It is challenging to make thirty different witness votes. It's even more difficult to match those thirty votes to an overall vision for the whole platform. In this article, I'm going to outline how I've recently decided to start allocating my witness votes and perhaps this might give you some ideas about how to approach witness voting.
I will go through who I currently vote for and why. I don't want you to agree with my choices - that is not the intent of this article - but thinking about a framework for thinking about votes is much richer if it includes working examples. My information is limited and imperfect, but I still have to make the best decisions that I can.
At present, between my account and the accounts that proxy to it, I represent only ~0.3 GV. That's not much in the grand scheme of things, but sufficient that selecting witnesses does deserve some effort.
The process begins with deciding on my vision for steem, deciding on categories that reflect my vision, apportioning numbers of votes to the categories, and then finding witnesses to fill those spots.
I would like to see steem grow to support a massive user base. At present, this means onboarding and retaining new users.
Witnesses must keep the blockchain and surrounding ecosystem running well. To some extent, maintaining a stable node is a minimum criterion for all witnesses. Expecting nothing more than node stability from a witness is a bit like only expecting a chef cook edible food.
My chosen witnesses have a pluralistic vision of Steem's future. Steem is a blockchain where many communities, even those with counter interests, should be able to find a home. The witnesses should support devolving decisions on content quality and types to the different communities.
Witnesses should eat their own dogfood. It is instant mega minus points if the witness is not currently active on steem and not posting their witness updates on steem.
The witness should recognise the role of the 3rd party developer ecosystem in making the tools that humanise steem for the masses. The witness should be friendly towards businesses and investors participating in Steem because a developer can do more for Steem if they can earn an income here.
Categories and Apportioning Votes
To meet my vision, I am going to start by slowly allocating 23 witness votes into the following categories. You'll notice that a couple of larger community projects are categories.
Technical witnesses (7 votes)
A technical witness possesses dev skills and will also have built a tool that I frequently use.
@klye - because my bots use his libraries
@roadscape - steemd is one of my favourite tools for playing blockchain detective
@arcange - steemsql is awesome
(4 spots free)
Minnow support project (4 votes)
The minnow support project does a lot to help onboard new users to steem. MSP helps them find a community and learn about the vagaries of the platform. This initiative helps with retaining new users. My votes go to the MSP witnesses who also hold moderator roles in that community. They also have a programme for recognising witnesses that they'll support and I will use the material they publish to help me evaluate witnesses for myself.
@aggroed, @ausbitbank, @followbtcnews, @swelker101
(1 spot free)
The Writers Block (4 votes)
The Writers Block is an active community of professional writers. If we want quality content on steem then supporting the writing community seems to be a good thing. It was the Writers Block when they used to be a part of the Minnow Support Project that attracted me to MSP. One day, I might hone my wordsmithery enough to write fiction.
@anarcho-andrei, @sircork, (@swelker101)
(2 spots free)
The Alliance (3 votes)
The Alliance is another group that I like to support because they provide a close community for their members. Their more formal organisation might not suit many people, but it does seem to work for their members.
@suggeelson, and a couple of others I'll talk about elsewhere.
You Are Hope (1 vote)
Misc. Witnesses (5 votes)
@curie - upvotes quality content made by minnows which encourages both quality content and new user retention.
@patrice - does a lot of work to keep steem clean and tidy.
@reggaemuffin - both a single witness vote for BuildTeam and because I like how he tries to do business ethically with the best interests of the platform in mind.
@rycharde - Leads MAP - another smaller group that supports creatives and original content on the platform. He is also a keen mathematician and keeps an eye on the economy of steem, rewards curves and the like.
@timcliff - I heard him speak once on @msp-waves radio and was convinced. Very community minded and long-term focused. He also carries the respect of people that I respect too.
You'll have noticed that each category carries an allocation of witnesses and some have empty spots. By assigning votes to categories, I guide my search and evaluation of new witnesses.
Witnesses I have evaluated and won't vote for yet
I currently have a list of about 11 witnesses that will not be getting my vote anytime soon. I am not publishing this list because I can't be bothered getting into arguments about it. Though it might be helpful for me to talk about why I won't vote for a particular witness: disconnected from reality/dumbass, a difference of opinion over the vision for steem, anti-business, already deriving significant income from steem, not active enough on steem, and witnesses that don't show results before expecting votes.
That is my process for how I have currently allocated my witness votes. I aim to review one current witness vote and evaluate one potential new witness per fortnight beginning in January 2018. While you won't agree with my specific decisions, the overall approach might inform your own so that your witness votes can become more strategic and match your overall goals.