Voting Abuse and Ineffective Curation: A proposal for blockchain-level change

in steem •  2 years ago 

Of late, there has been a lot of controversy on Steem regarding vote buying, purchase of Steem delegations, self-voting, etc. Actually, a lot of this isn’t really new to the Steem blockchain: similar arguments about fairness of reward distribution have been around since shortly after the first payout and people realized that the rewards were “real”. Another related complaint I’ve seen is that “good posts” aren’t rising to the top of the trending page and topic pages like they should (i.e. posts aren’t being curated effectively).

This last complaint is actually the most serious one, in my opinion, because one of Steem’s primary promises should be that it is good for content discovery (it’s not the only one: it also has great promise as a reward mechanism for software development, humanitarian efforts, etc, but it is certainly one of the original design goals as a social media platform).

Several changes have been made to the blockchain rules over time in order to attempt to improve the reward distribution, some that were helpful and some that were harmful, and currently there’s several proposals out there now for future changes. One of which I’ve seen recurring lately is some form of change to encourage downvoting (aka flagging).

Is a change in downvoting rules the answer to curation woes?

The idea behind most of these proposed changes to downvoting would be to encourage users to downvote posts that were self-voted (or voted up by a group of similar minded individuals) to reward levels that others consider unreasonable.

Under current rules, there are several economic and social problems with using downvotes in this way:

  1. downvotes cost the downvoter curation rewards that could otherwise be gained by using the voting power for an upvote (this was by design, to discourage casual or malicious downvoting),
  2. downvotes tend to make the person who got downvoted feel cheated about their lost rewards
  3. downvotes tend to create an adversarial relationship between the downvoter and the person being downvoted
  4. downvoting of a powerful poster or a group of such posters could result in retaliatory downvoting, which tends to severely discourage curators from downvoting posters with a lot of Steem Power.

I’ve read through various proposals that have been suggested for trying to alleviate these problems, none of which solve all the above problems, and some of which are difficult to implement on a blockchain (anonymous downvoting, for example, as a method of reducing retaliatory downvoting). So, in my opinion, most of the negative aspects of downvoting can’t be eliminated by changing downvoting rules, so I think changing downvoting rules won’t work well as a method of improving curation effectiveness and reward distribution on the blockchain.

Another option: Change the economic incentives to encourage “better” upvoting

Steem was designed to reward effective curators with higher curation rewards. Effective in this sense means curators who could quickly identify and upvote posts that others would likely upvote if they saw them. The idea is simple: early curators would upvote a good post, raising it up on the hot list to bring it to the attention of more readers/voters, creating a cascading effect of increased attention (and rewards) for good posts. Similar voting systems exist on other social platforms, of course, but one of the advantages of Steem was the additional of a financial incentive for good curation.

However, there’s a competing financial incentive that currently effectively counters the financial benefit to effective curation: the current blockchain rules favor self-voting over effective curation. To understand why this is the case, a little history is needed:

Bot curation and introduction of the “30 minute rule”

Originally, Steem was designed to create a 50/50 split of rewards between authors and curators. For example, on any given post, 50% of the rewards would go to the author of the post, and 50% of the rewards would go to the people who upvoted the post. The 50% awarded to the curators was and is determined by two factors: the order in which they upvoted (early upvoters get more of the curation rewards) and the amount of voting power they upvoted with.

But early on, bots began to vote on posts by popular authors immediately after the post was created in order to grab the lion share of the curation rewards. To counter this tactic, the “30 minute rule” was introduced into the blockchain code in an attempt to level the playing field against early bot voting. The 30 minute rule imposed a declining penalty on curators who vote in the first 30 minutes after the post is created. If you vote on a post immediately after it is posted, you lose all your curation rewards. If you vote at the 15 minute mark, you lose half your curation rewards. Any vote made after 30 minutes gets it’s full curation rewards.

30 minutes was chosen somewhat arbitrarily as the time it would take to read a post. 30 minutes might sound like a long time to read a post on Steemit, but if you’ve read any of the posts made by the guy who came up with this idea (and you probably have, if you’ve been on this platform for long), then you’ll understand why he set it to 30 minutes. In fairness, as one of my longer posts, this post may take 30 minutes to fully read as well.

There’s another aspect to the 30 minute rule which I believe has seriously skewed the economics of steem in favor of self-voting and pay-for-vote bots: the curation rewards lost by early voters was given to the authors. Why? Well, I can’t say for sure, but the same guy who came up with this rule was a prolific poster, and I guess he saw it as a way to allow curators to reward their posters with extra rewards. But it’s had a big unintended consequence: an author can upvote his post early both directly and with voting bots, and shift a large portion of the rewards from the curators to himself. And because many Steemians don’t understand the 30 minute rule in it’s entirety, it’s probably not a conscious decision on their part to give up their curation rewards in this way. And sitting around waiting 30 minutes just to upvote a post is probably asking too much of them anyways. But worst of all, the 30 minute rules makes pay-for-vote bots a logical economic alternative for posters that aren’t invested into the long term value of the blockchain regardless of the quality of the post they create.

I think pay-for-vote bots can have their place in Steem’s economy: it makes sense to me that a relatively unknown author may want to get his post upvoted to gain attention of curators if he’s confident that his post will attract votes when it gets curator attention. This could increase the effectiveness of Steem at creating a quality trending page as it would allow new authors to offset some of the advantage of established authors who are already being followed and routinely upvoted. But I don’t think it should be profitable to pay for an upvote if other curators don’t see the quality of your post and follow through with upvotes of their own. But the 30 minute rule makes this economically possible today and a result we have near contentless posts being upvoted by pay-for-vote bots.

My thoughts: Change the 30 minute Rule to 5 minutes and restore 50/50 rewards

On an intuitive economic level, if we agree that curation on Steem isn’t currently working well, it seems that one obvious potential solution is to reward curators better for curating better while at the same time reducing the incentive for authors to self-vote bad posts. There are many ways this could be done, of course, and I’m only outlining my initial thoughts on one way to do this without introducing unnecessary complexity into the existing blockchain code:

Replace the 30 minute period with a 5 minute period

5 minutes is enough for a competent curator to normally determine if he likes a post, in my opinion. Let’s change the period to something that fits the time to evaluate most posts, not just the longest and most complex ones.

