If you can't find the answer to your question here or elsewhere on the site email it to us at questions@weco.io or submit a post to b/beta-questions.

What software license will you use?
Will hosting be decentralised?
How will it be hosted?
What language will it be coded in?
What is your user acquisition plan?
What content will/won't be allowed on the site?
How will it be moderated?
Is Weco truly a co-operative?
When will full democratic governance of the platform be handed back to the users and how will this be achieved?
What will prevent this system from turning into 'mob rule'?
Reddit doesn't make any profit! How will Weco be any different?
What exactly do you mean by 'non-profit'?
How do we know you won't sell out?
What exactly do you mean by 'transparent'?
What are your long term visions?

What software license will you use?
We will use the AGPLv3 free software license. By releasing our code under the terms specified in this license we are ensuring that our code remains publically available for all to examine, modify, and change, provided it remains free and open. Our hope is that this approach will encourage others to examine and contribute to the coding of the site as it evolves.

Will hosting be decentralised?

No, decentralizing the platforms hosting would introduce a range of additional complexities and problems for a social news website that we are not yet in the position to tackle, however, we are keeping a close eye on the technology and would consider it for a future build if the platform continues to grow and our user base decides that would be the best direction moving forward.

How will it be hosted?

We are currently hosted on Amazon Web Services, allowing us to scale flexibly as our user base grows and ensuring the platforms reliability for users in all locations around the world. Specifically, we are using:

  • EC2 servers with automatic load balancing
  • DynamoDB as our data store
  • S3 for our cloud storage needs

  • What language will it be coded in?
    Our back-end is being developed in Node.js with the Express framework, allowing us to efficiently handle a large number of concurrent connections and take advantage of JavaScript across the full stack. In the browser, we are using AngularJS to develop a highly modular, organized codebase.

    What is your user acquisition plan?
    Gaining an initial traction of users is always one of the biggest challenges for a new platform. While some would respond by focusing their efforts on marketing to accomplish this, we believe the key to success in this domain ultimately comes down to producing the best product. The internet has made it possible for the ideas that people love to spread almost instantaneously around the world without cost through the vast mesh of friend connections and media sharing platforms. If we are able to solve the problems Reddit is struggling with in an exciting and intuitive new design, others will spread the idea for us far more effectively that we ever could for ourselves.

    That said, getting the idea seen by a critical mass of users at the start will still be important to get the ball rolling. To this end we have used the resources available to us to develop several short videos that can be found on our YouTube channel in the hope that they will make it easier for us to communicate and spread the ideas behind the platform online. We have also spent time explaining each feature in detail on this landing site so that anyone who is interested can quickly find the information they are looking for about the various features we are offering.

    In September of 2016 we released the first beta version of the platform and have left it running since. Over the last year this has given us the chance to test out its features with a broader range of users and improve the design based on their feedback. Having now completed the next stages in the platforms development - including building in the polling tools, making the UI responsive, and fixing bugs that were preventing some users for accessing the site - we are now in the position to begin ramping up our promotion of the site.

    We will soon be posting the videos we have developed and other Weco related links to relevant communities on Reddit, Facebook, and other social media platforms. We have plans to reach out to a number of successful vloggers and will try to get some write-ups about the project in local publications. We have also begun paying to advertise the platform to targeted users on Facebook, Google, and Quora. Our hope is that if we keep pushing in all these directions over the coming year, we will gradually be able to attract a small community of active and regular users.

    Once we have an initial user base in place, the expansion of the platform will be a matter of time and evolution. We believe our system will provide enough advantages to our users over what our competition is offering them that more and more users will gradually migrate over and with each added user the total platform will become stronger. Whether or not we are successful in this pursuit in the long-run, only time will tell.

    What content will/won't be allowed on the site?
    We will start off using the same content rules as Reddit.
    Content will be prohibited if it:

  • is illegal
  • is involuntary pornography
  • encourages or incites violence
  • threatens, harasses, or bullies or encourages others to do so
  • is personal and confidential information
  • impersonates someone in a misleading or deceptive manner
  • is spam

  • When democratic governance is handed back to the users they would be able to vote together on amendments to the fine details of these rules, provided they remain within the bounds of the law.

