How will the HF20 dust vote changes affect the vote values?

in utopian-io •  last year  (edited)



A release date for HF20 was finally announced for Sept. 25 2018. HF20 brings a couple of very exciting changes. One aspect that has led to some confusion among Steem users is the change to the vote dust threshold.

Current situation (HF19):
If a vote would result in less than 50M rshares (approx. equivalent with voting with 1.2 SP), the voter sees an error message and the vote is not recorded in the blockchain.

New implementation (HF20):
Any vote will make it to the blockchain, there will be no error message for very small votes. However, the rshares value of each vote will be reduced by 50M rshares, or set to 0 if it had less than 50M rshares initially.

This has two implications:

  • an upvote or downvote can have a value of 0 and does not contribute to the payout of an author
  • the rshares value of all votes is reduced by 50M rshares

Scope of the analysis and tools

There was already some confusion about users being afraid of losing their vote value. This contribution simulates the HF20 rules on one week of current voting data to show the differences between the two implementations.
All data is queried from SteemSQL and contains all votes that were cast between Aug. 1st and Aug. 7th 2018, one week of data. Data collection and processing is done with python and matplotlib. All scripts to query the data and create the following plots are on my GitHub.

Relative loss of vote value in rshares in HF20

The absolute rshares value of each vote is reduced by 50M rshares, which is equivalent to around 1.2 SP. This table and graph show a few examples:

SPrelative value loss in rshares
1.2 SP100.00 %
5 SP24.00 %
10 SP12.00 %
15 SP8.00 %
100 SP1.20 %
1000 SP0.12 %
10000 SP0.012 %
100000 SP0.0012 %


If a vote was worth 1.2 SP before, it will be worthless with HF20. A 15 SP vote will lose around 8% of its value in rshares. A 100 SP vote will give up 1.2%, a 1000 SP vote loses 0.12%. The more SP an account uses to vote, the less affected is its vote value.

However, since all votes are reduced by a fixed offset the total sum of all rshares (which partly define the $ value of a vote) is reduced as well.

How much does the downshift increase the $ value of all votes?

All vote rshares are reduced by up to 50M rshares. As a result, the sum of all rshares will be less than before with the same votes, reducing the recent claims and therefore increasing the $/STU value per vote. The following graph shows the daily sum of all vote rshares for the given week with the measured HF19 values and the calculated HF20 values.


You can see the HF20 line slightly below the HF19 line, but only with a very small difference. Summing up all rshares from that week for both HF19 and HF20 gives a difference of 0.1%. The sum of all HF20 rshares is 99.9% of the sum of all HF19 rshares. The value of each vote therefore increases by 0.1% (assuming otherwise static conditions).

Applying HF20 to to one week of HF19 votes

This graph shows the distribution of vote rshares for that given week of votes with the current HF19 system:
You can see that there are no votes below the vote dust threshold because those are denied by the blockchain. The median vote value is 567M rshares, equivalent to a 100% upvote with 14 SP. The mean value is at 49.8 bn rshares (~123 SP).

Applying the HF20 shift moves the entries in the histogram:

We can see that there are now votes with rshare values below the threshold due to the shift. In real HF20 data we will also see a number of votes with 0 rshares, which are not possible right now. The median vote value is reduced to 517 M rshares (~12.8 SP), the mean value was reduced by 50M rshares.

For both distributions, there's a strong peak of votes with around 14 SP, which suggests that a large portion of the voting accounts (by number) have around that amount of SP.

How much does the downshift reduce the value of individual votes?

The static downshift clearly affects smaller votes more than larger votes. The following graph shows the relative loss of vote value in rshares due to the downshift:


Around 20% of all votes in that week would give up less than 1% of their vote value. Around 50% of all votes would give up less than 9% of their vote value. Around 30% of all votes would give up 15% or more of their vote value.


  • All votes will be reduced by up to around 1.2 SP. The more SP is used to vote, the less the vote value is affected.
  • The steemit-funded accounts around 15SP will give up around 8% of their vote value.
  • If the voting behavior stayed the same as now, the value of each vote would be increased by around 0.1% due to a lower total sum of active rshares in the chain. This would compensate the value loss for accounts with around 1000 SP or more, all others would still lose slightly.
  • around 20% of all votes will see a value reduction of less than 1%, 30% will give up 15% or more.

