What is the value of a the steem vote other than a way to distribute inflation on the platform? The idea behind proof of brain is that it could be used to simultaneously reward users for publishing content on steem, as well as be used as a sorting algorithm. There is no need to linger on the fact that proof of brain (PoB) has failed as an algorithm for sorting content, self voting, and vote buying have made this obsolete from the beginning. PoB still works as a rudimentary bidding system for what content should be rewarded on the platform. However because of the unequal weight of flagging to voting, and the very soft cultural rules around the use of this feature, steem more or less is a free for all with how votes are used.
So steem is a competitive market in this way. As far as how voting power is used If you are looking to increase your stake in the network all you need to do is position your votes in a way that pays you a better percentage of inflation:stake. Inflation hoarding means For selfish individuals self voting or vote buying. For businesses it may be a bit more nuanced, can be a bit more beneficial to users like traditional markets, a steem vote can be a way to attract users to submit specific types of content. Making this profitable and beating inflation on the network is a bit more complicated, but this is the state of dApps we are looking forward to in the current steem system - businesses competing to make their votes the most profitable, or use them to make other parts of their business profitable.
Always use your votes like you are paying out of pocket!
When you make a vote, you are adding to a bid in releasing funds from the rewards pool. If you aren't exercising your vote you are being subjected to the maximum amount of inflation. When you don't use your vote, others in essence get to soak up your unused voting power to drain the rewards pool how they choose. This is why self voting is such a negative force on the system, the users which are exercising their voting right to gain power over you.
Here are how the most selfish actors on steem think about the reward system:
For a second let's forget about voting rewards (which are an important part of this system for sure)
in a simplified sense your minimum inflation state is if you are maxing out with self votes. The maximum voting power you could achieve through time is if you only voted for your self.
If you use your vote to reward a blog post you like, or an artist you are inspired by, this spreads a bit of your maximum voting power to them forever! Make sure that they are worth it when you vote!
I think that it's important that every one understands this as the basic mechanism behind voting. This can be used to build better communities, we might just be missing a few checks and balances so that voters will spend their vote on others.
OK, so anyone who has been fed capitalist propaganda since a young age will tell you that 'competition drives innovation!' but clearly you can see the problem here. Overtime the users who take the maximum self votes are skimming power away from those who actually use steem the way it was intended.
There is another way which I believe the steem architecture is better suited for:
Cooperation is the mindset of using shared resources to achieve greater efficiency between multiple actors. There are many types of co-ops with different focuses and governance systems, but this is the basic premise... that the more we share the better we all can thrive.
Steem exists in a bit of a competitive/cooperative hybrid environment. There are many different voices on the platform with some shared goals and other goals which might differ drastically from others, the shared resources are the currency and the tools in which it are secured and distributed.
I believe that more initiatives could be built on steem to help our community better work together. The biggest barrier here is that cooperation requires participation in crafting agreements on expected behaviors and communication on steem is surprisingly hard. A fair system of voting is also important... which is where the inflation hording and bad distribution has really diminished the success of steem.
Better Checks and Balances
There are a few things which would help a platform like steem run in a more co-operative fashion.
A flagging system which works, right now there is no direct incentive for making a correct flag. This isn't a simple problem, but platforms like d0x and Aragon have developed solutions for this problem.
Verified users. Right now anyone can make a second account and vote for themselves covertly. This has lead to selfvoting being socially acceptable on the platform. More nuanced aspects of this are ring voting which verified users would not solve.
Organized discussion platform. Users need a way to debate and a place to see what the community guidelines are and how they have evolved in order to take a more active role in a community.
Food for thought and discussion:
What do you guys think, can we build a more efficient steem through better co-operation?
How can we improve the voting system to encourage others to self vote less and encourage better content?
Note on how I use my votes In posts like this, I think it's worth using my vote to upvote participation. My votes have gone from being close to $1 to $.06 this past year, so it really only goes so far as an incentive, but it's the best i can do to pay people for their work in a response. I'd also hope people have an interest in how we can work together better, so please if you have something to say chime in!
I'll also give votes to anyone who would like to give me writing feedback, I know i have a lot to improve on how I write, and clearly communicating ideas, so constructive criticism is worth a vote from me