Obstacles to Steem adoption

I have recruited a few people to Steem. I created accounts for some of them using the feature of using resource credits and then I delegate to them. Some have stuck with it, but others have not. I put out some questions on Facebook to try and find out why people are not posting.

It's complicated

The complexity of Steem came up. It is intimidating with the long keys and multiple web sites you can use, but the decentralisation makes the keys essential. We have to be responsible for our own security, but that gives us total power over our accounts. Things really improved with the introduction of Steem Keychain as this automatically applies the appropriate key when you need it. People have been known to paste their keys into memo fields and there are both good and bad bots who look out for this as it can enable people to steal your Steem.


We have editors on the various sites and apps that offer formatting tools if you do not want to enter Markdown codes yourself. I tend to use @steempeak and @esteemapp as both offer more than Steemit.

We do need good user guides to help people get started. Steemit has the FAQ and welcome page, but others may not offer much help. It is often not obvious that the various sites are all running on the same platform. I have long said that they need a common branding (e.g. Runs on Steem) to bring things together. There are lots of helpful posts and videos out there, but it may not be obvious what to search for.

It's not great on a phone

We have to accept that the mobile phone is the primary way most people access the internet these days. We have various apps such as @esteemapp, @partiko (dead project?) and @appics, but it is intimidating to try and compose a long post on small screens. I know some people thing short posts (tweet length) or single images (Instagram style) are not what we need or deserving of rewards, but let the community decide. Those are the ways billions of people communicate.

It's all about crypto

I am not sure this is so true these days. We have a fairly diverse community and many people are not posting at all about technology. You can discuss food, travel, music, comics, literature and even games that do not require a screen.

It is true that the community is small. There are only a few thousand people regularly using the various apps. So it is not appealing to someone who wants to reach a big audience, but this is why I think we need pioneers who can bring an audience with them. A band, Intagrammer or Youtuber could bring over a few hundred fans and shake things up. Those fans would have votes to spare that could get spread around the wider community. I think many of us have had it fairly easy doing our amateur thing and we might make less if professionals got on board, but that could increase the value of our Steem.

It could get really interesting if some brands got on board. For a fraction of what they spend on marketing elsewhere they could buy their way to orca and spread some votes around to build loyalty. I fully expect that some people would object to that and we know of big accounts who have attacked before with whale-level SP. It is a danger they will drive good people away.

It's a home for extremists

The freedom of Steem is what attracts many people and is likely to bring in those who have been thrown off other platforms. That tends to be people at the extremes of politics who tend to offend many. I know @threespeak have reached out to some of these people and some have joined up. They can get some good votes, but one of my friends is turned off by this. It is up to the community to decide what gets rewards, but who is going to downvote those who have a reputation for violence? What if a terrorist group joins up? As above such people could buy themselves serious voting power.

I do not what Steem to be primarily known for such extreme material. It should stand as a platform that is open to all. Most of us do not generally worry about getting censored, but we may find other platforms get more restrictive as they seek to control the narrative. There are many individuals and organisations who live under really repressive regimes who could use Steem to get their message out. It can offer a fair degree of anonymity depending on how you use it.

I would love to see groups like Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace here. Political parties may be wary depending on what local campaigning laws they have to work within.

We have no control over who can operate on Steem. That has advantages and disadvantages and we have to find ways to make it work.

The quality is low

We have a chicken/egg situation where we lack users, but cannot provide a big enough audience to attract the star creators. This is where we need some pioneers to take a chance on establishing themselves here. Most of us are basically hobbyists, but we have lots of real quality musicians, writers and artists. They are not always the ones getting the best rewards regardless of what effort they may have put into creating their work.

It's run by whales for their own benefit

This did not come up on my Facebook post, but I have heard this opinion expressed many times. It is very true that a few people managed to gain large amounts of Steem in the early days by various means. Some of them did buy it. Some managed to milk the system for years to increase their power. We cannot take away their Steem unless the witnesses cooperated to do that via a hardfork, but I think that is very unlikely to happen as it reduce trust in the platform.

You will see the same few names cropping up all the time on trending regardless of the quality of their posts as they have friends who help them out. That may be good for the ego, but it may not be good for Steem. Of course I support people I know, but most of my voting is manual and I will allocate it where I think it is deserved and needed.