This work assumes that the voting behavior (by vote number and value) will stay the same with HF20 as it is now. This is not necessarily the case. Large portions of the votes are done with around 14 effective SP. If the voting accounts don't have more SP, they have no choice but to live with a 8% reduction in rshare value. However, if the voting accounts have more SP, they will certainly change their voting behavior to fewer but higher value votes. This will immediately shift the distribution in the loss of the individual votes towards more accounts with less losses.

Edit: Live example:

  • The first voter on this post was a 1k SP account, specialized on making decent curation rewards, with around 200M rshares from a 0.75% vote. It is unlikely that this bot will keep that voting behavior in HF20, since this would gives up a quarter of the vote value.
  • The second voter was a 15 SP account that voted with 100%. This account has no choice but to accept a ~8% reduction in vote value in HF20.

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A fine analysis and will be a 'staff pick' for this week :)

Despite most accounts losing a little in rshares, and the smaller the account, the larger the % lost, I think this is a key table for people to check on - particularly those with low SP following trails.

If I'm correct with my thinking, an account with 120 SP will need to vote with at least 1% weight (assuming they are at 100% Voting Power) for the vote to register for (the author and?) themselves, as the curator.

I see a number of votes on my content that are weighted 1% or less, mainly as part of a trail, and suspect these accounts will need to rethink how they vote so reduce the % loss in rshares, or in some cases make their vote count at all.

Great work @crokkon!

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Thank you @abh12345 for all the support with this post! Yes, a 120 SP, 1% vote at 100% VP may end at 0 contributions to the author rewards and therefore no eligibility to curation rewards.
Voting trails are a very good example, I didn't think of them before! Following a trail at a comparably low % may indeed lead to wasted VP with no gains for neither the other nor themselves as curators.

Thank you for your review, @abh12345!

So far this week you've reviewed 1 contributions. Keep up the good work!

Excellent! Thanks for the detailed explanation. Perfect timing as I was just discussing this topic with a friend and now I can just refer here for an in-depth view. Saved me some typing. ;)

Thanks, @danielsaori, glad it is helpful!

There are some fairly interesting effects that this will have going forward that you suggest but don't explicitly call out:

Firstly, votes from big players get a magnitude enhancement because votes from small players are diminished by a flat amount. Anyone that can afford to give high SP votes gets that much more influence as a side effect.

Secondly, new/low SP players take a significant hit to their voting power, across-the-board, in ways which they can do nothing about unless they want to bring literal investment in from off the blockchain because, ironically enough, the voting value changes make it harder for them to gather value as a result of interacting with other low SP accounts.

Ultimate upshot: more whale fishing. The main side effect of these particular changes to the voting valuation is that whales are even more valuable and anything less than orca (and by that I mean the vast preponderance of minnows and krill) become less valuable at the sizes of audiences that you can expect to reach.

Personally, I'm not thinking that's a total win. In fact, I think it leads to behaviors which, coupled with the shortening of the curation window to 15 minutes, are going to lead to less diverse, more highly tailored and targeted content being produced. Bots get double the advantage because they have a perfect sense of timing and new users/focused audiences lose out.

The numbers are difficult to argue with.

I understand why @crokkon is apprehensive about asserting HF being an enhancement for the big players but my intuition is in line with yours. It seems like that the little guy is getting nerfed and whales are getting buffed. I really would like to understand the underlying rationale for this decision as it seems nonsensical to me but maybe I'm jumping the gun.

I know there had been issues with a proliferation of @steem faucet downvote accounts that may have contributed but that is speculative. They were more of a nuisance to minnows and plankton and really not a concern for whales especially the self voting variety. Even in the remote chance that was the reason, it would have been better to nerf the downvote and leave the upvote alone.

I'm still not 100% clear on all the tech details but from the impression I have gathered. I am not really a fan of HF 20 as it seems to give more power to the already powerful which IMHO is something that will encumber adoption in some sense.

The gain for big players is marginal (0.1% with the votes from that week of data) and assumes that the voting behavior remains the same. Any adoption of the curation-related votes will reduce that gain. Also, 0.1% is small against the variations of the sum of total rshares across days, not even including steem price changes. It's mathematically nice to see at which point the loss of the individual vote value is compensated by the reduced total sum of rshares. I wouldn't call this a real enhancement for big players before having seen HF20 data.
It is true, however, that new/low SP accounts get their vote value reduced and get less from interacting with low SP accounts. But are we in the position to complain? After all, it's (in most cases) Steemit's SP, given out for free. Is it an incentive to invest, or could it limit onboarding of new users? I don't know, actually...
I also agree that these changes are not necessarily a measure against bot votes. Bots have to include another parameter into their algorithms, but they'll get this done easily, maybe with slightly reduced returns. In combination with the 15 minute window, I could image that human curation (for profit) even gets harder in HF20.

