First, I want to thank the customers who responded to the poll. The response rate was about 1/7 votes, or about the same turnout as that of a typical primary election. There were enough votes that I believe the results are statistically significant and action can be taken upon them. Upon looking at the results, I was pleased to find that they were in line with our priorities with very few surprises. The one particular feature that stood out was "high payout frequency." As someone who places orders at Purse weeks in advance and doesn't care when they arrive, it surprised me how being paid more frequently turned out to be the fourth most important feature. Let's review some of the key takeaways from the poll, moving in order of the listed options, and what we are doing about them:
Modern user interface design: This item received relatively few votes. Combined with the results of the earlier poll that found that only 30% of customers believed Prohashing had an outdated design, this solidifies our plans to not focus on graphic design in the near future.
Availability of miner performance data: This item received quite a few votes, which is in line with Constance's slow move towards being able to batch data for groups of miners. We hope to have the grouping available by February. In the meantime, she is adding less comprehensive enhancements. The next one will be fields that make it clear to the customer how the earned coins have differed from the intended payout coins due to coin errors.
Trustworthiness of the pool owners: I'm glad to see that this feature is important, and it's why we continue to post so much in the forums.
Legal compliance is preferred: This one is actually pretty interesting and is a positive sign for the industry. I'm glad to see that twice as many people prefer the protection of the law than would change pools because they want one that skirts the law.
Profitability: Profitability is the largest factor in choosing a pool according to these results. However, it does not attract a majority of votes. While we strive to be as profitable as possible, it is possible that pools that are willing to operate illegally will have higher payouts. It is interesting that the results show that, on average, a pool that has enough of the other categories satisfied will be superior to a more profitable pool.
On the other hand, the number of votes for profitability is not consistent with actual customer behavior. Scrypt profitability has been increased manually by 10% in an experiment to determine if more miners would join the pool as a result, and scrypt hashrate has declined in the same period. Even if the increase was not well known, as one customer suggested, the fact that so many customers voted for this factor indicates that a significant number of people would be constantly switching pools depending on which is the most profitable. I'm not sure how to resolve this inconsistency and it leads me to believe that this answer may have been worded incorrectly or that it was interpreted differently by customers than we intended.
Customer service: This option scored lower than expected, which may indicate that we should increase our ticket response times to 48 hours instead of 24, or limit the number of tickets one person is allowed to submit. Since many other factors are more important, the money spent on customer service could be spent on those instead, and that's something we'll need to reevaluate.
Uptime: This is the second largest surprise. While it makes sense that a pool would earn more money if it were online more often, it wasn't obvious to me that customers would avoid pools solely because of downtime. I had assumed that, since mining software has the option for "backup pools," there is little cost involved in setting a backup pool that will failover in the case of a main pool outage. That assumption appears to be incorrect.
Lack of hacks: The low number of respondents to this choice explains my confusion as to why people would continue to mine at NiceHash despite essentially operating illegally by operating an insolvent business and paying back US creditors the way they are. It also explains why people continue to trade at Bitfinex, which lost an enormous amount of money. Apparently, people don't care about the possibility of losing money to hacks. This should be an eye-opener to not just us but to the entire industry, and it explains why there is no push to take basic security procedures like protecting against SQL injection attacks at most companies. Their customers will not penalize them for losing their money, even if they operate illegally in an attempt to pay it back.
Transparency in earnings computation: I'm glad to see this one is #5. It indicates to me that people do actually question how, for example, litecoinpool is advertising that they pay 107% of LTC despite only mining litecoins and low-profit merge coins, while providing no explanation of where the money comes from. I don't think we need to take much action here to continue satisfying this mandate.
Able to have as many miners as possible for algorithms on the same pool: I added this result to see if there would be a "multiplying effect" when we added algorithms. It appears that there will be: instead of simply adding customers who mine the new algorithm, there will also be customers who mine the new algorithm and also move miners for the other algorithms solely because they find it easier to manage all their miners at the same pool.
Ease of setup: This one didn't score that high, but I wonder if it should not have been included at all. Customers who thought that our setup was difficult likely didn't answer the poll, because they didn't mine here to earn enough votes. Ease of setup is something we plan to address next year after Cryptonight mining has been added.
High payout frequency: This is the most surprising finding, but it also doesn't provide enough information to take action. I'll be requesting that Chris post a second poll about this issue. We need to know how much people would be willing to pay for a higher payout frequency. For example, payouts could be executed with a three-hour delay upon request, but then the customer would need to pay the withdrawal fee from the exchanges, which can cost $1, even before the network fees are calculated. However, it's clear that there's something that needs to be addressed here.
Number of coins available for payout: 1.5% of people selected this choice, but 35% of people request payouts in coins other than bitcoin or litecoin. I think that this answer was worded incorrectly and therefore little can be learned from it. It should have stated "availability of other coins for payout." That's because I suspect that while almost every coin has a lot of people requesting it, any individual customer only requests a few coins, so that customer only cares about the existence of other coins, not a large number of them.
Another attribute: Few people selected this option, indicating that we chose the correct responses for the poll, even if some of them were worded incorrectly.
As a result of this poll, we are going to focus on the following areas:
- I will delay CryptoNight mining in lieu of continuing to add checks to the new OpenNMS monitoring system. Uptime was clearly ranked higher than any other feature. This will make it appear as if less progress is being made over the next month or two, but the system will notify Chris earlier to avoid potential problems.
- We may also delay additional features to fix difficult to reproduce issues like coins that go into error for short periods of time.
- We'll perform some research into figuring out a better way to move issues like coin requests and connectivity problems into support tickets. The warnings in the forums have not succeeded in getting customers to create tickets for items that they want attention from us rather than making forum posts or sending E-Mails, and as a consequence, most of these issues do not get responses. Some of these posts, like the ones for forks, contain valuable information but are never able to be acted upon because they cannot be assigned to the correct person.
- We will post a poll to gain more information about payout frequencies to determine if customers would be willing to pay for higher payout frequencies, and if so, whether effort should be diverted from additional algorithms into increasing payout frequencies.
- Constance will continue to focus on adding data that is currently available in the database but has not been added to the website, so that customers can get a better understanding of how the system works, therefore addressing two of the poll answers.