I joined steem in July after reading the article on theguardian.com, and I have never bothered to do a presentation post, which was the trend at the time. Maybe I should have, because people still don't seem to understand the kind of person I am.
Unlike many users here, I am not new to cryptocurrency. I have owned and used Bitcoins for a long time now. For what it's worth, I have a masters degree in Mathematics and I am a successful www entrepreneur. I have been living 90% of my entire adult life without a master (or real-job as slaves would call it), and I don't plan on giving up on this way of life. I have a lot of hatred in me, especially for hypocrits and dishonest people. I am usually brutally honest and I like people to do the same to me. My friends circle is not too large, but at least I know I can count on them when the time comes.
This is going to be a long post, as it will most likely be my last one. So here goes a nice song to listen to while reading the article.
I will input my full Steem experience and my analysis of what is good and wrong with it. I am definately not writing this post for the rewards, and whatever this post makes will get cashouted in the next 13 weeks to Poloniex and will contribute to the fall.
Why I got interested in Steem
When I first joined Steem the first thing that struck me as a great idea was the fact that a large percentage of the daily created coins were not given to bots, but to human writers. We are all aware of the ASICs and mining-farms problem in bitcoin or other cryptos with similar distribution systems. On steem, there is theorically no way a bot can make money from writing contents, as it is still pretty hard to algorithmically write a lot of contents. Writing is something computers can't beat humans at (by far).
Another surprising fact to me when I joined was the fact that the tech was already functional. The SteemIt website worked well, even though it was a clear copy of reddit, at least it was decentralized and I could add my voice to the steem blockchain in 4 seconds, without anyone being able to censor me. I guess a lot of people realized that at the same time than me, considering the huge peak in the steem value following my arrival.
At this point in time, I was hyped. I told my friends about steem, I think about a dozen of them created accounts. I wanted to play the game, try to get some of that juicy steem power. Creating SteemWhales.com was pretty obvious to me, as previously stated, I am mostly interested in the distribution of the coins, and the steemd.com website was slow as hell and didn't give precise information. To this day, SteemWhales keeps on increasing traffic and I regularly see it mentioned or screenshoted in various posts, so I guess it is serving it's purpose.
How it went downhill for me
I originally joined steemit.chat to ask technical questions to @svk who created the open source tool that SteemWhales uses to connect to the blockchain easily. My conversation list quickly grew. On any decent article I would post, I would receive at least 2 or 3 messages like 'Your post deserves more, I am forwarding it to some whales right now'. Needless to say these people were right. Whenever I got one of these messages my post would double or triple up in value in the next minutes.
SteemWhales also proved that the distribution was definatly unfair, if you look at the pie chart on the top right of the homepage, top 1% controls 90% of the wealth. Top 10% controls 99% of the wealth. Oh, did I mention this pie chart ignores the @steemit account? So it is actually far worse than what is showed here, but if I didnt ignore this account, the pie chart would look like flat blue.
It's hard to compare the distribution of coins on steemit to the real world, because of the huge divergence in the statistical results, but probably the top 1% controls about half (50%) of the total wealth, which fits the pareto principle and must be about right.
Another thing that annoyed me was the attitude of the developers behind the project. For people who are unaware, the Steem blockchain is copyrighted. You can clone the source code, but you are not allowed to modify it to generate a new chain as per the licence file. On the other side, they had absolutly no problem open sourcing the steemit.com website's code when there was a shitload of posts about the fact that the UI looks like from the 90s.
On a side note, I've helped on the french translations of the steemit website. A group of 7 people contributed to make this possible, even though most of the code making translation possible was written by one of the engineers of golos.io, a fork of Steem which received SteemIt Corp approval (for money or shares probably). Very quickly, our repository was fake merged into the official one, but any mention of the actual translators were deleted and all the credit was taken by this 'valvaz' dude.
Since I've been here, I've seen the SteemIt Corp devs attempting many money grabs. They added a button to buy steem on the homepage (through blocktrades which has huge fees), they added promoted posts, and the feature to disable rewards or get full steem power rewards. Needless to say these attempts were fails. Proof is they got removed at one point.
SteemIt is a very valuable website, which drives a lot of traffic and gets a lot of incoming links. Any normal monetisation program would start by including ads. To this day I still have no idea why this wasn't implemented. It seems the people behind steemit might be good at getting things done but they have no idea about marketing and monetization.
They might be good at getting stuff done, but any actual features they added were all bad ideas or broke more important parts of the system. I'm not even going to talk about the resteem feature for obvious reasons...
The follow feature was a big change, especially when we consider that they made it the default homepage for logged in users! It changed a lot of users habits, and gave a 'twitter' feeling to the website. Personally I hate it, I wish the trending could be my homepage again.
