Comparing Steem with Whaleshares
A word of caution: read this whole post before coming to a conclusion! This post ends with "an unexpected twist"! ;-)
This post is part 1 (of 1?, or more? in total) of me comparing Steem to Whaleshares (and similar platforms). Posting this is an experiment for me personally, and I'll share its content on both, because, it being a comparison, it's relevant to both.
Whaleshares, yet another Steem clone?
Recently, a few people invited me to register for an account at https://whaleshares.io; a Steem-like platform I knew nothing about at first, and a little more, but surely not all there is to know about, right now. Developing and running @steem-ua over at Steem has kept me so busy over the past months I barely had time to post as @scipio about other topics anyway, so why would I want to join yet another platform?
One of the people I talked to about WhaleShares.io in person, is @stellabelle. Not only did she explain to me in short how to register for Whaleshares (which is currently not the easiest of registration processes, but it works at least), but she also guided me towards the Whaleshares Discord server and connected me to a few active Whaleshares team members, also active on Steem, that I then later had the pleasure to talk to (e.g. @krazykrista, @intelliguy, @ceruleanblue, and @kotturinn, among others.
I even wrote (my first? and last?) "ShitPost" ;-) , which got me absolutely nothing in terms of "rewards" ;-) , which brought back the same feelings of utter confusion I had when joining Steemit almost 1 year ago and I almost decided to leave Whaleshares for what it is, never to return to it...
But then... I somehow got caught up in an interesting conversation on the WhaleShares Discord to talk about its platform, its differences and similarities with Steem. And while there always are the typical "Fan Boys & Girls" that frown upon any form of platform critisism (I think I was initially seen even as "an enemy" being a strong Steem Supporter & Dev), while I kept asking questions and expressing some constructive criticism, especially @intelliguy was very open and willing to engage in a constructive conversation with the forementioned users and me.
About a few platform differences
A few platform differences as compared to Steem, at least for now, that were explained to me regarding Whaleshares.io, are - summarized - as follows:
no vests (SP / Whalestake) delegation mechanism
As I've been told, in an effort to avoid "Promotional Services" (a.k.a. "bid bots") on Whaleshares.io, the concept of Vests Delegation is absent. It's reasoned that, without such delegations, it would be highly unlikely that such services would emerge on WhaleShares.io, which is apparently seen as "a good effect", as these type of services appear to be held responsible for over-the-top promoted content that makes the "Trending Feed" completely unusable.
exponentially decayed vested powerdown
While it is possible, as with Steem, to set a 13-week powerdown schedule, at the moment only a small fraction of your "vested whalestake" can be converted into liquid via a powerdown. The available powerdown percentage is directly connected to the exponentially decayed whaleshares inflation mechanism, as is explained in the following picture.
For example beginning Aug 15, 2019, only 50% of an account's "whalestake" can be powered-down, meaning that if an active "WhaleSharian" would decide to build up its Whaleshares account from now to then, it will take a full year (as of today) to be able to convert 50% of the Aug 15, 2019 total into liquid WLS.
- (currently) no 50/50% author rewards, only 100% power-up
To my surprise I found out it's (currently?) impossible to set 50/50% author rewards on your posts on Whaleshares. You can only decline rewards, or choose a 100% whalestake powerup. As it was explained to me, the Whaleshare team wants accounts to focus on individual growth (same reasoning as with no vested delegations, I guess?) and gain influence over time, in an effort to circumvent too much focus on "money". Long-term account & platform engagement is focused on heavily, instead.
And another aspect, to add to this, is that it's apparently planned for Oct. 8, 2018 to enlist the WLS token as tradable on bitshares.org (which is strongly connected to whaleshares.io). Being able to trade a WLS token for something else, is of course essential to define "monetary value" to both vested "whalestake" and the liquid WLS token. Without the ability to trade, owning (for example) 1,000 Whalestake is identical to owning 1,000 "Flippos" (as many Dutch people will understand immediately).
Some causal reasoning regarding the forementioned platform differences
When Steem was rolled-out initially, early 2016, both its concept and platform mechanisms were revolutionary: nothing like Steem was ever done before, and you can think whatever you want to about its problems and shortcomings, but the concept of Steem is nothing short than brilliant. When Steem began, it had zero competitors: surely, a boatload of "social media" and "blogging platforms" existed, as did quite some brand new crypto concepts, but being able to spend some time, blog, get "liked" (upvoted) with stake-based token redistributed inflation ("the rewards pool"), and then being able to trade / convert those "rewards" for - for example - BTC, to which a real-world financial gateway exists, meant being able to enter the world of crypto without pre-owning capital and/or technical skills to mine it. The only thing needed to "earn" crypto, was to share your content and engage with others (curators) owning some already. The world has never seen anything like it, and therefore Steem is nothing short than a World Phenomenon. Not having any competitors at the time made joining Steem a "no brainer" for many.
