Benefits of Pay for Votes

in curation •  last year

Full Disclosure: I am the author of Dr. Otto, which is a pay-for-vote bot, so obviously I'm going to defend the idea.

In a Nutshell

The concept of "Pay for Votes" is when someone pays someone else to vote for content. In a sense, all votes are pay-for-votes. But who pays?

We're talking about direct payment here. Alice transfers 5 SBD to Bob so that Bob votes for Alice's content.


Here is one random comment I've seen:

... although using randowhale, booster and others from time to time, tested it thoroughly as well, I dont like these self curation services. I even see members with good Rep using the services. I think this is part of creating a bad culture that will for sure not support a ling time ahead of us for Steemit

The main thing people seem concerned about is that it creates a "bad culture" and "it's unsustainable." Another possible objection is that it's "too good to be true."

I believe these are not valid objections because they do not describe anything beyond Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.

The main thing is, people can do whatever they want with their stake. And if people are opposed to this, they can likewise do whatever they want with their stake to oppose it.

This only strengthens STEEM Power because it takes an equal amount to oppose certain uses. To overcome opposition, it takes more STEEM Power.

It's like some kind of Mutually Assured Value.


  • Network Effects - I feel like this is the top "pro" of pay-for-votes. This is the phenomenon whereby a product or service gains additional value as more people use it. I feel like this is reciprocal, as all good network effects are. Pay-for-votes adds value to STEEM while simultaneously adding value to pay-for-votes.
  • Judicious Flagging - Personal use of flags become more expensive for the operator of the pay-for-votes service since flags require the same STEEM Power as an upvote. An unpaid flag is a wasted opportunity. And if someone has to pay for a flag, they will be judicious with them.
  • Gamification - There's no reason pay-for-votes must be based on funds being transferred. They could be based on other things like scavenger hunts or contests or, in time, something more creative (hopefully).
  • Saved Voting Power - Why vote 100% on your favorite content when you can pay for someone else to vote for you and save your voting power in the process?


  • It's a Gamble - Depending on the arrangement and timeframes, paying for a vote might not yield any benefit to the party paying for the vote. This is especially true if the average price of STEEM is falling. We've seen "reward decay" affect payouts over time, which is frustrating.
  • Perception - Some people concerned about the platform have an emotional reaction to pay-for-votes. They assume it's like a zero-sum game and go from this false assumption. This is entirely perception, so I believe it's a non-issue; solved by education and time.
  • Bad Content Gets Rewards - I think this is probably the most valid disadvantage. But it's also the most manageable one. We have the tools we need to oppose bad content that gets upvotes from pay-for-votes. There's no reason we can't have pay-for-flags.

Overall, pay-for-votes has strengthened the platform. STEEM Power is not undermined by the practice, and that's the main take-away here. The curation game gets more and more interesting every day. I also think this is only the beginning.

Also See: Game Theory and Steemit

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I like how you did a pro/con break down of the issue. I'm not a fan of pay for votes, but I do support minnowbooster as I think the idea of spreading around massive whale SP to a bunch of smaller accounts makes sense because whales simply can't do that level of curation on their own. I also like that they cap it to 1 SBD a day to prevent abuse.

I like your pros and especially the idea of gamification which essentially moves this whole discussion to a different category because there's no more payment (unless we're going to argue good content is also a payment, which to me is silly).

We have the tools we need to oppose bad content that gets upvotes from pay-for-votes. There's no reason we can't have pay-for-flags.

Well, the reason is in the Pro list you mentioned. It's expensive to pay for flags so people will not be motivated to do so unless their is systemic risk through pay for votes to the point where pointless content is getting rewards and those creating valuable to the network content (i.e. content that will be shared and bring in more users to increase the network effect) will simply leave. At that point, people will start flagging, but will it be too late by then? Many already have the perception that content on Steemit is "crap". Pay for votes may only make that worse. Systemic risk is much more dangerous for everyone than other forms of risk.

I'm a bit confused by this:

They assume it's like a zero-sum game and go from this false assumption.

The rewards pool... is zero sum. That's how it works. If rewards are given to one post, then fewer rewards go to all the others for that same pay period. Am I missing something there?


