The Value of Downvotes ExplainedsteemCreated with Sketch.

in #flagging2 years ago (edited)


Are you bored, uncertain about the future, and reading this? If so, consider the Steem rabbithole. You'll have the best time of your life. Guaranteed. Come and join us in this nightmare-mode of a game. Disclaimer: this post should not be taken as financial advice. It's entertainment, engineered for dramatic effect.

Now with the recent conflict that's happening, it would seem like Steem has unveiled part of its value proposition. Check this quote out:-

Humans seem to love drama. When there's not enough around, we create it. If you're looking for some good drama, follow Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies. That's the good stuff.
by @lukestokes

It's really the good stuff. Cryptos gave birth to a new age of drama. It's the new oil of the 21st century. A clash of personalities, if you will. So what better way to facilitate drama at the speed of light than a fast social network like Steem that enables downvotes?

Built on real economics

Think about Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can virtually dish out an unlimited number of likes on those platforms. How is this ever based on real economics? Most of the experiences on thise platforms are fake! Okay, not really. But I just read an article on Medium and it allows me to like (or in this case, clap) more than once just by holding down the button. What a joke, I clapped 50 times. See how easy it is to manipulate any platforms that runs on unlimited amounts of non stake-weighted likes for engagement? Now, what happens when unlimited likes become limited investments? People become a little bit more serious with their votes. Expect the real kind of drama that fires up great discussions that we can all learn from. It's a feature, one that builds relationships. People become investors as they become more invested in high-quality drama.

But okay, quite frankly, I'm biased. I've come to terms that I'm hopelessly invested in the community. It would've been *cough* easy for me to cash it all out and sail the into the sunset with my imaginary waifu. But there's just something about Steem that's so precious, at least to me. So I became a lurker on the platform, getting to know people inside out by reading their stuff. I know it sounds creepy. But don't worry, I only know where you kept your favourite polkadot underwear.

The drama of downvotes

Steem is a platform that works with both upvotes and downvotes. That's why Steem has value. It doesn't run on unlimited likes. With that, comes downvotes as a way to regulate supply. Real economics is impossible without it. In a true social platform just like in real life, expect that not everything will go your way all the time even if you're busting your ass.

Resources are simply limited. Maybe the registration screen should have a quiz for new users to answer successfully to manage expectations before they get an account. But maybe the drama is essential.

Sidenote: The myth of one identity per vote

Also, I've seen the same comments emerge again that Steem shouldn't be based on stake-weight voting, but one vote per identity. Bad news, I think it's an impossibility. People with enough tricks up their sleeves will be able to fake identities anyway, generating disproportionate amounts votes for themselves.

Now imagine the shitshow when it comes to online platforms where anyone can create gazillions of free accounts. At least with stakes, there is capital involved. Remember that your free Steem account actually costs something. Not only that, buying into stakes effectively makes it an investment which makes investors invested like Warren Buffet, and that could benefit the network as a whole.

Somewhat relevant shameless plug!

To be honest, I've managed to stay out of any drama myself as an early-adopter by informing some of my auto-voting supporters to lower their voting weight on my posts. Regardless, I'm still having a lot of fun goofing around with my posts, enjoying decent views and interactions even without the luxury of top-stream trending. That said, I do spend good amounts of time engaging with new members and connecting people from different disciplines on the platform. I'm also a dummy when it comes to diversifying my votes without aiming for maximum returns. Thanks for the experience. Your continued support and engagement is always appreciated now that I'm posting less these days to avoid unnecessary scrutiny.

And okay, I avoid drama on myself, but nevertheless, it seems that I love lurking around it. Funny that I've never cared for drama before Steemit. It's interesting and a good way to observe human behaviour, despite the unnecessary insults that happen from time to time. All said, there are things I'd like to flag but I don't think I'll enjoy the retaliation since people tend to take it personally. But feel free to flag my stuff, anytime you don't agree with payout or whatever. /end_shameless_dramatic_plug


Drama is the spice of life and could be the main driving factor of value for cryptocurrencies and.. Steem. So let's exploit this. Terrible idea, perhaps! Straight to the point, downvoting is the reality of a new social network like this one. I don't think it would be possible without such a function. So ultimately, the understanding of downvotes need to be learned and mastered. Top authors will always get scrutinised, no two ways about it.

