A Great Reputation System. That's What We Need.

in steemit •  2 years ago

So there's been a lot of talk of bots, plagiarism, catfishing and deception on Steemit and a lot of it is probably to be expected.  I'm actually surprised that there hasn't been more of it, but thanks to bots like Cheetah and enforcers in the community there has been far less abuse.  In the long run the strength of the ecosystem depends on original content so reputation and trust are major keys to our success.   There are several ways to minimize gaming to improve the quality of content and increase the value of the ecosystem.  The first set of defensive measures are algorithmic.   The second set depends on the community to get involved to promote a culture of integrity.  I'm confident the Steemit team will find a great solution since the team is already focused on reputation, identity and stake.  Here are a few ideas regarding reputation systems: 

1.  Web of Trust 

Phil Zimmerman, creator of the most widely used email encryption software called Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), introduced the concept of Web of Trust in 1992 as a decentralized implementation of Public Key Cryptography infrastructure (PKI). In the OpenPGP Web of Trust model,  you meet people in person to verify their public keys.  The ID verification process is called 'key validation'.  Secondly for each person you validate in person, you can assign the person a 'key trust' rating score between 1-5 that represents how much you trust the person to validate other people's keys.  In general if you marginally trust someone that you have validated you can give the person a trust rating of 3.  When any person that you marginally trust performs a validation on another person, two more people whom you marginally trust must also validate that other person before you fully trust that other person's identity. 

Similarly on Steemit a user can vouch for new users by posting a comment, especially in the #introducemyself category.  Users can validate someone merely by commenting on another person's post.  Having local community members verify new members is a great way to expand trust circles.   

2.  Value-Based Reputation  

Instead of implementing a user-assigned trust rating system as in Web of Trust model, Steemit already has a value-based reputation system built-in.   Those that have rewarded in the past have earned a reputation and are far more likely to be trusted than those that have not earned anything.  Bots mainly earn from curation rewards, so author rewards should be the main factor for reputation and identity.   We can use some combination of stake and accumulated author rewards to rank trust.   

3.  Google,  Eigenvectors & Blockchain Reputation   

Google's page ranking system uses eigenvector math to rank pages on the Internet.   It's been called the multi-billion dollar algorithm and is the mathematical foundation behind Google's success.  Google uses backlinks and a weighting algorithm to determine the importance of each webpage on the Internet.  I have a basic understanding of eigenvectors, but someone like @complexring can probably do an in-depth explanation of eigenvectors and matrix alegbra.  For those that work on SEO, all the techniques to increase backlinks from trusted websites for specific keywords revolves around trying to game the eigenvector ranking system.  More recently the NEM ecosystem has used the same concepts to create its consensus protocol.  Here is the NEM white paper.  NEM uses a variation of Eigentrust++ that is written about here.  

Using a combination of these concepts above should result in a very robust design for a reputation system.  In addition to algorithms, the community can also help instill a  culture of high integrity to further minimize gaming.  In addition to vouching for other community members with a comment, here are a couple ways the community can help: 

4.  Spreading Awareness of Blockchain History  

  "It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it" - Benjamin Franklin  

Steem posts & comments are permanently stored in history as long as the Steem blockchain exists. If more new users understood that any post or comment on the blockchain becomes a permanent record and that they can't edit out history, they would be far less likely to try to game the system.   Many are short-sighted, try to deceive the community and make a quick buck.  They might be successful at it in the short run, but their reputation is permanent and in the long run members have much more to lose if others find out.   In fact, your reputation will live long past your physical life here.  Most people probably don't know that and if they did they would be far more careful.  The community can educate more people about the permanence of blockchain data and that will result in more long-term thinking.  People will have more to gain in actively participating in the system and can offer and receive far more value in the long run.   It's up to the community to spread the awareness about the permanence of blockchain history.

