Voting-bots are not (inherently) bad

in steemit •  8 months ago

I know, this is quite an unpopular opinion among the more serious content creators on this platform.
I’m speaking of those people, who put a lot of time and effort into their articles to entertain, educate or make their readers laugh. This is, simply put, the same thing I’m trying to achieve with my posts as well. But in a certain way I’m a bit different:
I have no problem with buying votes, quite the contrary:
I encourage those who create high quality content to use voting-bots.

devil-29973_1280.png
Source

There. I said it.
I’ve read articles from respected members of the Steemit community like @trumpan (this one), @tarazkp (this) or @krnel (there) – all stating their dislike of using bots to buy votes. And I admire their ideals, I really do. But I’m a grumpy realist and that’s why I think, they are wrong in not using them.
But let me explain to you, how I came to this conclusion.

When I started using Steemit, I thought of itself as a nice possibility to get some reward for your content and I believed, with hard and consistent work, everybody can build himself a decent audience, which enjoys the contents and rewards you accordingly.
But then I realized something and @yallapapi put it quite nicely here:

It is not a get rich quick scheme. It is not a get rich slow scheme. It is not a get rich at all scheme.


Change your expectations

You will not get rich in using this platform. You can be lucky, if you can get at least something out of it.
Everybody who believes otherwise should think again. For me, that’s alright, I never intended to get rich using this platform, but I like to write, so that’s what I do.
I’ve seen many people complaining about the trending pages filled with useless shit-posts, the ongoing flag wars between well-known members of the community and that quality content is not getting recognized.

Sure, there are projects like @steemstem and @curie, which are doing their best to reward content creators for their effort (my scientific articles usually get a decent reward from them, which is much appreciated), but naturally they can’t push well written content towards the trending pages, because meanwhile it’s way too expensive.
These projects are needed to reward authors for producing quality content, but they are far from enough. The authors need to act.


Another kind of evil

It's an idealistic approach that just because you create good content, readers will magically stumble across your blog. Steemit’s user numbers are increasing, everybody wants their share of the pie and without proper exposure, no one will notice you. You can think, that will change and that some users made it to the top in the past as well, and yes, you are right, but is was also easier for them, because there weren’t so many people around and the paid posts were not as dominant as they are today.

Even the curation teams of @steemstem and @curie, as much as I appreciate their work, can't fight the paid posts. We can be lucky if a SteemSTEM-Distilled makes it to the trending page, but other high-quality science posts are rarely seen there.

Personally, I do think, that's bad. In addition to the support I received from the SteemSTEM community I also used paid upvotes to get more exposure - because I do think, my content is worth it to get more attention (you're free to disagree, of course). With more available SBD, I will continue to promote my own posts and I encourage other bloggers, who are creating amazing content every day, to do so as well. Sometimes, to fight evil you need a different kind of evil.
I think, we need another way of dealing with this:

Fight useless, paid shit-posts with useful, paid content.



When I joined Steemit, SteemSTEM was the project which made me realize, there are indeed hundreds of people working to promote reason and science - but this was mainly, because a SteemSTEM-Distilled was featured on the trending page and I wanted to know more about it. It had exposure, thus attention. We're living in an attention-economy and we should use the available tools to promote a worthy cause.
Attention is an incredibly valuable resource these days and many people think quite simple:
What's popular is good, thus I like.
I'm not a supporter of this idea, but that’s the way, most human brains work. If you want people to read good stuff, you need to expose them to it.

The main problem right now is, that the ones producing quality content are often not willing to pay for votes. Probably because they think it's unethical or whatever. They are as quality driven as they are decent.
Personally, I think it's necessary to pay for votes, because that's the way this platform works now. Sometimes you can't have the "good vs. evil fight" but need to have a different kind of evil to fight another one.
I think, it would be not so hard to dominate the trending pages with quality content, if the responsible people would pay for it (they get it back anyway, so why not?) - and it would be so much more attractive for new users. Imagine a new guy comes to the platform and sees well-written posts about technology, science, art, etc. - instead of useless shit-posts. This can make a serious impression.
Sadly, right now most of the people I know, who produce quality content are not willing to use bots. They think it's bad for the platform in general, while I think we just have to adapt ourselves accordingly.
The bots will not go away, they are here to stay. People will use them, to promote mainly themselves and quality work will fall into oblivion.
I don’t judge people for using a system, they are free to do so and I’m not complaining about it. Instead, I do want to promote reason, science, fun, art, etc. – and I will gladly pay for it.