Oh, by the way, I wrote about downvote selling about two weeks ago and not surprisingly, it seems to be emerging now. Anyway, I'll leave you guys with an old post of mine (disregard the bit about dollarvigilante in the linked post): The Art of Maintaining Reputation: Plan Your Battles and Don't Milk It!

Sorry, did I really make the point about the value of downvotes?


Great post as always Kevin. One of the ways I look at it is that it's basically impossible to solve the problem of "How do you know someone on the internet is real?" so effectively what we do is we say that someone's "realness" is proportionate to their stake. You prove your identity by acquiring stake. Of course, you can still acquire other accounts, but again they only influence anything if they have stake. If they have enough stake, in the eyes of the Steem Blockchain that account is real too. I do think there will be interesting opportunities with SMTs to introduce different types of identity verification measures that enable different schemes. If one can develop an oracle system which guarantees that one real individual is associated with only one account, you could alter the distribution mechanism and take into account that information. But IMO, there will always have to be a stake-weighted upvote/downvote system in place for the cryptoeconomics to work, one just might be able to alter the parameters based on additional information.

Nice post! What will happening, if someone resteem your post?

I think it really changes the face of discussions and establishment of trust when stakes are involved. Will be interesting to see oracles that can successfully tackle the problem of identity well enough without being too intrusive when it's out!

"If one can develop an oracle system which guarantees that one real individual is associated with only one account, you could alter the distribution mechanism and take into account that information."

Well, why not 2FA? It's not like you'd have to reinvent the wheel. While some folks have more than one phone (I have... umm.. 5?) that at least is dramatic limitation on bots.

Then we'd need your phone number.

You got it when I signed up. The same as every account created through

Bots just use fake, or temporary numbers, which 2FA would end.

Yes, you're right that was a brain-fart. We do ask for your phone number. My assumption is that the engineers determined that the costs of requiring that every user enable 2FA before being able to get an account (in terms of increasing barriers to entry and adding an extra step to the sign up process) outweigh the costs. Most people want us to be decreasing the friction in the sign up process not increasing it. But thanks for your feedback.

This might be an opportune time to examine the results of that decision, as but ~11% of accounts opened in 2016 - including bots - remain active.

Most people have been leaving. I'll take fewer signups, in exchange for a better retention rate, if that's the cost.

The following quote from your post points to one of key reasons I see decentralized social media like Steemit succeeding:

  • "Now, what happens when unlimited likes become limited investments? People become a little bit more serious with their votes."

People will see true value in the things that are upvoted because up-voters are incentivized to only approve of meaningfully well produced content; Theoretically.

Of course you get problems like up-voting bots intended to maximize curation rewards, but I still think the Steemit approval system is objectively better than the approval system of something like Facebook. The Facebook like, and even their "friend" system are in my mind relatively weightless and therefore meaningless.

Facebook: Friend anyone, like everything.
Steemit: Follow meaningful content creators, upvote great content, downvote bad.

Not necessarily downvote bad per se, but it'd be up to investors (anyone on the platform) to decide what's best for the network, although their assessment might not actually be optimal.

Thanks for sharing! A link to your post was included in the wiki article about Flag. Thanks and good luck again!

Thanks @steemcenterwiki, it's not exactly written for wikis, hope it's a fit though!

We included it in the links suggestions, we think it can help people go deeper in the subject and compare different points of view if they want. Thanks and good luck again!

It's a strange world these days. One thing that has really helped me in life is that when things are great in life I never get too up...and when things are really bad in life I never get too down. Stability is attractive.

Not an easy practice, but we always try, do we not? :)

you are right

You should only comment if you are adding value to the discussion. If you are just asking for votes and follows, you will be flagged (this hurts your reputation) If you don't have something important to say, it is best not to say it. Just some advice so you don't get flagged in the future.

So if someone does not like your opinion or view they can downvote your and use their power. That sounds like BULLYING. Can we not all grow up? Is there not safeguards in place to combat this behavior? Why can't Steemit hold a higher standard? Must we stoop to the level of Facebook or Twitter? Come on folks! There is enough drama in this old world. Let's show we are more cultured, educated and human. If you disagree you can always walk away and not comment or respond. A friend of mine once gave me some sound advice years ago ...Troy pick your fights very carefully in life. Let that sink in a moment. Let's all uplift each other and build each other to higher standard of interaction. Thanks for the post.

