Time To Wake Up and Fix Steem's Voting Problem

in steem •  5 months ago

MOSHED-2018-5-25-20-28-57.jpg

Enough is enough!

I'm not an economist by trade, but I'm a design-thinker at heart. The game is to learn, experiment, think, and tinker with stuff. With some of my limited experience dealing with application projects from infancy to maturity, I'd say that mass user behaviour is usually an initially-unpredictable beast that must observed diligently over time, and then tamed later for the good of whatever platform they're operating in.

user-experience-vs-design.jpeg

While promoting culture X, Y, and Z may matter in changing behaviour, I'd say that UI/UX design is much more important, especially when it comes to the alignment of economic incentives after discussing with @trafalgar over the past few months.

If you've been using Steem for the past two years, you'd probably feel that Steem is on the precipice of something great. It has the shape of a gifting economy, a speedramp for cryptocurrency worldwide domination. But it's not working as well as it could be because now most users accumulating their own votes, instead of giving them out to actual contributors. And it would seem that some think it really requires account-based voting along with some cultural shift for any changes to take place.

I'm here to say that stake-based voting can be salvaged and improved for Steem's universality as an open, permissionless platform. Every account has people behind them after all, and stakes are just as good, if not better measure of identity for a massive community.

Make voting great again!

I've discussed about Steem's lopsided economic incentives before in here and here. But the point that I want to drive can perhaps be better illustrated through the following classic trolley problem:-

classictrolley.png

Kill one or kill five? Obviously, most will choose to kill one. This is exactly every voter's binary situation on Steem: either vote oneself or vote others. Due to Steem's skewed economic incentives for self voters (or vote sellers, traders, exchangers, etc which are all effectively the same thing to maximise SP accumulation), most will choose not too sacrifice too much and reserve more votes for themselves.

There's mental energy in economic decision-making here, even if you've read through a post and found it highly valuable and deserving. Because there's a huge sacrifice in voting others, if compared to self voting. Check out page 28 of Steem's whitepaper here. I think whatever the paper claims is failing massively at this point in time. Tipping or gifting doesn't mean anything if we vote on ourselves!

In fact, the mental energy in making a decision is so huge in the classic trolley problem that it has been proven that it makes most people freeze as well, preferring not to do anything about the situation instead. Check out VSauce's real life experiment of the trolley problem. It’s a highly recommended watch:-

But surely it's a major waste of time to go around encouraging people to change their voting behaviour and singing songs about a better culture on Steem when our situation is as shitty as the classic trolley problem? Either kill one or kill five. So the change that needs to happen can be illustrated by modifying the situation:-

moderntrolley.png

Now, this is more like it! Kill five.. or five. Screw the classic trolley problem and turn it into a non-problem. Make things more or less an equal sacrifice / advantage no matter how one votes. This is the whole point of what I'm trying to say in one of my recent posts here: https://busy.org/@kevinwong/distributing-wealth-should-be-equally-profitable

But of course, the total advantage of 100% reclaiming one's votes is always going to be there unlike as idealised in the image above. But my point here is to change the economic incentives in a way that doesn't seem like a super huge disadvantage for curators / distributors like what we have on Steem now.

Not everybody is a motherbleeping bestselling author, especially not all the time!

In fact, the network could use more curation works. Now most users are just posting whatever and accumulating to no end, encouraging spammy behaviour. And please, even if your posts are consistently highly valued in trending, it doesn't mean your content is actually good or if you're a great content creator. Do not delude yourself, especially if you've been selling your soul to do so.

This is why the economic incentives need to change. People are going to try to maximise their earnings anyway, so it's better to balance the system more for curation so that less people will create shitposts around the clock for the purpose of maximising their position. Of course, contributors planning to accumulate SP will post as usual. My point is to have those with good amounts of SP spend more time curating than creating posts to vote themselves (or trading their votes, etc which will all mostly and eventually end up going to those doing the same thing).

Let me give you a taste of how much I've been losing out since mid-2017

I'm still operating more or less the same as before because I believe that we can grow the network simply by curating and voting more outwardly than inwardly. It's just plain economics of network effects. At this point in time, I'm effectively earning ~1,100 Steem Dollars, which is only ~15% of my minimum potential earnings for having about 200k SP, just because I'm trying to grow the network by distributing to others instead of myself.

That's me missing out on an extra ~9,000 Steem Dollars per month. But I'm not the only one here and I'm surely nowhere near the ones that are sacrificing the most. There are more users working for the greater good, much more than I ever could, but earning much lesser than most. Surely such an economic system can't be taken seriously in the long run.

I can't do this forever, knowing that I'm making a huge sacrifice. I've only started calculating this recently and to be honest, it's unbearable to be the sucker. My asian father will tell me that I'm being stupid. Top Steem witnesses tend to be okay with their "sacrifice" because they're already earning a handsome amount maintaining their nodes.

But I'm not a witness, like 99.999% of the rest of us on Steem, although admittedly I had it much easier as a content creator back in 2016. Regardless, my position is maybe ~25-40% bought in with my own money. Imagine what it's like for the rest of us. Nobody's going to be the sucker forever. The system needs to be de-suckerified to some extent.

If I'm being honest and think about my experience of Steem for the past year, it certainly has become way more stressful and shitty, probably because of this lopsided incentive that promotes some kinda arms-race behaviour and experience. It's not healthy, and something has definitely changed fundamentally since HF Equality. I don't think I'm alone in feeling this, it's just that I'm a late bloomer as usual.

MOSHED-2018-5-25-20-30-14.jpg

So I'm sticking with my position as previously expressed here: https://busy.org/@kevinwong/distributing-wealth-should-be-equally-profitable that could likely close the gap. So dear developers, some of us have already solved the puzzle and hope to have reasoned it out well enough over and over again.

Some may say it's taking a cut from content creators, but I'd beg to differ because the game will change and may even improve Steem's position in the cryptocurrency landscape. All it takes is just 20 more IQ points, guys. Time to end this madness and make Steem great again!

I hope we all don't need to start selling 100% of our votes just to make a point here. I may even keep repeating this same post until the developers get that it's urgent AF. I think waiting for SMTs to solve this puzzle is a bad idea.

Image source: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4


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As from our discussions, I also believe that this is predominantly a problem of misaligned economic incentives. I also don't think it's inherently true that stake weighted voting necessarily leads to rampant bid bots/self voting and a trending page that resembles the spam folder of my inbox, it really all depends on how the economics of the system work.

A blockchain protocol needs to have a sound economic system that correctly incentivizes behavior that adds value to the platform and deters behavior that is harmful to the platform.

With our current system of linear rewards with 25% curation, what is the best way for most large stakeholders to maximize value? Vote selling, self voting etc. Then is it a surprise that 50-70% of all active Steem Power is participating in these actions? No, it's completely expected. Well is this behavior good for the system as a whole? Of course not, it completely undermines the ability of this place to function as a content discovery platform, which inevitably leads to Steem price under performing.

As I've argued before, this is not a problem of individual misbehavior or bad culture or inability to discover good content or bad ui etc. We've just got a flawed economic system that provides the very action we don't want with the highest rewards.

And realizing the fact that if all the stakeholders behaved contrary to their direct economic interest it'll be better for everyone including themselves is not a solution. No individual stakeholder can entirely trust the voluntary generosity of other stakeholders. And the only way to defend your own stake is to contribute to the very behavior that's making it worse for everyone. This is why you're finding it more and more difficult to continue being a 'sucker'.

I still believe with the right economic adjustments, we can make desirable behavior provide competitive or even superior returns to the problematic profit maximization behavior we have currently. Something like 50% curation, modest superlinear (which would incidentally solve most of the spam problems we currently have as well) and increased downvote incentives would be a good rough guide.

Lifting curation is a direct 'cost' as it basically is just a method of reclaiming your vote rewards (100% curation is basically = 100% self votes barring minor distribution differences). However I believe it's necessary for curation to have a chance of competing against the aforementioned behavior that's bad for the platform. Of course 100% curation would mostly defeat any incentive for content creators to create any good content so that can't be a real solution. Therefore, the idea is to come up with the minimum curation % that could still be reasonably competitive to current profit maximization behaviors when other adjustments are made. I believe that 50% is probably in the right ballpark.

The other two adjustments (modest superlinear and increased downvote incentives, for example separate downvoting pool) have the advantage of having no direct cost to the system. Admittedly they have significant indirect costs. On balance though, I think with the right numbers they can push the tip the advantage in favor of good curation over vote selling/self voting when it comes to profit maximization behaviors.

