Interacting with people who comment on our posts is very important to develop our reader base on Steemit. In my case, I try to reply to most comments, and used to leave an upvote whenever possible, thinking that the fraction of a cent from my vote was giving the comment authors a little help... but I found out that these upvotes were being totally useless!
I recently learned about yet another of the Steemit platform's quirks. When a post's or comment's payout time comes seven days after publication, if the reward is less than a certain amount, the author simply doesn't get paid anything! Users are calling this minimum limit the "dust threshold."
Image source: Openclipart
This threshold is necessary, both to avoid overloading the servers with too many calculations of very small operations, as well as to not reward spammers who dirty the platform by posting a lot of garbage and earning tiny upvotes. However, the limit can also be quite harsh, especially to beginners.
Consider these example situations:
- You create a post (or comment, since the blockchain considers comments as if they were also posts). The week goes by and ten people vote for your post, but the votes of none of them are worth even $0.01, and your post reward keeps displaying as $0.00. Payout time comes, and... you don't get paid, even though you know you got ten 100% votes on your post.
- Meanwhile, the total rewards of another one of your posts is showing as $0.01. It's payout time, and... nothing again! How come?
One of my first posts had gotten a few votes but the reward still displayed as $0.00, and that post didn't pay out. I had thought it was because it didn't reach $0.01, because it logically made sense ($0.00 means 0). Only recently, I learned that this wasn't really the reason, and that $0.01 isn't the minimum threshold, either.
So, what is the minimum reward we must reach to get paid, then?
Users are trying to figure out the specifics, but it's hard to tell exactly. I had read that it was $0.02, but then @thedarkhorse posted some tests where content with $0.02 rewards didn't pay out while content with $0.03 rewards did. Either way, there are other factors that may pull the reward value below the threshold, like the fluctuation in STEEM price. So, to be safe, better to consider the minimum to be $0.03.
And this made me realize that I've thrown a lot of votes away! When I got comments in my posts, I used to upvote the comments to indicate that I liked the comments, and also because I thought that this would at least give minimal support to the people who commented. After all, even if my vote were worth something like $0.002, I thought it was better than nothing. But it turned out my votes were considered to be nothing! It was sad to find out that all those upvotes were just turning into dust and didn't even count as minimum support to the commenters. Since I was usually the only person voting on my post's comments and my 100% vote isn't even worth $0.01 yet, the total reward was obviously less than 3 cents, and my votes didn't earn the commenters anything...
The bottom line is, if your vote is worth less than $0.03 and - as commonly happens to comments on non-popular posts like the ones by us new users - no one else votes on what you are voting to push the rewards above the threshold, better not to even vote in the first place. The author will earn nothing from your vote and you'll only be wasting voting power, which you'll have to wait hours to recover.
Not voting! But this is harsh! I want to support my commenters... but I don't want to waste VP, either. What now?
The ideal way would be to be able to give votes worth $0.03, but that's out of the question for a lot of people (myself included. I'm still struggling to have my vote reach $0.01, and thinking it's already hard enough!). So, in order to get around the issue and ensure that the person will receive the amount from your tiny vote, even if it's worth less than $0.01, you may do the following. In general:
- Vote on comments that have already been voted on by someone else and managed to reach $0.03.
- Vote on posts that have already been voted on by someone else and managed to reach $0.03.
Or, for the specific case where you're trying to support someone who commented on your post, instead of upvoting the comment, reply to the comment to say thanks and tell the person you liked it, then find a post by the person that has reached at least $ 0.03 and upvote the post. This way, the person will receive the amount from your vote when his or her post pais out, and your VP won't be wasted.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are unaware of this threshold because this information is very little publicized (it isn't even in the FAQ!) And only began getting more attention after @timcliff wrote a post proposing increasing this threshold to try to reduce spam, and several users started writing about it. I'm sure there are a lot of people who didn't know about it yet and, like me, are new users with small vote values who upvote comments thinking they're helping the commenters, unaware that their votes are just turning to dust. As pointed out by @thedarkhorse in one of the comments in the tests post, it's sad to think that thousands of votes worth $0.01 and even $0.02 are silently being erazed every day...