The size of the pie is fixed, but how it gets sliced is not.
Every day, a fixed amount of money is allocated to the "rewards pool". These are the coins that get distributed to authors and curators for posting and voting on content. When users upvote or downvote posts, they are not adding or taking money away from the rewards pool. They are only changing how the pool is divided.
If there is $7,000 in the rewards pool for the day - then that $7,000 is split across all of the active posts based on how many upvotes/downvotes they receive. If there is a post with a pending payout of $500, then that means there is only $6,500 left to be paid to all the other posts.
"Potential Payouts" can go up or down until the payment window closes.
The amount that is shown next to a post is a "Potential Payout". This is an estimated value of how much money the post will make based on the votes that have occurred so far. Until the payout window closes though, this value can go up or down.
- If a post receives more upvotes, the potential payout of the post can go up.
- If a post receives more downvotes, the potential payout of the post can go down.
- If other posts receive more upvotes, the potential payout of the post can go down.
- If other posts receive more downvotes, the potential payout of the post can go up.
- If upvotes are removed from a post, the potential payout of the post can go down.
- If downvotes are removed from a post, the potential payout of the post can go up.
- If the price of STEEM goes up, the potential payout of all posts can go up.
- If the price of STEEM goes down, the potential payout of all posts can go down.
Payouts are split between authors and curators.
Up to 25% of a post's payout is awarded to curators (the people who upvoted the post) as a reward for discovering the content. The other 75% is awarded to the author. If curators vote for a post within the first 15 minutes of it being created, a portion of their curation reward remains in the rewards pool for other authors/curators.
Stakeholders are voting to decide on how the pie gets sliced.
The platform is filled with tons of users, who all have different opinions on how the posts should get paid. The rewards are decided based on the collective wisdom of the group. Some users may feel certain content is more valued than others, and it is up to them to use their upvotes/downvotes accordingly to spread the rewards how they see fit.
A downvote/flag does not mean you did something wrong.
There are many users in the community who recommend only using the flag/downvote on posts that are abusive/bad. It is up to you if you want to follow this etiquette.
Just because you received a downvote/flag does not mean that you did something wrong. They may have just been voting to reallocate the rewards in a way that they felt was more beneficial to the other active posts in the platform. Often users will leave a comment explaining why they downvoted/flagged, but sometimes they might not. If they left a reason, it is up to you to determine if you did anything wrong, and if there is anything you want to change.
Larger stakeholders have more say in how the rewards are divided.
A user with more SP is going to have a larger influence on the way rewards are allocated compared to users with less SP. If you don't like how a particular user has voted, you can counter their vote by voting the opposite way. If they have more SP than you, then your counter will not have as big of an effect. One vote from a user with a lot of SP can often have more of an effect than 100 votes from users with a small amount of SP.
You can buy more SP if you would like to have more power / influence / say.
The platform does not require that anybody purchase SP in order to participate, and there are many users who have become successful on the platform without investing any of their own money. If you would like to increase your voting stake though, then you have the option of purchasing more Steem Power through your Steemit wallet.
(Image Creative Commons CC0 from https://pixabay.com/)