Bidbot Experiment: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

in #steemit2 years ago (edited)

Readers who have been with me awhile know I ran a few Steemit bidbot experiments last year, but they were small experiments. Small bids, small amounts, and small rewards. A couple of times, I'm sure I lost money on the bots, though I didn't count too closely. The idea was to merely get familiar with them so I could understand what the issue was with the bots and get some perspective on why they've been disruptive to the platform. My curiosity satisfied, I quit playing with them after a week or so.

A recent controversy surrounding allegations of vote buying in another context piqued my interest again in the bidbots. What could be so wrong with the process of increasing one's rewards with a small investment intended for just that purpose? After all, isn't that what Wall Street investors do every day?

I think the situation is a bit more nuanced than that, and I hope this post illustrates just how.

Image from Pixabay.

My Latest Steembot Experiment

So I decided to run a new Steembot experiment. On Sunday, March 17, 2019, at approximately 9:44 p.m., I published a post titled Experimental Post. It has absolutely no value. It's a completely useless shitpost, published for one purpose only: To buy a bidbot vote.

Unlike the majority of my posts, I did not promote it in any way. I published it, tagged it with the #Steemit tag, and that's all I did until I placed my bid three days later. My hypothesis was this: That one post would earn me a greater return on investment (ROI) than an average post would earn me with my normal routine.

So I should pause right here and discuss my usual post publishing and promotion routine. First, I write the best post possible. I put 100% of my energy into writing the best damn post on whatever topic with every single post I write. No particular reason other than personal pride. Secondly, I tag each post with the five most appropriate tags I can think of based on the topic ensuring that one of those tags is #powerhousecreatives. After that, I share the link in more than 20 Discord servers, pausing to read, vote, resteem, and comment on the posts of others as per each server's rules and my personal interests. That process usually takes an hour to an hour-and-a-half and includes automated upvotes in those servers that offer it and for which I qualify. In other words, it's considerable work. When you factor in that I spend no less than an hour, and sometimes up to three (I've been known to spend six), crafting a post then spend an hour, and sometimes up to two, promoting it, I put in some serious time. I did none of that for my experimental post.

Nevertheless, within 14 minutes, I was able to garner 19 votes for a total of $.23 STU, an humble return. In nine hours, that number was 71 votes for a total of $1.03 STU. In 24 hours, I'd received 76 votes for a total of $1.05 STU. And 24 hours later, no extra votes.

So, within 48 hours, I'd received a potential payout of $1.05 STU with no promotion whatsoever, and I had not yet made my bidbot investment.


On March 20, 2019, at approximately 1:15 p.m., I placed a 40 STEEM bid on The Rising bidbot. You can see the value of that bid, in the image below, was $19.48 USD.


Interestingly, right about that time, I received three upvotes from @up1, @lereve, and @antonella. I have no idea if there is a connection, but it's an interesting correlation.


These three upvotes took my total upvotes, before the bidbot vote, to 82 for a total amount of $1.19 STU.

Within the hour, I'd say about 30 to 40 minutes later, I saw the return on my investment (ROI). After The Rising bot placed its vote, I had 83 upvotes for a total of $27.81 STU.



At first glance, it looks as if I've lost money, but these numbers don't tell the whole story. Let's calculate the ROI.

Steembot Lottery Winner

The way Steembots work is quite interesting. If you go to Steembot Tracker, you'll find a list of them.


It's a rolling list, which means the bot at the top of the list is the one that votes next. You have to get your bid in before the next vote. But the most important information is on the left side of that grid.

The vote value is how much a 100% upvote from that bot is valued at the time of the upvote. On the list above, the top bot on the list has a vote value of $42.81, but that's not the vote value that everyone who bids on the bot will get. Rather, the value of each upvote is based on how many people bid on that bot and the percentage of the total bid that each contains. Let me illustrate by example.

Let's say XYZ Bidbot offers an upvote value of $1.00. If one person bids $.25 and no one else bids on that bot, then that one person will get the full $1.00 upvote. That's a good investment. But let's say two people bid on that bot; one of them bids $.10 and the other one bids $.40. In that case, the total bid was $.50, however, the first bidder registered 20% of that bid while the other tallied 80%. Therefore, the first bidder receives a $.20 upvote while the second bidder receives a $.80 upvote, totallying $1.00.

To see how many other bids there are on a bot before you place your bid, you have to click on the orange Action button and then click on "Details." It's tricky figuring out how much is too much of a bid.

At any rate, how much ROI did my 40 STEEM bid net me?

At the time of my bid, STEEM was listed at $.490176 USD at CoinMarketCap. That means I effectively threw $19.60704 USD into my investment. At the time of the actual vote, the price of STEEM hadn't changed much, so I'll use these figures as I continue (This is a good reason, BTW, to cast your bid as close to time of the next vote as you can).


It's important to point out that the default reward ratio on payout is 50% Steem Power and 50% SBD, but the author only gets 75% of payout while all the upvoters (including the bot) splits the rest. Yesterday, this post paid out and I received $20.71 in author rewards.

Here it is in my wallet:


At the time of payout, SBD was at $1.05 USD. That's equivalent to $10.87485 USD. Since STEEM was valued at .475972 at that time, my Steem Power (SP) payout amounted to the equivalent of $10.629406704 USD. Add those two figures together and that comes to $21.504256704 USD.

Again, my initial investment was $19.60704 USD. Subtract that from my earnings, and my shitpost ROI was $1.897216704. Subtract the $1.19 STU in upvotes I got prior to my investment (valued at .58330944 USD) and my ROI from the bidbot turned out to be a measly $1.313907264. But imagine doing that five to ten times a day every day for a year. The potential return is enormous.

Contrast these earnings, however, with the next post I wrote, going through my normal routine, two hours before payout and I sit with $2.38 STU for payout. STEEM currently sits at .453335 USD and Steem Dollars at $1.02 at Coinmarketcap. Taking 75% of the STU and dividing it in half, multiplying both SP and STEEM projected payouts means my ROI for that post, with about two hours of time invested, comes to $1.314965875. Trust me, my time is worth a hell of a lot more than that.

What's Quality Got to Do With It?

