Steem's nr 1 FLAW - reward distributionsteemCreated with Sketch.

in steem •  9 months ago

Steem

Steem is still a relatively young project and while it's a great concept at its core, there are many imperfections and/or flaws that can be debated and should be addressed rather sooner than later to make sure it stays successful. For example the dangerous power of flagging posts, giving anyone with deep enough pockets the ability to take actual money directly from a creator's payout.

But I'm here to talk about something a lot more fundamental than that, and a problem that's hard to solve or understand, so allow me to break it down:

Traditional platforms

Content creators such as musicians, YouTubers, bloggers, etc. who create the content we ultimately want to have on steem, are currently still living on corporate, "centralized" paychecks, e.g. on Spotify, YouTube, or through Google ads.
On these platforms, whenever anyone sees, shares, or interacts with their content, and attracts an audience for their good content, they get paid a small amount of money, so no matter what or when they post, they get paid for the amount of people who consume their content.
On steem, people get paid for likes - great! Simply watching/consuming content isn't enough to get rewarded, people need to actually like your content.
But here's the catch: they only get paid for likes made during the first week after publishing their content.

Pros and Cons

Cons

Surely many of you are going to see a lot of benefits as well as problems associated with this system, and it's a complicated problem indeed.
On one hand, creators are used to earning their money based on the audience they reach, so if they somehow remain barely noticed during the first few days, and only slowly form a wave of attention as the human chain-reaction and word-of mouth advertising unfolds, they still get paid even months later, when the bulk of attention reaches their content. Similarly, any attempts at promoting their content through other creators or themselves needs to happen quickly, or not at all. And lastly, whenever they are being discovered as truly valuable, they will only get paid for the content they are currently publishing, and don't get feedback or rewards for the content they have already created at that point.
This leads to many undesirable side-effects:

  • creators are incentivized to publish small pieces of work regularily and discouraged from working a lot on a single piece of content and publishing it in a single post
  • advanced tactics like promoting your post through whale-bots or self-voting your posts with leased SteemPower become more relavant and ultimately necessary

"Pros" (not really?)

This system has of course been put into place for reasons, here's some of them:

  1. Steem's payout is created through inflation ("printing money"), so to keep votes "meaningful", either the rate of inflation would have to be increased - which would discourage people from holding steem power rather than paying out SBD to fiat, OR the amount of total possible votes has to be reduced, which is what this 7-day voting period does. It limits payouts to a small fraction of all steem-content (namely to the recent portion of it)
  2. New users like me as well as those creators who do transition from e.g. YouTube to Steem are initially receiving an unusually high paycheck, since all they will ever earn on the content they start publishing is paid to them just a few days later - this encourages them to bring their followers along to join Steem until they realize later on that they might actually earn less in the long term - which results in them using both platforms
  3. Limiting how long people can earn on their posts is incentivizing them to create more content and post more often.

Pros?

So are these really advantages?

  1. There already is a second mechanism in place to reduce how many total payout has to be allocated for the votes to remain meaningful: Votingpower. The more you vote, the less your votes are worth. Why shouldn't I be able to choose to spend my voting power on old posts? Each user can only vote once per post, so really, this wouldn't actually have a big effect on small users - it's actually the opposite: Small users creating good content are more likely to be noticed as they accumulate votes over time.
  2. I guess I already wrote this is a very biased way: Great content ultimately earns less, and why this is a great strategy for luring in more users, it's not a great legacy, is it..
  3. So we're basically turning this platform into twitter: Each tweet gets huge traction when posted, but is forgotten a few days later. Do we want this?

That last question is especially important. This is mainly about how we want this platform to act, how the system should be designed to create trending vs quality, recent vs timeless content.

Of course I'm not saying removing this 7-day limit wouldn't have consequences. It would fundamentally change the way the blockchain works and it could reduce payouts in general, as more of people's votes do start counting for older posts - thus spreading the thin inflation-money further.

Let me know what you think about this topic!
I'd love to discuss this further and maybe add a follow-up post later on.

Go Steemians! :)
(it's our platform, both in the short and in the long term)

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Hey guys, hope you like my post!
As an example of this problem, check out this post I found recently: 4k views, 80 upvotes: $0.00 payout