Well, it's hard to believe, but today marks the 1 year anniversary of the Minnow Support Project. It's hard to encompass all of what this means. I'll try to sum up in a reasonable post. We'll see how well I do. Please be sure to put some stories down in the comments below. Share your own posts with the tag mspbirthday.
In the beginning
I was a noob. I was a terrible newb. I couldn't make a good post. I didn't have an audience. I did all the wrong things. I tried follow for follow. I tagged whales in the hopes of getting attention. I asked vote for vote. I complained and trolled without providing all that much of a detailed request asking for a specific alternatives. I didn't include artwork all the time. I didn't cite images from where I got them when I wasn't using pixabay. Honestly I was the worst.
I also didn't start here with the best intentions. What I saw was a post from @stellabelle about Steemit and I had just been kicked off of Facebook for literally the fifth time (possibly 6th). See, those bastards would do things like ask me to verify myself by identifying my friends from images. But my fb friends were anons so I could get a good news feed and those guys would tag themselves in memes and shit. So, I didn't know what they looked like, and I didn't know which friend was pretending to be the head of a goat in a meme... So, when FB asked me to identify them I would fail and I'd get that account locked. I didn't come here knowing anything about crypto or Steem. I just needed a place to post some controversial material without getting booted again from Facebook.
Honestly for a long time (8 months or so) I was a mostly useless asshat. Literally months. I managed to get a few hundred followers making posts about the Mandela effect, Seth Rich, vaccines, satirically yours, meme the news, aggroed's antidote, and random economics dumps from a complete lack of crypto knowledge. I was able to make a few friends. I found ausbitbank, canadian-coconut, and teamsteem. We're all trying to find some truth to share. We hold some common concerns about government. I made some buddies. Despite some support I was still often getting pennies per post. One of my favorite articles was how I made 7 cents in 5 posts!
So, one day I wanted to learn to be better. I was sick of getting shitty rewards and thought it might be possible to get better rewards if I actually taught myself how to write a post. So, I looked around for an author to emulate at least in style. I had been reading @kaylinart for a while. She's awesome. She's charming, friendly, pretty, and writes a mean post. One of the things I figured out is that her posts were formulaic. I don't mean that as a negative. I think a ton of good works of art have a formula they stick to.
A go to formula I suggest checking out is the old Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Show starts. Get a quick intro thing. Listen to the music. Get your breakdown of what's on the show. Have a quick bit. Commercial. Come back and have a well thought out pre-filmed interview somewhere or share a view on an ongoing story. Come back. Have an interview with a celeb on a book tour. Commercial. Finish up with a moment of zen. That format worked for a decade and helped grow the show into a powerhouse.
Ok, so back to @kaylinart. She had a formula at the time. Start with a picture. Write a few paragraphs about smart life choices. Add another picture of a pretty lady or a great image. Then have a call to action.
She did this a few times a day every day and made good money writing that content. So, I figured out her style and wrote a post about it. The point was to show others what I learned, which was how to write a good blog post.
Start with a catchy title.
Find a good picture.
Write 1-2 paragraphs
Put in a section change
Write a few more paragraphs
Put in another sectino change and include an image/video
Wrap up with a call to action or pack a final punch
Kaylin is a class act and she was kind enough to resteem my post talking about how to write like her. I had also started hanging out in Steemspeak with @fyrstikken. I asked him to resteem the post and he did too.
2 things happened. I suddenly got a lot of followers. I basically doubled over night from those 2 resteems. I also had a huge surge of feelings of responsibility to the blockchain. The new followers weren't simply my followers. They were Kaylin's followers or Fyrst's followers. I didn't want to be simply an asshat. Those two had shown me a kindness, and I didn't want to return that by lingering as a fool. I wanted to return value to them and this community. Something clicked. I realized this place I came too, but didn't understand was exactly what I had been looking for.
See, I've been thinking about the concepts of peace, abundance, and liberty for years. I have some posts about PALcoin, a crypto coin, I was thinking about trying to put into place (I even paid modprobe to make a version of steem that was going to be it's own thing in anticipation of making PALcoin at one point. Honestly I think I helped inspire SMT because I paid modprobe $1000 to start working on a Steem clone that I could run). I found those values by thinking about what's wrong in the world and then doing the opposite. The world is at war. Let's have peace. Everyone is broke because of central banking. Let's have abundance. We're living in a surveillance state. Let's have liberty.
