thank-u: Value and money redefined on blockchain to fix ad blocking

(infographics from politizane@youtube video)

The Problem

Although income inequality is a necessary incentive in modern economy, the increasing gap between the rich and the rest is harming the economy and together with the growing share of financial services in GDP was among the causes of the recent financial crisis.

The trend is difficult to change from the top because of the lobbying efforts to keep the status quo by the richest “1%” who control most of the wealth and resources. However, one can find a lever and a point of its application at the bottom and change the trend. Technologically.

The Lever

The problem of unequal wealth distribution can be at least partially solved by changing the way we define value of goods and services and by limiting functions of money. Value is currently defined by objective production costs, subjective value to consumers and efficiency of the market regulator. It is much better than what was postulated by Karl Marx but is still inefficient. One can recall the famous case of Windows Vista: multi-billion development costs were paid by unhappy consumers in exchange for tons of frustration caused by the product quality, while positions of the company owners have improved in the list of the richest. GDP has grown despite of the harm to the economy, but GNH (Gross National Happiness) fell.

As the true value of a product or a service exists in the mind of consumer, why not let consumers define it according to the gratitude they feel, wherever possible, starting from the domains of current interest — products of creativity and intellectual property, where subjective value constitute the biggest part of the value? By doing so, we rely on one of the basic needs of human beings — to forward emotions, to thank whenever feeling lucky, enjoying the very process of giving back gratitude, or express critical feedback, improving the system.

Point of Application

By downloading movies and music from file sharing networks, by installing ad blocking software users revolt against outdated models of value definition. The problem has been getting worse for a couple of years with no universal solution in sight. In the case of ad blocking it is consumer who pays for the content, the chain of intermediaries and the advertising itself in this seemingly free model:

Having two intermediaries in the transaction is expensive. Consumers often get disturbed by ads and become target for spying and ad profiling. As content publishers depend on the whole chain, and not on their users directly, feedback propagation is inefficient, users often end up supporting content they wouldn’t like to, some publishers opt for clickbait instead of quality.

Here is the point where we can apply our lever — an application that, in addition to ad blocking, lets users assign a monthly amount of money they would agree to be proportionally distributed among their favorite sites, or use “like” button for one-click microtransfers to thank for a touching movie, a song or an article. Looking at the growing volume of crowdfunding, one can expect that spending 5–10 dollars a month on favorite sites should not be an obstacle for many. And the amount received by publishers can grow after getting rid of costly intermediaries, when distribution becomes targeted and fair.

In the last year there have been a few announcements of similar solutions (Flattr, Mass, Brave and others). However, judging from the first reaction of the community, to get a chance to be accepted as a fair alternative, such micro-payment platform should be:

  • free — where publisher gets 100 cents from each transferred dollar;
  • anonymous, transparent and open, controlled by community consensus, rather than a company that can be sold or go bankrupt.

Technology

To achieve the true commision-free microtransfers we have implemented a cryptocurrency, thank-u rays, and configured the blockchain in a way to avoid all major direct and indirect costs and leaks.

Processing

Transfers have to be protected from spam and attackers with a 1–3% commission locked on recipient accounts for a few days. However, publishers are incentivized to install network nodes helping maintain the blockchain to unlock commission faster and increase their chances in emission lottery. That is how the platform gets potentially huge processing power at no additional cost as the software is lightweight and easily fits into existing web infrastructure used by authors and publishers.

Speculation and volatility

To ensure the true commission-free operation derivative uses of money, speculation and investment, have to be suppressed. Exchange rate is anchored (to a fiat currency at start — 1:1 USD). Newly emitted money is distributed randomly among the top 5000 sites listed by alexa.com (as they are the most probable beneficiaries of the platform), depending on the gratitude volume they receive, provided they help maintaining the blockchain by installing nodes. Money absorption works in reverse. Exchange rate volatility is discouraged by the following rules:

  • publishers interested in increasing exchange velocity control the money supply by voting on emission/absorption rates when signing blocks. They are incentivized to vote towards consensus.
  • users who buy and voluntary send thank-u rays have an option to do it on credit, delaying exchange if the rate deviates from the anchor.

The functions of money that are different from the target ones are suppressed with negative interest rates and some other restrictions (the collected rates are destroyed).

Fees for exchange to fiat currencies

This leakage is difficult to tackle as it is caused by the need for a third-party arbitrage of exchange transaction. However, given the gratitude nature of transfers, exchanges can be performed on the blockchain itself — users can buy rays directly from their favorite sites they usually send them to. In this case it is possible to save on transaction arbitrage achieving commission-free exchange. Sellers have strong incentive to behave correctly as buyers can always balance fraud by adjusting their voluntary spendings.

Common internet cryptocurrency exchanges will be used at the beginning and for users requiring stronger exchange anonymity.

Chicken or the egg

Chicken or the egg problem at start is solved in the following way:

Users install browser extension and start sending rays on credit, which can be later repaid by adding funds to account when there is ray supply on exchanges or cancelled with no obligation (credit transfers expire).

Publishers originally receive rays from emission lottery and can further collect transfers to their domain name, connecting an account to the domain name with their SSL certificate credentials (transfers are returned to senders when a publisher doesn’t join).

While the system starts working in trial mode with no real money involved, publishers can assess potential money flow, are incentivized to recommend the tool to their audience to turn credits to rays.

It is possible to create different accounts for different authors and products. Eventually we will get the true ratings and major quality improvement, when clickbait is replaced by seeking gratitude.

About thank-u.org

thank-u is developing the first open source version of the platform and the pilot application. Development is self-funded, no benefits or rights reserved. After going live, the platform is decentralized and solely controlled by its beneficiaries, authors and publishers, in a meritocratic manner: votes of those who receive more thank-u rays have more weight.

thank-u can be applied in many areas where ad sponsored model is currently failing (web, mobile apps, games, etc.) and even go beyond the Internet.

The platform is already being tested — join us!