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
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.