What is property? Is it defined by consensus?

in #softfork222last month (edited)

My thoughts as a consensus witness on the current status of the Steem blockchain.

First, please read this soft fork 22.2 joint announcement by the current consensus witnesses.

Edit: Justin Sun has responded to the community and will host a town hall event for top witnesses.

Many say property is defined by the legal jurisdiction you live in controlled by a nation state. Others, myself included, derive property rights from the philosophy of liberty as described here:

I own myself. I own my actions in the present moment which creates property, a representation of myself in the past. Blockchains, to me, provide an opportunity to create a new paradigm for understanding property. It's global, not defined by a monopoly on violence in a geographic region (i.e. nation state).

But how is blockchain property defined? Via consensus. In most PoW consensus blockchains, that means 51% of the hashing power. In DPoS on Steem, that means 2/3 + 1 of the top 20+1 elected witnesses.

There has been a long-standing social contract for how the Steemit stake will be decentralized over time and used to grow the Steem ecosystem. Some examples include:

  • It would be decentralized via methods such as: "funding the continued research and development of steemit.com, the Steem Blockchain’s first and premier application, promoting and publicizing the Steem Blockchain and its features, hosting high availability services for platform users, sponsoring conferences and community gatherings, and sponsoring undertakings to build applications and increase user adoption across the entire ecosystem" as per Roadmap2017

  • Ned Scott Interview published December 20th, 2016. Some of the statements made were inaccurate (Steemit mined closer to 80% of the tokens, not 50%, and there was never a publicly available “testnet”) At time 33:29: "It's all dedicated to the advancement of the ecosystem" At time 43:45: “Steemit holding used to...sort of reserved and earmarked for improving the ecosystem”

  • Hard Fork 14: decline_voting_rights_operation introduced to “formalize a smart contract between certain accounts and the community that currently only exists as a social contract”

I have heard from many in the community who feel Ned sold this property without making these points clear. Given the announcements by Tron to move the STEEM token over to Tron, many fear this stake would be used to force this action against the will of consensus and against the original intent of the Steemit stake.

This is a key moment for DPoS. It's easy to step away and let others figure it out, but I was recently a backup witness and put back into consensus when this all started. I posted about Steem not being Steemit and Justin replied to it as his first on-chain post. I've been right in the middle of this, whether I like it or not.

Last year, when the Steemit stake was powered down, I made this clear statement:

I will not implement, support, or condone any hard fork that effects the balances, keys, or security of any accounts on the current chain.

I still stand by that, but I have participated in this temporary soft fork in order to maintain the status quo for now. The witnesses (as of this post) have not had a direct conversation with Justin or the Tron team to better understand how they intend to use their newly acquired property, but we have reached out to start a conversation.

I use that word "property" deliberately. I do see the purchased Steemit stake as property belonging to the person or entity that purchased it. There's a social contract lean of sorts on that property, but it's still property. I've argued against certain aspects of this soft fork (specifically preventing liquid transfer), but I saw the reason why many in the community and among the witnesses wanted to take decisive action to prevent witness voting and further power downs (which, once started, would most likely require a hard fork to change).

So where does that leave us now? I hope the consensus witnesses, whoever they may be, will have a conversation with Justin and the Tron Foundation about how they intend to use their property. The ideal outcome, in my mind, is to replace this temporary code with something more specific to our shared goals as a Steem community now connected with the resources of the Tron community.

As always, as your elected witness, I openly welcome all questions and will do what I can to answer them.


Luke Stokes is the Managing Director for the Foundation for Interwallet Operability as well as the Interim Executive Director for the EOS Foundation. He's passionate about voluntary systems of governance and has been involved in bitcoin since early 2013. He's been a witness for the Steem blockchain since early 2018 and a custodian for eosDAC, a community-owned EOSIO Block Producer and DAC Enabler, since its inception. With a computer science degree from UPENN, he built, bootstrapped and co-founded the shopping cart software company FoxyCart over a ten year period and is now focused on blockchain technology as a means to create a world we all want to live in. He currently lives in Puerto Rico with his wife and three children and enjoys discussing everything from philosophy, to consciousness, to voluntaryism, to love and awakening. lukestokes.info UnderstandingBlockchainFreedom.com fio.foundation eosdac.io

I'm a Witness! Please vote for @lukestokes.mhth

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Our witnesses have proven that a small group of people can and will change the code without a single public conversation.

