Visualising the Votes For the Top 50 Witnesses.. With & Without The @freedom / @pumpkin Votes.

in steem •  21 days ago

I was looking at the graphical display of the distribution of witness votes here on SteemReports and noticed the huge impact that votes from the @freedom / @pumpkin account have on witness positions.. So I thought I'd experiment with removing them to see what happens.

As you can see, the top 50 witnesses are displayed below with each of their voters given a different coloured block. The large, dark blue blocks are from @freedom / @pumpkin, a mysterious account that has a large amount of Steem Power. Votes from this account for a witness mean a good chance of making it into the top 20. I have no idea who operates this account though some have claimed it to be a person that was or is part of Steemit inc.

You can see that the huge scale of the Steem Power wielded by this account in many cases actually beats the power of all of the thousands of accounts that are combined in the graphs into one solid light blue bar at the right side of each line. One vote from one account literally has more power than 1000s of others. The multi coloured boxes in the middle of the horizontal lines represent other individual accounts that have a lot of Steem Power and it seems though, that despite the power of Pumpkin, there is something of a consensus regarding who should be in the top 20.

witness top 50

Click image to load full size and zoom in

I took this graph and manually edited it so that the pumpkin votes were removed, just to see what would happen to the top 50 witness slots.

The top 20 move around a bit and some make it into the top 20 who weren't in there before. The witnesses marked in red at the bottom of the list would drop out of the top 50 altogether.

witness top 50 minus freedom

Click image to load full size and zoom in

What are your thoughts? Let us know below!

Wishing you well,
Ura Soul


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Thanks for a well researched report. I find stuff like this fascinating and the last 2 weeks has opened my eyes as to what steemit "is" as opposed to what i had assumed it was. This has given me a whole new outlook on my investment here and where i need to make changes including witness votes After seeing which side the more vocal witness's stand.

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You are welcome! Many witnesses tend to say nothing since they can't please all of the people all of the time.. I, on the other hand, am less interested in people pleasing in the short term and more interested in getting to the heart of the matter to create the clarity that leads to the best outcomes for all. :)

Every witness wants to get a vote from pumpkin. From his last activity in Feb 2018pumpkin approve witness prc and @prc seems offline for some time e.g. 29 days see here and also the fact he/she still votes for Jerry, so I believe he/she is not part of Steem Inc... just my guess. The rumors say that the pumpkin belongs to @dan which is not entirely impossible.

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Yes, that is the only explanation I have heard, but I don't know for sure. I think that the 'rules' are meant to be that no-one at Steemit inc can run a witness, but if you have enough tokens to control which witnesses sit in the top 20 then you don't really need to! That said, I would not expect Dan to vote for Jerry.

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Interesting article, especially the point about removing freedom's vote and still seeing a popular match for most of the witnesses.

Of course, it could be argued that their placement in top 20 also just brings more votes to them naturally, but I think there's a reasonable argument for the reverse position that some people choose to vote outside the top 20 for the same reason (e.g. "they've already got enough votes, I want to help someone else"). It's a psychological study that it would be interesting to see the results of (how people vote for/against incumbents), but I suppose the results might be that people vote more for incumbents when they are "happy" and less often for incumbents when they are "unhappy" with status quo. If that premise holds true, it could be interesting to see how votes changed during the HF20 debacle.

To my knowledge, none of the major steemit employees vote for witnesses with their Steem nowadays (this wasn't true in the past). But it's certainly possible that some of them could be voted with "unknown" stake in their control.

The evidence has always been compelling that freedom is someone from BitShares community originally, but it's been difficult to narrow down their identity much beyond that.

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Thanks! Yes, I understand there to be a mix of people voting along with whoever is popular or just because they know more about them due to increased exposure - plus those who deliberately vote for others. We have enough votes that it makes sense for us to deliberately pick some 'big names' and also some who are less well known for our own reasons.

There are definitely some who will drop votes for the top 20 when they upset with Hard Forks' etc. too, yes.

It might be possible to psychologically profile the Pumpkin through statistical analysis of personality traits by comparison to the rest of the community, but I am not that obsessive :)

I have just spent a couple of days coding a page that demonstrates what would happen to the witness top 100 if we introduced witness vote decay (of 3 months currently in my tests) as I proposed months ago and which @ned appeared to like at that time.. From my initial data it really shakes things up dramatically as most of the top witnesses got their votes a long time ago, but we cannot accurately predict who would and would not reinstate their votes once they expired due to their time limit. If you are interested I can tag you when I make the finished page live.. I have some other ideas too which I will explain then which might make the situation more attractive to the average user and to investors in the blockchain too.

