Guide to Being a Good Witness

in witness-category •  last year

Witnesses vs. Miners

The Steem blockchain is very different than traditional "proof-of-work" blockchains. We don't have miners; we have witnesses. Witnesses are similar to miners, in that they are responsible for validating and producing the blocks for the block-chain, but witnesses are not competing over who has the most "hash power" or fastest computers. They are competing over who has the most votes. How witnesses compete over votes is what makes it interesting. In order to get votes, you have to add value.

Becoming a Steem Witness

Pretty much anyone with a reasonable amount of technical knowledge can become a witness these days. There are quite a few guides out there, and with a small amount of effort you should be able to find a good one one. As long as you are able to procure a proper server and follow the instructions in the guide, you should be able to get a witness node up and running with minimal difficulty.

Getting Votes

So you setup your witness node and have declared your intent to be a witness. Now you just need to get some votes.. How to get votes though? You're running a witness node and created a great witness post. Everyone should vote for you now, right?

Being a good witness is about more than producing blocks

What you will soon learn (if you didn't know already) is that being a good witness requires a lot more than just producing blocks. If you want people to vote for you, you need to find a way to add value to the network and community. You also need to demonstrate that you are a trustworthy person and dependable member of the community.

So how to do that?

I asked the community - What do you expect from your witnesses? There were a lot of great responses in the comments of this post. It was encouraging to see how many users care about what their witnesses are up to, and expect them to be adding value. If you have time, I suggest you read what people had to say.

There was a diverse set of suggestions, but there was also an underlying theme. The key take-away is that most users expect witnesses to be actively involved in the platform and adding value in some way.

Everyone brings something unique to the table

If you look at the top 20 witnesses, most of them have done something to make a name for themselves. What is interesting is how different everybody's contributions are. @jesta has developed some amazing tools for the community such as SteemDB, ChainBB, and Vessel. @gtg is a technical wizard and knows more details and intricacies of Steem than you would believe. @aggroed founded the "Minnow Support Project" which now provides support and community to over 4,000 users. @clayop is the leader of the Korean community - one of the platform's largest active communities. @anyx founded and leads the SteemCleaners group to combat plagiarism, spam, and abuse. @roelandp is responsible for SteemFest. (Sorry, I know the list goes on and on, but I want to keep it short..)

Some ways to add value

Here are some suggestions from the witness community on ways to add value:

  • Learn how the steemd code works.
  • Host a seed node.
  • Host a full / RPC node.
  • Work on getting STEEM/SBD more widely accepted as a form of payment.
  • Develop third party tools and applications for the community to use.
  • Submit pull requests for minor bugs + enhancements.
  • Submit regular witness reports.
  • Marketing / PR / Recruitment.
  • Start new initiatives to make the platform better.
  • Participate in discussions on hardforks / platform changes.
  • Participate in discussions on the appropriate values for witness parameters.
  • Providing an SBD price feed and making informed economic decisions when necessary.
  • Review new Steem versions and choose whether to run new forks.
  • Be a role model for how new users should act.
  • Develop tools for the witness community to use.
  • Educate and help new users.
  • Run or sponsor social projects / contests.
  • Keep in touch by blogging.
  • Help fight plagiarism, spam, and abuse.
  • Build communities.
  • Push to get STEEM/SBD accepted on more exchanges.
  • Actively curate.
  • Use the platform.
  • Fund projects that add value to the community.
  • Communicate your vision for the project and work to make it a reality.
  • If you make a commitment, deliver.

Find what works for you

You certainly do not need to do everything on that list to be successful. Heck, you don't really need to do any of them. There is no 'requirement' to do any of those things. They are all just suggestions on ways to add value. Following in the footsteps of the existing leaders is a great way to get started, but it is by no means the only way. What you do for your witness campaign is entirely up to you. The best thing you can do is find how to use your unique strengths to make the platform and community better.

Conclusion / TLDR

To be a successful witness, find your way (or ways) to add value.