5.  Flagging, Public Ostracism & Shunning 

The Amish use non-violent methods to punish those that harm the community.  They shun their members from the community until they make amends.  We can use similar methods to encourage positive activities on Steemit.  We need to be careful to determine what is acceptable behavior and there are probably differing opinions about that, but overt examples of identify theft, copy & pasting, spam and trolling behavior should be identified and flagged.  We can even post a 'Wall of Shame' for the most obvious offenders.   We should also be compasssionate so perhaps after a year or so, we can forgive reformed offenders and encourage them to become active participants.    


There is great potential to create a robust algorithmic system to minimize gaming and improve the reputation system on Steemit.  Furthermore the community can help promote a culture of high integrity.  A great reputation system is a major key to success so we should take great care to create an elegant solution as well as focus on iterating and improving it over time. A great reputation system can help members conduct business, lend money  and form business relationships so its benefits will extend far beyond just a social network, but to an entire economy.    

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Networking is an essential form of value that can be brought to Steemit. Networks make the world go around, after all. I do believe creating algorithms and functions to make Steemit more "social network" and less "game of upvotes and chance" would be of net benefit to the value of the network.

However, I see a bit of a clash in the overall blockchain culture and that of regular 'social media'. Crypto has an air of anonymity and closed loops that seems at times hard to unify with the 'big data' side of social networking.

I hope we can find a balance between the two, that will allow optimum function of the network whilst still upholding basic privacy that many of us value.

Do you think this is inherent only to a crypto crowd, or perhaps something Steemit can finally do different where big data farms like Facebook and Twitter failed to protect privacy?


That's a good question and I'd like to write about this topic soon. Dan Larimer brought forward the topic of Openness vs Privacy some time ago in the Bitshares community. There is great value in an open network and I've been leaning in favor of Openness instead of Privacy despite being in the crypto community for some years now. Steemit is more about openness, especially when you consider the introductory posts. There may be a clash between open social networks and privacy, but the good thing is at least members are rewarded for their openness. The data is also not controlled by centralized entities. Those who want to remain private still can participate and do well. Those that are more open are likely to gain more financially at a cost of their privacy.


I think that the avenue of a reward for openness might be a good tradeoff.
It would be essential to make safeguards against such a reward in relation to abuse, though. As it stands, you can be 'open' without ever being open, by wearing the mask of somebody else and making bank off of THEIR identity being the one noted down in the book of the blockchain.

Generally speaking, how do you see the value of openness being greater than that of privacy? I can see a big case for community pillars and matters such as goodwill backed escrow, but what else would you see as a value-compounding effect of using 'real' identities?


I'll describe more about the benefits of openness in a bit more detail later, but being public naturally improves trust. A real identity is scarce and hence more valuable. When you are public your reputation is on the line. From one perspective you use your reputation as an escrow. Ultimately those that have the most power today have the most to hide. Governments. The Mafia. Intelligence Agencies. Secret Societies. The more open we are as a society and the more value we are able to create with an open society, the less incentives there are to continue maintaining secrecy. In the past and in certain countries you could be persecuted for having the wrong ideas so in certain places privacy is important, but in the Internet Age and in modern societies we have an opportunity to take full advantage of being open and public.


Hey Jun,

this is a bit off-topic, but as you mention the Bitshares community...

can you recommend any exceptionally good posts of material to catch up on everything about Bitshares?

and/or - if you HAVE been in the Bitshares community a while, I imagine you could do an excellent job in curating a piece that'd help newbies to Bitshares get up-to-speed with their developments and growth.

having just discovered Bitshares, I'm a bit intimidated by the amount of conversation that's gone on - seems like a whole rabbit hole of its own, WELL-worth diving into - but not sure where to start. It'd be great to have a resource that'd help new Steemians unfamiliar with Bitshares get up to date and clarify what it is, the growth its gone through, the potentials for its future - especially integrating with Steemit.

is there such a resource that already exists...?


