Steemit is Free, But Your Witness Vote Determines its Future

Did you know, as the owner of a Steemit account, you have an important responsibility?

Maybe no one told you or you haven't had time to look into it yet, but as a Steemit account holder, you control part of the future success of this platform. Decisions about code changes and economic polices are implemented by witnesses. Your vote determines who gets to be an influential witness and who doesn't. The Steemit FAQ has a great section explaining witnesses.

It's a big responsibility.

When you convert SBD to STEEM or you get a payout in SBD value, the price feed maintained by the witnesses directly impact how those processes work as well as the overall economic system. If the blockchain stops functioning efficiently, it'll be because witnesses are missing the blocks they are supposed to validate or they haven't updated their nodes properly. Your vote ensures only witnesses who have the best interests of the Steemit community in mind and who regularly demonstrate their intentions via their attitude and actions get to be in this important role.

Yesterday, I announced I'm running a full witness node and would like your vote of support. Even though I'm currently only ranked 77th, I was still able to witness my very first block today:

The witness node I'm running (thanks to hosting by @privex) did its part to validate this block on the Steem blockchain. That's pretty exciting, and I'd like to do more, but I will only be given the opportunity to do more if my ranking increases. That ranking comes from witness votes like yours.

I know. It can be a little scary.

I was active on Steemit by July 2016. I had read the white paper a couple times. I knew witnesses were important, but it took me a while to start voting for them. I realized the drama happening in the Bitcoin space directly related to Bitcoin users not having a say in the future of the technology they use, such as how big the blocks should be, if SegWit should be implemented, or if they should adopt a lightning network.

When I started on Steemit, I didn't want to vote for the wrong person. I knew it would take time to understand who was a beneficial actor and who might not be. Slowly, over time, I started trusting people and giving them my witness vote. It was work and it took time, but I knew it was important.

Since then, Steemit has implemented proxy voting which also exists in BitShares. This simplifies the process because you just need to find one person to trust who has done the work, gotten involved, and voted for people who benefit the network and set them as your proxy. If you're still figuring out who to vote for, I'd like to be your proxy until you decide to vote on your own. You can set that up here:

Just like voting for a witness, you'll need your Active private key to set your proxy. I hope you'll choose my account @lukestokes.

You can view who I'm currently voting for at Each account can vote for up to 30 witnesses. You can remove your vote or your proxy at any time.

And you should remove your votes!

One of the challenges with the voting system is many witnesses have votes but they aren't active, aren't publishing an updated price feed, or are missing blocks they are supposed to be witnessing. Those who voted for them before may not have updated their votes once they turned off their nodes or got busy with other things. has an excellent page here which gives you a lot of information about each witness. It shows what version of the Steem code they are running (very important to keep track of as we approach hardforks), the settings they've configured such as the block size, Steem Backed Dollar (SBD) APR (interest), STEEM price feed (with or without bias), and the registration fee for creating new accounts. You can also link from here directly to their original post announcing their intention to be a witness.

When evaluating a "good" witness, the first thing you should look at is if their node is currently active. If it's greyed out, that means it's disabled. If you're currently voting for them, you should remove your vote and give it to someone else. It's okay, they won't take it personally and you can always vote for them again once they are back up and running. As you can see, a lot of witnesses have votes but they aren't doing any work to help the network right now. Why not vote up some new witnesses who deserve a chance? Another important number is the number of missed blocks. That means the network was relying on them to fulfill their role at a specific moment, and their node wasn't available.

I'd appreciate your vote for my witness @lukestokes.mhth or, as mentioned above, you can set @lukestokes as your proxy, and I'll continue to engage with the other witnesses and vote for their nodes which keep this place awesome. We've built a nice little community on this blog (now over 1,550 of us!!!) with a lot of really engaging conversations. I hope you all can continue that support with your witness vote. Let's see how quickly we can get above 77th place!

Thank you for taking your Steemit responsibility seriously. Steemit is free to use, but we have to take care of it to protect its future.

I've declined payout on this post but would greatly appreciate a resteem and a witness vote.

Luke Stokes is a father, husband, business owner, programmer, voluntaryist, and blockchain enthusiast. He wants to help create a world we all want to live in.

I'm a Witness! Please vote for @lukestokes.mhth



You have my vote. I like your blog and you are a great contributor and established member of the community. As an established member of the community, I was hoping that I could get your feedback and maybe you could help spread the word about my small #steem-dev project:

I just finished developing a really useful tool for mac users for STEEM. I hope you will check it out and maybe help get it in the hands of the community, because I do not have the necessary following to do so. Thank you!

Very cool! Have you tried adding it to ? I may have to try this out. I hadn't heard of Rumps before, but if it makes creating toolbars out of a python script that easy, that is way cool! Thanks for sharing.

It's really awesome. I stumbled upon the module a few months ago and finally found a good use for it. I will definitely add it to Thank you!

Very awesome tool! I gave you an upvote on both post and I'm now following you.

