Before the end of the year, we're going to begin working on subs (in addition to other economic features). I have some ideas around this and wanted to share to see what everyone thought.

Here's what I've been thinking:

  1. I want these to be recursive -- i.e. subs can have subs
  2. Substacker is the intuitive name, but it's a mouthful. I also like that it's self referential.
  3. I think these should exist at the top-level path, e.g.<substacker name> ... it increases the odds of colliding with usernames but I suspect this is not too bad. It also would be intuitive for users who want following both subs and other users.
  4. Economics
    • creator of the sub sets the "economic policy" and earns 50% of the revenue their sub generates
    • they set: cost to post, min comment cost, and upvote cost
    • by setting the policy, they are tuning sybil resistance and their returns

Amazing creativity. My 2 satoshi.

  1. Interesting. Will you be able to sign up for the subsub, but ignore the sub (parent)?
  2. It's typed more than it's said out loud. I think a shorthand will be created. Eg. s, ss, sss... ssssss. Then, memes will follow related to sinking ships -- which is okay. :)
  3. Fun. But, would the substacker be<substacker name>/<substacker name>?
  4. I think you need to launch, with a well-thought-out abandonment policy. Squatting will happen quite fast, I suspect. Or, maybe you could use some bootstrapping funds - sell the initial rights to the substack for a fixed amount of satoshi. I think you could do some really cool stuff if you allowed a mini-turing complete language to run against the object model you have. Examples: give 25% of revenue to a random charity. Give 5% of revenue from the top 5 posts to the top post. Give 20% of post-revenue to a random user (or comment) each week (making commenting akin to entering a lottery. I think a garden of models would bloom, each kind of both competing and doing their own thing.
  1. yes I think so
  2. yes
  3. I think to create a sub there might be an upfront cost or like 10,000 sats.

re 3) 10k sats Not terrible- at the current sats/USD, it's similar to price of buying a domain for a year, which might be enough of a deterrent.
I wonder if maybe it could be something the community votes on for approval to avoid the potential spamming. Haven't been on indiehackers for a while but I think their subforum/groups functionality, after you apply and you need a certain number of people to express interest in joining before it becomes a real group.

Just checked out the repo, if your ambitions are to eventually make this distributed. You could make the payout-hook into a callable with some kind of standardized output format that the server understands. Then allow a substacker to config a pointer to the endpoint.

ex: would send a POST w/ a body such as {'substack' : '/s/mysubstack', 'commenter' : '/u/jeff', 'comment' : '1234', 'tip' : '100'} ...and then my own server could send back: [{'payto' : '/u/jeff', 'amt' : '50'}, {'payto' : '/s/erickuhn19', 'amt' : '20'}, {'payto' : '/u/anonporridge', 'amt' : '30'}]

...this could be open sourced, or closed source. People could audit both the history, and "test" the endpoint themselves with a hypothetical POST-body.

Figuring out how to give the callable more context would get more interesting.

This sounds like a cool experiment.

Here's my 2 sats:

  1. Cool
  2. Substacker is a good name (is "subreddit" any better?)
  3. Why not make it<substack_name>? Also, while you're at it, why not make stacker/news/u/<username>? the /s/ and /u/ clearly deliniate what item it is we're looking at. If you wanted to be really clever, you could do a search over users and substack names (with some preference for breaking ties) that doesn't have the prefix.
  4. Maybe a later feature, but it might be nice to have pools of people getting some stake for the substack, instead of just one person. It also might be nice to set the percentage the creator gets from the substack instead of fixing it at 50%. Some other questions:
    • Will other users be able to create sub-substacks whose parent substack is not owned by them? If so, how do you allocate sats that are in the range of (0,1)? Also, does the parent user/owner have power to delete the sub-substack and/or set policy to allow users to create sub-substacks?
    • Does the owner/creator of the substack have permissions to remove posts and/or comments in their substack?
    • What's the main "value added" to the community for someone creating a substack?
  1. I like thinks to be at the top level if the names have to be unique anyway. It's like giving these things prime real estate. There are only so many manhattans is the problem. It seems like names for subs and users are fairly disjoint though.
  2. Agreed, a pool is better.
    • Yes, I think so. Most things in the db are denominated in millisats so that should solve that problem. But subs of subs will have to exceed their parent subs posting costs, e.g. the "root" sub is the main page, any children will have to have posting costs of at least 2 sats.
    • I don't think I want this - but perhaps. My hope is we can sort out bad content with economic policy instead.
    • Differing Sybil Resistance, niche-focused content, and smaller dedicated community ... each substacker feeds content back into the parent and gets ranked alongside the content of other siblings

This is all kind of complicated from a UX perspective though so lots to work through.

For the last point, I understand the value of the substack but I was asking what the "value added" was for the person creating the substack. For example, why not just have anyone be able to create a substacker community without the reward structure for the creator? Maybe offer some "bounty" whereby some group of people can give the 10k sat threshold required to create the community (like a "Kickstarter" like thing or sort of how the area51.stackexchange voting works) if you want to only create communities that have actual buy-in.

Giving 50% of sats earned to the creator in the substack is kind of weird, especially if the creator doesn't do anything but create the substack and leave. In some sense, this is encouraging rent-seeking behavior. I can imagine that practically, the creator would be invested to drive content, especially if there's some 10k sat to recoup (say), but if a savy substack creator finds a good topic, all they have to do is sit back and let other people do the work to earn 50% on all proceeds.

