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RE: Steem Power and Governance, Part 1: Centralization and Decentralization

in #steem4 years ago (edited)

Here's where I have trouble. So if the 20 witnesses decided they wanted for any reason to cooperate with each other, to the detriment of the system as it is today, What's in place to prevent that? As I understand from earlier readings they have to earn their spot, can be rejected, and are well compensated. What is in place to prevent collusion of these 20 witnesses in their own self interest? You talk about decentralization leading to fewer and smaller opportunities for centralized authorities and I fail to see how 20 masternodes (for lack of a better term) does this.

I am more than happy to admit to some ignorance on the matter, but how I read what was written is "Centralized is faster, so we kind of do that just a little bit."

EDIT: Reread the whitepaper as it pertains to witnesses and their role and how it is implemented. Leaving the question up as it's good for people to find their own answers and not wait for them. I don't understand every aspect of what I have read.... but I am satisfied it's not very likely at all.


The trouble is that decentralization is a direction, not a destination. At what point is a thing "decentralized"? Steem is far more decentralized than Bitcoin, as Steem entrusts 19 regular witnesses, one random witness, and one miner witness, with block production whereas Bitcoin entrusts just a few Chinese mining orgs with block production. Interestingly, this combats the idea that "Centralized is faster, so we do that just a little bit" since Bitcoin is both far more centralized and also far slower than Steem.

An attack on the network would require many of the 19 regular witnesses to collude. These witnesses are well compensated, and collusion would jeopardize that revenue stream, which is one incentive to behave. Also, those 19 spots are highly coveted, and those prospective witnesses who are just outside the 19 elected witnesses have a strong incentive to monitor the 19 for misbehavior. Finally, witnesses are rather limited in what they can do even if they do collude. They can't print new Steem, they can't change history (the network will reject a rewrite of history of more than a few minutes without manual intervention)... They can censor posts or transfers (but they'll be quickly caught and replaced, as they can't do this covertly), and they can denial of service the chain by simply refusing to produce blocks (but again, they'll be quickly replaced). So there's little incentive for mischief anyways.

For these reasons, it's considered unlikely that witnesses will collude, and even if they do, it's highly unlikely they'll be able to do anything significant without being quickly caught and replaced.

The trouble is that decentralization is a direction, not a destination

That is a beautiful answer. The rest of the message was also great and explained what I was reading in white paper without the engineer speak, but that line there really spoke to me. I thank you for this great answer!

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