It makes me wonder, if I can earn as much ROI from a single bidbot vote, which takes all of five minutes, as I can from a one hour investment in promotion, then why shouldn't I? So why didn't I experiment with my most recent post instead of creating a shitpost? The answer is, I needed a control, a stark contrast to my usual posting and promotion routine, in order to isolate the results.

From this experiment, I can ascertain that, had I invested in the bidbot vote for a normal, average post, my ROI would have been very similar. Posting the Steem Monsters post the very next day and waiting until payout to post again means other factors affecting payouts were limited, allowing me to get a realistic look at the bidbot effect. So why does that matter?

It matters because this very average post of mine has earned a total of $2.38 STU with only 47 upvotes in seven days.


I can assume that the people who voted for that post thought it worth their percentages. Otherwise, they would not have cast their votes. The exception to this would be those kind folks who auto-upvote every post of mine simply because I impressed them at some point in the past. Those people also voted for the shitpost, by the way. But if you examine all the upvotes on both posts, you'll find there are some voting accounts on each post that you won't find on the other. These are the manual human upvotes. These are the upvotes on which quality--actual post quality--ought to be measured. If we were to put these two posts side by side, we could judge the average power of manual upvotes for each of them. On that, we could ascertain the relative value that each post contributes to the blockchain.


As you can see, the experimental post has a higher total upvote value, due in large part to a single upvote by @Neoxian, an Orca with a stellar reputation on the blockchain, who gave it a very generous .56 upvote. For whatever reason. However, as I hypothesized, the Steem Monsters post garnered a higher average among the manual human upvotes.

How did I determine what is a manual human upvote? The process was simple, but it took a little time. There are some accounts that I know follow me and upvote every post, no matter what. Then there are accounts that upvote me based on a membership. Included in that category are curation trails and Discord channels such as Power House Creatives (aka @steemitbloggers), @qurator, and @steembasicincome. A few of the Discord channels have an upvote bot that will upvote specific types of posts or offer free upvotes based on other criteria; examples include @steemmonsters, which will upvote Steem Monsters-related posts, @esteemapp, which only upvotes posts made from the eSteem app, and PAL (Peace, Abundance, Liberty), whose criteria includes a 30-hour cooldown period. Finally, I compared the two posts and some other recent posts and removed those accounts that were common, assuming them to be auto-upvotes. I know I have quite a few of these because I usually can get more than $1.00 STU in upvotes before I can finish my normal routine of sharing in the various Discord channels I frequent.

All of this is to say that quality is a huge determining factor in what kind of rewards are to be expected. However, quality alone won't do it. One has to put forth the time and effort to promote one's posts no matter what kind of quality sits on the table. Without promotion, results will be meager at best.

NOTE: Using my normal posting and publishing routine, I have managed to attract many @curie votes in the past year, pushing those posts that receive such votes considerably higher in ROI. This further illustrates the importance of quality since Curie doesn't upvote posts promoted by bidbots.

What Bidbots Do to the Steemit Rewards Pool

There's just one more thing to evaluate with regard to Steemit bidbot voting. What does it do to the rewards pool?

Like bidbot payouts, the blockchain creates a fixed number of potential rewards each day. Those rewards are divvied up to all the parties with a vested interest in the blockchain. Without getting into the actual numbers involved, I'll illustrate the principle with an analogy.

Let's assume the blockchain creates 40,000 STEEM on any given day. 75% of that, or 30,000, goes to authors and curators. Let's assume that two-thirds (20,000 STEEM) of that goes to authors and the remaining one-third (10,000 STEEM) goes to curators, the category into which bidbots fall.

If we divvy up 10,000 STEEM among all the curators from redfish to whale, including bidbots, each curator will receive a proportion of those rewards based on the strength of their individual SP. An example of a bidbot with relative SP strength is @buildawhale, which currently has over 67,000 SP and another 1 million+ delegated to it. With a rank of Orca III, it's closing in on whale status pretty quickly.


@therising, the bidbot I used for this experiment, is in the same status - Orca III. It has over 59,000 STEEM in its wallet and an additional 3 million+ delegated to it. It also claims to share 100% of its bot earnings with delegators, which likely explains why it has so much in delegations. In my view, that's a plus.

All of that aside, however, taking another look at the rewards from my experimental post, curators earned $6.74 STU from that post. The lion's share of that went to the bot, which contributed $26.27 STU of the total upvotes for that post. Had I not bid on the bot, that would mean the other curators would have had to split $1.18 STU.

Let's do some more math: The bot's portion of the total upvote value for that post equates to 95.7%. If the bot received that percentage of the total curation rewards, then it took $6.45018 and left about .29 STU for everyone else, a paltry sum to divide between 25 accounts. On the other hand, those 25 accounts would have divided $1.18 STU without the bidbot vote, the lion's share of that going to @neoxian, a manual human voter.

So what do bidbots do to the rewards pool? They sink their teeth into it and rip it to shreds. And this is why you hear so many people, like @quillfire, constantly haranguing witnesses and whales for supporting the bots. It could also be a contributing factor to why there was such a precipitous decline in user activity last year (The decline in STEEM value during last year's bear market was also likely a contributing factor).

From @arcange: Steem Statistics – 2018.12.25

The Residual Effects of Bitbots on Steemit Post Quality

So far, I've shown that bidbot upvoting can lead to higher author rewards and lower curator rewards for individual posts, the effect of post quality and promotion on manual human upvotes, the difference in ROI between the two, and the negative effect that bidbots have on the rewards pool. But do they have any effect on post quality? I would answer in the affirmative.

Let's take a sample post:

This two-day-old promo post on EpicDice has garnered $263.09 STU from 682 upvotes. That's about the number of votes I've been known to receive from a @Curie upvote that earned me in the range of $40 to $60 STU. Granted, the post isn't nearly the shitpost that my experimental post was, but it isn't any better quality (and probably slightly less) than my Steem Monsters post either.

@EpicDice only has 69 followers and is barely one month old. I would wager that a good number of its manual human upvotes come from its Trending status as a result of its multiple bidbot investments. And the Trending page is full of such examples.


EpicDice is an account worth over $1,000 now. Not bad for only four published posts. Clearly, this account started with someone's personal investment, but it also sits with over 20,000 SP delegations. I won't claim it doesn't add value to the blockchain. There are people who love to gamble, though I'm not one of them, so providing a source of entertainment where gamblers can enjoy themselves over a game of chance does offer some value to some people. Nevertheless, new users should not visit the trending page only to find half of one account's published posts trending because that account bought its way there.