I want to thank everyone that contributed behind the scenes with your feedback and suggestions. The liquid payout of this post will be split equally between those that offered input to make the post better - @klye, @smooth, @gtg, @pfunk, @furion, @fubar.bdhr, @drakos, and @Transisto.

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That's a pretty nice list, but I expect much more.

For example, for a top 20 witness, I would like to see each run a 24x7x365 availability operation. I.e. they would need to hire a part-time team from different parts of the world so someone or the other is on call to get a backup server up and running in case there's a failure. I'd also like to see all top 20 witnesses offer an array of RPC nodes. Given that a top witness is paid $130,000 per year (granted, deferred by a few months), such an operation should be well within budget.

If the Steem network were to go viral, that witness reward could be approaching a million dollars a year, and at that point I'd fully expect every top witness to show a full time commitment to not only running high availability infrastructure, but hire developers to advance the Steem network, hire economics analysts for reasoned decisions etc. This might mean the top 20 witnesses should be organisations instead of individuals.

Doing things for the community is great, but ultimately subjective. They also have their own set of rewards by the recognition and reputation they bring. Indeed, most of the top community builders are not witnesses. I don't think the primary technical goals have been sufficiently accomplished by many, if any, witnesses.

I think it was lpfaust that once said there are only one or two witnesses worth voting for currently. I'd agree. I hold Steem to a far higher standard than the current witnesses offer. That might sound overly harsh, and I do apologize, but it's the logical conclusion. I'd also like to point out that I consider myself a nearly worthless witness. A $400 million network (and it could only shoot way up) deserves better.


I think the issue is, to do anything useful with a witness, you need the active key. But once you have the active key, you're now able to move funds at will.

Unless everyone transitions to "yourname.witness", then STEEM needs to have a new type of key. A key which lets you change your signing key, and publish a price feed, but nothing else. Right now, anyone helping out with your witness will often end up needing full access to all of your funds, as they need your active key to change the signing key in the event of a failure.


I agree that a witness key would be beneficial. However, it's not too much of an issue currently.

a) Collaborate with people you trust.
b) Since all rewards are paid in SP, you always have 7 days to react to any moving of funds.
c) You can set a power down withdraw route to a different fund account entirely, so the witness account never sees any liquid funds. Should someone change the withdraw route, you once again have 7 days to fix the situation. That'd be enough of a deterrent so no one tries anything funny.
d) Multi-sig. I don't really know how that works, but I know it's there on Steem and @steemit uses it.


@liberosist I too just voted for you as witness and I appreciate your ability to express yourself about this topic.


@liberosist I love your feedback here and completely agree! Your post here motivated me to make a vote for you as a witness because now I am motivated to get help with making exactly what you shared here!


Wow. This is a big statement, one that makes a lot of sense. Seems like a huge opportunity for the right individuals to create worthy witness operations, along the lines you describe, to earn that prize of $100k+ per year.

This is an opportunity for serious money... I hope that the competition to be a top witness becomes intense as time goes on. We should have plenty of amazing options with that much cash on the line.


@liberosist I disagree with you imposing this suggestions to the Top 20 Witnesses. We don't know what they're doing behind the scene beside typing on keyboards commenting or answering question in the witness thread.

The STEEM Blockchain is distributed by design to many different servers across the Globe. They are operating 24x7, if any of Top 20 witness server failed, the backend will continue to run and no one will notice. Because we have 300+ Witness Servers waiting to get their chance to process a block.

You're making it more difficult to ordinary John Doe or Mary Smith to bring up their own Witness Nodes and be part of this community. We want all entrepreneurs and investors to be part of this network, not just those with deep pockets.

Though I agree with you for Top 20 Witnesses, they all should provide Full RPC and Seed Node up/running.

The Witness should be independent operators + some of added values listed above.