I think of it as paid advertising – only that it’s cheaper, because I get back most of the money anyway. There are so many people on this platform creating amazing content every day. Content, which is worth to be seen. But if we want this platform to succeed, to attract new users, I think the best way to do it, is to promote quality content. Dominate the trending pages with articles, which are worth reading.


The world will not change, just because you want it to

I can understand the reluctance of using vote bots, I really do. It feels dishonest, like cheating and most of the people who produce quality content are decent human beings as well. But in a free market society, the ones with the most attention usually get the most out of it. This might not be fair, but I don’t see a way of changing this. It’s naïve to think, people will just stop using the services of bots and everything will be alright. They will not stop. Many people are greedy, attention-craving beings – and that’s alright. I have come to terms with it, so I’m trying to find my own way of producing content worth reading and deliver it to the masses.
Sure, I could create meaningless shit-posts as well, but I still have some dignity left.


Feel always free to discuss my ideas and share your own thoughts about the things I’m writing about. Nobody is omniscient and if we all walk away a bit smarter than before, we’ll have achieved a lot.
Thanks for reading and stay smart.
Ego


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Your Weight is not Your Destiny


Random Thoughts


Psychology of Morality


Debunk-Tuesday


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Let me ask you, are you familiar with the concept of curation rewards? It is something that can be earned by those who take the time to spot popular content early on. Since you pulled your boost just one minute after posting, you completely wiped away virtually any curation reward that can be gained from voting your post. You are of course free to simply not care about that, yet from my perspective as a curator, it means that is pointless to keep following you.

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Shaka is a whale I had in mind when I posted this a few days ago:

"You also harm those few generous whales that actually take the time to read your content and throw their fat upvote. You lessen their position on the platform and you give them all the reasons to stop being the good guys and turn to the dark side. The temptation to get 80 % of their vote back instead of 20% is really strong, don't you agree?" from:
https://steemit.com/steem/@trumpman/if-you-use-upvote-services-please-read-these-two-posts

All I have to say is thank you Shaka for all the upvotes you have been generously giving. Hopefully you won't get tired of all this shit and keep doing what you do. If you however start posting stolen memes 10 times a day and self upvote I wont blame you.

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Let me ask you, are you familiar with the concept of curation rewards? It is something that can be earned by those who take the time to spot popular content early on. Since you pulled your boost just one minute after posting, you completely wiped away virtually any curation reward that can be gained from voting your post.

I am aware of this. And I know, it was not the nicest thing to do. Normally I wait the 30 minutes, before I buy a push. This was one of two exceptions so far, because I invested a bit more than I usually do and didn't want to lose so much in the end.
You are, of course, right that this strips the curation rewards and there is nothing that I can do, to present it in a nicer way.

The thing is: as someone who has not much SP, I cannot rely on curators. Sure, I always appreciate it, if I get decent upvotes, but this is not always going to happen. Using bots enables smaller accounts to get more exposure, using them within a short timeframe is unfair, but ensures they will not lose much while doing it.
I must admit: currently I am not so sure, how I will use them in the future.

I will continue not to use bots, because I think the little more visibility does not really change anything. No amount of SBD that I could reasonably pay would send me to overall trending, and I had trending posts in science and health tags without bots not so long ago - that is entirely possible without bots, even for quite fresh users - in part thanks to steemstem/curie.

And this way, I do not support this crazy system, but I rather push for a change wherever possible (for what that's worth).

You are of course entitled to your own opinion on this. But please, start waiting a little more than just 30 min to kick in the bot. Your curators are humans too. Give us time to react to content.

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I will continue not to use bots,

That's alright. I don't judge anybody, whether he uses those services or not. It's your decision, after all.

because I think the little more visibility does not really change anything.

