The Great Steem Comments Payouts Collapse

in #steemit4 years ago (edited)

A special report on the state of Steem comments: daily totals, comment to post ratio and interesting edge cases.

I have been wondering about low Steem comment payouts since I've added the rating of top comments to my daily reports. Today I've decided to look at historical trends.


The data and visualization in this post may contain errors and inaccuracies. Don't make important decisions without verifying data yourself. If you have any suggestions or found an error in the data, please get in touch with me on

Historical total payouts for comparison

  • Price as a proxy total payouts is a leading indicator for number of comments and posts. Total activity decreases with price, no surprises there.

Historical comments payouts

  • All time high daily comment payout of ~25,351 SBD was reached at 20th of July
  • All time low daily comment payout of ~14.6 SBD was reached at 17th of October
  • Note that @steemsports account is excluded from the comment totals
  • Comment payouts dropped sharply, could that be explained by the general metrics decrease? No.

Percent of total payout

  • All time high percentage of total payouts of %15.5 was reached at 20th of July
  • All time low percentage of total payouts of %0.12 was reached at 17th of October
  • Note that @steemsports account is excluded from the comment totals
  • Relative comment payouts have dropped like a rock: ATH is 130 times higher than ATL, a difference of two orders of magnitude

Why @steemsports is excluded?

  • Total comment payouts since 2016-10-01 for ALL comments excluding @steemsports: 966 SBD
  • Total comment payouts of ONLY @steemsports: 910 SBD

Comment to post ratio

  • Interestingly, the relative number of comments to posts hasn't changed significantly

Number of votes and average weight

  • Average weight of votes(including minnows, dolphins and whales) on comment has moderately decreased
  • Number of daily votes has significantly decreased from all time high (even taking into consideration the outliers)

Number of votes and average weight by whales

  • Average weight of whale votes on comments decreases are similar to those of all marine fauna
  • Number of daily upvotes has significantly decreased

My hypothesis

It is possible that the reason for the dramatic payout decrease of comments is proliferation of curation bots as main source of whale/dolphin votes and those curation bots don't target comments, only posts. As an example, my bots will only upvote posts.

Comment Payouts Are Dead and Why It's Important

Obvious reasons apply: Steem will not be able to function as a social network without an avenue for public feedback, encouragement or criticism. Whether teh community will evolve to comment without any expectation of payouts or number of comments will steadily decrease remains to be seen.


This is urgent. Comments are what keeps the active user count increasing.
Whales should only vote comments and we would hve a boom in activity.

A $10 comment is like finding a $10 bill on the sidewalk.

Unexpected but makes you walk that way again.

Looks like you found a $20 ;)

You just found your self some :)

Hey @dennygalindo, it seems that your comment now has the largest pending payout for comments on Oct 24. :) Ironic, isn't it?

The gods are watching...
that is funny

ironic. $19.73

Good post. Now that you have proven the problem exists, maybe it will cause some changes to the mindset that has killed the social part of steemit.

These 3 things are what killed the social part:

  1. 6 comment limit. People stop commenting after hitting the 6 comment limit. It simply kills your enthusiasm, especially when the people that know how it works save their rebuttal for the 6th comment and post their final statement without fear of replies. Why bother with a reply if the damn website won't let you finish the conversation?
  2. Unable to delete posts after a vote or comment. People stop commenting when they notice that they cannot delete or edit comments. No other social site removes your ability to edit and delete your own words.
  3. Fear of being blacklisted by the bots and brigades. Between the politics and pet peeves of the whales or censorship\bot brigades, speaking your mind can get you blacklisted around here. Even the bots are being used to flag posts for personal or political reasons.

There was a point where it was "install a block\mute button" or "create censorship bots and brigades". Steemit decided to ignore all the requests for blocking personally offensive things, and allowed the censorship brigades and hall monitor bots to form. Nobody likes automated bot comments, automated nagging for posts, being censored, or have posts hidden for personal or political reasons.

Once a casual user hits any of these, they just leave. There are more friendly sites out there, and even newbies understand that good conversation is worth more than a few cents.

Good points all. I think there have been too many incremental changes that make this more like medium than Reddit. We should ask, does this feature discourage commenting and interaction before each new change.

Tools to build a subcommunities are still quite weak in Steemit. Users are mostly just following good writers, which means that they read new texts and upvote them and go on to find something new to read.

To empower actual communities here, there should be some kind of way to subscribe topics/tags. That would make a community of like-minded people who are reading the same stuff and hopefully also make them comment much more than they are doing currently.

Notifications are also very important. I can see if somebody has replied to my comment, but that should be more automatic, like in Twitter of Facebook. Now I have to go to see the special page that shows all replies to me. Better solution would be a clear notification that is shown in all pages when I'm logged in to Steemit.

I'd like to have notifications when somebody else has commented on a post that I've commented. Now the only way to see that is to go back and browse through all the posts that I've commented to see if anybody else has left any comment since I checked it last time. It's not a great system to create real discussion.

Great post ontofractal! I already linked it in Steem Venue. You can link it in the Pub if you want to, since you're on the Special Contributors list.

Why has payout decreased so much on comments?
Good report.
Upvoted and following.

Thanks! Well, the only explanation is that whales and dolphins stopped upvoting comments.

I suspect it has a lot to do with being able to vote with a percentage weight. Before if a whale liked your comment it was an all or nothing choice. Now they can upvote for 1-5% and still give the recognition/thumbs up, without the huge reward.

That's a reasonable hypothesis @timcliff.