At the same time, crypto was booming & hot. Both BTC and alts were all "mooning" and "FOMO" & HODL" was the only "strategy" needed to become wealthy from nowhere in a matter of months. ICOs were seen everywhere, and initiating and investing in them was done all around by many. These were ideal circumstances for Steem as well to thrive on.
But since then, fast forward ~ 2 years later, beginning early 2018, the entire crypto sphere entered a "bear market": some "crypto scams" were identified, high transaction costs, slow transaction rates, environmental challenges regrding BTC became clear, many speculative investors learned they "bought the (local) top" in December 2017, and as a consequence many people learned it's not that easy anymore to "get rich quickly" using crypto.
In short: things have changed.
On Steem, many people have joined thus far, but also many have left the platform (at least for now). Why they left, has numerous reasons. Some may feel it's "not fair" a few select Steem Prominents, and Steemit Inc as well, own so much Steem / SP, while the majority of accounts does not. The existence of "spam bots", "bid bots", flag wars" and "self-voting reward pool abuse" have caused an environment that's not liked by some. For newcomers, spending a lot of time on post writing, only then to find out the "author rewards" for it are worth nothing to pennies, comes as a nasty surprise and/or set-back after finally being able to create a new account and seeing others getting rewarded into the hundreds or even thousands of USD.
What made @scipio stay on Steem, initially? In short: SP delegations to communities
To date, I have invested zero fiat into crypto, and I've also not cashed-out any. When I joined Steem in october 2017, I too got rewarded close to nothing initially. And as I was about to "give up", I wrote my 7th post A Conceptual Guide to Make it Big on Steemit, which got rewarded $136,96 at the time as compared to $0.25 on my (carefully written!) intro post 2 weeks before it.
With 321 upvotes (to date) that post of mine was noticed by both "self-owned SP Whales", some "dolphins & orcas", as by @elear, who at the same time began entrepreneuring @utopian-io which in the same week received SP delegations in the millions. I had the honor to be asked by @elear personally if I'd like my post to be included in the Utopian database and upvoted with it. Of course I did! (And if you check my post, you can see it is the only post in that time and age that is not tagged #utopian-io, nor posted via its frontend, yet included to Utopian-io nonetheless). Looking back on that, while you could indeed argue (as @ats-david did in the top comment), that my post's content was not entirely ( ;-) ) about "Open Source" (I didn't intend it to be either, as explained just now!), @elear took a risk (regarding his newly received delegation meant to reward open source contributions) to upvote it nonetheless. But exactly because of that, because @elear had the guts to stand up and reward me, he kept me in. I felt "welcomed", and "appreciated", and @elear made my heavy negative doubts regarding Steem as a platform disappear immediately.
I was "embraced" by the @utopian-io community, and shortly after that moment, I began my Open Source contribition tutorial series journey, under the Utopian Umbrella.
Coming from Europe, being highly educated, living in a "high-cost-for-life" environment, being able to freely work at many employers for a decent salary, and not pre-owning crypto, you can well ask yourself if without the presence of @utopian-io receiving its multi-million SP delegation, it would be worth the hassle to resume Steem / Utopian contributions, and spending enough time on the chain & Discord / Steem.chat to get to know "the right people" and acquire a decent network of them.
Personally, I'm a firm believer that delegations to communities such as @utopian-io - but regardless their focal content & topics - is crucial to getting in & keeping in "community members". It would be blatantly ignorant to disregard the fact that many come to Steem - and presumably Whaleshares.io as well - for the potential rewards. And as time equals money, it must be worth the time for any contributor to stick around. Communities such as @utopian-io, but also @steemhunt for example, receiving delegations, are essential to acceptable platform user retention.
Yes, I also see quite some downsides to delegation mechanisms, of which over-the-top promoted posts all the way to trending and highly inflated "rep scores" are examples of, but the upsides outweigh the downsides, as I've argued about at least. @utopian-io made me stay, because of its delegated SP Power, and I'm sure many others feel the same.
Not having a delegation mechanism on Whaleshares.io - therefore - is something that intrigues me.
Liquidity vs Vesting
In those early Steemian months (Q4-2017), under the wings / umbrella of Utopian, I befriended quite some people I met in the Utopian community, and I kept contributing (mostly) with Open Source contributions on Steem. I (slowly) grew my SP holdings, but then I got lucky: SBD mooned to ~ $17.- per SBD. And I was lucky enough to having some of those (shout-out to @cnts as well, you're a life-saver buddy!) at my disposal, mostly via the 50/50 author awards. I was able to convert those to about 1,500 liquid Steem, and then Steem followed SBD upward to $7.-. Because of the enormous public interest in crypto, entering exchanges was impossible to newcomers including me. And courtesy to @blocktrades, I was able - in a 2-step process - to trade ~ 222 SBD for more than 0.6 BTC at Jan. 2, 2018. (what? really? Yeah, really...).
