CURATION and SBD are BROKEN
The selection, organization, and presentation of online content, merchandise, information, etc., typically using professional or expert knowledge.
What does our expert knowledge consist of?
How are posts on Steemit being curated?
Oh well that's easy: by payout value.
How is that working for us?
Our whitepaper is embarrassingly outdated. Proof-of-brain is not a thing. It is a faraway pipe-dream. What we have is optional stake weighted tipping. First we had circle-jerks, now we have bid-bots. If I'm being honest, I feel like this is an improvement and we are heading the right direction. However, this is off-topic.
Why curation makes no sense on a fundamental level.
Curation has been embedded directly into the consensus algorithm. Does that make any sense to you? If you try to control inflation on the Steem blockchain you are forced to use this mechanic. Let's explore this concept a bit deeper.
You'll notice I said:
How are posts on Steemit being curated?
How are posts on Steem being curated?
This is a huge deal and is the foundation of my argument. Curation was created and embedded into the consensus algorithm with Steemit.com in mind. It should not be there. It is a huge mistake.
You see, it is impossible to curate something on the Steem blockchain because the Steem blockchain is simply a chain of blocks in sequential order. From this perspective, it would make more sense if Steemit was a forum that showed things in sequential order. However, that is boring and not innovative at all, so curation was born in an attempt to appear unique and intelligent. It has been an abysmal failure.
As previously discussed, Steem is a LEGO set for developers. As also discussed this LEGO set should be as simple as possible while also providing maximum functionality. The more complex the LEGO set, the more it can be exploited by the people who understand it best. This is why I write things like Steem Problems Can't Be Fixed By Hard Forks. Steem's problems are not created by its foundational roots. However, curation is adding zero functionality to the platform because it can be gamed from the outside.
Wait, so how does curation work again?
Steem nodes are not only forced to keep track of which posts/comments got upvoted, but they are also required to keep track of the order of those upvotes. Upvotes get run through an algorithm that awards a higher percentage of curation to the ones who upvoted first.
The foolish assumption of this mechanic implies that higher payout is equivalent to higher visibility, which is not a feature of the Steem blockchain, but of Steemit.com, a Podunk website that displays blockchain information in an extremely flawed fashion. You don't base the mechanics of a consensus algorithm on some shitty app you are planning on making in the future. What the actual fuck. It has taken me a full year to realize how stupid this is and put it into words. I always had that gut feeling but never knew where it came from.
As a failed lottery
Curation on Steem is a rigged lottery. The idea is for whales to put themselves out there instead of self-upvoting. The idea is to create a system where the whale can actually get paid more than their full upvote back in curation if they upvote the best content.
The problem with this is that the system is transparent, so no whale that wants curation rewards is ever going to upvote a post that's paying out $5 or more. Anyone with their own bests interests in mind is going to either simply upvote themselves (or auction via bid-bot) or upvote someone else with the vague hope that more altruistic people are going to pump the curation tab while they scoop the majority. This lottery idea would only actually ever work if the system wasn't transparent and you couldn't see how much posts were getting paid out until it was too late, the logistics of which are seemingly impossible.
Wait, who controls what users see again?
The concept of curation itself is what caused bid bots to be developed. We assumed high payout equals quality content deserving of a wider audience. We assumed wrong. When it really comes down to it, Steemit and the other front ends can choose to show you whatever content they feel like. They are in full control of curation, yet we cling to the fantasy that stake holders have this power. This is an illusion. So far, this illusion coincides with reality, but it won't forever.
No! We can still make it work!
Many users here want to take this failure and double down; make the lottery even more extravagant by doubling curation from 25% to 50%. Yeah, that's a terrible idea for so many reasons; the first of which being vote buying, which is already the established way to game curation. A whale upvotes literally anything, scoops the majority of curation reward, and then buys a bunch of votes and scoops all the curation. That's a near limitless money loop right there that's only capped by the number of users willing to sell their vote, and we've already been conditioned to sell our votes at a loss in mass.
Guess what else we doubled down on? SBD production. @timcliff wrote something up and actually had it implemented (pretty cool) so we would start printing SBD up to the 10% haircut limit. The idea here is create more SBD to push the price down and then it will finally get liquidated for Steem. Yeah, ultimate backfire, now we've been haircutting the liquidation payout for a while now and SBD is still significantly under $1. Because of this "feature" our consensus algorithm is now printing way more inflation than the platform ever should.
Slowly but surely, SBD is being converted into Steem. I think we capped out at about 15M SBD and we are down to 11M, so 4M has been burned for significantly more Steem than it was worth when it was created. Oops. That's the price you pay when you peg your asset to $1 and let users claim that $1 whenever they want, even if the price crashes 95%. Unfortunately, SBD can't even do what it's supposed to (maintain the peg) so in my opinion is value is less than zero when concerning is usefulness to this platform.
For a while I was screaming from the rooftops that we need 100% of our inflation to be printed in SBD to bring the value down. I'm glad no one took me seriously because that would have been a disaster. This is just another example of how the complexities of our economy are not really fully understood by anyone. Macro economics creates network effects involving hundreds of variables, creating equations that will never be solved.