The Steem blockchain is based on a single principle: To reward participants based on the value they bring to the blockchain. We must realize this value is relative. It isn't objective. That's why rewards are determined in part on an upvote system. All participants have the opportunity to vote their subjective judgment on the value of others' contributions. The practice of bidbot upvoting, however, subverts that.

I'll state for the record that I've got no issue with the bidbots themselves, or for their existence. In a free market economy, and the Steem blockchain is a free market economy, one should expect some choices to devalue the community standard. Wall Street has its junk bonds, but it also has rules to regulate bad behavior.

I applaud those efforts to promote the blockchain and Steemit in order to attract new users. I also applaud the efforts of communities such as Power House Creatives and Qurator to promote quality above crass capitalism. But if the efforts of fine folks like @raj808 to get Steem listed on Coinbase and other exchanges is going to have any real long-term effect, it's going to require cleaning out the pool (and I don't mean the rewards pool). We can start with the trending page. What kind of effort would it take to create an algorithm that diminishes the influence of posts that rely heavily on bidbot upvotes? Not much.

Disclaimer: Any error in math is surely my fault. I do my best, but I'm a wordmith, not a mathematician. Also, my apologies to any curators negatively impacted by this experiment. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

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I still don't use bidbots and manually curate. Time is not on my side, but, I do like to know who I am voting for and what they are writing.

I learned a lot more than bargained for reading all the comments, but, I definitely walk away a little bit (read A LOT) smarter about it all.

Get out of the weeds, Quill!


Thank you very kindly.

The pleasure is mine!


Great analysis on the ROI side of things here and appreciate all the effort you have put in.

@Quillfire couldn't have said it any better in my opinion adding that the indirect consequences of bidbots are the bulk of the story here.

I dare say your graph with dwindling user base numbers would mostly come from new users seeing how things work after diving a little deeper on the platform and checking out a week or two later.

I gave my own account of this in my 1 year review a couple of weeks back as you don't have to look very far to see how things are going on down here. Drop in market has also had an impact I'm sure but the dwindling number of active users has only increased the concentration of bid bot accounts, making it more visible than before.

It really would be ace if the trending page was a true trending page based on manual curation initiatives like the ones you mentioned and a separate section for promoted content that uses bidbots. I doubt that will happen though.

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Great analysis on the ROI side of things here and appreciate all the effort you have put in.


@Quillfire couldn't have said it any better in my opinion adding that the indirect consequences of bidbots are the bulk of the story here.

That is the ultimate condequence, yes. But I'd wager that most of the people leaving the platform for this reason have no idea really how bidbots work. They look at the trending page and huff and puff. Some of that is laziness. They wonder why their posts aren't going anywhere when these mediocre posts rise to the top of the trending page. But they also don't stop to think that their own posting habits are keeping them from earning more. If you treat Steemit like Facebook, you'll get Facebook results. How much does Facebook pay, again?

That's not to say the bidbots aren't causing issues, but you can earn on Steemit even with the bidbot presence (I've proven that). In the real world, there are bad actors, hooligans, ne'er-do-wells, sucking up economic benefits like sponges and taking from those who produce, but that doesn't stop (even with so much entitlement going around) hard workers from migrating upward through the classes. Those who do have figured out how in spite of the obstacles. So if someone gets discouraged and leaves without bothering to investigate the playing field, it's partly because they had unrealistic expectations to begin with. You won't earn $100 for any post if you only have 20 followers and you post nothing but cat memes--unless you pay a bidbot.

I dare say your graph with dwindling user base numbers would mostly come from new users seeing how things work after diving a little deeper on the platform and checking out a week or two later.

There's no way to test this, but I wonder what it would look like in a bull market.

Drop in market has also had an impact I'm sure but the dwindling number of active users has only increased the concentration of bid bot accounts, making it more visible than before.

Unfortunately, true. And if it keeps going this direction, Steemit will become a pay-to-play game where only bidbot voters are making anything. If you don't pay the bidbots, you'll be left in the dust.

It really would be ace if the trending page was a true trending page based on manual curation initiatives like the ones you mentioned and a separate section for promoted content that uses bidbots. I doubt that will happen though.

Me too.


An excellent post. For me, the biggest issue with Steem/Steemit is that its rules are not designed to meet its stated goals of rewarding quality content and curation. I realize that Steem is also a crypto and that things like bidbots can encourage investment, which may help Steem as a crypto, but at the same time, as you show, that hurts Steem as a quality content platform. I think the Steem blockchain should decide which of these goals it wants to pursue and then change the rules to support that goal. I personally no longer have interest in spending massive amounts of time putting effort into a post here, because it simply isn't worth the time both because of the reward structure and because my audience, for visualization posts, simply isn't here. It also hurts that steemit does not support more content types, such as equations and embedding interactive web content. I introduced many people to Steemit and I am the only one still here. The others found its rules too confusing, the interface too poor, and were taken aback at people buying votes for themselves without any regard for quality.

Proud member of #powerhousecreatives

I think they've already made that decision. Their white paper doesn't say anything about rewarding quality content. It uses the phrase "add value." That's a convenient euphemism for unpopular methods of interaction on the blockchain that may not have anything to do with content creation. If you take a look, you'll find accounts that have hundreds of thousands, or millions, of STEEM and/or SP but that have no created posts. These are the financiers of the blockchain. In many cases, they delegate to other accounts (perhaps some they own) and fund initiatives that appear to benefit the blockchain. It would not surprise me to see Steem transition to a Dapp-development platform and for Steemit to disappear completely. It's already almost there. Steemit was intended to be the blockchain's first Dapp to illustrate what is possible for other Dapp developers. It's done that. Now, it's usefulness to the corporation has overextended itself. Now that it's proven it can take on a life of its own, they should let it. Unfortunately, they do not.

Kudos for your experiment and reporting the results in such a detailed way! I had suspected some of this, but never did such a test. This is a fantastic post! 👍

Thank you. I'm glad you got something out of it.

Really good post @blockurator

Comprehensive and easy to follow. I have never used a bidbot because I have a suspicious nature and it seems to go against everything that Steemit should be about. Adding quality to the blockchain and convincing the mainstream that it is the future of social media platforms.

