The reality of self-voting and Steemit

in steemit •  last year

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.

Upvote Post

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.

Upvote comment
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.

I tagged this with @timcliff's #discussion tag, so have at it in the comments. Like always, I read them all.


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I think something that may help is having some sort of a "author voting power" basically when you vote on someone it would vote with a percentage of your vote with a formula like; percent of last x amount of votes that did not go to that same author.

For example, if I have self voted 50% of my last x votes, my vote would be worth 50% of what it normally is worth.

The problem with saying "no self votes" (I know, you're not saying that but some people are) is that people will just create other accounts to self vote themselves. With my proposed solution it would counter that work around as well.

I would think that this would encourage people to spread around their votes more or at least give you less and less weight everytime you vote on the same person.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Keep up the good work! Sorry about that whole flagging mess earlier! I'm glad you took the high ground!

Edit: I decided to write a post about this
Enjoy! ;)


I think a lot of stuff that goes on can be boiled down to self-voting. I'm starting to come to the conclusion self-voting isn't bad if it isn't abused.


I think I agree. At least for now haha. It's when it is exclusive self-voting when it is a big problem I think.

I don't know. Given the recent blessing of such actions in order to end the drama, I wonder if we all shouldn't just use any means at our disposal to get the most possible out of steemit for ourselves. They seem to intend it to be that way. If nothing else, it will spur change.

I try to comment on a lot of posts. I don't usually upvote my comments, but if there's a discussion and I feel I offer a different perspective, I will. I see this as a sacrifice on my part as I would rather have the voting power to spend on something else.

There is another aspect in which whales can gain readership and return. That is the effect that comes from upvoting other with such a high upvote. I have only been upvoted a few times by whales here on the platform, but in every case I have followed them and thanked them by supporting various efforts they are a part of. Basically whales can buy friendships, and that brings added value to their posts.


I'm starting to feel anything goes at this point unless someone disagrees

This really is the top discussion moving forward. I have yet to hear a great answer to these problems.

I am tempted to say never to self voting, though if I self vote late, at least my voters get better curation. I do use my vote to raise my comments occasionally, that is the most useful part of the self vote, IMO.

But, self voting technically cannot add value to the platform. By the very definition, it breaks the system. I am tempted to say W/E to the investors concerns, there are a lot of other things they could be investing in.

But either way, I'm still having fun here! I think thats the most important part.


It's not my place to say what is right or wrong, but I think self-voting your posts is considered acceptable and is actually the norm here. For the average person that posts 1-3 times a day and doesn't have hundreds of thousands or millions in stake, I don't think anyone would have a problem with it.


Let me just self-vote my comment right to the top ;p


Hahaha....assuming I can help you do that


You may help!


Am helping by commenting on it already. Three comments = an upvote

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.

I believe this is a step in the right direction. 50/50 split seems interesting as well but not sure if it could be gamed through circular voting. Thanks for throwing down your insight. I'm pretty hard line against self-voting my posts/comments above others.

The way I figure, we need to promote thoughtful participation and contribution from the whole gamut of users. It's kind of like having a group conversation and maybe there're that one person that talks over others because they believe what they have to say is more important. Maybe it is and maybe it is but I think we both can agree that it shouldn't necessarily be the $$$ in your pocket that says whether something is meaningful or not.

I'm not upvoting this comment. It will get where it needs to go and read by whom is intended to read it. If nothing else @themarkymark will read it, because he said he would. :)

By the way, thanks for supporting @steemflagrewards!


So. I am not only a minnow I am just barely out of the egg. Fact of the matter is, I came to Steemit right as your 'drama' was cooking along nicely, and some of the first stuff I really read. My thought at the time was something like 'wtf have I gotten myself into'?

I was unsure how I felt about the whole deal, so I didn't follow you then cause I just didn't know. I've seen a couple of posts not related to the mess and followed you just now.

On self upvoting? I don't average once a day. Hell, at my VP I don't have anywhere near enough votes to cast for the stuff I really like...

I think it all boils down to a simple question. "Are you here to make bank or to make a bankable place?" I would hope that every single user would answer that question honestly. I don't much care which answer, but I know I will offer my precious resources to option b.

Thanks for a terrific and thoughtful post.

I have been a damned fool for not self voting

This really feels like a moral dilemma. I haven't upvoted one of my posts or comments yet and don't feel comfortable doing it. However, the way you describe it, I must say, I'm slightly doubting my beliefs. I have had people upvote their comments on my post and don't have any objection to it.

Can one honestly say that he/she upvotes for awareness instead of financial gain?

Really looking forward to an updated version of this post in a month's time where you share your finding of self upvoting 1-2 times a day (if you'd be willing to write one of course :)..)

Thanks for sharing more light on this issue. Still can't make my mind about about it either, but at least I have a little more clarity of the impact now.


Unless your vote is worth hundreds of dollars or you post zillion times a day, don't worry about it.


Good to know. Thanks for the comforting thought.

The system should always account for the nature of humans. The curation should be worth it even without some vague goal of making the platform better.
I upvote other people if I like what they are saying, but I have no shame in upvoting myself as well, since after all both upvoting yourself and others should be to your best interest, otherwise what is the point.

