I Tested Steem Bid Bots For A Week - Here's What I Learned

in steemit •  2 months ago

Bid bots are a way to inflate the rewards on the Steemit platform. I used the word "inflate" and not "increase", because bid bots are an "artificial" way to generate revenue, as opposed to the "organic" way to get rewards, by being upvoted by your regular followers.

How Does It Work?

Before diving too dip, I would like to recommend @yabapmatt excellent https://steembottracker.com. You will get a much more appealing image of what bid bots are than the brief description that follows below.

Basically, there is a time window of 2.5 hours between two bid bots, roughly the amount of time necessary to regenerate the actual bid account voting power. It seems that all bid bots are using the same time frame and they split their "rounds" into 2.5 hours chunks.

During any of these "rounds" or "sessions" you can send a certain amount of SBD / STEEM to the bid bot operating account and wait for the end of the round. Other users can send tokens as well, and that will dilute the potential voting power. Each bot also has an upper limit (cap) and a certain ROI (Return of Investment). There are also some other parameters, like the age of a post that can be voted upon, wether or not the bot will post a comment about voting that content, etc.

So, based on the bid bot max cap per round, its ROI and the numbers of bidders, you will get a vote. That vote will increase your initial investment with a certain amount.

Most of the time, in my experience, this amount is between 5% and 7%.

So, if you bid $10 worth of STEEM/ SBD, you will get back between $10.5 -$10.7 worth of STEEM AND STEEM POWER! It's important to understand that the rewards you get by using bid bots are still following the normal STEEM voting algorithm (so half of it will be in STEEM POWER).

How The Test Was Conducted?

For a week, I tried about 4-5 bid bots, based on various criteria: the max cap, ROI and wether or not they were publicizing their activity. The posts were just random posts that I write here (mostly market snapshots). I sent the bids around 1 hour after the post was live. The amount I sent was between 5 and 15 STEEM.

What Have I Learned?

There are a few cons and pros to bid bots (in their current form).

Here's what went well:

  • the fact that you can increase the revenue with a predictable amount is tempting
  • the fact that there is a (very rough) way to bid for user attention is encouraging

Here's what I consider not too well:

  • there is no "intrinsic" value to the posts that are being upvoted by bids, so you can end up with a simple thing, not worth anything under normal circumstances, taking out a certain part of the reward pool
  • because of the inconsistent publicizing of the bod bot vote, I noticed the rise of another type of bot (mind you) that is commenting on the posts upvoted, stating that the value of the post is not from organic curation. Under "normal" circumstances, I think bid bot votes should be public, so a post can have some sort of a "bid bot sponsored" badge. In line with this idea, I think the "sponsored" posts (those using bid bot votes) should have a different way to be displayed, not mixed with organic voted content.

Conclusion

I see bid bots as an intermediary evolution stage of attention bidding mechanisms on Steemit. In their current form they are way too rough to provide value to the ecosystem and they are only drawing a certain amount of reward pool to people willing to use them. Please understand that I have nothing against getting an ROI on your investment, but if the only form of influencing the user attention is money, then Steemit will be no better than Facebook, or other social media platform that are selling advertising.

I do think that, as time goes by, there will be a lot to be learned from bid bots and they will eventually evolve into something less toxic.

I just don't know how long this will take.


I'm a serial entrepreneur, blogger and ultrarunner. You can find me mainly on my blog at Dragos Roua where I write about productivity, business, relationships and running. Here on Steemit you may stay updated by following me @dragosroua.


Dragos Roua


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Oh and you also didn't mention that for most, bots are a LOSS of money, after curation.

you put in say, 10 and get 11 back, seeming like 10% roi, except after curation, 25% smokes and you get 9 and change. you lost money. And if you wait a week for it and it was this week, you spent 10 at 90 cents per steem to get 9 at 60 cents per steem.

Bots are a PROMOTIONAL boosting tool, NOT a profitable game, unless you are incredibly careful and... very lucky.

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I've used smartsteem in the past and don't worry about the dollar value as it's irrelevant. Look at the steem amount and you tend to get about 10% back on top of your transfer after curation. Direct post payout. It's win win, gain some publicity and make a return. I would rather if there were no bots but since there are it makes sense to use them.