On the internet, it's not so much bullying but rather people freely expressing themselves. Perhaps honestly, perhaps trollishly. It's hard to tell. My stance however is that anyone shouldn't feel offended. Bullying is more like doxxing innocent folks when it comes to the internet, in my opinion.

Let's all uplift each other and build each other to higher standard of interaction.

Agree with this, but I understand some would feel suspicious as there could be be folks taking advantage of others with sweet talk. Maybe their right about it, maybe not..

" Bullying is more like doxxing innocent folks when it comes to the internet, in my opinion."

Or ransomware. Which actually is quite similar in effect to flags, as both extract economic resources based on unequal power, ransomware due to power of knowledge of code, and flags due to power of stake.

Both are bullying.

Just read the comments @berniesanders leaves when flagging some account into the dust. He's bullying. He proclaims it. Pretending he's selflessly balancing rewards for the good of the platform is facile, unless by balance you mean concentrate in the wallets of whales, because that's the outcome of his bullying.

It sure isn't to spread the rewards to quality posts - which are difficult to find in the autovote infested trending page.

Captchas, and 2FA, either or both, would end the problem of bots.

Downvotes are very popular on other platforms. Try to find a youtube vid with more than 500 view with no thumbs down. lol The only difference is downvotes are less common on steemit because everyone is so worried about offending the wrong person. To me, a downvote is not that bad. We are so willing to accept the upvotes because they bring money, but to me as an artist, I am used to critiques, so I take the good with the bad. Most people whining about downvotes would never whine about getting more rewards on a post than "deserved" or expected. Awww poor them they only got $86 for a meme, rather than their usual $150. Some people need attention more than money it seems. lol

The best was in 2016, some freaked out when their 4-figure earnings turned 3-figure lol. Absolutely mindblowing.

lmao spoiled brats.

I forgot to add that it's per post!

Interesting concept, so would weight/steem power factor into the downvotes?

That could really kill someone's post if a whale downvoted, lol. Would the post go negative, monetarywise? Not that that would be a bad thing. It seems there has been a flock of plagiarism in some post I see from people just trying to get an upvote, at least in the new section, maybe I should be more selective of who I follow.

I definitely like the idea of a downvote, as I try to find and upvote ones that post thoughtful and original content, but sometimes it is hard to know what is real vs what is just re-hashed content, as some people don't always note their source, or present stuff in a way that implies the content is their own. However, at the same time I like to avoid drama and would not want to be associated with a downvote unless it was anonymous, but that also takes away from the transparency.

Yes all votes are stake-weighted. Payouts won't go negative, just zero in the least,which is the same as a facebook post. Reputation points are a different matter though, it can go negative. But only if flagged by a high rep account.

Over time, I'm getting more and more convinced that curating accounts are way better than curating pure content. But that means one has to observe an account's activities over time to establish trust, which usually leads to autovoting to support. But of course, the trust can also be broken. Good thing content is transparent for the community to check from time to time if there's abuse.

I think this was one of your most enjoyable posts in recents weeks. Loved your angle on votes/likes. I did get this though "I'm posting less these days to avoid unnecessary scrutiny", maybe I'm missing some information. Keep the lighthearted post coming :)

Oh I've never got into any trouble just by avoiding the perception that I'm milking it. Master of illusion ;) lol

I find it difficult to get in trouble on steemit :)

I don't think this is a flaw in Steemit. We need ways to control abuse and some whales are doing a good job of that. It can just be hard to judge what is abuse in some cases. At this stage I think there should be more rewards for new people doing good stuff to help build the platform. If it mostly goes to a chosen few then many will give up

The way society thrives off drama is quite in a way,
people lake the skill of companionship so they resort to drama to spice up there life as you say.
but i will just say i am here to learn and you gave me some great information thank you for that!

Well it only happens that in as much as we hope for the best, we should also hope for the worst. Not everyone wiuld like you or your product but what ever it is that is criticised or downvoted should be taken and proper amendments can be done to get better.

