Due to feedback, there is further revisions in how @smackdown.kitty will operate, added just below the introductory paragraphs.
All feedback is welcome, as we want to have as much support from the community as possible with this, so we want to do this the right way.
I just want to drop a link in here from a post which I think shows the evidence that my hunch that self-voting is going to be detrimental to rewards in the long run here: https://steemit.com/circlejerk/@aggroed/autovorotic-asphyxiation-the-mega-circle-jerk-is-choking-out-itself-through-the-rewards-pool
like many other veterans here have been watching the unfolding scenario with the change in rewards distribution from Hard Fork 19, that is seeing a lot of, especially medium to high level SP account holders upvoting every single one of their own comments.
Now, I am more than happy to admit that I was fully in support of The Experiment which was run by @smooth and @abit that was instrumental in leading to this change, because I felt that this lack of any substantial rewards from upvotes on their posts was an impediment to adoption by new users, who were finding it extremely frustrating, too much to continue.
These were bad times, the price was endlessly (but decelerating in its trajectory) going down, eventually to bottom out around $0.07. A lot of people just quit after a while, and the incentive that was provided by the Steem Guild by upvoting heavily new users was not sufficient to bridge this.
Now, we don't want to make it so easy that the effort is meaningless either.
- Self voting provides no information about quality, only peers can be judges, and an individual is not their own peer
- Self voting resembles arrogance and conceit socially. In Australia we would say 'to put tickets on yourself'
- Because self voting diverts rewards from the pool without adding information, these votes are essentially Spam in terms of entropy
- Self voting is an incentive to fill up the blockchain with intentionally meaningless posts and comments, and is an ongoing and escalating extra cost for those who run the network (witnesses)
- To the outside world, it is another thing to point a finger at Steem and declare it is a scam
After some thought about how to set the trigger on her flag/downvote, I am considering, for reasons of expedience and to take a slowly slowly approach, that perhaps @smackdown kitty will keep a little database of how many times each user votes for themselves, and rather than attempt to fully neutralise it, she will start at 1% downvote, and every time she increments the counter on an accounnt's record of self voting, she will vote this much. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.
By taking a more gentle approach, I suppose she is more of a kitty, but this is a girl kitty, the more you try to get her excited the more her claws come out, She doesn't really want to pay fighty games, if you change your policy, you'll stop seeing red flags on self voted posts.
For reasons of it being default on every new account to self-upvote original posts, we are seriously considering making her flag/downvote comments with upvotes, and not touching the original posts.
Please advance your counterarguments, statements of support, and opinions about how we should do this, since after all, it will almost entirely depend on you how strongly we want to push back against this growing problem.
The justification for creating this bot:
Steem's central goal is the promotion of quality content
What is the metric this used to determine quality?
It is the votes coming from other members of the community towards a post. Really, to vote on your own post is redundant, and it was the central reason for the prior reward curve, as clearly explained in the White Paper.
Of course, I want to point out at that point, that there was no such impediment for those with upper echelon Steem Power stakes, except that because their voting power being the predominant selection influence, many people rightly complained that Steem's trending pages really just reflected the opinions of a very small segment of the population.
Now, I just want to point out, that even if self-voting was banned in the consensus of the network, that you can simply bypass it by putting your steem power in one account, and vote on the account you post on. So self voting cannot be stopped, ultimately.
But everyone knows that the average person thinks they deserve some arbitrary amount which is not necessarily the opinion of others. The self votes do not contribute towards the formation of a network wide consensus about quality, which is a central objective of Steem's design. The steep rewards curve was designed to prevent this for the majority of users, but it unfortunately is an absolute fact, that for those who could, no obstacle would have stopped them doing this.
A part of the purpose of flattening the rewards curve was to allow more new steem to be distributed to smaller SP accounts.
I am sure that people have more than a few times done investigations into the records of certain whale accounts and found disturbing links between their account and some other little account, which likely was their own. The majority of people find this kind of behaviour unseemly and ultimately, the total pool of available rewards is cut into significantly to the detriment of the majority of users.
The primary justification for @smackdown.kitty - to mitigate abusive behaviour, and keep the Signal to Noise ratio low
As mentioned above, ultimately through sock puppet accounts, and the commensurate extra effort required can be used to bypass any hypothetical ban on self voting, it is not the objective of this campaign to address that which cannot be resolved.
