Why I Stopped Using Upvote Bots And Why You Should Do The Same!

in #upvotebots6 years ago (edited)


Until just recently, I was a fan of upvote bots and used them extensively. Impart to push my articles to the top of a category and impart I did some tactical upvoting to maximize my payouts.

To me, upvote bots were the great equalizer since even minnows could use them to get some attention while pushing their payouts.

But in the past days, my opinion towards these upvote bots has changed fundamentally.

I came to the conclusion that they don't have much of a real use or value, because you don't really get higher payouts by using them. Depending on the circumstances, you may get more visibility, but overall bots facilitate the gap between minnows and whales, which is as I think very hazardous for the further development of the platform.

The extensive usage of bots has created an entitled financial Steem elite that gets much from the platform, but doesn't really give anything back in comparison.

Therefore, I have quit using bots and I recommend you to do the same.

What should replace upvote bots?

The main idea behind upvote bots is that you can buy yourself a top position in the „hot“ or „trending“ section of a specific tag.

While this works impart – you always have to assume that others try the same – I think this specific visibility problem could be solved much more elegantly (apart from the fact that you can also comment and network with like-minded users who will be happy to upvote you.)

Specifically, I have in mind that users should not just be able to follow (or mute) other users, but also tags. This would lead to a much higher likelihood of not just getting seen by like-minded users, but also improves the own user experience, since „colorchallenge“ is not everyone's thing, but surely clogs up your feed as well.

Just think of how different your feed would look like if all these challenges were replaced with content about topics that you are interested in!

This change in the Steemit.com script surely would be a piece of work, but then again it isn't rocket science. I have no idea why this hasn't been done yet, because personally, I would find it intuitive to add such a functionality. (The same issue by the way is with languages. It's not that hard to add a selector that filters out the languages you would not like to be bothered with in your feed.)

My bottom line for the issue of pushing your article with the help of upvote bots is this: It can be replaced by something that even works better, someone just has to do it.

I do have a hunch of why nothing has been done so far, but to that more later in this post.

At least in my case upvote bots leave impressive numbers, but only until the payout comes.

Probably, I am doing something wrong. But so far I somehow always ended up with by far less as actual reward payout for my upvote bot treated posts than the number below the article claimed it to be.

In fact, it was usually zero minus 20% in gains in terms of SBD (and yes, the curation rewards for others are already subtracted).

This means, I did not get back more SBD with the payout than I paid for upvotes, but I effectively lost money there. (I didn't do exact math about it, but noticed it over a period of a month with lots of upvote buying.)

With every payout, you also get some Steem. But here too, the bottom-line is rather disappointing. If simply you buy the Steem directly on the market for your SBD instead of getting them via an upvote bot, you end up with at least as much Steem as you would have gotten through the payout.

Of course, this depends on the price ratios of Steem and SBD, but my gut tells me, I made a really bad deal with buying upvotes instead of Steem most of the time.

And yes I know, you have to look for the percentage of upvote power by the bot and also the timing of the upvoting plays a role.

Depending on your skill and knowledge of the inner workings of the system, you might do better and actually make a profit. But I am convinced that on average(!), users make a bad deal with buying upvotes.

They do it anyway because the number looks so big and covers the fact of being a false impression. (At least in my case that played a role.)

So, if you end up with a minus as buyer – what's in for the witnesses and whales who run those upvote bots?

Overall, I would say there is roughly one dozen of big upvote bots and most of them belong to one or several whales, but there are also upvote bots that are crowd funded like @boomerang and @minnowbooster.

I wrote a post analyzing the latter kind and I came to the conclusion that if you can afford to delegate Steem Power to them, you can earn a good income.

Depending on the circumstances, per 1 SP you can get out about 0.0018 SP per day. Take that by 5,000 SP delegated and multiply that with the current market price of Steem and you can retire, well, almost.

So, if even relatively small players can make such a profit, what is in for the really big ones?

I decided to take a closer look at two of the big upvote bots. @buildawhale with about 1.8 Million Steem Power owned by @themarkymark and @upme owned by @suggeelson and having 2.4 Million Steem Power at its disposal. Both users are witnesses. (I should add that I am not much a fan of themarkymark but had a very positive encounter with suggelson.)