The reputation system in itself wasn't a bad feature as it solved the commenting bots problem, but it reinforced the networking aspect of the game. Because of the fact that everything is public in the blockchain, it is easy to know who is downvoting you, and if you downvote someone higher reputation than you, it won't do anything, and if the guy is a mad little kid like 99% of internet users, you better be ready to get downvoted by him for the rest of your life. I can give 2 clear cut examples of this:
I am French and try to curate the french articles to help the community grow. Both of these articles are by high reputation users. Both times, I downvoted and explained my reasons in the comments. Both times, I got assaulted by an army of carebears with high reputation that basically called me a horrible person for even trying to downvote something. Oh and of course both my comments got downvoted and are now hidden from plain sight.
I believe the downvote mechanic to be a very healthy way to curate, unfortunatly the reputation system rendered this mechanic totally useless. The downvote ratio on Steem is almost 0, compared to Reddit where downvotes are commonly in the 20-30% range from what I can remember (reddit removed the ability to see that a few months back).
I know Steem is still a beta, how could I not when it's written underneath the logo? It's normal for the developers to try to implement new things and revert them if it is not working as intended. Except it's NOT REALLY a beta. There won't be a reset of the chain when it truly releases (if it ever 'releases'). People are getting real coins that they can convert to real money. The beta word underneath the logo is just a reminder for all the monkeys on this website that they should accept things that they wouldn't accept under normal circumstances.
Why do people use social networks in the first place? For socializing. Today, SteemIt is full of greedy users whose goals are to increase their rewards as fast as possible, not socializing. They play the cooperation game instead of caring about their contents, sadly succesfully. They put some signatures with things like "This post is 100% steem power, please upvote" at the bottom of every single of their articles. They will spam the unmoderated steemit.chat rooms 20 times a day. They will make retarded abuses like the 'SP distribution games' that we see on the front page everyday. When I arrived on this website, the quality of the content was far from other social networks, but I hoped it would improve as more users came in. Unfortunatly, the opposite is true. I don't find myself coming in here much, Reddit or even Facebook is a better source of information for me, because I have no time for all the bullshit I mentioned.
How I would try to solve it
I have read about the upcoming economic changes, and I don't think this is gonna change much. The fact the devs promised they won't cashout for the first quarter from their personal accounts is a huge PR mistake. By saying that, most people would understand that they are gonna dump everything from other accounts, and from the personal accounts in the next quarter...
I know everyone believes in decentralization (at least in here), but at this point it's quite obvious that this won't work out. If SteemIt corp really wants this website to become mainstream, they need to make use of their power.
Add a new action on the blockchain that allows the @steemit account to ban and freeze coins of any user. This will allow to ban all the obvious bot accounts very quickly, as well as put a threat on all users who are trying to break the rules, eventually making them change their mind and play the game normally instead. Frozen coins would also virtually decrease the total supply and increase the value of the coin, so nothing is really lost.
Exploits, vote-baits like @steemsports, or high-reputation accounts used to publish somebody's else articles should be forbidden, and banned if they don't comply. This will reduce the amount of useless spam and increase the overall quality of the contents.
The current registration system is extremely bad for the growth of the network. People cannot register without a facebook/reddit account or else they will need to reveal their phone number. WTF?? This point alone will stop making crypto afficionados from even trying steem. I support a normal registration system, with a normal email, maybe even without email confirmation. Just don't give them coins on registration, if they want it they gotta earn it. If they make multi accounts and collude to increase their rewards, just use the ban-hammer from 1.
There is probably some background to the association between Steem and blocktrades and the button to 'Buy Steem', however I feel like most crypto users dislike that. We can buy any crypto on any exchange we prefer, and promoting an exchange (in a disguised way) will by no mean increase the trust in Steem. Just get rid of it and make a page with a listing of all the most popular exchanges in a random order.
Monetize with ads. It's normal for SteemIt corp to want to get some money, I know renting prices in their area are not cheap. But they shouldn't have to sell their coins and drop the price to achieve it. I would most likely disable by ad-blocker if I knew the funds would help the development of Steem. Also, people on internet are used to ads already, and SteemIt is probably the largest social network who hasn't implemented ads yet. Are we really in 2016 ?
Open Source the chain for REAL. Stop it with the bullshit. If someone copies it and improves upon it, it's fair game. As long as SteemIt Corp keeps on working hard and solidify their position, there is no way a fork will ever have a greater share the 'social crypto' market than Steem.
Make the finances of the SteemIt corp public. Users/Investors want to know what they get into. We want to know how many people work full time for steem, and what do they do. If you dump coins on the markets, we also want to know about it. It might not help on the money-making side of things, but it will increase the trust by a lot and will pay off in the long-term.
Hire more people, especially on the marketing side of things. Spend some money on SEM, contact other popular crypto websites to get some exposure. It is insane to think that most crypto currency users have no idea what Steem is despite the fact that it is already functional, when you compare it to all the shit ICO coins with fake github dev teams with no real product which are somehow more popular.
Create a closed source tool for detecting collusion and upvote networks. Run it at random times and use the ban hammer on any user who passes a threeshold.
I can't wait for all your worthless rhetorical comments, so please go ahead, I know you want to.