Posted using Partiko Android

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Oh and you also didn't mention that for most, bots are a LOSS of money, after curation.

Some of them have 5-7% ROI after curation. I don't remember exactly which ones, but I remember I did the math back then.

With that being said, there is a consistent chance that you will lose money, like you said, not only after curation, but because of collusion of many bids or, like you said, because of market conditions.

Given the inherent nature of rewarding on Steem, I'm highly doubtful bots will ever disappear or even become a minority force.

The question is not how to eliminate bots, but how to eliminate bad bots and what are bad bots in the first place.

Especially because, given my own example, there are users who prefer automatically rewarding users through upvotes, instead of giving it on an organic base.

Thanks for sharing your experience. I did try some bots when I just created my account last year as I wanted to learn and understand all the options Steemit was offereing but after my short experience I decided it was not worth at all. Of course my account had also extremely low reputation back then but at the end of the day I believe the ROI you can get from real content creation and interaction is far bigger than the one you can get with bots. Of course you can just do both, but the "image" you may transmit to your audience is also a side effect to consider

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accurate, but i cant help myself, every time I see this fallacy, I must correct it.

STEEMIT is not steem - steem is a hundred dapps that are awesome and we should never speak of steemshit.com again. It's an embarrassment to the blockchain.

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A blockchain is everything it is part of its ecosystem, the BP's the protocol, the users, the DApps... It is good to understand and analyze all its players and options. Nothing is perfect but that does not mean we cannot improve it, use it, promote it and try to avoid the "not so interesting" parts of it. I have nothing against bots, the best way to avoid them if you consider not good for the project, is to understand them.

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Also accurate, and the first step to understanding this chain, is decoupling stinc's reference prototype, now on its last legs from the amazing things going on all over it elsewhere, built by witnesses and users like Dragos and myself here and many many others.

We're some of the ones losing sleep and skipping meals for days on end in attempts to save this place before it's too late, over on github lobbying for chain and condenser code changes to benefit users, building tools and new dapps, building huge communities of users and teaching them how to operate in this environment, aiding in encouraging young users to mitigate our dismal retention caused predominantly by issues only possible on this ONE interface, and hosting and speaking at conferences and attending meetups to educate on the street and everything we can more or less, and far less prevalent on any of the other dozens of ways to use it.

I'm pretty assured that Dragos didn't do this experiment for himself, he already knew the situation and understood the bots. He did it to document it for newcomers and to prove some points, which are in turn being discussed and elaborated on here. I know this, because he and I have been here a long long time now and discussed much of this before. We spend time in the witness channels, we know the bot owners and their funding whales. We speak to them. We know why they do what the do, and what the math is.

The main problem is we have people coming here who DO not do this homework and it will never make sense to them. They are the ones leaving then to give a bad rep to the whole place. When if only they had never seen stincs crappy site, they would have never heard of bots or rep over on dsound or zappl or whathave you.

This is evidenced by the 10000 times a day I have to teach "steemit is not steem" to people like the gentleman on this very page who asked "so this is ok with the makers of steemit? and is guaranteed ?"

WE (including that misguided inquirer) are the makers of this chain. Steemit inc needs to go shut down and leave us alone to do the work.

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Here, as in any other life environment, there are all kind of users. Some understand the technology and others don't. Some may not even have the tech knowledge to learn about it or just stumble upon the "wrong" mentors. I do not like some of the "not so clear" slogans bot creators use to try to catch its users the same way I do not like all the liers out there in the traditional trading markets telling people they will get rich in a month if they open a trading account and start trading. It is just the way things are and the best way to fight them is to ignore them or try to make their life much more difficult changing the "game rules".
We are on the same boat here.

On my testing experience using bots for several months you always end up losing. On rough number it seems you make good ROI, but when you take into account loosing 25% to the Bot, you are only left with 75% of face tokens value which always end up being less than what you input

Very good for marketing at low cost. But Steem Audience is to narrow, yet at 1 million users. I hope hard fork 🍴 HF20 helps to solve the complexity problem of creating new accounts.