That is more important than the whys and hows in this circumstance.

When there is a threat to the security of the chain (zero day exploit, etc), witnesses are expected to quickly put security precautions in place to mitigate the threat without public discussion to ensure the exploit is patched before it is taken advantage of. There were enough people (and importantly, token holders supporting witnesses) who believed this to be an existential threat that immediate action was asked for.

If the token holders disagree, the temporary code change can easily be removed. I also disagree with the private conversations and in the future I would probably take a different approach where everything is public. The argument made against that approach in this case was that Tron would just power down, transfer tokens, and vote out witnesses before we could even have a discussion about the will of the 80% of the tokens not owned by Tron.

Now we can at least have that discussion and figure out what it is they want to do with that stake and what they are willing to codify on chain to support those intentions.

Whys and hows are always important. To disregard nuance is to have unsophisticated conversations or fall into dogma.

There was no threat, just fear of a threat.

You don't consider posts like this a threat to your STEEM property? Saying "We're going to swap your property to a new chain without discussing it with you" certainly sounds like a potential threat to me.

It may all be a misunderstanding which is why I'm glad this is a temporary, easily changed bit of code. Even now, token holders can vote in witnesses who don't support 22.2.

No, I don't consider it a threat.

I consider this entire situation a great lesson though.

When a handful of people can make a decision to change code and execute it without so much as a conversation...

That's an eye opener whether you made a great choice or not.

There was about 9 days of conversation among many top witnesses, token holders, and community members. I would have preferred it be done in the open and fully publicly, but many strong voices in that group said it could have created a situation which could only be responded to via hard fork which would have been much more severe (and something I've personally already said I would not support).

From my perspective, this is a temporary change until we determine the intentions of the Tron Foundation for that stake.

The memory of it being done will long out live the circumstances.

As I said, powerful real life lessons.

It's also possible the memory of token-elected witnesses coming together to take action to protect the chain is seen as an honorable thing worth celebrating and a demonstration that Steem and DPoS actually does have token-elected governance control of the chain instead of just rubber-stamping Steemit code deploys or rolling over if social contracts between Steemit, inc and their ninja mined, purposed stake isn't used as promised to the world.

If The Sun voted in 20 new witnesses, couldn't all the old witnesses keep running their own version of the blockchain-steem-code?

Couldn't steampeak and steemit just ignore the "new" witnesses?

What am I missing here?

Blockchains are defined by consensus. The DPoS consensus of Steem is based on the top elected witnesses. To make changes to the protocol or to add blocks to the chain, you need 2/3rds + 1 support of the top witnesses. If lower ranked witnesses ran their own code, the chain would reject their version of the protocol.

What could be done is a hard fork to a new chain (similar to Bitcoin Cash or Ethereum Classic) like SteemClassic which excludes the Steemit stake owned by Tron and runs the chain without it. The trick there would be getting exchanges to take this "new" chain seriously.

So, basically blocktrades controls the flow of steem (exchange) and therefore controls its fate.

Ethereum Classic was kept alive by a single miner, and by sheer persistence was eventually validated by the exchanges.

If said "property" was acquired by ill-gotten means and unethical behavior ("Ninja Mine" ) then they are simply trying to find a way to "launder" STEEM into Tron. History will not be kind to Ned.

That's possible, but participation within Steem has always been voluntary. Those who didn't like the ninja mine chose not to participate.

Yes, I see your point. Of course none of us are being forced to be here. However many people did not know about the Ninja Mine or are even savvy enough to understand it. Many just wanted to post their art, photos or stories and were marketed to by Steemit to post and get rewarded for their content. Stinc figured all of their deviousness would fade into the darkness and be forgotten. Stincs actions moving forward have been consistently misleading, full of mis representations, false timelines, false excuses and of course either very vague communication or no communication at all.

I believe of the above infractions certainly justify the softfork and I'm glad you have agreed to support it while at the same time discuss the finer details of how this decision affects the integrity of our Blockchain. Our hand is forced by their lack of communication and lack of credibility and trustworthiness.

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing!

Good to read your extended thoughts on this development here. I have a lot of trust in the benevolence of the community at large as represented by top witnesses. I see this as a somewhat drastic measure taken, however, after quite a bit of consideration. I can tell this is not done lightly, even though it is "only" a soft fork.

