Don't "Vote for Witnesses", your vote does not matter.

in steem •  2 years ago


What does it mean to be a witness?


Witnesses are members of the community, voted in by other members of the community. They require a powerful machine, are must be active to monitor their machine. These witnesses perform a similar duty to the steem network, similar to how bitcoin miners secure the bitcoin blockchain.

Witnesses in the Top 19 are compensated handsomely for their duties in steem power, at approximately 1370 Steem Power per day. Witnesses in the 20 - 50 slots, only get around 30-60 steem power per day: a sharp drop from the Top 19.

So what do the Top 19 witnesses do with their powered down funding, amounting to about 550 USD per day? (Assuming they could power it down all at once -- realistically it is less than that, but still high.)

Ask them.


Recent events in witness changes.


Recently, we saw a large change in the structure of the witness list. Two high powered steemians voted and unvoted. So what's the story?

Val-a started voting in witnesses. Who is val? Val is an employee of Steemit, Inc, and has a considerable amount of stake in the system. You can check this list to see how much stake a user has for witnesses they vote on.

This appears to have caused some waves in the list, as @steemed went on an un-voting rampage on many of the users who val-a placed on the witness list.

Previously, most steemit employees did not vote. Even @ned did not vote. However, @dan did. Actually, so did @dantheman. Both accounts correspond to high powered whales, enough to shape the witness list however he chooses. But it's not enough for me to tell you this, data speaks louder than words.


Let's look at some data.


Here's the current list as of this morning, followed by two new lists:

  • Re-organizing the top 50 by "Community Vote".
    • The number of users, disregarding user stake, that are voting for them as a witness.
  • Re-organizing the top 50 by "No Employee Votes".

By community vote

Arguably, this vote type is sybil attack-able, and I would not want to see this as the way to determine the Top 50, so take this data with a grain of salt. However, as far as I am aware, most users with multiple accounts use voting proxies to use their stake in voting with their multiple accounts. So the list is a good approximation of community support for a user.

The biggest movers and shakers on this list are as follows:

What does this data imply? There are some users that are in the Top list that do not have community support, but are in the list merely by association with the whales. There are also some users with high community support, but are not on the Top list.

No employee votes

This is an interesting one: What if the employees were not allowed to vote on witnesses, and leave the decision of the community members witnessing the blockchain, up to the community?

The biggest movers and shakers on this list are as follows:


So what would this mean for the structure of the Top 19 witnesses?


Lets look at how the Top 19 would change.

And one final experiment: Whom do the employees not touch?

Suppose we took out every user in the Top 50 that is voted on by any employee. This shows a group of steemians whom the devs dare not touch:

@steemed @anyx @cyrano.witness @nextgencrypto @bue @silversteem @crypto777 @royaltiffany @steem-id @pumpkin @blackwidow @proctologic

Funny enough, we wouldn't even have a full 19 witnesses out of the Top 50. This means that more or less, the entire witness list is shaped and controlled, hand selected by Steemit, Inc.


But what if the employees are benevolent?


"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
Winston Churchill

There is no official reason why steemit employees cannot vote. There is only the community perception on whether or not they should vote.

Steemit has shown that they are not opposed to taking over the witness list, and hard forking. They did this after the "hack", using the @steemit account to vote @steemit1, @steemit2, etc. into the witness list, and pushing a hard fork to recover stolen accounts (@dan's account had the keys taken, too).

How does the community feel about this? Do you want the control of your account in the hands of Steemit, Inc? They have enough steem power with the steemit account, let alone all the employee accounts, to simply take over the witness list whenever they choose, and push a hard fork that takes all YOUR earned SBD and Steem. But they don't, because they are benevolent. For now.

So who do the Steemit employees vote for? Let's look at the bitshares witness list, whom also get rewarded handsomely for running a witness node.

From: http://cryptofresh.com/witnesses

Any names ring a bell?


Show me the source.


Fortunately, the blockchain is transparent, so it is really quite simple.

Here's an example of the code used to generate this data. First, grab a list from https://steemdb.com/api/topwitnesses name it witnesses.json, and run something like this in python:

import json
import operator

with open('witnesses.json') as data_file:    
    data = json.load(data_file)

output = {}

for witness, voters in data.items():
  witness_sum = 0.0;
  for voter in voters:
    weight = voter['weight']
    if (voter['name'] not in ['dan', 'dantheman', 'val-a', 'ned']):
      witness_sum += weight
  output[witness] = witness_sum

sorted_output = sorted(iter(output.items()), key=operator.itemgetter(1), reverse=True)

for u, v in sorted_output:
  print(u)

We Need Transparency.