Bots are good for marketing but not for making money. The owners of bots are the ones who get good ROI.

There is one more important con: reputation. You can inflate your rep basically by combining being in a perpetual state of powering down and pumping around the same money over and over. The older the max allowed age for a bot, the faster you can pump around the same money, the faster you can artificially inflate your reputation. My rep on my primary blogging account is 56 after over a year of blogging my fiction. 52 on my dev account that is a few months younger. There are bot-using spam bots half the age of my youngest accounts that already have close to 60 rep to their name without it seems even one single genuine upvote as far as can be quickly assesed.
The big problem with this is that ik makes self regulation a big problem. If I were to spent all of my voting power to flag a spammer for a week, I'll cost that spammer two maybe three dolar at current rates. I'll know though that because of the bidbots, my flags wont put a dent in their rep and likely in a few months that spammer will have a higher rep than me and will then be able to flag me out of existance in retaliation. Result : I (and others that would be tempted to fight the spam) will think twice before using my SP to try and help clean up the platform. It is cool that there are powerfull initiatives like @spaminator, but even @spaminator has only 66 in rep, a rep I think not unachievable for a persistent bid-bot user with some funds to pump around.

2.4 hours, to be specific. 10 votes (well, 100% divided by bidders, to amount to 10 100% votes) per 24 hours.

because of the inconsistent publicizing of the bod bot vote, I noticed the rise of another type of bot (mind you) that is commenting on the posts upvoted, stating that the value of the post is not from organic curation.

Did you miss the entire drama surrounding @transparencybot?

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yeah, that was a thing, and its spam and such like it, is a bigger problem for witness and rpc node memory and disk waste than the bots are.

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is a bigger problem for witness and rpc node memory and disk waste

tell me about it :( My block log is now more than 200G (yours too, I believe) and it's growing day by day.

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Yep, times 2 with the backup.

I stopped using the a few months ago and I couldn't be happier. One thing you didn't mention is that to make your bid profitable via bid bots the price of steem has to be going up! And for this reason most of the time you won't see an actual bang for your steem, but your're gonna be in the red about 5-20%.

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precisely sir.

I've tried an upvote bot once, felt guilty about using it afterwards and don't think I will try it again. I just can't get behind the idea of paying for a vote instead of working hard to legitimately get my words in front of people and letting them decide if my work deserves an upvote.

any updates on HF-20 ? what do you think about that so far ?

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I see they just released it, good times. Will write a post about it shortly.

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ok , thank you

Yeah the bidding bots are in early stage of evolution and I feel they are overpowering the natural votes....
Trending page is full of bid bots payed post....

There also an encouraging and psychological effect too in that by boosting a post the poster can actually see more value attached to their work, whether making a profit or not using the bid bot encourages them further.
Not using a bid bot and seeihg your hard work have a 0.01 payout and no comments has the opposite effect.

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Not using a bid bot and seeing your hard work have a 0.01 payout and no comments has the opposite effect.

the only people this happens to are the ones not getting in communities, making solid comments on others and socially networking. I bring total newbs in all the time, introduce them to how to do things and they do as well as anyone else. But i also meet people who whine and whine and then say "i wont do discord, steem.chat..." ok - open your store, and tell no one. let me know when your fire sale is, i need new shoes.

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Using your analogy of a store then surely using bidbots is akin to advertising ? Expecting people to join Steem and then have to then use discord and chat too is a non-sense. We are told all the time by the Steemit Lords and Masters, 'produce great content'. Thats tripe. What you need to do, as you have just outlined, is make friends and agree with whatever people produce and you will get autovoted and brought into the special club!
Its funny how opposing points of view seems to be counted as whinging, yet everyone bleating about bid bots are high rep, big earners who scored most of their high SP when prices were low and members were low and all these circle jerking autovoting rings were created.
Steemit is full of whinging and wailing posts right now thus exacberating the problems, and most of these are from old members who have probably not read a new member in donkeys...
Biggestvtip to any new user, for gods sake dont disagree with any big guns

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Your balance is below $0.3. Your account is running low and should be replenished. You have roughly 10 more @dustsweeper votes. Check out the Dustsweeper FAQ here: https://steemit.com/dustsweeper/@dustsweeper/dustsweeper-faq

I chose early on not to use bid bots and haven't. For the most part I don't give a rip whether somebody does or doesn't.

