Some initial thoughts on the App Mining Program

I think @nguyenloc makes a good point here, but I want to help expand on what I think he is saying. Product Hunt is great. I think they are a strong partner to help support the Blockstack ecosystem. HOWEVER, I do think not knowing how they contributed to the vote is worrisome. I’ll explain why:

Product Hunt community votes are largely arbitrary. An app posted one day might get significantly less votes than if it was posted on another day. The votes from the community, much like Hacker News votes (but from seemingly nicer people :smile: ), are driven by opinion and not use of the application. So, if it’s simply number of votes an App Rewards qualifying app got on PH that goes into the overall App Rewards ranking, I think that’s a problem. For something as important as bootstrapping apps, it’s important to unequivocally know that the people influencing the rankings are actually using the apps.

Keep in mind this is coming from Graphite, which received over 500 votes on Product Hunt and took first place in the alpha run of app rewards. I very much appreciate that, but I also want to make sure I, specifically, am voicing concerns as part of the community.


Quick piggy-back on my own post, it looks like part of the process is made up of the PH community vote.

Took me a while to find this post and it seems there is information about how app rewards works in way too many places. Could help to centralize this :wink:


Hey Loc, some great points here. I understand you’re expressing the desire to have an educated group, in your mind current Blockstack users, be the one that determines their quality and thus ranking. Very much agreed about having knowledgeable and qualified App Reviewers, but I respectfully disagree with the notion that only the opinion of current Blockstack users is important. I think we all want to see Blockstack apps become widely adopted so having a satisfactory representation of the ‘rest of the world’ reflected, at least in part, in the App Mining score is critical and beneficial.

As described in the post about how the scoring works, Product Hunt scoring is done in part by their actual team, who have Blockstack IDs and try out the dapps. They are here to assess with their product expert hat on and determine if this particular dapp has promise based on their expertise and the trends that they see. They’ve had over 100,000 products come across their platform and know apps better than almost anyone. Yes, the public upvotes from people who may not be Blockstack users does play a role in the score, but that’s for a reason as well; it’s there to encourage behavior that apps need to do to be successful, which is to consider and hone the way they communicate their value proposition and improve user experience.

It’s important for dapp makers to consider the reputation and perception of their dapp to potential users as well as current users if they want to be successful and grow beyond a niche group. Feedback from the rest of the world is something to at least consider as dapp creators try to build a sustainable business to support their efforts – the Product Hunt community and team represents that for now. You can think of it more like a focus group for a TV show, a bunch of new potential viewers are shown a clip, they haven’t really seen the show or know everything about it, but their response is incredibly important in learning how to position the show and determining the potential market viability.

As for fraud, Product Hunt and Democracy Earth both have robust systems for preventing the gaming of the upvote system and assuring that their daily and ongoing rankings are too difficult to be bought or manipulated, these are not designed to ensure everyone has a Blockstack ID nor would we want them to be at least for now. Again, we want to include (to some level) the perspective of these educated, potential future users because it’s valuable for dapp creators to consider as they try to grow.

A note about App Reviewers revealing their scoring details: Everyone knows what they need to do to be successful with SEO without knowing the exact formula, similarly it’s not completely necessary to have App Reviewers give out all the details in their formula to establish fairness and transparency. We’ll work hard on getting this to be as useful and transparent as possible for the pilot run in December and going forward. In the future, there is the intention of holding elections where the community can decide which App Reviewers are doing the ranking. This means if the community decided scores must be 100% transparent, App Reviewers that do not do this can be voted out.

Loc, these are awesome questions and thoughts, seriously, you’ve picked right up on a lot of the core issues that we thought really hard about in designing this iteration of App Mining. This is an evolving program and one that will continue to have opportunity for improvement thanks to people like you assessing it honestly and sharing with everyone. Thank you!


Hey Justin, totally agree with you that there is a bit of the upvoting that’s arbitrary, but that’s limited by the other factors considered by their ranking algorithm, and is still a useful, if noisy, signal of the initial perception. It’s by no means the whole score as you’ve seen in the ranking works post - part of the score is also their very experienced team trying out the product and assigning a score.

To your point about opinion driven, yes, 100% accurate, but that’s precisely why it’s included. We think that how the market perceives an app before trying it can very much be an indicator of viability and should be at least considered by developers as they build. I think you received a lot of upvotes and probably new users because you do this well with Graphite. You are great with content marketing and showing key information to different groups that can benefit from it even if they aren’t Blockstack users or Graphite users already. In thinking through how we can encourage well-rounded dapps likes yours, we felt there’s no way you could completely leave out perception of potential users, so they get a small say via this score. Wider dapp adoption is a huge problem and we look at App Mining as one of the ways we can change that, which would help everyone in the space. Also very open to better indicators to capture if you have some ideas - the community is ultimately going to be in charge of the App Reviewers long-term and will decide what is important based on who is elected.

