Game Theory #5 – Steemit Bots

in steemit •  11 months ago

Hi Everyone,


I believe this is the post that several of you have been waiting for since I started my game theory series. There are several types of bots. There are the bid-based bots, content promotion bots, resteem bots, subscription-based bots, quality content reward bots, and several other types. The bid-based bots are the most interesting from a game theory perspective.

So why use bots?

Everyone on Steemit has some sort of objectives. You could be here to read interesting content, you could be here as an investor, you could here to share content, you could be here to make a quick profit, and you could be here for any number of other different reasons. I’m on Steemit for a combination of reasons. My most important reason is to share content. Using bots to help promote content will be the main focus of this post.

Posts can get buried very quickly in Steemit. As Steemit grows, posts will get buried faster and faster. As it is, within 10 minutes, your post will move so far down the main ‘new’ list, people will not see your post. The use of good tags can definitely help. The popular tags such as ‘life’, ‘photography’, ‘steemit’ and ‘travel’ have a similar problem and the post will quickly be out of view. I mostly use the moderately less popular tag ‘economics’. My post can be near the top of the ‘new’ list for half a day. I imagine that the most relevant tags of most people’s content has the same problem. For the less popular tags, posts can stay on the new lists a lot longer but very few people look at those tags. Posts will still get very little exposure.


Getting on the ‘hot’ lists is important for content exposure. Unfortunately, getting on the ‘hot’ lists is not easy. A post needs to get high value upvotes earlier on. The existence of bots has meant that the value of upvotes needs to be higher to get on these lists. I scrolled down the main ‘hot’ list, I needed to scroll quite far to find any posts older than 5 hours. These posts had a very high upvote value and were also on the ‘trending’ list. The ‘hot’ lists for the tags are similar, I looked at a few popular tags and could not find posts older than 12 hours. The posts that were 7 hours or older were also on the ‘trending’ lists. I looked at my favourite #economics tag, there were several post close to 2 days old.


The ‘new’ lists give minutes of exposure or hours if you use less popular tags. The ‘hot’ lists can give a few hours of exposure or a couple of days if you use less popular tags. So how about the ‘trending’ lists. The main ‘trending’ list can give you a couple of days of exposure, if you have a massive upvote value. The ‘trending’ lists for popular tags can give you exposure for a few days, if your post has a massive upvote value. The ‘trending’ lists for moderately popular tags, such as my favourite #economics tag, can give your post exposure for close to the full 7 days without a massive upvote value.


All of the above is worth considering if you are sharing quality and original content. Most of my posts relate to economics and has limited appeal to the wider audience. My focus is to get my posts on the ‘trending’ lists of the tags most relevant to my content. I have not invested in bots to the extent that my posts get on the main ‘trending’ lists. I would not recommend paying bots to the extent that your posts get on the main ‘trending’ list. This approach might be beneficially in the short-run because of the massive exposure. There are a few users that have been very successful using such a strategy. In the long-run, this strategy will hurt Steemit and ultimately yourself.

Steemit can be seen as a game of prisoner’s dilemma. The more money people pay the bots, the more everyone needs to pay the bots in order to get exposure. This is particularly true of the bid-based bots. The number of bid-based bots have exploded. A few months ago there was a handful. Now there are well over 30. The bid-based bots previously provided a constant but small return on bids. The usage of the bots has mostly drowned that return out as can be seen from the table below.

Returns on investment           
Bid BotsSample 1Sample 2Sample 3Sample 4

This table is based on samples of ‘last round’ returns on investment taken from on 19/01/2018 at different times across the day. This is a very small sample, so don’t judge the bots based on these returns. Use this information as a general idea of the type of returns available at the moment.

Bot strategies

So what strategies can be applied to bot usage? I will investigate from the perspective of the content creator (high quality and original content). First a number of questions need to be considered. These questions should include the following:

  • What is my budget?
  • How much exposure do I want?
  • How frequently do I intend to post?
  • What are my long-term goals?


What is my budget?

‘What is my budget?’, should be the first and probably most important question. If you have very little SBD available, then you will initially have very few options. You can buy SBD. If that is not an option, you can try to earn SBD. I would recommend posting quality and original content and then be patient. There are curators around Steemit that will find your content, your content might receive a very high upvote from the Streemian guilds for example. Once you have some SBD, you need to figure what you want to do with it.