The one thing that I see as really problematic is the artificially inflated reputation numbers. Those affect us all and it irritates me that you can buy your reputation.

Thanks for another great post. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into looking out for the rest of us,

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You're very welcome, glad it's useful :)

@dragosroua My team is building a Platform on Steem and bidbots are completely opposite to all things good that we talk about Steem.

Given the Influence bidbots have on the Reward pool by polarising more and more delegation, do you think it will the biggest roadblock in establishing Steem as the Social Network of the future because when you can buy votes a geneic user doesn't stand a chance to compete for the reward pool except in very rare cases.

As a Witness do you think this needs to be taken care on the Blockchain level?

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Like I said, there are pros and cons. The fact that you can bid for user attention is part of the Steemit core mission, if I'm not mistaken. The fact that bid bots are not doing a great job at fulfilling this mission is also true.

Organic evolution will settle this, in my opinion.

I don't see how this can be enforced at the blockchain level, it's not something that witnesses can control in any way.

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I agree with you partly, how I see is that "only" organic evolution has the ability to settle this up but that's an intuitive thought which even I share but there is no data or analysis backing that up.

Bidding for attention is not bad, but there is a massive difference between bidding for attention and bidding for money. The former ensures you get more eyeballs on what you want to promote, that's what fundamentally advertising means and Steemit has made a promote section for that but using bid bots is like trading, I guess upvote trading is what people call it. People don't care about the content, Plople don't care about if others read it, all you care about is the ROI, that is not what this platform is for. I agree some content goes in the trending section but that is rare.

The alarming things is the volume of delegation it polarizes, we are building a platform for Artists and creators. Working on in for 6 months and have recently launched the Alpha but it is difficult for us to get delegation and support genuine users because it's almost impossible for us to offer the ROI the bid bots offer. Any thoughts on this?

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Working on in for 6 months and have recently launched the Alpha but it is difficult for us to get delegation and support genuine users

In my experience, building a community takes between 2 and 5 years. This time span increases each year, because the field is getting more and more crowded. Community building is painstakingly difficult and slow. Look at Steemit, it took two and a half years to have more than 100,000 users interacting constantly (I know the official number of accounts is over 1 mil, but I think only the active users are really relevant).

Looks like you got yourself into a long term project.

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Yeah that's absolutely true, It is definitely a long-term thing and in end being able to build a community must be worth the pain 😅 Thanks for the reply :) If you have any time do check out www.1Ramp.io, we ahve released the Android App would love to get your feedback.

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Just had a quick look, seems interesting. Good luck with it!

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I think it can, in a way. Create a witness approved list of bots that are blacklisted from contributing to user-rep in any way. Without the rep boost, there shouldn't that much fear that bidbot users will come back to retaliate when regular users flag their posts because of disagreement with the projected payout. Maybe add self-upvotes and related-account (proxy/recovery links) votes to the equation of don't count toward reputation votes.

Then do one huge blockchain level rollback of raw rep points that shouldn't have been counted so all those poor content bidbot using accounts drop back to the thirty something rep they would have had without the bots.

That is: fix the reputation part in the blockchain and the community might grow the balls to self-regulate more. Might take some time for people to grow their balls, but with some backing blog posts from a few top witnesses, after such a blochchain HF action, I think the current inflated rep caused flag-phobia could be put in remission.

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Create a witness approved list of bots that are blacklisted from contributing to user-rep in any way.

This is a consensus rule, so it must be enforced by a hardfork. Which means we would have to do a hardfork every time we add somebody on that list. Not feasible.

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Couldn't you just have witnesses (and/or the account owner) cryptographically consent to additions to the list after the use of the list is added in a single HF?

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Consensus doesn't work like this. It's a more complex question that atomically accept / reject changes. Also, involving witnesses in this thing could lead to competition - some of them may consider some bot legits, other not. It's opening Pandora's box.