Anyone who bothered to read this post carefully will now know that they can vote for themselves in this way, but the barrier for entry has been raised above the level of the sort of person who does not read this post. Furthermore, for many people it is enough difficulty to open one account, let alone open another.
However, anyone who has spent any time at all in https://steemit.chat would know, there is a great number of people who don't think for one second about grasping, and don't give a damn what it looks like, and the thing that concerns me, and others who I have talked to about this with, is that we do not want to have a situation where a massive number of new users come here just to post arbitrary, though 'unique' (to dodge @cheetah) content, simply in order to have something to pin a vote for their own post upon.
Also note that essentially, @cheetah was really the first precursor to the Experiment, because it does exactly the same thing: it automatically flagged, at first, and then it posted warnings, in order to mitigate abusive behaviour with people earning rewards on other people's content. When the behaviour continued, this was escalated to automatic flagging, to deter the offender.
However, instead of doing this, and opening @smackdown.kitty to counterattacks, she is not going to post anything. We considered this but it is too easy for this to be done. No, you can just hurl your barbs at me and whoever else delegates power to her instead, if you are that passionate about 'fighting this injustice'.
This is not about whether you think your post is good or not. If you did not think your post was good, why did you post it?
If you don't think your post (or comment) was any good, then why do you vote for it? Easy to answer that: because you knew you would give yourself some amount of rewards. This is a very bad incentive and we want to disincentivise this behaviour.
The problem is, it's really not a measure of anything. My chief concern is that, as it stands, not many people who are new realise they can do this, although they automatically vote for their own posts, and this is the default in the interface.
So, @smackdown.kitty is here to burst this bubble
Unlike The Experiment, which was done in a time where was no Steem Power delegation, and thanks to the experiment, the Hard Fork 19 change means that running a bot to counter upvotes for the purpose of the experiment can be done by anyone, and the playing field is level, if enough people agree to pool their SP into an account for this kind of purpose, through the revocable process of delegation, this kind of action can be done.
The most likely situation will be that a lot of people who agree with this will contribute relatively small amounts. I am planning on delegating at least 150 Steem Power to @smackdown.kitty. Really, if this will have any effect at all, it will also be a significant portion of the community who care enough to learn how to delegate their Steem Power (which is a good thing to learn how to do anyway) and for them to forego the voting power it would have granted them, with a 1 week delay before they can have it return to their account.
So anyone who is interested in supporting this campaign, and we will need a lot of support, can use the Steem Power delegation function. You can read about how to use it here, if you are interested:
First of all, she is not going to counter-vote any post from a user with a total steem power, including delegation, of under 1000 SP. The reason for this is that probably the majority of new users are in this bracket, the majority of new users have some sense of social etiquette. The ones who might cause a problem, with small stakes are not causing as big a problem in the dilution of the data being generated that justifies the payment of anything at all.
Increasingly, I am seeing more and more users, who have precisely above 1000 SP, who have been here for a while, and, quite often, they are just doing it, because they can, the button is there, and the number is pleasingly expanded when that button is pushed. This is a pretty clear incentive and as I point out, it is contributing nothing to the collective evaluation of quality.
When you challenge people about it, the instinctive response is defensive, and I believe this is because it is immediately interpreted as being a condemnation of the character of someone. Well, in some sections of society, sexually molesting children is normal, and they also instinctively respond defensively about this behaviour, because even though they like this activity, and its results, the same cannot be said for those whose innocence is being destroyed.
I am not saying self voting is like this, but if you think trumpeting yourself is great, then why do people interpret words like 'Conceit' and 'Arrogance' as being perjorative? This is why the kitty is called @smackdown.kitty. She is here to get rid of this and stop it from growing to be a problem, in the interim while the community and Steemit, Inc. determine the consensus on this.
The subject of self voting has always been a concern to people, but in the past this was directed at Whales only. Now, Orcas, Dolphins and Minnows, and even Newbies are doing it.
Why was it not ok for Whales to do it, but now it's ok for everyone?
The main reason why this was not an issue before was simply that Whales aren't desperate to earn a few bux while doing something that is socially unacceptable. They weren't accountable to anyone else anyway, but some of them did care about their reputation.
A whale, @smooth, who stuck his neck on the chopping block, in order to win you, yes you all, from the dust up to the dolphin, equal standing according to your stake in the system. He and @abit copped a lot of flak over this, and I fully expect that I'm going to be attacked through this with flags, but I'm not afraid of flags, and neither is anyone who is happy to be publicly associated with this campaign.