@Yehey, you said witnesses should be more independent, apart from the votes. I am thinking about whether I want to agree with that. I like the act of voting for witnesses. I think Bitcoin is a little different in some ways. But this system that Steem has may be better. I am trying to be open to different ways of doing things for cryptocurrencies and blockchain systems. I like constitutional, representative, republics over democracies for example.

Fighting spam, plagiarism and other forms of abuse literally adds value to Steem.

What is this SBD price feed?
Are my account's blockchain interactions run exclusively by witnesses I voted for? If so, what about those whom did not vote for a witness?

And another question:
Does my vote for a witness grow with my SP, or should I disapprove and approve each time it grows?
With you it is currently unnecessary, since you are located high enough, and since my SP only grows marginally, but in the future it might be.

Keep posting !originalworks


The blockchain requires the witnesses to submit a price feed with the current STEEM price, so that it can properly calculate the appropriate size of the rewards pool, and how much STEEM to generate when users convert SBD to STEEM.

Your account operations are handled by the elected witnesses who are assigned the blocks, regardless of whether you voted for them or not.

Your witness votes will always be calculated using however much SP you have in your account at the current point in time.


@TimCliff, does voting for witnesses cost me any SP? For the first time about a day ago, I voted for 30 witnesses for Steemit and now I am reading what you are writing in this comment about the calculation of the SP for witness votes and I am not sure if that means that SP is taken out of my Steemit wallet to pay for witnesses or not. I would assume or hope not but better safe than sorry is my philosophy like @Stefan.Molyneux.


It does not cost SP to vote for witnesses.


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To support our curation initiative, please vote on my owner, @themarkymark, as a Steem Witness

I was kinda confused why people wanted to become witnesses, and what they did, Thank you @timcliff.

Do witnesses make more money by being a witness? What's a node?


Well this post explains a lot about what witnesses do. There is also more info about them in the FAQ.

As far as why witnesses do it, they are paid by the blockchain for each block they produce. Most witnesses are also doing what they do because they care a lot about the platform and want it to succeed.

A node is basically a computer/server that is running an instance of the blockchain.

A really good post. This is something that I am just learning about. I dont have a great deal of technical knowledge in terms of bits and bytes. I am not a software/coder type guy. Nevertheless, you made it obvious that anyone who is willing to put forth effort to help the community, in whatever way, can become a witness.

I think you for the post and look forward to expanding the ways I can contribute.

Okay! After this post I finally know what a witness is. And wow they do a lot - I have a deeper appreciation for witnesses now that I actually know what they are! Thank you - learning something on Steemit each day!

I found that information useful. I have found many comments and post by you and someguy123 useful so I have added you two to my witness list:
@bashadow votes for:

  1. dragosroua
  2. drakos
  3. someguy123
  4. timcliff

I would like to take the time to thank all of the witnesses, especially the above mentioned and voted for four. Thank you for what you do.

Good information, I might use it in the future.

I have some SP delegated to help minnows and I wondered if the more witnesses the better for Steem Blockchain.
Will it be faster?


No, not really. The blockchain produces blocks at a rate of one every three seconds. Quality is actually more important than quantity. More good witnesses, means less missed blocks, which means the network is more stable/reliable/fast.


Thank you for the explanation :)
I voted for you as witness in exchange. Hope that helps.


Thanks :)

Thank you very much for explaining all this in a way, that also people like me, who are not exactly the computer experts understand these things too. As in all "elections" I take voting for witnesses very seriously and am still working on it. It takes time to gather the information and get an idea of who is who and what they do.

You have provided some very good starting points for getting this info and also the discussions sparked by your posts are often quite inspiring as well.

I focus on security and educating average people on those matter here. It takes time of course but it nice to feel we add some value to the #ecosysteem.

what if i just want to support by hosting a node?


Yes, you are welcome to. If you do, let @gtg know so he can add it to the list of seed nodes.

Thanks for the detailed info regarding witnesses. As a fairly new person to Steemit, I've never looked into the amount of work it takes to be a witness. BTW, are 'regular' people able to make small software updates to the steemit system?