How much exposure do I want?

As mentioned earlier in the post, the amount of exposure generally depends on what lists your post gets onto. In addition to the lists. Exposure also depends on the number of followers that you have. The more followers you have the greater the exposure your post will get. It is also important to know that it is important to have genuine followers and not followers that follow for the sake of following others. You want followers that will read and appreciate your content. This is why it is important to have the right tags. Even with a small budget, it is possible to get on the ‘hot’ and possibly ‘trending’ lists of less popular, but relevant to your subject matter, tags. I use the tag #economics. It is not one of the most popular tags but it is relevant to my subject matter. See the screenshot below.


From the ‘trending’ posts, it appears I should target an upvote value of around 70 SBD to be able to get close to the top of the economics ‘trending’ list for any length of time. Another tag that I like to use is #philosophy. This tag generally requires a higher upvote value to get higher up the ‘trending’ list. See the screenshot below.


From the ‘trending’ posts, it appears I should target an upvote value of around 100 SBD to be able to get close to the top of the philosophy ‘trending’ list for any length of time. I could still target 70 SBD and get to the top of the tending list for a shorter time. It is possible that the one day near the top of the ‘tending’ list could give you enough additional upvotes to reach the target of 100 SBD and therefore keeping your post up the list long enough to get more upvotes and more followers.

Another option is to change tags. If your post falls off the ‘trending’ list of a particular tag, you could go into your posts and change to less popular but also relevant tag. This should give you a good chance to get higher up the ‘trending’ list of this tag and help you get your post to a wider audience.


How frequently do I intend to post?

Some people post more than 5 times a day, some people post less than once a week, and others post somewhere in between those frequencies. The frequent posters tend to have shorter posts. The less frequent posters are able to author longer posts.


If you are planning on posting very frequently, you have less money available to pay the bots for each post. The best strategy would be to use tags that are relevant but less popular. Your posts will have a much better chance of making the trending lists. You could diversify your subject matter and get on multiple ‘trending’ lists reaching a wide audience at a very little expense per post.

If you are planning on posting infrequently but your posts are long, very detailed, very engaging, and of exceptional quality. The best strategy is likely to involve paying a large amount to the bots and attempt to reach the relevant popular ‘trending’ lists and possibly even the main ‘trending’ list if the upvotes you gain from popular ‘trending’ lists can carry your post that far.

I post around 5 times a week. I had a stretch where I posted every day. I aim to get each of my posts onto their respective ‘trending’ lists. Posts that I believe are particularly important I will pay more to the bots so that these posts can get as much exposure as possible.

What are my long-term goals?

Long-term goals are important. I want my content to be as widely distributed as possible while being able to have a steady flow of income that I can use to support myself and my content. So a key goal for me is to attract genuine followers. Consistently getting on the most appropriate ‘trending’ lists is a good way of doing that. The bots serve an important role in getting my content on those lists. The bots can only do so much. I still need to maintain the quality and originality of my content. I also need to read, upvote and comment on other people’s posts on the relevant subject matter. It is important to engage with the people who might become future followers.


Once a good following has been established, the use of bots should become less relevant. The upvotes of your followers should be able to carry your posts onto the ‘trending’ lists. This may take a long time to happen. If the usage of bots continues to grow, the required upvote value to get on the ‘trending’ lists will continue to increase.

Another long-term goal could be to build reputation. A high reputation should encourage more people to follow your content and should increase the number of upvotes that your posts receive. Upvotes from bots increase your reputation.

What bots to bid on and when

When should you bid on a bot? As soon as you can. The longer your post has been up, the harder it is to get your post on the ‘hot’ and ‘trending’ lists. Delaying bidding also shortens the time your post has on the lists. If you plan on using bid-based bots, it is a good idea to have a bot or bots that you want to target so that you can secure the upvote from the bot/s as soon as possible. I need a combination of bots that have sufficient ‘maximum profitable bids’ for me to reach my target upvote value as soon as possible. This can be tricky as bots tend to get hit with many bids right before the next vote. There is a good chance you will receive a negative return but it is more important to get on the lists.


