The Currency of Steemit Isn't Steem Power, STEEM, or SBD

in #steemit6 years ago


The Real Currency Here Is Relationship

I, like many here, joined Steemit full of curiosity and a healthy dose of skepticism. My first entry to the Steemit blockchain was a Facebook thought with 21 likes and 9 shares about Independance Day. I tried it out here and made a little over $1. Cool! I finished reading the Steem white paper and got a lot more excited. My second post was on non-violent communication and Dan gave me an upvote. $34? WHAT? That's awesome!

Next I was on to my introduceyourself post, and it did rather well (who can complain about $144?!?) but it also wasn't the huge money maker I saw elsewhere at the time. I kept posting with comparatively little success. I didn't quite get how all this works. I was asking questions in Slack and answering as many as I could as well. I kept posting and tried to highlight helpful stuff like using github gists for long draft posts, building product pages on Steemit, or a functioning banlist to help someone who was being abused here. I also worked on some PHP scripts for understanding the economics of Steem Power (which I incorrectly called "interest" but is actually share dillution). Things were starting to take off a bit. Some of my posts were being noticed, others not so much. I didn't really get what was working and what wasn't or why.

And then, it started to click.

It's All About Relationships

I've been constantly connecting with people in the Steemit Slack and on Steemit, replying to almost every comment, adding relevant comments to posts I like, and, in a very real sense, building relationships. I connected with other PHP developers, anarchists, technologists, and philosphers. I was promoting undervalued posts I'd find in the Slack postpromotion channel. One time I even promoted a post on crocheting just because they replied to a comment of mine, and their art was pretty cool (I know nothing about crochet). I want to see more diverse content on Steem, and aparently I'm not alone because that post eventually started trending.

As you can see from my posts activity, I've been really active commenting and adding value to other people's discussions as best I can (to the detriment of my sleep and business). This stuff is addictive, yo.


It's all about connecting with others and creating value through conversation. Just last night I was explaining Steemit at a Liberty on the Rocks meetup here in Nashville, TN. I followed my usual script. Start by explaining how money is a ledger and "blockchain" just means a decentralized, distributed ledger making it the best form of money ever invented. Then explain tokens of value and tell the story of a pizza which sold for 10,000 bitcoin that would now be worth well over $6 million. Position Steemit as the first killer app for blockchain technology mass adoption. After all that, I described the quality of the conversations here. An analogy that came to mind is how when you're playing poker with fake money, it's not a very good game of poker. When you're playing with real money, things get real. The same thing happens on Steemit. People put real time and effort into conversations and relationship building because they represent real actual value.

In a world of anonymous trolls, Steemit is about reputation.

The real currency of value on Steemit is relationship. I realized this even more as my wife @corinnestokes started posting and not seeing much in response. We were both confused. Why had it come so easy to me?

But It Hasn't Been Easy

I've been commenting, reading, curating, talking in Slack. I've been building relationships.

According to Steem Whales (thank you @heimindanger!), some of the names you recognize have been working HARD to not just publish great original posts, but also actively comment and connect with others. Example:



I've still got a ways to go on the post rewards list (currently at #324):


But as far as post count, I'm at #50 and actively building connections:


It's not about quantity, but quality, and I feel my quality is rapidly improving.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I was also highlighted in a post by @pfunk over a week ago. Maybe that's why people were finding my posts? @pfunk was thinking in terms of relationship, connection, and networking. I started to see more connections of people consistently voting up my more recent content. It clicked. I was working at building relationship and my wife, so far, was just trying to put out good content.

Side note, go ahead and comment on something of hers to say hello. She's kind of an introvert! :)

Ultimately, if you want to build something here, think in terms of relationship. Add value to those around you. Don't forget, this is a:



Be social. Connect. Comment. Promote others. Get involved with the real currency of Steemit.


Hi Luke, found your article really helpful and unlocking the heart of what steemit is about - i just wrote something in a similar vein "the true power of steemit, building community, empowering change - thought you might appreciate some aspects of it!
As I am new here any help you can give me to get on the ladder would be for ever appreciated, have a beautiful day ;-), Thanks, Will

This article has changed my orientation. Treat it like a social media and not a money making machine. Thank you @luckstokes

EXCELLENTLY done on this one. you've really hit the nail on the head.

saving this one in case I curate another list of recommendations for newbies, as the point you cover in here is such a fundamental one to the success of both members and the community as a whole.