More importantly, from my point of view, the creator's only real contribution to the substack was to create it. All other power, assuming you don't want any type of "admin/mod" behavior, isn't present.

If you don't give any real power to control the content in the substack to the creator, then why give them 50% of profits, why not just let the community create substacks and have at them? If you do imagine giving some power to the substack creator, what is it? That is, what "value add" does a substack creator give to the substack they create?

Great points. Rent-seeking is the framing I needed to hear.

What I wanted was for someone to have incentives to make the sub thrive (as you point out). I definitely don't want rent-seeking though. But I want to introduce novelty given we have digitally native currency easily flowing through this platform. I need more ideas around this.

One alternative is to have a group of users put up the 10k sats to start the sub, then 10k sats/month to keep it up, and that group of users paying that month gets the 50% split. That's just kind of complicated.

I guess any incentive structure needs:

  • a hurdle to starting it
  • a hurdle to keeping it going (to prevent rent-seeking)
  • rewards for keeping it going

Good god man.

"I've just received 1000 sats from @k00b, ask me anything"

The rent-seeking thing was insightful. Well deserved.

Please consider separating things. If clashes are possible people will create usernames just to fuck with future subs. It's also confusing.

Big +1 from my side for /u/username and /s/sub.

This will happen, +1 from me too

I hear you. It won't be top-level.

It's pretty neat currently being able to access/link your profile without the extra /u/ similar to twitter. That being said when SN has a million registered users and a thousand subs... it will be a challenging land grab for the good names.. so separating /s/<substack_name> might become necessary.

Proposals for "dedicated" subs:

  • marketplace - users can post their shops/services that start accepting BTC. Can have also a special fee for posting more than once (to avoid spam). But is good to have some kind of promotion for new merchants. Can be also paid promoted ads, Bitcoin related (please not shitcoining)
  • search box on top - we get lost in time with so many posts and sometimes we need to find an old one.
  • "favorites" / bookmarked posts - user can click on a post and have it bookmarked in a user menu (for later use/read)
  1. Recursive seems interesting and potentially cool, but I'd want to know more details about how it works. For example, is ownership or "modship" transitive? Do sub-substacks pay royalties to their parent, like some kind of pyramid scheme? Maybe you have more thoughts on this, but I would personally put it on the backburner.
  2. The name would rapidly drop the 'er' and just become substack. I'm already doing that in this comment.
  3. Disagree about the top level path. People may start spawning user accounts to squat on popular names. /s/<substack> and /u/<user> fits pattern most users would expect. Rather than being intuitive, I think it would be extremely confusing to overlap users and communities in the same namespace.
  4. Like it, but also full of unknowns.
    1. Potentially crazy idea, make it like a company stock. The creator starts with 100% share that entitles them to that 50% profit share, but there is some mechanism that forces them to distribute share to other users in order to grow the community. Your share is also used as a voting mechanism for community governance, mod elections, etc. Maybe you need to burn share every time you post or comment on the substack. Maybe there's a market for substack shares and it auto inflates at a predictable rate. The inflation and market will make it increasingly costly for a small collection of people to maintain authoritarian control as the community grows, but maybe slow enough that the creator can extract value before their share is inflated away.
    2. This whole idea sounds like it would technically count as a security, so it might bring legal trouble.

As for the terminology of substack(er), this might get tricky with respect to the existing platform (where authors also get paid to write... be it in fiat in their case).

  1. It would be tree like in shape. People can always create top-level subs if they want. Pyramid scheme is easily over-applied.
  2. Point taken. Name squatting would suck.
  3. Yeah, definitely tricky. Just in the ideation phase though and easy to overcomplicated.

I see the tree structure, and I like it. I just don't know how the economic incentives might corrupt things.

Some substacker names would be inherently more valuable because they lend themselves better to generating subs-subs, like 'politics' and 'technology', and that could create some perverse incentives or just riddle the community with confusion, kind of like what's happened with reddit with legit forks from subs like 'worldnews' name themselves 'anime_titties'.

Great news. Sounds like the obvious next step. I can think of several substackers I'd like to create... with topics very different from btc.

As a complete side-note, how much on top are you about possible legal repercussions? Bottlepay started as a great startup providing the ability to tip other people and they had to nearly completely shut down before starting again as a full KYC, coinjoin-censoring, entity. I still think their new product is useful, just wondering how much you are thinking about this should similar regulatory constraints hit this platform once it grows.

I don’t think about this much at all (but perhaps I should?). When we’re decentralized and noncustodial it’s a non-issue likely.

Good to know. I don't know exactly what caused the problems for Bottlepay, but they started as a simple LN tipping bot and had to shut down because of such regulations. And could only come back (with a slightly different product) after clarifying their legal status. They have a telegram group ( where you can find the contact information of its owner (Pete). Up to you to see what's the best strategy (see how it goes or proactively comply). I'd also like to believe in a world where decentralized and non-custodial mean what they mean, but until we get there...

How about including the ability to send private messages to other users? Maybe at a steeper sat-cost than the usual public messages to avoid spamming?

Yep, it could be user configurable too. So Jimmy Song can set something like a 20,000 sat hurdle to send him a message.

I foresee problems with username-sub collisions. Maybe just prefix users with @? Like

I suspect I’ll just put subs on /s/ or maybe /$<sub name>

Will there be a way to be notified if your sub has posts or if someone responded to your comment ?

Yes. You'd receive all notifications that made sense.

Love it! Why not simply call them "subs"? It seems to be the natural name already.