When those resteems hit I had an epiphany about how Steem is actually an abundance platform and I literally changed my life mission to support this place. There are lots of reasons to get frustrated here on any given day, but at it's core Steem teaches Peace, Abundance, and Liberty on a daily basis!
Peace, Abundance, and Liberty
Steem is an exceptional example of all three of these values. This place teaches peace. Flag wars are expensive. Writing content and watching all your rewards go away because you flamed someone bigger is both humiliating, enraging, and expensive. So, people make that mistake early, but later they realize it's expensive and dumb and try to live peacefully. It's too expensive otherwise! So, this platform teaches peace.
It's also an abundance platform. See Kaylin and Fyrstikken had to spend a lot of time building an account. That's hard. It's a daily grind committing to writing articles even when the price of steem dips. It can be exhausting... but at the time you hit resteem it doesn't take much to share someone else's content. Now you have abundance, because at the click of a resteem button you can launch other people into the limelight and help them grow. It doesn't cost anything other than a little space on your wall, but can make a world of difference to others! The key to earning through blogging on this platform is having high SP followers that choose to upvote your posts. These resteems helped me find a base to blog from.
Lastly Steem is a liberty platform. After getting booted from fedbook over and over I needed a place that wasn't centralized. I found it here. I have free speech here. Find that somewhere else... it's a serious challenge. Youtube is demonitized. Reddit deletes threads. Twitter shadow bans. Facebook throttles conservative content. Google alters your feed to show articles that fit their agenda. These are all tools of the deep state and they have an agenda and that agenda is the liberal agenda. They throttle the shit out of posts, memes, and stories that run counter to their objectives.
When I post on Steem I don't wonder if my post going to reach my audience. I don't wonder if Ned has a bunch of people that will throttle my content so only some of my followers see it. I know when I hit post that my followers get my post, and that post is gonna live immutably on the blockchain. That's freedom of speech. That's the soul of liberty. This place is a Liberty platform.
So, after I got those resteems and after I got those followers I was hit by a real need to pay it back and a desire to devote myself to this place. I felt like I owed it to kaylin and fyrst for sharing their audience with me. I didn't want to let them down. I didn't want to give those followers shit content. I also benefited greatly so I wanted to help other folks. I created a giveaway to fly someone to Steemfest. At the end of that contest I switched the posting from @aggroed to a smurf account I created called @minnowsupport!
Minnowsupport started getting some followers. It was also time to get a group together. I had spent some time talking to fuzzy who was an old wow gamer. We spoke about the need for guilds on steem. It was hard to collect votes on your own, so you needed a community to be successful. I took that to heart and realized I needed to start a community. He wanted something private. I wanted something public and transparent. I had to make muh own thing.
PALnet was born
On June 11th I hosted a meeting in a Discord I had just created. I dragged in ausbitbank, canadian-coconut, and teamsteam because they all had some similar viewpoints on the world at large. That was a good start, but it wasn't enough. So, I made a post and said I was starting a group called the Peace, Abundance, and Liberty Network. I set a time that I would host an open house. There were probably 40-60 people that came. Two folks in particular were @swelker101 and @gmuxx. Swelker101 was there and thought we had a pretty good idea.
@swelker101 became the first PALnet moderator! Muxxy quickly followed.
I'm not positive, but I think I made the first contract for renting delegated Steem. It was right before the hardfork so we didn't know how things were going to progress, but I knew I had to get a script up and running and let people use it for free to vote on stuff. I got the idea from inertia's baby Banjo. I saw that it could be used to vote on anything by anyone in Steemspeak. Now... it didn't have any SP so the vote didn't do shit... but I realized that was something I could get working!
So, I hired Inertia to help me take his banjo bot, make a minnowsupport version, and give out free votes... that worked beautifully, but there was a problem. The votes weren't worth shit! Delegation was just coming out and I had heard about it... I wondered if I could figure out renting delegation! I found a whale I knew and liked on the platform by the name of neoxian! We went back and forth a few times trying to figure out a price that would make sense and low and behold I rented 20k SP from him and I think we invented the delegation rental business.
