Why our way of distributing Steem by voting sucks, why it does not scale and how we can improve this situation
Have you heard anything like that in the past?
Reward distribution sucks, because of circlejerking and greedy whales!
When you see some crappy content which receives huge upvote, it is easy to notice that something is wrong. But I believe this is not a result of people being greedy... but rather this is a natural consequence of asking them to do something impossible:
Simply find the best undervalued content among thousands of posts in hundreds of languages about on topics which you know nothing about and vote for it :smile:
And if you are a whale...
...just make sure, that your vote is not too big for some posts. Simply divide it among hundreds of posts, to make sure that distribution is fair!
Simple, right? What can go wrong?
I do not consider myself as a whale right now. For sure around 50k SP is a lot, but still, it's almost nothing in comparison to stake of people which has over 1M SP. But there was a time when I felt like I was I whale...
Few months ago, when STEEM price spiked, my single upvote was worth almost $25.
And because back then a Steem Dollar was worth much more, my single vote was actually worth over $50. That was crazy! 10 votes per day, 30 days per month... I realized that now I am responsible for distribiution of over $15000 per month. This is 4-6 times more than a sallary of a senior progammer in Poland.
I realized, that I am overwhalmed by this amount.
It was then, when I realized... that being a whale is not only a priviligae, but also a huge responsibility.
$15000 per month could for example help me reward 1000 new users. Did I reward 1000 users? Not even close. I failed because of many reasons. But if I failed, do you think a whale which has over 500k SP have succeded in rewarding 10000 new users per month?
Why voting is so damn hard!
When my vote was worth up to $1, voting for me very easy. It was trivial for me, to find 10 posts a day, which deserved to be rewarded by $1 upvote. Things become more difficult while my vote become stronger and stronger.
When my vote was worth $10, I was able to find a few undervalued post good enought to be rewarded by $10 upvote, but rest of the posts I tried to reward with partial upvote (50% upvote, 25% upvote, etc). The problem with that approach was... that now I was forced to vote not for 10, but for 30-40 posts if I wanted to use all of my voting power. And because not every post which I read deserved to be rewarded, I was forced to read over 100 posts a day, if I would like to vote and support only good content.
Is this really possible? And how many posts would need to read a whale, if he or she would like to vote only for great and undervalued content?
Do you still think that whales are responsible for poor distribiution? Or maybe we have a more general problem - a problem with system, which simply do not scale when it comes to voting, as a fundamental mechanism of token distribiution?
We are jammed, more than a Bitcoin
When I first said that at loud to few of my friends on Steem, they ware really surprised. They was sure, that Steem has a capacity to handle 10 times more transactions without any problems. That is also a conclusion, when you are looking at blockactivity.info:
But exactly like number of megapixels in your camera is not only one thing which matters, similar big number of processed transaction also is not a recepy for an efficient blockchain. Blockchain is responsible not only for processing transaction, but also for distribiution of rewards.
Bitcoin use Proof of Work alghorithm to reward one miner at a time, which calculated a proper hash. It is important to notice, that while producing a content (a hash) for bitcoin is extremly difficult, evaluating this content is rather very very simple. That's why Bitcoin can reward objectivly "best hash" every block.
basically, whole situation we could illustrate like this:
Increasing an efficiency of content evaluation
Let's first ask silly question:
Could we implement an alghorithm for Steem to reward objectivly best content on the platform every single block?
Nope. Why? Because evaluating a real content is extremly hard, and it is even more difficult if you would like to be objective about that. If we would like to improve voting on Steem, and increase an efficiency of content evaluation, we have to understand why evaluation of content is hard in the first place:
Why evaluation of content hard?
- lack of knowledge about a topic of a post
- lack of interest about a topic of a post
- different language
- lack of time
As a community, we are very fortune that from early days, we have bots like cheatah (build by @anyx), which detects plagarism on Steem. Without cheatah situation would be much, much worse (thank you @anyx for being a hero of Steem!).
But still, we have a problem with 4 other causes. If only we could figure out, how to design a mechanism, to overcome those difficulties and to distribiute in a right way milions of dollars... if only we could learn how manage huge budgets efficiently and not spend it for crap...
Delegation of responsibilities.
Progress of humanity, would not be possible if people would not specilized. We need to understand one fact: sadly, you will never be an expert about everything.
If you have a problem with a law, you do not want to spend a hundreds of hours to learn all the law, you simply goes to a lawyer. If you want to know why your car isn't working, you are not studing mechanics, you simply goes to car mechanic.
So, when you are seeing a nice post about medicine but you are not an expert in that... why you suddenly want to evaluate it on your own seeing it has a few nice pictures and a lot of well formated text, which you don't even want to read?
If you want to achieve a lot, you should focus on things which you are good at, and you should delegate the rest of things to professionals which you trust.
This is how each and every empire was build. This is how Steem can be improved or maybe even fixed.
Allow others people to help you curate a great content
Did you had a situation like that, when your friend asked you to vote for some content, because it is awesome acording to this person? If your trusted friend would be a medicine-expert and he would say to you, that some post about medicine is world-class, I bet you would not use to much your brain power, to decide to support this content. After all, you got a recomendation from an expert in this field. Probably you will just vote for that, because you trust your friend and his expertise.
- Suddenly, your lack of knowladge about a topic of a post was not a problem
- Suddenly, your lack of interest about a topic of a post was not a problem
- Suddenly, your lack of time to read this post was also not a problem
and even if that article about medicine would be written in language which you do not know, but an expert which recommended this to you would know this language, probably this would also not be a problem for you. You would just vote for that.
Don't trust, verifyTrust, but verify what you don't trust
People in blockchain space are saying, that you should not trust anyone. From a technical point of view I fully understand that. But we are building a social network here... which is about being social!
You cannot build a lasting-long relationships without trust, so you will not be able to build fully functionall social media network without leveraging a trust between individual members of this community.
Trust is subjective. Trust is also not a binary function. You trusts your friend, but this doesn't mean, that you would like to give him an access to your private keys. You can trust your friend that he is a good guy, but maybe you do not trust his ability to keep passwords safe.
You can trust your friend about everything related to medicine, but this doesn't mean, that you would like to give him an access to your SteemPower, so he could not only vote for posts about medicine... but also to vote for posts about politics which you dont like.
This is why SteemPower delegation do not solve a problem. SteemPower delegation is a binary thing while trust is not. With SP delegation you need to trust someone 100% or at all. Yes, you can delegate only a 50% of your SP, but you still need to trust this person 100%, to not use this SP against your will. And if this person will do something with your Steem Power what you don't like... you can do nothing about that. You can cancel a delegation (and wait a week, to get it back - LOL), but you cannot cancel upvotes which you don't like even despite the fact, that you funded them.
What a wise person like you, can do in this situation?
You can use a help of your wise friends.
What if you could use a some kind of system, which you could configure in such a way, so your friend could use your single votes on his own, but...
- without compromising privacy of your password or private keys
- only for post with tags specified by you, like #medicine
- no more than 3 times a week
- only if you have more than 90% of voting power
- and with many other rules which you could customize...
What if you could stay in total control of your votes and always be able to cancel those votes which you don't like? What if you would not have to worry anymore, that your voting power is wasted, because you want to go for a 1-week vacations?
What if we could truly leverage a value of human connections, trust between people and their huge expertise?
And what if we would not have to ask what if, and we could simply check all of that? :)