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Upvoted for interesting and novel analysis. Not sure if I agree with all the conclusions, but that's not really the point.

A possible correction and a question:

Suppose we took out every user in the Top 19

Should this be top 50?

So what do the Top 19 witnesses do with their powered down funding, ammounting to about 550 USD per day, at current prices?

I don't understand this statement. I've been a top 19 witness almost since the start and my power down funding this week was "3849.954 STEEM" or about $230 per day

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I agree. While the data is interesting, I agree not all assumptions are 100%. At it's core though, yes, steemit can say who gets into the top 19 and who doesn't. The steemit account alone has enough vests to single-handedly make 19 brand new accounts the top 19. I think that is the primary concern here.

I reblogged this post because I felt like it had an interesting analysis; I do not, however, believe you shouldn't vote. Voting makes a big difference.

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The steemit account alone has enough vests to single-handedly make 19 brand new accounts the top 19

That is the reason that "Decline Voting Rights" feature was introduced in latest release.

An account can chose to decline their voting rights after a 30 day delay. This includes voting on content and witnesses. The voting rights cannot be acquired again once they have been declined. This is only to formalize a smart contract between certain accounts and the community that currently only exists as a social contract.

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Oh wow how did I forget that. Excellent point. I would like to see some discussion on current witnesses declining voting rights.

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Thank-you, and fixed & clarified.

Of Course I support Steemit Inc. the creators of steemit.com to take charge and lead this platform as Mark Zuckerberg and his team leads Facebook.

I support those who have the best interest in mind for the platform, and @ned @dan @dantheman definitely has shown curragh and real leadership when it has been needed, and I trust them to keep doing so in the future.

I want to vote for those witnesses who have the best interest in mind for Steemits great content creators and bloggers.

Why some forces are so eager to get rid of them is for me stupidity. Like every other Software-company there needs to be real leadership and they have all shown themselves worthy of being voted for.

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The analogy with the parents and the baby from Daniel is superb !!!
Hear from 49:20 and after!

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This is opposite to the decentralized ideology we strive for

oh, and by the way, it's great the way you make the argument that there's no likelihood of a sybil attack being used in your analysis of how "the community" would vote for witnesses, then use a sybil attack (aka all those badgers) to upvote your post (oh, sorry, I meant your "supporter"). Yeah, no one's gonna game the system that way.

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I did not ask for badger votes, I did not ask for any votes. I expected this post to be hidden, as it is potentially damaging to people.

You seem to think I am someone, but I guarantee you I am not who you think I am. I watched these people vote on my post after @complexring resteemed the post when it was 2 hours old, worth 2 cents, and had 5 upvotes. Check the blockchain if you don't believe me.

Also, I guess you were not aware that there is no longer a sybil attack that can occur with regular voting. The hot algorithm was fixed. You being unaware of this and assuming badger is sybil attacking, only further proves my point about your dissociation with steem.

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I only re-steemed because it has been a few days after the fork, and I wanted to bring up that the team has not declined voting rights yet for the Steemit account.

I am ambivalent as to whether or not the employees should or should not be able to vote for witnesses although early vests to their accounts would make me more side with the 'no voting' position. And this issue should be discussed if we want to be able to talk about 'decentralization.'

Regardless, this does not exclude them from powering down, transferring to an exchange, transferring to an anonymous account, and then repowering in the course of 2 years to avoid scrutiny. In fact, I think that even doing a power down and then transferring to an account with a specified route is acceptable. The 2 years allows more distribution of stake beyond the initial mining.

Until then, any notion of 'decentralization' is a moot point by the fact that early insiders were rewarded vests and are subsequently voting.

Also, it's not a sybil attack when those badger accounts were fairly bought off the market and there is no way to immediately combine power from multiple accounts. That's a completely inaccurate assessment of the badgers voting.

Disclaimer: I have @dan and @dantheman's votes, but I never asked for them.

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I only wish you were as dumb as you appeared, but I realize you're a pretty clever if scummy person. My reference to a sybil attack isn't that it actually games the rewards (there is no such sybil attack against steem), it's to a social attack against viewers: it makes people think your post is very popular because of the number of votes even though a large number of the votes comes are coming from a few individuals.

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My view is that the count of votes should be removed because it is misleading information, and easily manipulated including by accounts that aren't so obviously affiliated as the badger accounts. Failing that fix to a security and usability bug in the interface, viewers need to be educated to not be so misled.

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And I have to laugh at this comment "You seem to think I am someone, but I guarantee I am not who you think I am". At this point, you've pretty much admitted in some of your other comments that you would be recognized if you posted with one of your main accounts: why would you need to create another account if your "main" account isn't somehow a recognizable account (e.g. having some significant stake). Given that, you have no way to claim it's not one I don't already know.

