It's pretty much a consensus on Steemit that the Promote feature is broken, or at least that it's not all that it could be.
The rise and dominance of vote buying bots is no doubt a direct result of new users - and olders, to boot - struggling to get noticed.
No one wants to swim through the New feed in order to look for content because it's filled so much garbage and noise. A lot of people have the people they follow and that's that, which results in people not already followed by big enough users being virtually invisible.
Well, social media is hard and getting noticed always takes effort. Steemit shouldn't be "free".
But maybe something could be done to ease the pain a little.
The vote buying bots are getting a lot of negative press, but I'm not here to argue for or against. Be those as they may.
For argument's sake, however, let's assume that an alternative is needed. That alternative could be the Promote feature, but in its current form people are no doubt discouraged from using it; a lot of people are saying they never even check the Promoted tab, so there's a good chance it's just a waste of your SBD. Shoulda just bought BTC with it, bro.
Here's how I would do it:
- User promotes a post with 100 SBD, for example. That 100 SBD gets sent to @null and burned, reducing the supply and benefitting the entire community, just like now.
- The UI - not the chain - would add the burned amount of SBD to the post's potential payout, placing it somewhere on the Trending page if the amount is sufficient enough. The 100 SBD would not be part of the payout "for real", but the algorithm would treat the post as if it was.
- Obviously, a better incentive to burn SBD, which is always a good thing.
- "Competition" to the vote bots. This way, no one has to be for or against the voting bots, or engage in the neverending in-fighting in regards to them. The market would simply decide which manner of advertising serves the userbase better.
- Freshening up of the Trending Page. The same people are all over the Trending Page and there's very little that can be done about it. Some people don't mind, others feel that it's to the detriment of Steemit. Just like with the above point, this feature would simply offer more competition without flag wars and whatnot.
- People would be incentivized to work hard on the content they promote to the Trending Page; burning the money, as opposed to buying a vote, would be a risk, so the user would likely not promote pointless spam and word filler. This could theoretically lead to more "genuine" stuff occupying the Trending Page. This isn't guaranteed, though, but it could still spice things up.
I think it makes sense. It's pretty much the traditional, most natural form of advertising: you spend money to be seen by more people, in the hopes of gaining new followers who have never come across your stuff before.
This is basically what's done with the vote bots right now, but the added caveat here is obviously the burning of SBD.
If the UI still showed the burned amount - and that the post was burnpromoted - it could even lead to goodwill among some stakeholders who would prefer to support a user who is taking the risk of burning SBD as opposed to using a vote bot.
Personally, I'd like to use this method for posts that I feel are important. Sometimes I have something political I want to get off my chest to get some conversation going, for instance. Or it could be an idea for Steemit, or what have you.
I just personally don't want to use a vote buying bot, nor do I think the Promoted tab is worth it.
I think this would be an overall improvement that wouldn't really step on the toes of anyone enjoying the current status quo. At worst, it'd just be competition, and since Steemit is all about the free market, competition should be welcomed.
Also: these people are burning SBD, which makes them, de facto, the most valuable people on Steemit. If anyone deserves the trending spots, it's them.