How to stop almost all abuse on Steem (Edited)

in steem •  15 days ago

Too often I have read posts about abuse and reward pool rape. Some users try to exploit Steem and get more than they actually deserve. I am talking mostly about bot upvote abuse. The solutions so far didn't really work.

With some users trying to exploit the dMania bot as well, I have to deal with it somehow. I want to shed some new light on the problem and make it clear for everyone where the actual problem is.

Why only bot upvote abuse?


I would argue that bot abuse is the only real abuse that exists on the platform atm. Every other post that receives high rewards was upvoted by some real person. That person invested a lot of money so that he is able to make those high upvotes. He can use those upvotes however he likes. If he likes to upvote his own comments to $200, that's his choice. It's probably not the best idea or a good strategy for an investor, but it's his choice.

It isn't any different when a low stake user upvotes his own posts and comments all the time. Nobody complains about that, but it is actually the same thing.

If some user upvotes content of the same user all the time (@haejin or others), it's not abuse either. Looks like it and a lot of people don't like that, but not really abuse. Some users with a high stake choose @haejin as their special friend and upvote all his posts. They have invested a lot in the platform, so they can do that. It's their choice. It's probably not the best thing to do if you are interested in the long term growth of the platform, but if they think @haejin posts are their letters worth in gold so be it. 

People can use their own stake to fight that kind of Steem Power use or they can let it happen. Again it's their stake and they should use it as they see fit.

Where the real problem lies


Most people don't  realize where the actual problem is. For me it is as clear as day and I wonder why I haven't seen any posts about it. The only real abuse that happens on Steem is by paid upvote bots. Not their existence, but how they are designed at the moment and the amount of power they have on Steem.

People normally use paid upvote bots to boost their posts a little and make them a little bit more visible. Nothing wrong with that. On Steem there is already a feature for that -> Promotion. The problem is that nobody really uses it. Mainly because of the way it was designed. Promoted posts on Steemit are only visible in their separated tab. There are a lot of ads and stuff by ICOs. Most people don't want to look at that. The quality of content is lower in general on the promotion tab. 

Other platforms had the same problem and they integrated ads and paid posts into the regular content. That way those posts would get more exposure and people would only see ads/paid posts from time to time. Bad design by Steemit in my opinion.

That was one of the driving factors why paid upvote bots came to existence. There was a demand for it by the users. They are willing to pay so that their posts receive more exposure. New users don't have many followers and it's hard for them to get started on Steemit. I had the same problem at the beginning. Paid upvote bots can help you with that. They provide a valid service to their users, so there is no real problem for paid upvote bots in general.

The actual  problem


There is a big problem if people use paid upvote bots who don't care about the content and just want the rewards. They just create random posts and use paid upvotes to collect rewards. 

Some upvote bots received a shitload of Steem Power in the last few months. The reason is because they are  money printing machines for their creators and everyone who delegates to them. The rewards that those bots generate are huge. It's hard to find the actual numbers, but you can guess from the amount of Steem Power that those bots have. The big upvote bots generate tens of thousands of USD every day. That is more than any witness, author or app on Steem receives.

By delegating Steem Power to a paid upvote bot it becomes suddenly legit for whales to self vote all the time. Before they had to create posts and upvote them. If those posts provided zero value, it would be visible to others. Like I said before not real abuse, but probably not the best idea. People who don't like that could downvote them with their stake. Normally people would never upvote with 100% of their stake themselves all the time. Almost nobody does that. No whale would do that who is interested in the growth of the platform.

Except with paid upvote bots that sort of behaviour is suddenly legit. People delegate to upvote bots and receive almost 100% of their investment, without getting the bad repuation of exploiting the reward pool and selfvoting. That is the real problem and it's bad, really bad. Can't be the only one who sees a problem there.

What can be done?


There is no way to stop or regulate the paid upvote bots. They are part of the system now. We have to deal with it. People who delegate to them should ask themself if that is  really in the best interest for the growth of Steem.

There is one simple change that would resolve the issue of abuse with paid upvote bots: Reduce the amount of Steem Power delegated to paid upvote bots and make the use of paid upvotes more expensive.

The price of paid upvotes depends like everything on an open market on supply and demand. At the moment the supply of Steem Power for those bots is very high. So high that using them on any content can generate profits for their users. If the supply would be less, the price of paid upvotes would rise and there wouldn't be any auto profit anymore. People who want to use paid upvotes would only use them if they think their posts are valuable and will generate future rewards for them. Abusers would loss money if they use them at random content.

So all it takes is a few whales to stop delegating to paid upvote bots or just delegate less. One simple click for a few users to stop almost all abuse on Steem. Easy as that.

I hope that some whales see this post and think about what they are doing and how bad those actions are for the Steem platform. Stop thinking only about short term profits and think about the future of the platform.

Final words

I am on vacation now and I actually don't want to deal with stuff like that atm. Nevertheless I think it is very important that people understand where the actual problem is.
I am pusing this post with paid upvote bots for maximum visibility. Like I said not the paid upvote bots are the problem, but the amount of Steem Power they have.

To stop abuse of the dMania bot by paid upvote bots, I could ban all of them. That would solve the problem on dMania, but not in general. Like I said paid upvotes provide a valuable service and are important to new users. A ban isn't the best solution.

You don't stop abuse by punishing the abuser. The only way to stop abuse is to make it impossible in the first place. Like I said, just reduce the delegations. One simple action that would change everything. Paid upvotes should never generate auto profit for anyone.


This post turned in a shit show and that wasn't really my intention. I wanted to bring attention to a problem and provide a solution. That problem wasn't recognized as such before. At least I achieved one of my goals by starting a discussion about the problem. At least now more people know about it.

I am going to remove the dMania upvote from this post. With the amount of SBD that I have used to promote this post, I will lose money.
I will stop caring what happens on Steem and Steemit from now on. I will focus my attention on dMania. Now you have one less person who gives a shit. Some people here turned this post and discussion in the complete opposite direction. Some of them just don't like dMania, some of them have a personal dislke for me and others were paid upvote bot providers who felt attacked by my post.