Let curators keep their full normal reward and eliminate the huge reward for early self-voting

This could be achieved simply by discarding the 30 minute rule entirely instead of changing it to a 5 minute period, but then we would be left with the same problem it was meant to prevent: immediate voting on new posts by bots. So instead of eliminating the rule entirely, I propose that we put curators who upvote in the first five minutes on the same reward footing, eliminating the advantage of an immediate voter.

Now this change still leaves bots able to selectively upvote at the end of the 5 minute period based on the number of votes already received on the post, but that’s far less abusive than handing out larger rewards to immediate upvoter bots and I think it’s hard to even say if the first 5 minutes of voting is going to tally with the 7 day performance of the post, which could invalidate this method of bot gaming entirely. I suspect it’s likely to be no better a strategy than the current one employed by “blind curation” bots that simply upvote popular authors near the 30 minute mark.

Does this solve all Steem’s curation problems?

Well, I don’t know and since it’s a complicated issue, almost certainly not, but of proposal’s I’ve seen so far, it’s one that I think is relatively easy to implement, and I think its benefits versus the current rules are pretty clear. At a minimum, I think it will seriously deter the ability of pay-for-vote bots to reward bad posts.

The biggest argument I can see levied against this proposal will be that content creators will get less rewards than they do now. This is indisputable. But, I think the better question is: on average, will “good” content creators get less than they do now? I think it could actually go in the opposite direction, with more good content creators getting more, while bad content creators get less: after all that’s part of what I mean by increasing curation effectiveness. If the distribution of author rewards shifts enough between good and bad authors, it’s an overall win for good content curators.

This post is mainly intended as a spring board for discussion of curation improvement ideas that focus on changing curation rewards instead of changing the downvote system, since it seems to me this has been neglected as a solution to the curation problem. Your feedback and proposals on this topic are more than welcome!

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The obvious solution would be a change in culture of Steem from greed and hubris to one more appropriate for a social platform. This can happen with whales and influencers supporting the right message.

Back to reality, I'd be in favour of returning to 50/50 and doing away with the 30 minute window entirely if the curation rewards system is overhauled to incentivize actual curation. I don't know how that can happen, but here's a thought experiment.

I'd like to see a more intelligent rewards system that would more effectively reward curators curating a diversity of posts. This would include two things. To be clear, this is just a thought experiment, and I'm fairly sure it's too complicated to be implemented -

a) a cubic curation reward curve, so discoverers are more effectively incentivized.
b) diminishing returns on voting for the same authors over and over again.

E.g. account a has X SP, account b has X SP (identical). They vote in identical ways. Except, account a only votes on b, c, and d; while account b votes on 100 different accounts. Account b will end up with 30Z SP rewards, while account a ends up with only Z SP.

This could follow the VP algorithm maybe, each account will have a VP for each voter. However each vote could cost 50%, and regen period could be a week, for example. So, voting on the same author more than once a week would be disincentivized versus voting on a diverse variety of authors.

Of course, this can be abused by SP delegation. However, the 7 day in limbo should be an effective deterrent. Furthermore, SP delegations can be tracked back to the source, and the diminishing returns would continue. However, I don't think that's necessary until additional abuse vectors are found.

Needless to say, this is computationally challenging. I'm not a developer, so I'll leave that up to them to decide whether it's worth it. Most likely, this is way too complicated and not feasible, but it's a nice thought experiment.

The end result is, of course, this would also greatly disincentivise self-voting, vote trading, auto bot voting etc. The challenge here would be rogue curators will spread around random votes to cash in, making networks of sock-puppet accounts. However, one hopes that with a cubic reward curve, they will be greatly incentivized to curate good content others can discover. And, hey, their abuse is rampant anyway today.

a) a cubic curation reward curve, so discoverers are more effectively incentivized.

@twinner suggested a sigmoid function. It would make self-votes on 'empty' posts/comments less attractive, but at the same time would prevent extremely high rewards on posts where 'everybody' is placing his upvotes (different than the n^2 reward curve).

b) diminishing returns on voting for the same authors over and over again.

I am happy to read this elsewhere finally. I was suggesting it some time ago, but the article was commented mainly by minnows. I described the core idea like this:
"How about if after each vote on a specific account (including ones own account) each further vote on the same account would lead to significantly less curation reward for the voter and less profit for the upvoted account? Thus, when upvoting an account which I had already upvoted before, my voting power would be smaller than in case I upvote an account which I didn't upvote before."

I think diminishing returns should apply for downvotes as well to make 'personal battles' less attractive and use them instead for envisaged reasons.

Of course the details were still to be discussed, for example how strong the returns should diminish and how long the timescale would be for any specific user to recover again.

@twinner suggested a sigmoid function. It would make self-votes on 'empty' posts/comments less attractive, but at the same time would prevent extremely high rewards on posts where 'everybody' is placing his upvotes (different than the n^2 reward curve).

To be clear, I was talking about the curation reward curve, not the author reward curve. This used to calculate how much of an advantage early voters have.

As for author reward curve, I wouldn't support a sigmoid function. Among other issues, it would kill demand for holding a lot of SP and discourage top authors (and maybe curators). High activity and SP holding would incur a very steep tax, in effect. Linear is OK - not perfect, but the problems lie elsewhere. Once these other issues are fixed, linear offers the best combination of liberty and equality. I would certainly support stricter bandwidth limitations - that would effectively minimise the spamming problem. A brand new account starts with 37 MB - way excessive, in my opinion. Oh, and an overhauled Rep system.

I like some the ideas in your post though, hope people see it now.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)
To be clear, I was talking about the curation reward curve, not the author reward curve.

Yes, you are right, we were talking about different things here ...

I wouldn't support a sigmoid function. Among other issues, it would kill demand for holding a lot of SP and discourage top authors.

Is that so obvious? After a flat start (to make self-votes less attractive) it would rise rather steep actually ... only the end would be shallow again ...
I have to admit I didn't think about it in detail yet, but the idea looked interesting to me at a first glance (maybe one could use a sigmoid function which is not that steep in the middle ...).

Linear is OK - not perfect, but the problems lie elsewhere.

