This whole article takes into assumption that all bid-bot operators, delegators, or users, are all doing it for profit only, and have no intention of creating value in the network. That's what I personally believe. Bid-bots are just leveraging on the STEEM rewards mechanism to create a win-win transaction between both abusers (the bid-bot and the bidder). Nothing new, there's probably been dozens of decent articles talking about that issue recently.
The problem with the trending
Bots have been ramping up the rape against the reward pool ever since linear rewards. They have been here for a while, but they haven't had an impact like that before. The trending was usually controlled by notorious self-voters/circle-jerkers and by popular authors and the curation trails following them.
FUN FACT: At the moment of writing this article, the top 7 articles in the trending got 90%+ of their rshares from bid-bots publicly listed and advertising on steembottracker.com.
Today, bots control most of the trending, it is obvious to anyone who has been using Steem for a bit. Even the latest article from the official @steemitblog couldn't make it #1 trending (BY FAR).
The metagame has shifted, and more and more whales are delegating to bid-bots as it became a convenient and hands-free method of speculation. It gives out ROIs similar to self-voting, without having to get flagged by @berniesanders afterwards.
More and more users are also stacking bid-bot votes to reach trending. I'm not sure if they use automated tools to automatically optimise their bids through multiple bid-bots, but it surely looks like it, and it's scary to me.
I totally believe that delegating to bid-bots, or even running your own, to be the best way to speculate on the STEEM blockchain. They convert upvotes to liquidity while syphoning the reward pool and there's no way even the best curator in the world can beat that when 75% needs to go to the real people who create valuable content. The ROI of running a bid-bot is probably very similar to self-voting, i.e close to 100%.
What I believe we can fix easily, is the trending. Just like how back in the past @grumpycat pushed bot owners to enforce the 'no vote after 3.5 days' rule, I believe we should add more rules to bid-bots usage through downvote-pressure, this time by punishing creators who use bots to reach into the trending. Spending 2 SBD to get some visibility in a sub-tag is kinda fair, but scammers spending 400 SBD to promote their ICOs (without the content being marked as an ad in steemit/busy/etc) is terrible for our community (they get scammed) and gives out a bad image to newcomers and potential investors.
But @heimindanger, it's a lot of work to check every post! There's too many bots to check for !?
Not anymore -> https://steemwhales.com/clean-trending/
This brand new page on my dead website SteemWhales.com will allow you to quickly track the status of the trending contents. After you enter your username, it should fetch the list of all public bid bots, the steem natural trending, and show the % of the value coming from bots in the 'Bots' column.
On top of it, all contents that you haven't already voted on, and that have more than 50% of their value coming from bid-bots, will be selected, and by clicking the big green 'Downvote the trash' button, and entering your private posting key, you will quickly use your voting power to clean up the trending.
Basically, it's a weapon for fighting abuse, and punishing users who reach trending through bid-bots stacking. Try it, it's fun. And I believe it's the best way to use your votes in the current state of the system.
Disclaimer: This thing will use a lot of your voting power, at the rate of 2% per downvoted content.