Thank you @teamsteem! I worked on it last night while procrastinating studying for my final exams! It turned out pretty nice. I'm going to try figuring out adding EUR, CNY, and GBP currency pairs this week, I just didn't have a ton of time. Thanks again!

@lukestokes, thank you for explaining it so easily to us. Will definately vote for you as whitness. Thank you for raising awareness !

You're welcome and thank you!

How much you can earn as a witness?

It depends on how high up the rankings you are. The 19 witnesses validate blocks every round and get a reward for doing so while the other witnesses rotate in based on their ranking. I've only witnessed two blocks so far and it seems my account has increased by 0.933 STEEM per block. You can see the number of blocks for the top witness on SteemDB. Looks to be 1,371 blocks per day.

Edit: Important clarification as noted in @roelandp's reply: top 19 witnesses get 1/5th the reward of a backup witness, so my experience in terms of SP per block is very different from theirs.

if you are a non-top 19 you get 5 times the amount a top 19 witness gets.

Thank you for clarifying that! That's a very important point. Do you happen to know where that is in the white paper? I haven't been able to find it. I know there are a lot of changes such as the elimination of the liquidity rewards and the change in SP distribution. Thanks for all the work you do promoting Steemit, organizing Steemfest (so far, I may be 0 for 2 in convincing my wife we need to go), and running a solid witness.

would be epic to have you!

Don't know about the whitepaper but in the source code its here:

Perfect, thanks!

Didn't it change from 19 to 20 top-witnesses ?

We're up 3 spots! Go TEAM!

I also witnessed a second block!

Thanks for continuing to spread the word.

Added you to my witnesses list.

Luke Stokes seems genuine, you got my vote!

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You have my support Luke! And thank you for supporting my witness!

Thanks and you're welcome!

I'll be using you as my proxy from now on, Luke :)

I've tried to get into voting manually on witnesses myself, but reading around 100 different witness statements is a bit too much work right now. However, you seem like you vote with responsibility in regards to the future of Steemit, so I'm sure this is a good choice for me :)

Thank you. I'm working hard not to let you down.

As a newbie and still learning I understand the importance of witnesses. I don't understand all of the mechanics etc of how witnesses work, so I have signed you @lukestokes to be my proxy, until I can make a more informed decision on other potential witnesses.


If you're a liberty minded individual, I'd advice you to vote for liberty minded people. Luke is a great choice, both because of his personal philosophical leanings but also because he's just a good tech guy. Looks like he'll make a good proxy too for now.

Thanks so much for that vote of confidence. :)

Thank you for your reply @the-ego-is-you, you are the 2nd to confirm my decision to give my proxy to Luke.
I read this, this morning: (almost exactly the same time you posted your response)

Exodus 18:21-23
Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.”

Emphasis mine


I'm an antitheist. But if you're voting for Luke, we'll get along fine in this context. =)

Thank you @the-ego-is-you, I'm a follower of Christ and I would consider myself a voluntaryist as well. I agree, "we'll get along fine in this context." =)


consider myself a voluntaryist

I'm also an anarcho-capitalist and co-agorist (not konkin agorist). Nice seeing you here! =)

Likewise, nice meeting you as well. I will be looking forward to future dialogue.
Can you explain to me your definition of co-agorist?

Basically it's an idea and strategy to bring about a free and more prosperous society on the back of inter-contracting cooperative organisations.

For example, one such setup could be a blockchain, where every user connects voluntarily because he agrees with the ideals of the system. An even better would be two or more blockchains voluntarily connecting with eachother to become stronger as a network by utilizing synergy between the two in some way.

CoAgorists don't necessarily accept all of Konkins philosophical views or strategic outlooks. We may vote if we consider it a working strategy, the replacement of the state can be considered to be more gradual than an outright violent overthrow and the focus on specifically black markets is less emphasized for practical reasons.

Very good post Luke I think you covered everything there, apart from maybe where to find out which witnesses believe in which direction Steemit should go for. I think those of us that know about witnesses seem to find it shrouded in mystery, it would be good if part of your mission would be to lift that shroud.

That would get my vote :-)


The best way I've found to stay informed so far is by following posts like this one by @timcliff: The Reports from the Witnesses 2017-05-28. It takes work to stay informed.

Yes we do indeed know rather little about the witnesses. I wish the witness page itself would contain more details, not only about the technical side of witnessing but also about their personalities and ideals. Many claim to be good people and have grand plans, but few explain the details of such things to the rest of us.

Some people shouldn't be trusted with any form of power either. There are already some witnesses that I simply will not vote for, even though they are really good with the technology and mostly publicly appear quite jolly and well intentioned in their manners.

Thankfully, the amount of damage that any one bad witness can do is limited by the protocol.

Limited in terms of what one witness alone can do directly to the protocol yes, but not eliminated.

The people I'm speaking of are highly manipulative and already do plenty harm in the community from time to time. They don't need to spend their witnessing money or efforts on directly harming the protocol, or even intend to do so, just to make a dent.

Thankfully we've got people like you though Luke and a great community overall! :thumbsup:

a great community overall!