The idea is not to prevent people from maximizing profits. Relying on the collective and voluntary generosity of all the large stakeholders is a recipe for failure. The idea is to align profit maximization with behavior that's better for the content discovery initiatives of the platform.

With respect to SMTs and Good Person Tokens (1 account 1 vote, oracle etc) as a solution, I won't get too much into the details, but I'd say the best realistic case is that it's too far away and we'll need something in the interim. SMTs likely won't come until the end of the year (at best) and they'll need time to mature before they can really help in terms of content discovery and curation (even assuming they work perfectly).

Witnesses and developers should make changing our underlying economics to better align with good content discovery behavior a higher priority.

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As I try to spread the ideas below I add my comment not only under the main article but also as response to your comment, because otherwise I guess you wouldn't get aware of it:

Some time ago I formulated some ideas to make self-voting, circle-voting and spamming less attractive by ...

  • ... thinking about a reward curve which started as n^2 / exponential (thus flat), and then later changed into linear which would work against self-voting as well as excessive rewards.
    @clayop had a similar idea.
  • ... implementing diminishing returns when upvoting the same accounts (including own ones) again and again.
  • ... reintroducing the restriction to four (or less) full paid posts per day (from some hard forks ago) which was very reasonable.

When I wrote these articles some time ago I really had hoped that more witnesses/big account holders would have joined the discussion!

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This is an incredibly important subject to discuss. @kevinwong , and some excellent points, @trafalgar

I think something like what @exyle explained here is going to happen eventually.

This way to go is placed somewhere in the middle: The big guns here will start financing / supporting projects instead of individuals. Projects that could give them a nice ROI, compared to selling upvotes. A REAL, LOGICAL OPTION for them to invest in. And these projects will benefit individual creators in different ways. They could be a middle ground: Good for the whales, good for the minnows.

No more "doing it for the right reasons" or "your quality does not deserve it!" or "effing trending page!!"

Unless they really re-think the curating system and make it actually worth it against the alternative, I think this is a more down-to-earth solution.

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Incentives are what changes things, not decent or moral behaviour. This is true in every other field - Cheaper solar panels and windmills are what it takes to get off fossil fuel for example - not combined friendly thinking.

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You must be from the UK. Such good humor in the vid. Unfortunately, for now, you are right. Incentives are just that: motivation to change.

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I am from Denmark, but most Brits who live here says the humour, and the weather is very much the same.

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Denmark...the land of the happy socialists. At least that's how most in the US see you folks. I'm composing a post today on what I call Cooperative Abundance... a concept that may, one day, effectively replace socialism, at least in part.

Many blessings. Hope to see you around.

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We are not socialists, but a combination of Libertarians and social democrats (which is what you can call social conservatives). There never was a revolution here and we have private property.

We pay high income adjusted taxes to have a free health system, free education etc. That might be the reason for the confusion.

Blessings to you too. I am around most days :)

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Interesting. Perhaps you are not aware but frequently when "progressives" here in the States want to promote socialism they point to Denmark as a good example.
Peace.

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Socialism is a bit of a rubber-concept. You could use socialism in a broad general sense meaning a system that takes care of its poor, but almost all western societies except the US has a public health care system for example. If that is what the progressives mean, we Scandinavians are socialists, but so are the Brits, the French, the Canadians etc.

And then it can be a system where you have collective ownership of the means of production. Like communism. We are not that kind of system. We are still a capitalist system.

I think that the US discussion has been a little off when it come to what socialism actually is since McCarthy or maybe even before that.

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...and if we took away the $5.4 trillion in subsidies to petroleum industry, that would de-incentivize using petroleum...

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Any reasons to think this would be better than n2?

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I do support modest superlinear (~n^1.3ish, but capped after a certain point, lets say after 1,000,000 sp worth of votes, then linear afterwards) in conjunction with higher curation (~50%) and increased downvote incentives

I think with n^1.3 you probably get most of the benefits of n^2 (wisdom of the crowds, forcing all 'profitable' behavior into the light, making it difficult to put a price on vote buying, higher curation incentives, gets rid of all 'profitable' spamming etc.) at a fraction of the cost (whales less overpowered, minnows less underpowered)

Basically at n^2, someone with 10x your voting power has a vote value that is 100x that of yours. In other words, they get 10x more voting power PER sp.

Under n^1.3 someone with 10x your voting power only has a vote value that's 20x that of yours. So their voting power per sp is only 2x that of someone with 10x fewer sp. It gives minnows a fairer chance and should be significant enough to enjoy most of the benefits of n^2 outlined above, especially paired with higher curation and more downvote incentives.

Basically it all comes down to trying to get profit maximization behavior to shift from what it is now to actually voting for good content (at least subjectively), but at the least cost in terms of trade offs.

So sure, you can do this by making curation 100%, or with a curve that's n^10 (extreme examples to illustrate this point), but the trade offs are too high. The idea is to shift things around just enough to move the economic equilibrium away from brainless vote selling/self voting but leave as much on the table for content creators and minnows' voting power as possible so they have a worthwhile time being here.

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Which retard at stinc originally thought to exclude the 50/50 SP/SBD split from the options curators can choose from as rewards? They really shouldn't sit in on any future discussions of economics pertaining to the blockchain.

Personally I think that it only makes sense that curating should give >50% of the rewards. Think of almost every great artist in history. Were the patrons of arts themselves the best artists and content producers? Fuck no. But wealthy people with discriminating tastes were somewhat successful in funding artists who were good at their jobs.

There is obviously no necessity that just being wealthy means someone has good tastes, or that having a lot of steem power from some shitty pre-mine makes you omniscient when it comes to choosing good art. But if we use common sense there's a clear pattern that arises when you look at people who are interested in art and creative pursuits versus those who are interested in wealth accumulation, and the pattern is that there is not much overlap between the two groups.

Wealth-maximizing individuals aren't going to judge their own content harshly, it's a very sordid affair to publish crap to self-vote or circle-vote on steemit. If we want the network to grow we really do need to minimize the incentive for such individuals to produce any content at all of their own.

It's quite likely that this was all designed as a nice get-rich-quick scheme for the founders, and we're all being strung along as a sick joke, but it would be nice if they at least pretended to know how and why other social media platforms are successful if they're going to be in charge of the one we're forced to use.

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I also don't think it's inherently true that stake weighted voting necessarily leads to rampant bid bots/self voting and a trending page that resembles the spam folder of my inbox, it really all depends on how the economics of the system work.

It does, and is a main factor but it isn't quite difficult to solve this.

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Great comment @trafalgar ! I am in full agreement, and all ready commented in @kevinwong s latest post! following you now and I really hope these suggestions get noticed, great job!👍👍👍

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It depends on one's goals. Are they long term goals of growth and expansion in this emerging trends...or...do you want higher short term rewards at the expense of poorer and poorer long term growth?
People have a choice...let's see what happens.

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I think this issue of excessive vote selling has been in the back of minds of the many regulars on Steem and I wonder what is the consensus between the whales on this? Do the big stake holders even have a place to talk about issues like this?

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Can I be so curious why you choose to have 2 accounts? And how do you do that? Do you need to login and logout all the time? And how do you use the upvotes for both accounts? I'm just guessing this takes quite a lot of time?

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Ill speak from a minnow point of view since i think even the voice of the small stake holders has some value.
I agree with your sentiments to some degree. What i think we need to take into account outside the 50%, 60%, 70% etc loss in potential profit for large stake holders is the external effect that stems from our actions on blockchain.
Yes... In the short term it might seem you are at a loss of potential profit but as in real life societal growth depends on more then individual maximization of profit in short term.

Acting in a way that Kevin is doing is adding to the value of the platform. Acting in the way those that self upvote, delegate massive amounts of SP to bots, is hurting the growth of steem.

Our collective approach has a direct implication on the $ value.
What Kevin is seeing is lower gains in comparison to those that act in the way that is a detriment to the platform. And yes i completely understand his frustration.

Throughout human history more often then not those that act to detriment of society profit the most. Dan realized this which is why he put in a constitution on EOS. Pure ungoverned model does not work. People are so flawed that they are willing to completely kill any opportunity for long term gains in order to maximize short term ones. And here the few have all the power.
What we are seeing now is what happens when you let people completely govern themselves without any set rules.

They destroy themselves.
This economic model could have worked if human beings werent human beings.