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I agree, this post smells fishy... I am sure there are hidden interests behind it and we would all be surprised if the poster revealed his/her real identity.

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I agree the "community" voting was the weakest part of this post. However, voting on posts with multiple accounts is not a sybil attack and has not been since the "Hot" page was fixed. Voting rights vest with SP even if it is split up for example on mining accounts, and carry the same to slightly lower weight if voted together as compared to a single account with the same SP. The owner of the badger accounts is doing nothing wrong by voting with all of them.

Hmm, transparency request coming from a guy who's obviously hiding his identity. I almost never downvote a post, but given the timing of this post, the flawed reasoning, and some question I have as to whether this research was "funded" by a whale, I'm going to do so. What's flawed about the reasoning IMO: 1) the concept that a straight vote count isn't generally subject to sybil attack is just ludicrous and trying to promote that this might be a reasonable view of people's opinion just ticks me off, 2) not recognizing that the current voting is not a static thing, and therefore suggesting that if dan or val's votes were changed, no one else might change their votes as well. The 2nd point should be clear to anyone who's doing this kind of analysis, and I find your failure to detect it pretty interesting, since there was a seismic change in witness votes in direct opposition to val's votes and you totally ignored those changes. In fact, most of your conclusions about where everyone would stand ignored those vote changes.

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1 is 100% a valid objection I agree with. 2 is less so since we can look to the history of these votes having been absent or changed and not see both other votes not being all that different in general character, and results closer to what the post suggests than is currently the case. I don't find the analysis to be overly misleading there.

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Flagged this at 5%. For symbolism mostly. Please don't throw around accusations of somebody being funded etc. without one shred of evidence. Heck I agree with some of your objections here but don't sling mud please.

Thanks for making those "what-if" charts. I am grateful for Dan's witness approval votes for me. I am also proud to see that just with community votes I am fairly high on the list! I haven't campaigned much for votes so I really do appreciate it every time I see a new approval.

In regards to the Steemit Inc. accounts having enough stake in Steem to control the witness list, and the precedent set after the authkey hacks in July, you're on the money. By being able to vote for witness approval with these high staked accounts, Steem is technically and ultimately under Steemit control but this is known to witnesses with any amount of votes.

There exists a mostly unwritten social contract that Steemit won't abuse this. So far they've only used their stake in an extreme circumstance to mitigate damage from an exploit. That's not to say they might not use their stake in the future to turn the witness block into a rubber-stamp congress of sorts, in some imagined scenario where there's a large amount of dissent as to where Steem heads. That's possible and it's something Steemit users and Steem witnesses should all be aware of, so that the unwritten social contract gets reinforced.

There is transparency and you've shown it in your post. The blockchain is open. Not sure if we can force transparency over individual actions (e.g. voting, downvoting etc. as everyone has their opinion and they have the right to have it).

Still, there is one thing that comes to mind. Right now the power on Steem(it) is unbalanced. This has been talked about over and over. This lack of balance, unfortunately, renders the community choices useless (in terms of curation, witness voting etc.). A witness can have all the support of the community (hundreds of minnow and dolphin votes) yet one whale can ditch them out of the top 19 which decide the blockchain's road-map. Our faith basically.
Until a balance is achieved, I can only propose a rather drastic measure: No witness votes from accounts over a certain Vested amount.
It's the same that's been proposed on the #whalesdayoff initiative: Hand over the power to the community. Truly.

I also think that official Steemit Inc. personnel should stay out the witness voting business in order to keep the promise the company has made: leave the blockchain decentralized. Is this our community or not?
What if val-a gets fired one day ? Crazy I know, but impossible? I think not. He can get us in a real pickle, and many Steemians will suffer in the end.

I'm not debating the validity of Steemit Inc.'s actions so far. I'm actually one that believes appropriate actions have been taken for the good health and functionality of Steem and Steemit. Progress is seen often and we've come a long way since April. Yet, we still have a long way to go...

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Re-reading the Whitepaper I see the following which might be an answer to this post and even my comment:

This process (OP: consensus) is designed to provide the best reliability while ensuring that everyone has the potential to participate in block production regardless of whether they are popular enough to get voted to the top. People have three options to overcome censorship by the top 19 elected witnesses: patiently wait in line with everyone else not in the top 19, purchase enough computational power to solve a proof of work faster than others, or purchase more SP to improve voting power. Generally speaking, applying censorship is a good way for elected witnesses to lose their job and therefore, it is unlikely to be a real problem on the Steem network.

The only issue I see with the logic above is that the ones owning enough computational power have earned it way easier than anyone can earn it now.

