I am a witness on the Steem blockchain since October 2016. I was supporting this project since Dan Larimer was still head of development and, as of now, my witness node - for which I'm paying out of my own pocket, since the revenue doesn't match the expenses - is still producing blocks.
But things changed dramatically over the last couple of weeks. We reached a point of no return and I owe to the community, to those who voted me as a witness, at least an official position.
1. Steemit Inc / Tron Foundation Partnership
I have nothing to say here. Both entities are owned by private individuals and whatever deals they make is not my business.
2. Soft Fork For Freezing Steemit Inc Stake Ahead Of Potential Negotiations
For what is worth, I knew nothing about this soft fork, didn't participate in it and only found out about it after the much more powerful reaction of the other party.
I have seen many times official statements from Steemit Inc regarding their neutrality towards blockchain governance (many of them recorded immutably, on the very blockchain we're talking about). They pushed this narrative so, so many times, mostly to encourage community participants to invest in the project: time, money, marketing or other resources. Nobody would have invest that much, if there was clear from the beginning this project is controlled by a single entity, an entity which, to be very honest, was far from competent at creating anything (outside constant chaos and paranoid reactions). Nobody.
So, in terms of breaching verbal and social contracts, soft forking to freeze Steemit Inc stake did nothing wrong.
In tactical terms, though, it was a mistake. It gave the other party a reason to act. As disproportional and unethical as it was, this reason was founded on real actions. I don't think the course of events would have been different - in other words, the hostile takeover of Steemit was always the main goal of this private partnership - but, maybe, just maybe, withut this reason to act, it would have take a little bit longer.
Nothing to do about it now, what's done is done.
3. Hostile Takeover Using Exchanges
This is by far the most toxic thing that emerged out of this. Is toxic for so, so many reasons, but I will outline only 3:
the private arrangement between Steemit and Tron breached a verbal and social contract that Steemit had with the governance body of the chain (witnesses). In plain words, Steemit misled these investors, telling them one thing (they won't participate in governance) while doing the opposite (selling that stake with the intent of being used in governance). That's bad. Really bad.
the involvement of exchanges in an operation that big and visible sets a huge precedent. A bad one, obviously. We all knew, to a certain extent, that centralized exchanges aren't angels and they can do shady things. But it was only now, when something so wrong happened in clear sight, that we realized the real nature of these entities.
the hostile takeover literally beheaded development behind the Steem blockchain, as we've all seen in the last hours. Top developers and customer-facing actors resigned. This is a huge cost and I'm not sure it was priced in the whole deal.
A personal word about the most visible actors of this play: Ned Scott and Justin Sun. I don't know any of them personally and so I can't afford to make judgement calls. I happen to have seen many things in my life, took many wrong steps and a few good ones, and this gives me a bit of a perspective. Although this looks like the coronation of a big effort, the reward reaped for being "intelligent" and "good at making money", in reality this is just the point from where it all goes downhill. It is sad, because both actors are young and quite visible. They could have refrained from greed and deception. Because, rather sooner than later, this greed and this deception will strike back ten times more powerful. Although it's their problem now, I am openly expressing my compassion.
4. My Position As A Witness
In light of these events, I stopped steem.supply, probably the oldest reward checking app in the Steem ecosystem. I will support any new blockchain / community that doesn't have anything in common with Steemit's current leadership.
P.S. For those who know how to read numbers, it's not a coincidence that this post has 4 sections. Not a coincidence.