Vitaly Kolesnik's Personal Website

How to Succeed on a Content Platform: Enter a Community, not a Talent Show

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The path to success is like a road with an unknown destination hidden behind a turn. Our typical behaviour is to try guessing the destination and then deduct the road. We want maps, instructions, recipes, or even enlightening, but not the work with unpredictable results. When there are no maps, we are often driven by myths and illusions.

My biggest illusion back when I joined Steemit was that authors are rewarded for their literary talent in the first place. But then my eyes opened on how things really work.

A community rewards its members in accordance with the role played and the value produced by them. Authors are rewarded not for their content itself, as if in a talent show, but for being useful to the community, for taking a specific role and offering a needed service.

Sometimes being useful really means producing quality literature, but more often than not it answers other community needs, like for example the need to see how others cope with the difficulties of life, or the need to connect to an expert, or the need for optimism, or the need to get feedback on their writing, and so on.

Everyone is entitled to perform a role, to offer a service and to get a reward. The size of which depends on one’s fortune, on what the performed role is, and, first of all, on what resources the community has available.

Don’t think by the way that it’s easy to be a millionaire, or a YouTube star, or a community leader. Focus on this: your role should fit you. Sometimes people mistakenly take high roles without having the resources, and it hurts back. You will pay a dear price for every incompatibility between the actual you and the role you perform, and if the role doesn’t really fit you, you will fail.

Or, as Plutarch put it,

We do not expect a vine to bear figs, nor an olive grapes, yet now-a-days, with regard to ourselves, if we have not at one and the same time the privilege of being accounted rich and learned, generals and philosophers, flatterers and outspoken, stingy and extravagant, we slander ourselves and are dissatisfied, and despise ourselves as living a maimed and imperfect life.

My approach is:

  1. Be yourself. Don’t try to figure out what they want, just be authentic.
  2. Find a community you really like and make connections with interesting people. And yes, be interesting, too.
  3. Take a role you’re capable of and offer a useful community service, however small.
  4. Be consistent. Someone once wisely said that the path to success is like a snowball, small in the beginning but growing steadily if enough effort is constantly applied.

First published on Steemit

Prose poem: Sunbeam

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On the snowy horizon, a sunlight stripe is glowing, contrasting sharply with the black edge of the forest and dark thick clouds in the sky. Unstable, like an early waking, it now appears, then disappears, until dissolving in the sunshine that floods all around.

Life is a sequence of awakenings, a blinking of light on a forest road, a break in the clouds reminiscent of clean sky, a quiet sleep of grass under the snow ready to sprout, a forgotten thought hidden in a secret place where all are alive.

The bones of peoples who inhabited this land before us lie in these fields the sun gleams over, on the slopes of the hills where sprouts of spring slumber, in valleys where cities spread out, shrouded in fog.

The word collects together what is alive, and even when it dies down, it’s still here, hidden under the snow of nonexistence, silently waiting for a spring sunbeam.

First published on Steemit

Prose Poem: Spring in the Air

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The spring is in the air, still imperceptible, like a subtle smile, like a fresh young voice barely audible above the buzz of the crowd.

We don’t know what we’re asking for, but the Spirit himself pleads for us silently, in a breath which has yet to find the right words, as the soul finding the body.

The voice of the Spirit is heard from afar, a song with only scraps guessed: the time has come to heal the brokenhearted, to set free the oppressed, to return sight to the blind.

Just as mountains rise on the horizon at a sudden turn of the road, so too a time comes in life when the hidden becomes manifest.

First published on Steemit

Free Verse: The Power of Words

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Just as a key matches a lock, so too the right word reveals your truth. After this word sounds, there are no doubts.

As a boat slides over the water’s expanse, as a river flows, embraced by a bank, as a moonlit path trembles on a clear night, so freely the spirit breathes in truthful lines.

As fallen leaves die to feed the earth, as seeds sprout to become bread, as vines stretch to the sun to bring a feast, so gently a sequence of insights changes a human being, intangible, like a bird’s line of flight.

First published on Steemit

Prose Poem: The Day of Possible

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I’m staring into the new day, boundless, impenetrable, unpredictable, like the clouds of fog crawling across ground, snatching out and hiding again the most diverse landscapes. All therein is still hidden at the roots of the Earth, behind the veil of haze, beyond the known.

My train is waiting for something, and waiting am I, and waiting are the endless foggy fields where everything is possible. The fog gives birth to giants and gnomes, opening countless doors to the dungeons of the soul. The gnomes know where the gold is, but to hear them, I need to unlearn knowing.

The day when everything is possible. Do not know, do not judge, do not believe the customary. See the invisible: a glare of light hiding in the blackness of a roadside cross, a brilliance of diamonds dancing in the depths of the Earth, a blue gleam shining through a heap of clouds, a way out of the circle.

The day when everything is possible.

