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.
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!
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:-
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.
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.