So you decided to vote for your own post in this case ;) I stopped self-voting a while back as it didn't feel right when my vote was worth a couple of dollars. I'll let others have the benefit. I think the algorithms should make a self-vote worth less, but then people would do it indirectly using delegation or other means. I delegate to others to help them out. I think it's definitely more important to build this platform than to worry about how much I'm making. If it all works out then we'll do okay anyway.

What we do have here is freedom, so it is a choice. It's better to have less rules in general. I fully understand that some people are desperate to make anything and Steem/Steemit may make it possible for them to have a better life.

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But if you don't mix in self-vote, you don't get to support others as much as you could in the future, while the others are staked up for almost nothing done for the platform. I didn't worry about whatever I'm doing until I started calculating and it doesn't stack up in that perspective I was laying out earlier. You're one of the ones that are sacrificing more than most for the good of the network :) thank you.

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Agreed!💕👍👍👍

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@steevc You post more often than most... what about those that post once a day or even less? Do you believe they need to not self-vote? (Just curious) I think they're still doing great good to the community by giving out 9/10th(ish) or more of their votes to curate good content.

@kevinwong
You post on average less than one a day... you're still giving 90%+ of your votes to others and that doesn't seem selfish at all (assuming you're doing the normal 10 votes worth a week) and I think that is awesome!! I don't see a problem with it personally. IF you are voting/curating solid content then you should be the one with more steem-power and I'm glad you're giving yourself some.

I'm not sure at what point it becomes abuse... i don't think it's when you're vote hits a certain dollar amount. I think it's what percentage of your votes are going to yourself.

p.s. sorry i don't really have a solid opinion on the main topic of curation percentage just chiming in on this subtopic from @steevc

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I know there are much worse cases. There are people who comment just so they can give themselves a vote every time. We each set our own standards. I decided not to do it at all unless I got a flag I consider unwarranted

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K cool. just so that people realize there are huge variances and not lump everyone together.

People also lump all vote buyers together as well.
Some people who use a bid bot just to invest some of their money and some who do it to get onto trending. If they wait like 2 days then they aren't trying to get onto trending... if they do it right away kinda seems like they're trying to aim for trending. (or there's a possibility they don't have a strategy just doing it just because) I guess if they wait more than like 4 days then they're just trying to milk the system.

Anyway that's a whole other bag-o-worms. haha

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Great comment , we are living in very trying times all over the world so desperate times call for desperate measures especially for those of us that would normally never do it and would much prefer not to. We all want a better life at least a roof over our heads which I came close to losing after being laid off last year,and Am very thankful For steem I had powered up to help me out, and steemit! it really was a life saver and I am now on the road to recovery! ✌💕👍

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Damn, I should have given you the Mitchell and Webb sketch I posted under Trafalgar... :)

And Kevin even said what I would say: that I self-vote to be good in the future ;)

I think you are one of the people that makes this whole place worthwhile - but there need to be some technical changes in my opinion. You wouldn't change one bit, but you would be given more power to actually change Steemit into something good.

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I really think you are a bit alone on this one. Alright together with some other Steemonians like the post author. But the majority of Steemonians tells me to stop wining as red fish. I should just create quality content. But I'm 99.9% sure that any Newby won't get there just worth quality content.

As red fish I would suggest that all greedy orcas and whales instantly change there behavior. They should care for the long term.

Of I were your financial advisor I would give you a totally different advice. Everything that will be done as of now might be to little to late. Cause the $400mln can never be redivided.

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I vote up comments by puerile of all levels so there's potential to earn from that, but it won't make you rich. If hope that those who got in early don't keep it all too themselves. There should be multiple opportunities to earn. I'm doing what I can to help

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If everyone would think like you then things would work out in such a way that Steemit would be an awesome place to hang out. But I think we can only hope a future competitor will manage to create such a blockchain social media platform.

I can assure you that people that got in early will keep everything for their selves. None of these people will give away free Steem. So the gap will most likely never be closed.

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There are good people here who do share, but some will just take the money. I'm not the only one who thinks as I do.

Yup. Vote buying and self-votes are breaking down the economic engine of Steemit.

They are just rent-seeking behavior that adds no direct value to the platform.

I think some reforms are necessary:

  1. Make delegated power worth less than non-delegated
  2. Enforce a cap on how much power can be delegated
  3. Improve the discovery features of Steemit (Where are communities?)
  4. Explore why the Promotion system is not effective
  5. Adjust payouts to better reward minnows that catch an engaged audience instead of just catching a signal whale-bot vote.
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Enforce a cap on how much power you can delegate sounds like communism. It's a not a good idea to move into that direction. That would make people work less. It's clear that automated stuff is here to stay.

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Could you elaborate? How would some limit on delegation cause people to work less?

My theory is that if one cannot simply hand away their power to a bot, then they have to work to earn a return on their power. That work would imply curating and engaging in the platform.

Today, you already have people doing no work and adding nothing to the platform aside from just rent-seeking. They simply delegate their power and collect an ROI with no activity whatsoever.

I have saved almost everything I earned into SP to be able to make something here (I have seen how interest in great quality posters have disappeared as soon as they have powered down) - I have been lucky that people from other networks are sending me bitcoin donations that I can live from.

But I am still interested in a Steemit that work instead of this ridiculous mess. Right now I upvote my own posts (never my own comments), but I would be OK with a hardfork that removed selfvoting altogether (or diminished it to two votes a day like @vcelier proposed) and then maybe a bit more reward to the curators.

You do not make people bike by telling them it is healthy and that your government welcomes it. You build bicycle tracks and put taxes on cars.

Crypto has one great thing - it has impartial, transparent rules. Let's change them... or lets vote for the witnesses who supports them.

Yea boy

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It’s just hard to get a consensus of things, everything’s lost in the wind 99% of the time. Just hoping to nail a decent enough explanation in this one..

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Yes, It sounded smart ass-ish. The democracy aspect of Steemit is not at all obvious to the general user. I think that there is a consensus among many users that a change to the voting system is important, but it is hard to get the discussion centralised enough when you only have posts :) As you can see I am willing to try some drastic measures, but I support of course to make curating more profitable. I could also imagine a scenario where self-voting was not build in at all, but it is hard to change such things when they have been an integrated part of the system.

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what we need is a Facebook-like platform, that encourages posting aboutt anything and everything and that way, there are many things to learn about; sometimes people don't have the time to draft a post. they just want to state what's on their mind either for support or to start an interesting topic.

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I see nothing that prevent you from doing this on Steemit, but if had 100 points/percent to place on two posts - one is posting a comic page that you know he used the whole week creating (like me) and the other posts fun trivia he finds on the internet, let's say he posts this new This Is America video by Childish Gambino. How would you use your points?

I do not think that you can make a perfect system. Social systems evolve after unexpected criteria, and if you want to turn it in another direction you just have to experiment. Steemit was never Facebook and I doubt that you can make it turn that much around. We somehow connect money with work, talent, effort.

I am on the federation, a free decentralised network that consists of many systems. That is the place I post like I would do on Facebook.

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Point taken. I understand that it will be this way, but then the question. what is good content? For instance, when dealing with someone such as myself, you won't find screenshots of that much ... unless I had a sighted individual over my shoulder taking them. are my steem contributions seen as less due to lack of images?

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I'll just have to say that my view of Steemit is just my view. I am still very in doubt what direction Steemit will take. That's the exiting and annoying thing about it.

Then you basically ask how to make the perfect post that gets attention... If I knew I would be on the trending page - and I am not. But here are my observations.

  1. I guess an image is good. I place a small image in the top. 1.75:1 format that will look nice in the feed (Example)

  2. It is a good thing to comment a lot. Make it good interesting comments that are about the post like the one you made in this tread. I am aware of you now because you did for example.

  3. Find some profiles with people who do what you like to do, writing many small posts. I can mention @steevc for example. (he is also the master commenter)

  4. Remember that it takes time to build the network. I write for the people who likes my comic, illustrations and art, who are interested in my texts on music and other art, and who comments on my posts. Often I even get ideas from posts because some of them wrote something in a posts or comment. (example)

  5. Last: Steemit is not fair. If you have the connections you will get upvoted. There can be so many reasons for this. Alliances, gaming of the system, political strategy, friendship (I have made some very good friends here that I never have meet (except @vcelier - who actually visited me), and last - sheer luck.