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That whole passage frankly makes little sense to me, but it dosn't refer to distribution, decentralization or power-balance issues, but to getting a transaction (for example a post) into a block at all, if the top 19 don't want to include it

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I hope that since I took the passage out of the context, it didn't change its message. It's from the WhitePaper, page 22, 4th paragraph. Chapter is entitled Consensus in Steemit.

consensus: a general agreement about something : an idea or opinion that is shared by all the people in a group

It's true that the chapter talks about how the blockchain is mined (blocks are produced) but it touches the top 19 witness part and how to become part of the top team and break their censorship.

What I'm saying is that atm, if I want to have the same voting weight like you for example I'd need 1 million bucks, which I doubt it's what you put in when you initially invested. I'm not blaming you because of that. I congratulate you for steeming before me etc. and you've earned your wallet fair and square, but the difference is simply too big between you and me and I think and until that gap closes (in at least 1 year), I know it's much to ask, but can you all whales stop voting for witnesses? Because when you do that, in a way, you're blinding 99% of the community.
That was kind of my statement...let's have the blockchain only allow witness voting from the lower 80% of the vest holders for the top 20 witnesses (I adapted the sentence to sound more metaphoric).

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Again, by censorship what is meant is refusing to include a transaction in a block.

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Ok, nuance understanding but that doesn't change the statement that right now, 99% of the community doesn't get to decide who can refuse a transaction.

Because I was mentioned here, as one of those who would go way down in "Community Vote" list (i.e. list re-organized in a way that only the number of voters matters, disregarding voters stake) I feel that I need to reply.

According to your list I would go down 15 spots. That's a lot, but you forgot to take the time into account.
@steemed is on Steem since beginning, @ned's and @dan's accounts are only one day older. Please compare that time to time I had to gather votes.

I posted my witness application 47 days ago. There are only three users with higher number of votes that registered later to Steem and are placed higher in that classification and one of them made me into top50 (Thank you @anyx) allowing me to get votes from regular users, because other than that only those who were able to user cli_wallet could vote for me. Voting for random witness (i.e. outside of top50) is a feature added just recently.

I upvoted this post even if I disagree, because I believe it would help to create awareness of witnesses role and how important it is for Steem. That is exactly what I'm trying to achieve.

Anyone who would like to talk about witnesses related topics can contact me directly on steemit.chat, as Gandalf or join #witness channel.

And by the way: Vote for witnesses, your vote does matter.

I just love the blockchain and the transparency it brings. Now the interpretation of the data can be different depending on the stakeholder. The risk for Steemit is only if it is considered or seen as being in control of and gamed by a small elite that as I have seen with authoritarian countries and organization that it will drive away capital and investors.

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It is already seen as a small group of elite! The question of those of us hanging on, is will there be a change now that the Beta has been going on and the obvious problems in that are being exposed.

I am not saying there was any ill - intent - Perhaps just unintended consequences of too much power, and too many things that give everyone the incentive to please the elite, vote for the elite, etc.

It's a problem, it must be addressed.

I'm curious as to who you might actually be... interesting points made nonetheless.

Roadscape is not an employe!?

Wow man you got a good eye. Nice catch on that. Interesting.

For me a simple minnow who like to post and vote I do nt see how it matter who a witness is.

I have voted for witnesses based on their post that I liked. I liked their personality.

But this has nothing to do with being a witness. What they post and who they are has no effect on my enjoyment.

Witness are the back of the platform creating the blockchains I can't understand and dont care too.

I did find this interesting. You got a vote and follower. But why does this matter to us little guys?

I assume if the steemit employees are voting in or out certain people it might have to do with their computing power and how many blocks they make per day which i think is important for the community.

But Like I said I don't really know why they do that nor care to understand the witnessing side of steemit.

^^

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Witnesses do two things: 1) sign blocks which keep the blockchain going, 2) decide whether to accept upgrades developed by Steemit. Unofficially, witnesses also: 3) operate seed nodes so nodes can connect to to the network and 4) help promote and develop the ecosystem and platform . 1) and 3) require the ability to manage, operate and maintain high availability and eventually high-capacity IT infrastructure. 4) requires good judgment in deciding how to focus efforts to achieve the best outcomes for the community. 2) requires good judgment along with either understanding of blockchain design and implementation (which encompasses not only the technology but also the economics surrounding it) and/or good judgment in relying on the advice of others if personally lacking in this expertise.

Please do not follow the advice of this post, even though I find some aspects of its analysis to be interesting and significant. Do vote.

You are right! I'll follow you.

Just found this, can we please get an updated version of this post.
Do witnesses still get similar rewards and do you still have the same conclusions?

great post

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