    How will it be moderated?
    Like Reddit, Weco will rely on voluntary moderators. The creator of every new branch is assigned as its first moderator automatically. They then have control over all of the branches settings includes the ability to set the branches description, rules and etiquette, flag and banner image, add and remove other moderators, review child-branch requests, submit parent-branch requests, remove existing parent or child-branches, and respond to flagged posts within the community.

    Because child-branches can be removed by the moderators of their parent-branch, all child-branches are bound by the rules set down in their parent-branches. If they disobey, the chances are that they will be removed and have to find a new parent-branch as a result. This dynamic is kept in balance by the fact that branches at every level are ordered by their total points, including the points gained in their own included child-branches. If the moderators of a parent-branch set down rules that are too strict for their child-branches they will likely squash out the life from their own branch and thus limit its exposure to other users on the platform. Alternatively, if they don't set down any rules for their child-branches, they may find that their community becomes disordered. The parent-branches that employ the right balance of moderation and respect for their child-branches will therefore attract the most activity over time and thus increase their own position on the site. Through a gradual process of natural selection, this dynamic allows the most healthy and successful branching structures to rise to the surface and become the dominant root branches.

    Unlike Reddit, the introduction of polling tools and the use of the Nucleus in each branch will also allow communities to begin experimenting with more direct forms of democratic governance if they wish. In some cases this may even remove the necessity for moderators all together in the traditional sense as members of a branch could poll opinion collectively on each issue that needs group action and then simply go with the majority vote. Alternatively the polling tools could be used to elect moderators chosen directly by the community.

    In the future we plan to add in a new 'Support' section to every Nucleus. This will include a dedicated space at the heart of every community in which users can browse, post, and up/down vote 'Questions', 'Requests', or 'Issues' relating to the branch. As communities grow in size we believe this will help moderators to engage and stay in touch with their community more effectively. Rather than being bogged down by huge lists of private messages, this would allow them to respond publically and transparently to the question, requests, and issues that have been most up-voted by their users. It would also help users quickly find a resolution to their query if it has already been addressed without having to post anything new.

    Is Weco truly a Co-operative?
    On Wikipedia a co-op is defined as “an autonomous association of people united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled business.”

    While this captures the essence of what we're doing, technically speaking, we won’t start out as a co-op as we won't give out stock or shares to any of our users. During the platforms initial growth the founders will retain final say on governance decisions and the company will only have a single share owned by the Managing Director. We have made this decision to protect the platform and its mission until there is enough diversity amongst our user base and an adequate voting infrastructure in place to allow democratic governance to function effectively. Throughout this phase we will use the polling tools built into the system to gauge user opinion and go with the majority wherever possible. We will also allow users to vote in the same way on the use of surplus profits.

    When the platform has grown to a sufficient scale and we have the needed infrastructure in place we will then officially hand over ownership of the company’s sole share to the 'people of the world’ and allow all registered users to vote both on governance decisions and to elect new representatives / directors / staff etc. At this point the company would be publically owned in a true sense and directly democratically governed by all participating users.

    When will full democratic governance of the platform be handed back to the users and how will this be achieved?
    Just as most people now recognize that citizens of a nation should have a say in how their governments are run, we believe people will soon recognize that users of a social network should have a say in how it is governed. This level of involvement protects the system against corruption, increases its collective governing intelligence, and allows users to participate in deciding how the profits they help produce are used.

    We realize, however, that pure democracy wouldn't be a viable option for the platform from day one due to a number of significant risks this would present. Firstly, until we have established an account verification process that is both secure and that users are comfortable signing up with, poll results will not be statistically reliable due to the influence of fake accounts. Secondly, while the platform has a small user base it will be vulnerable to large outsider groups swarming the polls at key decision points to become the controlling majority. Thirdly, having the entire user base vote on every governance decision would be impractical and inefficient. We need to develop a voting infrastructure that strikes a balance between fair representation for users and direct voting power.

    For these reasons, during the initial phase of the platforms growth the founders will retain final say in the governing process. Opinions will still be polled on all major issues and we will do our best to go with the voice of the community wherever possible.