I picked out Monday, February 12th 2018 and looked (on Steemworld) how much SBD for upvote requests the two bots received and gave an upvote in return for. I subtracted all other payments and upvote requests that haven't been filled. My goal was to get to their bottom-line aka the profits of the day... and you should better sit down for the results.

On that Monday the @buildawhale bot made his ower 1,952 SBD (~10,000 US-Dollar) and @upme raked in 2,582 SBD (~12,500 US-Dollar) - and I don't think this day was anything special. In fact, you can look up the amounts made every day by searching for the payments that went to @alpha, where the money goes which is made by buildawale and the upme profits go to @freedom.

The extrapolation shows that both bots make more than one Million US-Dollar a year. (Question: Do they pay taxes for that?)

If you think now: „Hey, maybe they don't make that much money every day. Perhaps it was an exception..“ Well no, that Monday was pretty average. Look it up in their wallets.

This is absolutely absurd and also absolutely mindblowing and even dwarfs the activities of @haejin!

They „earn“ so astronomically much, but I don't see them change and improve the platform in a way that would justify this kind of money.

Just to give you a comparison: Tim Cook, CEO of Apple („iPhone“, „iPad“) made 12.8 Million US-Dollar last year. The rather rhetorical question is: Has the average whale behind one of the big upvote bots also third of value that Tim Cook has for Apple?

The business of the upvote bots is nothing else but what they (especially markymark!) accuse haejin of doing: Relentlessly exploiting the system in a reckless way.

It also leaves the strange impression that part of the action against @haejin was nothing but a witch-hunt where other witches probably saw mighty competition rising (remember, the SP you have determins the voting power for witnesses; also: when the SBD go to haejin they don't go to the bots). And so they decided to get rid of this competition to keep the Steemit oligarchy closed.

Of course, this is just a speculation and the article is supposed to be mainly about the uselessness of upvote bots and not „reward pool rape“, but this does strike me as very odd.

Upvote bots effectively widen the wealth and influence gap on the platform while the Steemit „middle class“ is as common as a unicorn.

A few days ago I came across an article by @talkmaster4450 about @ fulltimegeek and @stellabelle delegating Steem Power for free to others so that a „middle class“ can emerge. The argument in the post was that most users are disappointed because they hardly get a good upvote (~10$) and have to live with good content getting just cents – or they have to use bots to make it look like more. That the same moment there is a thin upper-class busy with voting for itself, or running auto-voting systems – or running upvote bots.

The wealth gap with the absense of a „dolphin“ middle class, so the argument, hurts the platform and drives users away. That's why whales like @stellabelle and @fulltimegeek are so important, because they give so much Steem Power to others for free, so more users can make upvotes with significant amounts and the wealth on Steemit can spread better throughout the platform and reach smaller users who create quality.

@talkmaster4450 demanded that other whales should do the same to facilitate the creation of a strong „middle class“ made up of thousands of „dolphins“.

While I was at first very sceptical especially because there is not enough Steem Power out there to put is idea into reality, I am now convinced that this is absolutely necessary – even tough of course on a smaller level because there is simply not enough Steem Power out there. Instead of 10,000 new dolphins, maybe 2,000 or so might be more realistic.

But this won't happen and here comes in my hunch that I have mentioned above:

The current situation is so extremely profitable(!) for whales that you need to be a very big idealist to change course and delegate SP for free instead of a bot.

The profit situation for the top 0.01% of Steemit is so extremely – no, epically – crazy that they would be stupid to change anything.

  • They are ok with the platform not running smoothly.
  • They are ok with no improvements in the user experience for the platform.
  • They are ok with 95% minnows with a 1% upper-class and some dolphins between.
  • They are ok with SBD being a faulty „currency“.
  • They are ok with „proof-of-brain“ distortions due to the upvote business that drains the quality filter for upvotes (right now it's more of a „proof-of-brainless“ concept)
  • They are ok with dissens throughout the platform over payout distributions and Wild West methods to fight „reward-pool-rape“ which drives away users and investors.
  • And they are also ok with Steemit failing eventually!

