The Next Generation BidBots: A Proposal

in #bidbots4 years ago (edited)

The bid-based voting bots have developed into a vibrant market, but there are now serious issues with the auction style used: many bidders end up with highly negative ROI.

This is an issue for both bidders and bidbot owners.

Whether by ignorance or malice, over-bidding has consequences.

I have seen single bids that are above a bidbot's stated vote value. How is that rational? Assuming it is rational, then the only conclusion is that it is meant as a spoiling tactic. And this is where the bidbot owners need to be watchful that they do not have a consistently low ROI as this may impact the popularity of their bot.

I know, the market is open and "bidder beware"; this auction style is notorious for multiple individuals bidding at near the end and collectively nudging the ROI into negative territory. That isn't what I'm talking about here: I'm talking about deliberate, calculated action to undermine the bidding.

Should Bidbots be Profitable?

There was a narrow window when the bidbots were highly profitable. This goes back to early to mid-December 2017, when the price of SBD spiked relative to STEEM. But since then, they have been largely neutral in terms of rewards payout compared to the bid amount. When we factor in the 25% curation rewards, the bidder is left largely in negative territory. Hence, the bidbots are mainly used as promotional tools, increasing visibility by indirect self-voting.

Now, as the price of SBD has started to climb again, we are witnessing a milder form of the "December effect", with the SBD portion of the payout being significantly higher in USD terms. This variable distribution and its sensitivity to the prices of STEEM and (more so) SBD is already factored into the quoted ROI calculations on the Steem Bot Tracker.

This means that if "Include 25% curation" is switched ON, parity is an ROI of -25%; with "Include 25% curation" switched OFF the ROI will show as 0%. This means that on payout the bidbot vote is worth the same as you paid for it, apart from the deduction of curation rewards.

All of this to highlight that an ROI of -25% is not a loss in terms of the bidbot upvote, it is just the deduction of the curation rewards. However, when I see ROI values that are deeply negative, such as -70%, then all bidders are paying a hefty premium for their promotional upvote. Smaller bidbots are particularly prone to this but I have also seen it in the larger bots.

Proposed Solutions

The emphasis here is that deeply negative ROI impacts the bidders in the short term but also the bidbot owners in the long term.

Two solutions here: lower the maximum bid value and set a cap on the maximum total bids.

I noticed that two bidbots do have a maximum bid value, so I assume they all have, although not published. I saw this precisely because one account was massively over-bidding and triggered these maxima. Bringing this maximum down to a reasonable level, and publishing it, means more bidders have a chance to participate.

Setting a cap on the maximum total bids means that the bidbot owners can build in a guaranteed minimum upvote. Incoming transfers that push the total bids above this preset maximum will be refunded. Let me stress again, in case this point is not clear, but such a maximum also protects the bidbot owners from any disruptive over-bidding strategy.

Before anybody mentions this, I am perfectly aware that in the short term over-bidding is highly profitable to the bidbot owners and their SP delegators. I am just highlighting that the current auction style is not necessarily the best option for all bidbots under all conditions.

Implemented Solutions

I wrote most of the above text a couple of days ago and, as the market evolves and ideas are open-source, today I have found one bidbot that has actually implemented my proposed solutions: @onlyprofitbot. There may be others but this is the only one I have found. Just to add that this is not my own bidbot, nor did the owner know about this article as it wasn't published yet!

The @onlyprofitbot has both a set maximum bid and a maximum total. I think this is wise for those smaller bots that are liable to be over-bid far too easily.

However, the reason for highlighting this is to show that many users still do not understand the data presented on the Bot Tracker. I have seen comments complaining that the ROI is negative. There are two issues here.

Firstly, if a bidbot guarantees a minimum ROI of 0% there are still the curation rewards to deduct. So, as explained above, depending on whether you have the curation rewards toggle ON or OFF will determine whether, for example, you see an ROI of -20% or +5% - the actual upvotes are the same, just a different point of view.

The second issue is related to the dynamic prices of STEEM and SBD. The Bot Tracker uses live market prices for both currencies, but actual upvotes and transfers are done at the official STEEM and SBD prices published on sites such as When prices move rapidly, there can be a significant difference in those prices. As I write this, the official STEEM price is 4.239 SBD ($4.239) but the market prices are STEEM at $4.58 and SBD is $5.67.

All prices on the Bot Tracker are the best estimates available. The one number that is not an estimate is the percentage of a bidbot's upvote.


I am glad to see at least one bidbot experimenting with a fairer bidding algorithm that protects both the bidder and the bot owner. I think the very small new bidbots we're seeing should take a look at this model.

If nothing else, it will be good to see how different auction models play out.

What do you think?

images: steembottracker screenshot, pixabay

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@rycharde manages the AAKOM project and the MAP forum.

