Addressing the Reward Pool Abuse - Linear Rewards & Exponential Flags

in #steemit5 years ago

Since July last year, most users of the STEEM blockchain (that is you) have enjoyed a vastly greater vote weight than they would have been used to. This is the result of Hardfork 19, named 'Equality', which changed the shape of the rewards curve from n^2 to n. The effect is that your upvote value is now linearly proportional to your vote weight - one whale with 100,000 SP has the same vote weight as a combined 10,000 minnows with 10 SP each. Previously, that was not the case, with the whale in the hypothetical scenario posed vastly outweighing the minnows. I think this was a good change to the system.


Illustration of n vs n^2 weight. Axis values are illustrative only. Minnows exist on the left, whales on the right.

What the platform is now dealing with is a new problem altogether. We have witnessed a meteoric rise in the value of STEEM and SBD - and yes, it is meteoric, more than a lifetime of compound interest would have yielded in your bank. As a result, we are seeing increasing numbers of people trying to game the rewards system for short term gains through selfupvotes, vote buying, etc. This is folly, especially for the larger whales. They would be far better off nurturing the platform to increase the value of their principle holdings.

The divide between whales who support short term gains through various methods, and those who do not, has resulted in flag wars that frequently fill the Trending page. Yet, assuming two whales have equal weight, it takes a whale protecting the platform their full vote power to cancel out a whale trying to bleed the platform dry. In other words, if one user with 100,000 SP only upvotes themselves to make quick bank, another whale with 100,000 SP needs to use all their voting power to cancel out this abuse.

I would like to see a change made to the flagging power of users, returning flag power to an exponential n^2 curve while maintaining a linear rewards curve. This allows big whales to more effectively 'police' the platform that they are so heavily invested in, as one flag can cancel out a much larger upvote (or many smaller upvotes). This might encourage more whales to start flagging as well, as it takes less of their voting power to address any abuse they come across. Lets face it - most of us would much rather spend the majority of our voting power upvoting, rather than flagging.

Maybe an n^2 flag weight curve is not even the best solution, and a system could be suggested that factors in the total number of votes, pageviews, etc. While all of these are easily gamed individually, collectively they would take a lot of effort to circumvent, which would be immediately obvious to any observer.

What do you think about a non-linear flag curve, coupled with the current linear rewards curve?

Content Credit:

I run a Steem witness! Please vote for!



Some of this is "dutch" to me (LOL!) but I am learning a lot. I read this post twice and I think I grasped the idea of what is going on. Thanks.

If hate to see this place get abused for personal gain. I can see why going back may prevent whales fighting each other and using all their weight. Is going back the best method or is there another one to explore. Let people buy upvotes is the worst thing. Most new posters do not realize they should not up vote their posts.

I'm not suggesting going back entirely - just returning the flag curve to n^2. The upvote curve is great as a linear n as it gives more weight to the upvotes of almost all users (all users bar the heaviest).

This allows for effective negating of the upvotes used to abuse the rewards system.

hello @dutch

I came across this in the new tab. Thank you for sharing this with us. After reading things have become a lot more clearer to me at least. I'm still pretty new here. I agree with your thoughts though on changing how flags work.

I wasn't aware of Hardfork 19. Glad this implementation happened. :)

If the whales have proven to be abusive and self-destructive to the value of the platform, then why give them even more power. I think that's all that needs to be said about this idea.

I have to agree, I saw a post in which this poor guy got around 150 votes and $120 or so in rewards... for it to be flagged by a random whale and the post went down to $0.

He literally had no idea why and put a lot of effort into his post... It's situations like that where it's apparent that giving too much power to a minority ends up going against what we are trying to do with blockchain technologies... Decentralization.

This most commonly happens to 'random' people (those not involved in the heated debate) if they buy upvotes for their posts. Some very heavy whale accounts flag posts that buy upvotes under specific circumstances, such as @grumpycat who flags people buying upvotes on posts older than 3.5 days.

I think this in itself is good, as the only reason to buy upvotes that late is to secretly generate more income from your post. This is to the detriment of all other authors.

Ah I see, I didn't look into too much detail on the specific case, I just read the post about him explaining the situation that's all.

Not trying to shoot myself in the foot here. But I've just put $0.5 SBD into minnowbooster on a post that's 4 days old. I did so because I read somewhere that that's how you should do it. Soooo, I'm now at risk of being flagged?

Like, I appreciate if it's a bad thing to do then I won't do it in future, but I would imagine there's a high possibility that people will get flagged when they've unknowingly done it. I personally had no idea I was doing anything "wrong" by doing so and flagging someone like myself would be very discouraging for someone just starting out.

I see you've been on Steemit for far longer than I have, so an explanation of things like minnowbooster and why they're useful, when to use them and the etiquette around them etc. would be of great benefit to me.