But I do disagree in this case. I can see the impact of paid upvotes. It pushes every important aspect of your blog: visibility, followers and interaction.
@spiritualmax put it quite nicely in this article.

and I had trending posts in science and health tags without bots not so long ago - that is entirely possible without bots, even for quite fresh users - in part thanks to steemstem/curie.

I had this luxury too. But not only in part, but solely thanks to the appreciation of steemstem/curie. But this is a luxury. I am always happy about it, but I can't rely on this. With paid votes, I don't have to hope so much for the generosity of the community support.

And this way, I do not support this crazy system, but I rather push for a change wherever possible (for what that's worth).

Sure, I absolutely agree. I would like to live in an ideal world where amazing content gets the attention it deserves, too. But that's not the case and it may never be.

You are of course entitled to your own opinion on this. But please, start waiting a little more than just 30 min to kick in the bot. Your curators are humans too. Give us time to react to content.

This whole discussion made me think a lot. Most likely, I will either refrain from using bots for steemstem stuff (at least the posts, which are probably going to be rewarded) or wait until after the vote, so you guys can still get the whole curation reward out of it. I think, that's a reasonable way of dealing with this issue.

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I think the money spent on bots would be better spent on competitions as those attract a lot of likes, resteemes and follows.

I don't consider using bots cheating. I consider it stupid if you are here for the long-term. You obviously didn't read my post thoroughly.

Feel free to continue using them and keep making the leeches richer while you shoot yourself to the head. I don't mind.

Edit: Flagged, for disagreement on rewards.

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I read it. And I told you, why I disagree with you.

In my opinion, if we continue supporting these services we just ask for more abusers and less legit content creators to join Steemit.

This is, what I deem naive. People will use those bots and the useless posts will continue to make it to the top. You will not change this. I prefer to "fight" it from the inside, instead to just complain about it ;)

Trust me, I really appreciate your idealism, but I don't think it's going to change anything - because of the reasons I stated.

Edit: Sigh. I hoped this could have been avoided, but ok. I don't think we should fight each other, just because we disagree on this topic. You are free to think otherwise and to refrain from using bots, I just think, that the world and this topic is not only black or white.

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And something final. The only reason you are getting the fat Steemstem (edit: and curie, and ocd, and whales that curate independently)votes you are geting is because there are some people (myself NOT included) that believe in that true"idealism" you were talking about and have sacrificed so much (time, earnings, you name it) to build and sustain this community. I guess they are idiots.

Edit: Self-upvoted cause I believe it's the most important message for somebody to take away. The rest is just flaming.

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I don't get it, why you have to be so aggressive about this topic. You don't like the bots, I get it, that's alright, you don't have to, but why this extreme hostility?
The thing is: I can't (and will not) rely on the Steemstem votes. Sure, I am happy everytime I get some, but I am using other ways to get more exposure as well. For me, it's always some kind of investment. It's not unlikely, that I'll lose some SBD in the end, but that's ok, if I can attract more people to interact with the content I create and learn something new.

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WHERE DO YOU SEE THE FUCKING HOSTILITY? Stop being such a special snowflake, I have a different opinion, I am not hostile or aggresive. Telling you that from now on I will be flagging all your posts regardless of reason, yes that's hostile. Telling you that you are stupid for buying votes is not called hostility. It's called an opinion.

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Jeez. Chill. I just don't think, that insulting other people is going to achieve anything, but what do I know?
I guess, we agree to disagree.

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STOP BEING SO AGGRESSIVE AND HOSTILE TO ME AND I MIGHT CHILL.

You see ? I can play that game too

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Well, at least you made me smile :)

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I am not fighting. I saw this getting at 50 $ on the first 5 minutes. This, with the current sbd price translates to a payout of at least 150 $ worth. I don't think it's worth that much, anyway I see it.

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And the trending page is proof you are wrong.

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Ok. I understand your argument and the flag. I don't think it's worth that much either, for me it's more a visibility investment, but alright.

And am I?
Sure, some posts are legit and rightfully there, but even some of the good ones were pushed with bots. Just check the upvotes. I just don't think, that being hostile to people who want to push their content is going to create anything good in the end.