I think tying curation rewards to author rewards would be better, remove SP curation rewards, instead provide some other token that expires every week that depending on how much you earn will either decrease or increase the rewards on all your own posts.

Thank you for your thoughts on this topic. As a newbie, self-votes are my primary source of income^^ Without buying more into STEEM, it will take ages to catch up. It´s not very motivational in a way, but hey, we have to accept the rules and as long as self-votes are technically possible, no one is to blame, if they make use of it.

Minnow here! After generally getting over the quandary that it was ok to upvote your own articles, I’ve been doing it. Always after 30 minutes.

I don’t post once a day as it takes time to get a piece together. But I’m also incredibly active on commenting - upvoting others (omg my power got hit recently) and looking for new users in my kind of niche field to give back what little I can and attempt to build a community. I can’t give back in whale like stakes, but I feel like this is helping in some shape or fashion.

I can see why some people get trapped into the game side of being on here, like it is an iOS coin clicker, but my aim is to not ever fall succeptible to that. So no bots etc for me. If something I do doesn’t get traction, then it doesn’t get traction. No hills to die on.


can someone explain the "after 30 minutes"? I missed the explanation to why voting right away is bad...


If you self vote immediately, you claim the curation pool for yourself. So nobody on your interactions gets any share.

I kind of feel that is against the ethos of this place, so I only ever come in after 30 minutes. That is the cut off point. Between immediate and 30 minutes, a sliding scale of rewards are then applied.

Same if you're voting on the post as a user. Get in too early, you don't get much. After 30 minutes you can get more BUT if most people get in at, say, 25 minutes, you need to be in before they do.

It's all very math-y.


and what when you vote for someone else high in steem immediately?


I'm at the point where I think it is fine to upvote your own posts provided you don't have a ridiculous amount of stake and doing it 10 times a day. The jury is out on what the line is though.

Less then a week old and came in at the end of the steemy wars. made my 1st comment about it.

It's Pandora box opened. And human behaviour. the label you put on the behaviour call it greed selfish self interest or other, does not hold much difference. It will always be there. the best we can hope for is there are still more out there community minded then self interest motivated.

My own belief would stand on a better community creates a better living for everyone. A better community along with better social equality and on and on I could go is what I place my moral judgements on.

We all know in our heart what is right or wrong , and we know also , that although something is not listed as wrong. We still know if it is taken advantage, abusing or misusing something for personal benefit. (Guilty of that, I upvote my comments to help me gain a voice in the community) I also share out other votes to places I have left comments. I do not fully understand the voting system yet, and my 1st few hours I upvoted nearly everything I seen. and I upvoted here now cause I think and open discussion like this about these issues is needed.

Self interest vs a community will be with us for a long time

hlw my dear sir @themarkymark Good" job & i like your work. have a nice day.

I'm very new at this comunity, and my question might seem stupid, but... From the same point fo view of your post, Is it ok to re-share somebody else's post?... Example, can I just share this article?

I don’t really self vote much, first because it doesn’t make much of a difference in my case.

And second because I prefer to leave that spot free to another user who wants to support me.

@themarkymark can you please explain/comment on the $458.85 Comment reward in this post. Thanks,


Someone using their stake as they see fit.

He also explains it here:



You really have made a great article and of course it is okay to repost it as it should not be hidden because of the flags from the war (by the way, have you seen that @haejin is now at 500$ + per post after the end of the war? This is a hudge growth, some will say). You have made a great analisys of the cases of self voting, much deeper than I thought about it ever. Mainly I have the same opinion about self upvoting, but I forgot of the case where you want to counter some flags (didn't happen too often to me, fortunately). In a recent post I felt that I needed to leave the following comment to excuse myself:

Sorry for upvoting this post when I have published it and removed some curation rewards from you guys. Posting from my phone is really killing me!

Because the same checkbox with the upvote this post was already checked and I didn't saw it on my phone. From this point of view I can say I am happy because I don't have many readers so nobody would care anyway :)

Did anyone notice that damarth didn't even spell the name right on his self-vote comment?

It's your money. You have the right to do with it whatever you want, no matter if your account has a million steem or 1,000...or 10 lol! It's yours and no one has the right to say anything of it. A lot of people forget that a lot put their money into it and time...which is money. :-)


I think things are a little more complicated because ethics are involved. Sure, you can use your stake however you like but this is more about bigger picture and implications for instance how this affects quality of posts. As themarkymarky mentioned,

Everything you do has an impact on everyone else in the community.

And people have the right to talk about this issue. I'm just not going to tell @clove71 personally what you should do with your stake. You have to draw your own conclusion as to what is good for the you or the community or both as perhaps the two need not be mutually exclusive.

It's hard to break the norm, and the new ones simply copy which further multiplies the occurence. People will often find ways to maximize personal interest, which is why even if we get an update, there will those who will find a work around.

Post like this helps and educates. It may take time to create a practice, but we can try.

Wait wait wait, you mean that a whale could give someone up to $500 when they upvote their COMMENT? Whaaaa?!