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Sort Order:  trending

How to stop almost all abuse on Steem:

Undelegate to Dmania.


[EDIT] - Upvoted for visibility and self-aggrandizement. Also...Streisand Effect.

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I was hoping you could upvote my posts as well for visibility and self-aggrandizement. Also for Streisand and Butterfly Effects. Thanx!

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Plus he paid for upvote bots to get the post noticed.

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This is Streisand abuse!

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OMG, no!!! I love Barbara Streisand!!!!

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Streisand effect! I would vote up this comment, but I'm too busy voting up NNLTU, lol.
You fucking rock man,

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How to stop almost all Streisand abuse:

Undelegate to Dmania

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LOL! That word!

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Hey zombee I just wanted to kindly ask for a boost (upvote) on dmania.lol, because I genuinely want to contribute to a funnier dmania by posting only the funniest, high quality memes I find on a regular basis. If you are interested in helping a minnow grow on dmania, in order for him to make dmania grow further, you can upvote my post if you wish: https://steemit.com/dmania/@johnnydabaus/rofl-zg1hbmlh-7tbh9

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Your funny Edit comment made me laugh. upvoted, but not a big one.

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thank you D:/@ats-david
excellent comment
please come in my blog

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Weird, I posted this video earlier today (in fact, it was still in my clipboard!). It was in response to someone saying "Doge Sauce". Looks like Streisand is everywhere.

Elvis is everywhere as well! :)

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Well, it's may be one of all solution to solve the problems. Delegate only for important things and to person who needed as instead.

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The reason DMania upvotes above average posts is that it has value. People will always pay upvoting bots because the system is designed towards that path.
The solution is to direct those wasted SBD to DMania itself. Pay to become a curator of DMania.
This way you create a quality meme platform and increase its value.

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wow excellent comment

Delegations are not the problem, neither are upvote bots. If neither of these existed, you'd still see the same problems with self-voting of bad posts.

The primary problem is the current blockchain rules combined with the rise of SBD above its intended value has skewed the incentives drastically towards self-voting versus voting for content you actually like. I wrote a post about this some time ago: https://steemit.com/steem/@blocktrades/voting-abuse-and-ineffective-curation-a-proposal-for-blockchain-level-change

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Upvote bots are the problem. I've actually said it many times. You can tell me I'm wrong if you want to, but that doesn't make it so.

I just joined Steemit on November 28th 2017 so I am still a pretty fresh minnow. I've only used upvote bots for one post and it was only for promotion purposes as I was welcoming a popular youtuber to the platform. Other then that, my rewards are 100% organic.

To someone like you that has been on the platform for a long time and you run your own exchange, I can see where you've lost the sight of the true intention of this platform and as a new user I'd like to try to remind you, and more importantly, it's why I joined in the first place.

Manual curation of quality original content

This was the idea that was given to me when I read about the platform.

"Put your best effort into your posts" they said.
"The best way to earn and get recognized is to engage and post meaningful content" they said.
"Get rewarded to curate quality content!" they said.
"Posting bad content will get you flagged" they said

Want to know what they didn't say?

"Once you're a whale, you can sit back and automate curation. Who cares what you upvote, just rake in the profits!"

I looked There wasn't even any fine print that stated this, but after being here three months, I see that this is the case.

So here's what steemit is:

  • A bunch of minnows manually curating quality content chasing an illusion.
  • A bunch of lazy whales that really don't want to be content curators but still want the rewards.
  • Automated curation of whatever content, whether original or not, creating the illusion of profit.
  • Flag wars between high reputation users and whales flagging eachothers content instead of flagging real abuse and plagiarists that are using upvote bots.
  • Whales destroying each others reputations over verbal disagreements while plagiarists rep stay well above 40 and 50s
  • Smaller whales and dolphins that actually care about the longevity of the platform doing real flagging and manual curation
  • The biggest whales / players are turning this into a social experiment and a spectator sport, idly sitting on the sidelines laughing while they sit on their millions.

It appears that I was wrong about Steemit, but I'm still hopeful and will continue to plug away.

I appreciate my organic rewards, but when I see how profitable stepping into the dark side can be, it's very demotivating. Even moreso when whales don't do anything about it, flag a post like this one that brings a valid argument while plagiarists reap the rewards.

How to be a steemit millionaire:

Create 1000 steemit accounts.
Start a circlejerk upvote ring.
Post the shit out of it.
Upvote the shit out of it.

A freshly minted steemit millionaire is born.

Why? Because the whales are too busy fighting eachother or 'spectating' because it's funny to watch their investment crumble I guess.

I've got reason to believe that those who can put an end to this are purposely letting it happen and are encouraging for this to continue.

Does it have something to do with crashing the price of SBD back to $1? I have no idea.

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Yes. Upvote bots are indeed the problem.

That's why I compared them to crack cocaine in this post:

How to Cook Steemit Crack and Destroy the Neighborhood

Enjoy!

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Haha, Cooking Steemit Crack! I'll take a read when I have a chance and comment.

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That was smooth.

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Well dayum! Whoever wrote this post is either ignorant, oblivious or maybe a few other words that mean the same thing.

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When he says he's not promoting the post for the payout, I wonder if he's ready to give away the SBDs to people who're making cool memes on dmania. That'd, in some way, put the delegated SPs to use at least.

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I wonder if anyone who ever buys votes tells all the minnows, "Hi, I felt like I was more important than you today, so I chose to divert x amount of rewards towards MY post and away from yours. This way, you can come here and be mislead to believe I'm popular. You can then begin kissing my ass with the hopes I will come to your post some day and vote for it, but I probably won't for I am far too busy thinking about what to say next so I can do this all over again."

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And the answer to both is probably a 'no'.
But I guess the only way he could right the wrong now is by doing that.

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Another analogy I like to use is, if Steem were a sport, upvote bots would be the juice, the steroids, that can help a lazy asshole become a champion.

This is what has been normalized. Something that should be frowned upon has become the de facto standard for "success". It's load of shit.