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Vote decay has been suggested a number of times (at least in BitShares voting), but there are pros and cons.

The best argument for it I think is "dead votes" from accounts which no one controls any longer (e.g. keys were lost accidentally). In the long term, I think there will be a need for a solution like decay to weed out such dead votes that might be voting for no longer active (or even potentially rogue) witnesses, but there's a lot of different ways the decay could be implemented.

The biggest argument I can think against vote decay is that it could increase security risks associated with the same attack I mentioned before (someone hacks an exchange and gets a lot of "free" steem). Depending on the algorithm used for the decay, overall vote totals for witnesses could be lower, resulting in an easier attack based on large stake.

And, of course, depending on the actual decay algorithm chosen, there could be hassles for voters associated with re-voting.

Still, ultimately I think a voting decay algorithm of some sort is an eventual necessity. But I don't think it's a pressing concern yet.

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Yes, the removal of dead votes is the main motive here, since the worst case scenario is that whales make big votes and then literally die and the votes stay forever, regardless of what the witness does later on.

I see what you are saying about the potential hacking of exchanges and stolen steem, but does that actually happen very often? It's not something I hear of much, but then I know that banks and perhaps also exchanges tend not to let anyone know when they are hacked to avoid harming their PR image. If large votes appear for witnesses from a hack, the results could still be a problem without vote decay, depending on the amount of steem stolen. Your point also raises an issue I hadn't thought of - what happens if a Steem account is hacked and cannot be retrieved for some reason? I guess there's no mechanism for blocking witness votes from that account.

I think if hackers can break into exchanges and steal steem, then they can steal any other currency too and then covert it into steem and no-one would really know publicly, so I'm not convinced that this risk is one that should stop the implementation of a well thought out vote decay feature.

I see this working well in conjunction with the idea of significantly lowering the number of votes that each account has. This would open the space up for more say from the wider community and also less risk of attack from stolen steem.

In any case, the page I have coded to display outcomes of vote decay rules is partially finished - I just need to do some bugfixing and test it some more. :)

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It's certainly possible an exchange could get hacked and all it's steem stolen (unfortunately this kind of hack predictably seems to happen somewhere a few times a year, but no major amounts of Steem stolen to my knowledge).

Probably the best argument against such an attack is that most attackers would probably try to just sell the Steem instead of attacking the chain with it, as attacking the chain would likely just lower the value of the coin they sold. So it would probably take an attacker with something other than financial motivations.

I didn't mean to imply you shouldn't work on this issue, I'm glad to hear it. Mostly I was explaining why I doubt it was on Steemit's immediate roadmap.

As a side note, I just saw abit re-opened this issue on BitShares github repo and I heard recent discussion of it at the BitShares conference, so you might want to engage with some of the developers there as well.

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I see, ok - I can appreciate why this would not be on Steemit inc.'s to-do list, in that they already have more fundamental issues to deal with - I agree. However, the recent complaints from many directions regarding the potentially limited scope of testing that witnesses engaged in prior to the last hard fork has nudged me to focus on this a while.. It is something that many have asked me to push forward anyway, but it's actually a low priority for me too most of the time too as I am pretty busy. I don't think many people really truly know exactly what was and wasn't tested - or what actually could have been tested, but that doesn't stop them complaining.

I think/feel that many people need to see some kind of steps being taken to possibly improve the things they complain about - whether or not they actually succeed is a secondary issue. The biggest challenge for Steem that I see in this regard is that among those who do deeper research, it is well known that generally speaking our mainstream 'democracies' really are nothing of the sort and are totally rigged/controlled. Since we see so many facets of government and wider society reflected in the structure of Steem and its users, the people who come here - attracted by the censorship resistant features and potential for causing disruptive evolution in society - tend to want to make sure that they are doing what they feel they need to do to produce a better outcome here than we see in the wider world in general. They feel powerless in mainstream politics and have given up there, so want to create something tangible here that is an improvement. Hopefully changes to the witness voting mechanism that are more competitive and enforce some degree of presence and activity on the blockchain in order to sustain a presence here, will go some way to increasing engagement and attentiveness all around.

In any case, I aim to open up conversation about how everyone might meet in the middle here in ways that benefit everyone.

Thanks for the tip about Bitshares, I'll see if I can find the issue you are referring to in github.

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FYI, I just posted the initial data from my vote decay calculations (which doubles as a post showing the 'hottest' witnesses) - it's here if you are interested. :)

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I did a big post a long time ago on freedom, you might find it interesting. https://steemit.com/steemit/@paulag/unmasking-freedom-what-the-data-can-tell-us-steemit-business-intelligence

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Great, thanks! I saw some of those names and reached some similar conclusions when looking at early blocks a while ago. Someone knows! ;)

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it is more likely a steemit inc account considering the past witness voting by steemit inc whale accounts

https://steemit.com/steem/@transparency/don-t-vote-for-witnesses-your-vote-does-not-matter

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Did you ever go back and do the vote timing analysis suggested by donaldtrump?

