Steemit.com Is Not The Decentralized Platform You Think It Is

2 months ago
70 in steemit

Since joining Steemit last May, I have seen, and in fact been a part of the confusion over Steemit's status. Some people have and do (myself included) believe that the website is a decentralised network.

Let's clear this up right here and now; it is not.

Well that was a short post....

OK, let me elaborate.

The Impossible Likeness Of Being

Titusfrost dzt speechRZ540.jpg

The cryptocurrency known as Steem, sits atop of the Graphene blockchain. Blockchain technology, by it's very nature is decentralised (to a point).

However this has led to much confusion in the Steemit community, because whilst Steem is a decentralised cryptocurrency; Steemit.com or rather the company Steemit inc. is very much a centralised organisation.

This is because Steemit inc. is a company incorporated in the United States of America; thus on the incorporation documents it will have the name of the shareholders, and the "people of influence", and guess what?

Your name isn't on there!

What??? I thought holding SP meant I was a shareholder?

Nope, the only thing that makes you a shareholder of a company, is having your name on the incorporation documents, stating that you are. Or of course, if you buy some shares from a shareholder, or that are publicly offered on a stock exchange.

Having Steem Power makes you a stakeholder in Steemit; however so does visiting the site and reading articles without voting; or any other kind of interaction you have with the site.

The only thing that will make you a shareholder in Steemit, is for you to obtain some actual shares; got it? Good.

Steemit.com owned by Steemit inc. will never be a decentralised platform; why? Because in order for it to do so, Steemit inc would have to give up all rights to the IPs surrounded Steemit, and that's not going to happen, not necessarily because there is no willing from the Steemit owners, but rather an issue of profit, loss and taxation.

Reality Bites

Being an incorporated company in the good ol' US of A, one can safely assume that they pay tax, and stick to all the various corporate regulations that are required of a commercial entity operating in the States.

The website (at the last time of checking), generates 1.2 million Steem a day, and then allocates that Steem in the form of voting power. How much voting power you have, is determined by how much Steem Power you hold.

Now of course, Steem has a dollar value, so Steemit is a money printing machine, which means that there are profits (and losses) to consider. Trying to build a stucture whereby Steemit inc. was not breaking corporation law, in a decentralised environment would in my opinion, be impossible.

Apart from the legal mess that would ensue from dissolving the company whilst still trying to claim it was solvent. We have the reality of the fact that decentralisation would probably lead to complete chaos within the Steemit structure.

Blockchain Forever

The wonderful fact of the matter, is that Steem is a decentralised currency, and it sits atop of an open source blockchain. There is nothing stopping anybody from building apps and software that takes advantage of that, and in fact we have already seen this to some extent.

MASSIVE RECORD SCRATCH!!

cat scratching record.jpg

Woah, wait just a cotton-pickin-minute there. Strictly speaking Steem is not decentralised, Steem cannot be forked (have the code changed) without express permission of Steemit inc. Hitherto (love that legal word), the Steem token remains the intellectual property of Steemit inc.

So, erm yeah, I was about to write about how the currency Steem being decentralised was the real winner here. Steemit was the trailblazer, and others will follow to utilise Steem in new, wonderful and previously unseen ways.

That of course may still happen, however, as long as Steemit inc. holds the intellectual property rights to Steem, and as long as Steemit.com can produce Steem at will. The actual currency will remain, for all intents and purpose, centralised.

Does all of this matter? Well it matters to the people it matters to, and to others it doesn't. I personally am somewhere in between. I have done quite nicely out of Steemit and still want to see it succeed. However at the same time, I'm aware some of these issues may prove to be counterproductive to the overall development of Steem the currency.

I don't see any change coming anytime soon, and in my honest opinion, I feel this is just another reason why Steemit will ultimately be replaced by something that takes the basic principles of the site, and improves it.

Cryptogee

WHAT DO YOU RECKON? HAD YOU ALREADY FIGURED THIS OUT OR ARE YOU SHOCKED AND APPALLED AT HOW WRONG YOU WERE? AS EVER LET ME KNOW BELOW.

Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
Join our amazing community to comment and reward others.
Sort Order:  trending
64
  ·  2 months ago

You seem to be conflating the STEEM currency or the Steem Blockchain with a specific piece of open-source software developed by Steemit, Inc.

Steemit Inc does not own the blockchain, nor do we control it.

·
69
  ·  2 months ago

I agree however as the largest holder of STEEM, Steemit Inc (and it's employees) do hold the largest influence (express or implied) over STEEM and it's Witness composition. Not necessarily a bad or good thing.

·
·
70
  ·  2 months ago

They also own the Steem IP, look up in the whitepaper where it says that no fork of the Steem token can be done without the express permission of Steemit inc.

The blockchain maybe decentralised, however Steem is not.