There is generally very little point using bots to upvote posts more than 12 hours old. I have, on a few very rare occasions, used bots to upvote posts about a day or two days old. I will might do this if I believe that post is particularly significant and needs just a little boost to stay on a ‘trending’ list.

I have noticed several bots have reduced their maximum post age to 3.5 days. This seems like a very arbitrary number. The ‘maximum age of post’ should reflect the maximum age that an upvote can effectively and consistently promote a post to a ‘trending’ list. Reducing ‘maximum age of post’ would likely reduce profits to bots and increase returns to bidders.


The growth in bots on Steemit is an interesting and quite curious phenomena. It is, in my opinion, the response to the opportunity from profiting from upvote selling. Profit drives activity, Steemit is no different. In the short-run, the growth of bots is not particularly harmful. The bots can help people promote quality original content. Unfortunately, the bid-based bots are not discriminating regards to quality of content. This allows poor quality content to rise on the lists, thus making it more difficult for good content to thrive. The poor quality content will discourage people from joining Steemit and might encourage good content producers to leave if their good content is consistently buried. There are a few bots and bot services that support higher quality content but these are rather few in comparison to the total number of bots.

I am also concerned that the bots will enable those with more financial resources to dominate Steemit. Quality and original content should dominate Steemit not content written by those with the most SBD and Steem Power.


I hope you found this post interesting. This post targets authors that have a genuine desire to share quality and original content. I have explained some strategies that can be used to help make the best use of the bots in combination with several other strategies such as selecting the right tags and targeting particular upvote values.

For more information on game theory, you can access my introduction post using the link below:



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Good post. As I understand it, you're not against bots. But there are people who treat them very negatively. I think that for beginners bots are sometimes the only way to draw attention to your post. Thanks for the info!


Bots can be used for good and bad. Bots should be used to promote good content and not used purely for profit.


Now I know the real purpose of bots for the real good content creators...

Your post is very good


Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

We could think that poor content, even massively boosted, would disappear in the medium/long term since it couldn't attract genuine followers who would make it sustainable. The problem is that many people upvote almost like bots. They are not concerned with the quality of the content, they just know that author is gonna have tons of upvotes and they want to ride the wave. As long as this pays out, I am concerned that it may destroy the fundamental purpose of steemit. It's frustrating to see people literally copying and pasting photos from the internet, or putting random cryptocurrencies' charts with prices and not even at least an analysis, just a mere and uninteresting description, getting a considerable amount of reward, while good and original content struggles.


It is pretty bad right now in terms of poor content. Like you said, in the medium/long term, this problem will clear up. There are several people fighting poor content creators and scammers. Steemit only has a future if quality content prevails or else people who write great content will stop posting here.


I think the rigged nature of the game already prevents a lot of highly talented people from getting interested in posting the first place, because the payout to effort ratio is not worth it at first, if at all (not including if they invest big money) for a lot of highly skilled persons in developed economies who are less enticed by the struggle to make the payouts worth their time. And people who just want good information to get out to as large an audience as possible will see the audience is very small here and probably take their content elsewhere.


At the moment Steemit favours the investor rather than the content creator. In the long-run content creators can really thrive here but it takes patience. Steemit is a far better place to earn than any many other platforms. To make it on YouTube requires hundreds of thousands of subscribers. If you can get up to 5000 + genuine followers on Steemit, I say you are in a very good position. It just takes times. I know many people do not have the time to spare. This year will be very interesting.


Cryptonomics make this place very, very profitable to do anything opposed to attempting to start fresh on any other social media platform, yes. I don't disagree with that at all. This year certainly will be.


Bots aren't the only issue though, whales that are cashed up can upvote themselves or their aquaintances for a decent profit for average or even poor quality posts. And a minnows that is new to the platform can post fantastic content and get little to no exposure or reward.

I think that there needs to be a vast improvement in the area of content discovery. A Reddit style subscription model is needed, so I can choose my tags of interest and easily be able to see posts across all of those tags. I've been saying this pretty much since the day I joined, which wasn't all that long ago.