Hey Rok,
Well for technical resources & whitepapers you can go to @xeroc's: bitshares.eu
If you have time you can listen to Fuzzy's past mumble sessions at Beyond Bitcoin or go to bitsharestalk.org and read some of the past posts. I think someone was working on a book more about the history of Bitshares and Stan gave a very good background here. Max Wright did a Bitshares 101 ebook. Where is that guy anyways? Things have changed quite a bit so there's a lot to weed through to get up to speed and get accurate info. If you want to chat just email me at: jun@bitcash.org and I can give you my perspective via Skype anytime. Glad to hear of your interest.


awesome. thanks mate.
exactly the type of direction/guidance I was hoping for.

looking forward to connecting & chatting. may be in touch in a couple weeks, as would like to digest some of this info first and get myself up-to-date so can come into the conversation better prepared.

thanks much! :-)


I think that some kind of "reputation system" would be a great idea in the steemit network, many may say that we have already something like that- it is called wallet.
But i don't agree,i think that we should get some "users feedback" on someone's profile, to know if that person is nice and kind to others, not only have big account over here.


If we're going to try to enforce "nice and kind" here, I'm out. That's why I gave up on reddit. I'm interested in truth and sometimes, no matter how hard one tries, the truth just isn't kind. I've been really disappointed at the lack of curation here lately and the direction that the site is going so I've been calling people on their BS, and sometimes, particularly when I'm out of weed, I just don't care to put the kid gloves on. I'm down with preventing gaming and spam but if the polite police show up here, this site will suck.


There is a balance that can be made. It's not necessary to go in to full-on troll mode. That is the kind of thing we don't want. I want the truth to prevail as well. Being nasty in order to tell others what you think the truth is doesn't do anyone any good. They turn off to the "truth" as you see it and then you've wasted everyone's time. Better for you to just write out your comment, bask in it's glory, then delete it. You get your catharsis and nobody else has to suffer.

On the flip side we need to be able to listen to critical views and not cry. Some of us are too sensitive, and need to harden our skin. Others are too invested in their ideas to be able to listen to contrary views and need to lighten up and not think that others have any valid opinions.

Anyway, this is a new community and thus we have the opportunity to shape it to some degree. Let's work on that while the system is still relatively small. A system for keeping the trolls at bay and to incentivize kindness, without being heavy-handed and without censoring is possible. Just letting the "free market" fix everything is a pipedream. The free market of ideas needs some level of molding. Not a lot, just enough.


This platform is already dead to me. I'm so disgusted by the ignorant stuff that the whales are upvoting, the quality of content that people are posting, the lack of discussion, and the general ignorance here that this will be my last comment/post. Best of luck trying to out engineer stupid. :)

You laid out some great options, love the Wall of Shame idea for repeat offenders and a grace period to help encourage users to learn good posting habits.

A few thoughts. Reputation should be based on quality of content regardless of the users amount of STEEM Power. Encourage the minnows to build reputation by voting and commenting on great content versus needing to create posting material from scratch. It takes a while to grow the skills of writing good posts.

Upvote @steemrollin


Thanks. Yes I agree about having non-bot minnows build a reputation with commenting! I actually wrote a similar proposal a couple months back The important thing is for the community to recognize non-generic & relevant comments and reward people. It's hard for bots to create non-generic replies or at least it will take a lot of work to have bots pass the Turing test. The community will have to be diligent to determine which comments are relevant, but I think that'll make for a good system.


👍great post sir, keep up ur work...

I think the upvoting and flagging will take us in this direction by design. This is the beauty of Steemit, it cost people where it hurts, in their pockets, if they don't evolve and become better, more considerate bloggers and curators.


I agree that there is an inherent enforcement mechanism with upvoting/flagging and that's why we've started out well and we're in a better position than most open platforms. However as the value of the ecosystem increases the incentives to game the system increase as well.

I agree with the validation of new users with the #introduceyourself tag. I also think although criticism is bound to come from comments due to posting, I think everyone should respect each other to therefore promote the high integrity that was mentioned in this article. Thanks!


Yes the best way to grow organically is via friends, family and local acquaintances so we can easily validate them and expand the trust circles that way!


ala 7 degrees of seperation?

A great and thorough article with sound proposals, thank you.

The ultimate measure, in my opinion, would be some sort of AML/KYC mechanism in place at Steemit. Maybe not while registering but certainly when withdrawing.