Prose Poem: The Hidden World

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In the past I liked heavy snowfalls, but now I yearn for the sun. Even noonday heat wouldn’t feel unpleasant to me. How amazing it is, that there’s pleasure hiding behind the negation in the word «unpleasant».

Isn’t this the light born in the darkness, the light that the darkness cannot overcome? Isn’t longing for joy hidden in suffering, freedom in restraint, health in sickness? Hasn’t it been said: «I am come to heal the sick and deliver the captives»? So summer is hiding in winter, sunshine in a gray sky, miracle in everyday life.

The question: why is the miraculous invisible, truth unobvious, God hiding himself?

Perhaps, this world is not the final point of evolution yet, but is a still moment of another world emerging, one where miracles and truth will no longer be hidden from our eyes? What we see with our inner vision and feel with our heart becomes visible, and this transition to the new world takes place here and now, in every single moment, between inhale and exhale, between life, death, and new life shining through it again. Shadow, suffering, and pain are only mother’s dark void the new world is born from to become pure light.

Everipedia: a Decentralized Wiki Based on EOS, IQ Token Airdropping Soon!

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Everipedia is a modern and more inclusive alternative to Wikipedia with a slick interface and less bureaucracy. The big news is that Everipedia is going to be decentralized and will become the first app based on EOS blockchain, with IQ, their internal points, becoming a cryptocurrency token. Moreover, every EOS holder will soon be airdropped with some IQ!

Knowledge and crypto both being my passions, I couldn’t resist but asked for an invite, and thanks to the responsiveness of Everipedia team I’m already an editor.

How Everipedia is different from Wikipedia and other wikis?

  • Basically every single thing can have its page on Everipedia (that’s why the name I guess).
  • Every English page from Wikipedia is already on Everipedia to build on top of and improve. (This doesn’t mean it’s ok for users to copy content from other wikis as this has been made not by users and no IQ has been acquired through the import).
  • Everipedia has a modern look and is visually appealing. And you don’t need to use awkward formatting symbols. That said, not every functionality works as expected yet as the transition to the EOS blockchain is in progress.
  • Instead of talk pages, there are discussion threads where editors can continuously discuss news about their favorite topics.
  • Celebrities have verified accounts and can have conversations with their fans on their own page.
  • After Everipedia is hosted on EOS, countries that block Wikipedia (like Turkey or Iran) will no longer be able to block it.

This will be big and I think there are chances Everipedia will become one of the three EOS supported community benefit apps to receive a percentage from new annual token supply. Brock Pierce, Block.One’s Head of Strategy, has recently twitted that

Everipedia is my favorite consumer DAPP coming to market.

With EOS.IO Dawn 2.0 public test network released and venture capital coming, chances are high that other new exciting dapps follow Everipedia example and choose EOS and maybe also use their airdropping model.

If you wish to contribute to Everipedia, ask for an invite in Everipedia Telegram group. The IQ airdropping details will be announced there, too.

Links

My Related Posts

Prose Poem: Time for Peace

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The forests glow in a milky sunshine, treetops finely silvered with frost. The faraway mountains float, groundless, on a white, bulky pillow of fog.

Hidden are the unspoken secrets of the soul, hidden in gloomy firs, all that’s forgotten and lost on my forest path.

The frozen world says: now it’s the time for peace. All things should stay still. Let the renewed force grow in the roots of the earth, in the depths of the mountains, under the sparkling ice of the ponds.

It’s a day of magic born from nowhere, a healing power flowing from the ancient wizardry of words, a childhood memory of the mysterious physical presence of a miracle.

Everything done is done, and everything said is said. The only thing left is joy.

First published on Steemit

How to Give Feedback and be Heard: Use Nonviolent Communication

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Often we are trying to help others with advice but instead feel rejected or misunderstood. It happens especially in situations where a substantial inequality is present: in the interaction between teachers and students, leaders and team members, parents and kids, and so on. The main reason is we think that our habitual ways of communication are also natural and effective, which isn’t always the case.

I’ve written this post as a continuation to How to give feedback on writing. In that post I focused mostly on feedback content, while now I’d like to say more about the form, which is equally important.

The Principles of Nonviolent Communication

First, let me introduce to you a few ideas of Marshall Rosenberg, the author of an approach known as nonviolent communication. Marshall Rosenberg was an American psychologist, teacher, and mediator who started conflict resolution programs in many war-torn areas throughout the world.

  1. The source of conflicts and misunderstanding in communication lies in the very human desire for autonomy. We want freedom to decide for ourselves. We can’t get rid of the desire for autonomy because it’s part of human nature—we only can respect it, especially if we really want to communicate, not command.
  2. Punishments and rewards are never reaching their goals, because they don’t respect human autonomy. That’s why the idea is not to try to get a person to do what we want, but instead to create a quality of connection based on mutual respect and concern where everyone’s needs matter and can be heard.
  3. It requires a shift away from the language based on evaluation/manipulation to the language based on needs. We need to learn how to tell others in a safe, guilt-free manner whether what they are doing is in harmony with our needs or conflicts with them.
  4. Human beings need empathy. They may want advice also, but only after they receive the empathic connection.