Cg

·
70
  ·  2 months ago

At no point in the article, did I say Steemit owns the blockchain. I said Steemit owns the IP for the Steem token; which is true, right?

Cg

·
·
64
  ·  2 months ago

Incorrect for two reasons:

  1. The license on steemd that has generated the controversy lately has nothing to do with Steemit; Steemit does not own all the IP in the repo any more than GNU owns the IP for Linux. We don't have a CLA, so the non-staff contributors remain rightsholders.

  2. Anyone can use the blockchain without using the software covered by the license at issue. You can write your own wallet and many have. I hope someone writes their own p2p node, too.

·
·
·
70
  ·  2 months ago

OK, let me ask you this; could another website say called Washit.com, come along, gain a community of thousands, and those thousands of people decide in whatever way they decide, to fork the Steam currency as it is now.

Is that possible? If not; why?

Thanks

Cg

·
·
·
·
64
  ·  2 months ago

Absolutely it is possible. Nobody owns the blockchain.

·
·
·
·
·
70
  ·  2 months ago

Not according to you on the conversation I took this screen shot from below..

Smooth convo.jpg

So I guess you could stay in Beta forever and use the same excuse.

steem convo 2.jpg

It seems @smooth both agrees and disagrees with me, as he has flagged this post.

original link https://steemit.com/steem/@demotruk/petition-to-demand-steem-be-made-open-source

Cg

·
·
·
·
·
64
  ·  2 months ago

@cryptogee

You are conflating the Steem Blockchain with the steemd implementation of that consensus protocol.

67
  ·  2 months ago

In theory, one could write a clean-room implementation of steemd that follows "the protocol". Certainly would like to see the license change though.

·
70
  ·  2 months ago

clean-room implementation of steemd that follows "the protocol".

I'm not quite technologically enough minded to fully understand that statement. Are you saying that another Steemit could be written that follows the same protocols of the current site (i.e. creating lots of Steem each day to allocate voting rights)?

I can't see the licensing changing for as long as Steemit.com is owned by Steemit inc.

Cg

·
·
67
  ·  2 months ago

I'm saying that one could write their own version of "steemd" from scratch, not using any code from Steemit, but it could be a functioning witness on the current chain (that follows all the rules). You could license it with a more free license and Steem would be truely free.

·
·
·
70
  ·  2 months ago

So would that solve the issue of Steem being a protected IP owned by Steemit inc?

Cg

·
·
·
·
67
  ·  2 months ago

It would be a solution yes. It would take some work, but not necessarily too difficult. I believe graphene is open-source. You could start from there.

·
·
·
·
·
72
  ·  2 months ago

IIRC cleanroom engineering means you have to have a 'dirty' engineer thoroughly document the existing product, and then a 'clean' engineer has to look at the documentation and reproduce the behavior of the original product, without getting dirty by looking at it. True, the clean engineer could start at Bitshares with its free license which would be a good headstart. But it's not trivial, and the documentation might be a bit harder than it sounds.

·
·
·
·
·
70
  ·  2 months ago

Right I see, yes, as far as I can tell the graphene blockchain is open source, so I guess it would be building it up from the ground.

Difficult, but not impossible; in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if someone was doing it right now!

Cg

·
·
·
·
64
  ·  2 months ago

What makes you think Steemit Inc owns all the IP to steemd? We have no CLA.

·
·
·
·
·
70
  ·  2 months ago

I don't know what CLA is, and I said Steemit inc owns the IP to Steem the cryptocurrency.

Cg

·
·
·
·
·
64
  ·  2 months ago

@cryptogee Outside of the implementation of steemd, there is no other IP to STEEM the cryptocurrency. You seem to be confused.

Without a CLA, Steemit Inc doesn't even own all the IP to steemd. There are no rights assignments to Steemit Inc from outside contributors.

69
  ·  2 months ago

Hey CG,

Hope you're well. I think you're mistaken on this one. I'll writing my perspective on this in post shortly.

·
70
  ·  2 months ago

Hi Nanzo,

I think you'll find I'm not :-) There's a former witness in the comment section who 100% agrees with me.

Some of the info in this post has been lifted directly from the whitepaper...

However, I humbly await your repost.

Cg

·
·
69
  ·  2 months ago

Might not get the time to write an article...

A couple of points for a start,

Strictly speaking Steem is not decentralised, Steem cannot be forked

The fact that STEEM cannot be cloned with permission, does not mean STEEM blockchain itself is not decentralised. It just means it is not fully opened source.

Another minor point...

The website (at the last time of checking), generates 1.2 million Steem a day,

STEEM's inflation rate has been changed to 9.5% pa. Many seemed to have missed this, STEEM is a lot more scarce than it was previously. Also the website doesn't generate STEEM it's generated from the blockchain.