The longer things have gone on the more I an entertaining the idea of using them. I am nervous every time I put in a post with some effort behind it that it's just going to bomb. My run of curie posts have dried up too. I've looked at steembot tracker a few times and decided against it but your post has made me move a step closer to going for it.

It does worry me that the trending page does not reflect well or positively promote Steemit to new users. I have some really close friends who are perfect for Steemit. She is an illustrator and he is a photographer and their work would really add some value. I was getting there in my quest to recruit them; in fact they have signed up but have never used the account, but Vanessa took one look at the trending page and said that it is full of garbage and that she wouldn't be posting her stuff there! Can't argue with that observation even though I know different. This is damaging to our growth.

I am torn. On one hand my selfish view is to 'get mine' and on the other it is to hate the 'free market' because all that does is force the drone workers down by the elite putting their foot on our heads

I appreciate your post though and thanks for your efforts.


Gaz, excellent comment. I wouldn't blame you if you decided to join the crowd. The worst that can happen is that good content actually makes its way on the trending page, even if paid for to get there. Right now, it's mostly garbage, as your friend says. And that's why a lot of people won't stick around Steemit. Unfortunately.

My view is this: Despite the "garbage," there is still a lot of opportunity here. It isn't dead. It may be an uphill battle if you're here only for the social networking, or for the rewards, but where else can you go to earn one iota of similar rewards for doing what you're likely going to do anyway? Very few sites offer payment for writers to create the content they enjoy creating. Steemit is a leader in that regard.

I've been playing around on another, however. Have you heard of Narrative? Based on the NEO blockchain. It launches into beta on April 2, 2019. There's no fee to join. I'd recommend joining and watching for a few days before you start creating. See what's going on, who the early adopters are, and what they're doing. Post some posts to your personal journal. You can buy a niche as an investment, but you might want to wait until you are familiar enough with the platform to be comfortable. My hope is that it will become a real contender.

Hey @blockurator

Thanks for your compliments.

I still have faith that steem and steemit will be a success and will continue to believe. I will hold off on bidbots for now but I do think it is inevitable that I will eventually try.

I remember your post (i think it was yours) a while back introducing Narrative and the pros and cons. I was intrigued then and may sign up and see for myself.

Cheers, Gaz

Narrative launches into beta tomorrow. Good time to get on board.

I have new data on the bidbots. Expect a follow-up post.

Excellent. I will be checking that out.

I looked at the bidbots a while ago and came to the conclusion that no matter how much I would make, I wanted no part of it.
I am happy with my $1.06 Stu because I earned it.

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I don’t know about all that. What I do know is right and wrong.
Just because you can do something (the code allows it) doesn’t make it right.

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We have our few but most steemians are the same as me. That is what makes us so great.
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Great analysis and write up... however, (unless I missed it), you also run the risk with bitbotting of get LESS than your investment, and collecting a hefty negative ROI... so essentially it is gambling, as sometimes people just plonk down a huge bid without checking to see if it is worthwhile or not!

Yes, you're right. It is a gamble. You have to figure out how to bid on them. That's a part of the game. If you bid too high, or you bid when there are a lot of other bidders, then you could get a negative ROI. Someone could come in after you and bid high enough that they take the reward and leave you in the hole. So you have to time it right. It's a big game.

Excellent work!!

I too have been experimenting with these just to see what the fuss is about on a couple of posts, although not quite as ‘controlled’ experiment as you did.

What I’ve noticed more that posting less but ensuring the quality of the post (and yes, spending hours writing it) made more of a difference, attracting votes and resteems from curation teams.

For me the ROI was so minimal and there wasn’t the satisfaction that I was receiving kudos for the work, even if I was receiving meager rewards.

Will certainly be resteem if this, and hopefully many others have a read!!

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Yes, there's nothing social about it at all. That's for sure. Thanks for stopping by.

Good insight into bidbots, never used them since I do not feel it is ethical, nor right, one has to justify profit in utilizing them. To me it relates to a bone being thrown out to a pack of dogs all waiting in the wings to devour it, or each other.

If you so desire to make money online trade between crypto's, another ambition I feel is like walking over burning coals.

I will stick with projects that look to be promising going into the future on blockchain. Gambling has never been something I find comfort in coming from a financial background, too many loop holes as mentioned in comment made by @quill

Very sad to say, after some time here it is evident quality posts are sought out by very few communities, a strong supporter of #qurator and #powerhousecreatives where like minded work together.

Thanks for stopping by. It wouldn't be so bad if the bots didn't take away from the other curators. As I have shown, they create profit for the bot and the bidder, but only at the expense of manual human upvoters.

Exactly the reason I do not support, there are those who are trying to earn an honest living, rather delegate/support people helping each other.

Minimal use of auto upvoting, use some platforms to share content further.

Everyone at the end of the day wishes to earn something! Enjoy reading opinions, discussions, fresh new ideas, this cannot be done via a bot!

Very true. The bidbots also diminish the interaction between participants. You can argue the same thing about curation trails. They might increase rewards, but at the end of the day, they decrease the social interaction.

Excellent post and analysis m8. It's a shame curie don't look at, or reward, steem related posts because this surely deserves higher payout.... and in a steem world without bidbots this level of analytical post would have garnered much bigger reward simply because there would be much more manual curation. Lol, the irony being that you wouldn't have had to write this post in that hypothetical steem world 😂

So many have said it right in the comments here and particularly quillfire who obviously has massive experience and understanding of financial law. I haven't a clue about that type of stuff.

Here's a crazy thing though. I've been massively vocal about how bidbots have destroyed the reputation of steem. It's something I'm 100% sure about. Another thing I'm sure about us that people who run bidbots are watching! They hide in plain sight as 'so called' respected leaders of some communities. As has been pointed out in your article, they are some of the top witnesses, and they make a lot of money through what they do while depleting the value of steem both in reputation but also in regards to the reward pool. Some of them run legit curation bots, I assume to try and give back in some small way. But I would posit that it is more likely just pure PR. I have worked in marketing and PR in the past so I know exactly what reputational management is and what it looks like in action. Strangely, I have only ever been hit with one of these 'legit curation bots' once. But they are voting on some of my fellow twitter promotors every post. Hmnnn kinda seems like I was sent a message, 'here's what you could have if you just shut up'. Ha ha, maybe that's a little far fetched but ya get where I'm coming from.