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I know it's not fair. I learned that real quick. I'm up here for the community anyways, but the rewards are nice. of greater concern, though, is my open source project account. that's the one I want getting all the votes. I'm pretty sure that will happen soon. It's just however long it takes me to become an efficient programmer all by myself, I think. That account is @stormlighttech, which I update weekly, for the moment, at least.

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Your last sentence seems to indicate that witnesses could change the way this blockchain works. But so far it looks like they don't have this much influence. Do you really think they can?

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In my conversation with smooth the issue was apparent, most open-sourced projects field ideas and contributions from lots of people, but here steemit inc is the one that pushes ideas and code and it's a mostly closed process.

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Steemit inc can't force a hardfork without the witnesses agreeing. I found this old post by @someguy123 - it seems to sum up the basics.

https://steemit.com/witness-category/@someguy123/seriously-what-is-a-witness-why-should-i-care-how-do-i-become-one-answer

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Not forcing a hardfork and open dynamic collaboration are very different things.

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True again...

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Well, this is very, very old in steemit terms, and some of the numbers referenced are outdated.

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It is, but it does explain the concept of witnesses. For a more precise idea of the latest hardfork you should consult the white paper.

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The witnesses have to agree (or a percentage of them at least) for a hardfork to be a reality - they are the miners of Steem and they participate in discussions with Steemit inc. about what to do. You can vote for them in the right menu.

Right now this representative democracy is not that well working - many people doesn't know how the system works.

See this post: https://steemit.com/witness-category/@someguy123/seriously-what-is-a-witness-why-should-i-care-how-do-i-become-one-answer

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This only means that witnesses can block change, not that witnesses can actually implement change. In practical terms today, witnesses can't. Over time it is possible that development could evolve toward a more decentralized approach but there is at best only slow progress in that direction.

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True. I just have to admit that. A veto is of course not representative democracy... That was just plain wrong - wishful thinking from my side.

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I think we're on the same line. The chances are small the witnesses will some this. Looks like they didn't do anything as of I started with Steemit in January....

Kevin, you're spot on brother!
SMTs are exciting, but let's not expect them to solve this puzzle.
Your decision to upvote quality content other than your own is a wise move, and here's why:
You are doing your part to encourage mass adoption of the Steemit platform by rewarding others who are new to Steemit.

My Steempower is 6500, and I do the same;
By supporting others with our votes and not solely self-voting, we end up getting a smaller piece of a (hopefully) much larger pie (by Steem rising in value) that our efforts and generosity helped to build.

That's how I 'frame it' to support the actions that both you, I, and so many others engage in and encourage.
It was fantastic having dinner with you, @sjennon, @firepower, and @anyx at the celebration dinner on Sunday night, in Amsterdam, at Steemfest 1 🙂
I have all of you to thank for inspiring my belief and passion for Steemit:
Always powering up, never cashed out! 🤜🤛
Have a great summer man!

So if i understand everything correctly, you want to make curating more profitable than self voting. How much percent would one have to get back of the voting amount to do that?

Im very happy you are pushing this issue because what will be the point in the end if we all self upvote and we focus on our self 100 percent, that is not very social.. But unfortunately that is mostly the case right now.

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It's already more profitable to curate since you build up good relationships with other humans. This is clearly the best in the long run. Since it's something real. You are buying more time by investing in humans. And time is limited.

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Good argument - I agree

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Thanks!

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Oh doesn't have to be completely more profitable than self voting, just need to close in on the wide gap..

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Got it - thanks !

My point is to have those with good amounts of SP spend more time curating than creating posts to vote themselves

This is a great point Kevin. Users on Steem are all doing a little bit of everything right now. With stronger incentives it seems way better for whales to have the incentive of truly good curation, which simply doesnt exist now outside of the truest believers.

I refuse to buy votes and I know that I'm in the minority by doing so. I even left Sndbox because I felt like their votes were making up too high a percentage of my earnings. As a small fish who posts 3-4 times per day I'm giving up at least 50% of potential earnings, "against my own interest," kinda like what you describe.

Something has to change because I know most people will simply buy votes if they can do so.

You have my support on this, I will resteem to spread awareness.

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I fully support your stance on not buying votes. I give less vote to those who do

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Are you against Google Adsense, Facebook Marketing, Instagram Marketing and Traditional Marketing as well?

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I'm not crazy about them. What I liked about steemit was the lack of ads

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Well yes me too. But we still have to be realistic that money needs to be made somehow and that advertising is not going away. Advertising creates jobs. People need jobs. Coca-cola spend 3 billion dollars per year on advertising.

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I don’t think vote trading markets are anything wrong, and it’s impossible for it to go away. It’s just that by acknowledging and removing the trolley problem in voting, things may hopefully get better. I think it’s a very real problem, and those with a good amount of skin in the game know it, instead of brushing it aside. The Vsauce video is quite revealing about what people aspire to be and what they actually do in the end. The problem shouldn’t even be there to begin with, and it’s avoidable in designing Steem.

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I think we agree.

To be clear any form of vote "trading" where people can directly purchase votes which give them more money than they spend, seems indisinguishable from a scam to me. Perhaps my economics are not strong enough to see how it isn't a scam, but, then again, when it smells like a duck... IDK how steem can survive if people can "buy money" in such a direct way.

If you mean that there are other forms of vote trading / organization, which are inevitable and ok, and may generate substantial profits for some, I agree that would be fine and good.

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I refuse to buy votes

You and me both, brother! It is tempting and I believe I do feel the same tension as does @kevinwong to not be the "sucker".

Our type sacrifices to make this platform better yet we are the ones whose relative voting influence will dimish to the likes of rampant self-voters or vote sellers.

It seems a bit hopeless at times which is why my optimism for Steem's sustainability has been on a downward trend. Let's get some Elliot waves on that. I know a guy. ;)

But in all seriousness...

I hope something drastic changes so hope in this platform is rekindled and economic incentives are modified where being the biggest asshole doesn't equal the biggest payout.

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Vote selling is fine as long as the votes goes towards quality content.

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Vote selling is fine as long as the votes goes towards quality content.

That, my friend, is the problem. It very often doesn't and a lot of bot owners are either too greedy or lazy to unvote. Prime example. Guy earned 57 posting single screenshots from coinmarketcap.

https://steemit.com/bitcoin/@jrbuenavista/bitcoin-btc-usd8-144-98-usd#@postpromoter/re-jrbuenavista-bitcoin-btc-usd8-144-98-usd-20180518t094900696z

The above is one I coordinated to get zeroed.

Screenshot_20180525-115414.png

But for every one I am successful in flagging away rewards, there are scores that make it through to payout.

Estimated author rewards last week:
9.056 STEEM POWER
0.000 STEEM
27.277 SBD

Their payouts have been going to the exchange too. They don't care about Steem. They care about making an easy lick and bot owners hook it up.

I can run a script against this guy's blog and tell you exactly what the ROI was before we shut em down. We've managed this for a few.

Vote selling is too easy to abuse; therefore, I will not participate as a matter of principle.

The way I see it. If the author or contributor is adding value to Steem, we ought to upvote them based on that merit not because they paid us Steem/SBD.

Good curation requires effort but has so much potential. If it is possible, that is where I believe the economic incentive should be aligned.

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Vote selling can be abused for sure. But it won't if you develop good role models of many selfless people. Advertising is not going away. Since there are many that wants to get in front of peoples eyes so they will find a way to do it. It's great that people take action when something seem unfair. We will be seeing a lot of that in the future since everything is now more transparent and we can see what is going on.

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@phoninf

If vote selling were simply advertising, I would have no problem with it but it's a bit more nuanced than that.

I like @freebornangel's idea for people declining rewards if it is just promotion or advertising (it was on Discord). He also mentioned a burn bot which I think would be an interesting idea.

We know it won't happen though. People aren't merely interested in advertising but also maximizing SP accumulation as stated in the OP.

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Never understood the point with decline rewards. An ecosystem need people both being able to give and receive. Vote selling is clearly advertising. What else would it be? I like to hear nuanced ideas more in depth.

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Reward pool rape.
The reward pool was created to reward content creation, any rewards taken from it in any way except getting voted to you for content you created is abuse, imo.

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Hi Kevinwong, I'm so glad that you raised up this concern,
thanks.gif
In my ideal Steemit world, upvotes go to good quality content. In our current Steemit world, this is far from the case and it is basically just about who you know (or better yet: who knows you) and how rich you are in your Steem Power.