Also the Whitepaper is now woefully out-of-date... making it very difficult for people to keep up with where we're at including myself!!

·
·
·
70
  ·  2 months ago

Also the website doesn't generate STEEM it's generated from the blockchain.

Yes, however the website draws from the blockchain, so doesn't that amount to the same thing. Could I for instance, develop an app that drew generated Steem from the blockchain in the same manner as Steemit?

Also the Whitepaper is now woefully out-of-date... making it very difficult for people to keep up with where we're at including myself!!

Yup, so you can't blame people for telling it like they see it.

I get very turned off when an idea can't be explained to me in simple terms, it usually signifies a badly thought out, or incomplete idea, or worse yet, an idea that is not fully understood by the people implementing it.

Cg

·
·
·
·
69
  ·  2 months ago

Could I for instance, develop an app that drew generated Steem from the blockchain in the same manner as Steemit?

You mean something like the eSteem app?

60
  ·  2 months ago

s_u.png
Don't force our hand Steemit inc!

·
64
  ·  2 months ago

We would absolutely welcome an alternate implementation.

71
  ·  2 months ago

Pretty much on the same line with you. As a former witness I can very much relate to the illusion of "stakeholder" and "ownership".

·
70
  ·  2 months ago

Yeah, what's funny is, I wrote this article and then talked about how the fact at least Steem is decentralised. Then I thought, let me make sure that is true; and it isn't!

Lolz :-)

Cg

63
  ·  2 months ago

I had a pretty good handle on who really owns and controls what, but good to see it all laid out clearly for everyone to read.

Steemit will ultimately be replaced by a future version of steemit which will be quite different. Steemit is adaptable and the dev team can do the adapting. Add some marketing and steemit 2019 will look quite different from steemit 2016. Steem on!

·
70
  ·  2 months ago

I thought I had a good handle on it, until I started to research this article. I was aware of the Steemit situation and only semi-aware of the Steem situation.

Whether Steemit itself will be adapted, or a new idea built on a similar idea will be the next best thing, Only time will tell.

Steem On My Brother!

Cg

45
  ·  2 months ago

Hum. :(

72
  ·  2 months ago

Not truly surprised as I had discovered some of this the day Dan announced his resignation. Prior to that I didn't realize how much gatekeeping ability they had due to that hitherto line in the license.

·
70
  ·  2 months ago

Yes me too; Ned's article about Dan inspired me to write this and as I was researching it, I found out that Steem is owned 100% by Steemit. Which I guess makes sense, seeing as the website produces 1.2 million Steem per day. Without total ownership, they would be in a very precarious position.

Cg

65
  ·  2 months ago

So what should we do?

·
70
  ·  2 months ago

What can we do? Apart from be aware that unlike a shareholder of a company, you have no say in the running of the company. Also unlike a decentralised cryptocoin, Steem can be forked at any time by Steemit inc, so I guess; be careful about putting all your crypto eggs in one basket.

Cg

·
·
65
  ·  2 months ago

thanks input

64
  ·  2 months ago

This post contains many basic factual inaccuracies, and I encourage those of you who voted for it to re-evaluate your voting criteria in the future.

·
70
  ·  2 months ago

Tell us what those inaccuracies are, and if proved right, I'll post an "I was wrong" post.

Cg

·
69
  ·  2 months ago

I'd be less concerned about people voting on factually inaccurate content, then getting the correct communication out there.

Maybe if factually inaccurate perceptions (that many people have) made it to the trending page, there would be more of a concerted effort sort out some communication and marketing.

It cannot be under-estimated how little people understand how STEEM works today (myself included!)...

Keeping the Whitepaper up-to-date would be a good starting point.

·
·
60
  ·  2 months ago

BINGO, my friend. Wish I had 2 upvotes for your explanation.

·
70
  ·  2 months ago

How about instead of telling us we're all wrong, making a post explaining things like this. Because saying something has factual inaccuracies; without explain what those inaccuracies are, is not very helpful, and comes across as you saying "move on, nothing to see here."

Cg

64
  ·  2 months ago

I would like someone to write up a tutorial how to start mining Steem or how to host part the Steem blockchain. We can decentralize by participating! I could be less lazy and look it up myself but I am a n00b to the concept of mining cryptocurrency.

·
70
  ·  2 months ago

I have heard recently that mining is being restricted; though because it doesn't interest me, I am not totally sure what is going on in respect to that.

Though mining will not make it decentralized; non-ownership by a centralized corporation will do that.

There are many mining posts on Steemit, written by people with a far greater knowledge than mine, check them out :-)

Cg

68
  ·  2 months ago

I'm not surprised at all. Steemit is like the MySpace of the blockchain. There are new platforms ahead like yours.network and other social media to come.

53
  ·  2 months ago

Interesting post, congratulations.