And why?

Because they found a way to become filthy rich in a dramatically short time.

For some whales it appears that the Steem blockchain and Steemit as its application is not a new exciting concept where the future of the digital world is tested and explored. For them it's just an enormously huge goldmine with the nuggets lying around openly on the ground.

All they have to do is picking them up and carry them away before others realize their chance and it looks to me like they are doing exactly that.

This priority overshadows necessary improvements of the front-end, a proper marketing strategy and the development of a reward structure that makes sense as a whole.

I have painted a very negative image here.

Of course, the money made is not immediately paid out and exchanged into something else. Most of the money goes to holding accounts. In the case of buildawhale it is the account @alpha and the bulk of SBD made by upme goes to @freedom.

This indicates that these players do have certain long-term interests. At least as Steem crypto holders they will want to play a decisive role.

But it also means that their voting power for witnesses is growing fast and with that their influence on the general direction of Steemit. All that in such a pace, that the platform will soon end up with an oligarchy that can only be toppled by the userbase when they leave Steemit collectively and go elsewhere for blogging and networking and whatever you do here right now.

I can't stop you from using (or running) upvote bots, but I think it is important for you to know that you don't help yourself by using them.

Given how the Steem/Steemit system works, I guess, we will have to live with paid upvotes as long as there are no dramatic changes made to the platform (or to the attitude of its whales and witnesses).

With every upvote you buy, you close the system a little bit more on the back-end. And looking at the impart rampant inactivity, incompetence and ignorance (and apparent greed) by some in the witness stand, with every upvote you buy, you also kill Steemit a tiny little bit more.

That's why at least I won't use upvote bots anymore.

Image sources: Alamy, Republic Broadcasting


Great article, thanks for sharing! I'd like to mention another aspect. If you buy upvotes from an upvote bot, it also increases your reputation level, which is a really bad thing for the system in my opinion, because that number should actually give other users an impression about the quality of your content and not about how much money you have already invested in upvote bots.

Excellent point. This indeed broke that basically useful tool.

Great article thank you! I have been struggling with this as well and your article has made sense of nonsense for me.

Thanks for your reply. I'm happy I could help you! How would you solve the problem?

I really don't know... The solution in my opinion will be a conglomerate of individual changes as well as updates to the to the system's infrastructure. I myself just came to the same realization with the up Bots as I have not made nearly what any of them say I should and breaking even has been about the best outcome. As long as there is power out there, power will always do what it has to do to maintain itself. That is the biggest problem. While not all whales are acting like sharks, there's definitely some that are and that's where independent changes need to be implemented by us individually. We need to change who we follow who we give our power to and how we treat the system that has given us so much. I recently started cleaning up my follow list. To be honest I feel a little bit grimey doing this but it seems to me to be the only solution, I've started unfollowing anybody who doesn't have a high-value account in an attempt to make mine grow. While there is a lot of good material being left in the dust my justification is that once I do grow and get to where I want to be I will give back by following and boosting those individuals. It is a very difficult situation on our hands and I don't know the answer but I think if we continue to keep this dialogue open in a democratic way we can make change. Thank you for your article.

Thanks a lot for this elaborate reply. That is about what I think about it as well. I will follow you now.

PS: You should add an avatar so you can be seen better.

Will do, thx for the thought! Ill be following as well

Probably, I am doing something wrong. But so far I somehow always ended up with by far less as actual reward payout for my upvote bot treated posts than the number below the article claimed it to be.

You are not doing anything wrong but it's the actual fact.
I've tried almost all of those upvote bots but none of them gave profit...Now I have almost stopped using them, I prefer to buy steem and power up with the SBDs rather than giving it to upvote bots.

Probably, I am doing something wrong. But so far I somehow always ended up with by far less as actual reward payout for my upvote bot treated posts than the number below the article claimed it to be.

I have the same experience, can you smell it... :)

Good to know that I am not the only one and that this issue can be put on the table. But apart from that, not too much good news about it.

I do the same now with my SBD. They immediately turn into Steem.


