I've been through two periods in my career where I've been trolled extensively.
The first was when I joined reddit as cryptocurrency engineer. At that time, in 2014, cryptocurrency was not taken seriously by most people. The subreddit r/buttcoin made me enemy #1 in their eyes and trolled everything I did.
The way it worked was like this: I would say something positive about bitcoin on reddit. My comments would be upvoted about 5 or 25 times. Then, some minutes or hours later, the r/buttcoin community would post a link to my comment on their subreddit and commence horde downvoting. My comments would end up with -5 or -25 votes in most cases.
The most irritating thing was the way notifications on reddit worked. The trolls would comment on everything I said or did, and would also call me out relentlessly at random on posts that had nothing to do with me. Every comment would send a notification to my inbox. Always some gibberish, anti-bitcoin statement calling me an idiot and telling me I should be fired.
reddit's block feature was broken at the time. Although the trolling never transcended comments and notifications on reddit, it was extremely irritating and ruined the reddit experience for me. It had a real effect of making reddit not worth my time. Even as an employee at reddit.
The next period of trolling started sometime in 2016, and reached a crescendo in early 2017. This time, the trolls weren't anti-bitcoin. They were pro-bitcoin trolls who didn't like my stance with respect to scaling bitcoin.
Since I had all but stopped using reddit, the trolling would occur on Twitter. Every pro-scaling statement I would make would be met with some negative gibberish, usually from an anonymous account, about how I was an idiot and was going to fail. As someone who had dedicated four years of his life full-time to making bitcoin reach a mainstream audience, this was extremely irritating and made Twitter painful to use.
Because I had developed a large following on Twitter, my profile was too useful to abandon Twitter altogether, so I adopted the policy of blocking every troll. I also subscribed to Wil Weaton's block list, which increased my total block count to over 18,000 accounts at one point. (I have since unblocked everyone and now have a policy of muting trolls).
It is remarkable to me that my first period of trolling was from anti-bitcoin people, and the second period of trolling was from pro-bitcoin people. This peculiarity will be the subject of a future article.
At Yours, we are committed to improving the quality of content on the internet, and part of that mission is to decrease the amount of trolling and toxicity. We have an innovative solution that, to the best of our knowledge, has never been tried before on any social media platform.
What if it simply cost money to write a comment?
The payment for the comment would go to whoever is receiving the comment. For instance, on an article, the original author would set the price of comments and receive a payment from each commenter. The author could choose to reimburse comments that aren't trolls, and leave troll comments unreimbursed.
This would probably reduce trolling drastically, if not eliminate it entirely, because trolling would become an unprofitable behavior. Anyone could troll a little bit, but as they saw their funds continue to decrease, they would probably eventually give up. If a high profile author continues to get trolled, they could just charge more for comments. In a worst case, they may still get trolled a bit, but at least they would earn money for each comment.
We implemented this strategy a few weeks ago on Yours. Authors have the ability to set the comment price. In order to comment, you must first buy the article (if there is a purchase price), and then pay the comment price. The comment price defaults to 2¢, but authors can set the price to zero if they want. If the author is a victim of trolling, they can set the price arbitrarily high and, if there is any trolling left, the worst case is that they earn some money for having their time wasted.
The comment price for this article is 10¢. I commit to reimbursing every quality comment and will give a $10 bonus to any comments that are particularly good.
 

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In this day and age, comments are a form of content all unto themselves. Over 50% of the value I get from reading any content comes from the comment section itself. I suspect for any site to be successful the barrier of entry for any content, commenting not excluded, must be low. It is for this reason, I believe that in the long run content creators will set the commenting cost to a low or zero cost. I also believe that the vast majority of articles will put the majority or all content in front of any pay wall (in the long run.)
To me, the exciting and innovative aspect of yours.org is the upvote/betting system. It makes sense that content creators (again, commenters not excluded) should benefit from upvote activity and that early upvoters should be rewarded for their efforts in curating discovered content.
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Great comment, Jakob. Tipped 10¢ :)
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You're a stupid idiot ;) Just trolling.
