A week ago I embarked on a curation experiment to see whether it was worth a lower middle class steemer with about 3600 steempower to curate.
The answer is, Yes it is!
Here is a screenshot of where I am on steemwhales on the curation list on Oct 11th:
And here is where I was on Oct 4th, a week ago:
As you can see my curation awards nearly doubled in just a week, and I moved up 119 places in the curation rankings. I was powering down during this period (powered down about 38.7 steem), but my steempower increased by 100 thanks to the curation awards plus steempower interest. Sadly the steem price went down and cancelled my efforts, but that is a whole other story!
I curated manually from the "new" tab, voting at about the 30 minute to 45 minute mark on posts I found interesting. I always voted with 100% power, and tried to space out the votes so that my steempower didn't drain too fast. (It is easy to do, just keep a tab open for steemit, and look into it every 20 minutes or so, refreshing the page to find gems - in between you can get on with work on other tabs).
I voted for anything I found interesting - mainly articles that told me something I didn't know, whether it was traditions from Russia or Aceh, or travel photos of places I had never visited. I enjoyed all the steemphoto contest submissions, as well as the landscape paintings. I skipped over all the latte art - seriously, no manual voter will vote for that gimmick stuff every day, day in day out, I can only assume the bots are voting for it blind. I also didn't bother to vote for anyone famous as they get enough rewards already. I wasn't fussed about reputation, new people got votes as much as existing steemers.
My tips to writers: try to be varied and interesting. No-one is going to upvote the same thing over and over, day in day out. Make it interesting, make it unusual, add as much detail as you can, and pay attention to your title and opening lines, as people judge what to click on by that. I found I didn't vote for videos - they were all just too long and I didn't have the time to watch. Consider that the longest article will take no more than 10 minutes to read, most articles take about two minutes - so who has time to view lots of videos which are 10 to 15 minutes long?
I would very much recommend that others do some voting too. Don't leave it all to the whales and their projects, there arn't enough whales and they tend to get into trouble when they start blindly automating (see the latte art thing). This platform will only survive if ordinary steemers start voting en masse (that way they should overwhelm the bad bots and we should get a better selection of stuff on the front page).
The horizontal axis is the percentage of users who have cast X number of votes. So 34% of whales cast 40 votes, 26% of dolphins cast 40 votes and 12% of minnows cast 40 votes on the day the data was collected (9th October).
That isn't enough to make the platform stable - it needs to be more from all types of steemers. So try to do some voting no matter who you are, the platform won't stabalize and become fair unless everyone participates.