Many people believe that reward is good, as it’s the opposite of punishment, but in fact both reward and punishment are manipulative as they use power over others instead of empowering others. By using rewards or punishments, we try to influence others to do what we want. We need a way to help people hear one another, learn from one another, and contribute to each other’s happiness freely, not out of fear of punishment or hope for reward.

Communication Blocks

Below you will find the twelve «communication blocks» listed by Thomas Gordon, a pioneer in teaching communication skills and conflict resolution methods. I tweaked the examples to better reflect the writing feedback theme. Note how habitual many examples look and how well-disguised, sophisticated, hard-to-discover manipulations they are. If taken as advice, many of them are not wrong at all, but so often we don’t have enough empathy to base them on. So here’s the list:

  1. Ordering, directing, commanding: «Don’t do that.»
  2. Warning, admonishing, threatening: «You’d better not write that if you care about your reputation.»
  3. Exhorting, moralizing, preaching: «You must always respect others.»
  4. Advising, giving solutions or suggestions: «Why not to talk to X about that?»
  5. Lecturing, teaching, giving logical arguments: «If kids learn to take responsibility, they’ll grow up to be responsible adults.»
  6. Judging, criticizing, disagreeing, blaming: «You’re wrong about that.»
  7. Praising, agreeing: «I think you’re right.»
  8. Name-calling, ridiculing, shaming: «Look, Mr. Know-It-All.»
  9. Interpreting, analyzing, diagnosing: «You’re just jealous.»
  10. Reassuring, sympathizing, consoling, supporting: «All people go through this sometime.»
  11. Probing, questioning, interrogating: «Who put that idea into your head?»
  12. Withdrawing, distracting, humoring, diverting: «Just forget about it.»

We may believe that we use similar sentences with purest intentions, but have you ever thought about what the other person actually hears? Most probably, something along these lines:

  • «You don’t accept my feeling the way I do.»
  • «You think I’m not as smart as you.»
  • «You think I’m doing something wrong.»
  • «You think it’s my fault.»
  • «You don’t seem to care about how I’m feeling.»
  • «You don’t take me seriously.»
  • «You don’t feel my judgment is legitimate.»
  • «You don’t trust me to work out this problem myself.»

Alternative Methods of Giving Feedback

After reading this long list of communication blocks you probably ask yourselves: «So how to give feedback to people if we don’t use those habitual tricks?»

In fact, giving feedback is simple. We don’t need tricks or complicated methods, however it requires training to get rid of them. Paradoxically, in our critique-based culture we need to learn to be ourselves, be authentic.

The first, easiest, and most important method is to describe what’s happening inside you when you are reading the other person’s writing (or interacting with her/him in another way) instead of trying to evaluate the other side or give advice.

You can start with «When…» (here goes the fragment you give feedback on), continue with «I see/feel/think that…» and end with the description of your feelings or thoughts. Be careful: it’s very easy to slip into judging, so keep an eye on whether you really describe what you feel. Thomas Gordon calls this «I-messages» as opposed to habitual «You-messages.»

Compare:

  • «You are too verbose in this part.» (evaluation, You-message)
  • «When I was reading this part, I felt tired.» (description, I-message)
  • «When I was reading this part, I felt that you are too verbose.» (You-message disguised as I-message)

If we’re speaking about writing feedback, this is what we really want to know—what kind of movies are happening inside of others’ minds when they read our writing. (Of course, we also secretly want a wise one to tell us objectively the truth about our writing so that we could correct and conform, but the only truth is that nobody knows anything and we have to guess what’s going to work.)

The other ways of non-manipulative communication include:

  • Using passive listening (you confirm that you are listening without further action).
  • Using active listening (you emphatically describe a mental state the other person speaks from).
  • Asking open-ended questions or just inviting the other person to tell more.
  • Bringing facts, information, examples without advice or comparison attached.
  • Using metaphors and stories that illustrate what’s happening inside yourself.

Useful Books

First published on Steemit

Prose Poem: White Sun

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White sun is bathing in the haze of the frosty morning. My freedom is as far away as the sun, unattainable and inviting—a diamond with thousands of sparkling facets, shining with rays of opportunities, each of which is capable of plunging me into the darkness of exhaustion.

Look through the glittering facets, into the depths, to where the mystery lies, to where the force awakens, into the emptiness from which everything has been born.

The eternal dance of the world is created by the one who stays in the motionless center of the circle, the source of all movement. Every bend of the dance returns to the center, every ray leads to the sun, every glare of the diamond witnesses its depth which only gives strength to its glow.

First published on Steemit