“For something as important as bootstrapping apps, it’s important to unequivocally know that the people influencing the rankings are actually using the apps.”

I respectfully disagree with this insofar as I think they shouldn’t be the only people influencing the ranking because of the market viability and importance of external feedback/perception I went through above. I find the score is still heavily, heavily waited toward those with hands-on experience with the dapp, but we are intentionally trying to at least encourage apps to find paths to wider adoption with the App Mining program.

Last, really good point about the ease of finding information, I’ll work on that with the team, it’s too spread out and/or not linked in all the right places. Thanks again Justin!

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We now have 4 raw scores for each app, each between 0 and 100:

  • Product Hunt community score
  • Product Hunt team score (???)
  • Democracy Earth likability score
  • Democracy Earth traction score

Coins: #3

  1. 283 points - PH (
  2. PH Team Score - ???
  3. 31 points - Democracy traction score (
  4. 100 - Democracy likability score (because no downvotes)

Misthos: #4

  1. 69 points - PH (
  2. PH Team Score - ???
  3. 1078 points - Democracy traction score (
  4. 100 - Democracy likability score (because no downvotes)

@cuevasm can you explain to me how Misthos is lower in the app rewards mining than Coins?


Many PH users commented that Coins looks good. Maybe that’s why Coins above Misthos.

Oh, I can’t use Coins since forever man. I saw an user on PH has same situation. :point_up:

And now, I still can’t use Coins.

~ x10 Users (one time), LOLs.


Briefly want to add some points.

Any review process that has an unusable and unmaintained app ranking above an app actively developed by a professional team is questionable and mildly flawed to say the least (thanks to nguyenloc and prabhaav for laying that out in detail). You have to wonder how they even got through the vetting process if the only requirement (login) seems broken for many ppl.

Reviews are only useful if the reviewers have some sort of ‘Skin in the Game’ or the results are actionable.
Currently 2 underrepresented groups that have skin in the game are the app-devs themselves, they should certainly get a vote and the users. Others that have skin in the game and get a vote are investors (token holders). They are taken care of via Democracy Earth.

And then there is Product Hunt. Perhaps using Product Hunt to represent the ‘rest of the world’ has some merit but only if the results are actionable, or else they don’t really provide anything useful in terms of helping with quality.
I think the categories of Product Hunt are very interesting:
(1. Whether or not the product solves a true problem
2. Uniqueness of the solution
3. Quality of their execution and usability
4. Popularity and interest in the product).
But without them disclosing the individual app scores in each category there is no actionable take away. And speaking of gaming - there is no way for anyone to verify that the ‘expert review’ even went down like that. We’re supposed to just blindly trust. This is a pretty big issue, its very easy for the ‘experts’ to game this.
As for the community vote it is obviously highly correlated to the number of upvotes which is extremely easy to game. Here: 90 votes for <5$


Some more thoughts in general:

I think the priorities of this program, trying to increase the number of apps on the platform and attempting to aim at mass appeal usecases is extremely flawed and ends up looking immature and bad on execution.

Whats the point of having a list of 50 apps where many of them are hardly better than the result of a hackathon or two? When someone comes into this space to investigate and has a bad experience after clicking on the 4th placed app, what are they going to assume about the tail end of the list? Probably something like wow this is 4th place, the other 46 places must be even worse.
And as far as trying to gain mass appeal (ie. giving the ‘rest of the world’ a vote). There is no way this can work early on. All big companies that have dominate a world market started off by becoming ubiquitous in a niche first. Facebook (collage campuses) and Amazon (selling books) are good examples. Amazon didn’t try to compete to become the worlds largest distributor of goods, or service provide for cloud computing from the beginning.

Similarly attempting to build social networking apps that compete from the get-go with the likes of twitter and instagram is not going to work to drive significant adoption. And I’m not saying these apps shouldn’t be built, but the communication strategy around them is completely wrong. Anyone trying out these apps coming from the centralized versions is going to think - are they crazy… these things are way behind the existing offerings… why should I adopt this? So I think this rather has an off-putting effect on the larger masses.

The way to go would be to highlight apps that do something insanely useful for a niche market, help them on there path to ubiquity (multi-year process) and then, maybe a few of the apps that have a large dedicated and invested user-base can attempt to start becoming appealing to the masses.