I have a strong feeling you are going to create much value for this community... :-)

Wow, thank you @rok-sivante! I really appreciate that.

While the post is right on the money, in terms of what it takes (proper relations / networking), on an ideal level it's a step back from absolute meritocracy.

If, say, friends vote friends, then good content by people who have less friends => don't get the same. So, in a way, that's creating a "need" to "slurp" others, "connect", "get in the proper circles", etc etc.

True. I've struggled with my idealistic, hopeful perception of reality where everything is a meritocracy contrasted with what we actually see in a world run by cronyism, greed, and back-door deals.

I want to believe the world is one way, but often when I step back, I realize it's just another flavor of wanting the world to be the way I want it to be. Some would prefer it to be different where their people skills trump my programmer skills (as an example). I think the openness of blockchain gives us a glimpse of what's possible. Hopefully we can create a great example here of balancing both words of idealism and reality.

On a certain level there are "penalties" associated with the use of non-meritocratic ways. Whatever we do consciously, the subconscious is observing and processing it.

For example, if I steal, the subconscious sees that and concludes "If I'm stealing then I'm useless to create wealth on my own - otherwise I wouldn't be stealing". And this lodges a self-limiting suggestion on a subconscious level that then "blocks" my expanded potential and instead demotes me to a parasitic mentality.

Likewise, if I pride myself for my ancestors, the history of my nation, the success of a sports team which I am aligned with, what am I imprinting? That since I'm trying to pump self-value from something that I didn't do, then I'm not very able to give value to myself on my own = I'm useless.

In a similar manner, if I try to increase my success through networking, the subconscious will observe that and say "well... if I'm going down that route, this means that I can't make it on my own - otherwise, obviously, I wouldn't be doing it with others/through others".

Most of us have no clue on how this mechanism is working and thus our decisions are based on a simple game theory on which decision brings the best outcome at any given time. We balance the potential risks and rewards and make the choice that will bring the best combo. What's absent during our decision making progress is the hidden cost of our subconscious imprints. These kind of subconscious admissions (which are automatically generated based on our conscious thoughts and actions) are very powerful both in limiting and expanding our human potential.

If they aren't factored properly (and few people are even aware of their existence) one may be making what appears the best possible choice but in reality the hidden cost may involve some kind of self-crippling that goes entirely unnoticed.

Thank you for sharing this idea! The concept of subconscious imprints is new to me and it surprisingly makes a lot of sense. It is that mysterious missing brick of "irrational" behavior, which limits the applications of game theory.

Very interesting analysis. Have you also factored in our nature as a social/tribal species? I would argue there are also deeply rooted evolutionary / biological responses that are somewhat primitive and reward "going with the crowd." Networking could be seen as a personal limitation, as you described, but it could also be seen as something rewarded by our primitive nature as providing a safer outcome for the survival of our genes, given the strength and protection that comes from being part of a larger group.

But maybe I'm off on a tangent a bit. I like many of your points about the subconscious cost of our decisions and the cognitive dissonance they create. For me, it's as simple as trying to create the world we all want to live in.

Yes it is factored-in. There are penalties in doing so. But going with the crowd has another dimension as well.

At our core and heart, we all want to be loved because we understand that this is the natural state of being (=getting loved) and anything else is painful. The mind translates this want/need into "acceptance". So the social strategies go like "if I want love, I must be accepted... so my social strategies must revolve around getting acceptance" - and then strategies are devised to do precisely that (some times going with the crowd, or even against it - but in a way where the individual wants to prove he is superior to the crowd and thus worthy of even more recognition which then translates as acceptance and is sublimely expected to bring love).

You see teenagers, for example, adopting a fake persona... language, mannerisms, etc... why? Because they think if I'm cool, I'll be more "accepted" and this is sublimely equated with receiving love. And then you have serious distortions where the very pure motive to get love can end up with things like "let's do this X or Y bad thing which is cool"... But they don't understand how and why their actions originate... (now I've gone off quite a bit)...

Arguably, meritocracy is on the same platform as (currently tried forms of) communism. Solid idea. Practical? Not so much.

I do think the key part of a social network is the social aspect and the relations you build, and yes, some are more equal than others in their social skills or the opportunities they're given.

