HF20 Update: Operations Stable
Hello Steemians, we are happy to announce that activity on the blockchain has stabilized. Transaction volume has returned and low Steem Power users are now able to comment, upvote, and transfer funds at an acceptable level. Ensuring that low SP users can transact as much as possible is our #1 priority and we will continue to work with the witnesses to optimize the system to that end.
Scale or Fail
The RC system was all about scalability and now that it is in place Steem has never been more scalable. One of the important limitations to scaling that has been removed was a hard cap on account creation that the previous system had in place. Before RCs the number of accounts that could be created was limited based on the amount of STEEM in circulation. This is because every new account needed to be created with pre-existing STEEM tokens.
Blockchain Subsidized Account Creation
The RC system has delivered the ability to create “blockchain subsidized” accounts, which means that it now has uncapped the scalability of the platform’s account system by introducing the possibility of account creation into the quadrillions of accounts. Prior to HF20, the hard limit of accounts was in its best case defined as the total available STEEM supply divided by the amount of STEEM spent to create an account. Now, because the rate of subsidized account creation is determined by the witnesses, Steem can admit as many people into our community as we desire, as long as the witnesses agree that it is safe to do so.
While this is certainly an improvement, the risk of enabling this feature is that resources may be abused by the people who are given free accounts. In fact, the flaws in the previous bandwidth system were widely understood and had several consequences that made it unsustainable and also necessitated this change. It only became more important that these flaws be addressed with the introduction of free account creation. The fundamental issue is that network usage has costs, and in order for those costs to be sustainable, the value that is added to the network through user activities must be greater than the cost of performing the back end operations.
For that reason, we had to move to a system that more accurately priced resource consumption to ensure that those who were leveraging the blockchain the most were required to acquire a larger stake. However, during this process what we discovered was that the constraints the new system was placing on user experience were unacceptable. We responded by working with the witnesses to dramatically lower the cost of operations so the blockchain once again became accessible to small stakeholders.
Iterate to Greatness
While we are certainly not satisfied with how the RC system rollout was executed, the vast majority of those with a technical understanding of the system agree that it is the best path forward for defending against both the short-term and long-term risks associated with having a freemium blockchain. Thanks to the flexibility of this system, we can continue to optimize it in ways that ensure small stakeholders can take full advantage of this revolutionary platform while limiting the risks associated with spam.
Promoting Viral Loops
Thanks to the RC system, we are getting a more accurate picture of how much things cost on the blockchain. But now we need to work together to figure out what to do about those costs. This means coming to a consensus about what user activities should be subsidized by the rest of us so that people are still able to join the network, participate in the community, and initiate positive feedback loops of value creation. It is not our position that, “The costs are what they are and users just have to deal with it.” But these decisions are not as simple as they might seem, and we believe that the ultimate decisions should be made in a decentralized manner, based on the will of the community.
At the same time, we need to ensure that we are not opening the floodgates to spam, which would hurt user experience, increase the cost of running the network for everyone, and undermine the long-term sustainability and scalability of the platform.
Join the Conversation
We are declaring the engineering crisis over. But the end of this crisis is also the beginning of the discussion about how we can ensure that this is a system that works for everyone. We are committed to ensuring that this is not a path we alone determine. We will continue engaging in discussions with witnesses, community members, and any reasonable voice acting in good faith for the benefit of the Steem blockchain. We encourage you all to make your views and opinions known to the witnesses, and to reinforce those views with your witness votes.
Our mission is to develop code that you all love to use, and we are eager to participate in the process of coming to a consensus over what features this product should have. The RC system in particular was designed to be flexible enough so that it can be modified with limited disruptions in response to these conversations. But in order to incrementally improve that system toward success, it is critical that we communicate with one another and come to a consensus about changes.
We have already begun discussions with the witnesses about developing common standards, not just for testing code, but for holding Steem developers, such as us, accountable to their needs, and the needs of the community members they represent. We believe that the system that will emerge from this will be far more mature, effective, and powerful than the methods in place prior to Hardfork 20. We are excited about the potential for positive change that will emerge from the challenges we have faced, and will continue to face, as a community.
We want to thank you all for bearing with us through these difficulties and working with us to continue building a system that has rewarded so many people all over the world for their creativity. Together we are building something unlike anything else in existence, which makes building it all the more challenging. We know we cannot do it alone, but we also know that if any community on the internet has a chance, it’s the Steem community. Steem on.
It's supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
―Tom Hanks from A League of Their Own
The Steem Blockchain Team