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.
Please let us know your thoughts. Comments on this post cost 2¢ and all non-troll comments, including critical ones, will be reimbursed.
 

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You may consider an invisible phase for every new user where their votes, tips etc don't have any effect and are invisible to other users. They can later be upgraded to a regular user after a number of comments, tips etc.
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@solitude: Yes, indeed, that is something we have considered and will probably do. However, at this time, almost all users are relatively new, and it's valuable that someone can bring their audience to the platform and have genuine payments count toward their ranking. That said, the fraudulent accounts are almost always created at the same time as the OP, so they are pretty easy to detect.
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I'm glad you guys are on top of this. For two people, it's incredible how much you get done. I look forward to seeing how this goes.
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I think that this is a good idea. I got scammed on a post that turned out to be a copy paste of someone else’s popular posts. They had already earned $80 and had 4 of 4 votes saying it was worth paying for and a comment saying it was a good post. They must have spent $120 trying to make the post look legit. It’s unfortunate but I think something needed to be done ASAP to keep this from being abused.
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@derekmagill: Thanks a lot!
@Evan: Yep, exactly. That is exactly what we're talking about.
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Thank you for working some ideas making Yours better and better, I hope this site will gradually have more rich features. I also noticed that some users charge too much for content, I saw 20$ purchase price.. come on, that is the price of a best selling book! I'm charging 0.5 $ maximum 1$ but I am still trying to figure out what works the best. Lastly I believe this site it is a bit too much about crypto, don't get me wrong I am a crypto holder and investor and I like it, but this site should have more voices in other fields as well if it want to be successful, also if other people who are not involved in crypto, eventually use Yours.org they will learn about Bitcoin Cash... so there will be double positive outcome. If you need a moderator from the other side of the world... I am here to help !
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Hi, maybe you guys can moderate all posts, when a user try to post something, the post be held until a moderator see it and aprove it.
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@framore: Thanks!
@Johny Folk: We're not going to do that. We are not interested in having editorial discretion over all the content. The users will do a better job moderating that we can.
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Aside from the anti-scamming solution, it is a wise decision to implement this for business and more specifically, profitability reasons. Good choice as usual.
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@ Ryan X. Charles nice, hope the comunity helps a lot,
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Perhaps some of this can be solved not by a 5% fee, but by a different system for reimbursements. I've been thinking for a few days about the incentives surrounding the voting system on articles (hmm, sounds like something I'd do...)
What I've noticed is that there's an increasing disincentive to vote as the number of votes add up, and getting the first vote or two in (after the author's initial vote,) will almost always return a profit to you. This is, I think, problematic.
A different system may be as follows: 5 cents goes evenly between all voters before, shared evenly by votes, not voters. However, the remaining 5 cents gets divided evenly between the last 5 (or fewer) voters not including oneself.
As Yours always gets the first vote (as I understand it,) this means that Yours will receive at least 20% of the first 5 voters' funds, thus strongly disincentivising spammers who tend to vote for themselves through other accounts, and also giving an incentive to following voters who believe in the article's strengths to be reimbursed at least 5 cents worth (more, if the next 5 voters vote more than once,) even if they're the 100th person to vote for the article.
While this will reduce each voter's return per vote, the volume of voting is likely to be much higher, especially as the platform takes off. This leads to my next point:
Only votes should be used to sort content on the "top" page, while purchases, tips, and number of comments on the article (weighted by votes on those comments, using the same system as I describe on the article level,) should be used to weight the "hot" page, such that activity is measured in "hot" while quality is measured in "top."
One possible addition that I haven't fully considered yet, but figure I'll share... The rating given by purchasers of an article may be fair to use for rankings, but perhaps that should be on an author level ranking system rather than article level. This would build more value for authors to build an audience on the platform, and to price their work fairly. I do not believe that these ratings should be used to sort "hot" or "top" rankings, though, as the price of a given pay wall is variable, set by the author, and this is not a variable that I believe can be effectively accounted for by algorithmic sorting systems.
Anyways... Dissertation over. I hope these ideas are helpful to the developers in growing this incredible publishing platform.
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There is one account with the name of Yours_ that even myself I confuse for you, then I see the _ ... it shouldn't be possible to use a name that seems to be from the site itself
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I really like Matthew Zeitzke's effort to address some incentive issues. He's clearly given this a lot of thought, and that is nice to see.
I wonder about the logic of penalizing the entire user base with an increase in fees for general use in an effort to target the actions of a few scammers. It's sort of like what we see in so many cases of proposed legislation, such as gun control, where we can't get our hands on the criminals, so we pass a new bill targeting law-abiding citizens instead. It seems like there should be a way to target only those that we want targeted, instead of casting a huge net and hoping we catch the ones we're after.
Now, if it were explained that the 5% fee had a different purpose, such as, say, to cover costs of development, that would be another story. But the fee hike is being presented to us as a way to address scamming. Put that way, the question is naturally raised as to whether it's right to charge all of us more to use the platform legitimately when the purported goal is to is disincentivize scammers, not to disincentivize legitimate uses of the platform.
I foresee the fees becoming permanent, and the scammers changing their tactics. That would be a losing proposition for everyone.
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@Matthew Zeitke: Excellent thoughts - thank you. We will review & factor into future efforts to combat scammers.
@Rich Dalton: The fee has two purposes - decreasing scammers first, revenue to the company second. The fee is definitely not a "penalty" to the entire user-base - all revenue to the company supports development of the platform itself. The fee is worth paying if you get more out than you put in.
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