The problem of the linear curve is that self-votes (even in case no other user votes) have a rather strong effect.

The problem of the linear curve is that self-votes (even in case no other user votes) have a rather strong effect.

As a matter of fact, self votes by whales have a much smaller effect. It's true that the effect is stronger for minnows, but given the massive disparity in distribution, linear means less rewards are allocated to possible self votes.

The real culprit is the vote regen change from 40 > 10. That means a possible 100% self vote is 4x as powerful as before.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)
As a matter of fact, self votes by whales have a much smaller effect.

To believe that I needed an example. If the curve starts flat, of course also whales should profit less when upvoting an own article on which nobody else has voted so far.

The real culprit is the vote regen change from 40 > 10. That means a possible 100% self vote is 4x as powerful as before.

Yes, I mentioned this in my linked article, too. It makes self-votes much more lucrative than before - together with the linear reward curve.

Addition: I also think the former idea to have only four fully rewarded articles per day was reasonable as it made it less attractive to make many short low quality posts per day just to upvote them oneself.

To believe that I needed an example. If the curve starts flat, of course also whales should profit less when upvoting an own article on which nobody else has voted so far.

I was comparing linear to the quadratic curve we had before. I see now that you meant sigmoid. Rewards are calculated by total Rshares contributed. Depending on the exact implementation, a megawhale might just get to the peak all by themselves with a sigmoid curve. Don't underestimate the disparity between whales and minnows - it's enormous. Anyway, it's not possible to talk about details like that without knowing the exact implementation.

I have to say this sigmoid function is 'fascinating' me as it could avoid the disadvantages of the linear and the quadratic curve. Therefore I wanted to attract some attention for this idea and see if some other steemians might be interested, too. :)
Of course the exact implementation is what finally would matter, but before to rack my brain too much, I wanted to plumb if the idea is able to attract some interest.

Anyway: thanks for drawing the attention on diminishing returns again!

This drop from 40 to 10 votes, and the drop in VP changing from 0.5% to 2%, are due to one single parameter doing two jobs within the core code; this is why the product remains constant. It is not possible to change this without splitting that parameter into two separate ones.

Good thinking

Diminishing rewards for the same author over and over again makes a ton of sense.

"The obvious solution would be a change in culture of Steem from greed and hubris to one more appropriate for a social platform. This can happen with whales and influencers supporting the right message."

The code can create incentives that provide good reasons to do the right thing. It seems that was what was the intention. However, the results haven't met the objectives, and this means the code needs revision.

I'm not sure if you are being as sarcastic as I was, or that's a serious response. Either way, to state the bleeding obvious, what I meant - If people were benevolent, there would be no need for code on Steem; and by extension, no need for laws in the real world. Since that's not the case, I spent the rest of my comment talking about how the code can be changed.

I see a STEEM future where each individual account will make rules for the distribution of their voting power and people within that group are incentivized to vote on amendments to these rules, IE the organization of accounts into sub-groups from the general steem population.

Why is steem or sbd no longer pegged at a dollar?
When I read the whitepaper I remember this as a crucial part of the stability equation, seeing my account up to $70 is nice but I am very hesitant to lock in more SP when it is out of balance.

In any case If payout rules are to be changed all users should be given the same amount of notice.

You can force whales to upvote more because they mostly upvote themselfs, selfupvote of a minnow doesn't mean any thing, let rich people share their earning with new people in steemit to support them, more than 6 months I was earning just cents and I am posting everyday on steemit and there are peoplethat are here much longer time and keep earning cents.

We need balance in sharing rewards and we need also limits in earning , it's not good when someone earn hundreds and others cents. If it will be limit in earning it will motivate people to write more and do their best to wriite good quality posts.

We need also bonuses for people that write a lot of posts and comments a lot, this @steemitboard just showing us how much we did but there is no reward for that !

I agree with your idea that there should be balance here on the platform. It's discouraging for new users to see their posts go unnoticed while others make hundreds. I am now learning about the selfupvote's downside for minnows from reading this post. I need to learn all I can in order to utilize the site at optimum level and get the most out of my time here. I would love to see an incentive for those of us who actually do read the posts and take time to comment.

I agree. I think if someone is adding thoughtful posts on a consistent basis they are adding to the community in a meaningful way. Incentivizing that may not be as important as incentivizing content production, but the two really go hand in hand.

I feel you brother/ sister. The current reward system is horrible designed to make the rich becomes richer, the poor becomes poorer. No different from the real world actually. At least in the real world you can go to the authority if someone is trespassing your civil rights. Here, you'll get down-voted by a whale because he doesn't like your content and you have nothing to do but lose your sense of identity.

I think that is why we have to think about being whales and to make such friends, a lot of people now are talking about downvote and I will try to not write things that offend someone, I'll try to be useful for the community.

Well said

"The obvious solution would be a change in culture of Steem from greed and hubris to one more appropriate for a social platform. This can happen with whales and influencers supporting the right message" ....and than you woke up with your feet in the fridge :)

These are not bad ideas. I am still learning as a minnow but I am not entirely sure I like the idea that I won't want to vote on my favorite author more than 1-3 times a week when they post every 3 hours. Then again I'm not guaranteed to like everything they post. Then again, that's what curators are for anyways right? To find the quality content, so to stick to just a handful of authors you're not helping with "new quality content". As a minnow and new to steemit I have little argument against the idea, however I do see the positive in it. There have been quite a few posts that I was done with in less than 10 minutes but I was reluctant to upvote when I was done. After 10 minutes I had already moved on and forgot to go back and upvote as the post got buried in the feed. So the 5 minute rule makes more sense to me because yes, I do believe it only takes about 5 minutes before I or any competent reader can decided if they like what they are reading.

In regards to diminishing returns on voting for the same authors, I understand how this could alleviate problems with botting, but doesn't this diminish the value of Steemit as a social media platform? It's not incorrect to say that many users follow a few "favorite" people that may post things that they like, and upvote just about everything that author posts. Naturally, this shouldn't be for the sole purpose of making money, but I feel as if it's unfair for users to profit less from voting on specific authors again and again. Perhaps a more efficient way to alleviate the problem in a similar, but fairer, way would be to check the actual quantity of authors that a user commonly votes on versus their votes on authors that they may not have upvoted before. This would allow for a better analysis of how diversed someone is in their voting, however I must admit it sounds pretty difficult in terms of developing this method, it's just an idea to be thought on.

