Life Ain't "Fair" and Neither Is Steem. Deal with It and Self-Vote Away.
Steem is currently being flooded with well-intended newbies (welcome, friends!), some of whom believe that Steem would be even better if it were "fairer". By "fairer" they generally mean more egalitarian, with large SP holders having less influence over the community.
While I appreciate their sentiment, I respectfully suggest that they just don't get what makes Steem special and why it has value. Steem (and particularly Steem Power, or SP for short) has value because it is in demand. Demand for SP is rooted in many factors, but a primary one is that owning more SP gives one more "say so" over the Steem blockchain and the Steem community. In short, owning SP gives one more POWER. People want power, hence people want SP, hence SP has real world value.
Making Steem more egalitarian inherently means giving each account a greater voice, or a greater chance at earning rewards, regardless of the SP held by that account. Said another way, making Steem more egalitarian means diminishing the role and importance of SP. When SP has less influence and less importance, the market value of SP declines. So, yes, SP tokens may be more evenly distributed in a more egalitarian system, but those tokens will be worth less. Much less. The prize won by the the proponents of egalitarianism is therefore somewhat of a booby prize.
And this is always the case. Take "communism" as an example. The communists sought to make the world more egalitarian by dividing up resources more "fairly". However, by doing so they destroyed all market incentives. The end result was a booby prize--everyone was more equally poor rather than more equally rich.
While I'm generally a fan of the last hard fork (which did bring more "fairness" to the system), it's a fact that the market price of SP has declined sharply since the fork was implemented. Perhaps that was a reasonable trade off for now, but I'm increasingly concerned that this push for egalitarianism will be taken too far. The latest example is the current debate over the "fairness" of self-voting and the push by mostly newbies (or so it seems to me) to end it or shame it.
Self-voting has always been an accepted part of Steem since it's founding becasue it makes Steem more valuable. Denying SP holders the ability to self-vote diminishes their influence considerably and therefore undermines the value of the Steem that they and you hold.
It seems to me that that this fact can't seriously be contested. Imagine a world with two different flavors of SP existing on the same Steem blockchain, one that allowed self-voting and one that didn't. Which one of these two flavors would have the higher market value? Undoubtedly the one that permits self-voting, right? I mean, all else being equal, would you pay as much for SP that only allowed you to vote for others as you would for one that allowed you to vote for yourself AND others? Of course you wouldn't. That would be insane.
Consequently, depriving SP holders of the right to self-vote, or shaming those who responsibly do, will undoubtedly undermine the market price of SP and thereby damage every single SP holder and the entire Steem ecosystem.
I understand that some rightfully fear self-voting abuse that could undermine the entire system. I respectfully suggest that such fears are overblown. Again, self-voting is only helpful if one owns a material amount of SP. By owning material amounts of SP, one has an inherent financial stake in the success of the overall system. No large group of rational persons would seek to undermine the value of their own stake by abusively self-voting such that Steem becomes a worthless circle jerk. That would be insanity and large groups of people don't generally behave in insane, self-harming ways.
That's not to say that a few here and there won't seek to game the system by abusively self-voting, but they can be easily dealt with by those with superior amounts of SP and/or rep who don't want to see the value of their holdings diminished.
In short, responsible self-voting of reasonably good content by large holders of SP should be ENCOURAGED since it greatly increases the demand for and market value of Steem. Abuses should be dealt with on a case by case basis. Radically reforming Steem to make it more "fair" or egalitarian or by attempting to shame all self-voters will undermine the built-in incentives that give Steem value. It's a sad fact of life that valuable systems are never fair and fair systems are never valuable. Steem may be "virtual reality", but it's still reality and fundamental laws of economics, like supply and demand, will still prevail.