Anyx, Cheetah, and Steemcleaners: Witness Update -- May 2018

in witness •  28 days ago


A view over Blackcomb mountain, skiing in Whistler BC. Photo by me.


Well, it’s been a while since I’ve last written a proper witness update, hasn’t it? But since I’ll be joining @aggroed’s Witness Forum this weekend, I figured now was a good time to summarize what I’ve been up to these past few months. I’m excited to show you what I’ve been working on!

You can check out my previous updates here and here.

To begin, here’s an overview of what I’ve been up to. You can find more information on each item below (arranged by number).

  1. We launched steemcleaners.com, our new website and reporting interface.
  2. Updates and bug fixes to @cheetah -- better performance, fewer errors!
  3. Updates to @guard, the bot I made to address phishing.
  4. A formal proof, along with some discussion, about 'Vote Incentivization' and how it degrades Delegated Proof of Stake.
  5. Some back end library updates (common use from @cheetah, @guard, @mack-bot, @spaminator, and more).
  6. Busy with real life!

1 - Steemcleaners.com

We contractually hired not one, but two developers to build and integrate our new site steemcleaners.com with our workflow. We are now properly integrated with our own database for logging reports, and have automated a lot of actions to speed up our work. The actual reporting part seen by non-members hasn’t changed much (see here), but the back end processing of reports is now much, much smoother.

Special thanks to the @steemcleaners crew for their hard work, as well as our hired devs -- the project can’t exist without all of them!

We’ve got a bunch of future plans in the pipeline (such as improving our ‘blacklist’ or ‘bad-actor’ lists, and enabling others to query these lists via API), so stay tuned for more progress on this front.

2 - Cheetah Updates

Cheetah has always required maintenance and updates, and these past few months have been no different. There has been a recurrent issue with non-english content -- let’s just say she’s been, uh, rather lonely, and linking to some interesting websites. While possibly not completely fixed, I mostly have a wrangle on stopping it from occurring. If you find any @cheetah comment with completely unrelated content, please report it to someone on the steemcleaners team in our discord. All negative examples help me improve her accuracy!

Fun fact, did you know the actual false positive rate recently is about 1 per 1000, or in other words, she is ~99.9% accurate?

3 - Guard Updates

While we previously highlighted the launch of @guard in our joint witness update on @steemcleaners, I figured I’d add in a bit more info here about updates since release. As time sensitivity for addressing phishing is critical to prevent the spread of any attack, I have focused a lot of effort on performance. The code has been drastically improved since the announcement, with the average latency being now no more than one block. That’s right -- if there’s a phishing comment, @guard will be able to respond basically immediately!
There were also a lot more ‘under the hood’ updates that made this possible, including things like asynchronous and parallel handling, and dynamic caching, but I won't bore you with the details.

4 - How Vote Incentivization Degrades DPoS.

I specifically want to highlight this post. If you’re reading this update but haven’t read my previous post, I encourage you to go check it out! I formally looked at would happen if voters prioritized their own financial greed over security in DPoS, and I showed how it degrades the entire structure of the system.

I think it’s an important post for fellow witnesses here on Steem to read, since the security of our system should be our primary concern.

5 - Back End & Library Updates

Something you may not know is that a lot of the abuse-related bots on Steem are linked into code that I wrote and continue to maintain, and is used by far more than just @guard and @cheetah. Most of my recent updates to this code are more ‘back end’ stuff, so again I won’t bore you with too many details. Mostly, I’ve been making a bunch of refactoring changes, specifically in preparation for Appbase. I’ve been running a secondary private api node and testing out unstable Appbase changes, for my hopefully reasonable goal of "when it comes out, make sure everything won’t be broken."

6 - Real life

Holy shit taxes. Hoooooly shit taxes.
As it turns out, when tax season came around I was woefully unprepared. It was time to start taking everything seriously, and I ended up getting myself a lawyer, an accountant, a bookkeeper, and more. The added complexities of income and capital gains rules and guidelines (and lack thereof) for cryptocurrencies here in Canada made the whole thing a nightmare, especially regarding the income and expenses of my witness (another fun fact: I likely have the largest operating expenses out of any witness here on Steem. Cheetah, for example, had a peak use of about $300 per day last year.). Fortunately, I have learned a lot from this experience, and next year should not be nearly as complex.

