Since some of our users have started earning large amounts of money for creating good content, particularly RiversAndMountains, we've seen an influx of copycat scammers. Actually, it seems one scammer in particular seems to be responsible for most of the scams on the platform.
The way this scammer works is as follows: They copy some content that had success and repost it as their own behind a high value pay wall, say $5 or so. Then they create several new user accounts and purchase, vote, and tip their own content to bump up the ranking on the front-page. If they are successful, one or two legitimate users will be scammed into thinking that something good may be behind the pay wall. There isn't. Bitterly disappointed, the user votes "no, this content isn't worth paying for," but can't do anything to get their money back.
We delete this content and ban the fraudulent user accounts as quickly as we find them. However, Yours Inc. is only two people and we aren't online all the time. Sometimes these scams can be on the front page for hours.
It's clear we need a better way to deal with scams. We have recently implemented several mechanisms that partially address the issue. First of all, we now have a captcha on signup that increases the barrier to creating large numbers of fake user accounts.
More significantly, we've started charging 5% for all content payments that influence ranking, which includes purchases, tips, and comments. We do not charge for user-to-user tips on the profile page, and we never will - we want to be sure there is always a way for users to send money to each other at no cost.
The new 5% fee creates a financial cost to fraudulent self-payments from fake user accounts and makes all payments that influence ranking more meaningful. This fee goes to Yours Inc. and provides revenue for our business. The reasoning for 5% is severalfold: 5% is far less than the 30-40% charged by many mainstream content monetization platforms like YouTube and Amazon, and is therefore highly attractive to users of those platforms. The payment is also about the same as funding platforms like Patreon and Kickstarter, which charge 5% plus transaction fees. Since transaction fees on Bitcoin Cash are negligible, we therefore have lower fees than all mainstream platforms, while still having high enough fees that it deters fraudulent self-payments.
The way we assess all fees on the platform is that they should be win-win between the users and the business. By charging a 5% fee for payments that influence ranking, users can rely on these payments, and therefore the rankings, to be meaningful. If someone wants to create fake user accounts and vote up their own content, they will have to pay to do so, and will probably be banned and deleted soon thereafter. Therefore the cost of scamming users will (usually) be higher than the gains.
This is the same reasoning that we applied when we started charging 10¢ to post content soon after launch. When posting was free, we started getting a high volume of spam content on the platform. As soon as we started charging, even though the fee is very low, the volume of spam radically decreased and average content quality radically improved.
The new 5% is not the last measure we intend to take to limit scams. We will also implement moderation tools which will ultimately allow users to self-moderate the platform. Moderators who do a good job will be able to earn revenue for their work. We will also develop reputation systems so users can have more information to avoid being scammed. However, these tools will take some time to implement. Charging a 5% fee is simple, it will probably be effective, and it will start generating revenue for our business which we can use to further develop the platform.
We do not believe we will ever entirely eliminate scams from the platform. Ultimately, users are responsible for the payments they make and need to act intelligently when making payments. However, what we can do is create an environment where scams have a cost and are therefore unprofitable and unsustainable.
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