I wrote about it few months ego . I feel the older minnows are being left out in the cold in favor of upvoting newbies for being now. This frustrates me, because I see the amount of upvotes declining. This has led me to upvote some of my own, longer comments, to make sure I atleast earn just a little bit still. I don't particularly like it, but Steemit isn't fair anyway, so sometimes I just can't care too much anymore...

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Exactly. It's about building up quality relationships and grow other peoples accounts until you have created a self-supporting community! That will say it's about who you know and how good community you create and how good value and morals you can create by being a good role model for others.

Is self-voting really the big issue of the time? What is your take on bidbots and buying votes? Many whales aren't working to curate and earn rewards, they get suckers to buy votes and they get curation rewards on top of selling their votes. It's a double income for them. Most don't post so self-voting at that level isn't a problem. I used to not self-vote, before HF19. When I came back to Steemit 2 months ago, I saw how things had changed, and I took back my delegated power and started self-voting again. I also don't make more than 4x posts each day. I also see you self-vote... so that's a bit confusing that you're arguing for a position you don't do yourself personally :/

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Bid bots and buying votes are effectively self-voting, just different manifestations under this economic equilibrium. Buyers end up self-voting, which meant the sellers too because they got paid for that to happen..

Our proposal seeks to make the best out of voting behaviour by solving that trolley problem, at least in spirit. The effect of doing so could destabilise the vote trading market and make it a less predictable game. Vote trading markets are still going to exist regardless. It’s not a bad thing, just that it’s highly favoured under the current scheme.

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Bid bots are self-voting by the sellers (i.e. sellers earn about what they would earn if they posted a comment and voted for it with their own stake). The buyers mostly break even. It games the placement Trending algorithm, which is supposed to ranks highly rewarded content. However, with paid votes being close to break even, it doesn't really do that, it ranks content with a high placement spend. It is actually debatable whether this is bad though. Being willing to spend money for placement is a perfectly valid economic activity (advertising).

Taken to its extreme (all stake delegated to bid bots), it replaces the idea of a reward pool with a paid-placement blogging site. The native token is used for payment, bandwidth, and some staking purposes. I don't know if that is actually 'bad', just different. It could probably be implemented more efficiently (for example by getting rid of the largely-neutered reward pool concept).

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I agree on that perspective. I think like all discussions, there really needs to be an anchor so we know we're talking about more or less the same thing, which is in this case, to improve Steem via its social media front. It seems like you've given up on the idea..

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'Social media' doesn't inherently mean rewarding with money. The most successful sites reward virtually none of their users, although a small portion of superstars do earn money. Furthermore most of them, if not all, do have paid placement of some kind.

So, no, I wouldn't say I have given up on the premise of Steem having a social media front that adds value. But I'm largely unconvinced there is a viable model for voting to give away money in a manner that actually helps make it more social or compelling. Apart from the voting dynamics problem, it isn't even clear that the money helps on 'social' aspect as opposed to hurting. Mostly it seems to make people behave more obnoxiously and less genuinely social in order to try to get more money. I could be wrong, but that's how I see it so far.

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Quadratic rewards, 50/50 author/curator splits, 2 year power downs; all very deliberately chosen to avoid exactly the kind of behaviour we're seeing now that they're gone.

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No so sure about the 2 year period and hyperinflation, Dan certainly got some good ideas right and some terrible. Quadratic is a great consideration, although I’d say that it shouldn’t be as strong as pure n^2..

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Two year (or whatever longer period) still makes perfect sense without hyperinflation. The two are mostly unrelated.

Hello @kelvinwong, glad i came accross this post. I for one does not support vote buying and have never used the services since my few months on steemit. Reason been that i dont see it as profitable and the effect it has on visibilty is feasible to me.
However, i can understand why people would want to buy votes. It can be very fustrating and discouraging to have put up a post and do not get rewards. Lots of steemit accounts are dead at the moment due to posting and not get rewarded. Now there is a glitched to what is know as quality post on steemit. Long, well disseted, with good pictures, for a post to be quality enough to get reward. Not everyone can do that. other forms of posts needs to be rewarded also. When i joined steemit, i thought it was a place where you can just blog and be cool. But thats not the case, it is about who likes what you blog, is about who gets to see your post, it is about what steemit regard as a good content. I do understand that, as we cant really be visible to everyone, or get to reach everyone.
I guess this is the reason people have to opt for vote buying to encourage themselves to blog. The truth is we all have our circle on steemit and cannot reach every good content. However quality the content of a minnow post is, they can never get what a whale gets for reward, not because the content not good enough, but the circle he/she belongs to.
Buying votes may be bribery, but people have to do what they have to do to earn, build a reputaion, survive and be consistence on steemit. Despite the fact that, few of the many powerful people have been very helpful with rewarding, they cannot reach everyone.
In this plight i would suggest, in as much as buying of vote doesnt give much value and tends more to the abusing side, buying of votes shouldnt be frowned. For those who needs it, they should be able to access the services,if that is what it takes for them to earn and remain active.
My sincere opinion. Thank you.

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Yes I have no problem with the vote trading market. People are free to do what they want. Many may not know the current lopsided incentives that favour the market too much, hence why I’m writing this post.

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Buying votes isn't bribery. It's capitalism. We live in a market economy. Advertising is legal.

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The promotion page is Steemit's attempt at advertising. Paying for promotion actually burns steem and makes the entire platform worth more. I'm guessing it could be improved, but it acts in a way that is beneficial to the whole system.

I'd argue that people paying for votes is not advertising, and it does not benefit the whole system.

  1. Crappy content is posted
  2. Poster pays for votes
  3. Crappy content gets an overly valued on the platform
  4. Poster gets paid
  5. Bidbot provider gets paid
  6. Delegator gets paid.
  7. More spammers join the platform

So, what happens with that exchange? Is quality content encouraged? Is curation encouraged? Does the value of steemit increase, or does it go down since its now attached to less and less valuable material?

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Great comment. Let me reply.

First of all I don't understand why someone would want to visit a promotion tab? Advertising is evolving and becoming more smooth, directed and niched. For example in comments directed to a specific person. It's evolving to become more elegant where it doesn't even look like advertising. For example Telegram on Twitter which has a very chatty friendly tone to it's audience. Feels very personal and real. That is where things are going. People are expecting more.

  1. Not just crappy content is being posted. Good content is also posted and people get a chance to get in front of more people and become discovered.

  2. Poster pays to get seen. Just as traditional advertising that works. Capitalism that will say.

  3. Surely crappy content can be overvalued for now but once it becomes more expensive to advertise and the profits go down only the ones with real solid legit content will be able to afford to continue to boost stuff.

4-5. People are getting paid.. That is good since people need payment in life.

Also the content is King era is dying in a world of limitless content. Quality relationships and Quality communication is what is providing real value to the Blockchain. That users are using it daily to reach other people and doing value exchanges.

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Thanks for the well-thought reply.

I agree that the Promotion tab is a poor solution and needs reworked. Maybe its worth shuffling promoted posts onto the Trending page? Promoted could work like a simple auction for a span of time for those Promotion spots on the Trending page.

  1. Good content can buy votes as well, but what if the good content gets lost among the spam? What general behaviors are we encouraging if any content can reach the Trending page. Are we encouraging solid posts, or cheap posts? Which would become the majority?

  2. I agree.

  3. I don't know if this holds true. Is there a trend for bidbots becoming more expensive? Or, are we just getting a higher quantity of bots with less SP, cheaper buy-ins and less competition?

  4. Payment is not always a net-good. Would you want to get paid in Venezuelan bolívars? The payment needs to remain valuable. I'd argue that Steemit's value is driven by Proof-of-Brain, and shouldn't be driven by Proof-of-Bidbot.

I agree, content is a commodity. People's attention has plenty of things to keep it engaged these days. Relationships and engagement are extremely valuable and should be incentivized.

So, how do we design Steemit to encourage better engagement?

On that note, thank you for the quality conversation and discussion. :D

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We need to design it in such a way so it's easy to find discussions and to be able to jump into them and engage. For example how YouTube had it back in the days. Where you could find the videos with the most amount of new comments. This would be great because active users would be seen more.

Also another thing that is extremely valuable that currently is undervalued is the SBD liquid send system. That is what will make this Steem Blockchain worth the most in the long run. The Steem Blockchain surely should reward Proof-of-Brain.

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Hive Mind will be interesting in that regard.

The flag is nothing personal. In fact, I like you.

But I'm beyond tired of these stating-the-obvious posts always raking in the hundreds.

A lot of people say these same exact things every day, but no one cares. But when it's a top end user, all the whales stack up with their big upvotes.