As a newbie, i find your piece very helpful and motivating...i hope to learn more from you... Thanks for touching minds

Wow! This is the most succinctly expressed tutorial i've actually seen in a while. The message just feels like a plug correctly inserted into a socket.
As true as it can ever be, the real currency, the real money-maker, on steemit is just relationships.
Alot of us have been so consumed with whales, SP and the quest to earn high payouts, forgetting the basics of what steemit is all about - social networking/relationship building
Thanks alot @lukestokes for sharing this incisive insight with us.

Wow, its really a word of encouragement to me because I don't really know how or where to go about in steemit even with the little I managed to write some times I feel tired for the outcome, but your word gave me future that I will get there. Thanks @lukestokes.

Seriously this post means a lot. I'm not a good writer, or let me say I started writing the day I joined Steemit. My friend @fr3world who introduced Steemit to me, said you need to write what is meaningful and what can touch lives. A voice whispered to me, hey man you can't do it but Holy Spirit saved me by answering the voice that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I thank God I have been improving day-by-day. Thanks for sharing this to us and for not being selfish. More knowledge and understanding I pray.

Thanks aplenty @lukestokes for this masterpiece, I have always believed that steemit is all about relationships, and not SP or SBD. Relationship is the key, other packages comes after. I look forward to welcoming new friends and building relationships.
Thanks and God Bless .

I'm totally agree with you. Thank you for remindind about the most important thing here.

You're welcome!


I spoke about your shopping cart today on the #BeyondBitcoin (7/22/16) hangout. I totally agree with you. It's all about the community.

Wow, thanks @pairmike! I really appreciate that. Maybe I can convince @brettflorio all the time I've spent here instead of working on FoxyCart should be clocked as a marketing expense. :)

Excellent thoughts - incentivizing relationships and inspiring and empowering other people is the currency of the future! Empower it forward!!!

Empower it forward!!!

I really like that. :)

You know what, you're right. It really is a social network, but it has a reward system incentive for creating relationships with high power individuals, which must make those individuals rather skeptical when approached!

I just try to be authentic and honest, maybe that will be enough.

I'm quite proud of the fact that I have yet to solicit an upvote from any high powered individuals. I'm hoping my content and the reputation I build here by helping others and connecting will eventually be rewarded accordingly. Time will tell and so far, I'm pretty dang happy with the quality of the conversations.

I do agree it's a SOCIAL network, but it took some time for me to understand it...and if it weren't for slack, it would take more. But I do think in the future we'll see the social part bloom!

I completely agree. I've also been thinking about how much the Slack aspect of the site has increased it's social value for me. In a way, it's almost an unfair advantage for those who are in Slack and those who aren't able to get in. Maybe I should spend some time in the steemit chat... though I do like Slack so much more. :)

Hard work pays. Have faith, keep Steeming!

Thanks @pinklee! I agree, hard work usually pays off, but I'm also not a fan of the labor theory of value in a simplistic sense that all labor has value. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. I see value being defined in the moment of exchange, which often never happens because no one sees the content and that value goes unrealized.

"I've been constantly connecting with people in the Steemit Slack and on Steemit, replying to almost every comment, adding relevant comments to posts I like, and, in a very real sense, building relationships."

Exactly, that's what a community is all about as well! And we are a community, together we will become better, bigger, stronger and turn this community to one of the best ones in the future. We already have the best and most innovative technology of the decade under the hood, now we just gotta show how it can be used properly!

For sure, @acidyo! I've been really surprised just how much community is already developing even though we don't have a concept of friends lists or mention notifications. How much more connected will we be once those features are rolled out? It's going to be pretty incredible. :)

Can't wait! :)

Thanks! Now you have to get to it and build out your own introduceyourself post so people can connect relationally with you. I may know you agree with me, but I know nothing else and have no other mechanism to connect.

That's true and works for people who are not here for the money only. I applaud you for that. i myself got curious about steemit when a friend told me it's reddit ver 2.0. Let's hope this goes on well for both seemit and user's experience.

I like the reddit version 2.0 comparison. I've been describing it as a cross between Reddit, Medium, and Facebook.

Relationship gives you courage to keep steem on

Not just courage, but fuel! It drives this whole thing!

Your here for yourself and others for rewarding positive effort and building some strong reputation and Karma...

"Be social. Connect. Comment. Promote others. Get involved with the real currency of Steemit". i like that ... can i use in another future post?

For sure! For added bonus points, link back here and give credit. :) That's how relationships are built, through connecting and promoting others. When you finish the post, be sure to leave a comment linking to it.

Noticed your upvotes and thank you or that as well!