From a more emotional/visceral perspective, it does make me feel more confident as a stakeholder and active participant in the vision I believe Steem to have been founded upon.

There was definitely a lot of behind the scenes work that went into this outcome. I personally learned a lot. In the future, I hope all changes can be discussed completely openly and transparently. Ideally, token holders can decide before code is deployed on what is to be deployed.

From all the previous STEEM WITNESS I vote for you because I believe in your actions and what you represent and done so far, please be the grown man and dont hate or try to destroy what you dont know, always look up for the understanding between both parts before taking any defensive or aggressive actions, thanks for your great great support to the steem community

Sounds to me like witnesses intentionally damaged the property belonging to steemit inc without permission. Isnt destruction of private property illigal, would that make all the witnesses who pushed this softfork criminally liable for damages?

Nothing was damaged in any way. This is a temporary change in the code so that we can discuss next steps. Token holders can still vote right now to put other witnesses in place who do not support 22.2.

Think of it this way: If there was a threat against the Steem blockchain, would you expect witnesses to take action to protect it? Do you consider posts like this a threat to your STEEM property? This is a discussion we have to have to get clarity on what Tron's intentions are.

I dont consider it a threat I consider it an upgrade at this point. To me a threat to steem blockchain is biting the hand that decided to feed you.

To me Steem chain has been a very bad dog.

Even though the last two owners decided it was in their best interest to adandon you and make a quick buck adopting you out to a new owner because you're just too expensive for them to look after.

You're new owner, even though they have other pets to look after and feed, decided to give you new toys to play with cleaned up the disgusting ads stuck to your fur and offered to keep you fed out of the kindness of their hearts and a belief that your more than the sum of your parts, a belief that the previous owners were wrong and just didnt see how special you were and you only needed a little extra attention and love to be the star of the show. Instead you disregard all of these nice things. Deficate all over the floor, bark nonstop,make a huge mess and expect to be treated with respect.

I wont be suprised when steem gets neutered.
After steem does get fixed it will listen to its owner, eat well, be fun to play with and take best in show alongside its brother Tron.

Yall forked up big time.

Are you also https://twitter.com/sweatybets420 ?

Describing a whole community as a dog may not be the best way to start a relationship.

This was a temporary code change to give the community time to better understand the intentions of the Tron Foundation and then adjust accordingly. If you have stake in Tron, then it's understandable you see STEEM moving to Tron an upgrade. For those who decided to be involved in Steem (and not Tron), they don't want that decision made for them without first having a discussion about it.

As to how this community has been treated by the previous owners, I do agree with much of your analogy. That's exactly why the community asked witnesses to take action from further mistreatment.

I certainly am sweatybets. I had a problem with the over centralization of steem long before becoming a tron supporter. In fact it caused me a great deal of depression pouring my heart into posts only to receive a few cents worth of steem while selfish and out to lunch whales sucked up all the steem power and self voted themselves to royalty with complete indifference to the quality of their writing and never using their sp to support new users or good content.
I called it a dog because to me its a real bitch. Why? could be an awesome project but due to lack of discipline and leadership it became a total mess with an attitude problem. I love steem. I love the idea behind it. What I dont love is to see it abandoned and perpetually missused. Which it basically was.

I see steem as a show dog and Justin Sun as the trainer who can instill discipline, can afford to provide all the nutrients to build up its strength and speed, is actively participating in your growth and well being and for all intents and purposes a trainer who can lead a show dog to center stage so the whole world can see how great it is.

I'm familiar with law and seeing this softfork in place even temporarily made me extremely worried about how this will all play out. It proves the witnesses are centralized which to me is a great incentive to do said swap as for the fact that owning steemit and being blocked from having a say on steem will prove pretty useless long term against an organization who can afford to drown each public witness in years of court fee's and litigation.
One thing I do know is Justin wont abandoned steemit, he wants all projects in this space to succeed as he's in this space to be the Warren Buffett of blockchain. Crossing him is a huge mistake.