And ultimately, nothing changes in the end.

I repeat: nothing personal. I flagged the phenomena, not you as a user. But this is just another form of circle jerk, to be honest.

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Just hoping to drive a point and get some of dat Steem lol. I have no issues with however you want to use your votes

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I know, one is not required to explain their flags. But with the stigma being what it is.

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haha i think any 2 year old steem user should have already settled into it well enough. i seriously can't wait for tau to release and help with the scaling of discussions and consensus. So much energy lost over so many discussions, all going in circles. Decentralisation problems.

All need money. But does everything come for the money? I'm 50 years old. I want to continue to share content. If there is a reward, thank you. If not, I keep writing without doing Self-Upvote. Thank you for giving upvote often. I read this post. But I do not have any different ideas.

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Oh i see. For me, I see rewards as a way to be able to reward others in the future if they're contributing on the platform. Thanks for sticking around @rismanrachman :)

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Thanks. I am still reading all the comments.

I have mentioned a suggestion for solve self-voting problem before:
Halving everyone's voting value: 50% for self-50% for the others (curators and the author). If the voter is also the author, then the latter 50% all go to curators. So no matter who you vote, you will get 50% of your vote value.

I stopped self voting nearly one month ago. I am not losing because I am contributing. One solid post per day(sometimes I take a day off) that my personal following and curators consider to be good enough to vote on. I use the additional voting power I've gained by not self voting, and give it to others.
Screenshot (379).png

I'm earning more SP through curation than ever before. I'm getting more SP by helping others than I gain through posting. I'm offering more the incentive to stick around and enjoy the platform so they too can enjoy the same ride I'm on. More people seeing a reward here, along with a future, secures my investment. This is not a loss. It's a huge gain.

Now, I know there are ways to make more, now, but the point is, I'm gaining. I'm not losing anything by thinking about tomorrow. We stand to earn far more and those just getting started are in the same boat.

Everything we see in that screenshot was earned here. I did not invest a dime. This approach works really well. I don't purchase votes, I don't look for little exploits in order to earn. I simply post and curate manually. No tricks, no gimmicks, just taking what I've been given and using it as it was intended while thinking of others just as much as myself.

Steemit works like this. Just putting that out there.

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Yes agree. Nothing wrong with people who use votes on themselves too, but our current situation is one with the trolley problem, which should be minimised as best as possible for reasons I’ve stated in the post. Users like you shouldn’t be at the end of a suckernomics, relative to those that are maximising their SP by all means.

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I 100% agree. What I'm doing, this behavior; it was encouraged straight from the get go. Post, powerup, help others, build roads, get there. The way it is now, there's a wall in front of me and I'm given a plastic spoon to chip away at it. Not working! Needs to change. If I stop doing what I'm doing, many others take a hit. Just imagine if I did a post where suddenly I say, "Okay, enough is enough, you must purchase my vote now." Career suicide. The content producers need a fair shake or the the entire system crumbles and dammit man these people earning now will see their money turn to dust. It's so damn obvious to anyone who knows anything and holy shit dude I'm going off on another tangent. I apologize for the last time I was here yappin and I better shut up before I do it again.

If you've been using Steem for the past two years

Liar, your cakeday is tomorrow! xD

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What is a cakeday? Birthday haha? Btw... I helped my Finnish friend get a Steemit account! His name is @atelier on Steemit. Go say hi to him! If you write something in Finnish to him I'm sure that it will give him a shock haha.

Some true blights here and sometimes I feel like it’s unfair but what can we do? How can we get a 100$ payout like others do ? It just doesn’t seem fair but I believe in working hard and engaging . One day it will pay off

Top Steem witnesses tend to be okay with their "sacrifice" because they're already earning a handsome amount maintaining their nodes.

Actually 9000 SBD per month is probably more than full witness pay even before taking into account any costs. So for top witnesses with the same stake as you, the sacrifice is still there. For witnesses with larger stake, it is an even larger sacrifice.

My own stake is delegated out to a combination of market delegations, bid bots, community members/curation, and no-return initiatives such as @burnpost. I also reserve some SP to vote for worthy contributions and engagement. But I'm not willing sacrifice close to the full 50000 SBD per month (rough estimate), whether I'm a witness or not.

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True, I was also going to edit that out after thinking about it, but steemit and busy aren't letting me do so atm..

What do you think about the proposal by the way? I'm almost too embarrassed to notice the problem this late. It's the singlemost obvious issue now that if solved fixed, will very likely get Steem to where it deserves in the top 10.

Hey Kevin!

I consider you one of the Steem OGs. I could say all kinds of things here, like, remember what Steem already gave you, don't lose hope, keep fighting the good fight, etc etc

Please just do one thing for me. Stick around until SMTs are live or until you can run something similar to a SMT easily on EOS. Launch your own community and I will join you.

Yes, the incentives for behaviors must be tweaked to reward quality content creation and curation. Awesome content will lie at the heart of an awesome community. Tweaking, testing and playing with the settings might give much insights into what works. Until ultimately, the virality of the thing will dominate the online world.

And yet, in the meantime, I can't understand a lot of decisions Steemit and Steem whales make. I hope their choices will lead to long-term profit, but it does often seem short term gain oriented.

Stick around man, interesting times are still ahead of us.

Nobody's going to be the sucker forever.

I often wonder when I'm going to give up. I have refrained from everything that is not pure manual curation. I don't delegate to bots and I don't use them. I don't want to turn into a greedy individual that squeezes out the last bit of it. But being the last idiot in the desert doesn't feel good. The last couple of months it feels like I'm always searching for like minded people in this vast greedy ocean. It shouldn't be like this and I'm convinced that with decent governance it wouldn't be like this.

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Other than Steem, my favourite project that unfortunately is still in WIP is Tauchain. That thing is expected to be able to scale discussion and consensus (just a small part of it) and it could make peer to peer discovery easier and more effective. It’s okay to maximise your benefits, we are just proposing the elimination of the trolley problem so nobody has to feel like a sucker haha

I think the change needs to come from someone like you or someone that has the POWER high enough in order to have a word to say in the community. If it was me that I would propose something like this probably it will fade pretty fast and only a LEADER can drive the change.
But, I will support it for sure! It is in the human nature to do things for himself but without all of us involving we will never make GREAT THINGS.
So, start the revolution and I will be in the first lines!

Want to fix it?
Hard fork STEEM, create an interface to it that will have to be ran by the witnesses, start every new account from scratch, from some equal amount of tokens.
People will still be able to cheat by creating multiple accounts, but it will be nowhere near as bad as now.

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You got a 26.67% upvote from @luckyvotes courtesy of @stimialiti!

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You got a 18.18% upvote from @sleeplesswhale courtesy of @stimialiti!

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@youtake pulls you up ! This vote was sent to you by @stimialiti!

@kevinwong i trully agree ..the steem economic is in diarray and going nowhere with maximum votin being inconsitant voting unit and self voting for own sake or their closed ones. Their is no room left for minnows who joins with so much hope and lost in big players game.....resteeming!!

I think it would be really interesting introducing a 100% curation system. In my mind I see thousands of people scouring the page looking at posts with low exposure and earnings and filling the curation gap that we need.

However I feel like this would also lead to even more spam being promoted due to the fact people will try and fin any post just to gain that 100% curation award and what better place to go than some spam post, but all in all I think it would be better than those purely upvoted themselves.

I don't know how well this could work but could we have a different way in enabling your voting power. This will consist of curating other people's content to up your voting power which will then give the ability to upvote your own posts if needed. Forcing people to curate to in the end be rewarded with some power to vote for a post they have done.

I hope we find a way to incentivise people to join the team of long term prosperity rather than short term gains. If we do turn to an 100% curation model do you think it would be good if a portion of that was burned? I feel as if people sooner or later will jump ship taking their profits rather than staying long term fearing the growing supply.

Everyone has this greed to earn money. I'm glad high quality people like you exist but you have whales equally as big who shit post and they get huge peer engagement since people will try every avenue to make money. We will have to be forced to curate or behave in line which is better for the platform since no one has the power to suppress their greed.

Nonetheless thank you for being selfless @kevinwong for the long the long term prosperity of the platform breeding the new kevinwongs of the future. (Hopefully)

This is a wonderful discussion and much needed. Here are my two cents

The reward curve is one lever and is much discussed about tackling voting behaviour, I don't know if n2 or n or any other shape is better we had problems with n2 but it may help if people discussed alternative solutions more. Your second picture says it all.