Correct, I didn't mean to imply that there are no zero-sum components to the platform. I just don't think anyone can accurately say that if one person benefits from the platform, someone else must therefore be damaged.


zero sum, did it mean like a lottere?
paid for small amount like 0.001 and collect 100 voters to be vote for a winner with 0.1 value. yeah this huge gambling.

Pay-for-votes is certainly better than using the rubbish advertise function on Steemit. I like your ideas for gamification bots. I cannot program, otherwise I would build one to upvote certain posts I care about.

Paying for votes through various services is a confidence booster for newcomers who will perish if there are no intrinsic systems to support them.

In any case, the concept of paying for content promotion exists everywhere on the internet and the real world - promotion through purchased upvotes is a form of promotion. It makes the platform a level playing field for a number of reasons which may not be needed to be discussed here.

Bad content gets rewarded - true. But ironically, the silver lining could be that the person paying to get his (bad) content voted on is also making an investment. Not in any way supporting the publishing of bad content but don't bad people invest in real estate?

I am always in two minds about using these services. I used it initially, then I stopped in between. I used it again for a couple of days. Your post lists both pros and cons.

My only concern is that the output of Pay for Votes is random and doesn't consider the quality of content. I would rather prefer using Promotions but it doesn't seem to benefit minnows at this stage.

I agree in theory.

Like anything else, when used in moderation, pay-for-votes is beneficial.

In extreme cases, where someone like @noganoo created about 1000 bots to upvote every post and comment will provide no benefit to the community and drain the rewards pool.

This is the most interesting facet of the anarchist movement. Anarchism will work perfectly if noone abuses/disagrees with the system. But human nature always opposes the norm.

Here is an example -


I remember this clip from way back. Awesome.

Soon it will be the Star Bellied Yunkers.

As the author of Dr. Otto what is your back end take? What motivates you to put the service out there? If a vote costs 5 SBD to you apply $4.80 in power and keep the delta? Is this just because you want too?


That's up to the stakeholder to decide.

I don't see the point of defending. There are people who love it and those who hate it. I am using upvote service as well eg. @randowhale @booster. When I think the bid price worth it, I pay for it. When I feel the price is too expensive, I skip it. I believe most of the minnow love to have upvote service. @inertia Please spend your time to develop more tools rather than wasting time defend haters' comments, there is no ending and just wasting your time and energy.


Honestly, nobody has been on my case to defend this stuff. I like to develop ideas as well as applications.

If you dont mind but can i ask something? I started using steemit few days ago i am getting to know everything slowly but what i dont understand is that how can someone pay another person who is a total stranger to him and still everyone gets paid for there upvotes and comments on their picture. I mean like i am also posting but i am not getting upvotes more than 4 or 5 upvotes and i have seen posts that people posted and few minutes or hours later they get $50 or i have seen some who got $200 or $300 in few hourse can you explain it to me. it will be very helpfull for me.


There is a social dynamic. Why did curly fries get popular on Facebook? It wasn't because they were popular by themselves. It was because popular people made them popular.


It means that only popular peoples will get more upvotes and comments and will make more money. Can you give idea that what type of posts should i post on steemit which will get more upvotes and comments? It will be very helpfull for me because i need it. And your help will be a blessing for me. Thankyou


Depends on your goals. Personally, my goal here at the moment is to develop tools and explore ideas about the platform itself. But ultimately, this can be a bit tedious. It would be nice to just post about my life, not about the platform.

Imagine if everyone on Facebook posted about Facebook. That would get a little boring, I think.


Thankyou. Its very kind of you to acknowledge me about it. So now i think that basically i have to post about my life and the stuff which bring joy to others correct me if i am wrong or right. is it so?


Couldn't agree more!

Hi @intertia! I need some help with creating a bidbot based off of Dr. Otto... yet I'm not sure where to turn since I need to learn how to use Github from the ground up! I want to add you on Discord but I need your numbered tag (Inertia #????). Alternatively, do you have any guides you'd recommend for me to read to get a handle on the basic terminology and mechanics of Github? Thanks for all you do for the Steemit community!