Thing is, I've started using OCDB which is a none profit bidbot run by the ocd curation initiative. It promises a garunted small % ROI for the bidder after curation, I think it might be 9%. So why am I using it and going back on what I've been saying all this time? It's partly because this bot will only vote whitelisted authors, who've had an ocd vote/curation in the past. Each post is checked before the account votes it, so this garuntees no shit post will make it through. But the main reason is that I'm simply tired.

Tired of fighting and telling people what they are doing is destroying the promise of what has been advertised (steem as a platform that rewards quality engagement and content). have changed there wording recently but the old strapline on the steem landing page said words to that effect for a long time. I'm tired of not having that extra few dollars reward on my post that OCDB will give me. Tired of not seeing my posts, which are all well crafted, on trending. I also see OCDB as the least damaging so I thought fck it.

Does it sit well with me? No, not really but that's just the way the cookie crumbles for me at the moment. If I somehow gain the notice of a friendly whale long term, so that my posts are hitting $10+ each time, I'll stop putting ocdb on my posts as I'm not greedy and I honestly don't think ocdb are the answer. I do know that the owner acidyo is trying to offer a better option than other bidbots which often return negative ROI. It is a genuine attempt by a decent community minded whale to make headway on solving the issue. But it also kind of legitimises the whole process of vote buying, which for me could be a can of worms. Imo, the only solution to end vote buying is to change the mechanism of delegation so that bots can't function... But that would cause a mass sell off of steem by the people who only want to delegate for passive income. So, I'll be the first to admit it is a very complex problem.

For me, at the moment, I am maximizing my rewards using this method while steem is so cheap as I want to get something substantial out of this when the market turns around again. Nearly 2 years and well over 500000 words written on steem and I've powered up at least 90% of what I've earned here.... I need to start taking some earnings into fiat soon to pay off debts etc. I guess this is why my shift in attitude a little.

Anyway, gr8 post as it makes people think and your maths is one hell of a lot better than mine m8 🤣

totally agree.. no one ever could explain me any economic reason why a bid bot is of any use for this platform / blockchain...
people are writing for people to read.. not bots to vote and not read!


Thanks for the lengthy response, Rowan. I, like you, make an humble living with my craft. I came to Steemit with a hope, but that hope dwindles with each bidbot that grows another 1,000 SP. It's not problem of ability. The issue is will. There simply isn't a will to fix the issue, and when you can increase your own purse by taking the easy way out, why not? Especially if the alternative is more time intensive, slower, and with less of a guarantee. Get a little now vs. hold out for a lot later--most people will opt for the bird in the bush. Human nature, I guess. But it doesn't make it right. We have to make a concerted effort to overcome our nature.

I think Steem has two paths forward. Full steam ahead (no pun intended) and let the bots rule, in which case it will just become a passive income vehicle for those who see it as such, or become yesteryear's experiment.


I found this post fascinating and I learned a great deal - thank you. I dabble, when I was mere plankton with a bot or 2 and have absolutely no idea of the return. I probably lost - I had so little to throw at them by way of Steem and was not going to actually pay. That was probably more than 18 monts ago: I will have been on the platform 2 years in July. Since then, I've not and I've had the same questions as so many have, and which you have tried - so eloquently - to answer. I think, in the main you have succeeded.

You have also articulated my (and many others') frustration at spending time on well-crafted posts which, as you, and on comments like this, for little return. Recognising that one needs to maintain a 'presence" to build up a reputation when time is "of the essence" with apologies to old Sherlock, I've resorted to superficial cooking, cats and posts of a similar nature. If I could make more from less frequent, longer posts, I would certainly invest the time.

I have read and understood the gist of @quillfire's comment and think that his concerns are not just valid, but should be heeded. What he suggests for those not paying attention, is terrifying - for them and for others on this (and other) blockchains. We seem to share the same value system and as I recall, it was on one of your posts that we "met". Anyhow, back to the bot thing: I have also dabbled with auto curate trails and stopped. The only dapp where I continue that is @share2steem where there is some transparency with the return). What also strikes me, talking of where value gets frittered away, is that folk don't realise that voting from dapps like Partiko also dilute the value of votes. They tempt one with points, but the value of the points when redeemed are not commensurate. That said, one could argue that if one has not paid, technically, one is paying for the convenience (of "steeming" from one's phone).

I sense that with Quill and people like @raj808 there is a groundswell for cleaning things up and as I have indicated to Quillington elsewhere, I'm in and all for it.

Thanks again for the very useful explanation and analysis.


What also strikes me, talking of where value gets frittered away, is that folk don't realise that voting from dapps like Partiko also dilute the value of votes.

Thanks. I hadn't considered that. It does make sense, however. I make most of my posts from either @esteemapp or @steempress and the rewards, just for using those apps, are HUGE. But that's not why I do it. If Steemit would fix its user interface and make posting from its own website easier and more intuitive, that would be my preferred method. I got so frustrated the first month of being here that I figured there has to be easier ways to craft a post than trying to fight with the Steemit posting feature. That's when I found Busy, which was a little better. But then I came across eSteem, and that was A LOT better. SteemPress allows me to post to my website and see it on Steemit, so there's an added benefit there. What didn't occur to me is that these apps are diluting the rewards pool, just like the bidbots. If I did the math, I'm sure I'd discover that in a real sense. But I would claim that there is a difference, philosophically.

When I started this experiment, I operated on a few hypotheses. Only one of them turned out to be wrong. I thought that curators would get more rewards because the bidbots made the rewards pool for individual posts larger. I was wrong, as I (hopefully) clearly illustrated.

As the bidbots grow stronger and more people who post quality content discover other platforms and migrate to those, Steemit will, more and more, become a pay-to-play scheme. You'll HAVE TO PAY for bidbot votes if you want to stick around. And you better know what you're doing or you'll lose. In that case, it will become nothing more than a fancy investment scheme for which the SEC, FINRA, and CFTC will have ogling eyes (as if they don't already).

After one year I have to say that I not only feel cheated for the the rewards a good post should get but doesn't get due to the above mentioned.. actually the fact that high quality posts are buried under a mountain of garbage and nobody that does not yet follow you will ever read it, is even worse for me..
in this perspective even FB could be better..
.. add to this flag and spam wars.. and its just a wonder the steem ship has not sunk yet...
something has to change!

