I am re-posting this post as I spent a lot of time on it and it was downvoted to -$150 from @ranchorelaxo and @haejin in the recent drama. Feel free not to upvote it, but I don't feel it should be invisible due to rage flagging.
I don't think a day has passed since I have been here that I haven't heard some mention of self-voting. For the first month or two, I didn't fully understand the debate. I believe the first week or so I self-voted and then stopped. For four months I didn't self-vote at all. The last month or two I've thought about it a lot and am not really sure how I feel about it.
Keep in mind, there are no real rules on Steemit regarding this, and it is merely my opinion and observations. Feel free to completely disagree.
Is self-voting bad?
If you want that answer, you can stop now. I really don't know, but before you leave I do have a lot to say on it and I think it is worth listening to.
Types of self-votes
In my opinion, there are many different kinds of self-votes and I believe they should be considered differently.
The most basic and popular upvote is self-upvoting your own post. The typical Steemian posts one to ten times a week, don't quote me on this, I haven't done any official research. This type of upvote is what I avoided for most of my time on Steemit, but I am starting to have doubts. In fact, Steemit Inc almost encourages this practice as when you create your first post you are greeted with this:
The default option is to vote on your post, this sets the initial mindset for new users that self-voting is fine and in fact, encouraged. Now I still don't know if this is a bad practice, but at this point in my life, I think it's ok. If you are only posting once, twice, maybe three times a day with valuable content that you spent time on and are not just creating posts with as little effort as you can, then I think this is acceptable. The key thing here is offering value, every post I write I try to offer value to anyone reading it. I value every reader and follower I have, and I don't want to waste their time. I am a firm believer that You Are not entitled to an audience, you need to earn it!.
I wrote a post recently about The truth and lies about 25% curation, why what you know is FAKE NEWS. and I did a little research on self-voting. I looked at the top 10 posts on the Hot section and checked which posts were self-voted. The results are not likely surprising.
This type of self-vote comes in a few forms. I am not a fan of the self-vote every comment you make. It's just my opinion, and it isn't etched in stone. There really are no official rules here, it's more what the community finds acceptable. There are scenarios I am ok with self-voting comments.
When there is an active post, and I believe I have important information regarding the post. Now here is the thing, almost everyone thinks everything coming out of their mouth is important. I hate to break it to you, but that is not the case. Most of us like to talk, and most of it is just that, talk. There are situations though what you say has a big impact on the discussion. For example, a post talking about something that you find important information that is incorrect, I could see self-voting my comment to get it to the top to get more exposure to the author.
Another situation that is happening frequently now is downvoting, a lot of people are emotionally flagging people because of a difference of opinion. Using a self-vote to counter these flags is understandable.
Just self-voting every comment you have for 100% isn't a practice I agree with, but I am not Steemit Inc, and it isn't my responsibility to set what is allowed or not allowed here.
One thing I do think we should all agree is a problem, is the 6-day 12-hour self-vote comment/post. For example, there are multiple users making comments on #introduceyourself posts and voting them for $15-60+ right before lock-out (6-days 12-hours). The comments are typically as simple as "Welcome to Steemit". This is a practice I'd love to see die as it offers nothing to the Steemit community. Post rewards should be proportional to the value you offer. It won't always work this way, many people have supporters that vote for friends and causes they believe in. This is perfectly fine, but there is no reason a "Welcome to Steemit" comment spammed in 10+ threads a day should be rewarded with $56 upvote (which is more like $230 USD).
I frequently hear the phrase "it is their stake to do with as they please" and this is where I am really conflicted and where the system fails to scale. Let me pose a few scenarios.
As a minnow, you likely have around 1000 SP or less, your upvote is valued at $0.25 or less. Self-voting every post isn't hurting anyone, it's your stake to use with as you please. It's extremely difficult to get any other votes from anyone or even get someone to read your post. In an ideal world, they would make one post a day, and distribute their 10 $0.25 upvotes/day to commenters of their post. The readers and community will reward the user with around $2.50 or more worth of upvotes to make a completely balanced system.
This user has over 5,000 SP, his or her upvote is worth a few dollars. The dolphin posts and receives $10 or more on their post, and distributes their 10 $1+/day upvotes to the commenters and the system works as intended.
This is where the system starts to break down, a whale is going to have a $25-$500 vote. This same scenario no longer works, on the lower end, it is possible. $250 for a post isn't unheard of, but $2,500 isn't going to happen. Nor can you expect someone with $3M USD worth of Steem Power to be expected to donate it away to commenters.
If you invest hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions, you should be able to realize a return on your investment. The way curation is now, that's not going to happen with just curation. A decent curator can average 2 SP/week per 1,000 SP they own. A whale with 1M Steem Power could be looking at 2,000 SP/week in curation rewards. That's roughly 10 years of 100% participation and consistency to see a 100% ROI on their vested Steem. What is the point of investing that much money into a platform when you have to give it all away?
This gets at the heart of the discussion going on now to change the way curation rewards are handled. There are talks about going back to 50/50 where the author gets 50% of the rewards and the curators split the last 50%. This would provide more incentives for whales to vote and create a more attractive ROI.
Hard Fork 20 Changes
Hard fork 20 is changing the way the reverse auction works and cutting the first 30 minutes of a vote down to 15 minutes. If you vote in the first 15 minutes, instead of it going to the author, it will be returned to the reward pool. This will remove some of the self-voting, at least the early self-voting.
All that said, I am still not sure where I stand. I can see reason with both arguments, and to be honest they both have flaws. I think the system needs to change to find a better answer to this question. I believe it is your stake to do with as you feel is a fair as long as it is valuable content that shows effort and isn't plagiarised, stolen, disproportionately taking from the reward pool and preferably not farming comments and posts prior to lock-out. I think a good rule of thumb is if you saw this content with this current value on it, would you vote on it?
Like I said, it isn't a perfect system. In an ideal world we would spend 100% of our voting power on the community and promote the best content, and investors would get an ROI they are happy with. I don't think there will ever be a perfect balance. The important take away is that we all share the same reward pool. Everything you do has an impact on everyone else in the community.
In the meantime, I started to self-vote my 1-2 posts a day, and spend the rest of my voting power in the community upvoting good posts, supporting friends and causes I believe in, flagging spammers and abuse. I don't vote comments unless I feel it is important (about 0-2 a week).
It will be interesting to see where things go, but we have some work to do.
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