    The main checkpoints in deciding when the platform is ready for complete democratic control to be officially handed over to the users will include the following:

  • When we have established a secure verification process for users that wish to be involved in the governance process. This process must be both rigidly secure, so as to prevent manipulation through fake accounts, and yet not so intrusive or difficult to apply for that it puts off users from taking part. It would also need to be available to users in as many locations around the world as possible.

  • When there is a large and diverse enough user base that people from almost every part of society are represented in some way on the platform. This is hard to be specific with but we feel that Reddit's scale would be enough. Although Reddit is by no means a fair representation of the entire world, it contains enough diversity amongst its communities that it would be almost impossible for one subreddit, no matter how large, to take control of the others via direct democratic polling.

  • When a suitable election process has been agreed upon amongst the user base by which new staff and important decisions for the platform can be fairly presented, debated, and then voted on by all interested users.

  • At the point when all these requirements are met, we would give plenty of warning to users and then hold official elections, allowing anyone to run for the new leadership positions and allowing the community to make the final decision. From here the platform would truly be in the hands of the users.

    What will prevent this system from turning into 'mob rule'?
    One of the biggest criticisms made against democratic systems are the dangers of 'mob rule'. What if the community as a whole makes bad decisions? We've seen crowd dynamics lead to some terrible things in the past and so understandably some people are hesitant about handing over complete control to the collective.

    While it is true that groups can and often do make bad decisions, it is not fundamentally the use of democracy that causes this but the ignorance of the individuals. In fact, democracy on the whole tends to protect individuals and minorities against bad decisions far better than most other power structures because of the way power is decentralized across a population. It's much harder to hold a monopolistic grip over people if you have to be elected in by them. Ideas also have to be vetted by a larger number of individuals before being accepted.

    There are, however, four important further steps we will take to enhance both the protection and intelligence of the democracy:

  • We will work with our user base to create a constitution for the platform that lays down fundamental rights for users and communities early on in its growth before full power has been handed over to democratic rule. This would help to counter the worst manifestations of mob rule in which a majority uses their power to gang up and commit a crime on an individual or minority.

  • We will encourage debates with a diversity of perspectives. The more perspectives we include the more informed our decisions will be and the better chance we have of finding the ideas we need. Our polling tools are designed to make it uniquely easy to navigate through different perspectives in a debate, regardless of the scale of their support.

  • We will do our best to educate and inform voters. The intelligence of a democracy correlates directly to the intelligence of the individuals that make it up and so providing access to appropriate information for those participating in the platforms governance will be essential. The 'Resources' tab we plan to integrate into polls has been designed with this in mind.

  • We won't be using a 'two-party system'. Instead we will adopt a form of Liquid Democracy that would allow each user to vote directly on issues that matter to them or elect representatives to make decisions on their behalf. The result will be a much more fluid and decentralized decision making process that decreases the likelihood of large isolated groups getting locked in complete opposition.

  • No democracy will be perfect but by taking into consideration these factors we believe it will be possible to encourage its best manifestations whilst protecting ourselves against its worst.

    Reddit doesn't make any profit! How will Weco be any different?
    While it is true that Reddit is yet to turn a significant profit, it's also true that investors valued the company at $500 Million in 2014 when their user base was less than half what it is today; $100 Million up from a $400 Million valuation the year before. These investors aren't putting their wealth in just because they like the site. They believe it will eventually make them a financial return that will justify their investment. They know how valuable a rapidly expanding 250+ Million global user base really is and they know that even small tweaks in the business model at that scale could result in hundreds of thousands, even millions in excess annual profits.

    That said, our approach will differ from Reddit in several ways that we believe could result in a more profitable business model:

  • We are waiting until we have more feedback from users before implementing this feature but we could potentially use slightly more advertising than Reddit, 1-2 ads per page, but in a way that won't intrude on users browsing experience. Ads would always be in the same location of the page on the right hand side of the screen and would never appear between or in front of the pages main content. If we increased advertising in an attempt to create private profit users would almost certainly be against it but by remaining fully transparent, allowing them to see exactly how much is being raised, how it is being used to support the site, and then giving them the chance to participate in deciding how excess profits are redistributed, we believe there's a chance they will understand its function for the platform and accept its role as a means of generating revenue. After all, it would still be less advertising that many other popular sites use and we wouldn't be packaging and selling user's data.