Unfortunately, we can not rewrite the past. We can not remove curation or SBD from the history books, but we can change them in the future as we see fit. For example, we could just stop printing SBD and the developers could engage in massive insider trading, buying it all up and then announcing that fun fact afterwords. Wouldn't that be fun? We could even turn it into a Bitcoin clone with mining and half-lives and everything.
I actually don't want to get rid of SBD. I've talked about how it can be fixed. We can implement the MakerDAO self-loaning smart contract to add an additional option for creating and burning SBD. This would basically hard-peg it to $1 compared to its current volatility. It's stability would be several orders of magnitude more predictable. The weakest part of the system is that it relies on Oracles to feed it information about how much a dollar is worth in comparison to Steem, but the witnesses are already doing that with price feeds so whatever.
Curation, on the other hand, will almost certainly be deleted from our consensus algorithm. How do I know this? Because there are already ways to circumvent it, and on a foundational level it is nonsense.
How can one opt-out of being forced to participate in curation? Simple:
- Upvote yourself and tip SBD instead.
If you self-upvote comments that no one else has voted on after 15 minutes, you'll scoop 100% of the curation reward (more if someone does end up voting after you). Take this money and use it to tip out users you support. I imagine such a system will eventually be featured in some kind of rogue front-end.
Speaking of front-ends, what happens when one gets created where the order of posts has nothing (or very little) to do with total payout? What if this front-end becomes the most popular? Now we're in a situation where curation is embedded in our consensus algorithm and that makes absolutely no damn sense whatsoever because the most popular front-end is curating using a superior method. People will ask themselves: "WTF are we doing? Kill curation now."
Curation through Resteems
I've been pushing this idea for a while, and I'm gonna keep on truckin. Curation should be granted through the process of resteeming. This makes perfect sense because resteeming is the literal definition of curation (not total payout). The post is being displayed to a new audience and is backed by the reputation of the resteemer. The owner of the content should get to choose how much they are willing to share. One person should be able to create a post with an option saying:
I will share 0% curation with anyone who resteems my post.
and on the flip side:
I will share 100% curation with anyone who resteems my post.
It would work like an affiliate program. Posts that were upvoted through the resteem would be credited to the resteemer.
This would be great because anyone who just wanted to get their message out there would be able to slide the curation bar up to 100% and everyone would have a huge financial incentive to share that post. By resteeming, it would basically become your post and you would get 100% of the reward from people who upvoted it because it was reblogged by your account.
Speaking of affiliate marketing, I'm sure many of you were disappointed that Steemit has been talking about putting ads on the site. Why? If Steemit is crap just use another front-end. I think it's a great idea. LOL, are they already here? Ad-blocker rules.
Adding commercials to the site is a great way to face the platform outward and get people promoting their own content EVERYWHERE instead of just using a bid-bot to jack up the payout value. It's a self-propelling form of curation.
Again, I think that it needs to be done very carefully. I think we should initiate decentralized ad contracts.
Decentralized ad contracts.
I believe that users should own their own page. If someone comments on your blog and you don't like what they said, you should be able to bury that post without even using a flag. The same is true for the comment the OP wants at the top. This can and will happen, if not on Steemit then somewhere else.
Inline with owning your own blog page, I believe Steemit and its users should be able to bid on ad contracts. Users are already weaving ads and referral links into their blogs, why not forge a contract with Steemit for something more effective? All the contract would do is modify the percentage of returns given to Steemit vs the OP. If the OP doesn't give Steemit a high enough % they can decline. If Steemit doesn't give the OP a high enough % they can decline. However, considering that Steemit is fully in control of curation (who sees what) they could make some very interesting deals.
Think about that for a second: Steemit controls the vast majority of who sees what (because most people are still using Steemit.com), yet curation is directly embedded within our consensus algorithm. Sorry for sounding like a broken record, but this revelation is new to me and I just can't get over it.
The way curation works right now there is a lot of unnecessary math being computed on the nodes. Nodes are tracking the order of every upvote. After seven days passes and the payout is imminent, an algorithm is run to figure out exactly how much curation every upvote receives based on the order of the upvote and how many rshares that upvote provided based on Steem Power (or more accurately Vesting Power based on Steem Power).
It should be obvious that next time we face scaling issues and the witnesses/node operators are like:
HOLY FUCK MY SERVER IS MELTING.
We are going to be looking for ways to simplify the process of consensus. And if you think that isn't going to happen you have no idea what I (and many other developers) have planned for this platform. Developers always push the boundaries of what is possible.
Eliminating curation will be a great start, because even in the case of the resteeming solution being embedded into the consensus algorithm, curation is calculated as a flat fee instead of a weird algorithm based on timing and vote weight.
However, because my resteeming solution is totally optional and doesn't need to be forced on anyone, adding it to the consensus algorithm again makes little sense. This feature should exist outside our basic LEGO set in the form of an outside layer smart-contract.
Plain and simple: less is more.
Simplicity is the answer.
Curation is not simple and can be removed from the consensus algorithm.
SBD is not simple and can be removed from the consensus algorithm.
I don't want to see these things disappear. I want them to work as intended.