Also if you want high quality, you need focused professionals to be working on apps. Spreading the rewards too thin makes no sense here. For a team with 1-2 devs + 1-2 supporting roles to work sustainably you’d need at least $30.000/month. Anything less is not passing the threshold of helping the team survive.
If you really want to give app teams a chance, then pick a number that you can afford to support sustainably and keep supporting them as long as they deliver, or perhaps get other funding and are not dependant on this program anymore to give others a chance. Eg. for $100k/month that might be 3 or 4 teams then maybe you’ll get 3-4 quality apps that are highly useful and have wide adoption in a niche market, developed by professionals over a long period of time. (= lots of highly motivated users that will love blockstack, because of the good experience)
If you only give the top 1 or 2 apps a chance to be sustainable but bring 48 others on for the ride. You get 48 apps build by individual part-timers, not a good situation, if quality is what you want.


Hey @nguyenloc, I did notice that there was a bug that happened with one of the API’s that coins is using. I’m not sure when the bug happened as it was working fine on my end a week or two ago. I pushed up a fix today though that has resolved the error you are showing in your screenshot.

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I’m very happy to give you motive to really do something.

The bug happened at least 10 months ago.

And I posted the bug like a million times.

April 23,

April 27,

You answered me in April 28

This is great feedback @jehunter5811 . Do you have any idea of how you would leverage Product Hunt more effectively? Maybe discounting the community vote and emphasizing their internal vote of unequivocal uses and making that more transparent? I can relay this to them.


Hey Justin, this is such early days in the ecosystem in general, and I think we can cut some of the other apps a little slack for the next several months. Users are forgiving and developers are motivated to improve. The pilot amount of $100k/mo will not continue to be the monthly payout amount for all of time.

I agree a lot with your point on starting with a niche and moving out from there when it comes to products, especially when it comes to getting traction. That said, apps built on blockstack are apps that maintain privacy, digital ownership, and censorship resistance and on a long enough timeline they will have to simply compete with centralized apps. I like your feedback on the niche element a lot and will continue to think about it more and see how we can improve it. Will get back if theres a great solution here after this alpha run. Thank you Justin!


Loc, I will assume you mean to be constructive with these screenshots and thank you for them, but am sensing a bit of hostility towards Thomas in the language you used. I want to remind everyone reading this that in this forum we must treat each other with respect, that way we can continue to have constructive conversations. I’m also happy to speak with you over the phone anytime if you want to speak further about this point specifically, but must flag this post for your understanding.


Don’t need to assume anything Patrick. I’m the guy who send Mitchell this pic and tell him about the typo.

When I see something wrong, I’ll tell people.

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I will assume that you have a second thoughts about my motive and I’m not sure how to react with this unknown thing. Except asking, what’s your other thought(s)?

With this, I think he’s lying because we was talking about the bug before and he knew what happened. Plus, there is comment on PH as well as I posted the bug on slack too. That’s why I’m joking with him a bit and I’m sorry for that behavior (in here).

One reason that I love decentralization because rules are clears in protocol and not a single person can be in charge.

Anyhow I thought this topic focus on “Some initial thoughts on the App Mining Program” ?

I’m (probably we’re) waiting for an answer of @prabhaav question.


@nguyenloc I am very thankful for your contribution to Blockstack. It is always good to point out when something is wrong, in a manner in which some professional engineer may take up the reins and fix it. Instead of blaming the messenger. Once again, thank you for your contribution to Blockstack. I hope you continue to contribute so well, but watch the burn factor on the blockstack naming system. It’s a rubbish idea, anyway.
Oh, well, at least I suppose it isn’t USURY. [retracted]


I’ll take @nguyenloc’s side here because I think there should be some value in active maintenance of the apps. Like @nguyenloc, I have also seen some apps that do not get updated or do not respond to bug reports. Some of the early Blockstack apps especially.

I think there is an opportunity to set expectations that apps should be actively maintained in order to be part of the program.


@dant absolutely agree there needs to be active maintenance for any app eligible for App Mining. We’re looking at ways to judge that active maintenance, either ourselves briefly for the time being or by some other mechanism. Any ideas you or others have for interesting solutions there would be great and very much taken into consideration.


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  • Nick Tomaino

Full article:


Hey loc, I get the sense that you feel like you’re not being heard. Let me know what you’re asking for specifically and let’s address those things and generate options. It’s not efficient to carry on a debate and forgo a dialectic to converge at the best options.