Mechaquan is an ICP community OG who has been active in the community since the beginning. You’ve probably seen him on Twitter or on the VIP (Valorem Infinitum Project) Discord he founded, which is a channel open to everyone and serves as a valuable resource for builders in the ecosystem.
Mechaquan was recently brought on board as the Head of Growth for Taggr, an experimental web3 social network that rewards users for organic interactions and aims to become self-moderating via a unique governance system. We did this interview to find out more about him as well as Taggr.
Hyuna: Hi, Mechaquan! Can you tell us about your crypto background and how you got started in the ICP community?
Mechaquan: Well, I’m actually fairly new to crypto by OG standards. I only really started investing in it a couple years ago. I followed the news but wasn’t really ready to jump into anything too much because what could I even do with it?! I like to invest in things I use or other people use. I’ve always had a love for tech and previously always invested in tech stocks but I just didn’t see the utility or mass adoption possibility for crypto… until I stumbled upon Internet Computer!
Here’s the funny part: I’m a finance guy, actually have an accounting degree (so I’m super fun at parties!), and I love studying tokenomics! I was blown away by ICP’s economic structure. I say this is funny because literally everyone else was saying the tokenomics sucked… and I was sitting here thinking about how the structure of burning ICP for cycles (which had real utility) and the staking to protect the network and support governance which earned you ICP was brilliant! I think people will soon come to appreciate this.
I got involved in the IC community slowly over time. First I started out in Reddit where there was some good crypto forums and I lurked on CT for awhile but what really made me fall in love with the IC was the community. A lot of other crypto communities are extremely toxic and off-putting to newcomers--it’s a general crypto problem that needs to be addressed if there is ever a real hope for mass adoption. However, the IC has one of the best communities I’ve come across. The amount of project founders and Dfinity team members who I’ve messaged randomly about a stupid question who took the time to answer honestly and satisfy my concerns, genuinely surprised me!
Hyuna: And now you are an integral part of that community! Congratulations on your new role at Taggr, by the way. It seems like you were always a big advocate for the platform. Can you give us a general overview of it?
Mechaquan: In its simplest form it’s a SoFi platform where you can blog, discuss, post pictures etc., but what sets it apart is the pay to post (nominal network fees) and post to earn economic structure. The user deposits ICP to the treasury and gets cycles which they can use to post. If the post receives net upvotes (downvotes are possible) then the user earns karma which is converted to ICP and deposited periodically into the users’ linked account!
Hyuna: What drew you to Taggr over the other blogging mediums on the IC?
Mechaquan: I guess the simplicity of it. There’s less noise to filter through. Now this may be because it’s still a relatively small community, so we’ll see how this develops and it will be up to the community to moderate the content to maintain a sort of diverse quality. Ultimately because users can be downvoted and lose karma it tends to have a higher quality of content IMO.
Also, the old school UI reminded me of an old AOL chat room or early internet blog forum… so it made me a bit nostalgic for the early internet! A lot of people log on and see this sort of primitive looking UI and they probably don’t realize the complexity and richness of the underlying tech. For those who have had this thought, just have a little play around! It is smoothm probably one of the fastest (fully on-chain) dapps I’ve used!
Another really cool feature of Taggr that a lot of people are not aware of is it is the social equivalent of a blockchain. You can’t delete blocks in a blockchain and you can’t delete posts on Taggr! You can however edit, and each edit is transparent and visible! No more changing the conversation 😉 …
This might sound scary to some but I challenge everyone to think about it a different way: you are immortalizing your social content and interactions on the IC! As long as the IC is running, your content which you can show your grandkids will be there!
Finally, because of the boss! (Right now Mr. X is rolling his eyes because he maintains he’s not my boss but rather we are partners… so I’ll keep calling him boss! 😄 )
But seriously, he’s a really talented and brilliant developer who deserves all the credit… and after many engagements via Taggr and DMs we built a good working relationship. Then one day I said, “I want to help you build and grow this amazing platform”, and next thing you know I’m in charge of that!
Hyuna: There’s a gamified community moderation mechanism that I find very fascinating about Taggr. Can you tell us more about it?
Mechaquan: As I briefly mentioned above, it’s a simple economic structure. A standard post will cost 2 cycles or about 0.0013 cents. If you want to add a #hashtag it’s 5 cycles per unique #hashtag, and 15 cycles per photo… so you can create a blog post with a picture for a few cents. This all goes to the treasury which utilizes cycles to drive computation for any mutable action (posting or upvoting).
Some people might think this is a barrier but all you are essentially doing is paying the network fees and paying for cycles to drive computation. Storing a picture costs more to store so it costs more to post.
Now that my content is permanently on chain it belongs to my account. A fun way to think about it is every post you make is kind of like a NFT… it’s unique and you get royalties anytime someone interacts with it.
If I make a good post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. I don’t really own it. And I certainly won’t earn anything from it. The point is… while it is not just about gamifying content to earn money but Taggr certainly enables you to do that! It’s also about owning your content. I started thinking of a sort of catchphrase/cheesy marketing slogan for Taggr… Own You! I think that sums it up.
