Boost: Major Update on MakerWorld Incentive System

Boost: Major Update on MakerWorld Incentive System

How to measure the contribution of a model to a model sharing platform? How to distribute limited incentive to boost the growth of the community? These have been the most important questions since day one.

In the very first version of the MakerWorld incentive system, we measured contributions simply based on popularity, that is the number of downloads. The more your model is downloaded, the greater the contribution you have made to the platform, and thus, the more incentive you receive. This approach is similar to that of most video and photo-sharing platforms.

But there is a fundamental difference between videos and 3D print models. Watching a video only costs you a few minutes, which is the same for any other video, while printing a model requires filament, printing time, and significant effort to prepare and assemble, and these requirements can vary greatly between models. Half a year into our Beta test, we have found limitations in using popularity as the primary factor to measure the value of a model. Simple and small models are more likely to be downloaded and printed because the cost to print them is low and the decision is easy to make.

Complicated models and ambitious projects, which are often created by dedicated designers with considerable effort, bring users great satisfaction and senses of accomplishment. They are the most valuable assets of the platform but often receive disproportionately low incentives due to the challenges of printing them. Niche models, while valuable to specific communities, may not achieve widespread popularity and consequently receive very fewer points. We often hear designers express surprise that a model, which took them several weeks and multiple iterations to create, receives only a fraction of the points of another model, which was put together in just a casual hour before publishing.

Another problem with a popularity-based incentive system is that it is relatively vulnerable to abuse. MakerWorld has been battling bots since day one. At its peak, over 6000 fake accounts were registered and banned in a single day. Despite constant upgrades to our risk control system, we estimate that roughly 25% of the vouchers we give out end up in the hands of non-contributors.

How do we solve this dilemma? It has been a long-standing debate at MakerWorld, and many possible solutions have been proposed.

  1. Should we manually adjust the points for each model to reflect its design effort? Considering the vast number of models uploaded to MakerWorld daily, it is impractical to do so. Moreover, it is impossible for just a few moderators to fairly judge everything.
  2. Should we create a patron-like membership system to allow users to show their appreciation to designers? It is effective since only appreciated designer receive the membership payment. The problem is that MakerWorld is not ready for a paywall; we like the idea that every model is available to everyone, at least for the moment.
  3. Shall we count likes instead of downloads to measure the value? Based on the date we have now, some users tend to like every model they print, while others rarely give any likes. Likes is a costless token, which means it is not treated very seriously by users and can be easily manipulated by bots.
  4. Should we simply monetize the system by putting a price tag on each model, allowing customers to use their wallets to vote for the models they enjoy? This market economy approach is very tempting; it lets the supplier, buyer, and market decide which model is more valuable than the others. When you pay for something, you are more likely to judge its value seriously. It is effective, simple, and fair. The only problem, as mentioned above, is that we are not ready for a paywall yet.

None of the above proposals were approved, but we learned a lot through the discussion, and they inspired a list of principles we want to follow:

  1. Let the users, not the moderators, judge which model are more valuable.
  2. Encourage users to make serious judgments by giving them limited tokens.
  3. Link the tokens to currency so users can show their support to the designers they appreciate.
  4. MakerWorld pays for the tokens so that all the models can stay free.

Here's what we've devised: the Makerworld Boost System.In essence, the rules are as follows:

  • Each boost carries the equivalent value of a $1 gift card, it can only be redeemed by designers who receive it.
  • Users who actively engage with MakerWorld will receive boost token. The more you print, the more you have a say which model is valuable.
  • Each user can receive up to one boost token per week, which will expire in two weeks.
  • We will transfer some budget from the old "popularity-first" approach to the boosting system and keep the overall budget the same. Here is the link to the new rule.

To kick off the boost system, we will implement a few temporary measures initially.

  1. We expect that the point farmers, whom we are fighting on a daily basis, will be very interested in the boost system, as $4 per account per month is too much to resist. Therefore, in the initial phase, please allow us to play it safe. Accounts linked to a Bambu Lab printer are difficult to forge. So initially we will handout boost token mainly to those account. We will gradually invite a wider user base to the boost system as we become more confident in our risk control system.
  2. All eligible accounts will receive 2 boosting rights up front. We encourage you to review all the models you have printed on MakerWorld and show your appreciation to the designers you love.
  3. We expect very frequent updates to the rules of the boost system in the first few months because we need to fine-tune the system based on what we learn from real-world application. We will have you well informed.
MakerWorld Boost Page
How to Boost a Model

For creators, you may notice that initially, your income from the previous point system will decrease because we have transferred the budget to the boost system, and it takes time for the users to use their boost tokens.

We have put a lot of thought into this new system so that models will be rewarded both for their popularity and the value they bring to our customers. This system is quite complex, so we expect some flaws and bugs. If you have suggestions, please share them with us on the MakerWorld forum. Based on historical records, you know that we respond to your suggestions quite quickly.

Last but not least, we hope that you use your boost rights wisely to encourage innovation, creativity, and dedication among those who contribute to the community.