I don't understand what is a witness.. Who controls the Blockchain who creates steem and why what voting for witness means

I'm sorry my post did not help. Have you read the FAQ section on witnesses I linked to?

No I haven't

I read the FAQ.. And still don't know what this witness do.. Are they mining like bitcoin?

They are block producers, but it's different than mining. Maybe this will help: DPOS Consensus Algorithm - The Missing White Paper

You have my vote - but will have to re-read. Still new to all of this and trying to wrap my head around it.

Not afaird to admit weakness.

I've been here over 11 months, and I'm still learning new things every day. Thanks for your vote!

Well I'm back to re-read and learn. I remember this real smart guy saying " Once you stop learning, you start dying." And you are most welcome for the vote.

Love that dude. :)

You know what I didn't realize til the second time so I am glad I came back. I thought my upvote was a wittiness vote. But I have not wittiness vote - best of luck.

I still have 5 votes remaining and I'm considering you and aggroed. I really appreciate your contribution on the community. I am still looking for 3 deserving witnesses. :)

Thanks so much!

Your votes can be dynamic as well, so you can support someone for a time and then change it later also.

Thanks for explaining us how to choose better witnesses. Just some days ago, @teamsteem told us why to vote, and today you told us how to vote. I voted for you. Steem ON!!

Luke, good post. It's good that you can maintain Steemit. I hope that the work will be fruitful. Good luck

good luck! I wish you all the best

Very good post :)

I'm in Luke, I'm dropping you a double vote. One for the post and one for your good self. Well done for aspiring to do what you are doing.

Thanks so much! Greatly appreciated.

You're welcome Luke. Keep climbing. ;-)

Huge milestone, man! Quickly moving up the ranks. I know you don't really care about that sort of thing though, so just keep being a huge boon to the community. You already are, and you offer so much more :D

Thanks Jed. :)

I just gave you a vote for witness.

Thank you! :)

It's hard to keep up... 30 votes is a lot to keep track of and allocate. Maybe I should do the vote delegation thing... IDK

Well @lukestokes @lukestokes.mhth

You seem to have gotten more of my attention on this witness voting. I just allowed @ausbitbank about 30 days ago SET PROXY.

Would it be ok to see how you do for 30 days allowing SET PROXY to test out and I can switch back to @ausbitbank if I choose to with NO PROBLEMS?

You can change your vote/proxy however and whenever you like.

Hi Luke! I set you as my proxy!

You've definitely opened my eyes to a whole new dimension of Steemit and the blockchain that I hadn't understood. For a while, I was a getting frustrated about my lack of traction on here but I'm beginning to realize it's all about building community and growing this decentralized platform. Having said that, I seriously still don't understand what a witness node is.

A pretty close reflection of what I'm thinking. But hey it's opportunity to pick up new ways of thinking & perspectives. For those who want to.. we'll all get it soon enough I think.

I just got here and voted as per this post. Regards.

Thanks for the explanation! I voted you for witness...:) I've been doing exactly what you said. Holding on to my votes because I didnt understand it all. I'd like to resteem this post but no resteem arrow icon. Why is that. So I'm going to repost this article on my blog ok?

After the first 7 day payout window, you can't resteem an article. Instead of reposting it, maybe just tell your own story of what witnesses mean to you and link to this post as part of your understanding.

Ok thank you.

Hi @lukestokes,

Glad to see that you have reached top 10 now, from the 77th position as mentioned in the post. With a little more effort, I can see that you can easily reach top 7. I hope you will and I'll try to make that happen. I know a lot of SP is needed to move positions as the vote value depends on the amount of SP held by the voters and not just the number of votes. Also, you have missed the least number of blocks among the top 10 witnesses which is a massive positive in your favor.

Reading this post has been a very educational experience for me. I have learned so many things about Steem blockchain and its governance structure. While I think I understan I have some questions as well. Would you please answer them?

  1. What does the bias in price feed do? Why is it important and why most of the witnesses have set it to 0 %?

  2. How does the APR affect users? Does it apply only to SBDs or it also applies to interest paid to SP holders and the accounts having STEEM/SBD stored in Savings?

Thank you for always linking to your old content and also the content by other users. It helps people like me to connect the dots and understand the whole system better. I think the topic needs to be discussed more and I will cover it in detail soon.

Thank you.

  1. The price feed allows for a bias so that the blockchain can undervalue STEEM in order to print more SBD to (in theory) when the price of SBD is higher than $1. It seemed to have some unintended consequences which caused more confusion (the primary concern being the smart contract from SBD to STEEM, but that issue was resolved by removing that option from the Steemit interface). Some witnesses still support using it, but in all the discussions about it a long time ago, I remember being unconvinced it was a helpful approach.

  2. The APR is only for SBD. It’s a tool for helping increase the desirability if SBD when it falls below $1, but since that’s not the problem we have, the interest has been at $0 for a while now.

Thank you for your answers. :)

Thanks for the explanation. You have a vote heading your way.