I'd much rather stick to growing my followers through genuine engagement and hard work than using paid shortcuts.

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If all whales were to cash out right now your payouts would be close to zero. The reason you earn anything at all is because of whales hodling strong and not taking profit. The fact that you make it sound like whales are the big problem shows your lack of understanding of steem.
Same goes for voting bots , they creates a lot of demand for SBD which in turn increase the payouts across the board. Never forget why this whole thing has any value in the first place.

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Blaming the whales is just the old standard of class warfare. +1 to you for pointing that out.

Whenever I see someone blabbering on about "the whales need to" I'm immediately reminded of those socialist college kids that know nothing except what their professors told them to think.

Of course, I am extremely envious of the whales, but that's just human nature. If you let envy turn into hate you're just stabbing yourself in the dick over and over again.

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Yeah, I have a lot of respect for the whales. It's pretty reassuring that there are many of them that are fighting to make Steemit a better place. Even at the expense of their own short term profits. Do they also do things to make money? Of course. Just because a whale argues against a certain type of behavior, does not mean they are claiming to be on here as a philanthropist.

Anytime I see a whale denouncing something, there are people coming out of the woodwork with screenshots saying "Hypocrite! You make $XXX.XX from doing this other thing!" So what? Are they not entitled to make money like everyone else? Minnows maximize their profits, for a whale to sacrifice any amount of profit for the good of the community is a bigger sacrifice than any minnow is even capable of making.

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Best comment on the thread.

Cg

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You nailed it for me.

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If the whales were to cash out the whole system would implode so I don't need to necessarily thank them. They can thank themselves.

I still thank them.

I never said that whales are the big problem, I implied some whales are lazy and have created bots for automated curation on a website that is intended for manual curation of quality content.

Nowhere have I read that automated curation is where its at. This was just someones business idea.

The proper solution to these bots is to implement artificial intelligence into the system. These bots don't know a good post from a bad one. I've also mentioned this before, which brings SingularityNET and AGI into the mix. The way Sophia the robot gets her data is the future of artificial intelligence.

In order for these "bots" to perform what the site is intended for, there would need to be more AI. I know that this is not something easily achieved.

My point is that Steemit is not in a position to automate such things.

Otherwise, we have this. Along with ban lists and people making new accounts every time they get caught.

Wild wild west indeed.

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I don't want us to end up on a platform where only bots determine what is good or not. Who teaches the bots what that is? And if bots differ on what is good who determines if one set of bots should be allowed or not?

Here's a thought - if Whales are too lazy to curate then they should delegate their spare STEEM to real people to curate. Then we can just ban bots for anything other than enforcing commonly community accepted rules like no plagiarism or that NSFW material should be appropriately tagged.

Just remember that Steemits big claim, when I came to it last June, was apparently that it demonstrated and used "proof of brain".

Personally I think that if we are going to allow bots for curation and content generation then that content and those votes should damn well better be indicated as not-human and I should be given the option to ignore it entirely.

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I agree with you here. When I present the AI stuff as a solution it is not to say I agree with having bots determine what's good or not on Steemit. I absolutely disagree with that 100%. I present it because the bot owners are never going to turn their bots off. I've talked to them in the past about it.

I've been asked "What do you suggest we do? I'm all ears".

I told them what they don't want to hear and it's the only true solution. Turn them off.

To them, this is absolutely out of the question, nope, never going to happen. Their bots are making them rich, so I can see why but they are too blind to the damage it's creating because they are enjoying the profits.

proof of brain was what got me in too. Manual curation is what gave me the incentive to join. Not automated bots giving false value to every post on the trending page. Steemit is not supposed to be pay to win.

I agree with you fully on the delegating SP to real people to curate. I've said this in the past but being new I went mostly unheard.

I'd be happy to get paid to curate great content. Having the delegation and the curation rewards alone could be enough.

The problem is if someone got delegated a bunch of SP to do manual curation with, can they handle it?

With great voting power comes great responsibility. With me, I would simply deduct the delegation when upvoting myself (like as if I didn't have it). I would most certainly use delegated SP to flag spam and abuse though, which is all a part of manual curation anyways.

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Exactly!
Right to the point and so well said again. You say it as good as anyone else and better than most. This POINT must be realized because as you say we ONLY get payouts BECAUSE of the whales.

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Also wanted to add that if you consider the delegated SP and the bot upvotes that were used to get this posts rewards so high is a perfect example of the cesspool that bidbots create.

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Amen to that!

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Well without Bidbots the whales would do more self voting. There is no limitation in how much every Steemuser can benefit from his steempower. There is no equal in payouts and there will never be a fair payout system because everything is relative. But I do like the idea of your AI Bot maybe this could be a solution in the future.

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The site is intended for manual curation of good quality content. There is also two ways to contribute to the platform, by contributing quality content or contributing to the betterment of the platform.

I believe that the payout system is fair, but people are being greedy.

This is why anarchy doesn't always work Greed tends to get in the way.

With great voting power comes great responsibility -@bitfiend

I've said this before, so I decided to quote myself. Not sure if anyone else has said it or not, but that's not the point.

When it comes to AI, it is the solution but steemit is just not there yet. If you have not done research on Sophia the Robot I suggest you do so, up to and including SingularityNET (AGI) - Artificial General Intelligence that is a token designed for AI to AI transactions. Sophia is planning a token that will literally be used by other AI robots like herself.

The way it works is that all the bots in the steemit-verse would be accessing the same data. When one bot (let's say cheetah bot) learns that person a is an abuser, it automatically learns this over time and this information is stored in an AI database that only other AI's would have access to. Therefore, as one robot learns, they all learn. This is very real stuff and is very much in the works.

I don't fully disagree with the bot stuff, but as we merge further into a robotic world, it is clear that AI is going to be the solution to this. What I disagree with is that the bots aren't ready to be automatic. If bot owners can't make the time to monitor their upvotes then they need to hire someone to do it. I'll be happy to get paid to curate. And it would also be very hard because there's thousands of people bidding for upvotes every day. It's turning into a real problem.

