Rewarding Curation

Monday February 15, 2021 — Taipei, Taiwan

Something interesting about the design of Twitterand I think most other social networks, although Twitter is the one I have the most experience with. is that it doesn’t have much of a way of rewarding curation, only authorship. When someone retweets your retweet, only the original author and the top-level retweeter are shown in the UI, so by definition, if you see a retweet, the only person who you might go and follow because of that is the original author of the tweet.

I’m inclined to think that the mechanisms of distribution of information are very important, and I think figuring out ways to reward good curation is probably an important thing. Sites like Reddit, HN, Lobsters, etc have something sort of like this, with a number next to your name that goes up when you submit popular links, but this suffers a few problems: first, a number next to a name is, I think, not a sufficient reward to counteract other, more problematic incentives (you need to either have a lot of free time or a lot of interest in controlling the flow of information in order to spend a lot of time curating and submitting links). Secondly, being good at curation doesn’t seem to influence the amount of power you have, since what links get seen are determined largely by users at large, with some filtering from moderators. It’s unusual for someone on Reddit/HN/Lobsters to follow posts submitted by a specific user, despite that likely being one of the best ways to consistently have a high-signal feed.

I don’t really know what the solution is here, but I do think that finding and curating good links and bits of information is useful, and something that should be rewarded more than it currently is.