There shouldn't be a major issue here, the diminishing returns will only kick in if someone uses a vast majority of their VP to vote on the same people. They are either a) extremely lazy and ineffective curator or b) abusing/self voting. In both cases, penalty is valid. For most people, this wouldn't matter much, while incentivizing the proactive curators who go out and actively seek a diversity of content.

Or c) trying to support a content creator.

I vote for people regularly who without my meagre vote get $0.01 for their posts, should I, and others like me be punished for trying to encourage a poster to carry on?


A majority is 50+%, a 'vast' majority? Gimme a number. Something to work with here.

I enjoy some prolific authors that serialize content here, and on days when I catch up on their work, most of my votes can go to them.

Thus the time frame considered for a penalty is also relevant. Is this per day? Per week? Month? The only week for which I have data, last week, I hit over 150 unique accounts with upvotes.

This idea may be more complex in practice than in theory.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

@liberosist many users are being cheated by many boots, many users who bid for upvotes from boots end up getting less value of votes relative to their bid value. There are several instance of them and indeed Voting Abuse is real, Ineffective Curation is a problem here it calls for a proposal for blockchain-level change

@liberosist that is a great idea, we need there to be even more incentive for the whales finding content that is quality, maybe someone needs to design an AI thats measures the quality of the content and makes those posts automatically worth more to vote on...

this was so helpful.

I don't really understand some of these things though but it's great to know that you guys have steemit @ heart and want to make it be

b) diminishing returns on voting for the same authors over and over again.

This. I suggested something quite similar actually, where curation rewards were calculated separately from the post rewards, and where posts that earned the author larger than that authors average payout got a proportional multiplier on the curation share, whereas those that earned less than that authors average payout got a penalty multiplier.

to call it greed is absurd. there is literally no other reason to be here besides the money.

There literally is. Content.

i expressed myself in an unclear way, i apologize. my point is that there is plenty of content, most of it better, elsewhere on the internet. The key differentiation steem has is the money aspect.

Of course, there's a slight difference for folks wearing a watch, or rings. We know what happens to metal in microwaves.

I appreciate your honesty. However, there are plenty of people here to create and consume content.

I think his point is that people need/want money, and to call that greed is somewhat disingenuous, especially coming from someone who does very well out of Steemit. I know you do amazing curation work for Curie as well, however I'm sure you can see how it might frustrate, to invite people to Steemit to make money, and then call it greed when they do.

I'm pretty sure you were talking about a particular set of people, for instance I have seen big accounts that pretty much only vote for themselves, and that does seem greedy.

I guess we will always get these issues where money is involved, if you took the money element away I think we'd lose about 75% of the platform, so I guess the rewards debate will rage on and on :-)


Earning money and greed are entirely different concepts. I'm sure we can easily differentiate the two. You gave pretty good examples for both above.

Either way, my statement about greed was clearly in jest, something I clarified explicitly in a later comment.

Ah, I didn't catch the later comment, it's getting harder and harder to navigate comments and replies on Steemit. I read something this morn about Chainbb being better for that. :-)


It is, particularly on comment rich posts, like this one. Clicking on a reply used to take you to that exact reply. On this post, it takes me to the post where I am currently searching for a specific comment.

It will literally take hours, because I keep getting sidetracked like this =p

This is one reason I developed the SteemSwitch plugin. Easy to switch between steemit, busy, chainbb, steemd and steemdb for viewing same content. At least on Firefox.

If the system allows self-voting, how is that greedy? It might be more altruistic to spread the wealth, but it's no more greedy than picking up a $20 bill you found on the ground and putting it into the pocket instead of donating it. Sure, it would be very good to donate it, but greedy not to? Why?

Then why did you bother to comment without self voting, and buying a bot vote to bump up your rewards on the comment?

NM. If money is the only reason you're here, you won't be here long.

Nice to meet you! Have a nice life =)

I didnt mean it the way I said it, I apologize. My point is just that the only thing that distinguishes steem from any other platform like it is the fact that you can earn money with it (there is a side benefit of not being censored, but that is tangential and certainly not the motivation of almost anyone to join).

Thus, to call people greedy for using the system legally and in the way that it is currently set up is not accurate in my opinion.

I'm sorry if I upset you.

I'm not upset. You just won't be here long if you came for a flood of riches. That doesn't anger me at you, as I understand the motivation.

And, I literally came here to escape the censorship and propaganda I could no longer tolerate on Fakebook and Youtool. The only reason I care much about rewards, is that it's a powerful motivator for people to interact civilly.

The potential and prospect of gaining - or having flagged away - some cash transforms trolls into polite interlocutors.

However, just because code exists doesn't mean it works how it was supposed to. The white paper reveals the devs expected ~30% of rewards going to ~90% of the community. While this is alarmingly skewed, it's not even close to what is actually the case.

Less than 1% of rewards goes to 99+% of the community - orders of magnitude worse. Call it greed if you want. I don't. I see no point in a pejorative term.

I look at it as financial prudence, where foregoing potential income is contrary to the skillset that gained the stake to begin with.

It's short-sighted, and killing Steemit, however. We need 'Helicopter Ben' up in here to create a market that can make Steem a nominal currency. Not flowing rewards adequately to those without Steem fails to create more users of the currency. Median payouts of $.01 is not adequate flow.

Votebots help a given post gain rewards. But profit concentrates Steem even more via votebots, and actually makes the GINI (a measure of financial disparity) of Steemit worse, even though the bots may be intended by their authors to disperse Steem more broadly.

These kinds of unintended consequences have convinced me that ever more complicated mitigations to the unforeseen problems of stake weighting VP are flogging a dead horse.

The problem is stake-weighting itself, and the cure is rep-weighting.

Rewards work. Greed is not good, and profiteers eventually demonetize those that play fair, destroying the market itself. This is what is happening to Steemit, as the GINI continues to get worse.

Be well, and my your fondest dreams pale beside the amazing actuality of your future joy!

I dunno how I upvoted this comment. I didn't mean to, and only now have discovered this, too late to 'unvote' it.