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No, you would definetely need consensus on the idea that bot votes shouldn't count towards reputation and that account holders should at least be able to do some kind of irreversable discretionary drop humanness operation, and that self votes and related (proxy/recovery link) accounts shouldn't count to rep either. The pandora's box part I think, would be limited to agreement that an account that didn't discretionarily drop its humanness should be on the list nevertheless. I could imagine that if someone were to make a hybrid bid-bot that in fact includes some form of owner curation (Ok, if the #1 bid is crap and the #2 bid is not, I'll upvote #2 instead), there might be some strive.

Awh, I see, so you are part of them raping the reward pool 🙄😐😑😶😏😒, you should be arrested by the steem police 😁😁 😁.

I've used a bid bot now, it's more than three month, and I've only tried it with minnowbooster.
Am not a fan of it though, I see it as the rich becoming richer at the expense of the poor or the gullible. couple with the fact that the Upvote value will reduce as steem dips doesn't make me see them as something good.

Team Organic vote.

At the rate of current development I don't think it will take long to evolve from bid bots

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How? The problem is that it is impossible to regulate them. You cannot distinguish them from normal accounts.

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I said evolve from them, that means they will become obsolete; this is not facebook where you ban accounts. @steem-ua gives a hint of the new things in development for this ecosystem. I'm not a developer I just notice trends, and the trend is to find better ways of rewarding meaningful interaction. How? you'll have to wait and see.

so this is ok with the makers of steemit? and is guaranteed ?

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so this is ok with the makers of steemit?

I don't know what you mean by that :)

and is guaranteed ?

nothing is guaranteed. Not only in Steemit, but in life, generally speaking.

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and steemit is not steem and there is no one in charge of a blockchain, per se.

I still puzzle over how people get here and don't look into what they have signed up for. Like, money is involved. Do some research maybe about what you are getting involved in?

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From what I read there is a crypto currency involved that is convertible to money? right or wrong? If you feel someone is wrong you can explain not just barrage them with insults because you are aware of something they are not.

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I'm asking are the bots something that is ok to use for the average user not anything that is from a third party that might get a steemit account closed?
I know nothing is guaranteed but you pay a certain amount and your money gets used correctly is what I'm trying to say (they are going to generate attention or steem) prob I've misunderstood parts.

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Steemit closing your account would be like Satoshi closing your Bitcoin wallet. It can't be done because steem is a decentralized blockchain and your account is a crypto wallet on that blockchain.

Posted using Partiko Android

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ok thanks I'm still trying to get my head around the decentralised concept.

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Well, kind of. If you opened your account through steemit, from what I understand,they can "recover" your private key. I am not totally sure, but I'm guessing this meansyou gave them authority to change your private key. So yes, they could close your account, if this is true... I Would appreciate some clarification, actually..

Buna dimineata @dragosroua

M-am gandit sa scriu aici referitor la acest aspect cu bidbotzi' ... M-am intrebat de multe ori cum e posibil ca un blog fara substanta sa aibe $$$ si referitor la arta/muzica sa nu existe curatori care sa aprecieze un blog la adevarata lui valoare mai ales pe principiul calitatii versus cantitate. Am intrebat la un moment dat un curator care avea o serie de nominalizari si premii imense date pentru niste blog-uri care dupa parerea mea erau sub semnul "?" iar raspunsul a venit foarte promt si simplu ... "noi alegem dintre cei care se afla printre primii in feed" ... acest fapt duce la mentinerea unui obicei senil, imprumutat din "alte platforme feisbuciumate" in care conteaza suprafata falsa, cat mai multe like-uri etc. Am scris la un moment dat ca sper sa nu migreze lume de prin partile acelea cu niste obiceiuri senile ... si uite ca se cam intampla ... iar robotzei'sunt destui si ajuta la raspandirea acestui fenomen fara a quantifica relatia cantitate versus calitate. Ma bucur sa vad blog-uri interesante din partea acestei pagini. Mai scriu, precum am scris si zilele trecute la celelalte ... in functie de cum se poate. Numai bine

https://choon.co/artists/luciannagy/