Thanks for putting your effort on building a better world.
(please do not refund)
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I didn't think charging for comments on Yours would work to combat trolls because my initial impression was that they were always 10¢. Claims on Reddit and Twitter that trolls are financially backed by a shady puppet-master abound, and when it happens directly to you, those conspiracy theories can start seeming pretty plausible! 10¢ is trivial amount for those with a vested interest in shaping the narrative, and I remember saying as much to you on Twitter some time back.
Allowing authors to set their own comment price is a genius bit of free-market thinking! Authors who get a lot of trolls will price their comments accordingly, adjusting it depending on the abuse their last post received, and how incendiary they believe their current post will be. ;) The bullying and harassment problems that have been plaguing Twitter for years are solved right here. By prices! Capitalism!
That's what mostly sold me on Yours.org. Keep it up!
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Great comment, GreyWyvern. Reimbursed :)
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Enabling content creators to set an arbitrary price on comments is a game changing differentiator for yours.org. By placing a cost on comments, you achieve several positive outcomes: You disincentive low effort comments, you vastly increase the signal to noise ratio for the site's readers, and you reward creators proportionately with the discussion that they generate.
You also allow controversial creators that would normally disable comments out of fear of blowback to set a high price, and keep comments enabled for those willing to engage thoughtfully. Additionally, the cost requirement to vote causes a shift in voting patterns to promote high value content, instead of quickly digested posts or images.
Between yours.org and steemit.com, the cryptocurrency powered social media revolution has a bright future.
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Great comment, HazMclean :) Reimbursed.
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Great post, Ryan. Nice to see a high level of discourse on Yours thus far. Hopefully the model can ensure it stays that way.
Currently my most desired feature would be the ability to reply directly to comments and have nested comment trees!
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Maybe not in the scope of the business model of Yours.org, but the Norwegian public service broadcaster NRK has another take on how to reduce toxicity and trolling in the comment section: when commenting on a controversial subject, you have to answer a short quiz to show that you understood what the text you are commenting on really was about.
Maybe, in the future, a combination of the two models could be a good way to sort out trolls. Or the addition of a timer, that makes you wait one minute before being able to start writing your rant.
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Ryan, way back in the dark ages, of the late 1980's, I got involved in what was then called a flame war on IRC. It was incredibly disconcerting for me and I think I can comprehend how the above experiences must have made you feel with reddit. ( I've only been there a few times, never quite been able to work it out). The experience made me avoid talking from the heart because the vindictive nature of the responses I received just made it pointless and I found myself getting very stressed and uptight even days afterwards.
This may sound weird, but yesterday I was yelled at by another driver in a parking station for having my headlights on in the daytime. I drive a black van and I know from experience that even in broad daylight some people just don't see it. (the psychology of that is grist for another article). This guy just yelled at me (and he wasn't young either, probably in his 60's, like me). At first I wound down my window because I thought something was wrong but then I realised he was just fucked up and venting and wound the window back up.
From the moment I heard about Yours and read your views on trolling, advertising and the basic ethos of Yours, I was a convert. Giving the creator the ability (power) to define the cost structure is how I always imagined the net should be. As I have alluded to in other comments in this place, as an artist, it has been incredibly frustrating watching others make profit from my works while I get nothing. And there are hundreds of thousands of artists like me in the same position. Yours has the potential to change all that and although steemit and ong.social have similar concepts, there is something very different about the quality of content, as well as the attitude of the contributors here. I can't quite put my finger on it at the moment but it is something akin to a communal space, where everyone shares their perceptions of the world and as far as I can see so far there is little or no flaming or trolling, it is all too interesting. It is almost as if we can sniff the new world coming... Besides if you don't like what someone else does you don't have to look at it. Just turn away and avoid the stress. There is something really interesting waiting for your next click.
The article that Erik Hedman quotes above is a really interesting concept too.
Methinks the trolls in many cases are like that guy in the car. They really have much more fucked up lives. I know I wouldn't want to be in his shoes.
