Downvoting abusesteemCreated with Sketch.

in #steem7 years ago (edited)

The consensus on downvoting is weak, and needs to be strengthened.  All voters are stakeholders, and share a common interest in growing the network and its value.  Downvoting to the point of censorship is destructive to the network, but so is spam.  Only spam/abuse of the platform should be voted into net negatives.  When large stakeholders downvote posts and comments out of simple disagreement, they do serious damage to their investment by building the perception of Steem as a closed, unwelcoming, and unfree platform.

To address this I'm proposing 2 courses of action, the first of which every reader can begin now.

First, we should share comments and posts that are not spam but have been heavily downvoted to attract voting firepower to them.  Every attempt at censorship should become a battlefield and an instance of the Streisand Effect.  This effort will be further augmented when web and app developers implement the next action.

Second, Steem websites and apps should add a "controversial" section to elevate the visibility of posts and comments for which votes are highly conflicted.  This will undermine the use of voting for censorship while preserving its utility for spam and abuse prevention.  I think subjecting contested downvotes to more extensive community review and accountability could significantly improve the voting dynamics.

Ready to start?  Go check this post and upvote it if it's still negative:

Then find more instances of attempted censorship, share them, and link them below so I and others can counter them.

In the future it may (or may not) be beneficial to hard fork an update to make downvotes risk some of their stake to penalize abuse, but that's a discussion for another day.

Thanks for reading.


This is exactly what I'm trying to address with the @freezepeach service. I like the idea of adding a "controversial" section, as that will give some of the posts more visibility, but not all downvoted content is on a post, and your @elfspice comment is a good example of that.

Using the same tool that punishes spammers and plagiarists on content you disagree with is a very dangerous game, and the growth of the Censorship-free* Platform will be hurt until this is addressed.

Awesome, I'm now following @freezepeach! Great idea, and thanks for your efforts.

Thanks for the support!

Using the same tool that punishes spammers and plagiarists on content you disagree with is a very dangerous game, and the growth of the Censorship-free* Platform will be hurt until this is addressed.

I don't see how. The blame lies with the front ends that are happy to censor the material. There are a million more creative ways to organize content than simply hiding flagged stuff.

But I like your service @freezepeach and good work with that.

It's not even that it gets hidden. In fact, hidden posts kind of stand out to me, and I seem to be even more likely to click them to see why they got hidden in the first place. It's the fact that the rewards of hundreds minnows and even reputation can be severely diminished with a single vote. This hasn't really been too much of a problem up until now, but if steemit starts gaining more widespread attention, the probability of corporate, government, and other nefarious actors covertly buying huge stakes increases drastically.

You have to imagine yourself at the bottom of the pecking order when establishing the rules of the game. Right now the worst that we see is an occasional ned flag, but that example can give a glimpse into the impact of special interests that want to dominate a narrative. People will know that if they want rewards on their post, they better not say anything bad about coca-cola, or the gov, or anyone else that controls the shares.

Well the hiding of it is symbolic as well as adding a barrier to engagement, there's no dispute on that.

The gov / corp argument though is interesting. Something like that occurred to me early on when I joined but I thought there was no real way to protect against that. Stakeholders are king here. If a large enough stakeholder comes in and ruins everything, you're looking at a Ethereum style fork after the DAO attack.

So do you suggest removing the flag entirely? @sneak seems to think we'd be better off without it, though admits we need it to counter abuse. How can we have it's abuse countering features without it's possible information suppressing features?

I actually agree with sneak there completely, which I find odd since I just upvoted and resteemed a couple of his flags with freezepeach. He's exactly right though; we need flags/DVs for abuse, and it's better to UV content you like instead of DVing content you disagree with. I don't agree with his minimum weight/rep solution as being a good fix, but it could be marginally better than what we have now.

I also understand that you can fork out any problem accounts that arise, and it may come to that eventually, but this solution is only a temporary fix which addresses the symptom of the problem instead of addressing the root cause.

We need a solution that does away with the flagging feature but also allows for spammers/plagiarists to have their rewards negated. Some have suggested an elected committee of moderators that solely have the power to flag, but that seems as easily corruptible to me as what we have now. I don't know the solution either, but I bet someone out there will figure one out if enough people talk about it.