Your right, "Be social. Connect. Comment. Promote others" . ツ

Luke, bad ass post dude. It helped me think about the community effort here. I am just lucky because I have a strong following and community on other platforms. I lol forward to building new relationships here. And you are right, this is utterly addictive.

Glad you enjoyed it! It's been fun these early days because programmers like me who aren't really writers and don't have a large personal brand still get a moment of attention before the real experts show up. I say bring 'em on! I'm really looking forward to more people like yourself increasing the quality of the content and the number of users as you migrate over. I'm glad you'll be posting here more often because I'm not on Facebook much anymore to see what you've been up to with the Psychologic Anarchist. Steem on!

Great post. Not just about creating content but connecting with people. Thanks!

Thanks Jason! Relationships are the key to so much of our well-being. Money is often just a tool for how we interact with those around us, impacting our relationships.

It is and will always remain important to build relationships. The relationships built in the very beginning of Steemit will go a long way for you and all the other early adopters. I feel that the early mover advantage holds true in case of Steemit too.

It is not impossible, or even difficult, to build relationships even now. I think it is helpful to keep our network small and try to connect with every person in that network. Prior to creating a network, selection of people should be based on values, interests, and quality. The number of followers is not what we choose for ourselves and it can be a big number, like yours crossed 10,000 recently. I think replying to comments and ocassionally interacting with our followers on their blogs as well can make a huge difference in our relationship with all of the followers.

With focused efforts and value addition, we can create new relationships on Steem(it) still, despite the reign of bots these days. I agree that the real currency of Steem is relationships. Other currencies are a manifestation of this primary currency.

With this comment, I have read all the three posts mentioned in this post and I must say that reading them has refreshed the Steemian in me.

I was blown away by the content of this article dear @lukestokes sir. I couldn't agree more! The real deal is in social networking. When one understands the importance of networking in all of this, one stands a good chance of experiencing the real success. Going to have to save the link of this post for future references. Thanks


I'm glad you go to read it! These ideas have been the foundation of what I've been doing here for almost two years. This is why I've obtained (and hopefully provided) so much value here.

Sure. It's all getting clearer to me now. Kudos to you for many educational materials you have been giving to this community free of charge over time. Best regards sir

I've just signed up and I got all these crazy ideas on how to "adapt" and "make it" here on Steemit. Opened a lot of tabs to read interesting top post and your post just got me thinking more! Thanks for the tips!

Nice! Glad to hear it. Yeah, it'll consume you if you're not careful. I've lost a lot of sleep here. I think it's been worth it.

Brilliant article, with so many posts and the follow button not working properly it does make it harder to make connections and maintain them.
But once they do fix it the game will change for the little fish.

Yes, it will. At the same time, without the follow button, it means those who work that much harder have that much more opportunity to make connections. Effort is recognized and often rewarded.

The thing is - it's a Social Network that's currently lacking the efficient follow/notification system at the moment that would really allow for proper use of the system. Yes there are work-arounds at the moment.

But until an efficient follow system is in place it handicaps the potential of the platform as a true Social Network and Media/Content curator.

I definitely agree. It's amazing to me that there is so much networking and connecting going on even without the tools to make it easy! That says something important right there.

This is awesome luke, I am very excited about the potential of steemit, we are the first to sail the ships!

Thank you or the insight!

You're welcome, Chris! Glad to see more Voluntaryists spreading the good word. I upvoted a couple of your posts as well.

btw @lukestokes, is slack down?

It's up for me, but I never logged out. I've heard from others that it's no longer accepting new logins and may have reached some kind of login cap.

Hmm, weird shows this when I go to:

Application Offline for Maintenance
This application is undergoing maintenance right now. Please check back later.

That's just a heroku app for letting people join automatically. The actual slack channel is here: though I'm not sure about new invites.

This just answered my question, thanks! But maybe you can ask in the slack channel and get a definitive yes/no

Just did. I'll report back if I hear anything.

@xeroc just mentioned this in Slack:

devs are discussing to move over to

So hopefully there will more options for everyone soon.

Awesome thanks inquiring!

I also believe that I have earned so many relationships here. Thanks to you too sir. And yes I don't want upvotes for these thankyou notes.. I'm just saying this because I also believe in this post.

good advice -- i appreciate your linking me to this one Luke -- hope you are gaining some value from my thoughts too -David

Excellent article @lukestokes, adding you to my follow list!