The issues we are trying to solve is enrichment of content on Steemit and fairer rewards for posts. There are ways we can tackle this within the current system parameters and maybe we need to try some more initiatives.

There has to be some incentive for voting for other people.
How about a voting bot that rewards people who spread their vote. For every 100 votes you get a big upvote from a whale account or you get on a curation trail from whale accounts? It could be fairly easily calibrated to detect spam voting accounts or automated accounts. Whales could delegate to it.

The more we can encourage manual voting also the better.
We could make a bot that rewards people who manually vote in a similar way by adding them to a whale curation trail.

They are just two half baked ideas but we really get lost in the weeds by spending so much energy talking about the system and the incentives. I would love to change the conversation.

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To quote traf, now we have an economy that is paying people $1000 everytime they take a dump on the streets while we have a mayor that thinks building skyscrapers to attract tourists is the answer. Nothing wrong with skyscrapers - it just takes time. Plus the tourists are and will be arriving at a smelly street filled with dump all over, which is why Steemit's web ranking has been slipping away.

If we think about the situation mathematically, n^2 is basically a "tax" on the long-tail under linear rewards, which gets transferred into the top end thereby creating a clear consensus and contrast based on stake-weighted voting. That's basically sacrificing many individuals for the collective. This is the reason why we thought to try something out between linear and n^2 to balance things out. There are a bit of some other tweaks proposed by @trafalgar (check the comment).

Some may say we shouldn't change the fundamental design (of rewards) and add better "offchain" solutions to minimise the trolley problem, including the sentiment that there are no magical numbers that can fix the problem. I think there is a magical region, just like how our planet is in the Goldilocke's zone. Maybe Steem is flying too close to the sun at the moment lol.

Grateful for your post and your genuine concern.

I am enthralled by Steemit and the incredible potential it has to be part of a shift in consciousness in humanity. There is so much that can be accomplished here but hurdles and challenges must be overcome first. Or... well another platform will step in. That's the way of things.

I have a simple concept I call Cooperative Abundance, whereby we lift each other up, we sustain and encourage each other, we work within a system voluntarily for the benefit of those who are self-responsible and are willing to work, ourselves included.

Abundance will not be just monetary but will be seen in the development of human potential wether in the arts or science or writing, etc. Abundance of friendship and community, and care and support are included.

To be forthright, I see blockchain technology as a means of freeing humanity from the age-old domination of the elite few. I see it as a way to create a new paradigm for humanity... one that no longer needs war, and violent behavior in the banking system or in corrupt capitalism.

People like you and many others here on Steemit who see a greater vision will thrive and will also help others to do the same.

Indeed, if Steemit can institute this Vision of Cooperative Abundance it too will thrive. If Steemit chooses to remain in a lower level of consciousness where the incentive is to trample on others vs lifting each other up then it will go the way of the world...ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Many blessings, may you be at peace.

Ha! Just gave you my .04 cent upvote. Kinda funny isn't it? But this is 25% of my total vote, and I must budget my votes so I can help others in this very tiny, tiny way. So obviously, it's not about the $$ but rather that I want to give what I can to you for your efforts.

I am not sure what you propose (in the busy.org link) will work to get us out of this mess, but I have reached the stage where I think trying it is better than doing nothing. We can always roll back should it make things worse.

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A strong Steem Blockchain Middle Class is the answer. That will say they should have the most influence the ones that engage the most since it would create stability.

I have a ton of thoughts about this situation STEEM has been on the verge of something great since I first found out about it 2 years ago but it has never quite reached it. The technology is there but it never quite is coming together.

In the end it served its purpose. The founders, early investors, and ninja miners got rich. A few others got lucky and made a solid chunk of money. Some circle jerkers made a solid return.

For a lot of people it became a time trap and for people in the 3rd world it became a new hope and even with just a little success it has the ability to change their situation.

STEEM is both the greatest thing ever and the most poorly executed great idea ever.

The only thing that saves me from insanity on here is the fact that I always tried to stay more diversified. Every time I thought about just powering all my crypto up into STEEM I told myself NOOOOOOO.

If I had more resources I would clone the code and start fresh with no ninja mine / unfair distribution and see what happens.

Great post Kevin! I hope Steemit will improve and get more interesting for a larger audience. I try to get people to join, but they all just seem lost right away and overwhelmed by the complexity.
I'm not sure about that self voting system, are those people just commenting and upvoting themselves? It wouldn't even cross my mind.

For me right now, Steemit is a very small portion of my income and enables me, for some part, to keep making painting tutorials for my followers.
Right now it seems like most of my genuine and interested followers are following me on Instagram and YouTube and people here are just following me for the money.

This could be such a wonderful platform, promoting althruism. I hope to see it grow into that in the future (hopefully the near future!)

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Not everyone's like us, and more will be enticed by economic benefits, which is as right as anything else. I hope my point is clear that we should align economic incentives to benefit activities that add to the platform, not the ones that take away from the experience..

Me too, i hope things will improve. Thanks for dropping by @artwithflo :)

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Well, I'm sure it should be possible!

This system works for me although I don't buy votes or sell for that matter just because some people frown on it and it feels like I was betraying them if I do such vote buying-selling. I have no idea how this system would improve but it is a big help for me personally, steemit is a life-saver @kevinwong

If it is the account-based voting we witnessed on Facebook before coming to steemit, then it. wont. work.

Ever heard of popularity vote? Yep that's why.

@ned, @sneak you guys should say something about this article: https://busy.org/@kevinwong/distributing-wealth-should-be-equally-profitable

Enough with the deafening silence and dev-speaks you call steemitblog updates!

Talk to the end-users for once!

Make more rewards straighten your position because we really need guys like you around, I never lost hope things will change for the better. But it takes to long curators must get the motives they need not sure how or what is the best solution.

I hope this post can reach out more people and finally we see a so wanted/needed change.

Sigh There's a strangled rant in me, that I'm trying not to choke on. Lately, beginning to question if posting on Steemit is the best use of my time, given spammy nonsense, diminishing returns and talking-into-the void-syndrome...

This was satisfying to ready, @kevinwong. Now, back to rallying & hoping against hope things change:

Not everybody is a motherbleeping bestselling author, especially not all the time!
In fact, the network could use more curation works. Now most users are just posting whatever and accumulating to no end, encouraging spammy behaviour. And please, even if your posts are consistently highly valued in trending, it doesn't mean your content is actually good or if you're a great content creator. Do not delude yourself, especially if you've been selling your soul to do so.

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Oh well still better story than most platforms. I mean I like Aeon.co and Medium.con, but why not Steem based equivalents one day?

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It's because it's better that one demands more from it and does not wish to see its potential wasted or corrupted. Thing is, I've never been a daily blogger, before Steemit, and my doubts about platform come and go--but, I'm not ready to throw in the towel, just yet :)

Steem based equivalents sounds intriguing and that's, partly, what keeps one hanging on: the hope of new possibilities... Have a good weekend, Kevin (and I hope I wasn't too much of a downer).

isn't this a classic social behavior problem? Steemit has many users who abuse...Some in a huge way, write 15 crappy articles a day and steal all the rewards.. Even if you remove self voting, they could setup a network of users to self vote. Unfortunately this is why any given human society has some centralized rules. In some way witness do some centralized service for steem. May be they should have ability to remove abused accounts and reclaim the funds in an abused account and credit back to the network.

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self-voting and bots can never be removed. just plain computing reality. the point is just to nudge the economic incentives so that those who are curating and supporting others to grow the network isn't losing as much as those who are trying to make use of all their voting power only to enrich themselves alone. one the economic equilibrium shifts, the new norm will be a better steem that actually rewards contributors more than it is now.

it's a classic social behaviour that can be solved with something like Steem changing its econs. It'll even affect the real world and make things better with a new kind of econs. Think about it :D

I may not always agree with you...but I respect the effort you put into this platform.
Cheers @kevinwong
(upvoted this comment as well as this post to show that both self voting and curating good content is a viable approach on this platform)

Thanks for writing this @kevinwong, I have been here less than 5 months, and I feel the frustration of trying to earn curation rewards with a small account. The BEST way to earn with an account my size is to delegate to a voting bot, but I am trying to resist, though I have tried it in the past. I have a solution that I think would really encourage good curation, rather than having lots of people glom onto any post that goes nuclear, regardless of the content. Here is a quote.