I remember the days when you'd conduct a search for information on Google and get a results page full of useless content because website owners could just pay content providers to write them keyword-based content that got them respectable search engine rankings. I was fortunate, and unfortunate, to be in the content marketing business at the time. I tried to sell useful content services where people would pay me to actually write decent content for decent money, but I got so many requests for cheap SEO articles. Eventually, Google changed its search algorithms and got rid of the trash pages, aka spam. Really good SEO writers can still push a page to the top of the search rankings, but it is harder, and it's even harder to stay there.

Where there is money involved, people are going to figure out how to game the system and tilt the odds in their favor. The reason we have government regulators is to reel those people in when they get out of control. We can bitch about regulation, and sometimes I do, but it does discourage bad behavior and cleans it up when it gets too out of hand. I don't think Steem Inc. has figured out yet that being in control of the governance mechanism means they can influence the outcome. Or maybe they have figured it out and just don't have the will.


I finally understand this BitBot thingy
Thank you
I now see why some flip over the use of it...
And for all that work you put into this post... I hope you get more than where it is at :)

Thanks. I just wanted to test for actual results. I'm glad I did this. It gave me some clarification, as well.

Great post. This detailed look at the whole process is probably very enlightening to a lot of Steemians.
I use my feed as a starting point for everything. That way I have a good chance to see good posts. If a post is promoted or bid up doesn't matter that much to me.
My opinion towards bots fluctuates in a narrow band around undecided...

Posted using Partiko Android

I think it has educated some people and opened up some eyes. Thanks for driving by. :-)

This post was shared in the Curation Collective Discord community for curators, and upvoted and resteemed by the @c-squared community account after manual review.
@c-squared runs a community witness. Please consider using one of your witness votes on us here

Lately I've been using bots to make my posts look as if they are worth something, and to keep me interested. But I'll have to stop soon as I don't know what I'm doing with them and am losing and not gaining. I'm just so tired of spending hours doing a great post and only getting 15 cents if I'm lucky.

I am totally with you!
Just out of curiosity I tried bid bots and bought votes... looking at the average IRR - considering also the rip offs and overbidding encountered - you end up with an IRR of 0..
so yesterday I delegated the first time to a bid bot.. the IRR is 10%, this equals approx. the rate of steem inflation.. also BS..
and even if you have positive returns from bid bots - so what??? Are you targeting human readers with your work or are you happy sending your well written posts to nirvana, just to get some upvotes from bots?
(even not for witnesses, whales and bot-owners their short term gain is their long term loss of the huge potential of steem lost because of this BS)
There are people who really could pump money into steem.. but why should they?
Maybe we should start a new curation initiative...

It's frustrating, isn't it? You see all these mediocre posts getting hundreds of upvotes and hit the trending page with $100 to $300 STU in rewards, which they had to pay anywhere from 40% to 80% of the value of in order to receive. Steemit is almost at the place where it is a free-for-all. You pay or you can't play.

Great info.

I haven't indulged in bidbot plays (yet).

Namaste, JaiChai

If you want to increase your own rewards at the expense of everyone else, you have that opportunity.

Was thinking more about white-hat bounty stuff...

No code is perfect.

Namaste, JaiChai

True. There is no such thing as perfect code.

Sorry for the delay, but thank you for showing your support to our #PowerHouseCreatives community in the 20K delegation dpoll contest last month. You were entered in my "Show @steemitbloggers your support in the 20K delegation contest, enter to win 1 Steem!" contest, and you've won a @Tipu tip on your most recent post (so, this one... 😂). Apologies again, and most importantly...

!Tip 0.2

Oh, thanks! That's awesome. :-)

Well, there's a Promoted page and using bidbots to promote a post should at least send it there instead of hot or trending. That shouldn't be hard to code.

I agree. That's simply a flip of the switch. And who can argue that paying for a bidbot vote isn't promotion? That's precisely what it is. Thanks for weighing in @manoldonchev.

You worked HARD on that post and it really explains what goes on with bid bots. There are ways to be found by the greedy to exploit anything. Moderation and common sense don't play well with greed unfortunately.

Unfortunately. And, yes, it's greed. Plain and simple. It leads people to make a choice that benefits themselves at the expense of others in a system that rewards everyone for creating value for the benefit of others.

Well there isnt much more I can say that isnt already said in your post and in the comments here. You have the brightest of the brightest commenting. I can say that I appreciate your post and the time it took for you to write it. For people like me, that don't understand bid bots so much, it brings a lot to light. I am still quite comfortable to not be using them as I see the damages it causes.

The Steem blockchain is based on a single principle: To reward participants based on the value they bring to the blockchain. We must realize this value is relative. It isn't objective. That's why rewards are determined in part on an upvote system.

So we put our work in the hands of others to decide whether what we write up, no matter the time and effort it takes. It is up to the people to decide what is worth their upvote and the amount of their upvote like if it is money that they own to give away (yet it is not.)

The practice of bidbot upvoting, however, subverts that.

It does and it is one of the reasons why I choose not to go with bid bots no matter how sweet the money may be.
When I write, I write in the hopes that someone reads it. Otherwise, why write at all. Just put a picture and throw in some bot votes.

It really does take away what the platform is about. It's not just a reward system, but of also connections. The people are not robots. The people are real, their time is real and their skills are real. If we leave it in the hands of bid bots, then what is all this for? Let's just make more robots, make them right for us (if its not done already) and sit on our fat asses to watch our wallets get just as fat while we waste away whatever passion, emotion, and heart we have, as we become less human in this robotic world. We are already losing jobs to these mechanics. Why make it the same in a blogging, vlogging platform? Then what does it mean to be human in the end?

So we put our work in the hands of others to decide whether what we write up, no matter the time and effort it takes. It is up to the people to decide what is worth their upvote and the amount of their upvote like if it is money that they own to give away (yet it is not.)

In a way, it is. It costs Resource Credits, which is a type of currency. The economics of Steemit are complicated, but if you pay in resource credits to upvote, comment, and resteem, then you find that you can't do those things because you have exhausted you resource credits, you lose out on rewards until your resource credits are regenerated. That makes it currency.

Just put a picture and throw in some bot votes.