For anyone that cares, or finds this to be probative I am unprincipled in my frequent rants against self voting and bots, I will welcome any flags that reference this example of self voting, I am not presently capable of fixing.

I am actually glad I found it, as I saw some days ago that self voting had somehow occurred, and I have been mystified as to how that happened. At least the mystery is solved.

Apparently, the tangled complexity of this post and it's replies has either confused me when I voted on another comment, or the UI/UX somehow.

I dunno.


I wrote about this, especially "b) diminishing returns on voting for the same authors over and over again."
The article is here and some numbers here.

I know this is an old post, but some fundamental ideas need to resurface and maybe fine-tuned.

b) diminishing returns on voting for the same authors over and over again.

This is a really good idea that would solve a lot of the curation problems, self-voting and circle jerks that are plaguing the system. This is an idea that should be popularized!

With the diminishing return on same author, perhaps a cool down like we have with voting power. We don't want to long term fans with a hard diminish. But other than that it is a great way to at least slow people's roll. Since you can never stop cheating outright, that is the best we can do. I think That one aspect would have an ENORMOUS impact. Honestly... how are changes like that even made here? A witness vote or a user vote?

I'd agree with this one:

diminishing returns on voting for the same authors over and over again.

Even though I upvote my own posts (not spamming if I only post 2 times daily... right?).. and certain people posts/comments a lot more than others. I think it'll be in the favor of the system to encourage curating different people each time.

Hmmm, how about increased rewards for finding new ones? I just think if I've found someone really good and they are not that well supported, why should I be punished for continually supporting them?


This is good too:

how about increased rewards for finding new ones?

Well, I just hope the Devs find the optimal solution...

I'd be far more supportive of increased rewards for finding new ones. Sort of like a bounty bonus? But as someone who may work for a week on a single story I post to Steemit, not to mention going through editing to try and get it polished like a professional piece of writing, if the day comes when some whale takes a liking to my content and wants to stop by​ and upvote me every time I put something out there, I'd really hate a system that acted like I needed to spread the wealth and stop hogging all the rewards. I just don't see a problem with someone upvoting the same person a lot. It's something I hope to get, not something I want to take from those who have it.

I mentioned this elsewhere, but figured I'd take a moment to write a reply about it as well.

I'd definitely support changes to the 30m window and am all for exploring ways to maybe create a level playing field in the first 5 minutes.

What I don't think I'd support is just hardcoding the system back to 50/50. I'd much rather see those values turn into a configurable amount that can be decided by the platform it's being posted on. On a site like Steemit - being about curation and content discovery (both needing work), 50/50 might be a good number, but it would be a hinderance to platforms like chainBB where curation is effectively meaningless and votes are only an expression of wanting to reward someone.

A configurable amount (set inside the comment_options operation for a post at the time of creation) would also let the community experiment with every imaginable range of values, from 0% to 100% for both authors and curators, and the market will decide what to vote for. Some platforms may flounder if they choose the wrong values, while others may succeed by setting numbers we would have never expected.

I hope we can get some action around this (and a number of other issues that have nagged us for ages) early in 2018 - there's a lot to do still to make this platform rock solid.

I think this is a really important concern that @jesta mentioned. For DSound, in my experience as the developer of it, and by analysis of the last 4 months of it's live alpha, it is also not interesting to have 50/50 back. Maybe in DSound it would be even better to have it entirely as 100/0 in favor of the author, as the listener is already having the benefit of listening to the track... And that would mean more author rewards for the musician which is who technically needs them in the first place, as the curators are already having their fair share as free listeners. So, having this property customisable would benefit all and it should be only settable in the initial post and not changeable, to avoid different apps to mess with it...

Really happy you chimed in as someone else building a platform on Steem.

These types of considerations have to be accounted for, if Steem is for all platforms, and not just for the website. What works for one site might be detrimental to another.

Changing reward budgets per post could be problematic.

First, there is the issue of user education. Currently, users know that they get paid for posting and curating. The math is publicly available in the source code, but doesn't need to be advertised to everyone for them to understand how to use Steem. If we added such an option then it would need to be reflected in the UI so users knew how much of the rewards they could earn.

Second, while this might start as a way for different interfaces to incentivize different content, it would not stay that way for long. Savvy users would see that a configurable percentage creates a market for potential voters. If there are identical posts, one with 25% curation rewards and the other with 75%, which one will most people vote on? The answer is both, but at some ratio defined by the curation rewards curve.

This would turn curation into a market. How much of your rewards are you willing to give to curators for votes? This a slight change from the intended mentality today that curation is budgeted for rather than authors paying curators for their votes. The difference is subtle, but the perception of ownership over tokens is a powerful one. This is why many users get upset when they are down voted. The rewards are not yours until payout. But that doesn't prevent users from feeling like the rewards are theirs as soon as they receive an upvote.

the perception of ownership over tokens is a powerful one.

It's powerful but is it beneficial or detrimental? I think it's the latter, the general entitlement mentality is something we want to get rid of.

This would turn curation into a market. How much of your rewards are you willing to give to curators for votes?

It's already a market. How much SBD are you willing to pay to minnowbooster for votes?

Configurable rewards will encourage real curation instead of vote buying/selling.

To provide a response to each point:

  1. The premise here operates under the assumption that people care about curation rewards, which most likely the vast majority of the userbase would not. Those who are playing the curation game should absolutely know what they're voting on and at what ratio, but most users won't care.
  2. Those savvy users should have the right to do so, and use that as a tool for post promotion or alternate content types. If they want their post to be highly visible they should set the curation rewards at 75%.
  3. Is turning curation into a free market a bad thing?

"Is turning curation into a free market a bad thing?"

Ackshually... It is.

A society is more than an economy. Given the existence of folks that literally care about nothing else but money, creating a market for free speech inevitably causes freedom to speak to become treated as a commodity - and this demeans freedom itself. Monetizing freedom results to some degree in slavery for profit.

OTOH, it's preferable to being demonetized on ideological grounds, or being forced to listen to the speeches of Marvin Bush at gunpoint, until you pray for that sweet, sweet release only death can provide.

The market is unavoidable, so making it as free as possible is the best possible option for human freedom.

tl;dr Nope, it's the best answer.