Also, with decentralized moderation you don’t need to worry about censorship. If a post has a net negative karma (more downvotes than upvotes) the post is grayed out. This is not censorship by a central entity but rather moderation by the community itself!
Also, after the next few updates we believe Taggr is more or less protected from spammers and people trying to game the system. A few months back we had some people join with several names and were just upvoting each other to gain karma. The important point here is they weren’t banned, only downvoted by the community until it was no longer worth their effort. So how will this be fixed long term? You will only ever net spend if you upvote yourself. Upvote minus network fees (computation to drive mutability) = karma/ICP earned so if you try to game it you’ll just be generating a lot of fees for a percentage of what you put in.
Hyuna: What are your goals as Taggr’s Head of Growth?
Mechaquan: That’s a good question! I guess the simplest metric is, has it grown in number of users or average weekly users?, which is all transparent on the Taggr dashboard. Although I’d really like to see quality users/content and engaging (but healthy!) discussions, debates, and dialogues.
I’d like to see some integrations with other dapps that maybe create bots to post announcements to Taggr or integrate separate feeds/channels for communities.
Finally, I think one of the most important measures of success is whether we can have a fair and distributed token launch that supports the decentralization of Taggr so it can be owned and managed by its users for years and years to come!
Hyuna: What kind of content are you most looking forward to seeing on Taggr?
Mechaquan: To be honest, because of the structure of being able to follow certain Taggrs I don’t have a specific type of content I’d personally like to see and fully hope that we have a wide variety of different types of content. For example, we have users that use the platform as a blog, discussion forum, and a sort of Instagram.
I’m more excited by the potential use cases that the Taggr structure supports… like the fact that any DAO (NNS!) can use it for governance discussions and community led proposals via healthy debates and upvotes to gauge support!
Why should we use the web2 Dfinity Dev Forum when we have something that is built on the IC and can do so much more?!
Ok, there is one type of content that I’d love to see… independent journalists on Taggr! People who are in real places blogging and give us the news in an unfiltered way! How amazing would that be?! I’m happy to start with The Aggregatooor though :)
Hyuna: I can't wait to see Taggr grow in both user quantity and quality. It certainly sounds like you have a lot of ideas about its future. Any exclusive alpha you can share with DfinityCommunity about upcoming features on Taggr?
Mechaquan: There are a lot of really exciting things coming but unfortunately there’s just one Mr. X! So we need time/patience and community engagement to drive the direction.
Some small things that are coming (in no particular order): reposts (think retweets)... maybe we’ll call it reTaggs or something but the point is always that you own your content…if someone reposts your post then you earn karma/ICP! We want to implement fees for @ someone. You know how on Twitter users @ people with a large number of followers for engagement? Well that engagement should cost you and allow the engaged to earn!
Again, the important point I want to make here is… it is not about making every engagement or action a transaction as it is about making sure you own your content and your engagements… Own You!
Also, a simpler flow to start using Taggr. It’s weird for any non-IC person to start using an IC dapp so we want to try and simplify that process as much as possible.
Ok, I guess you want something more juicy… so two big things we are really excited about:
1) We are working on a fixed economic model so your earnings are fixed on how many engagements you have. Currently it’s kind of a karma leaderboard for the period and then there’s an allocation out of the treasury. In the future, it doesn’t matter how much engagement someone else earns because you will get a fixed amount per each type of engagement (upvote, comment, repost, etc.).
More importantly, with this structure there will be network fees which ensure the treasury can always top up cycles for the canisters which is done automatically by the way, so it is practically autonomous and could run in its current state for as long as the IC exists.
Also, this means that Taggr will generate revenues! Maybe one of the first non-marketplace dapps to do this! It’s important to note that these revenues are not belonging to some company but will go back to the users/token holders via various models. This means there are two ways to earn: post to earn and in the near future (after token release) hold to earn!
2) This is a big one (and will likely take some time), smart contracts! Okay that is a bit of a buzzword… so what does that really mean for a SoFi platform?!
Let’s say I want to crowdfund a NNS proposal. I create a post with a default crowdfund contract and ask people to support via funding. If funding is met, then proposal is generated and fees sent. If not then fees are returned to users.
Another example, let’s say I want someone to make a marketing video for Taggr. I put some ICP into a smart contract. Someone makes a video and uploads it to the smart contract. Now I can view the video to see if it’s what I need/want but I can’t download it yet. Only once I accept I get the video and the creator gets the ICP!
These are just a few use cases though… SoFi platform x smart contracts = infinite possibilities!
These smart contracts will also drive network fees/revenue. We are striving for a sustainable business model which again will be owned and governed by the users of Taggr!
Hyuna: Wow. So much to look forward to!
Mechaquan: Some closing remarks… The hardest part of this new role is trying to reach out to people to try the platform without sounding like you are shilling! :) When you jump into someone’s DMs and are like “hey try this dapp that I’m working for!” people naturally think that you are trying to sell them something! :)
I just want people to give it a try and give some feedback. If you are looking to engage with people inside the ecosystem and have healthy debates about governance or enlightening conversations about life and truly own your content…then give it a try!
Hyuna: Thanks again for doing this interview. I can't wait to see everything that you and Mr. X have planned for us!
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