I really don't understand your only negative take on this. Why was Justin crossed? We simply want a conversation with him to clarify how the stake will be used and come to an agreement with the community about that. This is a temporary, not something that will remain in place or involve court battles or any such thing as you describe. This was not an attack on Tron or Justin at all and if you read the many posts about this, you should understand that.

it caused me a great deal of depression pouring my heart into posts only to receive a few cents worth of steem

Maybe you didn't understand what Steem is all about? Just posting here doesn't mean you'll make money. Maybe this post from two years ago and the three posts it's references will help: #SteemitIsToMe: Relationships, Reputation, and Rewards

I'm confused why you would say "witnesses are centralized" when Justin's own actions in the media lately point to far more centralization. This decision for a soft fork was made with input from many different people, not a centralized company or foundation.

I look forward to hearing Justin's vision for Steemit and how that will impact the Steem blockchain which is not something he owns or controls.

I wasnt trying to make money. I was trying to make friends. Its never been about money. But to gain any sort of reputation and have any opportunity to have your voice heard ,money was how it was done here. Look at berniesanders or haejin and tell me its about those things you're saying and not about being wealthy and building a bot trail.

Thing is I dont know the SRs so centralization from them is far more worrisome than from a foundation controlled by Justin Sun who's a multimillionaire entrepreneur that has far to much to lose to do anything that would jeopardize his projects, the foundations use of zion votes was to protect the network.
Im angry and negative probably because I believe Justin has the most presence and the best long term plan for blockchain technology out of everyone who exists in this space. He has the money, he has the developers and I know he believes in all the fundamental principles that make dlt the future of finance and equality.
The witnesses arent the ones who own steemit inc or its supply of steem and should not touch their property even as a temporary measure, especially unprovoked, its not right. So I guess im not mad about the obvious centralization issue this was.
Im a hardcore Justin Sun fan and am mad at how people treat him when he works so hard and puts so much money and effort into making this space actually useful for the average person.

Its like who are you to get in the way or make that more difficult. Im sorry for being this way, I regret being too harsh you're trying to do whats best I suppose, but you just all happen to be on the wrong side of history in this case. These are my opinions and i'll gladly stick by them.

Tron community made me feel included steems did not. Justin stuck through the hard stuff and makes big things happen, Dan and Ned did not. As an investor and a user Im not interested in hearing about what steem is about anymore, not without my tron community being given the respect it deserves. So yeah now its about the money, but not from posting my opinions, but from tron dominating the world of crypto over the next ten years with the resources and connections to real legitimate organizations that actually have the capital to make our little communities into global communities.

Thank you for stating your views and being up front about your biases (we all have them!). I agree, Dan and Ned left. Steemit ninja-mined stake that has always been a threat to this ecosystem. I respect Justin's accomplishments, and I do hope he is successful at increasing human wellbeing on the planet.

One point though:

Its like who are you to get in the way or make that more difficult.

We (the witnesses) are the elected defenders of the Steem protocol. We are doing our job to protect it. Thankfully, Justin responded very respectfully in his open letter and communication towards a shared agreement will begin. All good.

Does even the TRON team or Justin Sun say any word about a meeting with the witness?

Invitations have been sent. We'll see.

You know from my beginning with steem coins I listened and trusted you.
I am just wondering why that stake was ok in the hands of the irresponsible folks so long and now new owners come and now its time to care? We were all lied to constantly by the steemit inc team and owners! Why so late? If it was truly ninja /cheated /stake then that stake steals from every legitimate investor.
I guess it still the status quo and the powers that be will "Do as they wilt"?

I sold my investment when the price came back to 52 cents. I dont think its time for me to come back!

BTW I wanted to let you know I checked up on you after the earthquakes and I was not able to post? Glad your family is doing well!

Thanks for checking up on us. Yeah, we're doing well. Odd that you weren't able to post. Maybe you sold all your Steem and didn't have enough Steem Power?

For me personally, it was the real, published threat about moving STEEM to Tron without even discussing this with witnesses or the community. We DID care about this. Many of us did. Last year, we came close to doing a hard fork because so many people were upset with Ned and what he was doing to STEEM and Steemit. It was never okay in their hands, but taking property from someone, IMO, is an act of violence. The ninja-mined stake is certainly not ideal, but it was at least voluntary. Those who didn't support it, never participated in Steem.

We now have a chance to have the negotiation with a new owner that we didn't get to have previously. We'll get to hear them out and make our decisions then. If they want to use the stake in the interests of Steem and Tron, we'll be able to decide if that's okay and put constraints on chain to support that future. If they want to just promote Tron, we can likewise move on to other things or create a new Steem chain or something else. The temporary soft fork gives us time to have that discussion.