  • The branching structure of the platform would lend itself to a more organized and efficient advertising model. Because of the way broader subjects overlap and integrate smaller more specific subjects, it would give advertisers a better choice in the scope of users they wish to reach with their ad campaigns. The organization of communities would also make it easier for advertisers to find relevant communities for whom their service will be most appreciated. By helping advertisers reach the right audience in these ways we would not only be increasing the value of the ad spaces being sold but also be increasing the chance that users see ads that are actually interesting and relevant to them.

  • Being a transparent, non-profit organization with a social mission we think it's probable that we will be able to raise more donations that Reddit, should we scale to their proportions. We also hope to be able to attract sponsored support from successful larger business who want to be associated with the project for these same reasons.

  • Many new visitors to Reddit are put off by the websites messy and unintuitive interface. By introducing a clean and simple interface and a more efficient organizational system we believe we will be making the social news experience accessible to a much wider audience that is currently the case, potentially further accelerating the markets already exponential growth.

  • If any of the above mentioned factors result in increased profits that could give our business model an advantage over Reddit's.

    What exactly do you mean by 'Non-Profit'?

    The term 'Non-Profit' can be confusing. A better description for us would be 'Not-for-Private-Profit'. If we are successful, like many other Non-Profits, the company will make money. The difference is where that money goes. In a for-profit company surplus profits can be redistributed to shareholders as dividends. In a non-profit, surplus profits must be given away or used to further a social mission. In our case all profit not needed to cover the running costs of the platform will go directly into a 'giving pot' on the websites homepage. Users would then get to vote together on how that money is spent provided it's used for the benefit of the world.

    It would be illegal for us to benefit financially from this system other than though wages for job roles within the company which will, in any case, be transparent and visible for all to see.

    The lines below come directly from our company's Articles of Association:

    "3.1 No dividends may be paid on any shares."

    "3.2 No part of the income or property of the Company may be transferred, directly or indirectly, by any means to any member of the Company or given or distributed to any member by any means."

    "3.4 The directors have discretion to use any surplus profits not required for the ongoing activities, costs and liabilities of the Company for any purpose or purposes they consider will be of benefit to the world."

    How do we know you won't sell out?
  • The company has been set up as a non-profit with lines in our founding documents that make it illegal for us to pay dividends on shares or use surplus profits for anything other than giving to projects or causes that benefit the world.

  • The driving motivation of the founders is to create a pure, uncorrupted social utility fixed in service to the people of the world and so to sell out would be to turn back on our core principles and jeopardize our underlying mission.

  • We're fairly confident that we would quickly loose the respect and support of our user base.

  • Our code will be open source so someone could easily create an alternative that actually was a non-profit and then steal all our users.

  • What exactly do you mean by 'Transparent'?

    There will be a dedicated transparency page on the site where users will be able to see the total income and outgoing spending for the platform along with the salaries of key staff members such as the founders.

    We hope this will increase trust in the platform and give users a chance to contribute their scrutiny if they feel the business model needs adjusting.

    What are your long term visions?
    Our initial focus is the Social News market. Given the speed of change on the internet and the history of social news, we believe it's possible that a new social news platform could outcompete Reddit within a matter of years after it had launched, provided it offered enough advantages to new users and was successful in navigating its own expansion. If Weco was fortunate enough to achieve this, however, that wouldn't be the end of the road. In fact, we would then be in an ideal position for further growth.

    With a user base in the hundreds of Millions globally (Reddit's current scale) we could then begin expanding the features available on the platform to compete with other social media services. At that size, it wouldn't be hard to add in new features and we would already have a user base to kick-start people's interest. The pitch we would make to new users is that we could offer them a transparent, democratic, non-profit version of these other existing for-profit platforms. Every expansion and diversification of the company would potentially result in greater total profits being produced for the collective, which could then be intelligently redistributed back around our planet to help fund altruistic projects and causes decided to be in most need by the collective.

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