It is true, however, that new/low SP accounts get their vote value reduced and get less from interacting with low SP accounts. But are we in the position to complain? After all, it's (in most cases) Steemit's SP, given out for free. Is it an incentive to invest, or could it limit onboarding of new users? I don't know, actually...

When I referred to the "win" for big players, I was specifically thinking of the gain that they get relative to smaller players in the game.

That's not to say that the 0.1% is small given the variation of rshares by day, that's true – but that 0.1% is true every day, every week, every month, every year, and if there's one thing we know about values which compound in the long term, it's that the actual absolute value becomes significant.

No, from my perspective more interestingly is that low SP account hit, and especially when interacting with one another. That's murder. We know from looking at the numbers that there are vast and seething seas of low SP accounts, and for the most part low SP accounts only know one another. What this appears to suggest is that that activity is going to become less important to the fiscal transfers on the blockchain, shifting more of the focus to the activity of and interaction with significant whales.

In a sense, we are in the perfect position to complain. Users like you and I appear to be interested in the actual nature of content which is getting put onto the blockchain in terms of usability, how much it entertains – how much the system actually functions as a social network which promotes content which is of some level of useful quality.

From my perspective, a social media network which is successful at being a useful social media network is the primary driver here. As much as Steemit Inc.'s interests differ from that particular endpoint, I think they will inherently do less well, because the further they go from doing that one job well, the closer they go to just being one more cryptocurrency that isn't Bitcoin.

Given the changes to actually creating accounts, it looks like it will be effectively "cheaper" to create a new account in the new regime, but those individual accounts will start with even less effective voting power than the current ones. Combined with the new-accounts-as-a-class decrease in voting effectiveness across the board, and the continuing lack of impact for votes for a new users making a real difference to their experience – I get the feeling that the intent of the design was to bring more people on more quickly, but the actual impact of the design will be to bring people on more quickly and then have them leave just as quickly because nothing they do matters, including gathering the attention of other new players in the space.

In combination with the 15 minute window, I could image that human curation (for profit) even gets harder in HF20.

That's my feeling as well. Under HF 20, the bot situation is simply that their voting timer becomes easier for them to hit and less easy for humans to hit, improving their advantage over human curators even more, and the relative change in voting power doesn't matter a bit to them. If anything, since most voting bots represent a high SP player, they gain an additional advantage because humans who might be seen as competitors in the same space have to get to the same level of SP to have the same kind of voting leverage and voting advantage, and one of the most obvious ways to do that is to use the voting bots to do so – which increases the SP of the voting bots. One ends up in a situation where you literally have to pay your enemy in order to possibly have the power to pay yourself in the future.

This is just an extension of a design problem they've had for a while.

Well, this probably means curation rewards hunting like @curx is doing, will get harder, doesn't it? Considering that you mostly use small votes for that curation hunting....
Also this means I can nearly give up voting with my 2 side accounts with only 3 SP as of right now xD
Cool analysis, thanks a lot. :D

Thanks, @flugschwein! Yes, I think these changes have quite some implications for curation bots. At the moment, the smaller the vote, the higher the relative curation reward returns (if the vote is placed correctly). With the HF20 downshift, another parameter comes in that makes small votes less profitable. The smallest curx votes are currently around 0.8 bn rshares (which is quite big compared to other bots). Keeping this value would probably sacrifice around 6% of the rewards for the small votes. Voting with 2 accounts with 3 SP will not be efficient, so you should probably power those up before HF20 :)

This definitely sounds rough for newer accounts, but still exciting information, I always rather hated the 'dust' method we use now.

  ·  last year (edited)

Not just the curation rewards, but the account growing in general.
All votes will be reduced.

"If the voting behavior stayed the same as now, the value of each vote would be increased by around 0.1% due to a lower total sum of active rshares in the chain. This would compensate the value loss for accounts with around 1000 SP or more, all others would still lose slightly." - Quote from the analysis.

The voting behavior won't stay the same as now, because the 30-minute Curation Window will change to 15-minute by the HF20. This will surely change the voting behavior.

I guess in about 2 months we will all know how it shook out. Right now it looks more like it will be more power to those with SP over 10,000. Any one under that threshold will have a difficult time growing their accounts, or rewarding the people they want to support. So it will be a wait and see how it pans out.