I´d never used and will never use voting-bots! For me it is ridiculous. The people think they are good, but they have to pay to seem it. Wow, so much different to the World outside of steemit :)

Wow, so much different to the World outside of steemit :)

According to the whitepaper, psychologically the Steemit experience is supposed to be equal to a casino.

..Ist also noch um einiges schlimer fokussierter hier;-)

Da ist etwas was nicht ausgesprochen wird. Fühlst du das auch?

Thanks for sharing your opinion. As I mentioned in my comment reply, I prefer people think about long-term value and be an owner, not a renter. I like how @minnowbooster shares profits with token holders via the @buildteam token. I like that team and I can see the value for those who want to purchase immediate influence, but long term, I hope people will choose to increase their influence via obtaining more Steem Power.

Yes, I agree. Besides the minnowbooster there is also the @boomerang which has a public funding. Everyone can delegate and profit. I am ok with that and I am not 100% against bots - after all, sometimes it may help creating more visibility. It's just that the big ones seem to suck the life out of Steemit.

All I can say is

Ahahahahahahahhahaa yeah, I know, I've seen this multiple times before. PeopleString did the exact same thing and then network marketers came in trying to promote various affiliate programs and clogged the system with spam and made the system garbage and it just went poof.

The same thing I've seen in the past with other companies is happening to Steemit. There is a way to fix it though, and that's basically to require "Proof of Brain" in the strictest sense possible. Owner of a bot? Lost all your SBD and your accounts. You have to make it so it's a fear to use a bot at all.

I'll admit I looked into the bots, decided not to use them. They're not mathematically feasible, unless, of course, you actually own said bot in question, in which case you have every incentive to use it because people are quite stupid.

I'll admit I looked into the bots, decided not to use them. They're not mathematically feasible, unless, of course, you actually own said bot in question

I used them as well and this extensively. Monkey is stupid, but monkey learns. I guess with bots it's a bit as with casinos. The bank always wins.

But I am confident that upvote bots will soon no longer play a role. Thanks for your reply!

Casino is a valid comparison with "house always wins".

Great article. And I hate them pesky Bots to.

Thanks! I will follow you now.

Great article, loads of info, magazine feature caliber story for steemit platform. Great work, keep it up. Ha, yeah and they carry virtually no investment value, they are so overbid right now. There are a lot of people jumping at them, they have become yesterday's news on steemit, which shocks the hell out of me being on here only three months I didn't realize their value has no where near keeping up the demand.

It's absolutely ridiculous that the issue of upvote bots and site exposure hasn't been addressed properly.

Instead of trying to fix the problem we programmers are stuck in the old ways of simply trying to abuse the system.

It's like a professional athlete that does performance enhancing drugs: "Everyone else does it so I have to do it to stay competitive."

No... no you don't. The programmers on this chain need to remove head from ass and program ways to find the real content. Wade through the shit and find those candy sprinkles.

Ohhh but, steemit frontend developers if they exist are not steem blockchain developers - right?

You're using minnowbooster. You're paying for upvotes to make it look like your content is better than it is. You're part of the problem.

Obviously, the whales drowning out your content with their massive payouts is a bigger problem. Fixing a problem with another problem seems to be how people operate around here.

I don't even mind the minnowbooster. After all you can buy yourself into the pot. The much bigger issue is the closed elite-bots. They take away most of the reward pool. Even the payouts to the whales (when they give themselves a nice self-upvote) is a tiny issue compared. Sweetsssjs 500$ sef-upvote every 2nd day dwarf compared to the 2000$ every single bot takes away per day. As I wrote, even haejin gets a significantly smaller slice of the cake...

Good question: Do they exist? I've seen back-end developers, but the front-end seems not to be a concern. There are even (relevant!) opinions about giving up steemit as front-end and let the networking run via busy.org and other condensers to effectively split Steem and its applications. That is something I find absolutely idiotic because Steemit is the brand and nobody with his brains still intact dismantles itself without having to (well, Germany maybe but that's another issue).

Overall, I think the letting run Steemit out is the real reason why they don't put an emphasis on its further development.

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