How Masmic overcomes Quora’s limitations through a crypto-based micropayment network
Quora is without a doubt a phenomenal product. The vision of Quora’s core team was that quality information available offline was much larger than what is available online and they wanted to create a platform where the whole world can share and collaborate with each other and learn from each other.
This, over the years, led to aggregation and organization of world knowledge in the form of topics, and the gap between offline available knowledge and online available knowledge started bridging.
Because Quora is a free medium for flow of information, it enabled millions of users to enter the platform without any friction and some of these users even built incredible profiles on Quora which could be leveraged offline as well.
Now, to be clear, we aren’t so audacious to say that Masmic can replace a platform as big and valuable as Quora. What we believe is that there is an important niche in Quora’s usecase which can be better delivered through a monetary incentive based social collaboration. And this has been made possible only through the emergence of micropayments via cryptocurrencies.
We infact believe micropayments based platforms will emerge in several fields in future, and a Q&A platform based on micropayments is a great usecase which Masmic aims to deliver on.
Let’s see some of the limitations of Quora which Masmic aims to overcome:
i) No certainty of getting good answers on a question posted:
If someone wants to post a question on Quora with an expectation of getting good responses within a couple of days of posting the question, there is no way to ensure that this happen for sure. As no monetary incentives are involved for responders to participate, some good questions might garner good answers while others might not.
ii) Noise-to-signal ratio for quality of questions started increasing:
As posting a question involves no cost, noise-to-signal ratio started increasing as Quora became large. This became a source of negative network effects (driving existing users to leave Quora or reduce their time spent), as Quora became large and it became more and more difficult to maintain quality within the platform. Spammy questions started crowding Quora, many of them for marketing purpose.
iii) No simple objective criteria for sorting of answers:
Say you came across an interesting question on Quora titled “What is the most unique thing about Argentina’s culture” and you are interested in going through the answers. But there are over 300 responses and you only have time to read through 5–6 answers at max.
You would naturally rely on Quora’s algorithm and go through the top 5–6 visible answers. But then you decide to look at some more responses and you notice that there are answers down below which have more upvotes than the top answers. You get confused! Have you really read the best answers to the question? Quora’s answer sorting algorithm takes a number of factors into account and this complexity reduces the reliability of the algorithm for different kinds of questions, responders and upvoters/downvoters.
But then Quora can’t also rely on just upvotes as a single factor because this can easily be gamed.
iv) All user engagements on Quora can be gamed for subtle marketing purpose:
A startup can create their own questions which indirectly promotes their product/service, then respond to the question multiple times through multiple fake profiles and then upvote these answers through their own fake profiles. This practice is increasing and Quora users are being manipulated in reading through these crafted questions/answers.
Now let’s see how Masmic overcomes these limitations. Before coming to specific points, it’s important to note that these limitations could only be overcome through the application of micropayments and game theoretic incentive structure, and would have been difficult to overcome in Web 2.0 ecosystem.
Now talking about specific points:
i) On Masmic, only those questions can be posted with which some economic value can be attached, however small it might be as seen fit by question/bounty poster. It’s just that the questions can’t be posted for free. Although this would create a barrier for question posters, it would also increase signal-to-noise ratio, making the platform more lean and quality oriented. Also, attaching economic incentives will greatly increase the chances of getting good responses in a timely manner.
So, let’s say someone wants to watch a good documentary on Netflix and want good recommendations. Now, most of the users would search through the internet to find the answer and spend an hour on this. But some users who value their time can instead attach a small reward of say $0.5 to get the answer.
It is through the power of micropayments that this meagre amount of $0.5 can also be distributed among, for e.g., more than 50 contributors.
ii) On Masmic, those who contribute their knowledge/wisdom/creativity in the form of answers will get monetary rewards. As Masmic scales up, it will become a source of earning passive income for those who provide their valuable contributions on the platform.
The question poster assigns a definite number of rewards before posting it. In the above Netflix documentary question, let’s say the rewards assigned are 5. Now, game theory is utilized to ensure that the reward amount of $0.5 or whatever the poster chooses to assign is divided non-linearly among the winners. So, top contributor gets higher proportion as compared to 5th top contributor.
This will ensure healthy competition among the participants to fight for the top spot, once they choose to contribute to this question. With reward system based on meritocracy, content consumers on Masmic will also have quality content to consume even after the end of bounty duration assigned by question poster.
iii) Now comes the final question, who’s to ensure which is the overall top contribution and which is the 5th top contribution? This right can’t exclusively be given to the question poster because of misalignment of incentives and there’s a chance the question poster might favor one of his known ones.
This responsibility of sorting answers will be taken up by the whole community. But why would they spend their time in doing this? Because a portion of bounty is kept for and distributed to those who contribute in sorting.
But still you may ask, how does it ensure that the sorting is done in a rational manner? Because here again game theory is utilized in such a way that those who upvoted those answers which finally became the top answers will get higher rewards as compared to those who upvoted relatively bad answers. Wisdom of the crowd facilitated through game theoretic monetary incentive structure will ensure that a participant will act rationally while sorting.
Thus, Masmic aims to be a platform where information sharing/exchange and social collaboration is backed by frictionless value transfer by means of micropayments to create a meritocratic network. In Masmic, seamless flow of information and seamless flow of value will simultaneously take place and infact inextricably intertwined.
We don’t exactly aim to disrupt Quora but instead aim to use the power of cryptocurrencies to create a platform which solves some specific problems we face while collaborating online in Web 2.0 today, by injecting meritocracy in platform/network models which exist today.
Our aim is to show the potential of cryptocurrencies, further the promise of this revolutionary technology and become one of the most widely used products in crypto ecosystem. There’s a lot of skepticism in the world when it comes to actual applications of crypto, and we want to turn that narrative by increasing crypto adoption through Masmic.
In order to turn this theoretic model into practical success, community support will be essential. We hope that all of you, including crypto supporters, will help in growing the whole ecosystem. Masmic’s growth won’t be possible without your support.
We will launch the platform very soon and for the initial 1 month, only email subscribers will get exclusive access to the platform.