Consider financial support model that aligns with science of "social physics"


Hi there! I came across you Aether for Redditors post and a comment at the bottom immediately jumped out at me:

a) Similar to Reddit’s gold, if you want to support Aether, you can buy a 'unique’ username (with a checkmark, like Twitter) that makes you the unique owner of that username for the donation duration.

First off, this is awesome. Y’all deserve support. But I feel that this loses an important aspect of Reddit Gold that is very supported by behavioural science and social physics, which is the study of networks of human interaction.

For context: I’m a meat-space community organizer and technologist. I reflect often on incentive structures and social spaces, and have done some research fellowships internationally, where I was fortunate to get a chance to think hard on how to make scarce resources go far in grassroots communities. I care about this problem space a whole lot :slight_smile:

Anyhow, so what’s this “social physics” thing anyhow? There quite a bit to unpack, but a key piece, that’s explained decently in this article (or even better, this video) is that incentives get way more bang for buck if you apply them not to individuals (because we are emphatically not solitary creatures), but rather if we apply them to the social fabric – the spaces between individuals in which the smallest bit of micro-culture lives. Apply the incentives to the edges, not the nodes.

So when I read that your “Reddit Gold”-like feature for financial support is actually a “buy yourself a name” feature, I would contend that this isn’t in any way RG-like :slight_smile: One is about calling attention to yourself, and one is about calling attention to a relationship you have with someone.

I would humbly suggest putting sincere consideration into how a similar feature might be re-imagined so that it re-centers on a relationship to others. That is the power that Reddit Gold has in the Reddit community. As a bonus, if the financial support is for an other, then someone who really loves aether can show support many times over, instead of something that more naturally caps at one self-referential action.

I might suggest a way of “crowning” someone who has made a comment that you appreciate. The crown could remain visible for a specific amount of time on all posts, until it disappears. Maybe donors could buy crowns to keep around, and then give them away as they please. Then, for example, people who create a lot of value with good content, might end up with triple crowns if they get 3 in one month, or some similar dynamic.

Anyhow, love the idea of the project, and I wish you the best!


Hey there,

Thanks for taking the time to write this. :slightly_smiling_face: The ‘similar to Reddit Gold’ was an off-the-cuff comment, I had meant it as it being similar in the way that it allows users to support the app. Yes, it’s not a direct counterpart.

I actually did consider something similar, and it might end up coming in the future. The reason for not doing it was that it is nontrivial to do this in a safe manner in a peer-to-peer app.

For the time being, it’s on my mind, but I have more immediate concerns like ensuring the stability of the system under load, and making sure all posts get delivered in a predictable manner. I do agree that it is a very rewarding way to structure support, though.