The value of low SP account votes will certainly suffer a bit. If this makes it harder to grow may be a different aspect, though. The gain for higher SP accounts shown here is marginal and assumes that the voting behavior remains the same as now. As you say: time will tell :)

It's already difficult. At least for me and for a lot of other people.
But the HF20 will make the account growing harder for everyone.

It may or it may not, I think we just have to wait and see how it all washes out. Worrying about what might happens is worry over nothing. Try to ignore the Fear part, the uncertainty we can do little about until the change happens. I know a lot of people have been concerned about the price drop of steem, look at the price in the two past may's and then the price in the past two august, and then the price in the past two novembers. rest assured the price will go up, the price will go down, there will be greedy people whales and minnows both, and there will still be people posting and enjoying despite it all.

I have a question about payout. My reading of HF20 suggested this change, and I appreciate the analysis with exact numbers. Now will the requiredments for payout be the same amount of steem? Now they say '2 cents' for it to actually pay out...

I appreciate any help trying to understand the total effect for low sp users :)

Your question refers to the payout dust threshold. The payout threshold means, that if a post or comment is worth less than 0.02 STU at payout time, these rewards will not be payed out. This threshold will not be changed in HF20.

Thank you for that explanation, and for seemingly explaining it dozens of times down here in the comments ;p

Found you on Asher's blog, I'll follow you now to bug you about different details as I misconstrue them 😅

yeah, I probably should have added it to the post introduction in the first place :)
Sure, bug me, I'm glad if I can help ;)

Fantastic, I am taking you up on that, I also am trying to get back on utopian, If I can settle down here and get my open source tool hosted again....

A pretty difficult and confusing situation to be in being a minnow

I will definitely never understand anything about this. Should I continue on steemit or not?

Yes, continue, don't give up! It works well to get along in Steem without a deep understanding of all the algorithms behind, and I'm sure a lot of Steem users have no idea about it as well. You'll learn more and more of it over time!

If I'm reading this correctly, life (or at least rewards) are going to become harder to get for little accounts... but I am guessing that if you use @dustsweeper, you can still make it count?


Yes, the vote value of small accounts will be slightly reduced. @dustsweeper actually addresses another aspect: the payout dust threshold. See here.

Thanks a bunch for the info! Anything regarding HF20 is pretty valuable right now :P

However, if the voting accounts have more SP, they will certainly change their voting behavior to fewer but higher value votes.

I am not getting this. Not that curation pays much, but I try to not vote less than the dust amount. I log out when I get to that point. Are you saying that it will now be pointless for voting at that line now?

I'm not sure I fully get it. Is there maybe a misunderstanding on the different thresholds? There are two thresholds: the vote dust threshold and the payout dust threshold. The vote dust threshold means, that a vote will not make it to the blockchain if it isn't worth at least 50M rshares (~1.2 SP). This will be changed with HF20 and I tried to get the implications of that change in this post. The payout dust threshold is unrelated to that and means that rewards are not payed out, if the pending payout of a post/comment is less that 0.02 STU at payout time.

Back to the vote dust threshold: You currently have around 700 SP. As long as you don't plan to vote with low single digit vote percentages, there won't be much of a difference for you. There are, however, a number of accounts which spread a lot of votes with very low values for curation rewards. For those, the changes with HF20 can have a strong influence on their rewards.

Thanks for the quick response. I have been wondering at the small votes I get from some. I actually got one of the lowest I have ever gotten just a little bit ago at 0.02% and I am thinking why on earth would someone waste the vote, does it even pay anything.

"There are, however, a number of accounts which spread a lot of votes with very low values for curation rewards"

Is this why I get a lot of votes on my posts for -0- value. I see small sp votes and then they vote at only 1% on top of that. I could not figure out why anyone would do this.

I am a weight loss coach - not a steemit expert :)

Yes, a lot of these very small votes are placed in order to get a good share of the curation rewards.

How do they even get them with such small votes? The vote itself is 0.000. Do they get 0.001 sp out of that? I am a weight loss coach and do not go digging into steemit stats, but when I was first here with a tiny vote, I was not getting curation rewards at all.

Yes, a well placed vote, even if it is super small, can get a magnitude of its own value back as curation rewards, if the final payout of the post is high enough. So getting 0.001 SP (or more) curation rewards from a vote that's worth close to nothing is possible.

So it is a lot relative to their vote size! Interesting...

Hey @crokkon
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I like this post so much, it gives us very clear picture about the hard fork, I included you in my resent post about it. I'm very positive about the hard fork, thanks for providing such interesting information. I like the table. ☺