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where did you see the hostility? I am just telling you that I think buying votes is stupid. Find one sentence of me, anywhere that can be considered "hostile"

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Branding people as stupid for pushing their content seems quite hostile to me, but ok. Maybe I'm just a bit sensible there.

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I didn't tell anybody that is stupid. I said it's a stupid thing. I even said in the comments of that post, that I totally understand why noobs do it, and I myself also used to do that.

But yeah, you are stupid. Again, NO AGGRESSION, NO HOSTILITY. Just an opinion

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I am really happy to hear this from a high reputation steemer. Cuz of this bot system i always think noone will see my post even if that is very high quality content and i spent hours on it.

I guess we all have an agenda or ways to play the game. As long as we don't steal from someone or belittle someone then we are good .

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I agree. I don't think, there is THE right way to handle things. I just think, condemning other people to use the tools a system provides, is not going to achieve anything.

this is the FreeBSD evil pet...this is AWESOME!! nice top meet you.

Great post! Thanks for sharing. Upvoted :)

This is the classical, blame the user for a shitty platform case. What you are essentially doing is saying that people who write worthwhile posts shouldn't complain, but correct the fault of the programmers.

It is like blaming the guy who accidentally sent the wrong nuclear bomb message in Hawaii, instead of seeing that the user interface was the worst anyone has ever seen.

But in a way I get that you want to believe it is ok to encourage this behavior, because almost everyone has the choice to participate. Only the poorest of the poor don't. Like in life, so on steemit. Why do we even bother with this platform, because life is how it is. Someone always takes the rewards.

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This is the classical, blame the user for a shitty platform case. What you are essentially doing is saying that people who write worthwhile posts shouldn't complain, but correct the fault of the programmers.

I don't think, that there is a fault of programming after all. I just think, that it is ok to push your own content, especially when you put a lot of effort into it to attract new readers.

But in a way I get that you want to believe it is ok to encourage this behavior, because almost everyone has the choice to participate. Only the poorest of the poor don't.

The thing is: I don't believe, that the bots will go away. There is too much money involved. And yeah, I know it's not fair for the people who cannot afford it, but that's the way it is right now. I think, there a many amazing content creators on this platform, who should get more attention - and they will most likely get it using the available tools.

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Yeah, they probably won't go away if nothing is done. But when everyone starts using the bots nothing matters anymore. The owners of the bots get rich if they know to exit before the price comes crashing down. I used to use bots, because I was thinking somewhat along the lines of what you are thinking, but what is the point of a platform like steemit, if the money goes not to the people, but the people in charge of the bots.

I see it as delaying the inevitable collapse of steem if I don't participate in the behavior. Giving those in charge time to fix it. And what does it matter in the end if they never fix it. I'm not taking out any money at this point so I won't be benefiting anyway then.

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but what is the point of a platform like steemit, if the money goes not to the people, but the people in charge of the bots

Frankly, I am ok with other people getting rich. I don't envy them. They had an idea, implemented it and are now profiting. That's alright in my world.
Sure, I like rewards for my posts, we all do, but if you are only here because of them, then it's probably the wrong motivation anyway.

I see it as delaying the inevitable collapse of steem if I don't participate in the
behavior.

You might be right about this one. I don't know, what steemit will become, future will tell :)

It's a good Post! Because it is creating a debate of what every member of the Steemit community thinks, I am new and I think that if we do not learn to use Robts and other skills so that our posts are successful, it is like wasting time in a gigantic world. @egotheist
I have been in Steemit for two weeks and I have felt somewhat frustrated.

I completely agree, not the users of upvote bots are a problem. On the contrary the operators are actually hurting steem. Plese find my recent post on this in more detail post

I used to use bots and after running the numbers and such... well. In total (because I wrote a post about it) around 200-300 of my steempower has come from bot services that I paid my vote to. I have around 1600 SP (Thank you steemstem! and curie) and you know what, life is easier without using voting bots.

I completely understand the idea presented of "I am the little guy and nobody will ever see my post if I don't buy the votes" but you will eventually come to a realization that many others come to. I kind of have to admit that @trumpman kicked my ass on this subject and made me realize it. Anyways the only person whom wins when it comes to a bot is the person whom controls the bot, and in some cases the delegators.