Well, that was going good, but what I needed was moar. I put out a call for help and @benjojo stepped up in a major way. He delegated 75,000 Steem to the project! We kept that delegation for months before he got freaked and cashed out a lot of Steem. But that delegation was enough to give us some real voting power and we used it to upvote anyone that came through the place. It's been a big draw to MSP since the very beginning. We're over 20k users now... that's probably going down as we do a mega prune and get rid of a lot of inactives. But now we had some muscle. Now we're the official welcoming party according to Steemit! Good TIMES!
We had a group... but we couldn't operate like one
I really wanted the ability to curate from a common account. I was giving out large votes and stuff, but it was a lot to manage. I like dropping resteems, but I like to delegate my steem so upvoting can be frustrating to me. I needed a way for the team to work as a team. As it turned out I ran into a gentleman by the name of netuoso. He was and is an extremely talented dev that seems to have the ability to turn out highly functional code out of his ass in very short order.
He helped turn MSP into the coordinated team thing it is by making msp3k. A tool that allows anyone we grant access to resteem from the minnowsupport account. It can also vote (though we stopped using that on minnowsupport). Now everyone could curate from the central account. It reduced my workload and gave all the mods more stake in the project! That was awesome. We gave him the first medal of honor for that.
We haven't seen him too much since. He keeps the lights on msp3k and mspsteem.com for us, but he started one of the first highly successful off shoots of the Minnow Support Project. He started Steemdevs. It's become the official dev discord group according to Steemit. They've collected hundreds of devs and have many active comms on a daily basis. I don't begrudge him for that. I helped him get that place started too and I see some similarities in how it's run and people that run it. I hope that community continues to be helpful to the ecosystem and I'm proud I helped discover the Dev that got it up and running and supported it's formation!
As it turns out I was a radio DJ back in the day. Nothing professional. I just liked doing college radio. there weren't tons of listeners, but it was fun. We'd pick out music and hang with buddies. It was good times. I did a naked radio show that was one of the best days of my life. I was in it for the lulz before the lulz even existed.
Back to the now though I had a PAL message to share and no good way to share it. So, I tasked a fellow that many of you know to help get a radio built within MSP. We called it MSPWaves. Cork got the thing built in about a week. We had a website for show times. I was thrilled. We were off to the races and sharing music, mayhem, and the message on air. R0nd0n showed a knack for this. So did Globocop. We got some help from @ma1neevent. We handed out some well deserved Medals of Honor and our radio team was born!
There was much rejoicing to the sounds of 2 princes, wicked games, and Home.
A young man decided to be the world's biggest asshole. A douche joined the platform, started stealing porn and putting it on the platform looking for votes. It was shitty low quality posts. A naive minnow by the name of Discordiant flagged him... When the asshole retaliated the young disco looked around for help. He asked me to cool down the dirtbag and help save his account. I told the guy brazenly... hey I'm a witness on this platform you better knock that shit off... but he didn't listen. I warned him again... he didn't care. I nuked his account.... I felt ok with it at the time especially since he started acting pretty terribly to people. A camgirl by the name of pepper he was especially rude to. I couldn't stand it. So I nuked.
The blowback from this was huge. Not only did I lose some key people who were following minnowsupport votes, but I also ran into bigger whales than minnowsupport that came to his aid. They saw freedom of speech to include stolen porn, and they didn't like the negative rep that i gave him and thought it was censorship. They undid my nuke, and got him more money!!! I couldn't believe it... I had in some ways helped him find whales to support him! It was the exact opposite of what I wanted.
I developed a mantra that exists to this day of "deescalate." He put in a post he was just testing drama and seemed to want to back out. I took that and ran with it. Both sides cooled down. The flag wars stopped, and to the best of my knowledge he left the platform.
Disco later joined MSP as a moderator and helps handle spam, and some rule breaking as our sheriff!
