How do we earn Steem Power and become a witness for Steemit today? What is a witness? Where does mining happen in Steem? Which steps to take to get a witness node online? Why take the time to vote for witnesses? Who are the existing witnesses for Steem? Will we read this guide because it has answers to all these questions which when understood helps us to be of best service here and therefore to get the highest return from our time invested?
What is a Steem witness?
Every account on Steemit has the ability to become a witness by setting up and maintaining a Linux server that is capable of creating new blocks on our blockchain. When we send a notification to the network updating our witness, then we are known as witnesses to the community as seen at https://steemd.com/witnesses which is a very helpful Steemit tool I use every day thanks to witness @roadscape.
Where does mining happen in Steem?
Mining a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin happens when new tokens are created and transactions are verified and added to the public ledger also known as the blockchain. With Steem, what we call the mining process is managed by witnesses. Steem witnesses produce all of the new blocks in the blockchain for Steem on our witness servers through what is known as delegated proof of stake. In DPOS the accounts with Steem choose who gets to make blocks instead of in Proof of Work mining where miners compete to finish a new block without needing to hold any of the cryptocurrency itself. All transactions with Steem and Steem Dollars including the creation of new Steem go through witness servers generally in just a few seconds. While Steem previously allowed proof of work mining alongside this Delegated Proof-of-Stake system, as of August 2, 2017 there is no proof of work mining in Steem but it may be introduced again in exclusively for creating new accounts in the future. We generally use just the term witness to keep it simple talking about mining and explaining our specific system for producing and maintaining our blockchain with DPOS.
Who are the existing witnesses for Steem?
View the list of witnesses today at https://steemdb.com/witnesses available to us because of the service of witness @jesta. The top 20 witnesses online handle the majority of the blocks while witnesses below have the chance to rotate in as a backup.
How much to Steem witness accounts earn?
Witnesses are literally creating the blockchain we are using which powers everything we do with Steem including posting on Steemit and transacting with Steem and SBD. As a reward for this service, witnesses collectively earn about 3% of all the new Steem created each day with top 20 witnesses making around 0.18 Steem Power every 63 seconds and the witnesses below that making a little less than 1 Steem Power per block. Converting the witness earnings in seconds to days shows that the top 20 witnesses earn about 250 Steem Power per day equal to around $300 daily at the current Steem price. Meanwhile, a new witness with just a few votes will be lucky to earn even one block per day! Getting started being a witness is not likely to be profitable in the short term BUT becoming a witness as a part of being an active and dedicated community member can pay very well especially when combined with witness updates, author rewards, and curation rewards.
Where am I in the witness listing and how much do I earn?
At rank 62 today with 10,088 Mega Vests in votes for me which is equal to about 5,000,000 Steem Power or about 2.68% of all Steem Power available in the accounts voting for my witness, I get about 12 blocks a day. At $1.30 Steem price I get around $15 a day or around $450 a month which is about what I pay in server hosting. I am very grateful for the upvotes from those listed at https://steemdb.com/@jerrybanfield/witness especially @hendrikdegrote and @roadscape and @fulltimegeek and @teamsteem and @snowflake because their top 5 upvotes account for the majority of my total approval rating! I consistently check the witness upvotes to help me be available for collaborating and giving back to those giving the most to me! See my daily block history since I launched through August 2, 2017 below with zero misses SO FAR thanks to @someguy123 updating me to 19.1!
Why take the time to vote for witnesses?
With the trust we place in Steem witnesses to literally continue creating our community in real time and receive compensation for it, we have a responsibility to either vote for witnesses ourselves or choose someone to vote on witnesses on our behalf at https://steemit.com/~witnesses. The top 20 witnesses determine which version of Steem to run, maintain the price feed for SBD, adjust the account creation fee, select the interest rate for savings accounts, and are in the best position to communicate with Steemit Inc. That said, given the top 20 witnesses already have a lot of votes, often our best opportunity with our witness votes is to help witnesses not in the top 20 rise up and participate because we need a deep roster of available witnesses in the event of an attack or disaster or challenge that we face together. Just like on a football team, we need to have players ready to substitute in at all times that are ready to play as if they were a starter. The top 20 witnesses are our starting lineup while the rest are on the bench and should especially in the top 30 to 50 be ready to serve at a moments notice as a top 20 witness. Each vote we place helps determine the rankings for all witnesses.
What is the easiest way to handle voting?
