Smart Contracts for Distributed Publishing Authority

Image via BlockGeeks

Well documented in our previous posts, and across the internet, is the question of trust and transparency in a centralized, mandated media source.

Decentralizing authority is democratic, that’s why blockchain technology has become a model for the new trust economy; blockchain allows for autonomous distribution of information.

Smart contacts hold further promise.

“The best way to think about smart contracts, is to think of them as a set of instructions carried out by a network of trustless computers that all agree on the completion and state of these instructions,” said Chief Technology Officer Dondrey Taylor.

“Think of smart contracts as a set of instructions carried out by a network of trustless computers that all agree on the completion and state of these instructions.”

“For DNN, network smart contracts carry out the review process and issuance and management of token balances to all involved parties.”

“Our publishers communicate with smart contracts to carry out the various actions like submission of articles, facilitating the review process, issuance of tokens, and storage of articles,” said Taylor. “The publishers act as access points to the application, or smart contract. They are the interface to the Ethereum network.”

Decentralizing news

The concept of decentralized news is not itself new. There were startups, like the now defunct Reported.ly, that have dabbled in community-driven, Internet-based news reporting and dissemination.

The idea is that if news distribution were to function without any central authority, less importance would reside on media titans and there would exist a higher degree of autonomy and independence from the bottom-up, starting with journalists and ending at readers.

If news distribution were to function without any central authority, less importance would reside on media titans and there would exist a higher degree of autonomy and independence from the bottom-up, starting with journalists and ending at readers.

Distributors of news can act as nimble vessels for disseminating accurate information without any overseers but the community they serve, leading to greater integrity and a fearlessness to report.

At the end of the cycle, readers can focus on the content — the news — free of corporate influence and more transparent because of the power and function of blockchain technology.

How does the distributed publishing system work?

The system works in collaboration with three key stakeholders: writers, reviewers, and readers.

“The entire set of instructions associated with how an article is submitted, reviewed, and published, is carried out by the smart contracts,” said Chief Executive Officer Samit Singh.

“With DNN, we have three contracts. The most important and noteworthy one is the review process contract, which entails everything from writer submission, to article reviewal, to publishing, to managing payouts.”

“The entire set of instructions associated with how a DNN article is submitted, reviewed, and published, is carried out by smart contracts.”

Taylor added, “the reviewer contract computes whether an article should be published based on reviewer votes and selecting which set of reviewers are assigned to which article.”

To begin, an article is submitted by a writer, and stored in a distributed filestore and referenced on-chain.

The article then moves to the pending review stage, where reviewers place bids using DNN tokens to be selected to review the article. Bidding is completed when seven reviewers, the seven top bidders, are selected.

In review, assigned reviewers cast their vote to determine if the article should be published. This stage ends when all seven individual votes are cast.

From there, the article is either accepted or rejected. If accepted, the article is published by being uploaded on-chain. Articles in this stage are fully accessible to publisher nodes. If rejected, the article is not published and any feedback associated with it is returned to the writer.

Article stages, as detailed in our white paper

Writers

Writers, or reporters, are individuals who submit political content in the form of articles. Whether the individual is a freelance journalist, casual blogger, or an average consumer of global news, he or she can contribute to the DNN.

However, since anyone can submit articles to DNN, getting published is not guaranteed.

To increase the chance of getting published writers should ensure that they closely comply with the DNN content guidelines to mitigate the chance of reviewers rejecting their piece due to infractions.

To increase the chance of getting published writers should ensure that they closely comply with the DNN content guidelines to mitigate the chance of reviewers rejecting their piece due to infractions.

The DNN content guidelines are a set of agreed-upon best practices for constructing political pieces that are both comprehensive in scope and that convey the facts clearly and concisely. Articles that are submitted to DNN go through a series of stages before being submitted.

Reviewers

Reviewers, or editors, read and vote upon submitted articles before an article is available for public consumption on the DNN’s article feed. A reviewer’s main task is to ensure articles adhere to the DNN content guidelines.

Reviewers do not have the ability to modify articles, but rather can accept (i.e. vote to have content published) or reject (i.e. vote to prevent content from being published) any written piece. To ensure that no single reviewer has the final say on whether or not an article should be publicly incorporated into the network, the network will assign seven random reviewers to validate the article.

To ensure that no single reviewer has the final say on whether or not an article should be published, the network will assign seven random reviewers to validate the article.

All seven reviewers are completely unaware of one another’s identities; they vote and leave feedback in complete isolation to avoid groupthink or any form of collusion.

Readers

Readers are news consumers; they can comment, add notes, share, upvote, bookmark articles of interest, and denote articles they deem questionable. Unlike readers on traditional news platforms, readers on DNN play an active role in helping to shape the news they read, which includes participating in Reader Suggestions whereby article topics are put forward by you, the news consumer.

Publishers, part of the network

Unlike readers, reviewers, and writers who are human actors of the network, publishers are server nodes which act as a proxy between human users and the DNN network residing on the Ethereum blockchain.

Unlike readers, reviewers, and writers who are human actors of the network, publishers are server nodes which act as a proxy between human users and the DNN network residing on the Ethereum blockchain.

Specialized open source software consisting of the complete DNN user-interface and network interface, is bundled and installed on each publisher. Notably, publishers do not possess any article or user data, but instead, read from and execute commands to the DNN network.

Apart from communicating with DNN’s network, publishers communicate with one another through a peer-to-peer protocol that makes use of the same cryptography behind Bitcoin and Ethereum. Using this peer-to-peer protocol, publishers are able to relay details about their state to nearby node hosts.

The main purpose for publishers is to provide an attack resistant transport for the DNN software, rather than host the DNN software on a centralized server, which introduces a significant point of failure.

Storing DNN’s software on a decentralized network also allows the community to run and manage it without the need for an external facilitator or trusted intermediary.

DNN’s blockchain-based publishing system removes human bias generally incorporated in each stage of publishing, from the idea to dissemination. The Ethereum-powered platform will make it possible for news media to join, and even lead, the trust economy.

For more, read our white paper here, and join our growing Slack and BitcoinTalk communities.

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