Dear @vandeberg ;

I need any help to stop @grumpycat hurting innocent people.
We have to show that Steemit is bigger than any bully who is trying to impose his own rules by using his high SP on innocent people.
The post below is the summary of the situation :
Thank you for any help to stop the actions of @grumpycat.

Best Regards.


A configurable amount may end up with a race to the bottom. Big players may decide not to vote on certain posts based on this parameter and the content itself will not drive curation (not that it does right now but I feel that this will create the same problem but in the opposite direction).

They might decide not to vote on something - but not everyone cares about curation. I know I'd vote on things regardless of the percentage.

Would it make sense to bring votes from others (by sending them notifications of recommended topics) by referring them to mentions?


I like a specific content I found on STEEM. Then I know certain users will likely like to read and curate that content, but some other that do not give a shit.

So, what should the platform be able to do? if you mention people in a post and those people actually value the post where you commented on.. then you had some value in doing it... and you should receive better curation for it (aka more height). But on the other side if the mentions do not vote, then you should be removed from winning any rewards for any votes on your comment, and likely loose reputation, based on the amount of reference you are doing.

To prevent bots or bad users here is quite simple... let's make the weight of your rewards based on averages... make too many references to several others using bots and creating a wave effect, would be stupid, because, the higher the number of references, the same average it will create... and therefore not so optimal the advantage. If on the other hand, a very powerful wants to put some value on the post and for some reason, someone had mentioned lots of users to try to win some bucks, that user will actually lower the average per user... by being mentioning everyone.

Likewise, if the same user tries to mention only big users... and the content get's only validated by a single user. then the average will be catastrophically low!

The concept...

These mentions I am referring should be different from current mentions. They should be some kind of "recommendation" and should be seen as the user receiving the recommendation, filtered (highest to low rank) so, the useful recommendations are taken into account first. Also, the longer it passes without your mentions taking action, the less your curation should be.

This will likely solve, BOT auto-voting problems, thefts trying to impersonate people, SPAM, and too greedy readers that wish to strategically promote content using big references.

Does it need more detail? the idea? Shame I am not a good coder like you guys. otherwise, I would be creating my own commit already.

While I confess I am confident I don't fully understand the ramifications of your idea, I will say that this is exactly the kind of out of the box, original thought I most admire, and that makes Steemit to me like Heroin to a junkie.


Yah @jesta Your information is right.Thank you for your feedback.

Your argument, whilst certainly credible, is similar to arguing in favour of the minimum wage because not having one causes a race to the bottom among desperate workers, and thus output quality will suffer. This is possible, but I think in practice some natural equilibrium might be found if we allowed it to be, where the overall dynamic of the platform improved.

To manage the transition, perhaps we could initially limit the curation to a 75% maximum for example.

Unlike some proposals, this doesn't look to be too difficult to implement from a blockchain perspective either.

I agree that supply and demand will eventually reach an equilibrium. However the asymmetry in the distribution of Steem Power may push that point in favor of the large accounts at the expense of content producers.

There may be other business cases that are not centered around content production that could greatly benefit from a totally flexible allocation of rewards. In the end this may outweigh the possible negative effects. After all the Steem blockchain can be used for much more than social media or blogging.

That's true enough. The distribution could have a negative influence on where the equilibrium settles. The recent trend in greater whale delegation may reduce the impact of that too though by somewhat equalising the effective vote power distribution.

Yeah, a race to the bottom is what I worry about as well. I think allowing it to be configurable is a good idea, but between reasonably confined limits, not 0-100%.

I agree. 25-75% seems like a fair range to me, 20-80% at most.

This is also a fantastic point; I think everyone who provides their .02c on the solution need to consider the fact that isn't the whole enchalada. These proposals are to the steem blockchain. Meaning it will have an effect on every platform out there; dtube, chainbb, dsound, steemiz, utopiaio, busy, zappl and tons more. Those are just the most popular of the many platforms that have sprouted during the beta phase of STEEM (a beautiful notion by the way. Think of all the ideas that have been born and dev teams STEEM has helped bring to together.)

That, and once SMT's are a thing there will be countless more interfaces using STEEM tech. So if we are to put forth our ideas for UAHF/SF's they need to consider the direction of steem's future as a blockchain, not as an interface.

Don't forget the underdog handicap we would be losing by replacing the 30 minute window with a 5 minute one.

Why do you upvote your own comments all the time? It's kind of distasteful.

This is my self voting percentage for the last 3 weeks.

I vote for myself only for visibility. If steemit inc includes a UI for declining payout on comments I would use it.

Thank you for explaining yourself. It seems you care a lot about Steemit so I thought I would ask why you were pumping your own comments.

I get it now. Whoever has the most money that's who's comment should be first. Right?

I don't have the most money. I pay for the delegation so in my mind at least I'm paying to have the comment seen, yes.

I personally feel that it takes away from perhaps a really good comment from a user who can't afford large personal upvotes that's all. Not a lot of people will scroll the entire comment section and read everything where the gem comment of this entire article may live.

It is self defeating to expect people to invest in steem and even powerup to steem power (a min 13 week commitment to the platform) and then criticize writers who choose to use their steem power to promote their writings.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Read the post attached to the comment then tell me it wasn't an important point to be made and seen by readers of this post.

Noted on the gem comments. I'll read from the bottom and try to bring up some constructive comments.

@beanz believes his contribution tl be valuable.

  ·  2 years ago Reveal Comment

Ha, I'm new here but I am one of those who will read through the entire comments! I know, I know! What am I doing with my life? Growing the steemit blockchain with my time on the platform... (smile!)

Ummm... can I ask where to get a pic like this for my own upvotes? (It seems website generated, that's why I asked)

  ·  2 years ago (edited) has a lot of useful stats like this.

I do like your idea @jesta. And for the sake of trying to solve a problem, opening to more options might actually reveal how to solve the problem. Just like open source decentralized blockchains. The rule for the 5 or 30 minute, could also be something interesting... and I would even put another TWO versions on the table, which are, 1st "random times for each curator" (within a min and max, implied by hardcoding), OR count how long you are reading a post and save that locally, that would be used when issuing your upvote. The locally saved time can be easily used like some other effect of "proof of work".

count how long you are reading a post and save that locally, that would be used when issuing your upvote. The locally saved time can be easily used like some other effect of "proof of work".