Thanks :)

The etiquette on Steemit is very much defined, and enforced, by the users with the largest investments in the platform. They have the most to lose if Steemit fails, and the most to gain if it does well. Only very recently, the account @grumpycat started to flag posts older than 3.5 days that bought upvotes after this time.

But I've just put $0.5 SBD into minnowbooster on a post that's 4 days old.

I would not worry. The upvote buying that is being countered is on the order of hundreds of SBD, and flags are only used to return huge paid upvotes to zero. You should not even crop up on the radar.

The best time to buy upvotes is soon after posting. This way, the extra vote weight helps your post get onto the Hot and Trending feeds which gives you exposure. After a post is several days old, even a massive upvote is unlikely to return it to those feeds.

Ah I see, thanks for the clarification and reassurance. I suppose when you look at it that way, I can see why "whales" would want to make sure everything is running steadily and efficiently without corruption.

Oh and thank you for the large up vote too!

By the way, I'm curious, do you enjoy your Biomedical Programming job? It sounds very interesting, I studied Biomedical Science myself and did a year in Computing afterwards so it fits my educational background quite well.

How about 1 person, 1 vote, no self-voting, and steam power acting as a multiplier of votes received? To me, content that gets 100 votes, is much better than the typical crypto-currently article that has 3 votes and shows earnings of > $100.

The system is fundamentally broken, but it does mimick Washington perfectly. Money buys and influences while the general public is ignored .

Your right about that it took me a few weeks to work it out what goes on here, always on this planet the more money you have the more power and the public ignored.

The votes of minnows have no power against whales, so @steemcleaners is the biggest in SP, who is tasked to downvote anyone who is reported for any sort of abuse.

I feel like the whales only wanted to enjoy nice ROI with their money and now they are charged to police/protect the system. I don't expect them to be that pro-active and as such think we are wrong to wait for them to act. So maybe we can switch to some model where the witnesses, who by default monitor much more what is happening to be the gatekeepers.

Love that idea....but I can see a scenario where the dolphins would fight over who are the true gatekeepers.
As as a brand new speck in the sea I find this fascinating. It's like a web version of "Lord of the Flies".
I DO like an idea of limited votes per day and maybe increasing as you level up, no self votes, no bots and votes being equally distributed as far as payout. Isn't it how it was intended? But what do I know? :)

It is a continuous trial and error process and it is not clear what is the best approach. Some things are way better than when I started, so who know, maybe everyone will be happy here.

you are right. so much flag wars ongoing and reward pools. For me, those who earn a lot should restrict their posting to once daily. some folks are so greedy to post almost 10x daily racking in thousands with useless posts! that is not fair when it can be compressed into a post. I hope the next hardfork addresses this. more so, i think bot are of value as it helps minnows gain traction on their posts but i wonder if its still gonna last longer because of abuses. thanks for sharing this

Maybe an n^2 flag weight curve is not even the best solution

Something that comes immediately to mind is that this can also be abused. Maybe an n^2 flag weight curve abuse could be mitigated by an SP^2 cost in doing so. I don't think it's a good solution, but something along the lines that prevents abuse.

a system could be suggested that factors in the total number of votes, pageviews, etc.

I think this is probably the way to go. There's probably some allocation of upvoting and flagging based on SP that balances the power between smaller users and larger ones.

Its a very good post and something that needs to be talked about and an acceptable solution found well done for pointing it out.

Why not just a way to flag spam posts with a valid explainable reason that is sent to Steamcleaners then they can deal with it. Giving whales even more power is not the way to go. It seems like a fair system, but I am sure not all whales really give a rats arse about all us minows struggling to get by. There are some whales who probably love the power they can inflict on others with a massive downvote its just human nature, a bit of instant selfgratification is much more attractive than thinking about the long term benefits of having a great community and stronger platform.

Back in school we always asked why we need to learn about functions an analysis. This is an great example why.

The problem

On one hand minnows feel discouraged to use the platform if there votes are seemingly worthless.

On the other hand trustworthy whales can use their vote power to protect the platform against bad whales without sacrificing all of their own potential rewards. (See hajin and bernisanders, markymark etc.)


To find a solution I depend on the following statement being true.

Bigger whales are more interested in an healthy Steem platform.

It follows that for every bad whale there is an bigger good whale.

So what we want is that the voting worth rises with n^2 for big n and with n for smaller n.

This would separate even more between minnows and whales in terms of voting power, but it would solve the problems named above.

A Graph


The critical point should be a number after which the user is believed to be long-term invested in the Steem platform. My proposal would be 20 SP.

I know in some years time all countries flags will be the flag of steemit.. Thank God for steemit

Congratulations @dutch! You received a personal award!

Happy Birthday! - You are on the Steem blockchain for 2 years!

You can view your badges on your Steem Board and compare to others on the Steem Ranking

Vote for @Steemitboard as a witness to get one more award and increased upvotes!

Coin Marketplace

STEEM 0.19
TRX 0.06
JST 0.026
BTC 23099.20
ETH 1584.89
USDT 1.00
SBD 2.49