Exclusive Interview with Minds.com CEO Bill Ottman

bill ottman

-When was minds.com created?

  “Minds was founded in 2011.”

 -What inspired you to create this style of social media format?

 “The goal of Minds has always been to bring a free, open source and sustainable social network to the world. When we started Minds in my basement in 2011, we were disillusioned by user abuse seen on Facebook and other big tech in terms of spying, data mining, algorithm manipulation and no revenue sharing. We wanted to create an opportunity for open source social networks to become dominant, as was the case with Wikipedia and proprietary encyclopedias.”

-Why should people be joining Minds.com? Could you give us your introductory “pitch”?

 “Minds is the leading free and open source, community-owned social network where users are paid and rewarded for their efforts online. Minds rewards users for engagement with points which are a digital currency that can be exchanged for more content views. Unlimited reach makes Minds the easiest social network to expand your following. Minds is also engineered for free speech, users are anonymous and all data is encrypted end-to-end for privacy protection.”

 -Could you briefly explain what open source software is? And what are the benefits of using open source software?

“Open source software is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance. Often times, computer users don’t get to see the “source code,” which is the part of code computer programmers can manipulate to change how a piece of software works.

 There are many advantages to open source software. Free and open source software (FOSS) has the potential to transform issues like freedom, privacy, security, efficiency, business ethics, speed of innovation, and community collaboration. Full transparency into code and policy is the only way to build a truly user owned and operated social network for the people. It also keeps our moral compass in check, if users don’t like what we do they can easily launch their own distribution. It also provides the community with the opportunity for full transparency and control over their digital lives. They can participate in continue in improving and optimizing the code that powers the social network. Furthermore, not all users need to be a developer or even tech-savvy to benefit from open source. The true values behind open source are social consciousness, freedom of information, privacy, transparency, community,  and a more fair and equitable world on the whole.”

 -Minds.com uses blockchain technology as a part of its platform, how does this work?

” The implementation of the Ethereum blockchain for monetization and advertising is a direct response to community feedback and will have a positive impact on the network by incentivizing contributions, increasing revenue opportunity, expanding organic reach and providing an additional layer of transparency and autonomy. We chose to implement the Minds token built upon the Ethereum ERC-20 standard.

 Currently, users can earn tokens for their contributions to the Minds network by receiving votes, comments, shares, making referrals, gaining subscribers, checking-in and helping with development. Each user’s daily contribution relative to the community equates to their percentage of the daily reward pool of tokens which can then be used to Boost content for more promoted views or Wire to other users on one-time or monthly subscription basis for rewards and exclusive content.

We will accept tokens for premium services and products as well in the future and will be continuing to monetize every feature of the app. The long term aspiration is to create a true utility token fueling the network and potentially other networks using the Minds software.”

-Our website (The Libertarian Vindicator) uses WordPress which uses open-source software, do you believe WordPress is superior to wix.com because of this?

“We prefer any software that is open-source over proprietary. It is our belief that open-source technology will become more of a requirement as the Internet evolves, similar to how Wikipedia disrupted proprietary encyclopedias. It is much like the organic food movement – people are going to start to demand that there is transparency in the code of the applications they are using. Additionally, open-source software enables rigorous peer review and will rapidly increase the rate of innovation of technology.”

-The government cracked down on encrypted email service Lavabit after the Edward Snowden revelations, could you speak to the importance of encryption and the dangers of the state forcing companies to hand over their data?

“Encryption is very important for privacy. On Minds, we simply do not want to have anyone’s personal information so that when the government comes knocking on our door, we do not even have anything to give them. This is why we allow anonymous accounts and encrypt any personal data or messages that are on our network – it is the idea of having ‘zero knowledge’.”

-Does minds.com have any type of censorship?

 “No. We believe Minds should be a social network that displays the true reality of our everyday environments. We don’t believe that your profile should be controlled by what we believe is right or wrong as other large social networks do. In fact, past studies have concluded that people who are censored only become further polarized and simply move to a new place that allows their thoughts and ideas to be shared. Minds believes that open dialogue is the most effective method to help reduce the divide and help us evolve. Dialogue is the only way for us to face our issues head on and question each other, learn from each other and work to find common ground.”

 -You recently introduced minds tokens, what type of monetary value do these have? How do you sell/use them?

 “For the past three years, Minds has used Points to fuel the network and establish the foundation for a rewards-based ecosystem where top contributors earn the most revenue and reach. Minds is building upon this foundation by leveraging blockchain technology to replace Points with Minds tokens. The Minds token is a social networking utility built upon the Ethereum ERC-20 standard. However, they differ from ether in that Minds Tokens are not mined– they are created. Minds can create as many tokens as they want, and they also set the value of their tokens.

Even though we are on a test net, and our tokens don’t have a monetary value, they do in fact have one value: One Minds Token has the value to exchange for 1000 views. In fact it’s currently the only way to purchase a Boost. So when we employ the WIRE feature, we are in effect sending each other the ability to Boost. Until we go live, Minds Tokens can not be converted into Ether, and thus can not be converted into any sort of spendable money.

The implementation of crypto-tokens with the reward system allows users and developers to translate their time and energy into tokens that hold real, lasting value on the Minds platform. The Minds token currently may not be exchanged for goods or services other than on the Minds platform. Minds tokens are intended to be used by the purchaser on Minds.com.”

-Does Minds.com algorithm restrict a posts reach in any way?

 “Any illegal content will be restricted, but not by the algorithm. We’ve spent significant time building a content reporting and flagging system for the community and also have admin support going towards this. We also have built an appeal system for any reported content.”

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