I've added the chart with average weight and number of votes on comments daily. It seems that the main driver of reduction in comment payouts is falling number of votes with weight being a secondary factor. I'll post up a chart with whale votes daily breakdown and we'll know for sure soon.

The whale vote avg weights and number of votes suggest that payouts have been decreasing due to whales decreased engagement with comments.

My speculation would be that the reason for the dramatic payout fall is an increased importance of curation bots that don't target comments, only posts.

I think you are right. More and more whales are turning over their votes to curation guild bots,which target posts. When they do that they not only don't vote on comments, but they don't even use the site any more. I would guess that engagement by whales is significantly down.

I've heard that once official curation guilds are built into the system, some people are thinking of creating one that only votes on comments :)

No... wait... the "curation guilds" were the last and ultimate savior of Steem!
At least that is what I heard the last time the founders of Steem had a clear genuine thought of their own 2 mo. ago.

The whales had the percentage slider choice way before the rest of us did. They didn't back in like July, but they were still voting nicely on comments after they got the slider. Though the payout for comments did seem to drop when they gave that slider to almost everyone.

Maybe people aren't upvoting comments so that they can vote on more blog posts? I will upvote comments. But I only use a small percentage of my vote. I use full power for blog posts.

A very small minority of users upvote enough posts/comments to deplete voting power to the level when it makes sense to "save" it and reduce voting power for comments.

Too bad. They need to take care of the Steemians below them who are struggling to make money like myself. The way the pay structure is set up the upper class do not have incentive to help the new bloggers.

Very interesting!
Payout collapse was only on comments or also on posts?

The payout collapse on comments is much steeper than for posts. Check out my daily reports for payouts data.

Yes, I was checking your data recently :) very interesting, I started following you.
How much is the post payout compared to three months ago?
Just curious...

I have an alt account @chaospoet. I did okay with that account as I had fun responding to people in rhyming poetry. This was before poetry took off like wildfire on steemit. I would sometimes get pretty good payout on my comments. I actually did far better with that account on comments than posts. It could be, because I may be a mediocre poet so my posts didn't quite resonate with people. Yet my comments were always fast and responding directly to the topic a person was talking about. I can say since the comment payouts have declined that I very rarely have the encouragement to use that account at the moment. I still will, but it will only be when some MUSE stirs and I do so purely because I have to get the words out of my mind.

Does it have anything to do with the 47 years ago payout? I don't even know how that happens! But are the payouts even working for comments?

I'm not sure about the "47 years ago" payout, but I do know that comments are paying out. Do they work "properly"? That, I don't know.

Comment payouts are working as intended. I'm not sure what are those 47 years, but looks like it's a number of years since the start of the UNIX epoch!

Great article upvoted and followed. We upvote comments, and do so to encourage post engagement. Financially we don't have much to offer yet but encouragement is also important as well.

It is interesting data. I remember seeing a couple comments that made more money than my entire blog has made in 4 months. Now you don't hardly see the comment payouts at all. I used to consistently get $0.10 on comments all the time and I considered it. Picking up the change!

I don't think that users will stop commenting without incentive. However, I think there will be a little decrease. Those, who write long comments, explaining their thoughts on the same matter as the blogpost author, may decide to write their own blogpost instead of a comment. If they think their efforts aren't rewarded in comments, they will take their chances in blogposts.

That's a logical evolution of rational author's behaviour based on the STEEM incentives.

Genuine, engaging comments lead to building community and people staying on Steemit. I've read so many comments from folks that are frustrated by seeing so many upvotes and having no comments. When 100+ comments are worth a quarter, it's the human connection that people value. When I was new here, seeing a comment payout was really motivating to engage. I do hope the comment payout issue turns around. Your statistics have really showed me that I have a lot of votes to use every day. I shouldn't be shy in tossing the tiny things around! : )

On my phone so I can't reply to the right person, but getting a $10 comment at today's prices is more like getting a $2 bill!

And by the time you get it out of the "ecosystem" it's only worth a buck fifty!

Isn't it in SBD? So it's more like $9.50 - fees if you cash it out.

Statistics - the foundation of all ... Although boring to toothache ...

What would make it less boring for you? I'm genuinely curious.

No no no.
Everything is clear and readable.
Statistics in the analysis itself can bring to boredom or worse.
But I sex life without it can not do ...
And it is interesting for me to read, to walk in the forest, to travel ... :)

No no no.
Everything is clear and readable.
Statistics in the analysis itself can bring to boredom or worse.
But I floor of a life without it can not do ...
And it is interesting for me to read, to walk in the forest, to travel ... :)
Translation horror ...


  1. So, I think it's time to start re-tooling your bot. Then again, are there curation rewards for comments? If there aren't there need to be.
  2. I want to echo everyone else, strongly as hell, that THIS IS A KEY ISSUE FOR THE SURVIVAL OF STEEMIT! EXAMPLE, ME:

When I post I watch my post like a madman for comments. If people ask a question, that could trigger me to change my post. I reply to nearly every comment I get, and I upvote nearly all of them, too. Because it's always healthy to have people talking about you/your content/your topic of the day. Always.

Lastly, a little bit of whoring:

if you're reading this post, please do take the thirty seconds and follow me. Just like I upvote all commenters, I'll follow you, as well. I'll only unfollow you if you suck, like @steemsports.

Oh right, item #3:

  1. Accounts like steemsports need to be stopped. Steemsports is a plague on steemit. It is neither good content nor something that helps us get good users. It is the slow transition of into a sports gambling site. I will now begin flagging all of their posts. I hope you will join me.