How Managing Expectations Can Grow the STEEM Ecosystem

in #steemit2 years ago (edited)


Most of our frustration comes from uncommunicated or unmet expectations. This happens in relationships, families, and communities. It happens with the tools we use and the sites we enjoy.

We can avoid frustration by accurately knowing what actually is.

When I think about the STEEM ecosystem, I see quite a bit of confusion related to Steemit (the company) vs. (the website) vs. SMTs (Smart Media Tokens) and the vision to tokenize the web. When we don't have clarity on reality, it's difficult to align our expectations. When we do align our expectations, we can put our efforts towards shared vision and goals and make much more progress together as a community.

That doesn't mean we all have to agree or have perfect consensus on everything, it just means we should put in efforts to know what the various expectations are so we can better comprehend where our own motivations fit and whether or not we're helping or hurting.

Some of the things we want on (less spam, consistent rewards for quality content, equal opportunities for new and old Steemians, user growth, better site functionality, etc) might actually be in conflict with some other goals of the STEEM ecosystem at this point in time. How will we know? Well, we have to do our best to have an accurate understanding of what is, not just what we perceive to be.

As a witness, I'm working to explain technical things in non-technical ways, and I've been marinating on the SMT white paper and thinking about Ned's vision to tokenize the web. If we expect to be a Facebook or Reddit killer, and we're frustrated at not seeing marketing and other things at this time which would more obviously lead to that destination, it's possible our expectations are out of alignment with reality as it is today based on who is actually contributing most of the code (Steemit, the company).

Personally, I want to see become a household name where people go for community without trolls and an easy onramp to the cryptocurrency future. That said, I also want to ensure my desires are in alignment with reality as it is right now. Without that, what I could be advocating for at the top of my lungs might actually be holding back other more important initiatives at this stage in the STEEM ecosystem development. For more on that, see SteemFest²: Bridging the Gap Between Perception and Reality. If is currently just a reference implementation of a Smart Media Token and the larger vision is to tokenize the web, I have to consider that in my thinking.


Let's get a better understanding of what the core developers are doing with regards to the STEEM blockchain, SMTs, and (Condensor). With that, we can set accurate expectations on what should be prioritized regarding short-term and long-term goals. We should also be careful to not confuse the goals of with the goals of the STEEM / SMT ecosystem. By setting accurate expectations, we can move in the same direction as a community to grow the STEEM ecosystem in a prioritized way.

This post is an extension of some quick thoughts I shared on @aggroed's Steem Growth Forum today. Edit: You can now listen to the whole show here.

Note: I haven't touched on STEEM as a cryptocurrency investment token in this post which is another important topic that drives all the value here. I hope more of us can discuss that as investors.


Luke Stokes is a father, husband, business owner, programmer, STEEM witness, and voluntaryist who wants to help create a world we all want to live in. Visit

I'm a Witness! Please vote for @lukestokes.mhth


Here are two thoughts I’ve mulled over for some time that your article touches on...

  1. The expectation that Steemit should be advertising and marketing for aggressive growth is misplaced right now. The Velocity hardfork and a revamp of signup procedures aren’t in place to allow this yet. Even if just 1 Steem is required to own enough bandwidth to interact properly with the blockchain, then we cap out at 250 million user accounts (which sounds like a lot but isn’t globally!)... and that can even only occur if all existing users sell the vast majority of their stake to make it available to new users! I know a scalable rethink of this system is in the works now, and that needs finished before anything else can be expected.
  2. New user expectations need to be set. The simple logic I try to convey when people lament the earning struggles of minnows is this...
    Steem has a 10% inflation rate annually. (We’ll keep it simple for this example, it’s actually less, decreasing, and content and creator rewards are reduced by witness pay, etc). If an account signup starts with 20 free Steem (again, totally optimistic, but we’re keeping it simple and best case scenario!) then that same account having 22 Steem in 1 years time is right on target. Yep. Earning 2 Steem in 1 year is good. For every account that overperforms this metric, other accounts must underperform and earn even less.
    We need to be transparent on this. Steem and the Steem blockchain are wonderful tools to facilitate payment processing, advertising, crowdsourcing, and more. The expectation that solving Steem distribution inequality, vote buying, collusion, etc. will lead to an explosion in minnow rewards is false. (Although those things should still be addressed) If a minnow has 10 Steem and a year from now they have 11, that’s to be expected. We need other use cases and marketing beyond the angle of “Blog. Get Paid.” That’s an over promise & underdeliver that’s hurting us right now.