You're forgetting one thing: people who flag, just like selfvoters & reward pool rapists are using their stake as they like. This system works best when it works per consensus, but because certain things need AI programming to deal with, it's up for the community to measure this consensus, and give authority to individuals who are capable of enforcing it, i.e by mass delegation that will create a mega-whale that can enforce the community's wishes.
But for that to happen, a referendum needs to happen, to see where the tides flow, and afterwards the whole of Steem could act as one big organism, and not a bunch of bacteria fighting over glucose!


The problem I had in the recent situation is the lack of consensus, it was one person doing most of the voting, and it was the maximum number of posts/votes per day to maximize the reward to the drop.


Aren't most people against reward pool rape?


That's what I thought. I think the threat of being rage flagged is too great.

I have sent 1sbd before you change the minium, i want to refund. thank you

yesterday Transfer 1.000 SBD to buildawhale


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Important and timely piece @themarkymark. My colleagues and I have been... struggling with this conundrum, sitting on our hands waiting to hear learned discussion on the appropriateness of self-upvoting. Thank you. Witness vote submitted.

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.

So is this a decision that will just be handed down from on high without any public discussion regarding the ramifications?


It's been discussed with a lot of people in private channels, but most changes are not passed as consensus to the general public. It would be nice to have some sort of way to vote on changes or have priorities, but I don't see that happening.


Thanks for the reply.
I am curious as to why you don't see that happening?
Is that due to the lack of a suitable tool for tracking how decisions are made?
or some other more political reason?




I always upvote my own articles but I never upvote any of my comments. I've been doing this ever since I joined back in July 2016 and I will most likely continue to do this for as long as I'm here.

Well, if I suddenly became a billionaire and got $10,000 for each upvote, I would obviously not upvote any content at all with 100%. But that's not very likely to happen. ;)

Thanks for the great work you are doing fighting the people abusing the reward pool.

I am a minnow with an upvote of 0.08$ and as you said,chances are high no one might even see my post,so am forced to upvote myself.
I admit i have done this.

I am proud though that i dont upvote my comments.

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.

The whales should reduce on the self voting percentage though,i now its their Steem Power so they deserve the pay.
It becomes bad when yo write more than 5 posts a day and youself vote to 500$..!!

I am a minnow and my opinion does not count though lol.

yeah, I see why you posted this article again. It's really good and has a load of information that would help a newbie like me get better acclaimed to this community. I had no idea that you could self-vote your own article. I also didn't know what a Dolphin and Whale was and what they could do. Great education! Thanks.

Thank you for informing me

I have found that "self-voting" on almost any platform is considered "bad manner" so I make a conscious effort not to do it even knowing full well that it "harms my growth".

Some things are worth building properly even if it takes longer or is more difficult. Personally, I relish the challenge.

Well that was a lot of reading probably took me 15mins or so and if the next hard fork changes that would create the incentive to upvote just exact now.

lol thats if my sp was high but pls do manage my 0.07 probably worth a lot one day lol just kidding

But same time a question came up and that is

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.

Agree on this but then what qualifies a good post?

Number of readers/viewers?


There are lot of post with many views but no comments

I appreciate your insight. I had no idea I was upvoting myself! ( I am new here)Upvoting oneself feels like self-praising. Just like FB or Instagram, we generally don't like our own post. In this platform, it seem to have a different concept of " liking"/ upvoting a post. Thanks again for all the information, learnt a lot.

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.

No. The people who use the timed bots will just continue to vote between the 15-30 minute window. It won't change a thing.

What would really eliminate problems with the Rewards Pool is to remove the ability to upvote from the API and only allow upvoting on No more circle jerks, no more paying for upvotes, no more fake upvote counts.

Does any whale or witness have the balls to make that suggestion?

@themarkymark. I appreciate this post a ton. I am super new to Steemit as I have only just joined this week. So, reading blogs like this really help me to get some insight, knowledge and perspective into this while thing. Great content.

SO. Thank you :)

I have been wondering about the protocols as well. Especially considering that Steem has an option to automatically upvote your posts, I look at it as marketing. You've put money into developing your account and when you upvote, it helps that post get attention and reimburse you for the effort you put into writing the post.

At first, in the beginning of my being on steemit, I thought, self-voting? OMG fat necks ... ( people who like burb out how good they find themselves. ) But slowly understanding a bit more, I think it is the only way how to create an income for yourself. How it influences I still have no idea, I do not get that one... resteem direct or upvote direct, or after half an hour, is things that go past me I do not understand. I now upvote what I see as good contense, the blog of my daughter and the blog of a friend. When something of me did not get upvotes I will upvote it my self. I hope once to understand it all. :-)

Well my dear themarkymark, I have learned from everything you have written. In my case I have to do a self-service because it is practically the only thing I have insurance. I must have patience; I consider that I have placed good post however I have not been rewarded. I still work hard. regards

This post just brings some light to the inner working of this platform!!!
I believe that should be the community to judge your work, and self-upvote... meh is just like telling to myself that I'm awesome...
To the analytics, maybe interesting, but for actual people with real interests (not bots)... well that's another story! Tks @themarkymark.

will keep this in mind, i'm new here and still learning how steemit works for the best interest of the community.