Yea you may be right. At this moment I endorse flags because there is no better alternative, as you say. I'm not stuck to flags as a solution but I'm stuck to their being a solution. The committee idea is absolutely terrible in every way. But if a better solution is presented I would back it without hesitation if it could be shown to be better.

I think flagging should stay, but we need to reinforce that it's for abuse not disagreement. It would be interesting if downvoting actually risked SP too, so if you try to downvote something and the community comes to defend it, you permanently lose some stake. The premise is that consensus exists about what's abusive, and that SP held by supporters of that consensus outweighs SP held by those who oppose it. Given the nature of Steem, I think if either of those is false it will require forking people out until they're true. The network can't survive without sufficient consensus on both its technical and social protocols.

I suggested a type of 'controversial' section in my post on this subject too.
I also created a browser plugin that makes 'hidden' posts more visible, instead of less visible ;)

Nice, thank you.

Thanks for pointing this out. Flagging.

I wouldn't waste my SP or time on flagging @hamo86

That account is only a side effect of the real cause. It would be more prudent to get the people behind the @promoted bot to actually fix the problem. I am sure there are countless other accounts doing the same thing. I would be shocked if that was not the case.

Well, I zeroed out all the spam he's posted in the last week anyway. I agree that the upvote bots are a problem, but until the stakeholders who support them are convinced to stop, flagging spam does work.

Oh I agree it works. It is just that hamo is probably one of many accounts. With a tiny bit of effort I can find more sure. But I don't have the sp to do anything about it nor should I have to, or you for that matter. Raising awareness and creating a situation where they have no choice but fix it is my idea. I have an account awaiting approval which is called @promotedspam which I will use to spam myself with clear instructions of why I am doing it and will continue to do so until they fix the issue.

That's my idea at least. Bring the problem to forefront so we can snuff it out soon. It is kind of a kamikaze idea which could backfire though. I will be linking this account to it.

I'm not sure why but that was confusing.

Maybe start by explaining downvoting (in a new community) before talking about solutions to a problem some people may not know exists, because they don't know how it presently functions.

I think aim more for 'educational' rather than soliloquy voiced as discussion.

If I see a post that is spam should I down vote it? Is that how it works. I don't mean "that I don't like"... but it just objectively bringing down the standard of posts on steem?


I agree there are some clarity issues with the post, but the point is important: we're starting to see too much downvoting stuff just because someone disagrees with it or gets offended by it.

Downvoting (as presently implemented) is a form of censorship and thus should be used sparingly. Spam and abuse (objectively and demonstrably false claims, plagiarism, bullying, etc) are legitimate to downvote, but downvoting because you disagree with someone (as in the case of @sneak and @elfspice) is inappropriate (and I am disappointed to see @sneak engaging in this kind of censorship).

Do you think this will be able to help with groups of whales who downvote in unison? I've heard privately with a number of people that this has been going on with little discourse.

I myself have been hesitant to make controversial political posts because of the effect that certain communities have.

The Whales are the problem. And I would not be surprised if these Whales and there double and multiple alts that systematically downvote quality content are sponsored by the intelligence services of you know who.

Down voting is not necessarily censorship. The platforms choose to censor based on that but I would actually suggest a reform of this using colors or something similar, not by hiding. That would deal with a lot of what you are saying.

The Steem blockchain does not mandate censorship and in fact has a high priority on resisting censorship. In this discussion you should make sure to make this distinction clear!

Down voting is very much required as it allows strong disagreement. Soft disagreement can be handled in comments, etc., but strong disagreement is important, and important it is felt in rewards.

On your first point, I reject the battle, war, fight, and all violent analogies to flagging. It's not person, it does not hurt, it does not cost. I do however recognize that without full understanding it can be shocking and demoralizing, and can be a tool for bullying.

That's one of the reasons I think your second idea is absolutely brilliant. The controversial section. In the mean time a report could be made by a bot to do this, but I would support it's implementation in and other front ends.

And remember...

I actually had to argue with someone on here who said flagging is the same as rape...

Great post that needs to be addressed

Yup I agree ... there needs to be work on this. Too many people also abuse the category tags and I'm always seeing posts that have nothing to do with the category tags. So annoying.

Thats so true man i strongly agree with you downvotes will only harm this social media site and that we wont want. Please follow me @rogerblu

If people don't like the content that is what the mute button is for.

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