Great thoughts, thank you. In many ways, it will just take some time.

It's a pity that steem falling while other crypto rising (

Thanks for writing this up @lukestokes. I am one of those people who was probably too critical of the steemit team and wanting more transparency. It is good to see a journalist of some sort get in there and help out with the communication and understanding of whats going on behind the scenes. Would love to see more of this.

That's the main thing I hope to bring to my role as a witness. As best I can, I'll communicate things as I see them and hopefully that'll free up Steemit devs to keep doing the things they are doing instead of spending time explaining it to us all.

As you know, a number of people have recently been posting about the "meaning" of Steemit... what is this thing we're part of, anyway? You raise the important issue of how the component parts play together... which remains somewhat unclear to me.

My personal hopes (and I won't even call them "expectations") are somewhat similar to yours in the sense that I can visualize Steemit as a household name that's a viable alternative to Facebook, Reddit and all the other mainstream. I never quite saw this as a "category killer," just as a major player, perhaps somewhat niche driven in the "social blogging" arena... more of a Medium-meets-Facebook sort of thing, but more focused on alternative/independent creativity... from anarchy to art.

In their prime around 2004-05, social blogging venues like Xanga actually got up to about 30M bloggers... if Steemit reached 30M members-- with many being active-- I think that would be quite an accomplishment.

These days, my enthusiasm is slightly tempered not so much by the outbreaks of spam and the presence of botnets as by the subtext that perhaps Steemit really is more of a "sandbox" than the "star" of the show from which other initiatives are launched... and ultimately flow back to.

I'm not a tech so I have NO idea what it means to front end a social network on a blockchain, so I'm staying out of that. But as a long-time blogger and content creator I have my doubts Steemit will go very far if it's merely one of many side projects... it takes a lot of effort and time to build a social site, and if the primary users are uncertain of the venue's future... it just becomes that much harder.

I don't have any real answers here, but I am a little concerned about this possibility that Steemit (this site) will just end up floating eternally sideways without much effort to develop it further.

from anarchy to art.

I love that. :)

I share your same concern that if isn't given serious levels of attention, it will just go sideways. That said, as the current flagship for the STEEM blockchain, it could also gain attention and value from every SMT that launches in the future. I'm also trying to stay open to the idea that the core is the communication, not the interface. What if the future involves each of us running or own, customized blockchain interface with no need for at all? If the human connections are still there and expanding, that could work, right?

Having listened to the Steem Growth Forum this afternoon and reading more and more, I am increasingly feeling that is just the training ground for us to become familiar with the steem blockchain.

That used to worry me. But not anymore. I am now feeling more confident about the whole steem ecosystem.

The unknown for me is where will be the next stepping stone on my steem journey. There are so many interesting steem-based platforms popping up it is hard to know which direction to take.

I have ideas for a steem based system of my own but I don't have the technical capability to deliver on that yet, so I will keep learning, keep watching and keep exploring what comes along.

I think that's a great perspective to have. :)

We have a proverb here which goes like this, "If you are not carrying a heavy load, you are not going to fall and crush someone to death." The same could be said of expectation when you manage your expectation well you are not likely to be crushed by the outcome of events. The key to success on steemit or a happy life is the management of expectation. I like this article. Thanks.

Very well said. Managing expectations is so important! I like that visual metaphor. How strained are we by the things we're carrying around.

You are right on that, it strains till one gets to the boiling point of either implosion or explosion. But whoever it is, the outcome is usually nasty.

I was hoping you could elaborate on this point:

If is currently just a reference implementation of a Smart Media Token and the larger vision is to tokenize the web, I have to consider that in my thinking.