Of course, this clashes with anonymity​ which, as I was told before, should be supported 100% if one wishes to remain anonymous.

The compromise​ would be that the real identity of the member would only be known to the staff of Steemit.

Of course, your options 4 and 5 should be done anyways.


It would be great to find more decentralized solutions for identity such as the Web of Trust. Instead of using a decentralized OpenPGP system, people decided to use centralized Certificate Authorities to manage server reputation for Internet infrastructure. That was unfortunate. I prefer to stay away from centralized AML/KYC processes in general because I think its main purpose is for governments & banks to maintain capital controls. Maybe Steemit can temporarily use its own identity systems, but the more decentralized & blockchain-based the reputation system is the better.

Please please follow number 5! https://steemit.com/secret-writer/@bendjmiller222/silencing-the-troll-earnest-disrespecting-stellabelle-exposetrolls I tried to silence a troll and have little traction due to my small audience. Keeping people responsible for their content and posts should have a feedback system to prevent abuse. Reputation should be taken very seriously. While I feel any user should have a voice, if enough users flag another who is damaging the experience of others, they should be limited in the amount of comments and posts they can make. And should have a review to see if they have changed their ways. I like your innovative thinking. Something similar to a eBay feedback system where great comments and posts by certain people should be allowed to be more visible.


Yes it would be good to start a post to give a bit more exposure to incivility. Instead of a Wall of Shame, perhaps we can start with something softer like a Community Public Service Announcement or Community Exposure Board to give people warnings and highlight bad behavior.. a lot of new people might not know what is acceptable so we should give fair warning and let people correct their behavior.


That is true, but it is not too hard to spot those who blatantly attempt to troll. Trolls need to be put in their place in my opinion, but new users should be given latitude :) But everything should be viewable by the community and have a vote system to reinstate people who have changed their ways.


I saw @earnest get censored by cheetah in one of my posts and almost quit this site on the spot. What you see as trolling, I and many others see as someone just speaking their mind and having a dissenting opinion. If you're going to try to turn this platform into a sjw "safe space", you will degrade this site significantly. Censorship sucks. The curation features don't work because everyone just jumps on posts whales vote on without even reading them and very few have the power to do anything other than post comments calling people on their BS. If you want a censored safe space, please go back to reddit.


@apocaloptimisto It has to do with incentives. As long as we have moderators who are able to censor, then they can control what we see. Minnow power isn't enough to counter a single moderator's decision and good luck getting our mods to change their minds on what is and is not fair game.
Even @anyx has said he doesn't feel like he's trying to be a good guy. He's just doing what he wants and if others agree then they will vote his way. But then of course there's loud complaints about downvotes when that happens too.

I vote that we stop using the term whale all together and start using the term moderator. They have paid for the privilege and we have agreed to those rules. So we need to respect the moderators decisions on what is and is not appropriate and fair, or we need to go somewhere else.
Right now the mods like their censorship. It's their investment, let them censor it all they want or petition the devs to change it so we have a voice based on something other than the money we are able to accumulate.


This site just lost a green tech inventing anarchist. I can't put up with the stupidity any longer. Best of luck with it.


I have no problem with a lot of what @earnest has to say, but being disrespectful and showing something unwarranted are what I would consider trolling. He does a great job researching and trying to find people gaming the system, but when he crosses the line he goes into troll land and I thoroughly dislike it. I know I am not alone in this opinion. Many people simply refuse to engage anymore with him. It's a shame because I do enjoy some of his posts and dedication. I don't hate him but I hope putting him on blast for what he did made him think. And I absolutely loathe Reddit. It has nothing of any quality or incentive for people to make heartfelt content (in general) and I dislike the feel of the entire site there. I upvoted your comment as I find it valid. I'm happy to have conversations without accusations. While earnest is often right, his confrontational demeanor is not winning as many friends as it could. I'd be happy to work with him if he wished

Steemit credit ratings could play a large role in decentralized and local credit markets. Enabling us, as individuals, to issue money that is backed by and can be used throughout our communities.