Just remember though, to all you bot owners, that governments are taking notice to the money that people can make from robots whether they are physical or not. Automated processes are creating serious bank for folks, and governments are looking to find a way to tax it.

Have a robot? Your robot will be treated as its own citizen, and your robot will have to pay its own taxes.

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Thanks for your detailed responds. I do know singularity.net and sophia and to me it makes totally sense to combine AI and Blockchain Technology. Unfortunatly I didn't received any tokens in the ICO but I got myself some from Kucoin.
I know somebody on steemit who owns one of these Bots and he runs that Bot under a mining company because mining on the STeemblockchain is voting and content creation. So therefore a Votingbot is making profits thru mining and on that he has to pay taxes. But I agree that is pretty easy money right now.

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Awesome commentary! I couldn't agree more. I wonder if the founders use these bots. I've looked at @ned and he regularly upvotes himself for massive paydays. If the creators of the system are doing this, do you think they are thinking about the long term viability of their creation or are they getting massive advantage from the system they created? If they don't care to fix this, then who will? Frankly, like you, I don't use upvoting bots. It's all organic work. I write a few posts, but mostly try to add value in other people's posts and find it nearly impossible to move the needle on my reputation score. I'm not complaining. It's the system they build to give themselves advantages or to those who can afford to buy a massive amount of SP to be in their club.

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Renting out large sp takes away from all other sp in return for cash.

When a whale votes, or delegates the sp for cash, all other users are disadvantaged.
It's just a fact in the math.

If 1000sp are the cumulative votes of the minnows, and a whale with 10,000sp votes, all the value that would have gone to the little votes now go to the large vote.
The system was designed to do this.

Thanks for adding your voice to resistance.

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Thanks, I was mostly aware of this, and you put it in perfect terms for me to understand. I've noticed I've gotten a few 100% upvotes worth 0.00 because of this.

This is why we as a community need to be more proactive in flagging real abuse because I've done some investigating and have determined we dump at least 9-10 grand USD into plagiarists wallets every week. Working on my next part this week hopefully but it's a kind of tedious so I've been neglecting it.

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You know, I have never actually flagged crap posts. I might start now. I can't stand seeing crap posts getting high rewards when posts that people actually put time into get passed by. I have been using the bots a bit lately, just to see how it all works. I feel like a sleaze. So far they really haven't panned out well so I'm going to go back to organic votes and reserve bot use for when I'm in a gambling mood.

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I flagged one post only, because he posted an entire expensive financial newsletter I pay for. The result: he flagged me back. He had a higher reputation than me, so it hurt my reputation and not his for the stealing someone else work. I learned the only thing it accomplished was to hide the post.

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You definitely should start! When we come together and flag actual crap posts and actual abuse and plagiarism the rewards are reallocated to quality content.

I'd say good choice on organic. IMO you're better off powering up instead of paying for a vote. Upvote yourself, it's not entirely wrong. You earned your stake.

I like to stay below 20% self upvotes and last I checked i was at 13%. I am ok with that

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I give myself a few cents here and there. But on comments that actually took a minute or two to think about. People who self vote crap, especially plagiarized crap, are the worst!

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Exactly. If I upvoted myself on every comment I made, I'd be making some pretty decent money too. The thing is, it's not worth it. I'd rather engage. It's more fun to curate good content then to be greedy and self vote everything I say

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i am glad to read this. I have been debating weather or not to try a bot. and I was encouraged that i should up vote my own post. not knowing any better because i just started. Thank you all for showing me to just stay the course. I don't understand what the different bots do and or how it all works well enough any way.

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When a whale votes, or delegates the sp for cash, all other users are disadvantaged.

Are you saying Whales shouldn't vote? This is a Proof of Stake game, their 'money', their choice.

Delegating this SP, for cash or otherwise, is better than self-voting posts and comments all day.

No delegation, no 3rd party apps. Steemit will not make STEEM the number one cryptocurrency.

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Are you saying Whales shouldn't vote?

Yes, albeit only for a time.
Once the difference is narrowed a little, so that more dolphins are available to vote the minnows things can be reevaluated, but until then the whale votes only serve to alienate the little fish.

This is a Proof of Stake game, their 'money', their choice.

I absolutely agree, though I don't think they are best served by raping the reward pool to the detriment of retention.
If the little fish come in, find a welcoming reward structure, they are more likely to invest.
Imo.
I'm saying that any account over 100mv voting makes the game unattractive to folks with .1mv.

I'm pretty sure the idea is to make steem a currency that normal, everyday folks use to buy stuff.
That isn't going to happen when the interest that could be earned from 100usd investments goes mostly to the largest accounts.

If the game is only interesting to large investors the little investors will go somewhere else, and there are far more people with 100usd to invest than there are with 100k.

Delegating this SP, for cash or otherwise, is better than self-voting posts and comments all day.

But not as good as whipping the shallows into a feeding frenzy, if you ask me.

No delegation, no 3rd party apps.

When 3rd party apps can't get votes, it's a clue.

Steemit will not make STEEM the number one cryptocurrency.

Stinc, et al, ain't doin' too good, either.

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          Great comment, organic growth is the right way. I think a lot of this happening is that the whales and large dolphins are getting ready for SMT's when they are practicing for Community Wars a new game in the works in someone's evil little mind I am sure. But you got to admit the FB/YT type drama is fun to watch some times.

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Thanks! In my opinion I've already been hinted at the idea that this is all a part of some "plan". Curious to see it play out. What makes it fun is being in on what is basically still the beginning of something that could be great. We're all excited for the outcome. I'm still waiting on this SMT stuff. I thought it was coming in January, but I haven't looked into it or heard about it since December.

If SMT comes, their next step, if bots are staying, is some kind of AGI implementation. It's on the Ethereum platform anyways.

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How to be a steemit millionaire:

Create 1000 steemit accounts.
Start a circlejerk upvote ring.
Post the shit out of it.
Upvote the shit out of it.

A freshly minted steemit millionaire is born.