I personally made a voluntary choice to invest in Steem in when it was around $2 to $3 and higher. Around 9 BTC. I then watched it go to $0.07. I discussed this a bit here. I lost a lot of money. But I'm still here. I wasn't here for the money. I was hear for the technology and the blockchain. If that gets taken away, I would probably not have a reason to stay.

That is what brought me to steem " the idea of true community control". But its fake here and is exactly a carbon copy of the fiat world with a crypto twist. All the fake Identities and folks who are outright abusive have never been dealt with. It's obvious that the MONEY matters and nothing else.

I dont think that is your perspective but facts are facts on the steem blockchain and greed reigns here most of the time.

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I did not read that article before I replied to your post. That changed my perspective a little. I still think the ninja mined coins have forever tainted steem and should have been mitigated long ago.

I did sell all my steem at a huge loss. That would be the cause of me not being able to let you know I care.
Funny how it is just like the Fiat world where capital and who you know is all that matters.

What does "true community control" actually mean? Is it one person, one vote? Do those who put in more effort or more resources get more say?

Governance is not an easy thing to get right. I agree, much of the world (both fiat and cryptocurrency) has aspects of plutocracy at its core. How are we to improve on that in a meaningful way?

To some, money matters and nothing else. To others, this is their home on the blockchain and they want it protected. They don't want an outsider with a lot of money taking over without their consent. This temporary code change allows for time to discuss what the real intentions are.

Forgive me for the late reply Luke I just have been busy with spring coming here.

With so many extra accounts and the ability of one account to control all its impossible because of poverty and greed.

We are all corrupted by what we desire ourselves and Love is not the rule.
That is the core problem.

I am not sure you can write code to fix that. I will consider all your questions more thoughtfully and write a post in reply.

Cool. Reply with a link when you get it posted. Thanks!

https://steemit.com/ned/@iamstan/my-response-to-luke-stokes-questions

I just remembered I told you I would reply. I hope you are well. Is there a better plan in place to fix this mess.

Ha! I'm in the middle of writing a poverty piece as well.

Thank you for this. 🌼

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That said, my post is not blockcahin focused.

Just the same, you bring up good points.

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Let's keep the momentum and work towards the positive side of the path. The technology that is exploring decentralization I mean... this will be probably worth many Nobel prizes... but because society does not award prizes to communities... it will be kind of lame to think it would be worth such thing.

Instead, think it as a new technology breakthrough... something like landing for the first time on the moon... but this time, we just skipped that and landed on Mars instead. I hope to be able to make people around me understand what under the hood is happening to technology in the blockchain.

This is history to me.

I think you are overcomplicating the issue.
As far as we know, JS never bought any Steem blockchain tokens.
He bought the Steemit inc from Ned Scott and nothing prevents him from selling Steemit inc back to Ned or selling it to you, or selling it to anybody willing to buy it.
It's his property, yes.

He bought control of near 20% of the STEEM tokens Steemit controls (the ninja-mined stake). That's what all of this is about.

What Steemit inc controls ( or not ) is something for Steemit inc CEO to take care about.
If he ( or she ) belives the companies rights have been somehow violated he should sue the violators.

Congratulations @lukestokes!
Your post was mentioned in the Steem Hit Parade in the following category:

  • Pending payout - Ranked 6 with $ 59,11

Thank you for still making time to help the Steemit community with your busy FIO schedule bro!! resteemed

Ummmmm. I don't understand any of this stuff nor have the time or interest. I just want the best for everyone and have no clue on how to make that happen. Frankly I'm too busy doing my travel blog while trying not to get killed in traffic
as I motorbike through Vietnam with my girlfriend.

But I will say this after meeting the guy several times.

I agree with Luke! Simply because he is way into this stuff, a class act, morally correct, and a grade A super dad! If I could have things my way I'd put Justin Sun and Luke Stokes in charge of this whole damn thing. It wouldn't take long before they'd be giving facebook and youtube a run for their money.

Thanks for standing up for our blockchain and fighting for decentralization :) I am very proud of our community and witnesses and it must be a very hard and stressful week for everyone involved.

Hello lukestokes!

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