How to stop almost all abuse on Steem (Edited)

in #steem6 years ago (edited)

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.


How to stop almost all abuse on Steem:

Undelegate to Dmania.

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

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

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

This is Streisand abuse!

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

How to stop almost all Streisand abuse:

Undelegate to Dmania

LOL! That word!

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.

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.

Hey zombee I just wanted to kindly ask for a boost (upvote) on, 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:

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

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! :)

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

wow excellent comment

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

whats Jerry Banfield guilty of?

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)

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

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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!

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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?

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

You are more anarchistic than you think!

Haha, maybe :-))

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

Send me a message at 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.

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

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.

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

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.

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?

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


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

Hypocrisy at it's finest.

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

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.

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!

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.

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

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.

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

other systems with markets exist lmao

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Hey, great idea!

So, you'll be giving your profits from the $200 in SBD you spent to rape the pool today, yes? Because powering your moral high horse with the blood of bot profits, smacks a bit of hypocrisy, don't you think?

I wouldn't agree that bot abuse is the only abuse on the platform at the moment. There is still plenty of good ol' plagiarism and identity theft going on.

There is plenty of bot abuse as well though, coming across posts like this one or this one definitely grinds my gears. are saying right and do respect and take respect...

Wow, this shows exactly the problem of bot abuse. If I had enough power, I would downvote that posts to death but unfortunally I can not do it at the moment. Maybe delegating to Steemcleaner or similar projects..

Unfortunately with steemcleaners we will only deal with stuff that is plagiarism, ID theft, etc.. Those pictures they are posting are original, we can't just flag it because we don't like it, there would have to be some form of abuse.

See a flag just as a downvote. Everyone can do on the plattform what he wants because it is free and decentralized. So every person can also flag/downvote content like that. Call the abuse bot-abuse to boost crap content into trending if you need one. Might is Right, simple as that

I would go even further and say that any type of automated voting (even the white hat bots like the or esteem one) are toxic. The upvote bot are just the worst type of cancer we have on the platform, and linear rewards made their model work really well sadly

I agree with you that upvote bots are not an enrichment for the platform and too many people upvote their crappy posts, which give the platform no added value.

However, we are on a decentralised blockchain, more or less on a free market where the set "Might is Right" applies. There was an opportunity to make money and people have used it. Everyone would like to earn money in this way and lies like anyone who denies it. Some individuals are concerned about the future of the platform, but most came to SteemIt because of the money. I would also prefer SteemIt without bots, but as you said before, this is currently unthinkable.

I had also delegated SP to a bot once, because my activity decreased and I found it great to earn some money with not doing so, quasi interest rates like at the bank, only much higher. However, people who take the platform serious and post daily and work hard earn more if they actively use their own SP instead of delegating it to bots.
I therefore recommend to all those who actively participate in the platform to withdraw their delegations and to enrich the platform with their own high-quality content.

Totally true !
Steem must take some action about those bot :/

What is the difference between paid voting bots and what is @haejin doing? None. What @haejin is doing is far worst in my opinion. When you use upvote bot you invest some SBD once and that is it. In case of @haejin, he only had to invest once in @ranchorelaxo and have in fact free upvote bot in from him every day. If that is not bigger abuse than using voting bots from time to time, than I don't know what is abuse.

Yesmen who pay each other with an outside source, basically. Circular reasoning at its finest.

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