Anything can happy, if someone is downvoted for any reason that needs improvement then such person should improve. But I do not support bullying and using our power to pull others down deliberately without any reason.

Thank you for sharing @kevinwong

Yup exactly @gloglo, put something up online and expect any opinion.. Here are my thoughts about the perception of bullying by the way, copy and pasted from another comment:-

On the internet, it's not so much bullying but rather people freely expressing themselves. Perhaps honestly, perhaps trollishly. It's hard to tell. My stance however is that anyone shouldn't feel offended. Bullying is more like doxxing innocent folks when it comes to the internet, in my opinion.

Yeah thats right... thats another true opinion. I respect that point of view .

Too damn late for me..

Thanks, for this edu-taining piece, @kevinwong. I'm new, here, and curious - what is "auto-voting" and how can one "lower their voting weight"? (I just noticed, moments ago, that I upvoted a post that was at around $22 and it doubled in value!) Forgive me, if these are elementary questions. Cheers, Yahia

There are others with higher SP that voted around the same time as you did, so that likely explains why it doubled in value :)

When you have around 485 SP (Steem Power), you'll get a voting slider to adjust the strength of your vote. If you've below 485, that means you're currently voting at 100% voting strength everytime you do (which cuts about 4% of your total power). You can check your voting power at . Think of voting power as something like mana points, and it replenishes by 20% everyday.

But don't fuss about it , just use the platform after some time and you'll get it :)

Edit: this is how a voting slider looks like.

As for auto-voting, there are services where u can set to auto-vote your favourite authors to support them whenever they publish a post.

Thanks, for taking the time to walk me through that (& dissuading me of the illusion that I had voting superpowers 🤓)

Looking forward to more of your posts 🙏🏼

Minnows can't downvote for sure or they will get destroyed even though they such a good intent on an offending and abusing whale. @kevinwong

There is a lot of holes that people can do to circumvent the system. Maybe we just needed to invoke morality on it. Or just reminding other not to do such abuses and misuse to our system. Its all just hard.

Nice post, i agree with your points and i like that downvote system too because we all know that steem blockchain produce daily fixed reward pool and in order to maintain the reward pool and making sure that deserving authors are getting the reward they deserve this down vote system helps, we can see recently freedom delegates it's sp to new steemians and what they are doing they are just start upvoting each other's posts and also upvoting all type of shitposts just to fulfill there greedy nature and also trying to make quick cash well all such tactics are only drying up the reward pools and also hurting the steemit image, well some big stake holders also do downvotes against them and also kill some of there accounts but they are still present and i hope this downvote system really helpful the community to getting rid of this kind of shit, thanks for sharing you nice thoughts with us, Stay blessed

The issue seems to be flagging post which the person felt is not deserved. Since we a community here, is there any other way of resolving this instead of engaging in a flagging war. Am I being too naive to think that this can be settled by communication and negotiation?

Ideally through communication, although I think anyone should understand that it's okay to express a negative opinion, since we're already putting up content out there to be judged by the community.

I guess drama gives people something to talk about but I rather be drama free as for underwear stripey lol. I love that steemits votes of value are more limited but didn't think of them as you just described clearly its genius well said @kevinwong

It's worth noting that one of the main causes for drama is the term "flag" and the fact that downvoting is under a menu intended for spam and plagiarism.

Without a differentiation between a downvote (for whatever reason) and the flagging of trash - of course people take flags personally! It's not just about the money, but also about UI that was planned without considering people's feelings.

I am okay with someone downvoting my content, but flagging feels offensive like there's something WRONG with what I created or expressed.

To be frank, the heart of the issue is not the "term". Anyone can be triggered by anything at all. You've already said it.. feel. It's just information on the screen. So I've learned not to be offended by anything on the Internet. By using it, we've already opted-in to be in a social space with others. So, I think it's actually about the money.

Edit: you may be right that it's smarter to change to a downvote though.

It's not about what is said as much as what an action symbolizes to a community.

Here's an example:

If I post my opinion on Facebook and someone mass-flags it as spam because they disagree and so they get it removed? I would be mad and offended. Because my opinion is (I would like to believe) not spam and flagging it as such to silence my opinion is just abuse of the system.

If I post my opinion on reddit and it gets downvoted by people who disagree? I am cool with that because it's how the system is built.