Anyone who wants to can submit a pull request (code change) to the steem or condenser ( GitHub repositories. It is up to the Steemit development team to decide whether the pull request is accepted though.


Thanks for the info Tim, I wondered where to go with an idea... It would be to have a choice of colored text for the profile instead of just white.



Yes, definitely. He was one of the many that I wanted to include but didn't in order to keep the post from getting too long :)

As far as deleting followers, that is unlikely going to change. If you are posting content on the public blockchain, anyone who wants to can read your material. If they want to read what you post, they get to follow you. You have full control over who you follow though. What content you view is entirely up to you.


I was looking for something like this yesterday. Thanks! Distributing...

Thanks for the post Tim. I was hoping to get up to date information on setting up a witness server since I never got my server to run. Are there any new links you can recommend?


It's actually on my list to create an updated version of this one which shows users how to do it the 'manual' way. @someguy123 also creates a 'witness in a box' guide, which is basically a tool that he created to more or less install and configure one for you. You could chat with him on to get his latest guide, or wait for a week or two for mine :)


Thanks Tim. No worries. I'll wait for your new guide. I had already installed everything and also the blockchain was downloaded and running, but I was getting errors and nobody got back to me on how to solve the issue. Please keep me noted, highly appreciated.

I certainly would want my witness to be able to help prevent the scourge of plagiarism and spam. This will increase the integrity of the platform which is so imporant.

Thanks .Very useful post for me.

@surpassinggoogle is also doing good as a Witness and promoting Steemit here in the Philippines. Thanks @timcliff for this valuable information. I want to keep this, so I copied it as a Word Document in my PC.

Hi @timcliff. I am 6 months late, but I wanted to give my compliments to your article. You delivered great guidance and a road map of attitudes and responsibilities for potential new witness. I also believe that a person’s writing is a reflection of himself so you must therefore live by a good moral code. I will follow you and explore your other insights and contributions. Thanks for sharing.


Thanks :)

It's always confused me how to be a good witness thanks for sharing

Very nice post for newbie like me. Thank you @timcliff. I shall look for similar posts from you.

Thank you for listening. I hope the witness listen and know we really appreciate them.

Thank you, I have a much better idea what a witness is now. Around here I am more like a witless... but learning lol!

Informative post !
Nice list of great contributors !!

Thanks for the info, been really tempted on making a faucet to help out, at the very least keep myself busy


One of the other witnesses @klye actually works on a faucet project. If you are interested in that, you should chat with him.


If he's the same name on chat il send him a message. Thanks


If you look on my blog months back I've shared the code I've used to get my seed node fauceting.


I read the F PHP part and realised I haven't got a clue with WordPress. Maybe something I will look at. I must say it looks good


Impressive sharing! I find many answers which was not not cleared, thanks for sharing. Ihave upvote for you and resteemed post.

@good-karma a good name for witnesses vote & my vote for @good-karma

Thanks @timcliff following you now & will wait next updates, please share some about SBD & Steem, I am new and bit confused beacuse steem prices are going high but SBD price is almost same.....
Is SBD will always equal to USD price?

Waitng for new such artical.Thanks


Yes. There is actually a lot of good info on that in the FAQ.



can you please tell why witnesses is necessary in Steem blockchain. is their any benefit of witnesses.


The witnesses are the ones who power the blockchain. Every time a user posts, comments, transfers money, etc. all of that needs to be processed and stored in the blockchain. The witnesses are the ones that do that.


now i can understand the value of witness very informative post you have shared good keep it up.

I'm new in Steemit, @timcliff, but your guide make me understanding a lot of things. Thank you. I'm following and learning about this magic and amazing new world. #Peace

VOTED for @timcliff

I would say this guide is good for new witness who are looking to contribute rather than looking for money.

