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Monetizing web comments

CommentX — Grant Report #2

matt profile image Matthew Linares ・4 min read

Project Update

User comments can bring immense value to web content. Whether a comment appears under an article, video, or something else, it can bring rich research, important perspectives, or humorous relief.

Our project, CommentX, allows comment authors to receive micropayments for comments that have been highlighted by the article author.

The feature is live on our site, open-source on GitHub, and being actively explained and tested on openDemocracy.net.

However, whilst we have deployed the MVP, we faced issues with the user onboarding flow, namely users getting wallets so they can receive micropayments. The average user needs to sign up with a wallet provider (e.g. Uphold) and get an ILP wallet before they can receive micro payments, which is a lot of friction for a process focused on onboarding users who may not be familiar with the technologies in question. We have therefore focused our efforts on reducing that friction by working with partners to simplify the user wallet acquisition flow. This is not straightforward; the problem is also being tackled by others working in the micropayments ecosystem e.g. developers at Coil.

We want to improve this user experience before pushing forward with onboarding, to remove barriers for enthusiastic users. We are currently working on integrating the Uphold API to try creating a wallet on a user’s behalf so that they don’t have to deal with that admin before seeing the benefits. We hope to have progressed on this in the coming weeks.

Progress on objectives

Given the difficulties noted above, our objectives below have not yet been properly tested as we sought to ensure those were resolved before attempting to onboard new users.

Objectives

  • Increased engagement with our articles from authors and reader-commenters, with better quality comments.

  • Revenue raised through monetised content when readers, including commenters and authors, visit our pages.

  • Software developed doesn’t affect site performance, and the design gels with user experience.

Here it is live on our site: opendemocracy.net/paycommentauthors

Here are all articles that currently have the feature active on them: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/digitaliberties/rewards-comment-authors/

We are still testing the functionality and iterating before proceeding with activities likely to help further the above objectives, as noted below.

Key activities

Aside from the development work described above, we have commissioned authors who write on subjects related to the future of money. This is partly due to our own interest in the subject as well as to connect with possible early-adopters from relevant networks to test the functionality.

Some of these pieces are nearing publication though we are keen to simplify the user flow before publishing these, as described above.

Communications and marketing

Our communications phase is just starting since, as above, we are improving the technical implementation before doing so. This is because we intend to test out our feature as part of the articles that we write and commission for the project and want to improve UX before starting to publish.

The first article, which introduces the project and showcases the comment monetization feature, is live now.

What’s next?

Continue improving UX and testing, then more publishing on the subject and other planned outreach activities to bring on partners who may help spread the word.

With more people using the feature, we can find ways to improve the feature and explore the idea of sharing micropayments to bring value to different web users.

What community support would benefit your project?

We need supporters of micropayments to help us test this, so please comment on articles that have the feature, listed here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/digitaliberties/rewards-comment-authors/

We are looking at other ways to get feedback from new users. Anyone interested in featuring this, having us on for a podcast talk or anything else, please reach out to us. :)

We are also looking at creating opportunities for contributors who have useful ideas for the codebase.

And of course, you could earn cash from doing so!

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