Making our votes at https://steemit.com/~witnesses or setting a proxy are the simple ways to participate in witness voting! Setting a proxy is the easiest because we can just trust another user then to handle all the voting for us! For my first month on Steemit, I did not vote or even think almost anything about the witness process. I figured that was too technical for me and better to let people that understood those kinds of things handle the voting. As I continued to participate here and read posts from authors I followed, I realized that each of our votes for a witness is our best chance to have our views and interests about Steem represented as we consider changes and work together to make the best community for everyone. Today I carefully consider my witness votes and work to both help top 20 witnesses doing great service to us to maintain their positions while helping new witnesses and top backups move higher. If you would prefer not to go any deeper into the witness process or think about voting, would you please set me as jerrybanfield as your voting proxy or another user you trust because you will then be contributing your vote fully? We can easily remove a proxy later by typing the name in again in the proxy voting box if we decide we want to start doing it ourselves or change to another user. If you are doing your own witness votes, would you please vote for me because we feel good giving to those that take the time to give to us?
When is the best time to get started becoming a Steem witness?
Today! The biggest challenge for me getting started was that I had no experience with Linux which I assumed was such a large liability I should not even bother. Fortunately, I was able to get my server online after investing an hour daily for two weeks reading guides and learning the basics of Ubuntu Linux. If you have no experience with Linux, I hope my next tutorial which I will link here when it is finished will make it even easier for you because I took note of every single command I used to setup my servers for you to literally copy and paste your way into being online!
Who can become a witness for Steem?
Any Steemit account that can get the server online and update the witness to the network can become a witness! If we are planning to be dedicated members of the Steem community and would like to participate fully, becoming a witness is ideal when combined with authoring posts, curation, and commenting because it provides us with a well rounded investment in our community. Technically you can even completely outsource getting the server setup and maintained preferably to an established witness that has deep skills in maintaining the server. After doing everything to set my server up and get it online, I have now collaborated with top 20 witness @someguy123 to receive help with the management of my server to keep it in top shape for our community through updates and unexpected crashes. If we are already skilled Linux users, it may help to make the opposite collaboration with an existing author if we do not author many posts or have much voting power in our followers. In summary, being a witness is about working together to maximize service to Steem with many possible ways to be a valuable witness!
My Ubuntu Linux server specs for both witness and seed.
64GB DDR4 RAM
2x Intel Xeon E5-2630 V3
2x 240GB SSDs
How to setup the witness server from zero?
While I was originally going to show every step here, this guide has already gotten so long answering the basics that I am going to make a separate post showing the complete process which I will link to here when it is finished. Until then, here is a post linking all the guides I used to setup my server at https://steemit.com/witness-category/@jerrybanfield/launch-a-steem-witness-today along with understanding the basic steps below!
- Consider whether running the marathon of being a Steem witness and investing in our community here is a goal worth pursuing. Getting votes for most of us is the most challenging part to being a witness because it can take months to just get enough to even pay for the server costs. If we are certain we want to be here indefinitely and contribute the most possible on Steemit, then becoming a witness is definitely worth the effort.
- Rent a Linux server for the witness node and also rent a server for the seed node if we want to be seriously considered ever for a top 20 witness and in the foreseeable future join the top 50. I chose to rent two servers with the specs listed above that could handle a top 20 block load for the foreseeable future because that minimizes my need to upgrade my servers and helps demonstrate my willingness to be a great backup witness. While it is possible to start with less such as just doing the witness node or getting about half the RAM I have plus slower/fewer processors, I believe for getting votes the server specifications make a big difference. My servers are rented from @privex where @someguy123 is the CEO. If you rent a server from @privex would you mention you found them through me because you might feel good about helping me earn a discount on my next invoice?
- Start by setting up the seed node if available and especially if new to Linux. After practicing on the seed node, then do the full witness setup because the seed node has a lot fewer steps to get online. The list of Steem nodes currently online is available at https://status.steemnodes.com/ thanks to the work of top 20 witness @wackou.
- Update the server to get all the available packages such as the nano text editor and secure the server by changing the password and taking additional security measures such as disabling root login, changing the SSH port, using RSA keys instead of a password login, and enabling the firewall.
- Install Steem using @someguy123's Steem Docker at https://github.com/Someguy123/steem-docker.git. If doing the seed, that is it.
- Build the witness server! Do all of the same on the witness and then use the CLI wallet to update the witness and get active on the network! For help, visit use the witness channel on Steemit.chat at https://steemit.chat/channel/witness. Thank you to top 20 witness @riverhead for keeping steemit.chat online for us and making it so easy to ask for help as a witness!
- Setup the price feed with https://github.com/Someguy123/steemfeed-js.git by @someguy123.