Very interesting topic. Thanks for the share

Hola, excelente post, la información es excelente, gracias esta información es valiosa para quienes estamos iniciando este emprendimiento

Nice @timcliff, but become witness, should we know about little bit coding?

Also thank you for sharing about this, you give a new a point of view about witness. Nice :)


It is definitely helpful to know coding, but it is not a requirement. For top 20 it would probably be quite difficult, but I suppose it is technically possible.

Thank you for the post! As someone new to Steemit this was so helpful and so was all the information in the comments, thanks everyone!

To be honest i dont know nuch idea about this. I am learning from you people. Thank for sharing with us

Yup, being an active community member, minnow supporter does increase your chances to get lot of votes. Between I have been hearing a lot lately that the data size of steem blockchain keeps on increasing at a tremendous pace. They say, that soon most witness won't be able to witness because of the increasing hardware requirements like bigger RAM and all. I don't fully understand it, but I do understand that we are moving towards a stop sign. Is it true? If yes, is something being done to counter that? Or we are just waiting.....Just curious.


We are ok for now. The memory requirements for a witness are not that bad yet. The dev team is also working on improving the performance.

interesting thanks for the information

Hi @timcliff,
Upvoted, folowed, thanks for this witness info, i've been looking for this one, @timcliff can you make a video on this subject with a li'll more details?


Thanks! Sorry, I'm not really setup to do videos.

many of the witnesses in the campaign to do things that are not pleasing, I do not want to mention the person, I just want to know, whether justified to be a division to do activities such as money politics @timcliff, thank you

a great post, I have been in this community for a month and little by little I am learning new things, I would really like it in a year or two to be a witness, to learn everything that is needed and to be able to be part of all that are going to take this community to be the greatest, thank you very much for sharing your knowledge, greetings.

I hope one day I am one Witness :)

pretty detailed post about being a witmess
kind of learned somethings and hope can achieve that place someday .

Tim this is a very helpful post which we are all grateful for!


Thanks Jerry!

That's how great our witnesses are!

is there any differences between a whale and a witness


Yes. A whale is a term for a user that has a lot of Steem Power. A witness is someone who is running software to power the blockchain. Some witnesses are whales, but not all of them are.


Thanks a bunch

why I can not find out the japanese witness. How to enter the witness? need to steem...I want to know more basic information about witness


I don't know off the top of my head any of the witnesses who are from Japan. There is some info on witnesses in the FAQ. There is also a link to vote for witnesses in the main menu.

Witness page link must be in the top menu.
Steemians should understand each vote is important.
Also, we need to see More Witnesses in Witness voting page. Limiting it to top 50 is not really good thing.


It is debatable. I never minded when I was below 50. I liked how making it into the top 50 was a milestone that generally indicated that the witness had proven themselves and earned enough support to make it there.

@timcliff you got my vote sir!

i will be a good witness @timcliff


Awesome post. Really great content.


I am follow u, upvote coment and retseem your post

Hi all my friends visit me @auliasiddiq thanks!!

your post give me the inspiration to keep doing what I can for me and my family .. thanks for sharing. I hope you're okay..

Congratulations @timcliff!
Your post was mentioned in the hit parade in the following category:

  • Pending payout - Ranked 5 with $ 294,7


Guys, my name is Leo I'm new here on steemit, I'm an ecommerce and marketing expert would love to bring some of my stuff over to steemit in the future, so please check out my profile, thanks!

Very good.
Please apvote me.
go to my blog too.

big statement,

Thanks. Understood, better witnesses tend to bring stuff, projects, apps, other things, to the table, the Steem blockchain, for the world in general, and I am seeing that as I look at witnesses and as I look at the apps. Thanks.

Thanks for the info.

<3 Much love tim!

@Timcliff, I just saw your post here and upvoted for you as a witness because you provide good value to me a newbie. I would appreciate if you could take a look at my recent post @rosatravels and give me some feedback to a newbie who is trying to stay afloat. Thank you.