See the difference?

On steemit, there's a bit of a blur between the two. This creates confusion and frustration. Add the money aspect and all those negative emotions are just amplified.

If steemit showed downvote as downvote like on reddit and didn't have the downvote option hidden under the flagging feature along... We'd all have a much better time, I believe.

No different to me lol.. it's just a button that does the same thing together. I've once proposed a frying pan as the symbol for comical effect. Will the sentiment about it change? Maybe. But unlikely. My bet is that the result will still be the same because the effect is the same.. but yeah they could try changing.

"No different to me lol"

Well, you're not the ONLY person using the platform. One of a select few, but still. :)

When they change the symbol or whatever, the same will happen again, which is reduced payout. So yeah, there's no difference to me specifically, since I can't speak for everyone else. To each their own.

Edit: I feel like Spock here.

In my experience, the user interface of a platform has more effect on its community than you might think.

Also, Vulcans are sexy. <3

@kevinwong the real world behavior mimics the virtual world. However people are more vociferous in the virtual world having an opinion about practically everything and yes the drama of life continues be it the real or the virtual world... Good post buddy your post stimulated my mind and got my vote ;)

Thanks @cryptolucky. I think Internet users need to learn about not being offended. Then maybe there will be less drama.

So what better way to facilitate drama at the speed of light than a fast social network like Steem that enables downvotes?

Drama(downvotes in this case!) creates engagement and brings people out of their innocence!

It is always nice to watch the drama from a far hahahaha

Lucky popcorns are not a culture here, or else I'd need to hit the gym way more often..

Could we ever live at peace with all men?

If yes, then pursue it, but if no, then get prepared for foes.

I don't think so, but decentralisation and communities may help with the idea.

hah yeah, I've not been caught in any downvote drama either. I don't downvote, have not yet anyway. I sometimes fear people wanting to bully me, because I have an anxiety disorder, so these fears will always pop up, but I don't feel people have any valid reasons to downvote me. If something is done unfairly, you bet I will fight it an report it, but my attitude is to respect and expect respect. Hopefully, that keeps me out of the drama for as long as possible.

Yes, we need some drama, otherwise it would be a boring platform😁

let's hope not too much!

U're right. Too much is not healthy.

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” ~ Bob Marley

Nice quote! But I don't think it's from Bob Marley!

I won't say I got all and understood everything, it's a bit complicated to grasp this concept.

I guess, I still can post my comment/ express my views but if you think it's inappropriate then let me know I'd delete it.

Don't think it's ever worth the backlash, not on this platform for sure.

Well said, @kevinwong!

Bravo! Someone who gets “it”! You da man Kev👍!

Downvotes help keep the community honest. And helps us distinguish the spammers from the real content and comments. great post. Thank you!

More drama can increase blood pressure, if you get too serious

Drama is hot indeed :) The best way to stop it, is to understand the problem itself and look for a solution but, unfortunately, people prefer to argue and fight with each other. I just wrote a little post with my personal proposal, everyone is welcome to read it, leave their comments and other solutions.

Thanks for sharing your experience
here we learn new things about steemit
really informative I like it @kevinwong

I reckon if downvotes were equal, then folks wouldn't mind @berniesanders dropping flags from all his alts on them.

And maybe wouldn't quit posting good content as a result.

Also, that would then require that several accounts flagged before the post was crushed, and the author discouraged. When you have several people flagging, there is generally a common cause, and rather than just being seen as bullying, such flags would be seen as what you advocate, feedback.

Equally weighted VP, or weighted based on a refined, non-gamable rep, would do this just fine.

And, it would end the mining of the rewards pool, and the concentration of rewards in the accounts of the miners. Maybe then retention would increase, as ~11% is dismal.

Nice 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

who wants a downvote???
i already voted u up

nice post
what to do world has become strange

Thanks for sharing your experience
here we learn new things about steemit

spread love not flags ;p :D

very informative, for someone new like me this was important to know and made a lot of sense, predicate ya!

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I just started my blog and ask you to rate my photos

The post is very nice...

 2 years ago Reveal Comment

Yes, I guess it just takes time for back and forth communication, which is why if users depend on the blockchain to do so, something fast like Steem should do well.

pouchavstvoat this budet