- Minimize and track block misses at https://steemdb.com/@jerrybanfield/blocks by switching your username for mine. If a block is missed, try ./run.sh restart and ./run.sh replay to reload because if your server hosting is reliable the most common cause would be Steem crashing which can be fixed by a reload. For further reading, @someguy123 just posted a guide with more depth about restarting the witness server using his setup.
- Start asking for votes. I wrote a full guide on this at https://steemit.com/witness-category/@jerrybanfield/how-to-start-getting-steem-witness-votes which I will summarize quickly here with one major update because getting votes is the most challenging part of becoming a witness. The best place to start is with existing relationships by directly asking for a vote and explaining why. I use the following sentence to ask my top followers to vote for me as a witness because it incorporates the basics of persuasive communication along with making my request clear and allowing for a yes or no answer. "Thank you for voting [insert number] of my posts up recently! Would you please vote for me as a witness at steemit.com/~witnesses because [choose motivation]?" Getting the very first witness votes is critical to help us earn our first blocks as a witness because this provides room for improvement! Choosing a reason based on what the person might respond to best can also help increase the effectiveness of the ask. For example "because I am already upvoting you" is valid to directly ask for a favor while "because you might feel good about helping me" can also work. To communicate this, it is ideal to already have a private messaging channel available such as on steemit.chat or an email address or phone number. If this is not available, responding to a comment on Steemit or asking in a post can work. If this still is not available and the person has already upvoted you several times but you do not know of any other way to contact them, sending a message using the wallet with a transfer and a memo is effective at the risk of annoying the receiver if the amount is very small such as 0.001 SBD or creating resentment in the witness community if the amount is large like 100 Steem. I tried the wallet memo ask because my initial post launching my witness received less than 1% of the total voting power from all of my followers. I then spent about 1000 Steem to send 10 to 100 Steem to my top upvoters in the wallet to thank them for upvoting me and ask for a witness vote. While this was very effective helping followers convert to witness voters, I will not be using this method going forward because of the negative feedback received and because there are better ways to get witness votes going forward such as writing helpful posts about being a witness.
- Post witness updates. Being a witness for Steem is a long term investment of time and money that pays out the most with giving to the community on a consistent basis. Posting witness updates is the best way initially to earn enough to pay for the server and to help get witness votes on an ongoing basis. Use tag "witness-update" and also "witness-category" to share with other witnesses most effectively. Most witness updates earn at least $20 with the best ones often earning $100+. I plan to have this and another post to share in my witness update as proof of my work as a witness which I think is ideal for doing a good witness update. View examples at https://steemit.com/trending/witness-update.
- Make valuable contributions! Each witness has a unique gift to give to our community. Many that I have listed already have built valuable resources for us that make using Steem easier. One I have not mentioned already is @chainsquad.com who runs https://streemian.com/ which is extremely valuable for me in publishing my posts out automatically with RSS to Facebook and Twitter. Another is @teamsteem who has helped me consistently in private chat along with being one of the first to upvote my witness and publishing guides that I read getting started on Steemit. @curie helps hundreds of people vote for the best posts by assisting with curation. @good-karma runs eSteem which I think is the #1 mobile app for using Steemit. @roelandp helps me find my top upvoters fast with steemvp.com. @krnel and @kyle's witness guides were very helpful alongside those by @someguy123 for me to setup my witness. @blocktrades has helped me change thousands of SBD fast into USD. @lukestokes with his witness lukestokes.mhth had the courage to give me an honest, thorough, and helpful reply to my Steem witness voting thread when I was getting overly selfish with my work on Steem. Many of the witnesses ranking below me I am voting for helped me in the witness chat or joined us on Steem and setup a witness after buying one of my video courses. To summarize, each witness I am voting for has done something that has helped me a lot whether it was directly as in a comment or indirectly through service to all of us such as by building a website or publishing posts. Often the service of witnesses goes unnoticed as it took me over two months here to realize @roadscape maintains steemd.com because I thought that was done by Steemit. I just discovered today that @jesta does steemdb which I use daily although I was already voting for him before because of his work on ChainBB. The more we give to our community, the more we will receive. We have the ability to receive a lot as a witness if we give a lot!
Thank you very much for reading this post which will soon be followed by a complete technical setup guide featuring the list of all the commands to get a witness server running in Ubuntu Linux which I hope can be nearly copied and pasted to get the server running.
Would you please vote for me as a witness at https://steemit.com/~witnesses because it feels good to participate in the voting process and to vote for witnesses that are working for us today?