Some people do that.

It really does take away what the platform is about. It's not just a reward system, but of also connections. The people are not robots. The people are real, their time is real and their skills are real. If we leave it in the hands of bid bots, then what is all this for? Let's just make more robots, make them right for us (if its not done already) and sit on our fat asses to watch our wallets get just as fat while we waste away whatever passion, emotion, and heart we have, as we become less human in this robotic world. We are already losing jobs to these mechanics. Why make it the same in a blogging, vlogging platform? Then what does it mean to be human in the end?

This is excellent.

Steemit could transform into nothing more than a clever auto-investing scheme. Create a garbage post, pay for some bidbot votes, watch your account increase in value. It could potentially be better than a 401k. But, as you noted, it's also about connections. That's why you have curation trails and groups like Power House Creatives fostering those connections. If you take the social out of social media, it isn't social media any more. Call it techno-media, or auto-media, maybe even robo-media. We need to work together to keep the social in the social media.

The resource credits stuff confuse me. Feels like I need to go to class and take notes to fully understand it.

I know some people do just that with the pictures, but by helping some of them understand a little more, perhaps things can get better. For those that care to care anyways.

You are absolutely right with what you are saying here. That is why I am very thankful for these awesome communities.

Thanks. I'm glad you find value in it.

When I first joined and read the White papers, it said: NO BOTS. Well, that went out the window fast...
I think that they are very bad for Steem and While I take advantage of a few that are designed to help the little guys and there will be not negative return, I am not in favor of the big money bots at all.

The white paper said no bots initially? It certainly doesn't say that now.

Wow, excellent experiment here! It's crazy to see how deep you can get into the analysis of the reward pool and the impact to the steem sphere as a whole. I have a hard enough time reading all of the great posts and supporting them as is, so I'm definitely never going to be one to try to figure out bots, haha. Let alone use any to try to get more rewards. I appreciate the work you and other folks like Quill do to share this impact and hopefully (fingers crossed) impact some positive changes so we can all continue to put out and reward actual quality work! You've got my manually curated vote on this one! ;)

Thanks. I'm glad you found it useful.

Thank you for putting in the time and energy to do and write about your bidbot experiment.
I’m a bit ambivalent to these things in general and just kind of plug away at my own thing. But your report certainly makes me think about the nefarious effect bidbots have on quality posts.
It certainly seems that just not allowing posts that used bidbots to be on trending would be an effective start in evening the playing field and simultaneously showing the world a better face of what steemit is. Everyone I know thinks the trending page is pathetic and rarely goes there.
Imagine if it was where you could actually find trending quality posts, wow, that would actually be useful and would show any newbies a level to aspire too.
Thanks again, I enjoyed that laymen’s breakdown.

Thanks. I'm glad you found value in it. Like you, and a lot of other people, I think the trending page is a terrible PR tool for Steemit. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that someone is gaming the system if they're at the top of that page. People are leaving the platform over it. A lot of people have left the platform over it. I can't think of a better reason to change things based on that fact alone. And all it would take is changing the algorithm to reduce the weight of posts propped up by bidbot votes. They don't even have to exclude them from the page, just tweak the algorithm so that votes by bidbots count for less than votes by real human accounts, or manually curated accounts. That alone would re-order the page. No one actually things that the posts on that page are the best posts Steemit has to offer.

Again, thanks for stopping by.

Yeah, I don’t get the hold up in switching that one, there seems like several workable solutions, Ie. Your suggestion. I’ve also heard the idea of it bidbot’d posts heading to the promoted section... as that is what it is.. using bidbots to promote the content. Then trending could just be known to be bid bot free and instead allow us to head there to find great actually trending content.
Lol, dreaming of perfect solutions and imagining how something would or wouldn’t work is always hilarious to me. Cause eventual dreams hit reality and become something most could never foresee.

And you are welcome by the way. I see your effort and engagement all over here on steemit, I sincerely appreciate it!

Posted using Partiko iOS

I see your effort and engagement all over here on steemit, I sincerely appreciate it!

I like to interact with the natives. ;-)

Until this day I never used bitbots or auto curation

One of the reasons we not moving forward is Bitbots killing the organic interaction

Excellent work. Well explained and well written.

Personally, my position is far less moderate than yours. I hate all bots with a burning passion; they are abomination, a cheat, a con, an insult to human dignity and creativity.

More to come. I've uncovered some new data.

Dear wordmith great piece changes take time and blogs like this can only help to speed up the proces 💪

You are very kindly Welcome

I saw your post after a resteem from @arcange and it's exactly the kind of post that tells the situation as it is. Too bad a lot of newcomers or old members of the chain still don't get the long term effects bidbots bring. It really doesn't give greater value compared to manual curation. It's more on the short term gains that just keeps getting the trending page a bad image.

I didn't realize @arcange resteemed this. Thanks for letting me know. It will take some witnesses addressing this to make a real change. @lukestokes has written about this very topic, as well. When I was researching bidbots last year, and playing around for about a week, I read this post and was immediately impressed with his philosophy of long-term rational self-interest. I totally agree, and was encouraged to see a witness running against the grain. There needs to be more of this in the future. Otherwise, Steemit will become nothing but a bidbot farm.

Regarding the curation rewards. There are voting bots, like @boomerang or @tipu, that power down and send the curation rewards to investors. Cheers, a lot of work went into all the research in this post :)

Thanks. If you take a look, @tipu tipped me on this post. Thanks for the heads up about @boomerang. Awesome times.

I agree with this:

The Steem blockchain is based on a single principle: To reward participants based on the value they bring to the blockchain.

Though honestly, human greed and inability to look at the long term ramifications (how it actually hurts in the long run) is and will be present in other systems too, albeit in different forms.

I'm thinking that if and only if this bidbot issue cannot be resolved, whether Steem can provide other attractive reasons for Steemians to continue using the platform regardless.

Because the bidbots won't go away so easily, and we should perhaps focus on making Steem more attractive in other ways (maybe as a way to effect micro-payments)?

Micropayments is an awesome idea. There is a lot going on in that arena, but one area where micropayments can stand to see massive improvements is in the area of content syndication. And Steemit is in a good position to influence that.

Thanks for responding.

I have a large response. This is a placeholder.

I'll be here when you get back. :-)

The solution is to have so many people want visibility that the bidbots are a cost not an ROI.