Also, one thing I find to be very beneficial, and for me, enjoyable, is commenting. Not only in response to comments on my own posts, but also other posts that I feel I can engage with (ie. This one). That can also be quite rewarding and can help build a follower base. Very underrated strategy.


I agree with you @farq. The whales are causing the biggest problems on Steemit. It is quite disturbing how one line comments, very short, and poor quality posts receive upvotes worth over 100 SBD. There are a few good whales that help promote minnow content. @curie is great example. Unfortunately, once above a certain reputation, I can't remember what it is, you are basically on your own.


yeah, and as a result, that's why people use bots - it's the most effective way for a minnow to accelerate their growth.

posting good content only goes so far if it doesn't get seen.

If people, who have a higher value upvote, would actively seek some content and upvote it with some real value, not with 1% that is 0.00 $ worth then maybe others would not use upvote bots. There sure is value in curation groups, but at least one I have seen flagged so heftily that the account stopped curating - he was accused of spamming (which is sometning unavailable here as no-one has a Steemit e-mail) while he was collecting all the posts he suggested for the Curie separated by tag category in a special post, which I used as sort of bulletin (and others considered it spam) to quickly find some content from that particular category.
I have also seen some posters here which give big upvote for the 1 comment (even if its just a sentence) and the rest gets nothing regardless of how elaborate it might be. Or others just upvote their own comment and announce to use the supposedly unsatisfactory content of the original post to write their own. It goes on and on, and it's tiresome.
People simply bring their own personal traits into this platform and act in resonance with them, mostly.
I know your post was how to use the bidding bots to own advantage to promote own content. Somewhere I read that the bot has to provide 267% more value than invested in to be profitable for the investor. (I didn't check it).


Hi @irastra, you make some really great points. I rarely get upvoted by orcas or whales and when I do it is normally a low upvote value. Many of the whales are upvoting themselves or the same few people. Upvoting comments by 100 SBD really irks me.

I am confident these actions won't last forever. These actions will have a negative effect on the value of Steem and the investment of the existing whales. They would be foolish to continue considering how transparent Steemit is. I am putting up a post later today exposing some of the dirty tricks used by those with cash.

WOW crazy... I briefly was introduced to bots in a video I saw before joining but didn't realize how many there were out there. It's kind of crazy to think of essentially bribing someone for their upvote and then to top it all off you're bribing an account or even worse a computer program instead of people voting because they truly enjoyed the content.

Doesn't mean they won't become part of my strategy down the line yet crazy to think.


I agree, it is truly strange. Those running the bots must be making quite a profit. I really wish I didn't need to use them. For now, I feel I don't have much choice.

That is a really cool gif.


Glad you like the gif... I saw that when looking for something whale related since all the bots seem to turn into them. :)

I was interested in whale roi for the main bots over a curation cycle its interesting that randowhale and minnowbooster are not listed for the calculations. I also find it interesting that each tag has a weight that is a good handle on the requirement to appear in the toplists.
That said quality is king in the longrun building the reputation and following and that is where the real worth begins and the bot's become less useful you need to pay to get there but once its built your set.


Ideally, it is best to move away from the bots. It is very difficult if you are not established. Quality is essential for long-run success.

Thank you for your information abouts bots, it is very appreciated and important, sincerely I think it is unfair, I think you should reach the top by quality and not by a cheating impulse. Although, well, this is it. Thank you for your input.


I agree with you. Top quality posts should get the most exposure, the most upvotes, the most comments, and ultimately the most money. Unfortunately, things are not working that way right now. If you don't use the bots, your content is unlikely to be seen.

It is a self perpetuating problem. People use the bots which puts pressure on other people to use bots which puts pressure on almost everyone who is not a whale or friend of a whale to use bots. We will have to see where all this ends up.

excellent text, quite complete, and interesting


That's good. I hope it helps you in the future.

The bots can help people promote quality original content. Unfortunately, the bid-based bots are not discriminating regards to quality of content. This allows poor quality content to rise on the lists, thus making it more difficult for good content to thrive.

I am new on the platform and when i hear bots ,i get confused. This post has thrown enough light, and hopefully i have an idea or two as to how these bots work. I would ask if it is advisable as a minnow to use them, consideeing the meagre returns we get on our posts.