So here is my proposal. Plankton don't mind voting 100%, but whales do this rarely. Currently 75% of rewards go to the author, and 25% go to the curators. Suppose 2% of the curation reward was carved out and given to the first upvote (who is not the author) when the post is 5 minutes old, at 80% or more Steem power. The author would still get 75%, and the current curation system would apply to 23%, but the 2% would be a sort of "finders reward". Smaller accounts could do this often, but whales not as much because there is more money at stake. I think this would change Steemit for the better overnight.

Here is a link to the full post. https://steemit.com/steemideas/@giddyupngo/if-i-could-change-one-thing-about-steem-better-curation-rewards-for-plankton

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Hmm i've gone through it, doesn't seem like it'll change much. Check out @trafalgar's response in this post. Thing is, our proposal may shift things into favouring curation more, which means curation guilds will be a thing much more than it is now and new users can earn by curating well. Anyway, it's also already available now with @curie (check them out), and will be in greater demand once changes take place :)

@kevinwong, I'm so glad to see posts like this one as well as all of the thoughtful commentary here. Sadly, this seems to be rare on Steemit. My impression as a person who is new to the platform is that Steemit is fundamentally flawed when it comes to meeting its stated goals of rewarding and encouraging high quality content. When you look at the "marketing" of Steemit and the FAQ, everything seems so simple: provide high quality content in the form of posts or comments, or upvote quality content and you will be rewarded. But do a bit of research and reading, and browse the site, and its pretty obvious that things are (1) much more complex than that; and (2) not working all that well. The issues that strike me as new to the platform are the 7 day limit on payout, the pay for upvote bots, the ability to upvote your own posts, the massive power of a few steemers, and the shockingly low quality of even posts that garner high rewards posted by users with lots of power. I've said in other comments that other sites are actually working to get high quality content. StackExchange is one such site with consistently high quality content. The other big problem is that there seems to be no real moves to address these issues by those who can actually address them. It is shocking to me that these issues were not already addressed. I could wrong about all this, but even if I am, how do you think Steemit will be build a strong user base if this is the kind of impression that new users get?

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You're right, I can't comment on the 7day thing, but Steem is a town with garbage strewn all over because it's incentivised at the moment.. lol. Hope this will make some changes away from inaction for so many months now.

Time To [...] Fix Steem's Voting Problem

There is no 'fix' known.

The closest I've seen to a credible proposal is from @trafalgar (mild superlinear, increased downvoting incentive, increased curation) and that is still highly speculative, and arguably is not even a credible proposal because no one is stepping forward to implement it, nor is there really a process to implement anything that isn't on the Steemit roadmap (and this isn't).

But, hey, you managed to generate $644.60 (as of right now) of reward with a provocative post that got to Trending (with a little help from some [self-voting and bidbot] friends) that like all the others will generally result in no real change. I guess that helps a bit with your 9000 SBD deficit.

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Yes, i think his proposal is good to try out. If we're flying too close to the Sun, or too far out, there's nothing that we can do to salvage anything. The heart of it is to balance out individual autonomy (user satisfaction) and consensus (a working content platform). We've already experienced both ends: linear, and n^2.. now time for something in the middle, along with the other minor tweaks as you've stated.

Yes i'm happy to be able to generate this amount from being provocative, but I really hope to have reasoned this well enough for a move away from inaction. Maybe i'll repeat the post in different languages lol

This is a valuable contribution to the discussion. I don't think that linear needs to be changed, but we need to continue looking at ways to make things better.

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After considering the matter, I'd put it this way: both linear and n^2 is making us orbit too close or too far away from the Sun, which is also similarly expressed by the trolley problem. We can search for ways to make things better but it's a very steep battle uphill.. or downhill. We can orbit around the Goldilocke's zone, which we can find.

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For example?

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Don’t hold your breath while waiting for one.

I've really been impressed with such a good explanation, you're really right, many are on the platform looking for many votes and money and those who really make good content are far below and not fair.
For example, I am a Violinist Musician and enter the platform thanks to a contest called OpenMic that helps musicians to grow to make themselves known as an artist and that is valuable.

My content maybe is not as good as I would like but I always try to improve it not to gain votes but so that more people know me and share my talent to others, I like more interacting with people give their opinion about my post or give me a constructive criticism, really sometimes I do not understand much the management of this platform but as time passes I am improving and waiting for Steemit to grow as I am growing.

I am in favor of giving my vote that is little but giving it to quality content not only to seek a vote but to give a grain and encourage that person to continue making good content

Greetings and success

Agreed and resteemed.

Keep re-posting this one daily.

Incoming unorthodox approach:

Personally, I don't give a shit what the code says is the best approach to maximize stake, and I'm still holding on to this, by a thread, but still holding - because this:

If you've been using Steem for the past two years, you'd probably feel that Steem is on the precipice of something great. It has the shape of a gifting economy, a speedramp for cryptocurrency worldwide domination.

Our witness cannot lobby for the changes you seek (at 94 in the ranks), but me and my 800 kabillion vests can at least disapprove via the selections/non-selections of those that currently can.

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How about a different google translate of this post everyday? lol. Damn i just find it hard to do. But i think i really need to make a point soon, while getting that free steem 24/7. It's just stupid to have an economy that pays whenever someone shits in public

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Sounds like a plan. Or just the key points, summarized more and more until all you have left is a 😱 worth $200 :)

I know I'm just a poor plankton, but also add to the discussion.
Personally, I have stopped using bid-bots and self-voting for a long time.
Why?
Because it will be much better if the real curators will appreciate my work. Then at least I know that my posts someone actually reads. I know that my work makes sense because I create for others.
In addition, if you do not upvote own comments, then I can upvote for much more posts (or even comments) of other Steemians.

I know my attitude is not the most popular one.
But, in my opinion, the main idea of Steemit is the quality and original creative content. Personally, I think the quality of my content should be evaluated by other Steemians (not self or bought upvotes).
But I may also be mistaken.

Steem On!

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Yeah mostly, no self-respecting content creator or artist will ever buy votes, although I'm from the camp that's okay with whatever people want to do with their votes. If you're a team player, then sometimes some self-voting is okay as well if you're planning to gain a larger stake to support more users in the future. In any case, hard to stop anyone from doing whatever they wanna do, hence the point of this post in suggesting that we remove the proverbial trolley problem so no matter how you play the game, at least you're not losing out all that much since curation is more favourable under our proposal.

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I agree with that.
Then I see the problem in buying upvotes for posts without any value and spamming trending. But until all Steemians understand that mindless content reduces the attractiveness of Steemit (and the STEEM prize), we can not find a generally valid solution to this problem.

This is such a great point and thank you again for bringing it up. I feel that having a curation cut of 1/3 author, 2/3 curation, 1% burn on SBD. Everyone is a fan. Not everyone has dynamic blogging talent. Why not reward the excellent blogger/contributor and make it more of a market base of fans that get to say "I liked that before everyone else did?" You are going more with what is natural free will of what the user ultimately wants? Also, if you have a "cooling period," kind of like when you get to a live auction block. Everyone gets to see what is for sale prior to the auction, and then it goes live. After one day then it is live. Almost having a gray period when the post is released and is even eligible to be voted. The self vote would be also virtually nullified it you made a minimum curation amount on any vote, starting it at say 10% that is mandated to go into the curation pool of any post or comment, and then start the curation curve then on. All of that is a bit of pipe dream I know, but I am in agreement the 0 min vote maybe needs to go altogether?

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Interesting suggestion, thinking about it :)

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Thanks for humoring my rant. Facebook and just about every other tech giant is built on the tendency of people being sheep (fan boys and girls) has worked out pretty well for them. If we went to more of a model of "fans wanted, plus dynamic creators of content a bonus," versus "creators of content wanted [just along as they follow all the unwritten rules, and will give people a tiny bit back to those that are big enough and like the right stuff also]."

I am on the fence about self votes. The struggle is real for minnows, and if you finally break through, and your upvote is somewhat substantial, I don't see any problem with self-voting. It's a reward for you effort put in.
That being said, it should be done within reason. Posting 4 self post a day, and self voting them all seems like abuse. However, as long as you curate and vote others content as well as your own, I don't see the issue.

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Votes are supposed to be freely exercised. Anything goes. The point of this post is to propose change in economic incentives to minimise the trolley problem, which may lead to people being not calculative about where their vote goes. Chances are there are way more better contributions out that deserve votes than our own that could help the platform :) so by removing the trolley problem, people will be more willing to give their votes to some