Is this to say, that might use a token called STEEMIT... might use a Smart Media Token: BUSY

From what I understood, tokens would be called things like ART or POLITICS (or maybe SMT-ART or SMT-POLITICS) based on categories or groups on the steem chain.

I'm still confused how this will be able to tokenize the web. You can tell I'm not up to speed... do you have something you could add?

I purposefully left that part vague as I'm still thinking through the practical results of SMT tokens. I don't think a STEEMIT SMT token will be introduced, but it's certainly possible. I think that depends on what Steemit, the company, wants to do. Any thing is possible. Anyone can issue an SMT token. You, me, anyone. The SMT Whitepaper gives various examples of how it could tokenize the web, the obvious one to me being a Disqus-style comment widget large websites could add to their communities to incentivize engagement and growth.

I'll be blogging more about SMTs as I continue to digest what it may mean for the STEEM ecosystem and the web in general.

...sounds good.

I purposefully left that part vague

Well you certainly can't say I don't read your posts thoroughly to focus on the vague part. Grin. I enjoy your posts.

Thanks for your support and encouragement. :)

Great points in this article. Steem is a new kind of platform and we're all still grasping the implications of it.

I think there's a weird divide between the power users - people who read white papers, study steem, and contribute smartly to the conversation - and the casual users, who just want to use steemit the same way they'd use reddit.

While everybody wants to have an opinion, only some people are doing the real work of learning and understanding before trying to sway the system. This is an uncomfortable truth. The best thing anybody can do if they want to improve steem, IMO, is to learn.

Very well said, and I completely agree. The more those who understand and are putting in the hard time and work to learn can help teach others, the more we can all benefit by having a shared perspective on what this thing is and where it's going.

Hey @lukestokes,

You're right, no one is going to know what to properly suggest, if we don't first understand the purposes of each aspect. Even now, I am still wrapping my head around SMTs. There are many different solutions that the comnunity wants to see, but some are unrealistic because placing a solution can create other issues to arise. (I'm thinking about delegation removal, and reward revisions)

A lot of the things users want "fixed" aren't so simple. Learning how the current system works will no doubt help us to fill the gaps in our own understandings, leading to more reasonable requests and suggestions.

Picture guides, picture guides.

<3 shello

Agreed. This is complicated technology with a lot of moving parts.

What are some examples of your favorite picture guides? I think that's a great idea.

Mhmm, each part has to function in a way that compliments the others.

The idea just popped in my head c: I was thinking about when we had a picture Japanese menu for customers at a restaurant I worked at, also on flights they have instructions. I don't have a favorite but those are memorable. I feel with a large international user base housing writers and creators of all levels, having something like this would make grasping concepts easier.

Not everyone clicks on videos, and sometimes visual learning helps people who read slower. Translations are necessary sometimes, but can be time consuming to produce, and may have errors when explaining technical or abstract concepts.

I totally agree. I'm somewhat of an audio/visual learner myself, so I think visuals would be great.

I was learning about multiple intelligences in school this week. I'm a music/audio learner. Now that would be some valuable content. Off to bed, have a great day!

Hi lukes, i'm new on steemit and I want to know more technical stuff about this website, like: Where the money come from?

What advice can you give about adding value to this website so I can grow in terms of steem power?

And I think it's true what you say, if the expectations are realistic the things that we do have more importance and impact on the community because we know wtf are we doing haha. Thanks for your post!

Hello @joedukeg. Last year I did a contest to help people understand where the money comes from. Here's my answer which may help you.

As to what you can do to add value, this post should help.

Thanks, mate. I'll check it out late.

It is so easy to get captivated by interactions on Steemit and drift into thinking it is the driver of Steem. The original whitepaper, though, made clear that it's the blockchain and Steem that are the focus of the developers. Your comment that " is just a reference implementation of a Smart Media Token" ties it all together for me.

All the social engagement on simply allowed confirmation of the high transaction capabilities. And it had enough people, bad actors included, to adapt to unanticipated problem behavior. And finally, it had enough people to generate unanticipated ideas, too, like the project.

