I have not had time to read all of the posts on this topic but I did briefly review those of thecryptodrive and @aggroed, consider both to have made some excellent points, and I generally agree with them (though not saying 100% on every single point necessary). I would also point to this thoughtful post by @steemed, who while not a top 20 witness, is a large stakehodler who has been around for the entire history of Steem and has a better understanding of it than most. While I prefer to pursue a restructuring to address the issues than an immediate fork, @steemed makes a compelling case for forking, please read it.
As others have done, I have committed previously off-chain and further do so here on-chain that I won't support any hard forks (as either as witness or stakeholder) as long as the power down is stopped and that Steemit and the community work together to address the serious problems that exist in the Steem ecosystem.
Since many witnesses and major stakeholders have made this commitment, there is no risk of a hard fork, if there ever was one (which IMO there was not). Steemit's stake was and is not a risk, and the power down has only negative effects, not positive ones. And furthermore Steemit can still use their stake to vote out all witnesses (as they have done before) if they really wanted to. They want to avoid this, fair enough, but the option is there. So, again, no risk of a hard fork.
I join my friend @thecryptodrive's petition in urging Ned and Steemit to stop the power down and consider instead working to address the failures and tensions that led to this situation in the first place, by creating a better ecosystem model for Steem and Steemit that solves matters of broad concern such as the existing development processes, and their success or lack thereof.
Rewards to be donated to @burnpost