I agree. Our reputations can serve as credit ratings!

nice post... thanks for your artikel @steemrollin.... Reputation is very very important... up vote

Steemit is still In beta, It is not fully launched yet, So I think we will have everything sorted before it's completely launched

I like you, and you me, OK?

There are also such technologies of ranking and taking decision as quadratic voting and liquid democracy. Voting by stakes at carbonvote we have seen 2 weeks ago, it prove to be rather effective.


Interesting.. I think stakeweighted voting is far better than democracies, but don't know much about quadratic voting or liquid democracies. I'll look into it sometime. Thanks.

The reason because Steemit will be successful is that the people actually care. We are seeking for a good community and better content. We are kind and have respect. Steemit improves itself. I am happy :)

Tx. Your idea sounds good. Good content might get better judge. This may decrease the impression that only certain posts get attention.

Great post. @steemrollin. I agree that as steemit evolves there needs to be more thought into keeping the system viable and trustworthy. I for one have put my own money into buying STEEM and STEEM dollars. I want to see this new platform grow and not be abused by bots gaming the system. You have my up vote.


Thanks and yes that is why it's important to include stake in the equation. Stakeholders have the most to gain and lose!

Great idea... It's been brought up before. I'm not sure if this is in the works or it's been put on the back burner. But I think this would be a valuable asset to the future of the site and the mix of content, community, and rewards. Great post.


Thanks! Yes the Steemit team is definitely working on it according to recent posts, but I thought it would be good to get the conversation going about the various methods that can be used. There are probably many interesting ways to design the system.

Excellent post @steemrollin !

And I agree 100& that a reputation system is key to future success.

I wrote an article about detecting fake profiles :)

Not easy to come up a way to get reward system right. because a lot of people will try to break the system down and find loopholes. We have to keep trying and learn from it.

Nice work steemrollin. I think you're on my #green-list of good authors. The list isn't perfect, but I appreciate those listed and other older authors, continuously outputting great stuff. I just wanted to say I've already invented the idea you seek: The Idea - Adding Wisdom to Steam. This may still be useful despite having many voting changes since then.

Edit: I believe you still have a good point, and what it requires is a really good formula, that's bitcoin simple. The rest we must leave to social principles. I trust that experts at Steem already have been and are thinking through this, and I acknowledge I don't have all the details.


Thanks for putting me on the list! Interesting idea. I think if there is enough demand we can add an extra layer of value like Wisdom to the system. Yes we need a really good formula...

You bring up important ideas to help refine the trust in this community. I wonder if something like Backfeed could be used as a layer for the reputation system? I think its a platform, but perhaps it can be integrated in some way. It's tools like Backfeed that will fine tune the trust within blockchain communities.


Yes I think Backfeed is a platform/ecosystem to follow. I assume it's built on Ethereum?

@steemrollin This is a great post!
I can see how this would work, but there will always be those who try to game the system and because of that, you will get diminishing returns each time you try to address the problem with these types of solutions.

Because this isn't the problem, it's the symptom.
Since you linked the villifying bots post I know you've read up on my analysis of the reasons why these problem people are coming in and causing problems, but let me reiterate.

This is a game, a very good game, a very fun game. A game with 40,000 plus players scattered around the globe.

But it is a game with an unbalanced ruleset.
The lack of balance in the ruleset causes people with an "I'm in it to win it at all costs" mentality to begin using every tool at their disposal to win.

A good example is the rise of the upvote bots.
Unless you're a dolphin or better, your vote means nothing except personal satisfaction to those you upvote.

You can upvote with or without comment. So it's very easy to just click that little upvote button and that reduces the thought involved, by design.

People aren't curating based on content. They are curating based on hope of a payout or based on friendship. Because this game has implemented timers which determine how long you have in which you can earn a curation award. You have to wait 30 mins to get your award, but you also have to do it before a whale sees it and then hope that a whale DOES see it.

Both of these are actually forms of vote selling. But if that's your criteria for upvoting, then Hello upvote and comment bots.