Some other fun stuff with my real life:

  • Work on my Ph.D. continues, with some progress towards a new publication. I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and now I really can’t wait until I can be fully focused on blockchain projects.
  • I recently moved, and started a new internship for the summer. Over the past few years I’ve been spending my summers at big name tech companies in research divisions, and this year is no different.
  • Finally, I joined up with @jesta for @greymass, which you can read more about here, and in @jesta's latest update here. I’ve been wanting to formalize my plans post-Ph.D., and my foray into full-time blockchain, towards something more ‘real.’ I think partnering with someone as amazing as @jesta and building an entrepreneurial/startup-style team together for our future blockchain projects will be an amazing way to do it!

Like what I'm doing for Steem? If you want to see development of Steemcleaners and related projects continue, please vote for me as a witness here!

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Cheap @cheetah fix, porn hub sub ;)

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And write it off as a business expense!

You're doing a lot of good work and I personally see how often you're online getting things done at SC. Much respect as always.

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Thanks, appreciate it. :) And still, SC wouldn't be possible without you and the rest of the group, so right back at you!

Holy shit taxes indeed. I echo that. And I don't have the added complexity of a witness

Fantastic @anyx!!!
My first time voting for witnesses,
thanks to you! 😀

My powerful choices for the solid people who represent the soul of the future of Steemit!

Scott, all your efforts are sincerely loved all over the world; far too often many of us out there in the Steemitverse don't know who to thank; I'm so glad you took the opportunity to show us what you're doing so we know who to be thankful for 😊

Have an amazing weekend, and best of luck with your PhD coming to a successful and expedient conclusion!

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Awesome! :D Thank you for the kind words of support, it's always appreciated!

Thanks for these updates @anyx. Its a great pleasure to have you on steemit. Will want to see how @guard stop phishing links as it has defrauded most people of their account safety and loss of steem and sbd. Thanks alot. Thumbs-up @anyx
videotogif_2018.05.25_01.01.33.gif
Dedicated this gif for your witness campaign.

dear friend thank for sharing informative knowledge keep it up i always follow you

Thank you for everything you do good sir, just voted for you for witness and upvoted 100% :)

That's some great stuff you are doing. I see people complain about 'bots', but some have real uses. They can help educate new users and highlight abuse. That may be needed more if and when we get millions more users. Your efforts are appreciated

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Its weird. When ever i run into a post from someone awesome, youre there, always, just above my comment. :D

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Thank you for informing us about this place. The place is very beautiful. I hope you will post beautifully.

Thank you for informing us about this place. The place is very beautiful. I hope you will post beautifully.

Oh wow, youre behind Steemcleaners (did i get that right?) and that annoying little kitty that helped me so much when i was actively curating for Curie. :D

I did not know. Ill vote for you as witness ofc. My suggestion would be to make yourself more seen, gosh, everyone knows steem cleaners but not all know whos behind it. Some more curation, a few comments on community leader posts, hot topic posts, etc. :D
Sry if im stepping over boundaries, im just happy i found this info out. :D

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Yep, thats me. :) It's said in the announcement post for steemcleaners, as well as the FAQ for Cheetah, so I'm surprised people don't know that I'm the creator/founder of them. Then again, I'm not the best public relations person or politician, and I don't really like boasting, so maybe there's just not much attention.

My role in SC nowadays is a) supplying all of the financing/income, b) development of the tools, and c) organizing and administrating (like a CEO). Other members of SC are more visible nowadays as they are the ones doing a lot of the public-facing stuff, while I do the admin and dev stuff.

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....It seems its not only enough to create something, or be good at something, you need to remind people of it.... I know if i stopped posting for 10 days id probably lose all my "whale" support.
Steem has a very short attention span unless you have a million SP wallet.

I just accidentally stumbled upon your account looking through the witnesses. Although its more likely that im the one uninformed then its due to your keeping a "low profile", as you say. (probably the case)
Ive "bugged" most of the witnesses so far, so i just have to say:
Nice to make your acquaintance..

Why not publish your Cheetah expenses as a regular report? We can upvote those reports to help pay for the costs and/or transfer funds to your account as needed. If Steemit, inc doesn't pay for services like this that the whole ecosystem needs, then other witnesses can pitch in and/or part of the rewards pool can be used. These services are really important and the burden for those costs shouldn't be on one individual.

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Publicizing specifically the Cheetah expenses is interesting idea that I hadn't thought about. At the moment it's covered by the logs and my witness pay, so I haven't seen the need to seek more external funding. I think if I wanted to do that, at that point I should also become more transparent with my total witness pay -- something no witness is currently doing as far as I am aware. Perhaps it could be a good thing, to be open and honest about everything, perhaps it would be a bad thing to have people judge the fact that I bought a milkshake yesterday because I felt like I was allowed to spend my salary on a small treat for myself (and let me tell you, as a frugal person, such things are rare for me to allow for myself...)