I knew all this (except the SMTs) before joining Steemit, because I read the whitepaper. But it is so easy - too easy to want to succeed and focus on that -- especially as an average person writing content, curating, and connecting with other people. We get attached to the friends we make on Seeing friends drop off, to be replaced by bot and vote-buying messages is just depressing. So I do hope they both grow together. But I'm not always optimistic about the piece.

But it is so easy - too easy to want to succeed and focus on that

Very true. The only solution I can think of at the moment is just to continually reset expectations and communicate in a way to educate people about what's going on with the larger STEEM ecosystem. People are obviously free to expect whatever they want, but at least with enough repetition out there, they will hopefully eventually come to conclusions which fit what's going on now.

And you do a good job in educating people about the Steem ecosystem, with your posts like this one!

This is why I feel that you're a great fit to be a witness, talking about this post. Even if I didn't know you before Steemit, you would still have my full backing. In a time of miscommunication and mixed signals, witnesses should offer a sort of unbiased, logical voice of reason. I just wanted to tell you that you do great work, Luke.

With regard to who adjusts for who, compassion is indeed key. I can't help but feel like a guinea pig for this post ahahaha! Anyway, everyone needs to adjust a little, as it's a very turbulent time in terms of development. I think non-technical people would have a hard time figuring out the goals, but I'm giving them way less credit than they deserve. I'm sure most of them would, but for those who wouldn't be able to, I do think it's Steemit, Inc's responsibility to bridge the gap. How could they expect widespread adoption if their product isn't understood by laymen? Expectation should really be adjusted especially when a lot of new members are coming in expecting instant large amounts.

How could they expect widespread adoption if their product isn't understood by laymen?

What if they are not expecting that right now but we imposing that expectation on them at this point?

Thanks as always for your support, Jed. :)

Aha! Good point! Then they could at least clarify their expectations to allay assumptions haha!

Thanks for adding to the clarity of the debate going on at the moment.
(well, it clarified things a lot - for me, anyway)

In your opinion - IF you are here as a user, without any conscience of seeing it as a platform for growth, creatively speaking - just for the $ ( I am most definitely not in that camp, btw) - would you think it is a sound strategy for using upvote/delegation bots etc?

Personally, I think steemit would be better without any bots whatsoever, but keeping it in the realm of what IS and not HOW we would like to see it...

While there are all these bots - is it a sound strategy?
(you are the steemit genius, compared to the steemit dunce I am, when it comes to these issues, so would like your view on this matter.)

To be honest, I cant work out what the best strategy is...

If steemit is headed 'south', in terms of being a creative content platform
(of which I am - depressingly - seeing it becoming), does it not make pure economic sense to avail yourself of these bots,( if it maximizes earnings)?

You perspective would be greatly appreciated on this.

Great question. I do not recommend using vot bots (I've never used them myself). For a detailed explanation, see: Consider Buying Steem. Be an Owner, not a Renter.

Thanks - I have been guilty (guilt being the right word lol) of this previously - but it really does go against my personal view on what I want steemit to be...


I guess in a way I'm fortunate not to understand all of the technical aspects of the blockchain and Steemit's role. I just create the best content I can and hope for the best, confident that you guys "up there" know what you're doing.

Hoping for the best is one strategy, but I'd also love to see more people "up there" explaining things in easy-to-understand ways so everyone's perspective is valued and heard.

That's one of the things I like about your posts- even I can understand them. I try to read these "techie" posts and I can't get past the first paragraph. I'm 72 years old and know how to write.. to me a computer is a glorified (and very convenient) typewriter. I just got a new phone (LG X Power) and will probably die before I understand it.

Hahah... Well, I commend you for stretching well beyond what you're used to. Just imagine what crazy things I'll have to adapt to as my children get into virtual reality and augmented reality technologies which may be indistinguishable from physical reality?!? It's going to get weird.