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Actually no i didnt. But i think now i will add it to the list 😀

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I think with some digging we can find out. I don't believe stinc would vote in the way pumpkin votes. I'd have an easier time believing pretty much anything else.

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I doubt it too, but don't have any evidence in any direction really.

if the votes were removed, its doesnt really make a heap of a difference. But, if the votes were just changed to other witnesses, well then you could see a big shake up

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yes good point! without this account there would be much more organic competition, which would be a healthy thing!!

Right but that's not removing their effect. up until recently when Steemit only showed the top 50 on the witness page (now top 100) getting your name in the top 50 was a huge advantage as people would vote for you a lot more than witnesses outside the top 50.

Firstly, voting for a top 50 was much easier press a button and done.

Secondly by being in the top 50 the assumption was automatically that you had been vetted and considered a witness who was doing good for steem so people are more likely to vote for them.

To make it a fair comparison you'd need to look at what the witnesses ranks were prior to getting that vote and then model growth in their votes as a sub-50 candidate then a above-50 candidate and see how far they get.

Also I'm sure pumpkin is not the only ninja mined account. would be interesting to see what effect it would be to remove all ninja mined accounts.

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I don't know exactly which accounts are due to ninja mining, but it is possible to identify some of them from the early blocklogs I have found.

If you look at the current situation where the witness voting page ends at 100, there is no significant jump above/below that point, but it could just be that we need more time for that to develop.

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The longer the witness list on steemit the smaller the effect it will have. If you imagine a top 30 list (when everyone has 30 votes) the easy vote will be to just vote for the top 30 and there would be a big disparity between rank 30 and rank 31.

As you increase the length of the witness list the benefit of being on the page diminishes, but having had it for long means those who are in the top 50 have had a much longer time to enjoy the benefits.

I have always found it interesting that apart from @gtg, @freedom and @blocktrades votes are 'mutually exclusive'.

I wonder if that tells us anything....

What would the order look like when @blocktrades is excluded from the voting too?

And then to even it out a bit more, how would it look if say all 10 top megavoters were excluded? This would of course simulate some sort of voting weight cap that might be an interesting option to explore (although probably easily exploitable).


Founder of the A Dollar A Day charitable giving project.


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Yes, I'm sure there's a logic to that and it is deliberate, though I can't say more than that for sure.
I didn't remove blocktrades since they actually run an active witness and it seemed a bit too warping to add that complication in there. I think Andy might do well to make his reports adjustable in future, so we can see what happens when certain votes go elsewhere!

The election of witnesses very much mimicked big party politics in many western democracies until recently. The range of @freedom's choices was all that was being displayed from STINC's interface. It was very much like media coverage traditiomally alloted to smaller political parties.

My feeling is that we are only beginning to see the difference of expanding that list. Maybe it could include all witnesses in some dynamic way? There should be no arbitrary definition of witness acknowledgement other than activity, in my opinion.

Idealy, Witnesses that are inactive for X days would have their votes released. Then @freedom would have to check in more often at least. 😎

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Yes, these are both points I have made repeatedly before - I agree totally!

With the stakes they have, they have the right to vote this way. However, it could be detrimental to their own stake if the witness is not performing in the best interest of the blockchain. I cannot really opine on those that would fall out as I am still learning who is who here. I can tell you that I do expect some shifts as more people start to look towards which witnesses are truly governing and being responsible or not. I have also seen, new witnesses like @fulltimegeek gets lots of attention given his vision for Steem going forward. Overall, I think that people finally taking this seriously is great for the future of this ecosystem.

I did some detective work. @smooth is approving/unapproving witnesses.
smooth approve witness timcliff 21 hours ago
smooth approve witness ausbitbank 21 hours ago
smooth approve witness lukestokes.mhth 21 hours ago
smooth unapprove witness timcliff 21 hours ago
smooth unapprove witness lukestokes.mhth 21 hours ago
smooth unapprove witness ausbitbank 21 hours ago
https://steemd.com/@smooth

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Some of them have been doing that recently, not sure why.

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I've just read over the comments on one of berniesanders posts about the witness voting system being centralized. You commented there as well. There seems to be quite a few improprieties on the Steemit platform.

Interesting. So basically, even though they have so much SP, they really aren't picking the winners. Same top 20 with or without them.

Well that's a comforting thought.

wow crazy that one person/group has such an impact on the top 20 ranking

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