Adding identity isn't going to fix this because the bots are already coming from accounts which are verified and unique social media accounts.

This means that people get bored, know they will get punished for boting, and sell their account on the black market for money to people who don't care if their bots are punished.

The solution?
Make minnow votes count a lot more and ensure that the only way a new account can join is if they are invited by someone who has made the front page already. Give the minnows an invite for each time they make it to trending.

Alternatively, make a minnow's voting power proportional to the number of followers that they have and let their followers know when they have upvoted or commented on something.

People aren't going to follow bots unless the bot has been extraordinarily good at picking winners. If the bot is picking winners, then it's performing a service to the community and should probably left alone.

As long as we value a posting, not based on the quality of the people who care about it, but on the fact that one member of representativly tiny fraction of the community has liked it, then this kind of abuse will continue.

I vote we stop calling whales, whales. Instead call them what they are, mods. If a mod upvotes your posting then it makes it to the front page. So why bother giving minnows a say at all? If we value the dollars in a persons wallet and we say that this is an indicator of importance, then just remove the upvote all together so people don't get frustrated.

Then we just make more mods. Restore voting power after certain number of dollars are earned in steem power let's say 5,000 and this would fix the problem because at 5,000SP you have raised the difficulty to the point that you really have friends and really have made an investment in the platform.


I agree there are various ways to improve the system as you suggest. Minnow voting still helps identify good content. Voting may be based on what minnows think whales want, but that's ok too because if they are right they are doing a good job curating for the most important stakeholders in the system. It will eventually spread out. I started as a minnow and voted on things I thought were good as well as those that I thought whales liked. I still do that, but since I'm a dolphin now I focus more on content I want to reward. It may not be perfect, but from my personal experience things seem to be working pretty well. I agree about making more 'mods' in the system.

Nice, I like the conversation you're promoting here. I'm still a baby on this system, so maybe I'll sound dumb in my response but I totally like the idea of a reputation system per person, and a way of clearly revealing some verification of the author. But like I said, I'm super noob...so maybe I sound like a dork 🙊?


Lol. Yes community member validation/verification will help. BTW I like your work so keep it up and I'm sure you'll get noticed soon. You should do a formal #introduceyourself post holding up a picture of you with a steemit sign or a video... your story from one of your posts is great.


Thanks so much! I'll do an intro post for sure :) Loving this community and the entire platform, so cool. Spent most of today figuring out the technical stuffs. I'm looking forward to focusing more on content now that I think I'm getting the hang

This is a trending topic. Indeed value must be recognized and trolls must be walled. Since you got in the TOP 10 Trending articles on Steemit I've added your article to the Flipboard Steemit Trending Magazine for everyone to see it.

And also the ability to follow users.

These ideas you posted up will inspire the developers to create breakthroughs.


I'm sure they are already on their way to creating more breakthroughs.. but thanks for the thought @cybercodetwins! Hope all is well!

nice post

It's a good idea but most people won't have any reputation at all. The general population is not very tech savvy and doesn't care much about this kind of stuff.


I agree, but active participants will earn a reputation whether people understand the algorithms and metrics or not. The community culture is something people can understand and help with.

Great article. PGP has been around for the last 15+ years and it's stood the test of time IF you create a 4k and above key pair. Pointless creating anything less than that.

Do NOT use KYC protocol as it'll sound the end of Steemit for anyone who gives a shit about their digital privacy and decentralised platforms.

PGP works as a 2fa for login, can be implemented and creates locally using the android APK app and will be around long after all other fancy web based encryption methods have fallen.

Hi steemrollin Thank you for your post. I fully believe that reputation is key and as so I am trying my best to do so. The steemit community is amazing and some of the posts which people put out are truly special and some are even hard to find. I do a daily pick where I look for these great posts and for me it is life changing as many of the posts which I find and read make a difference in my life. Steemit is truly marvellous.

@dan @ned Why do I have negative reputation? Can you please explain the system to me. I haven't trolled and I verified my profile.