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Anyways the only person whom wins when it comes to a bot is the person whom controls the bot, and in some cases the delegators.

The thing is, I don't envy them for it. They provide a service and customers pay for it, so they profit. I'm fine with that.

As I stated many times in the past: I'm extremely happy about the support I got from steemstem/curie so far, but I can't always rely on this and without support, posts will fade into oblivion, regardless how well written they are. You could have the next Steven King here - if there is no support, he will not be recognized and eventually leave.
The extreme antipathy towards bots is, imho, mainly explained by the fact, that people profit from it.
But don't you think that it's good, if people get more attention?

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The next Steven king won't publish his book here. This is a blogging platform in case you don't get it. And our antipathy is not because people profit. It's because bots fuck up the platform, go against one of the fundamental principles it's built on (curation rewards) and mess even more the already imbalanced balance of the ecosystem.

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If it's against a fundamental principle, don't you think, there would have been a way to prevent this? And if yes, why wasn't it done?

Edit: Ignore, for a moment, the whole money thing. In the first place, Steemit is a place where you can earn points by posting and engaging with content. Now people are using these points, to buy more attention and it's all happening inside a closed ecosystem. You don't lose anything except your time in doing so. The points are worth nothing outside of the system (it's not the case, but just imagine) - would you still be as angry about it and why?
It's merely a game people are playing, some win, others lose and some are in between - where's the damage?
Sure, there's is money involved right now, but there's still the possibility that cryptos are dying and then you'll only have your points inside a closed ecosystem. Most likely, most of the bots would vanish as well. And again you'll only have lost your time.
Steemit has some unique advantages in comparison to other platforms - money is, in my opinion, the least of those - because until you cash out, you can't buy anything with it.

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The funny thing is you tell me to ignore money while you are the one mentioning the monetary factor again and again and again. It's clear to me that your only goal here is to make money, maybe I am wrong though. I am also here for that but I have come to enjoy and love this place. Your arguments can be summarised to "I know it's wrong, other people do the same to a worse degree or do other bad things so I what I am doing is okeyish". The funny thing is you also said you might not buy votes for steemstem posts which also makes you a coward that is too afraid to defend his opinion. Are you afraid you might lose all that juicy steemstem votes that allow you in the first place to buy bot votes now that you know some of us don't like them? Hypocrite!

Overall, imo you do more bad here than good. So since I like this place I will do the same to what I do to people that I think are here to take more than they give. Totally ignore you from now on.

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I'm amazed of how you completely missed all of my points. But alright, I guess it's pointless to argue further.

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I missed your points into the particular comment I answered in purpose. Revealing your hypocrisy was more than enough.

Sorry, but I don't have the time to answer to logical phallacies, cheap excuses, hypothetical scenarios and of course all the twisting of the words you have done in this thread.

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people get less attention though. If I see a post has a bunch of bidbots on it, I am less likely to upvote it... Actually all high valued posts I tend to avoid reading and voting on altogether if I can help it because a majority of them I find are crap. Thats me, a minnow, that avoids those posts, you know who else avoids those posts? Whales, dolphins, pretty much everyone. The reason is because unless you see a lot of people reposting it, its likely not that good and yo know what, getting reposted by a whale like Bernie, Transisto, etc or dolphins like steemstem will do way way more for exposure than any bidbot could give you. As well, higher valued posts opens you up to scrutiny and that means flags, so unless your post is good, like really good then a bid bot has a potential to decrease your rep. The one argument that I can make for bidbots is the rep potential if you do have a really good post.

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Actually all high valued posts I tend to avoid reading and voting on altogether if I can help it because a majority of them I find are crap.

Exactly, because most of them are crap. But what, if they weren't anymore? Would you change accordingly?

The reason is because unless you see a lot of people reposting it, its likely not that good and yo know what, getting reposted by a whale like Bernie, Transisto, etc or dolphins like steemstem will do way way more for exposure than any bidbot could give you.