I could not have made those trades without the 50/50 rewards mechanism. They were crucial, for me at least. The combination of @utopian-io (with its delegation and voting power), the price increase of first SBD then Steem, and the trading opportunity provided by @blocktrades (at the time my only option) made it worth my time investment. Sure, getting to know many people was a big part of it as well, but that I could have accomplished in *any community, online and offline.
Not having these abilities on Whaleshares.io makes it highly doubtable, so I reason, that people will abandon Steem for Whaleshares. Being acitve on both platforms remains an option. But, I argue, if Steem would be gone, and if the only rewards option for Whaleshares.io would remain a 100% powerup, then I highly doubt that people would keep engaging on Whaleshares alone. Or in other words: currently Whaleshares needs to co-exist with Steem, but not the other way around. I'd be curious to find out how many Whaleshares.io users are not active on Steem...
100% Power-up only, a realistic option for WLS investors?
Let's say you're a crypto whale, owning a few million in crypto. Would you now buy a boatload of WLS starting October, 8, 2018, and power it all up to whalestake? Because as mentioned, you'd need a full year from then to be able to power down 50% of that Whalestake. That, to me, seems to be a "risky opportunity". Sure, WLS price could go up. But it could also go down. Its price action is assumed to be mostly specuative. Therefore I suspect - and of course I can be wrong on this - that WLS buying volume would be relatively low if and when the 50/50 author rewards and current power-down schedule remain the same on Whaleshares!
100% Power-up only, for 2nd World Country users (e.g. from Venzuela)
Now, suppose you're @saracampero. You come from Venezuela (am I correct?), you're a young mother, your physical appearance is sparkling and energetic and very positive, and you're pretty handy and creative with making gadgets and you have fun as well with vlogging about that as your niche on Dtube (another SP delegated community!). Then the 50/50 author rewards are crucial and enough to turn your Steem activities into a full-time job even! Because cost-of-life is cheaper in Venezuela than it is in - for example Germany - @saracampero is in an excellent position to use the liquid payouts from her 50/50 author rewards to live from!
For her (and I haven't checked / am not sure if she uses Steem for that even) the 50/50 author rewards on Steem combined with DLive receiving SP delegations, Steem might be a "lifesaver". And leaving Steem for Whaleshares.io most certainly doesn't seem her prio 1 option right now.
Not having such an option on Whaleshares.io, seems like a missed opportunity.
Is Whaleshares.io doomed to fail? No! :-) It has an EXCELLENT chance to grow!
My answer to the question whether Whaleshares.io is doomed to fail... might surprise you at this point: I think Whaleshares.io has an excellent chance to grow big and successful using the current strategic choices such as "no delegations", "limited power-downs" and "100% power-up only"!
Huh @scipio?, you might ask... you just wrote a wall of text explaining why you think Whaleshares.io made a few catastophic strategic choices, then why do you conclude Whaleshares.io might actually be successful now?
The reason why I think whaleshares.io has an excellent chance to grow using the strategic choices its team members have made for now, is that it is able to CO-EXIST WITH STEEM. Every aspect I mentioned regarding Steem's success factors that kept me, and others, onboard, are in fact lacking on Whaleshares.io, but the fact remains that zero users need to choose one platform over the other. You could well do both!
You could even post the same post content on both platforms (provided it's meaningful to do so, and because for example this post compares the two, this post can indeed be published on both). But if you won't do that, and choose to be original on both, then you could "get liquid" via Steem, and "vest" at the same time on Whaleshares. You can engage with different people in a different way on Steem, regarding more or less the same topics on Whaleshares.
So, because Steem exists and you're actively engaging there anyway, you might as well also choose to do so on Whaleshares. When you're not even close to being a whale on Steem, you might grow to be one if you begin to participate now on Whaleshares. And while "being a Whale" on Whaleshares might never lead to a serious holding in terms of monetary value, at some point it might be exactly that indeed...
What the Whaleshares Team is doing very, very smart, is "flying along" under the wings of Steem. It's giving an opportunity to mostly planktons and minnows on Steem, to "spread their risk" without sacrificing much or anything at all.
Steem, as a platform, benefits as well!
And now comes an even more interesting prediction I'll make right here and now: Steem will benefit from Whaleshare's existence as well! I hereby predict that Steem user retention rates will increase, partly because Whaleshares exists. Whaleshares is giving new Steem users, that also become active at Whaleshares, a chance to one day become a dolphin or orca on both. Because of Whaleshares, Steem will remain the primary source of income to new users, and Whaleshares will make sure they remain active on both platforms.
Concluding: Welcome Whaleshares.io & Steem on!
Thanks for your time!