In the midst of a global pandemic shutdown, a group of committed community members continue to fight for their home on the blockchain. They continue to fight for Steem and not just Steem, but for what Steem represents within their communities, their apps, their content, and their tokens. These things were threatened by Justin Sun, possibly without him even realizing it. As he's said, he's just a businessman, doesn't want to deal with politics, and just wants to make money.
It's possible he didn't do proper due diligence to understand what he was purchasing. It's possible Ned mislead him during the sale. I'm a bit curious about that one. If you hire someone for a job, you generally check their references and make a few phone calls, right? Seems odd to me Justin spent millions of dollars to buy something without checking in on the team or the community that creates all the value within what he bought. I have to conclude some form of negligence or maybe this purchase was just so small to him that he doesn't really care.
When the announcements came about Steem apps and tokens moving to Tron without any communication at all with the Steem community, people here were pissed. Many demanded the witnesses take immediate action to protect them from what was seen as an immediate threat, further corroborated by recent actions on Tron. Witnesses took temporary action, hoping to start a conversation. I initiated contact to Justin via email through a friend with the hope this would all be resolved quickly. The initial response was positive, but then Justin and Steemit decided to sybil attack the chain they claim to value.
So where do we go from here?
Justin's so far unwilling to remove his sock puppet witnesses, the community is fighting back by voting up top community witnesses, and we appear to be in a stalemate. It seems Justin doesn't know what he purchased, and he's worried about the value of his investment going down or his stake being frozen again by the witnesses or something worse like what was contemplated last year by some who wanted to fork out the Steemit stake completely or null the keys. I said this then and will repeat it again now:
I will not implement, support, or condone any hard fork that effects the balances, keys, or security of any accounts on the current chain.
I'll go a step further and add this:
Justin Sun, I won't support a soft fork on this chain to freeze the tokens you purchased.
When I deployed 22.2, it was a temporary measure to determine the intentions of the new property owner. It was no easy decision. My intention was to have a call lined up to figure out his intentions as quickly as possible and revert the code after that.
Some disagree and feel entitled to that stake based on commitments made. Some claim there's legal support for that position, and if so, Ned may have some future troubles. Personally, I have no interest in legal battles. I'm an entrepreneur and in my opinion, entitlement is not healthy. Yes, I was mislead for years about the Steemit stake. Yes, I thought things would get better. This past year, I did see improvements when Ned got out of the way (SPS, Hivemind, MIRA, communities on dev, and a working demo of SMTs). But it wasn't enough.
I have to own my mistakes. I didn't continually push against Ned and Steemit for more. Yes, I pushed back at times. I pointed out economic problems. Ultimately, over time, I got complacent. Ned blocked me on Twitter a long time ago and once kicked me out of the steemdev Slack even though I was a consensus witness at the time and that was the primary mechanism for communicating with other witnesses in case of a chain problem (something that has happened many times in the history of this chain). I did push, but it didn't matter. When HF14 came out, we had a new tool with
decline_voting_rights_operation to lockdown the Steemit stake. I didn't demand the Steemit accounts implement it. That should have been done. We all should have demanded it. The threat of the ninja mined stake being used against the community was always real. We knew Ned and what he was capable of, so we should have expected something like a botched sale of Steemit. Though not a consensus witness the whole time, this was partly on my watch, and I'm sorry for not doing more.
So where do we go from here?
Justin wants to know his property is safe. I imagine some other witnesses like myself are willing to make commitments not to freeze the stake he bought. Why would they do that? Because what's really important here isn't just some tokens. What's really important here is value. The true value of Steem is the community. All the apps, all the tools, all the various interfaces, all the bloggers, content creators, and friends... all the people. If Justin doesn't understand that, he may find himself alone on a chain that few people are still interested in. It may be a chain filled with accounts extracting from the rewards pool (with not enough downvotes to stop them), no core team members innovating the technology, and few applications willing to support a centrally controlled system. Blockchains are voluntary. They are distributed and decentralized. Consensus is built and secured by those who choose to participate. At any moment, they can leave to a new chain, a new fork, and bring all the value with them.
So the question for Justin Sun is this:
How much do you want to protect the value of your investment?
Will the Steemit purchase forever tarnish his reputation as a businessman? Will he change course, apologize for his attack on this chain and the community supported witnesses, and turn off the sock puppets? Maybe there's a chance some will still support his efforts to bring value to Steem. It's also possible many will want nothing more to do with him and will be happy to move to a new chain which will put the Steemit ninja-mined stake to use for the community.
What happens next on Steem is up to Justin.
The real value will always be controlled by the community because they are the ones who create it. If he wants his investment to return value to him, he must respect the community.