I think I am hesitant to externalize the Cheetah expenses from my witness pay however. When we say "the whole ecosystem needs this", I'm not actually sure that is true. No, it's not necessary for the ecosystem, but perhaps it is desirable for prosperity. Something like this falls somewhere in line with a voluntary free market approach. If 'the people' want Cheetah, 'the people' can have her, but there is no authoritarian entity like Steemit Inc. enforcing it -- and thus Steemit Inc. has no obligation to pay for it, 'the people' do.

This is kind of how I have been running SC & Cheetah, as free market enterprises. If I were to be unable to afford Cheetah, then 'the market', and 'the people', have collectively decided that it is not worth it. That would happen for example if I dropped out of the Top 20 -- in such a case, the stakeholders would have shown that it is not important to them anymore.

Which also brings an interesting question, if SC / Cheetah are free market solutions, should I be able to profit off of them? For the case of SC, I currently take absolutely nothing from it, and it is run like a non-profit: 100% of the income is distributed back to the community. It's easy to verify that from the SC account transfer history. For Cheetah, it's been a negative profitability enterprise if you discount my witness pay subsidizing it (the daily logs haven't covered the pay except in rare occurrences like 5$ SBD days). But it's an interesting question to think if Cheetah should be non-profit as well, if her log income ends up exceeding her expenses. Am I 'allowed' to profit off of something I have put hundreds of development hours into, and thousands of support hours into? Or, should it not be subsidized by my witness pay, and in this case disappear because the expenses are larger than the income?

Just makes me think we really need to have worker proposals here on Steem so that the voters can truly decide on that answer. For now, I'm comfortable tying the idea that my position as a witness is directly tied to the desirability that 'the people' have in SC & Cheetah.

I'll have to think more about publishing my witness expenses, income, taxes... etc. as it is an interesting question (as well as specifically just those related to Cheetah). Out of curiosity, do you think you should publish what you do with your witness salary? (Hard question, eh?)

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Enjoy your milkshakes, man! :)

I think "the people" are choosing to reward you as a witness, in part, because of the great things you've done to build Cheetah. We could go in circles talking about "needs" versus "wants," and you are technically correct, but I do think it provides great value which should be appreciated. People can't pay for something if they don't even know how much it costs. If they did know how much it costs to run Cheetah, they might appreciate it that much more.

I think anyone is free to profit off anything which the market demands and doesn't violate anyone's negative rights (i.e. go against the non-aggression principle). That's the beauty of open-market systems. When people pay for things with their own money, they more accurately understand the value of those things. Cheetah might be undervalued. It might be something people don't appreciate enough which makes them think spam, plagiarism, abuse, identity theft, etc is not an issue they need to care about. I think it's an issue we all have to care about because this is our collaborative commons. Maybe Cheetah could be wildly profitable for you (once people properly value it) which would bring in cheetah competitors, innovation, competition, etc and might even make your job easier while improving the entire ecosystem. Reminds me of how they paradoxically started saving endangered species by creating a market for selling hunting tags.

I'm totally fine with publishing what I do with my witness salary (at this point) because I haven't done much with it. I pay for expenses only, for the most part. I keep it powered up and use that delegation to help projects I think are adding value. That said, I did recently (I think it was last week?) trade out some STEEM (I think 1000?) for my own personal cryptocurrency trading. I hadn't done that before and it felt a bit like your milkshake. :) Ultimately, I think the community pays witnesses to do a job with the funds they are given and they are free to use those funds however they want as long as they are directly paying people who vote for them (though with the recent community witness popping up, that line may get a little blurry). The way those funds are used will be part of how they are evaluated as witnesses. I'm all for transparency.

How Vote Incentivization Degrades DPoS.
I specifically want to highlight this post. If you’re reading this update but haven’t read my previous post, I encourage you to go check it out!

Great post!
I'm Sorry, I was too late to upvote it on time :-(

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Do not miss the last announcement from @steemitboard!

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Nice and follow me please @anyx cheetah in steemcleaners and witness update friend

I have been around since last summer and only now I realize the things you do for the platform thanks to a resteem of this post by @aggroed. I gladly share you a vote. (And a follow obviously) Keep up the good work!

@anyx, I went into steemitabuse-appeals and asked to be removed from the blacklist. That was on Tuesday morning May 22. No one has responded. There has been responses to everyone else. Why am I singled out? How can I get in touch with you directly? We need to work this out.