Thanks for sharing


If you have some SBDs I would recommend having a go. Try without them at first. As your rep is still quite low, your posts might get picked up by the steemian guilds. This will give a good boost to begin with. Remember you need good quality content for this to work.


Alright, thanks a lot. Would just keep posting the good stuff

Boy, was I wrong to think of Steemit as simply as "more than your average paid-to-write site". I didn't think that there would be so much more such as investing for more exposure and I do think this makes sense. Perhaps I will when I finally have something to share. Thanks a million for this post!


Steemit can be quite complicated. The bots are just one area that you need to be aware about.

I suggest that you have introduction post some time soon. This is just so that people can get to know you better and what you are likely to bring to Steemit.


Oh sorry, I just saw you already have an introduction post. I will go and have a look.

This is my first day on the site. Thanks for explaining a little of this to me. I appreciate your time and effort.


Great, I am happy to help.

Quite useful information, I'm new to this environment, hopefully this would be of great use much later, now i'm bent on the rudiments.


Sounds fair enough. I wish you all the best.

cool analysis, I liked that you had ball park figures for how much it costs to get on a list, that is useful information.


It's always worth looking at the content using the tags you want to use before posting.


Indeed, I also look at the tags of posts that have done very well that are similar and copy their tags. It's a very good point about how you can dominate a more specific topic or less popular tag. I have seen some people do well making up their own tags as well.

I think the reason behind the changing of the max age for posts for the bots to 3.5 days could be related to this account I have seen going around and downvoting posts that use bots with a max age of over 3.5. I guess the account was getting fed up with people waiting till day 6 to pay for upvotes and thus avoid any risk of the change in price of steem, this is just my guess though.


That does not make much sense. ROI on bots is just as likely to be negative as positive, take a look at the numbers I pulled together in the table. Even if the numbers are positive, 50% goes back into Steem Power. Most people will have less liquid SBD after post payout than before bidding on a bot. Also, why 3.5 days? 2 days makes more sense, that is around the time posts start to drop off the trending lists.


thats a good question. Still i think the account name was grumpycat or something like that so you may want to be cautious of using bots without this age limit, just a heads up


information, I really like posting @spectrumecons.


I hope you find it helpful.


Thank you for this valuable information, I will save your post because it will benefit me in the coming times


You need to keep hold of your SBD for any of these strategies to work.

thanks, happy today


Well that is great news. We all need to have a positive outlook on life.

never used a bot till now hope to never use it ever ..but thanks for telling about it in details got to know a lot


I think you have done really well. I tried without bots for quite awhile, I was only getting a handful of views. I needed the exposure for the amount of effort I was putting into posts. My aim is to eventually get off the bots altogether. I didn't use them for my most recent puzzle contest.

This post has received a 19.17% upvote from thanks to: @spectrumecons.
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Good post As I understand you are right. But unfortunately there are people who treat them with a very negative. I think that for beginner bot sometimes the only way to draw attention to your post. Thank you @spectrumecons

Took a while to read, but very informative.


Hopefully you will be able to apply these strategies when or if you use the bots.


I started very recently, so for now I want to learn the ropes (manually). I will certainly apply these soon though.

This is good content and it was very helpful for new bees like us who have not been here for so long. I must commend your great works on this platform.
I will do my best to apply most of the things you talked about and i hope to send in my testimonials to you 🔜.
Keep up the good work


That's awesome. I wish you all the best.

I must say this post really made my day and also, it gave me hope thanks alot author.


I am happy to inspire you.

Thanks for the post, still new now I understand something. At first when a friend introduce me I was if am to write to impress people and your explanation on the dots help, I even have to repost it.


That's great. I just want to help people better utilise the bots.

I think that people who came here are expecting on the first place to earn some money. There are not still enought members on this website that you can find in the field that you are interested for, I can't see so many collectors here... Your posts are great and I read several of them, very logical and clear. I am your follower, like your puzzles and your review of happenings here.


Thank you @life.time. It is important to be patience. In time, if you have good content, you will be rewarded.

great post sir
thanks for sharing it with us

Thank you @spectrumecons for the great post of yours. 😊

hello my name is xuanphuc . my facebook . Can you come to my list? thank you