I'll assume you're probably on windows. This will get you started:

The problem is, windows doesn't have a good OpenSSL library, so you won't actually be able to run these tools.


Actually, thankfully I'll be working on a macbook pro. So I'm assuming I need to look into using radiator? Thank you for responding :)

Edit: I think I have a better idea of what I need to do now and am learning basics of GitHub. I have some ideas that I can't make happen unless I learn how to program in Ruby too. Anyway I really appreciate the Dr. Otto source code. I'll study it and hopefully in due time I'll be able to make the ideas come to life.

For some reason @banjo sent me one of your bot's votes yesterday.

No idea why, but thanks to both of you for that!


And now you avoid my questions. The subject cannot be changed.

I often these kind of services myself, so from a pragmatic point of view I would naturally be completely in favor of this type of services. Without them, I could spend several hours per post to create the best content I can. And while I enjoy that, purely for the sake of making blogs, it's kind of disappointing when nearly no one see it.

In the current storm of posts that get uploaded to Steem every second, it's not easy to get noticed. So these services are a blessing, or maybe a necessary evil. Life for minnows would be much much harder without them.

Besides I have massive respect for the people that bring these services into life. The ability to make digital solutions do the things you want them to is sometimes mind-boggling to me.

From a principal view, I don't think that these bots are really a solution for the actual problem at hand, which is low visibility. When using these bots, the number of upvotes increases, the payout increases, but the number of views doesn't necessarily increase. It's just weird when you post has 80 upvotes, but only 5 views...

So I think the solution must be sought with a different approach. Maybe there could be enhanced features in Steemit itself to direct message or group chat, to create more groups that curate and promote posts around specific interest areas (tags), to have more of an in-house community building feel to the platform itself, instead of resorting on outside applications like and discord. But we are not there yet.

And until that time, the upvote services are a blessing, they give hope to minnows, they make Steemit more valuable as a platform and I think we should all be grateful for them.


I think the solution is to just keep steeming. Build your brand. Be consistent with regard to quality. It takes time. And I think pay-for-vote will help bridge the time it takes for a new author to build their brand to the point where maybe they don't need these services anymore.

It's no different then advertising.

Valid points here. I always thought that buying votes isn't bad. And I don't care that people with high reputation buy them as well. They all have reasons.

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Upvoted. Respect to dr otto

I used drotto, paid 0.005, but no upvote....

I got a bellyRub and this post has received a 7.38 % upvote from @bellyrub thanks to: @binkley.

@bellyrub is at over 150K Steempower. : )

while I think paid to flag services would be bad.

Bad content gets just left in the dust most of the time.

As a new member of the steemit community I have benefited tremendously from your up vote services and others like @bellyrub and @lovejuice also which I think are built using your code. We all know that many whales trade out up votes or simply up vote themselves. The need for Up vote bots is because of a lack of community support for newer members. The bots are just filling a gap that is needed to be filled.

You can look at my wallet and see that I often use them to give a random post I like an upvote as my upvote penny doesn't say much. But when someone sees I spent 1 SBD or 0.50 SBD and got them a 1-2 sbd upvote it usually makes them Smile not think This guy is killing the platform. So this is probably the best way to use the up vote bot solutions.

Do I use the upvote bots on myself? Yes I do and I'm not ashamed. It often only breaks even on the sbd payout but adds to my steem power and for that I'm thankful. When I spend 2 -4 hours writing a high quality post it makes me sad to see 0.05 sbd upvote with 80 upvotes cast. As I grow so will those around me. Up Vote Bots Are A Win Win.

As soon as I can figure out the error I'm getting I'm going to try and launch another bot for minnows as most have become dolphin bots now. Thank you @inertia for this awesome post and hard work you are doing for the platform.

interesting concept and well laid out. For myself I have not decided how I feel but thanks for sharing. - Troy

Hmmm.. Good post. I missed this. :[
I wish you had mentioned the analyzer I've made. It's not 100% accurate and especially given your first cons, it's still a gamble at the end of the day. But my analyzer is still helpful to avoid overbidding in a specific window which can potentially cause bidders to give up on the service in the future...

Sounds Good, and Hopefully, it is for the benefit of all