This is the model that every content creation site I've ever heard of uses.

Including youtube, twitter and even facebook provide ways to promote content.

If people are unhappy with the results they should flag.

Also, your review misses a couple important points.

People often BUY steem to promote. I've done it many times.

No matter what the ROI is, 1/2 of the value is powered up for 13 weeks.

Have a great day!

I'm not quite sure what you're saying here, but I've got more data so there will be another post soon.

I'll look forward to it.

Very interesting. I'm leaving all the little ins and outs to you guys. I think to try to see the individual effect explains why they are popular. Content doesn't matter, pay the fee, hopefully get a decent ROI and move on. I think that's more the 'get rich quick' or the 'no personal effort' type of person.

On the larger scale, I completely get where the others are coming from. A simple version, I think this is why we belong to groups like PHC, because we believe in good honest work and having a system supports that.

I do admit, appreciate breakdowns like this, Quill's small comment and so the others it puts things into another perspective and helps someone like me.

I'm glad you got value out of this. I'm not sure what the thinking is behind bidding on the Steembots. It's probably, "Let's do this the easy way." There's a saying: "Work smarter, not harder." I see the wisdom in that, but I also value hard work. I don't think the saying was meant to imply take the easy way out, but it's often used that way. The idea is to do the hard work, but use wise means of making hard work easier by using your brain to accomplish the task rather than pure muscle.

Technology is not evil. It's neutral. What makes it good or evil is how we use it. I've shown here, hopefully, that using bidbots can be profitable for the individual, but it hurts the collective. In that vein, I'd say the aggregate outcome is bad.

Very well said 😊 You definitely channeled what I was thinking. So many things in recent years have been twisted out of context or have taken on new meaning. Like 'Work smarter, not harder' It's one of my favorite quotes. As you mention people have given it another meaning.

If you have the money and SP and you can and it's a good ROI then by all means. To use it as a sole means? Seems to me you're working to pay yourself. As all of this goes it's all in the ROI.

I think you have a great 'argument' for both sides. It's very balanced. The biggest issue, is this is not something one dives into. You have to do your homework.

Stay tuned. There's more to come. I've uncovered some extra data that gives me new insight on this.

Am new at all this and wasn't aware of the fact that there were bots voting too - tx for this clear post :)

You're very welcome. Keep your chin up. :-)

I used bid bots like crazy in my earlier days here but I stopped using them. I realized it wouldn't be real in terms of knowing if you created something exceptional. If I didn't get any upvotes I took it as a challenge to improve and turn up the volume a notch higher. The feeling is ecstatic and rewarding seeing people truly enjoying your content.

The feeling is ecstatic and rewarding seeing people truly enjoying your content.

Yes, that is true.

Last year, when I played with them, I wasn't tracking results. I assumed that rewards would be greater for those who voted earliest, so I waited for three days before I bought a vote. What that likely did, in reality, was increase my manual human votes but, as I show, those voters got fewer rewards. There is a reason that these bidbots have a three-day limit on placing bids. After that three-day limit, the rewards for bidders goes down. They'll make less and the other curators will make more as per percentage of post (don't quote me, but I think I read that in the white paper).

When I started this experiment, I thought those who were saying it dilutes the rewards pool were just making a lot of noise because they didn't like the bots. That's why I decided to perform this experiment. To my surprise, that was the only thing I was wrong about.

You do feel a lot better about your posts when you know that actual humans are upvoting them and that you're getting a better-than-average return on account it. I remember the first @curie vote I got. I couldn't believe it. It was for a poem. It knocked me out of my chair.


This post has been manually curated, resteemed
and gifted with some virtually delicious cake
from the @helpiecake curation team!

Much love to you from all of us at @helpie!
Keep up the great work!


manually chosen for curation by foxyspirit

Awesome. I love cake. Thanks a lot!

You are very welcome! Much deserved ^_^

Thanks for the expirement. I decided to stay away from the bidbots at the moment. I did some tests a year ago and decided that it was nothing for me.
The votes you got just after placing the bid are normal. People do have bots running to see which post will be upvoted. So if they do place an upvote before the bidbot upvotes the post, they will get a nice curation reward.
Imaging doing this 10 to 100 times a day and you will understand that they will probably make enough steem to continue to do this.

I did some tests a year ago and decided that it was nothing for me.

Good for you.

People do have bots running to see which post will be upvoted. So if they do place an upvote before the bidbot upvotes the post, they will get a nice curation reward.

That makes sense. Thanks.

Imaging doing this 10 to 100 times a day and you will understand that they will probably make enough steem to continue to do this.

Passive income. So tempting.

Thanks for reading. :-)

A brilliant analysis here and unfortunately I am one of those that believe in hard and honest work. Don't get me wrong, as we need every cent that we can get for the charity and I have been tempted a few times in the past, simply by looking at the amounts on the "Trending" page.
Seeing some posts in there that I know I can beat with my eyes closed, but and there's always a but.

This coming June, we will be here for two years now without ever withdrawing one cent and always hoping that we can build the amount to really help the charity. In the meantime, while doing this, I enjoy the other posts and the company of some good friends. But bid bots are a no no, as it would make me feel unethical.

There is always an easy way out, but I don't believe in short cuts, as sooner or later they backfire. Call it old school or by any other name, but I have seen many efforts fail due to short cuts. and instant riches.

Awesome testimony. Thanks for dropping in and commenting. And great luck with your charity.

There is plenty of analysis going on here for sure.

Thanks for noticing. :-)

You've got a whole lot of patience. I experimented with a bidbot once. After about 30 minutes I was over it. I did see higher votes than typical for my posts at the time, but I didn't analyze it in quite this way. Or anything close to this way for that matter. :-)

Anyway, good times!

Thanks for stopping by. I think it's important to get a realistic view of how things work. I was curious about a few things, namely, whether or not author and curator rewards would be higher or lower. But, the biggest problem with the bots, as others keep saying, is the perception it leaves to new users when they visit the trending page. I noticed early on, but I'm stubborn. I just went on blogging and never visited the trending page. Most people won't do that.

I tend to stay away from the trending page as well. Maybe we could petition for a separate trending page - one that screens out the bid bots.

I think it's been mentioned numerous times, but there doesn't seem to be a will to address the situation.

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