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I think more people should spend time writing and curating good quality content, interacting with communities and commenting on posts rather than spending their time and money synthetically boosting the value of their own posts with bots

The perpetual Steemit argument.... :)

Using bots is the best way to get some kind of exposure for a minnow outside networking and the regular Steemit dynamics. Once you earn some SBD you have a couple options:

  1. Withdraw
  2. Transfer to Steem. Wait a couple days. Power up.
  3. Invest in bots getting back almost all your SBD and gain SP

One choice is the obvious one if you want to invest in the platform. Youre not actually earning any more $$$, but you are getting bigger numbers on your posts attracting followers to curate, you are getting a better listing on taggs and exposure.
Consider you write a 3 page post (like i did the other day) that takes you 2-3 hours to write and research and as a minnow you dont have many engaging followers.
Who is going to see it? Not many people.
But you want your work to at least get you something. Thats where bots come in.

After that post i made a couple posts with just photos, that took me all in all 3 minutes to make. They got almost as much attention as the large post.
See, bots allow me to post content that takes a lot of work because i can always rely on getting something for my work.

This is my point of view. I understand others exploit but bots have a legit use.

You produce great content, proven by the fact that you got a curie vote for your excellent music piece. Totally understand where you are coming from though and I have no argument for talented people who put the effort in using bots to get some reward.

As i kind of alluded to in other posts, it would be wonderful IF we could have a platform where we didn't need bots, and groups similar to curie, MSP etc could curate good content with enough SP to make a difference to lots of people. That's not going to happen in the near future though and bot abuse is always going to be rife on here.

I guess it's just a pipe dream of mine. Im pretty sure you are going to be a great success on this platform, as will most people if they put in the effort. It's really hard work.

Well i intend to put in work above all else. And eventually and hopefully i wont need to use bots to upvote my posts. Ill have a built audience. Most of the people i talked to that are just starting out share the same sentiment.

Yes i got lucky with that Curie post and im beyond grateful i have a whale account following and encouraging my progress on Steemit. Not everyone is so lucky though.

Hello @markangeltrueman to post a high quality content you need a lot of time it doesn't matter i have it
But the problem is even if you post a good one people are not interesting and not upvoting so you always need support from bots this my opinion . thank you:) :)

Well i'm certainly not going to upvote any poster than consistently uses bidbots, and nor are any of the people/guilds that are looking for high quality content. Those are the people that have the power to give minnows the exposure they deserve in an organic way and you are losing any chance of gaining that genuine exposure by the consistent abuse of bots.

This is my opinion


It may be possible to run a "mixed strategy": using whatever earning potential arises within steemit to then support further minnows. That is the aim of the new MAP Rewarder.

Everything that has a net outflow of funds - however well-intentioned - must rely on either investors or delegators or some income-generation, otherwise its voting power becomes limiting.

Is the MAP rewarder a human curation team? If there is a group of people using leased SP to upvote quality content then I am all for that and this platform needs more of that. My question would be, "should I lease SP to a service that offers upvotes for payment" In this case, could it be that it would be used to upvote content of questionable quality. I want to be confident that the SP im leasing out is only used to upvote quality content.

Hi, as you know from being a MAP member, upvotes on their own have a limited supply. I do not have the luxury of 100-500k SP to make a significant difference to someone's post rewards, hence MAP itself (and me in particular) have leveraged knowledge to help minnows make themselves visible in their best niches.

I have used the analogy before that that kind of curation work is akin to a digital content agent. But that agent needs to find a publisher for the writer. And publishers do not have only one department; literary fiction or popular science rarely make much money compared to pulp, but the profitable sides support the less profitable creative or speculative works.

So, I will upvote the pulp only because it makes a profit that can further support upvoting curated content.

this is the point even if the content is high quality you will not upvote just because he is using bots i really don't understand why???
It should be different like for example if you see a good content you directly upvote it without checking who else give upvote
Like what i did in this post for mr @rycharde

I will upvote high-quality posts that have little or no reward, as will the likes of curie. Post with small votes from the likes of minnowsupport have always been supported by curation guilds. However, posters who are consistently using bidbots to the tune of 30SBD per post would be exempt from that kind of reward.

If you are here for the financial rewards alone then fair enough. I, and many others are here for the community aspect and that sort of thing is very hard work. Its taken me 6 months of real devotion to this platform to make any kind of inroads but now im starting to feel the benefit.

thank you bro nice talking to you all the best

I personally refuse to use "pay to play" upvote bots, I hope that my #steemitnovel can grow organically. It may take a bit more time but, the fruit of which I hope is much sweeter in the end. No hate on those who do use them, the temptation of which is hard to pass up. As a sign of goodwill I'm upvoting, I'm not trying to make any enemies here. Just stating my personal opinion.

