On 9/2, @steemitblog announced Steem Release Candidate 0.14.0, which contained an extremely controversial "bug fix":
Target Votes of 5 per Day instead of 40
We are changing the target number of votes per day from 40 to 5 so that more people keep their voting power below 100%. The purpose of this change is to rebalance power toward normal users and away from bots. You can still vote as often as you like, this change merely impacts the speed at which voting power is consumed.
Many users were highly upset, and a fierce debate broke out. The debate raged on for days, with many posts created stating the arguments for and against both sides. At this point the debate has pretty much subsided, with neither side truly winning, and both sides still convinced the other side is wrong.
It was eventually decided that the controversial bugfix would be removed. While some may say that this was a win for the 'no' side, @dantheman's comment clearly indicated that they did not pull the feature because they believed it was the wrong thing to do. It was pulled due to lack of understanding and to avoid controversy.
Your understanding of the change is also lacking.
There are good reasons for the change, but explaining it and getting community buy in would take longer than a week. We also didn't want to put witnesses in the uncomfortable position of having a controversial change bundled in with so many other obvious and non-contraversial changes.
Since it seems Dan + Steemit's ultimate goal is to be able to include this feature with community support, I wanted to try and frame the argument in such a way that would provide better understanding.
There are two ways to measure the strength of a vote:
- By how much it boosts the rshares of a post
- By how much it boosts the payout of the post
This is really important to understanding how the voting change will work, and where the disagreement is coming from.
Proponents of the 'yes' side have clearly shown that anyone who wants to can vote exactly the same as they did before, by adjusting their voting weight. Regardless of whether the threshold is at 5 or 40, users can still vote on the exact same number of posts, and assign the exact same rshare weight to each vote - using the slider.
Proponents of the 'no' side have clearly shown that even with the exact same rshare rate assigned to each vote, the actual payout will not be the same in both cases. The same amount of rshares will be "worth less" if the threshold of vote depletion is reduced from 40 to 5.
"Why would the same sized rshare vote be worth less?", you ask.
It is because most users do not use 100% of their rshares each day. By changing the threshold from 40 to 5, it does not lower the weight of a person's vote (who uses the slider to allocate the same amount of rshares); but it does increase the amount of rshares that other people will use, if they are not already maxing out their voting power.
This is normally where people get confused.
In order to understand how this works, it is important to know that the amount of money in the reward pool is fixed. It is based on the total market-cap of Steem, and not how many votes are cast.
When users vote on content, they are only changing how the pool is divided. The same amount of money will get paid out no matter what. Users are not adding money to the reward pool by upvoting. They are not lowering the amount in the reward pool by abstaining. The only thing that voters are changing with their voting behavior, is who gets how much out of the fixed reward pool.
To illustrate this, think of the following situation -
Extreme Case #1 - Nobody votes
If for some crazy reason, everybody woke up one day and decided not to vote on anything, one single user could vote on a post, and that post would get 100% of the reward pool.
If the community would like to try this one day as an experiment, I would be happy to nominate myself as a guinea pig.. =)
When users do not use all of their voting power (either by abstaining from voting altogether, or by not voting enough to use up 100% of their rshares), then more of the allocation of rewards is left up to the other users who voting. As more users use more of their rshares to cast votes, the same number of rshares will have less of an effect.
On the opposite extreme, it would be theoretically possible for every user to use up all of their votes and vote with 100% of their rshaers.
Extreme Case #2 - Everybody uses 100% of their rshares
If this occurred, it would basically mean that everyone's voting weight would be exactly proportional to the amount of Steem Power they hold. One could argue that if everybody was doing a good job voting, that this would be the most balanced and ideal scenario.
To start looking more into the issue with the voting target change, it helps to look at two users with exactly the same SP, but different voting behavior. I will use a similar example to @sigmajin's Tale of the 5 Brothers post.
Bob is a master curator. Bob spends 10 hours a day curating, and working hard to find as many good posts as possible. On an average day, Bob finds 40 high quality posts that are worth his upvote. Mike is a casual user. Mike logs in for an hour or so a day, and usually votes on 5 posts that he finds interesting. Both Bob and Mike have equal SP.
Even though they both have the same amount of Steem Power, Bob is going to use more of his rshares in a day (under the current system) because he is using up all of his voting power. Most of Mike's rshares are not being used, because he is not casting enough votes to use up all of his shares.
Under the new system of 5 votes, both Bob and Mike would now use 100% of their rshares. Assuming Bob used the slider to cast the same votes with the same rshares, Bob's allocation of rshares would not change. Mike's did change though - by a lot! Instead of only using up a small amount of rshares on his 5 votes, Mike used up 100% - just like Bob.
"Is this fair?", you ask.
Well, that is the big question. Rather than try to answer it myself, I would like to give two more examples to illustrate extremes.
Extreme Case #3 - Voting threshold changed from 40 to 1,000
If the threshold were set this high, it would be literally impossible for a human voter to curate enough posts to use up all of their voting power. A bot would be able to though. A well organized team (like Curie) could as well.
I am not saying that bots or Curie are bad! I love the Curie project, and I think that bots have a useful purpose in the Steemit ecosystem - especially as the site and community begin to scale to a larger number of users!
I merely want to illustrate that under this extreme scenario, these are the two main types of users that will be able to effectively use all of their voting power. Everyone else would not.
Extreme Case #4 - Voting threshold changed from 40 to 1
In this case, every user could use 100% of their voting power just by casting one vote. They would also be able to divide their rshares across multiple posts however they thought best, by using their voting slider.
This would be interesting experiment to try out. It does give the users the most freedom with their vote. Whether it would be good for the community, is a difficult thing to know. It would depend on how users changed their behavior.
Under this scenario, there would not be much incentive to search out lots of good posts. Lots of users would just do the calculation of the best place to spend their one vote each day, rather than spending the effort to find multiple good posts to split it up against.
The reason the voting change was introduced was because there was a very large number of people in the community who felt that too much power was in the hands of voting bots, and normal users did not have enough say. Basically, things had gone too far into the direction of extreme case #3.
Whether you agree or disagree with the change, it does meet its stated objective. It would give the more casual users the ability to use up more of their rshares, without having to increase their number of votes. The bots and groups that are able to curate a large number of posts could still do so, but their same votes would be diluted by more users using up 100% of their rshares. This has the affect of shifting away from scenario #3, and shifting more towards scenario #2.
We all want a system where users can participate and get rewarded, and quality content gets noticed and rises to the top. The casual users need to feel that their voice matters, while at the same time - users who put in more value should be rewarded more for their contribution.
The key to all of this is balance. What the right balance is, is what we need to decide.