What have I missed?

This is not just me being a moaner. I think we have to acknowledge the issues and find ways to address them. I have responded to my friends, but they have to decide if Steem is for them. I do not expect to be giving up my Facebook account any time soon as some will never move and the privacy settings there are valuable for restricting access. I will share family pictures and stories there that will not go on Steem.

Let me know what you think and Steem on!

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  • @captain-whale

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  • @bashadow

    All some good points, but one of the most important, (at least I think so), is the world reach. I don't know if 3speak, or dtube ever have not available in your region, when it comes to video sharing, I have seen that a lot on video's that are linked in steem post.

    You mention Facebook, I don't face book and very rarely visit a facebook page, so a question. How many people in different countries do you visit on a regular basis on face book? Russia? Kenya? Argentina? Poland? Portugal? Bali? Venezuela? Nigeria? Slovakia? Are all those peoples and countries as easily accessible on face book as on steem? I know I get a lot of Not available in your region messages from Youtube when visiting videos posted by people in countries other than America. I know facebook and yt are also world wide, but is seeing and finding post and pages from them as easy on facebook as it is on steem block chain?

    People talk about content discovery on SBC, but I have no difficulty finding things from different areas of the world, and with google translate, and many post being made in multiple languages, is that not one of the greatest strength of SBC? If I do a search for anything on google most results are American centric to me, I do not get results often from other countries unless I put the country name in the search.

  • @detlev

    Hi @steevc

    a few very good points and sadly I had to agree to many points.

    The user-interface and onboarding SUCKS

    But couldn't this be changed?

  • @revisesociology

    Very well summarised.

    How about 'it's hard to make it not sound like a Ponzi scheme'.

    There was some really interesting chat yesterday in the Witness Forum about the language sounding childish and/ or cultish too - Power Up and Witness for example....

    The learning curve was also mentioned, although hopefully with Dapps this won't be such a big deal - as they develop, using Steem should hopefully become a bit more intuitive.

  • @bozz

    I was having a good conversation with my brother in law about this the other day. We were mainly talking about Splinterlands and how they are supposed to have a mobile app out soon. He might actually get an account if that ends up happening. The barriers to entry are still way to high for common people and we are not going to see mass adoption until those are gone. I think Steem Keychain is a good step towards that.

  • @my451r

    In the past many of my friends were active on the Steemit platform. but now they are leaving steemit. there are a variety of reasons they leave. One reason, they see a lot of posts on only accounts that have high steempower who get votes. whereas those who just joined are not appreciated. And I think this is unfair for users who don't have high power. I used to hope that this platform would develop and support every user.

  • @whatsup

    Good list. Very reasonable.

    I would combine your picks to describe an unfriendly, unwelcoming culture devoid of a sense of justice or fairness.

    Our tech isn't friendly and easy, nor are our community rules and understanding. Steem is not easy, friendly or fair. Those who are sensitive will likely not be comfortable here.

    I'm not sure we can fix that, so I guess we hope for thick skinned, self starters who aren't impacted a lot by other people's judgements. :)

  • @bro.nevik

    Welcome page you refer to is 404 now. image.png

    Also we need a good landing page for a cold new steemers at least.

  • @lucylin

    I would love to see groups like Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace here.

    This place is already infested with useful idiots - why would more be a good idea? lol

    Steem inc - from start to present day, is a place of lefty ideals. (I wonder why it's not succeeding?)

    The cultural pendulum is swinging back to sanity, away from the recent years of idiocy. I'm not sure Steem is gonna survive it.

    We've had styhexenhammer - half a million followers on various platforms - leave. We've had stefan molyneux - half a million followers or more - leave.

    ...then we have people like @mepatriot downvoted to death by accounts that most probably are part of 'the establishment'. It's down voted because of ideology, nothing more.

    The shedding of the user base, has come a lot from the sane centrist and free market /anarchy types. The commies/corporatists/ are still here.

    IF the pendulum IS swinging away from 'collectivism' BS, and steem continues as it is - which is an oligarchy by any standard definition, I see only one direction. Throw in anonymity for witnesses who make the decisions - talk about a recipe for corruption! 20 people, to decide the course of direction for platform with over a million accounts?