@berniesanders once flagged me, taking a $200 reward down to $5, and my reputation from about 35 to 10.
It was humiliating, and disappointing, but, while I still stand by my opinion that BS is quite an unlikeable character (and @r4ken is another notorious whale), the point in relating this anecdote is to say, that I don't care if I end up with a reputation like bernie's over this. And I suspect that he will delegate to @smackdown.kitty when he is satisfied that she does what we say she does, as will other people who may choose to proxy their involvement through alt accounts that are not known to be associated with them.
Secondary to the promoting of Steem's primary goal of promoting and paying for community determined quality, is the load on the network of a lot of meaningless transactions
The extra load of self-voting purely to win rewards, on the rate of acceleration of the growth of the data in the blockchain, and the essentially spammy vote transactions, and - the main thing we are doing this to prevent - spammy posts and comments, this has an impact on witnesses. Not in the short term, but in the long term, if the amount of data on the blockchain increases, and requires witness servers to be upgraded, which is also going to involve a lot of work migrating as well, will raise the cost of running a witness.
While the top 19 would be in no serious position with a 150Gb+ blockchain to deal with, as they get paid pretty good, this would again lead to a situation where the backups start to turn off because they can't make enough. The backups are there in case the top 19 fail, and whoever is in position 21 moves into the main schedule. If I had to accommodate this much data on my backup witness, I would not be able to continue to run it after a few months.
@smackdown.kitty's operational parameters:
@smackdown.kitty is coded, based on the same principle as The Experiment, to only weight its downvotes (aka flags) to the exact extent of the upvote upon a post by the poster themselves.
@smackdown.kitty will not touch any account with under 1000 steem power, because this would be unfair, and repulsive to the new users, who we are not at all trying to get rid of, just to not give the incentive to new users who power up their new account just to self vote stuff they spent about 5 seconds dreaming up.
@smackdown.kitty will downvote as hard as she can, but unless she has more SP than the self voter delegated to her, she will only reduce the reward given to larger stakeholders. She will also likely consume her vote power quite quickly in all of this, but if sufficient support is given in the form of delegated SP, she should be able to at least provide what is the key goal here: to show people how the distribution goes when this self-voted rewards is taken out of the equation. At least, the majority of it, and we may consider waiting until we are sure we have enough pledged or delegated SP for her to be able to take on even whales.
@smackdown.kitty will use an Sqlite database to keep a tally of how many times she sees and flags self-votes, and each subsequent upvote will increase the percentage of the downvote. Each subsequent, non-self voted post will get a 1% upvote, but if self-voting resumes, the count continues as before.
@smackdown.kitty will generate a database, and once a day, either I or @personz will post the list of the current top 50 self voters in an automatic, payout declined post, so that there is naming and shaming.
This is a pre-announcement. We are not going to let this little badass out on you all until we have tested it thoroughly on our own accounts, as the initial promoters and operators of @smackdown.kitty Note that I have not yet given her an avatar or explanation yet, but this is coming tomorrow, and myself and my colleague, who is also a witness, and is also concerned both about the dilution of quality, rewards and the acceleration of the load on witnesses, we will be first testing her on ourselves, just to make sure she does nothing unexpected.
This is a controversial enough act on my part, to do this, as it is. We want to be completely transparent about this. I will be also ensuring that the bot's code produces a log that provides sufficient information to explain what it is doing, and this log will be made available for anyone to see on a web server.
We have thought through this long enough to be confident that we want to risk the ire of the community by doing this, but we are giving good advance warning, it is likely to be at least 3-4 days before she will be let out of the kitty carrier where she is bursting our intentionally made bubbles, and out there to set about giving a bit of smackdown to the conceited, the complacently corrupted.
By the way, to everyone who comments on my posts and then upvotes their comments, I don't like it, and as I said in response to the first one I saw: 'You just saved me the effort of voting up your somewhat insightful comment', after clicking vote out of habit, and then checking who made the other vote, and then I revoked my upvote.
This post is 100% payout declined because we are not doing this for our own benefit, but for the platform as a whole, and especially those who feel the proper glare of shame for doing it, once the corrupt nature of it becomes clear to them. I used to mostly upvote my own posts, and it's a default setting. But it is not cool, I have stopped completely, and this thing needs a @smackdown.kitty, before a flood of new users sees this as a way to make a lot of money with a new kind of spam.