I wish that can be possible, but I don't think that can effectively be done on the backend... And thr blockchain has many different front ends (,, that would mean all of them should willingly count the time the window is left open...

If this idea can be made practically then I'd be the first to support it!!

Calling it for a challenge! =) I would be happy to propose it on utopia, but I would need some additional thinking to make it worth others spending time on it.

But I am with you, "if it can be made practical, I am the second to support it"

Good luck, if you posted it on give me a link.

I will copy -paste just a few sentences, telling about the roots of a problem:

  • “good posts” aren’t rising to the top of the trending page and topic pages like they should
  • one of the advantages of Steem was the additional of a financial incentive for good curation
  • the current blockchain rules favor self-voting over effective curation

Changing 30 minutes to 5 minutes....I don't know if that's going to change anything, as most bots are already set to vote after 20+ minutes after post is published.

You're right - the problem is much larger than just this, and this won't solve that larger issue.

But the 30 minute rule for curation rewards is just an unneeded complexity in the system that needs to be made less complex. Each part we make simpler, the easier it'll be to solve the entire problem.

"Each part we make simpler, the easier it'll be to solve the entire problem."

So this!

I think this is a good way of thinking...

Each part we make simpler, the easier it'll be to solve the entire problem.

This would make it easy to find the problems in it after simplifing it... and make it easier to find problems in other parts of the system since making one part simpler will decrease its effect on other parts.

Just changing 30 minutes to 5 minutes would probably have little impact at all, I agree. The more important part of the change is to eliminate the transfer of rewards from curators to authors when the curator votes during the window.

And what is the possibility, whales will show any interest for this kind of change? If this is going to be processed at all...

Of the whales I've talked to, most seem in favor of the general idea, at least as a first step towards improvement.

Many good ideas to think about.
Here are a few more that might help simplify things:

  1. Why not make all posts automatically self upvote to eliminate negativity?
  2. Self upvote rewards can be set to be the same, according to Steem Power, for all by steemit to pay the same (or not pay) curation rewards to the self upvoter (author). I understand that some whales and dophins use self upvoting for a good return on their investment, and a good return on investment encourages investors to put more money into Steem Power, so a steemit wide automatic self upvote could help reduce negative accusations and simplify things.
  3. Should upvotes that don't even open the post be eligible for curation? Maybe the length of time a curator-upvoter spends on a post (up to maybe 5 or 10 minutes or ?), the more curation % he/she can receive from said post.
  4. All upvoters could share the curation equally regardless of who upvoted first and how many minutes after the post up to 7 days, except for the amount of time spend on the post. This might help reduce the advantage of bots upvoting.
  5. Maybe to help minnows build Steem Power, all posts can receive a small minimum participation reward of Steem Power, like maybe 1 Steem Power (or?), limited to 1 post a day or ? Of course great posts can still receive great author rewards.
  6. Of course junk posts should not be encouraged, and negative votes should not be encouraged. It appears we may need a volunteer board of trusted judges to determine if a post that is brought to their attention is junk or not. And if a poster continually posts junk, he or she could be kicked out or lesser punishments as the judges determine.
  7. Please combine Math, Maths, Mathematics to default into one subject as there aren't that many posts there to require 3 separate subjects for the same thing.

Thanks for reading these suggestions to ponder.

Saya sangat senang membaca komentar anda, luar biasa, ada solusi yang disertai analisis yang kuat. Sebenarnya kita semua sedang menunggu solusi dengan pertimbangan-pertimbangan profesional sehingga semua pihak dapat memahami kesimpulan ini dengan nalar terbuka. Terimakasih atas konstribusi profesional yang telah membuat semua merasa lega.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)Reveal Comment

How about you stop spamming?

Currently a very large percentage of voting is done automatically, without the curator taking any effort to evaluate the quality of posts..

The main game of 'curation' in it's current form is to try and upvote the popular authors before others do. With the change to 50/50 rewards, wouldn't this behavior still continue?

There may be some small incentive to actively find good content, but I worry that we will just be paying more money to the users who are not actually spending the time and effort necessary to actually curate, and are just upvoting the same authors because they know that all the other auto-upvotes will follow.

I'm not really against voting bots or auto-upvote trails, and I don't necessarily disagree with your proposal, but I also struggle to see how it is going to solve the root problem of curation. I don't know if throwing more money at it is necessarily going to incentivize better behavior.

I'm hoping you (or someone else) can make the case that it would actually incentivize a behavior change.

It cuts both ways, though.
Clever bots selectively upvote posts knowing the author will self upvote either manually or with bid bots (often 6 days later).
Making curation more profitable relative to self upvoting will undermine this author behaviour and introduce some more ambiguity for bots.
As to consistently great authors, if the quality starts to slip, those manual votes aren't going to arrive, and the curation bots will be pointed elsewhere.
It'll just take a while to lose momentum.

changing to 50/50 may well end up being a disincentive for content creators. Why should someone who places a vote get half when it is the creator that has put the time and effort into it?

I really think the bigger part of the problem is that the Trending page leans more on the monetary value the voting has created than any other measure of quality.

Surely an algorithm could be devised that reduced the monetary influence and factored in number of views, votes and comments on a post. I know there are a lot of spam comments but with the complexity of algorithms that can be devised these days some method of weighting the comments to factor out some or most of the spam should be possible.

The end result would be the more engagement a post gets, the higher up the trending list it would get. No amount of self-voting or vote bots would artificially inflate the result. It would bring the trending page more into line with other social media sites.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Why should someone who places a vote get half when it is the creator that has put the time and effort into it?

Think of it as a partnership. Without votes by SP holders there is no reward for the author (and without SP holders collectively there are no rewards to give to any authors). Conversely, without content there is nothing for SP holders to vote for, and further no content or engagement to drive growth of the platform and STEEM/SP value. And, finally, without engaged voters investing time and effort into curation (the point of this post really), there is no way to determine which are the excellent posts that most deserve to be rewarded.

