Ethereum DApp Creators // Issue #17 Cent
Ethereum DApp Creators // Issue #17 Cent
In our previous issue of Ethereum DApp Creators, Issue #16, we interviewed Stani Kulechov of ETHLend.
You can read that and all the previous issues of Ethereum DApp Creators as well as issues of our Ethereum Contributors Series at https://blog.status.im
In this issue we’ll be talking to Max Brody the CEO of Cent. Cent is an incentivized QA platform likened to the features and functions of quora, reddit, or Stack Exchange. Cent works by allowing a user to bounty up Ether for the best answer to his or her question.
This interview series is about the people who work hard to develop decentralized applications on top of Ethereum.
Hi Max, for all our readers can you give us an overview of Cent?
Cent is an incentivized question-and-answer platform where anyone can make money by answering questions. The model is simple — users ask questions and put a cryptocurrency bounty on them. Other users compete for that bounty by answering those questions, and then voting on which answers they think are the most valuable.
Once the voting is complete, the bounty is automatically distributed from a smart contract to the users who provided the best answers. Askers get incentivized answers, answerers get money for sharing their knowledge.
How did you get involved in the Ethereum world and how did you and Cameron meet?
My background is in software design and working with fiat microtransactions. I’ve been the Head of Design for two high-growth companies and then worked for a while on a product that allowed for small amounts of fiat value to be tipped to creative content.
The legal and technical roadblocks of attempting to use fiat money are what led to my discovery of Ethereum and the blockchain in general. Cameron and I met when he saw the microtransaction product I was working on and felt we were potentially aligned philosophically. Oddly enough, we both had a very similar logo (a ¢ symbol) for our respective solo projects, and we decided to join forces around a new product.
Why is it so beneficial for Cent to use Ethereum?
Ethereum allows us to build an app that integrates payments in an open, accessible way. The ecosystem is strong because of services like MetaMask and Status, which enable developers to focus on building apps, not infrastructure. Ethereum also has an incredibly passionate community surrounding it, and that community has been very supportive of our vision.
Can you explain in detail how a bounty for a question is delivered to a user?
We run a central server that accepts answers and tallies votes. We keep the address for each answerer on file such that once the question is closed (after 24 hours) our server can issue the bounty via a smart contract call. Our bounty contract is currently quite simple — any funds sent to the address are treated as deposits, and those same funds are issued once the bounty ends. As always with technology products, our internal system will assuredly become more sophisticated with time.
What inspired you to create Cent? How do your past ventures differ from what Cent will do?
For years I‘ve been fascinated (obsessed) with the idea of allowing anyone to make income remotely, without the need for traditional employment. I believe that having personal agency over your time and location each day is an essential ingredient for human happiness, and new technologies can provide that agency to anyone.
The driving force for my entrepreneurial ventures has been the intuition that if someone is willing to provide cognitive effort on the internet, there will inevitably arise mechanisms which capture that value and convert it into financial value. Cent differs from my previous work in that it is focused on serving the emerging decentralized community as its initial niche, and in the fact that smart contract code is baked into the core of the user interaction.
How long do questions stay up on Cent before closing?
Currently, questions stay up for a default duration of 24 hours. We feel this allows enough time for people to answer and vote, for the content to feel fresh, and for the bounty issuance to be quick. In the future, we may allow askers to define their own amount of times for their questions.
What happens to questions that receive no answers?
Our policy is that questions with no answers are refunded the bounty amount. To date, this has not occurred on any question on Cent.
Do you see Cent changing the future of work?
That is our mission. We feel strongly that all work that is in any way algorithmic (in that the employee has to repeatedly take a consistent set of actions in order to perform their role) can, will, and should be replaced by machines. In that ever-widening employment void, mechanisms that allow humans to monetize their perspective and creative ability will become the dominant sources of income for most of humanity.
People are unique and so is the value they provide — doing things that don’t require critical thought will eventually be seen as cruel subjugations of the human mind. We want to do all we can to leverage the recent breakthroughs in distributed networks and cryptography to help free humanity from the economic slavery left over from the industrial revolution.
Cent is in Beta on the main-net in Ethereum, how does the voting for Cent currently work? Are the rewards weighted depending on popularity of an answer?
The rewards are split up based on the votes each answer receives. So if there are 10 votes on a question, and one answer received 4 of them, that answerer receives 40% of the bounty. Longer term, we intend to introduce weighting and reputation into the process. For now, it’s very simple.
What has been the biggest challenge with creating Cent?
The central challenge is figuring out how to deliver the benefits of cryptocurrency to the user in a way that’s both life-changing and yet perfectly familiar. This is, of course, a challenge faced not only by us, but also many other DApp developers.
It wasn’t until we iterated through nearly a dozen different incentive models that we settled on Q/A bounties. And even now, we’re continuously searching for models that do an even better job of delivering the benefits to our users. Ultimately, we believe it will take more than a single model to change the narrative from “buying cryptocurrency” to “earning cryptocurrency”, and we intend on experimenting with many, many more.
Do you think Cent would support ERC tokens in the future?
Most likely. We are looking into technologies like Shapeshift, which will enable us to accept multiple currencies while preserving the conformity of bounties in ETH. That said, our policy is that we are not tied to any specific coin, protocol, or technology — we are only tied to our mission.
At present, Ethereum provides the necessary capability for us to build what we want to build, and we see the emerging standards as potentially pivotal for the proliferation of cryptocurrency.
If a question ever needs to be blacklisted or moderated, how do you think Cent will handle that as a decentralized community?
Questions and answers are hosted centrally for now. This gives is the power to enforce content policies that are designed to protect the culture we have. As we scale, we’ll turn to the community to help us ensure Cent stays away from the toxicity that plagues other popular sites.
We treat moderation seriously and only as a last resort, but also recognize it’s importance as a way to protect our community. All online networks are digital neighborhoods, and we want Cent to be an extremely healthy neighborhood based on the spirit of helping each other through aligned incentives.
Do you see Status helping Cent with the future of work?
Absolutely. We’ve been fans of Status from the beginning and believe that mobile income goes hand-in-hand with remote income. In order to achieve the scale we intend to achieve, our application must be easily accessible, and fully functional, on mobile devices.
We see push notifications as a great way to reach our mobile userbase, which SNT will help us achieve.A visual example of how Cent could look in the future with Status.
Are there any solid timelines for Cents development?
We place quality above all else, and are working as diligently as we can to provide a product that people trust and value. Over the next few months there will be many exciting announcements and updates, but we are keeping specific dates under wraps for now.
How can the community help shape what Cent needs?
First check out our Beta and test it out yourself!
Our emerging community has already blown us away. We are getting many messages of support and feedback, and can feel the energy the space has around solving this problem.
The best way the community can help at this time is to use the platform and give us your thoughts! We are building this for you, and we discuss every idea that is thrown our way.
Beyond that, spreading the word to other like-minded early adopters would help us a lot.
Thanks for taking the time to talk Max, very excited for the future of work, and what Cent do with Status!