    I'm trying my best to be 'the happy wrecking ball', but I doubt my success. Too many sycophants here, who are blind to reality. Too many useful idiots.

    We don't need more deep state, establishment funded, left wing political parties here. Greenpeace? Extinction rebellion? Really?

    I've always wanted steem to thrive, but the reality as it now stands, is telling us that it's doing far from that.

    Getting Greta Thunburg's demented supporters on board, ain't gonna help.

    I'll stop typing now, and wait for the 'you can always leave' comments, lol

  • @skepticology

    There are different reasons for lack of adoption versus those who sign up and then leave, and to be successful we will need to address all of these issues, but first they need to be acknowledged, and the current STEEM culture tends to reward a certain type of unquestioning optimism which results in self-righteous believers that cheer-lead about the current state of affairs, and so there is very little constructive criticism. Whenever someone brings up an issue, we can expect the status quo to loudly bark, "You're just doing it wrong!" As a wiser poster than me once said, software updates aimed at changing user behavior rarely work, but instead of listening to a multitude of users offering constructive criticism in the past, we have ignored them and continued to offer new users difficult signups, awkward user interfaces, user-unfriendly designs, a confusingly unfair reward algorithm, little rewards or interactions, and then we enabled more self-dealing developers and a higher ratio of whale shitpostings with the latest fork. Currently STEEM's optics look like it is designed to lure some sucker whales into a ponzi scheme, legitimized and funded by the labor of people producing blog content for pennies.

    After waiting for a complicated signup process, new users are confronted with complicated mechanics to learn such as the SBD/STEEM currency system, several different passwords, unexplained voting power which is invisible on steemit.com, and primitive user interface options compared to twitter/reddit. Once they engage with the community, they will learn the in-group behavior, for example social cliques and whale tribes, result in echo chambers and circular voting. They will also eventually discover the unfair allocation of rewards by self-dealing developers and unnecessarily complex curation and total rewards algorithms that encourage automatic robot voting and small circular-voting whale tribes.

    The only way STEEM will succeed is if an average person can have fun and make money. What is preventing an average person from having fun and making money here?

  • @robertandrew

    Great post.

    I do think we need some big names come on Steem. Like a Jake Paul or Pew Di Pie. Those are just thrown off the top pf my head. There may be big names who are more suitable for our platform than those two.

    But my point is we need to build the brand outward and upward and getting a few big YTers would NOT hurt.

  • @khaleelkazi

    Totally agree with all of these barriers you brought up. I spend a lot of time talking to people IRL about Steem and getting them an account and trying to walk them through it.

    The process is arduous, but occasionally I can get someone to make a post or two. I managed to pull together a lot of the common questions and put together this page — https://Steemleo.com/faq

    Now when I sign someone up, they get a Steem account, a link to that page and I answer all their other questions over text, of course. I try to down play Steem as much as I can — in the sense that I don’t try to explain everything on Steem to them, I just explain what Steemleo is and I mention that it runs thanks to a technology called the Steem blockchain — similar to how people explain what a website or what social media is today — Twitter is a social media app.. but they don’t tell their new users everything about the internet that it runs on. What you see is twitter and that’s what matters to twitter users.

    Posted via Steemleo

  • @quotes-haven

    You summed it up nicely.

    It is not easy to get going on Steem. It takes a long time, and a lot of patience to build a following. To spend hours on a post for a couple of cents. That just does not make economical sense. Quality posts do not guarantee a good return. After a couple of that, people will just give up.

    I am still here because I am retired, and Steem gives me something to do. If I have a regular job, I would have left a long time ago.

  • @jazcash


  • @chekohler

    I think you've summed up the major issues people have pretty well but I say they can all be fixed except for the last one thats going to take some time to dilute stake as people sell into the demand and grow from the inflation.

  • @shadowspub

    some good points here @steevc

    There is a Witness Chat in The Ramble tomorrow and one of the topics of discussion will be a bit of a brainstorming session about new user experience as Steemit Inc is wanting to work on improving that situation.

    Going to keep this post open to explore more thoroughly. !SHADE 2

    ShadowsPub Looking for writing inspiration? Receive a set of prompts via email every day. Sign up here

  • @pennsif

    All good points. All ones I agree with.