As @timcliff explained, curation rewards are split between all of the voters, but even in the extreme simple case of a single voter, it is still a partnership and both partners are critical to success. Recognizing the importance of both posters (and commenters) and voters with a more equitable split (and one which better compensates putting in actual effort to curation than the status quo) is good for everyone. I don't know whether 50/50 is exactly the right number but it is probably closer to the right number than the current 85/15.

80/20 or 75/25, even 70/30 may be okay but the 50/50 diminishes the value of the labour the content creator does.

If a content creator deems his/herself too good for that reward layout, someone else will happily step in. And, if that much higher curation payout makes owning SP sufficiently attractive (and it WILL make it more attractive to own SP), then those content creators that opt out will be very disappointed in their decision to do so.

I hear people talk all the time about "what if Steem reaches $10, $100, $1,000... what would these payouts look like then?", well, I don't see Steem reaching those types of prices with the current parameters, but making it far more attractive to own SP (buy and lock away Steem) is certainly a step in the right direction.

People aren't going to be complaining about "only making half of the rewards" as content creators if Steem does a 10X price move based on SP becoming a more valuable commodity.

If a content creator currently makes $100 at today's Steem price (call it $1.50) and today's payout parameters (85/15%), they will be making ( { [100 / 0.85] x 0.5 } x 10 ) $588.24 if Steem 10X in price (to around $15) and the parameters are changed to 50/50%, all else being equal.

you'd make a wonderful fiat publisher as they do their best to drive the proceeds to the writer lower and lower while their intake of proceeds goes higher on the backs of the creators.

What I say is true. If curators make roughly nothing, then how is Steemit any different than a site like YouTube (only content creators earn)? What's the point in holding SP?

If you want Steem to be an attractive investment, make this so called "Steem Power" actually powerful. Right now it's more like "Steem Weakling", if you ask me.

If, on the other hand, you're glad with a flash in the pan, short time window to cash out on your content before this all collapses in on itself, by all means keep curation as being paid in peanuts for holding a boat-load of SP.

You gotta realize that holding a high amount of SP is a fairly risky thing and it's those very people that have taken this huge risk who're making it possible for these content creators to be paid (in anything more than mere pesos) in the first place! Don't bite the hand that feeds you!

Should all these high SP holders get fed up enough and they all start to sell, guess what happens to the author payouts? Don't be too myopic in how you view this.

The curation rewards are not being given to one individual. They are split among the hundreds (or thousands) of users who upvote it.

The problem with the type of algorithm that you proposed (views, comments, etc) is that they can all be easily manipulated by bots.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Often enough, the curation rewards do all go to one individual, if it were a whale who voted first. Bringing the 30 minutes down to 5 might encourage whales to vote manually if they have a better chance of getting in before curation gets donated to the author. The 50/50 rewards however, will be a huge disincentive for good content creators. They would no longer have that 30 minute handicap, they would only have 5 minutes for minnows to get in and give the author some of the curation rewards which would mean we no longer have the underdog handicap where it's better to upvote an underdog (undiscovered but soon to be popular) than a "popular" (already recognised) author.

If you do change the ratio to 50/50, I would argue that the time for curation donation be INCREASED rather than decreased, to increase the incentive of finding hidden gems and DECREASE the incentive of voting the same posts all the time.

I agree that the 50/50 split would be a big hit to content creators. I would be OK with that if I thought it would mean that we were doing a better job aligning upvotes with quality content, but personally I am very skeptical/doubtful that this would happen as a result.

The 30 minuet limit primarily benefits established authors who already have a voting trail following them.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

In this comment you say the 30 minute limit primarily benefits established authors. In the next comment you say a 5 minute window would encourage finding undiscovered quality content.

These comments seem to contradict one another.

Not really. One end favors established authors. The other favors undiscovered authors.

A longer "curation donation" window favours established authors who have inevitable support. This incentivises curators to seek undiscovered authors instead because the curation reward won't be donated.

A shorter "curation donation" window favours the curator who can vote on ANY post that was not recognised within the first 5 minutes that it would be a hit. This incentivises curators to vote for @sweetsssj, @timcliff, @blocktrades, @acidyo, and any other established author who is almost guarenteed to make it to the trending page.

That will inevitably make new authors see the game as rigged.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

But don't you think the 30 minute limit (or curation donation window as I call it) should benefit the established author? This actually discourages curators who seek curation rewards from voting for the same authors all the time, because once they become established the curation rewards are harder to catch.

Meaning it's more profitable for a curator to find hidden gems, which means new authors have a chance at growing.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Right now the incentives for curation are not very high. The 30 minuet window benefits the author at the expense of the curator. If we want to provide better incentives for curators to find and upvote undiscovered quality content, changing from 30 minuets to 5 will help with that.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

I think it will increase incentive to vote for the same authors all the time.

Can you at least explain, where the incentive to find undiscovered quality content comes from?


:) At first I was amazed, how many of bigger fishes were also doing that. Now I don't even comment any more. It would take too much time...

I purpose self upvoting on comments to be removed. Let the blockchain decide who's comments are more important.

Nearly every big account holder owns several accounts which can upvote each other ...
I described the concept of 'diminishing returns' which could discourage self-voting, multi account self-voting and circle voting here.

Apparently it's for visibility as I've been told. So if you have lots of money then your comment is more important. So you upvote it to the top of the list so everyone can see it. It doesn't even matter if the rest of the blockchain thinks it's a good comment it "Deserves" to be read.

That's what I've been told

"Just for visibility" is again, something that bigger self-voters mentioned now and than, why did they do that, and continued with the comment due to the article. What you have been told is pretty accurate :) And I 'd also upvote your comment but I delegated most of my SP, so my upvote is not worth even a cent

To prevent bots manipulating the view count is a simple matter, a 3-5 minute page timer, That is short enough time for picture people to get a real view and plenty of time for a medium length post to get a real view. And would cut down on the ability of the bot to jump from page to page. The views are mostly unique visits so a bot viewing the same page every 3-5 minutes would not effect the view count.

The votes are made at the blockchain level. There would be no way to implement a page timer that a bot could not get around by just posting their vote directly to the blockchain.

Took me a long time to read all the comments, I saw further down another reason this would not work, and that is because some places like and do not use the steemit views, and do not increase the view count on steemit.