You forgot, invest a million into Steemit.

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I've watched plagiarists create an account in january, rent some SP and upvote themselves thousands and no one batted an eye, turning their small SP rental investment into a massive pay day so you wouldn't exactly need to invest a million, it would just take time. I didn't say it would happen over night but with enough time it can be done. Not saying I would, but I'm already watching it happen.

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Yeah, it would take an initial investment to make that work out.

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The interesting.😕

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I agree with you buddy....

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I disagree with this statement:

Delegations are not the problem, neither are upvote bots. If neither of these existed, you'd still see the same problems with self-voting of bad posts.

Minnows self-voting themselves would never be able to move the same amount of VP as voting bots and delegations are able to do on their behalf.

Please consider the following chart as evidence:

Source: Steemit Statistics by @arcange

This graph shows the cumulative distribution of the voting power on this platform and proves that minnows have effectively very few to no influence.

I know that you have a personal interest in keeping the image of voting services high, but we should be honest about the correlations.

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Also, it's not to say I don't think there are some problems with vote bots. This post is actually representative of what I consider worst about them: they cumulatively allow someone to upvote a post to the top of the trending page without much if any support. I'd like to see the bots put more limit s on how much they will upvote any one post. Lately I've been thinking that I should downvote posts like this that hit near the top of the trending page and just seem to derive most of its rewards strictly from the bots.

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I fully agree with you on that point!
What's completely missed here is curation. We have no control of what gets trending anymore, and then high amounts of downvotes are needed to balance the rewards out again. That's a lot of lost energy, time and money after all.

I'd love to see content and quality becoming a priority on this platform again!

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Well said!!!

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@surfermarly SOO well said!
💖

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Lately I've been thinking that I should downvote posts like this that hit near the top of the trending page and just seem to derive most of its rewards strictly from the bots.

This is exactly the solution that the Steem blockchain intends for these situations. If an author pays for upvotes and then receives a large amount of downvotes they will lose a significant amount of money, which in most cases would discourage the behavior in the future.

Steem is supposed to be a self-moderating community and downvotes are the primary tool for that. Unfortunately there's a number of downsides to downvoting that cause it to be used much more rarely than I think it ought to be.

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Actually, down voting is like putting a chainsaw into the hands of a 6 year old. I've been following the flaggers and their flag wars. They follow no one, have massive SP, run bot farms for upvoting and generally degrade the quality of steem. No quality value is added. Only massive amounts of money flow their way.

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Somebody took a lesson from Goldman Sachs with them stats

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Yup. And to prove them stats, I just upvoted you for an entire .24 cents. Wooppeee!!!

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Haha thanks! Welcome to prove it any time ;-)

I haven’t come up with any solution except to work towards becoming a whale myself and support those who prioritize a smaller wealth gap.

Let me drop a little tuna upvote for you too :-)

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I do think voting bots have a useful place on the platform and I do profit from them, but I watch the value of my account pretty regularly and I can say that I'm much more interested in the price of Steem than I am in profits from vote bots. I just don't think that getting rid of vote bots would really improve the problems with good curating right now.

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Hi surfermarly,

Thank you for sharing the graph. We all have visions on how this will develop. Personally, I am happy to see new end-users getting some of the Steem as I would like to see a better distribution of Steem. I see this as a good thing even if some of it is sold it at least has the possibility of ending up in some different hands. I realize this is not a popular vision.

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Hey @whatsup good to see you again! :-)

If that Steem was really ending up in different hands, I'd fully agree with you. But if you do the maths the people who spend hundreds of SBD in order to promote one single post, lose money and don't win at all.

Minnows buying votes is not the source of the problem, and whales selling them neither. Minnows not being seen is the source of the problem :-)

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The demand and popularity of the voting bots IMO is a direct result of the lack of a wider distribution and inability of other users to get views.

The amount of spammy posts are a direct result of "fear of using flags" and more human eyeballs on the site can help correct this if we provide either safe reporting or safe flagging of questionable content. (obviously it is going to be arbitrary)

Per the white paper the large stakeholders are going to have to "police" the large-stake holders or backup those who are actually trying to use the site to find, curate and post.

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I don't agree. The use of bot come from human nature wanting to get an advantage and human nature wanting something easy. If we want to get attention, let's just pay a bot for votes... But what about quality posts that add to the community. Many of the flagging fools follow no one, run upvote bot businesses and then downvote those who they think are taking too much of the rewards. No added value at all.

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Yes. I have considered going back to using bots just to get real users to actually see my posts when someone like you doesn’t need notice them because not everyone spends 24 hours on their feed and only 20 of my 1400 followers have any real weight.

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Agreed. Most people aren't on the trending page or feeds. A lot of the weight comes in bot votes.

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It is the whole "I don't wanna get caught flagging" thing going on. It would be interesting to see what would happen if there was a way to program in a kind of deflector shield that prevented against retaliatory downvoting. It would be tricky to implement, but theoretically worth discussing.

Incentivizing the good content and curation is one thing, but bot votes aside, we are still left with the problem of self-voting at a whale level. And I think @blocktrades says it best. Incentivize curation of others bringing it back to a 50/50 split of curation rewards.

At the VERY least, it will break up the earning capacity of the bigs, and leave more for us littles to swim in. If we can take a breath and see the bigger picture, we won't be annoyed by our lack of self-vote points.

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If the wealth were distributed well, we would be able to regulate self voting and upvoting bots and counter delegation that we didn’t agree with as we saw fit, as a community, and neither would be much of a problem because the many peoplple with a real stake in the platform would act to prevent abuse or selfishness, if not by downvoting than at least by not upvoting, which would make a bigger difference if the distribution were fair . But don’t talk about that, let’s only talk about the problems which allow those at the top to stay firmly planted at the top ;-)

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Sure minnows couldn't upvote themselves or sockpuppets for much, but certainly whales could and did. I stand by my statement.

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Whales do not use vote buying services, do they? This discussion is about whether vote buying services are abusive or not.