Another potential community (for the new communities feature) in the making. I love finding great novels for curie, it's one of my favourite curation subjects. Keep up the good work.

I generally agree. However, Steemit lacks a very important feature: distribution. Good articles rarely reach their target audience. So, the only way a good blogger is left with to make sure his post reaches as readers as possible is to buy up-votes.
Of course, I am not defending those people who buy upvotes for a low-quality post. That is abuse indeed.

I think that you will find that will change with the upcoming communities features. It is something i'm really excited about and will hopefully get good content noticed and remove the need for as many bots.

Great article. I think the bot owners are disinclined to cap the total because they are cleaning up on the ignorance of newer users. It is kind of disgusting to me. I experimented with the bots a bit. My experience was that late voters often sent me into negative territory or break even.

Capping at a guaranteed return rate of a minimum 5 percent would at least ensure that bot users would get some benefit from the process.

I doubt it will happen. Self regulation is important, but why do it if my bot is turning me a profit every round?

Thanks, yes I mentioned the obvious self-interest of bidbot owners and their delegators. From a personal usage point of view, just be careful whether the "curation toggle" on the bot-tracker is ON or OFF - the default is ON, which deducts the 25% curation rewards. If you have judiciously upvoted your post before the bidbot, you can make back some of that curation rewards.

I cannot peer into people's brains but some of the bidding I've seen could be naive (to be charitable) but others seem quite malicious in knowingly ruining the ROI, including, of course, their own, hence the deduction that such "rational actors" have other intentions. We shall see!

I found the info on bot tracker to be inconsistent at times

There is a genuine problem with which prices to use, and in a fast-moving market there can be a significant difference between STEEM's live market price and the blockchain median price.

I've given up on bidbots for the time being / Resteemed

lol. I spotted you using them a few times. Why the change of mind?

There was return when sbd is higher, now it's been mostly a losing proposition,, or just promotion

Without really being much of an expert, my take on the whole bid bot thing is that they are a reflection mostly of the fact that Steemit has pretty poor "streaming" of content. When we publish something, it doesn't get "sorted" into a category where we can then look at things that interest us and build community around that. Everything ends up in one big pile, and the "new" feed moves so fast that the good, the bad, the ugly and the brilliant has scrolled by — potentially unseen — in seconds.

Of course, some people are simply greedy. They are not here to create content, they are purely here to use Steemit as a giant "cash dispenser" and could care less about the community and whether it lives on beyond next week.

On your first point, one very small change that would be helpful is the ability to read peoples feeds - mainly curator feeds that follow good content creators. There is no button that does this. For example, my own MAP feed is at
You can replace @accelerator with your fave usernames and see what they are following, not just who.

I am glad I found your post! I have only just started to use bots and this is very helpful information. Following you now :)

Good analysis, there were a couple points you made that I had not even realized. Thanks!

You got a 2.13% upvote from @postpromoter courtesy of @rycharde!

Want to promote your posts too? Check out the Steem Bot Tracker website for more info. If you would like to support the development of @postpromoter and the bot tracker please vote for @yabapmatt for witness!

That is a detailed analysis on bid bots. Many of them hardly understand how do the bots really work and end up with negative ROI.
Can you explain me the last minute bid thingy. I have not gotten into that detail myself.

Hi, if you look at the Bot Tracker site, you will see highlighted in green at the top those bidbots that are still profitable and with under 10 minutes left in that bid cycle.

Now, imagine 10 people are looking at this, then 4 of them decide to make a transfer; within those seconds of processing, each of those 4 users bids a reasonable amount, but added together they can tip that bot into negative ROI. This style of auction almost guarantees this kind of behaviour, and being -10% down is part of the game!

I have noticed myself when going onto that many people will submit bids to a bot that are over the maximum upvote value of the bot.

I'm assuming these bids are made by people that don't really understand what they're bidding for. They just think they're going to get their money back and then some from an upvote.

You got a 1.39% upvote from @buildawhale courtesy of @rycharde!
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This post has received a 10.69 % upvote from @boomerang thanks to: @rycharde

you make postings very good, good work!

You make a very good post, good experience! Thank you very much

I think the whole point on the profitability of the bid bots is wrong. The bid bots are to be seen as a marketing tool, nothing else.

This is great timing indeed. The newly launched @honestbot keeps track of the real-time value of Steem and SBD and returns any bids that exceed the total value of the bot's vote (including curation) making it the ONLY guaranteed-profitable bid bot on the market. Here's the introduction.

Cheers from HonestBot!


Unfortunately I can't give you an upvote, because that would throw off my vote weight, but I've resteemed your post and my owner account, @sethlinson just voted you up.

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