn't go beyond Dtube and Steemit at all, even though it tries to quote them as examples. So the question is - what such sites other than Dtube?

Actually, on reading it closely this is a submarine piece if there ever was one.

> Actually, on reading it closely this is a submarine piece if there ever was one. Never heard the term "submarine piece" before - care to explain its meaning and origin? (Googling yielded nothing)


It's a PR piece masquerading as a news article, supported by the reporter's relationship with PR reps for the named companies. Not that it was planted or bought. It's just lazy reporting. Write up a summary of what your friends and/or acquaintances say, don't do any real background, and definitely don't be skeptical of any claims. Accept terms like "blockchain" as something it makes sense for video streaming sites to be built on. You end up with an article that took little time to write, gets plenty of clickthroughs thanks to its great headline. Another deadline met.

Assume they meant that it was essentially hidden advertising (under the surface).

The real question is whether wider audiences of valuable consumers will follow the defecting creators. This feels like a repeat of gab/voat but for video. Neither of those platforms seem to have broken outside of their core bases of “original defectors” to become real contenders to their predecessors (twitter / reddit).

Anyone remember Joost from Skype Founder? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joost).

We need decentralization and a multitude of platforms. A single centralized platform can't scale and no amount of automation can solve that. Human moderators are expensive and won't scale.

Who is going to vet 400,000 hours of video per minute Youtube apparently gets or the volume of posts Facebook gets? It's not practically possible.

Before no one really cared, but as the real world consequences of a centralized platform, surveillance and propaganda become clear the cost to free society becomes too great.

The only half way measure that may work now is to stop hoovering up data, stop trying to make endless correlations and inferences to offer micro targeting. Similarly advertisers can target by location and immediate textual context but micro targeting should be disallowed. With proper legislation this can easily to enforced.

I'm not sure I understand. Are these sites paying with cryptocurrencies or is the content delivery based on blockchains? The article is a bit vague about this.

The article is shit, that's for sure.

Only the payment is via cryptocurrency. The content delivery is as centralized as ever, so this does not change anything wrt to "privacy concerns, censorship".

It uses IPFS for hosting, IPFS stores hashes on a blockchain. IPFS is according to wikipedia a distributed file system.

> paying with cryptocurrencies or is the content delivery based on blockchains


"Because of the decentralized nature of IPFS and the STEEM blockchain, D.Tube is not able to censor videos, nor enforce guidelines. Only the users can censor it, through the power of their upvotes and downvotes."

Videos are distributed by http://d.tube, and hosted on http://ipfs.io, so obviously that's a lie.

This was literally their description on /r/Dtube

You are probably right, their wording is pretty confusing, with that part : "[...]and the STEEM blockchain"

I like the idea of Dtube and I signed up (via steemit and took about a week to be aproved) so I can upload video as an alternative to Youtube, but it's frustrating to click on video and wait for few minutes of loading screen only to get a cryptic "Error occurred while loading video", especially videos that are older than a month old. I'm not sure why I couldn't view these videos, but my guess is that either that they were taken down by the owner or by others for violation, or that there were problems in IPFS. Anyway, it's been a very frustrating experience so far.

Surprised that there is no mention of Brave and BAT in the article and in the comments so far.

Whatever your perspective on Brendan Eich's views[0], anything he's in charge of is a powder keg waiting to blow up. Brave/BAT will never go far while this conflict remains.

[0] Which he refused to clarify, leaving people to make heuristic decisions based on available info and personal experience with homophobia. He is, of course, free to think and feel however he wants and not share details. Others are free to decide what to invest time, energy, and money in.

>powder keg waiting to blow up

I don't get it, what do you mean ? Is this related to his homophobia ?

I don't understand why so many people can't judge Eich without pointing his homophobia, how is this even related to his tech abilities ?. The guy is a visionary, I mean he was defending privacy when privacy wasn't an even a mainstream issue, he invented in-browser scripting

BAT will be mainstream, no doubt about this !

The blockchain-based alternative to Twitter, peepeth.com is worth mentioning too

I've been using it since 10 days, it's really well made

There is also the holochain-based Twitter alternative, Clutter:


Holochain is a blockchain alternative designed to avoid blockchain’s scalability and energy consumption issues.

One swallow doth not a summer make


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