There are minnows burning thousands of dollars in SBD to promote their posts and to be seen at least for a couple of hours. The only winners in that game are those who sell their votes to them.

Attention - our most valuable good in this economy - is no longer earned, it can be purchased. Also quality doesn't matter anymore, since visibilty is provided to those who are able to pay for it. That's how the currency attention will constantly lose its value, and the vision of Steem to give value back to those who create value is no langer valid.

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Attention was always available for purchase under the rules of the Steem blockchain. This idea, whether you agree with it or not, was one of the fundamental design elements and its use for things such as advertising was intended.

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The idea of selling attention to advertisers (which was presented by Ned Scott at the first Steemfest in Amsterdam) is a completely different scenario. That has nothing to do with the eco-system as it is designed right now. Selling my attention to a product advertiser (which has never been able so far) is a completely different thing than selling my VP to a minnow who wouldn't be seen in the network otherwise.

From my point of view the future design of Steem shouldn't support these trades.

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I don't see what you think is different from a regular person buying steem to get attention versus an advertiser buying steem to get attention. Maybe you're arguing that the "regular person" is only doing it as a way to get additional rewards, whereas the advertiser isn't. While this could certainly be true, it certainly isn't necessarily so.

And in any event, both scenarios were considered in Steem's design.

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When the advertisers buy themselves in it's contributive to the whole network. When a vote trader sells VP it's only contributive to that one vote trader. That's where I see the main difference.

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No, the post was claiming that vote buying services and delegations were the root of steem's problems. I don't think it's the root issue, I think it's a problem with the way rewards are handed out currently under the blockchain rules, and I think the only realistic solution is a change to those rules.

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You mean, to the 50/50 curation share, and the 5 minute idea? That makes more sense to me, for all of the reasons you have gone into.

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Oh, and yes, whales certainly do use voting buying services. I've seen a number of such posts...

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We should ask @aggroed to invite us to a panel and discuss this explosive topic with a couple of more people in detail. I'm losing track of the comments thread already :-)

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I just don't see more discussion really achieving anything. In my opinion, the only viable solution is a change in the rules, and there is already a plan to make some changes (I'm not in full agreement with the version of the changes proposed, but I think it will be better than what we have now).

Unfortunately now it's a matter of waiting for the new rules to get implemented, and they're delayed by other coding issues that are arguably even more serious (e.g. bandwidth issues).

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Yep. Cut the chat. Change the rules. Bandwidth shmandwidth. :0)

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Well by talking about these issues we make clear where we see the priorities.

I'm off, thanks for the valuable conversation! Appreciated.

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I actually love the discussion. This post -- this thread in particular -- is vital for Steem and necessary to explore now, while this platform is small. This is a really an existential question. And one I'm wholly unqualified to offer an informed opinion.

I would only point out -- as long as you allow people to buy votes, you will always have a market for upvotes. Votes are a commodity on Steemit. @zombee has proposed a solution. The upside is, this solution will almost certainly curb the use of bots. The downside is, this solution will almost certainly curb the use of bots. Bots do good things -- for whales and minnows. But they also create problems.

I would ask how you can achieve the goals of Steemit by allowing bots to exist. By their very nature, they're antithetical to the idea that "quality content" will organically get the most rewards.

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I totally second this

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Minnows self-voting themselves would never be able to move the same amount of VP as voting bots and delegations are able to do on their behalf.

Which is basically the whole point of this discussion.

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Ban self-voting and revenue from delegated SP (that is, make it a voluntary DONATION) and watch these problems disappear.

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Oooh. What a great idea!

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Ban self-voting

How are you going to implement that or say it another way, is there even a way to do that?

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This makes sense, like congress won’t change the rules that benefit the people with the true power.

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No it would just go underground and more secretive. You really think it would stop selling votes? If so I got some lake front property for sale, interested?

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I agree, some loopholes will still exist, but buying votes is not half as bad as what was described above.

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I personally try my best to make good content and I only ever upvoted myself when I originally started, my vote carries no weight, my voice is often not heard and it seems unfairly to watch memes get hundreds and something I put a lot of effort into go without likes because there is no real incentive to upvote a minnow other than site expansion and keeping people involved just enough? Where do we go from here @blocktrades @berniesanders @zombee

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@dizzyjay This one of the problems; the platform wants to be both an investment and a social platform, so how can it be fair to both the shark that came in with $100K and the Minnow that started with nothing? Since some Whales give themselves $100+ votes for a 5 minute blabla video that took all of a half our to make, I refuse to feel bad about my paltry $0.03 self vote for a video that took travel, 2 cameras, 4 microphones and an entire day+ to record and edit.

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I understand that. But one whale is also all it takes to destroy many of the minnows, all it would take is for one of them to see you bitch or downvote them their bad behaviour and you’re done. Upvoting is only the tip of the iceberg so far I truly hope SMT make a difference in the delegation aspect. I love this site it would devastate me to not be able to use it. I check everyday for comments and been interesting stuff. All this makes me sad and really it’s unfortunate that the way we want to decentralize wealth but are unwilling to give an inch in solidarity to that.

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I know of this German guy that took on Hey-Dginn who retaliated with $90 flags on his posts right away. I made it a point to follow him and up vote him whenever I can. I have some ideas, but they would require the solidarity you mentioned and some privacy.

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No.
The rise of SBD has nothing to do with this problem.
As a user of upvote bots I admit they help promote spam.
Another problem is that curation does not work:
https://steemit.com/curation/@stimialiti/what-you-need-to-know-about-curation
Curation is a donation and yields little to none benefits to the curator.

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This comment has received a 20.75 % upvote from @steemdiffuser thanks to: @stimialiti. Steem on my friend!

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Get Upvotes, Join Our Trail, or Delegate Some SP

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Bring back the whale experiment at 100mv.

When large sp votes all small sp votes are less valuable.
When I have votes totaling 1000sp my rewards indicate XXsbd, and when a whale with 100k sp votes my rewards are diminished to feed that large vote.