Question for you - What's the deal with slack, is it closed for new joins? has been down ever since I started checking and now the link is removed from the navigation menu on here.

Another excellent post.

Thanks @bacchist. I'd like to think my writing is improving here, and that's a valuable skill, regardless of the final price of STEEM (or whether or not it really has compound interest built in! hahah!)

Love this, keep up the great work.

One thing that's still unclear to me on here -- when you "follow" someone, where does that feed show up? I feel like I miss a lot of stuff from people I want to follow if it doesn't show on trending.

The follow and mute buttons don't work yet. This is still beta software after all. However, clicking them is recorded in the blockchain from what I've been told, it just hasn't be implemented in the website. So please go ahead and click follow so when they do get it working, your follow list will be there.

Yes you are very right. I hope steemit does produce quality content and quality online relationship building. I've seen a number of your posts. I wish the "follow" button worked a bit better. It seems like I've followed a few people but I haven't seen a page with a stream of who I've followed. I'm sure it's coming though, unless I just haven't found it yet.

Yeah, the follow functionality isn't there yet, but keep using it because it will be in the future. Thanks for checking out my posts!

i posted a comment a month ago. i came back today and i saw it was still waiting in the box. prolly network issues.

i have a question and my question is is there anything that can be done the issue of flagging without reason? or better still selfish reasons

Well, not really. I was the "victim" (for lack of a better word) of quite a bit of flagging myself. Just try to make peace with them, I guess. You can read more here. Someone always has a reason, it just may not be very rational or make much sense to others.

well they might have their reasons but may not be rational like you said. i really wish they would stop it.

A guy flagged my friend because she is a muslim. imagine that.

i have been flagged like four times when i started steemit but since then i have been very careful

Some people also take flags too personally. Just get over it and move on, IMO.

i have gotten over what must have happened. i just look up to a better future

i want to start connecting with people, wanna start getting seeing long threads going.

I have had so much fun with the conversations on my posts. It's really been amazing. Also, I've had so much fun with the conversations on other posts as well. It doesn't just have to be your wall. Thanks for commenting here and joining this conversation. Go ahead and reply back with a link to one of your posts you think is most interesting and you'd like to discuss the most.

You are right, relationships are the most valuable currency

Thanks for the valuable lessen sir. I think I already found the best strategy in steemit :)

I guess I will not abuse this any more, and at times I will be confused about Steemit and my relationships with people around me, I'll come here and read your articles. They are so profound and opening my mind, giving (not only) me kindness and understanding for others. Thank you, and I am very sure you have already made this community a better place and you are still going on. Congratulations!

I see! I've removed myself from social networks back in 2016. I guess I'm a bit rusty with the idea of it. I like the perspective, and I now understand a bit better how I can use Steem :D

Awesome! I’m glad to hear it provided some insight for you. I see social media as a tool, just like money. It can be distructive and negative or it can be fulfilling and rewarding, building and maintaining real relationships over great distances.

Without it, you and I couldn’t easily continue our conversations. :)

Thanks for your interesting article.

Nice article Luke, I'm new to Steemit and like you once were, I'm trying to figure out how it all works.

I have a few interesting articles I will be writing soon, about personal experiences.

As you state, its all about building a network, I can understand that.

I agree dude.. I'm trying to get one of my friends who doesn't really get all of it, and I tell him people can make more on comments sometimes on here.. And to just start reading people's stuff and getting involved :D

So true. I've had some comments that have earned me more than 5 or 6 blog posts combined (some of which I spent hours and hours on, including writing custom code for the post). Beyond the monetary value, I think those comments also built my credibility and reputation. Steemit is the one place on the Internet where you are encouraged to read the comments because they are actually so good. Thanks for contributing.

I concur buddy - keep up the great work ;-)

To clarify a bit for those that are new to STEEM I will add this detail.
When STEEM pays out 1 $ worth of rewards (whether from posting, commenting or upvoting) it simply creates the new units "out of thin air". This has the effect of diluting everyone's STEEM holdings since the supply has increased but your personal wallet's balance has not.
The way to protect yourself from this dilution is to Power Up.
What does this do you might be axkin '?
Well, for every 1 $ worth of STEEM created to pay for content & curation there are 9 $ worth of STEEM created to send to those that have powered up.

So you should only hold STEEM if you are planning on selling it, or sending it to someone. Do not hold it for a long time since it is being diluted little by little by everyday's payouts.
Power it up and you will lock in your value.

Hope this helps complement the main post!

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