Crimsonclad and Followbtcnews
They didn't come to the place on day one, but when I met them I immediately liked them. Follow (Jeff) was a trader looking for a way to have a place on the Steem ecosystem. He wasn't much of a coder, but he was a successful trader and had money that he used to hire devs. He formed a partnership with Crimsonclad. Crimmy was a highly talented artist, photographer, philanthropist, social butterfly, and front end coder. They asked around for what they could do to help the ecosystem.
We started with a website. Minnowsupportproject.org was built. It's beautiful! They won a Medal of Honor for it.
Then we talked about a project to help the whole platform. What if a program could auto vote someone who delegated to it...
It's been a year, and they're still writing and rewriting this program. That's not because they suck, but it's because of scope creep and ways we want these bots to work have changed over time. See, we know that central to communities is a community account. Something everyone can have ownership of. This tool that Follow and Crimmy have made is so key and so clutch. We have multiple accounts given autovotes for different rules, with decaying votes as more posts come in, and a whole bunch of other weird rules to make the best possible use of the 120k SP that Minnowsupport has to work with. They're tweaking it again, and once it's ready they'll open that baby up to the whole community to use. It's going to help launch groups and that's awesome.
They're going to receive a second one for the improvements they're making. It's hard to share just how much Crimmy represents the open heart of MSP, but this team has helped us forge our identity as a group on the block selflessly building tools to support the ecosystem.
Along the way we found ourselves another genius. Somehow we're blessed with an abundance of them. Danielsoari is another coder helping us run the minnowsupport. He's been working on a variety of programs that help us moderate the minnowsupport vote so it doesn't get wasted. One of the things we deal with when using a free upvote bot is multi-account rings where people make a lot of bullshit accounts and use that to upvote themselves a lot. Third world countries with shitty exchange rates actually can earn a lot of local currency this way. So, we've had to comb our list over and over and we then have to mute them.
We're not fucking around here. Our blacklist is thousands of accounts. We then share this blacklist with other services,and the most recent version of the Crimmy/Follow bot will make this list and these setting available against many upvote bots at the click of a button. If you're a shit poster using Minnow we'll find you and we'll ?nuke you! What's that do? It strips them of every vote we gave them, and then mutes those accounts from getting votes from us. Shit posters we'll reform, but multi-rings are gone forever.
We're giving out 1500 votes a day on average. We're getting better every day at making sure those votes are going to people that add value to the chain and that aren't abusing the system. We think it's helping to keep Steemians on the platform and teach Minnows how to make a good post. Those are major goals for us, and we are constantly working with programmers to make that better.
We couldn't do it without Dan's help!
Juliakponsford, MAM, Eturnerx, and Isaria
As the party approached new challenges we were brought new people to help us solve them. One of these folks was Juliakponsford. Julia might be the most level headed person on the whole team. She's smart, hard working, kind hearted, a true diplomat, and a blessing. Through a rather convoluted path Julia has been in charge of one of the parts of MSP that I really dig. It's Make a Minnow. Here we use an incredibly thoughtful SP delegation from Eturnerx to fund Minnows on the platform and make them dolphins for a month. This has been a rotating prize for months and we've "rented" out tens of thousands of eturerx's steem to newbies!
I'm always surprised by the sheer level of grace that Julia exudes. She's a class act. She's a talented artist who has been running Steem Exposion forever. She colauched a tv series with the JuJu gum conspiracy. She's helped hold this group together when at times we got heated with each other. I mean... we're a digital family, and family can be hard to manage, and sometimes we need someone to help us find a balance. Julia's my first stop!
Anyway... when a Minnow gets MAM they grow their account, they make new friends, they interact a ton on the chain. Actually, the first winner for that was an extremely talented musician and incredibly lovely lady by the name of Isaria! Isaria came to MSP in part because she's Swelker101's spouse, but she quickly made her own space here.
I think of her as my cohost and buddy in arms! Isaria has been a personal blessing as we've worked on a ton of projects together. She's been a boon to the group as she's worked to bring music on the platform to the next level. She's written tons of posts for the Minnow Support Project and she heads up msp-curation along with Julia to make sure that Minnows are catching steady posts from a decent account for writing good content! She's on a ton of radio shows and I think she exemplifies spreading the values of Peace, Abundance, and Liberty!