Incentivizing investment that isn't harmful to the platform would seem to be the ideal.
By capping it at 100mv, at least until more folks approach that number, we make the newbs, and their votes, matter in the math, while still leaving plenty of folks available to make the max investment.
I don't know how many folks are willing to put 50k usd into the platform, but I can guarantee plenty of 1k usd investors looking to grow their stake.

By capping, I mean that flags are used to disincentivize larger accounts from raping the reward pool.
Once the bottom is raised in the distribution, and the top has had time to divest, the cap can be raised to find the equilibrium between large investors and small account retention.

By allowing accounts with more than 100mv to affect who gets rewards the small fry are disincentivized from playing the game.
Why would someone with 100usd invest it here when they don't get a return on it because the large accounts suck up all the rewards?

My curation rewards have dropped by a factor of 10 since delegation and voting bots have come on the scene.
I only vote minnows, other than the authors I follow with my steemvoter to stay in the loop as to what is happening at the top of the power structure.
My impact has been diminished because the largest accounts want to get paid not for creating content, but for simply having stake.
Money for nothing from a reward pool designated to reward 'good' content.

If we want steem to be adopted as a currency it is going to have to appeal to those most likely to use it as one.
Currently, small investment doesn't benefit as much as it could if large investment was discouraged.

We can't change the world by playing the game the same way.
If we favor large investors over small users we won't find adoption by the masses occurring.

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Great commentary. I like the idea of having caps to limit the ability to buy too much power.

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Well, not so much as a hard cap, but certainly a community that doesn't support the richest among us, or those willing to buy their support, taking all the rewards.

At this point, we need something to make the little investors want to play the game.

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Trust me friend, we are going to see this place get left in the dust when a new site comes out with a better distribution, content discovery system, rewards curve and inflation rate. It's not that hard to accomplish, but everyone is just focused on quarterly and daily revenues instead of making something that will work for the majority. A vote curve under 1 would be a start, I'm always hesitant to list some more details because ideas are a valuable commodity in today's environment and I'd rather them not be taken by those who would twist them into yet another tool for profit.

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Yep. Curation rewards are designed to be pretty comparable to author rewards, but with SBD being what it is, they're pretty worthless. If SBD were $1 people would have a renewed interest in curation trails and the like. Right now, there's no point in voting for anything, far more profitable to sell your upvote to a bot.

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I think it comes down to high value accounts/users getting a bit greedy(if you can even call it that). I mean it’s natural to like your own posts and such but what’s self promotion and what’s too much?

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Thank you, new follower and upvote from me

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i read youre post and you are right in everything you say

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Says the account obviously making tons of money using them.

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The current situation here is no different from the real-world politics. The rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer. But those poor who are willing to suck the rich's long dirty dick are blessed with leftover foods sometimes. The reality of this overrated illusion we called life!

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I read your post. Impeccably written. I think it is by far the best proposal I've seen, and easily implemented. Give the first five minutes the same curation points, take the 30 minute standard away and make it 5, split the rewards 50/50 so curators are more inclined to upvote OTHERS, thereby incentivizing some of the money back into the community rather than self, which is essentially the ticket to keeping this thing going. Bravo @blocktrades. Bravo.

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Your old post is great!

I see you got caught scamming hahaha! At least you got upvotes from @jerryscamfield and @haejin (The Steemit Donkey) you're only missing upvotes from @craig-grant and @trevonjb to fully complete your scammers circle jerk.

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This comment has received a 37.39 % upvote from @steemdiffuser thanks to: @stimialiti. Steem on my friend!

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Hahahahaha!!!

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I’m so behind on this. I thought some of these were good bots/upvoters...

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whats Jerry Banfield guilty of?

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He overcharged people whom wanted to open a steem account quickly.
He was in a good position to commit such abuse due to his relative popularity and aggressive marketing of Steem.
I wonder what haejin did that ozchartart (a.k.a berniesanders, a.k.a nextgencrypto a.k.a rewardpoolrape did not do)

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Thanks, I'll be withdrawing my witness vote from him

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This comment has received a 1.96 % upvote from @steemdiffuser thanks to: @stimialiti. Steem on my friend!

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Don't you think that it's a bit weird that you paid some voting bots in order to bring the problem with paid voting bots into focus? :-)

Most people don't realize where the actual problem is. For me it is as clear as day and I wonder why I haven't seen any posts about it.

There have been uncountable articles about that. The reason why nobody cares is that those who hold larger stakes in SP profit from these services through delegation.

Shit rolls downhill. As long as the most powerful are fine with this situation, nothing will change. End of story.

If I were you I'd take my valuable SBD to invite my girlfriend for dinner or something like that - but I wouldn't ever spend it in a voting bot :-)

Steem on!

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I already said paid upvote bots provide a valuable service. Using them is not the problem, but the price of paid upvotes. I can't and should never be possible to get auto profit by using them.

I am promoting this post so that many people see it. I want that the problem is recognized by more people and maybe somebody will change their mind.

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I know that you boosted the article in order to get more visibility. But as long as people pay for these services they won't see any need in stopping to offer them. Building a followership takes a certain time, people only need to be a bit more patient. Nothing worth comes easy.

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Whats the reasoning for flagging those bot comments?

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@netuoso, can you tell me how to perform a declined payout? Thanx!

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https://condenser.steemliberator.com lets you choose payout options on comments.

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I can't and should never be possible to get auto profit by using them.

Maybe I'm missing something, but the ROI after curation rewards on the larger bots is almost always slightly negative these days...so as far as i can tell most of the time people are not profiting directly from the bot's vote, but rather from the increased visibility, which is exactly as it should be in my opinion.

Vote selling is a market just like anything else. If people can get instant profits from bot votes then that just means it's an inefficient market. That's exactly one of the problems I aimed to solve with the bot tracker website and as I mentioned above it seems to be working most of the time.

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But you promote ALL of your posts. So people can see them? I mean, I guess if I were in your shoes, I might do the same thing occasionally, but I'd like to think I'd spread the love.

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How do we feel about using force to MAKE him spread the love? I'm not sure this is about love at all...