You are probably right about this. But yet again: You have to rely on the mercy of these dolphins/whales - if they ignore it, you will not achieve anything, no matter how good your post is. The bots enable you, to be more independent, don't you think?
But take a look at this post - it bought the position it finds itself in, but quite a few people are engaging regardless and the author gets way more followers because of it. This is some kind of exposure, money can buy - it's all about advertising your own content and to catch people's attention. You are don't have to rely on luck and that a big account gives you a decent upvote - thus, you are more independent.

As well, higher valued posts opens you up to scrutiny and that means flags, so unless your post is good, like really good then a bid bot has a potential to decrease your rep.

True. Personally, I think it's a childish behaviour to flag a post, as long as it's not spam/plagiarism. We don't have to like everything other people do. I think, it's alright to let people just be.
I really try to understand the harm in pushing useful, well written posts. Sure, the bot owners are getting richer, human curators don't earn that much anymore - but in comparison you may be able to reach way more people and provide some useful knowledge. Is this really such a bad thing?

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I think it's a childish behaviour to flag a post, as long as it's not spam/plagiarism.

So this is where I will redirect you to the steem white paper section of Subjective Contributions subsection of Voting on Distribution of Currency and then the subsection of that labeled Voting Abuse.

In here you will find the following:

Through the addition of negative-voting it is possible for many smaller stakeholders to nullify the voting power of collusive groups or defecting large stakeholders.

Bid bots would be counted in the defecting large stakeholders and as such is getting groups that are actively putting pressure on them. Eventually that straw is going break and the flag war going on against Haejin will be tiny and minuscule against the War Against the Machines.

Yes that is a terminator reference

Anyways references aside, I can name (off the top of my head) multiple groups and or large stakeholders which are actively pressuring bot owners, flagging bot curated content, and more. I mean the alternative is that manual curation groups cease from existing.

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Bid bots would be counted in the defecting large stakeholders and as such is getting groups that are actively putting pressure on them. Eventually that straw is going break and the flag war going on against Haejin will be tiny and minuscule against the War Against the Machines.

I liked that reference :D
Anyway. Currently I don't see a way of getting rid of the bots, because they have way too much power by now. It seems to be an idealistic approach to flag all bot-curated content to prevent this - because there is just too much of it.

I'm still interested about an answer, how small accounts get enough attention without bots or the mercy of whales. This is something, which seems to be the most important use case for bots.

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That is actually something really interesting that I want to point out. here is a post by Justtryme90, one of the steemstem creators, made 2 years ago that answers your question. That being said, I am not certain if bots were as rampant back then as they are now.

Anyway. Currently I don't see a way of getting rid of the bots, because they have way too much power by now.

People with good content stops buying bids and flags the bad content then the people making the bad content will stop buying votes as it won't be profitable anymore. When nobody buys votes, bots will nolonger be paying the people whom delegate to them. When this happens then people stop delegating and bots lose their power.

I mean sure they will still have power but since all the large bidbots have most of their power through delegations (which aren't cheap) so instead people will choose other paths. Curation trails might be big again or maybe they will have passed for the next tech.

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He wrote:

In the end it doesn't matter the topic, it just matters the quality and desire of the post.

I think, that's naive. Two years ago, it was easier as well. As I wrote in my article: we're living in an attention-economy and to attract attention you need exposure. Especially now, with so many new poeple around, you will need help to be visible - no matter how good your content is.

People with good content stops buying bids and flags the bad content then the people making the bad content will stop buying votes as it won't be profitable anymore. When nobody buys votes, bots will nolonger be paying the people whom delegate to them. When this happens then people stop delegating and bots lose their power.

This is idealism. Most likey, it is not going to happen - the advantages a bot can give, are way too big: more visibility, more follower, more engagement.
I see your point, sure it would be cool, if those weren't needed, but the current situation encourages this behaviour. Even with a few hundred people and some big accounts - you will not be able to change it. The sheer numbers are against you.


Btw: Thanks for a constructive discussion :)

Thoughtfully articulated,assuming that i am a whale on Steemit,I would have promoted this piece..lol😜😜😜.
You said it all,my opinion for joining steemit then from the orientation i got,was a get rich scheme.The truth be told,many people loose interest after few weeks on the community.
Enough of the whale superiority,flagging here and there,they can actually use that time to promote good contents,support originality and fight plagiarism.