I know, I'm still trying to reconcile myself to the idea of AI... I watched a video that says that it will constantly rewrite its own algorithms perfecting itself to the point where we'll become like Neanderthals (thankfully, it will be you guys and not me that have to deal with it). I fear for my grandchildren and great grandchildren's becoming obsolete in a world that we created.

Yep. I've written a bit about that myself and try to follow that space closely. My hope is we'll evolve ourselves right along with them and enter some kind of transhumanism state. Otherwise, we don't stand a chance.

I don't know if you've seen this or not, but it's the video I was talking about...

Good summary of the issues. I a good read on this topic is Nick Bostrom's Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies

Luke, what do you think of hiding flags? I've stopped flagging accounts (and posts) since the last batch I did...I got harassed by a couple of them.

My current struggle is cleaning up my feed....I guess it's going to be a struggle for awhile, as I wouldn't be able to mute that many accounts at once (and at the rate they are being created!)

What do you mean by hiding flags?

I would suggest not stopping the flags. If we don't stand up against bad behavior to protect this community (even if we get harassed), then we will all lose out. For more on that, see Flagging. Someone has to do it. If you think your downvote is justified, the downvote and leave a comment explaining why. I do that in the comments of my posts, and it works fairly well.

As for dealing with harassment, NVC can help.

Whoops! I mean hiding the 'flagger'.

Ah, that makes sense. The problem there is flagging abuse. Some people flag because they simply don't like the author, not because they have a rational reason for the flag. That type of abuse happens and leads to flag wars and causes some users to leave Steemit. If we don't have visibility on who is doing the flagging, then we can't as a community communicate our intentions and stand against those who are being abusive.

I think we are really unrealistic, skeptical and faithful about cryptocurrencies.

Personally, I think Steemit value should go up and Bitcoin value should drop so I could invest my Steem in Bitcoin.

I am faithful that Steem price will go up and Bitcoin will go down.
I am skeptical to invest in Steem and Bitcoin, I think if I invest in any currency it will go down.
And I think if I invest my Steem in Bitcoin the price of Bitcoin will go up and I can earn huge profit.

All of these is completely unrealistic. I should invest my time and energy in learning various aspects of cryptocurrencies. Later on I would be in better position to manage my money.

What do you say @lukestokes?

You're asking a lot of important questions here.

No one can definitively say what any cryptocurrency will do in the future. Bitcoin has a huge network effect that will continue to increase its future value (I think). STEEM has inflation and a number of whales and bloggers who regularly cash out, possibly more so than miners do in POW systems. Some see STEEM as a way to get paid for blogging which can keep the supply on the markets higher than the demand (more on that here).

As for as managing your money, my first recommendation would be to get out of debt as quickly as possible. From there, learn about cryptocurrency and make decisions based on your understanding. I personally hold STEEM as Steem Power because I enjoy influence on this platform, and I believe in the long-term value here. Yes, there are other investments I could be making with higher short-term gain potential, but I balance that with the joy I get being a part of this community as a Steem Power holder.

Hey Luke... please help me out here? Steemit’s structure as a company is what - a limited liability incorporated company (Ltd. or Inc.), a sole proprietorship or a limited partnership (LLP).

I found out they are registered in Delaware as a general corporation. File Number 5959538.

Thanks a ton Luke. When I got back from Steemfest2 you got my witness. And this reply tells me it was well spent. See you around!

That's an interesting question. I don't know. I searched for it here but couldn't find it. Maybe @andrarchy would know. No mention of the company structure here on the wikipedia entry.

Thanks a ton Luke. When I got back from Steemfest2 you got my witness. And this reply tells me it was well spent. See you around!

Congratulation sir

For what? If you're going to leave a comment, let's make it a valuable discussion, not just noise.

Gracias Sr @lukestokes lo felicito por su arduo trabajo como testigo, trasmitiendo una gama de información mas clara, he aprendido muchas cosas desde que entre a esta gran plataforma, y espero esforzarme más para dar mejores aportes como miembro. Saludos..

¡Cuando todos contribuimos, podemos lograr cosas increíbles!

Así es amigo, hay mucho que podemos hacer. Bendiciones...

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