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Right there with surfermarly on this one, you made a massive post about bad upvoting bots and then used them yourself to bring attention to your post.

This is why myself and others use these services right now because the system internal here on steemit called promotions is utter garbage in terms of getting you viewership and any type of return value on your investment. And yes paying to promote your post is an investment.

I see no issues with it at all and in many cases the bots operate at a lose for voters. The ROI is always always in the negative. Good for the bot owner but then again they are providing a service. Its all fair game I say.

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From my personal point of view the fact that they offer the service doesn't legitimize the service itself. It's all just for their own benefit and the gap between rich and poor will be growing and growing. This platform pretends to be the alternative to governmental structures, but in fact it's just a copy of that. The power is in hands of very few, and so the money is.

We can sit and watch... or stand up and opt for a different world. It's our choice.

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I love you! :-) Nobody ever realized that money is power? And we don't have issues with that in the "real world" yet? Can Anarcho-Capitalism ever be Anarchy? The operative term here is Capitalism! And in Capitalism there are few people very powerful. That's what we already have in our western society. And those who are powerful are the rulers. But in Anarchy there shouldn't be rulers?

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Haha, sweet :-)
This is the real world. There is no new world as long as we copy the old one...

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You are more anarchistic than you think!

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Haha, maybe :-))

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How would you change it though you would have to flip everything making minnow votes count more then whale votes. I just don't see a way of correcting it honestly unless every single person had the same vote weight. But then what would be the power of holding more steem power etc.

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I'd invest the money in curation projects like @communitycoin.
What we need is a better user experience in order to improve the user retention.

Do you see these curves drifting apart?

Source: @arcange

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Bring back the whale experiment at 100mv.

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I'm glad that you're brave enough to tell it to everyone sir @zombee :)

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Good thought @surfermarly, you have well captured my thought, "The reason why nobody cares is that those who hold larger stakes in SP profit from these services through delegation". This sums it up.

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Exactly. When you only have gas and matches chances are you are going to start a fire, but when the fire starts they think they can put it out with gasoline. No one really goes back to roots of how things work in real life they think they can make some sterile online platform and people will come and write quality content so they can draw in more and more people that way. That never works. So they basically want this to be like reddit but with rewards for your time that can only work if you take cash out of the equation and make a system that will split rewards somehow not make it public so anyone can manipulate it not a single content creator will benefit from this nor will the platform. No wonder most of the titles this days are click baits and other ugly shit. This platform at this point in time is like when you see a starving artist on the street playing some instruments trying to survive another day, but still i think talented guy on the street will still make a better buck since people understand situation even if they dont like hes music they still might give him some money. Here you need to not speak about platform or other people even if they are scamming or doing other illegal shit that doesnt do good for anyone, or they will make you invisible. Only shit that gets promoted is stuff that makes them more rich they dont have community interest in sight. Its sad but true. And i think they have no vision.

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Hypocrisy at it's finest.

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How would you approach this issue? I'm new here so I'm not yet familiar the politics of this platfarm.

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SHOTGUN!

This response sits well with me @surfermarly and you have my Follow now.

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If I were you I'd take my valuable SBD to invite my girlfriend for dinner or something like that

How much SBD for a Happy Meal?

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With the SBD burnt in this post you could invite a whole group of friends.

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I wouldn't use them too, only if I had a little more followers who upvoted my content. Sometimes it's really painful when I spend so much time generating some content and get nothing out of it. While sometime I just boost a random photo and actually make some money on it.
Guilty as charged on the abuse of bots, but hey, I need to survive too.

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you are a user with a reputation of 56 so you already earned some money at steemit. Just be persistent and keep posting good content.

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not really, I got a lot of rep by voting bots without actually making money out of them

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The reputation-function is exponential so there is a big difference between 45 and 56.
Nonetheless, if you do not get upvotes you have to change something. Work harder, persistend, put more effort into your posts, take steemit more serious, give 110%
You can have success or excuses, not both

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Send me a message at steemit.chat or discord @tagsplanet, I can give you some tips on how to build a followership if you want :-) Voted your last two articles, hope that helps a bit.

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Do you mind sending those tips to someone else? haha. I haven't had much luck developing views on any of my content yet. Not that I have a ton yet, but I'll take any help I can get to build a following. Thanks! Love your posts btw, been following a little while.

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Haha, sure! Text me in one of the chatrooms referring to our conversation.
And thanks for the compliment regarding my blog :-)

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Thank you so much @surfermarly. Will get in touch with you as soon as possible. Thank you again.

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Totally agree on this why are using the bid bots with a large quantity if you just explained that isn't the way to go. Ur contradicting yourself sir!

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There has been tons of articles about it. Powering up your SBD would be better than spending it on an upvote bot too but I like the taking my gf out for dinner idea so if you see me cashing out some SBD to my bittrex this year it's cause we're hungry :)

organic traffic and exposure is my favorite kind. As lon as shit continues to roll down hill they'll never have to smell it but we can try to fling some poo up there every now and then and eventually it may help.

In the case of the bots, I think we're in too deep to stop them. The guys profiting the most from it will never agree to stop them.

If you are going to flag upvote bots with free stake you have been gifted while preaching about upvote bots being abuse, don't bother using them.

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Good call :-)

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I second that motion commander @themarkymark! That's pretty much contradictory to one's ideology. The bots rep suffer in the long run.

the problem is capital accumulation lol, the literal basis of captialism. It's almost like capitalism fucks everything up or something

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Capitalism is just supply and demand, not a scam on itself. Sellers simply make it seem like their services are far more expensive than they need to be, and buyers have no problem with it, since they think if something is expensive, it's good.

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capitalism is based on the private ownership of capital (the word is literally fucking in it)

other systems with markets exist lmao

@zombee - how should I take anything you wrote serious, if you buy votes to promote your post?

You used the services yourself, which in your words: are abusing the system. See the irony in there?

Oh and - how about you stop abusing the delegated SP from Steemit by upvoting your own posts with @dmania.

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Hilarious and So true!! Now I get what you were trying to say ... Good one @therealwolf!!