Sorry for the rant Ryan, and I expect no refund, I'm more than happy to pay to comment. To me, Yours is where I want the net to go, so more power to you. I think it is a fantastic idea.
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Great comments, Jake, Erik and William! Reimbursed all of you :)
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Love this strategy. I'm a big fan of Yours and hope it will reduce trolling significantly
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Mr. Charles, What I think you should do is to limit the total number of comments to 1 megabyte per post. Then you can have a fee charged in order to include the comment into the comment section based on how many bytes it is. If the comment doesn't include enough of a fee, you can just hold it back until the next post and include it there.
This way you won't have to worry about spam! In all seriousness, I do like the idea of charging to comment. The economics of this is pretty novel -- I'm not sure a flat fee is appropriate, but I think it's worth leaving around for awhile and seeing how it turns out!
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If there was to be a way to bypass the comment paywall for select users only, then this would allow social engineering to still take place, would reduce spam though. I suspect you may see more advertising and maybe people subtly monetizing/branding their comments, as they cost a bit more, but have much more visibility as a result.
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I see how technology is affecting many parts of society and the area that I am hotly in anticipation of is governance of people. Specifically in voting, passing and amending our legislation; conducting discourse around important subject matter; and even executing side-effects of passed legislation. All of it free of mutation.
Edit: Thinking about this further, it wouldn't be a stretch to think how a token of value could also be used to promote meritocratic behavior in Congressional debate or to accurately represent constituents in the American electoral college similar to model used here.
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Happy to pay a little BCC/BCH to commend you on a job well done. Not only on creating a content platform that encourages content creation/sharing and elevates commenting to a productive level, but mostly for proving implementing a micropayment system that works... right now.
You and Clemens should be heaped with high praise from the entire bitcoin community. I first heard your story on LTB. Ever since I have been a big fan. I just kept thinking how much further we would be along if you had been allowed to push Reddit the way you intended. Ahhh, well now you have a newer, smaller, and better community. Toxicity will be expensive... Love it.
Thank you for all you do for the community!
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Excellent comments, Jerry, Shammah, BCHBTCH, mikegreenberg, and Aaron :) Reimbursed!
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Paying to comment makes a person think more about the quality of their comment, as well. I wrote my first post, today, and have been enjoying the site. This could be the most positive innovation we have seen to raise the level of discussion on social media. I can see this site really growing and, perhaps, bringing about a more well though out - maybe more academic - level of discord. Really great job!
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Thank, Jeffrey :) Reimbursed!
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Ever since you explained this feature during your presentation in Arnhem, I have been curious to see how it works in practice! In this post you make a very compelling case for paid comments - so much that one wonders why it hasn't been done already on any of the main social media platforms. Of course we know why, it's because micropayments weren't practical until now.
BTW, It's nice to see the progress that Yours has been making these last few months!
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Thanks a lot, Otto :) Reimbursed!
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I see some spam comments are starting to come in. If comments cost at least 1c it should stop and we dont need a stupid "im not a robot" button.
If spam keeps coming it should be seen as paid ads which is fine if the author tolerates it. This would mean spammers buy bch to post which helps the economy.
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To play devil's advocate. Would this not just favor popular opinions? i.e. if 70% of people blindly trust in BTC lightning network as a panacea and 30% are pro BCH, would this not mean that (assuming equal wealth distribution in each group)... pro-BCH comments would get just as hard of a time as before?
BUT - I guess the quality of the disagreements on both sides may increase in that, if you want to win the "debate war", you'd try to allocate your resources at upvoting the well articulated / strongest arguments rather than basic hype and one-liners??
Also, would there be a way of rewarding people for not only (1) posting intelligent / appreciated comments but (2) being early in recognizing high value comments (kind of like buying shares in an undervalued company)? - this would further steer people away from not only posting troll comments but create a fear of "opportunity cost" - i.e. "well that was a waste, could have made good $ upvoting all of the strongest arguments / even in some cases the ones I disagree with).
--> *edit* PS: I literally just realised that you have already implemented exactly this. Very nice!
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