Muh Kubby and Clay
Two of my favorite people on the chain are moderators with us. Kubby is a bundle of energy and enthusiasm. She shares that energy and brightness with the world. She inspires me to be more energetic and try to reach out to more people. She's been leading an effort to bring more people to MinnowSupport and just help folks stay active on the chain.
Clayboyn came to us later in the MSP story, but has been critical in keeping a moral compass to the group. He can be spicy and I often think he's one of the bravest amoung us. He's stared some serious shit in the eye in his life and now takes moral stands when it's important even when it might be unpopular. He's often up late talking to folks about coffee and philosophy.
Part of that energy that Kubby keeps got channeled into an MSP meetup in Florida. I've called these folks my digital family for a while, but I was surprised at how much I liked being around them. I've had many of the same friends since I was literally 8 years old. Some I picked up in college, but my wolf pack is averaging 25 years of friendship. Minnowsupport is just 1 year old, but what shocked me is how well folks got along, how close I thought people felt the connection, and just how real it made all this to see it in person and just get a hug from a friend.
Witnesses that help manage this place
I'm gonna send out some extra love to @drakos, @teamsteem, @someguy123. While these folks aren't here at every group meeting (none of us are) and they have their own things going on a lot they have been there to help steer this ship and make smart choices. Drakos has helped a ton of people on the chain. Teamsteem has curated just about every minnow in the pond. Someguy has found servers for us to run our programs and helped us keep everything running.
There are too many people to thank
This community is 20k people. I've obviously left out a lot of the story of it's creation. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of people at this point who have delegated to this project. We have folks that have put energy in like Torico, Stacey and Lib. We've put out literally hundreds of thousands of votes on the chain and we've given tens of thousands of dollars out if not already in 6 figures. We've launched a ton of witnesses, we've helped found other discord groups, we've modeled good behavior, and we've been here in a high profile projects sticking to our goals of transparently running a group that benefits this whole ecosystem.
I'd be remiss if I didn't thank @timcliff who I consider my mentor and has been there to calmly guide me from very early on. Roelandp keeps a very large delegation on the account. JamesC provided some crucial guidance and thoughts early on here that helped set some of my work in motion. Thank you for your kindness.
This is my home
Oldtimer asked me a day or so ago how they would know that Steem Monsters was gonna stick around on the Steem ecosystem. The short answer is that this place is my home.
I have my brother ausbitbank who has been on this journey with me from day one. I have my radio show that makes me feel 20 again. I have my lovely cohost Isaria to spread the values of PAL. I have crimmy wearing her heart on her sleeve trying to make this world better. I have a Kubby who fills my soul with energy I long forgot I had. I have Clay to keep my mind sharp. Julia to keep it level headed. R0n to show me what's possible. Ma1ne to teach me steadiness. Gmuxx to teach me muxxyness. Shane to guide me when I don't know what to do next. And Disco to keep the peace.
These people keep the lights on for MSP and they have been my strength and stamina for this year. Tim told me the witness gig was rough because you're on call 24/7. I never imagined just how much I'd put into this place. It would be impossible to guess just how much it'd give me. I have wealth. A family. A purpose. A community. I'm a blessed man and I'll spend a lifetime trying to give back to this place as much as it's given me.
To the years ahead
To the minnows that bring the chach, the radio hosts that pour their heart out on air, the musicians that sing and play, the folks that delegate, the writers who teach, the various communities that have gotten their start in our incubator and gone on to other homes, to the witnesses we've launched, to minnows looking for upvotes, the folks we've banned, to the multi accounts we'll find and smash, to flagwars, to the witness voters, to bid bot voters and the bid bot scammers, to the delegators, to the artists, to devs, to graphic artists, to the founders, to the witnesses, and to the whole extended Steem family I say thank you. This year has been nothing short of exceptional and is literally just a start. We still have a world to change, people to help, and a platform to mainstream.
Through the years we'll be here. We'll spread Peace, Abundance, and Liberty. We'll help the Steem ecosystem grow. We'll help train and retain people on this platform. We're looking forward to doing that with you!
Happy birthday Minnow Support. I'm proud of you. Thanks for being my fam.