What Are Steem Witnesses And Why You Should Support Them!

in #witness7 years ago (edited)

The clearest guide to understand what are "Witnesses". They are essential to Steem. Without them, Steem can't exist. Support them and they'll support you. This is a core principle that most Steemians haven’t thought much about and one this post hopes to solve.

Disclaimer: I've been a Steem Witness since September 2016. I'm currently #55.

Why Voting For Witnesses Is So Important!

If I'm looking at 2 equally good posts by 2 different authors and only one of the author has approved my witness, I'll tend to vote for the post by the author who has approved my witness. It's called mutual support.

Obviously, I would never support anyone that hold ideals that goes directly against mine, even if they were my biggest supporters. Logically people that hold the same ideals support each other. We usually don't support those whose ideals go against ours.

What are Steem Witness?

The excerpt below from "Steem: An In-Depth Overview!" explains the basis of what is a Witness. I highly recommend reading the whole post if you haven't. That post reached the top trending post so it's not like it's some half-baked post. (It's currently the best post to understand how Steem works.)

Steem witnesses are computers or nodes run by some Steemians. These are running 24/7. They provide the computational power required to process all Steem actions recorded on the Steem blockchain. This is communally called: "signing blocks". Those computers run the Steem open source software. There are 20 witnesses and 1 backup witness. Each 20 witnesses sign around 1400 blocks a day and the remaining backup witness blocks are signed by all remaining witnesses in a rotation. Signing block is done automagically as long as the computers and software are running properly. Top 20 witnesses are assigned block to sign at random.

Anyone can vote for witnesses here. Everyone has 30 votes and these can be change at any moment. Those with the most "Steem weighted" vote become part of the 20 witnesses, all of the remaining witnesses are in rotation for the remaining witness slot in proportion to the vote they receive. Each witnesses receive an "x" amount of Steem for each block they sign. The full list of witnesses can be found here or here.

How To Set Up A Witness

Witness can be run on a local computer or on a virtual private server (VPS). VPS are servers or computers running 24/7 which people can rent when they need them.

I've set up my witness using Steem-in-box created by @someguy123. It's a script that install or update most of what has to be set up. It's been very useful and without @someguy123 I might have never become a witness. I'm very grateful to him.

"The Complete Noob Guide to STEEM Witness Setup" by @klye and @klye himself have also been greatly helpfull. The guide has a couple of nice joke and also it totally was perfect for the noob that I was.

Top 20 witnesses usually run 2 Steem witness nodes. One is used as a backup. A script usually switch from the main witness node to the backup node when the scripts detect a certain numbers of missed blocks in a row and will initiate a switch. They also use 2 witness nodes so they can have one online while they are updating the other one during hardforks.

Steem Full Nodes

Edit: See@wackou's comment below for correction. I'll correct further later today.

Steem full nodes are also computers running 24/7 run by some steemians. These nodes fulfill the request made by the different Steem apps or tools. Any apps, like Steemit.com, busy.org, eSteem, steemwhales.com, etc., need information coming from the Steem blockchain and these information are provided by the full nodes.

Steem full nodes require some computers that are a bit more powerful than those running witnesses. Top 20 witnesses are encourage to run full nodes. At some point @abit removed his support to some top witnesses who didn't have one full node running, often sending those witnesses out of the top 20.

If there is too few full nodes then these nodes will receive more requests than what they can handle properly and the Steem apps that use public full nodes will become sluggish or inoperable.

Here is a list of public full nodes and who runs them. Kudos to them! The list is run by @wackou. Kudos to him!

Steem Witness Rewards!

Steem witness receive ~10% of all the newly created Steem. (See "Steem: An In-Depth Overview!" for more details.)

Let's break it down to each block themselves.

  • Top 20 Witnesses: ~0.1874 Steem/Block
  • Backup Witness: ~0.9370 Steem/Block

The more block a witness sign, the bigger their total witness reward. Witnesses are paid in Steem Power.

The actual numbers are a bit lower per block than what is mentioned above. (See here for more details. N.B. The miners have been changed into an additional witness.)

Thoughts On The Witness Rewards

The witness rewards might seem high and unsustainable at first but in reality if a witness sell too much of their rewards they'll end up losing their place as a witness so no matter what, the majority of the witness rewards will end up being own by those who value them the most and these people will also end up being the most valued witnesses.

The List Of Witnesses (Click on the image for the full list.)

Red witnesses, in the full list, are witnesses that aren't online anymore.

Some Differences Between Witnesses And Backup Witnesses

@abit have stayed in the top 20 pretty much during all the time of what the graph shows while @timcliff has been in and out. Tim is now currently witness #23 and signs around 59 blocks a day while I am currently signing around 7 blocks a day at #55. There is quite a large difference between being top 20 and being top 21 or below.

Steem Back Dollars, Price Feed And Registration Fee

Steem Back Dollars

Steem Back Dollars are $1US worth of Steem at the moment they were created. If the Steem blockchain needs to reward some author with 2 liquid Steem and the price of Steem is 50 cents each, then that person would receive 1 SBD. If the blockchain owes one author 4 liquid Steem and the price of Steem is $2US then they would receive 8 SBD and so on.

SBD generate interest. The interest is the median interest rate of the last 3.5 days set by the top 20 witnesses. It is the APR seen in the list above.

SBD can be converted back to Steem at any time using the function "convert" found in the wallet. It take 3.5 days to convert SBD to Steem and the median price feed of those 3.5 days is the rate which will be used.

Price Feed

The price feed is use by the Steem blockchain when it calculates how many SBD it owes for its author rewards. It is also the price feed that is used to calculate the worth in $US displayed in the wallet.

The price feed is the median price feed of the last 3.5 days of all the top 20 witnesses price feed. The price feed can be set manually or automatically with a piece of software called a script. Set manually it can be update 2-3 times a day and automatically every hours or so. When set manually witnesses look at the price of Steem here or elsewhere and enter this USD price in their witness terminal.

Below is an example of the command line witness must enter to change their price feed:

publish_feed "teamsteem" {"base":"1.167 SBD", "quote":"1.111 STEEM"} true`

This is reporting that STEEM is $1.167, with a 10% discount (1/.90 = 1.111) if it did "quote = 0.500 STEEM" that would be a 100% premium.

Price feed scripts do this automatically taking the average price from different exchanges.

Thank you @someguy123 who helped me re-set up my price feed today.

Registration Fee

The registration fee determines how many Steem a new account receives upon its creation. Those Steem comes from the @steemit account. The registration fee is the median fee set by the top 20 witnesses.

What Witnesses Do!

  • Maintain their witness node up (Make sure it's running 24/7.)
  • Maintain their price feed, APR, and registration fee up-to-date (Less important for backup witness.)
  • Maintain Steem full nodes
  • Update their witness node (Only if they agree with the proposed hardfork.)
  • Review the Steem code and new proposed hardfork changes if able (Github)
  • Support the creation of new Steem Apps (Code and financial support.)
  • Debate the proposed hardforks and every Steem rules new or old
  • Informed and help the community (Posting, commenting, Steem Chat and Steemspeak.com)
  • Outreach (Marketing, networking, etc.)
  • Do what every Steemians do (Upvote, post, comment)
  • Etc.

Why Steemians Should Support Their Witnesses

The less Steemians there is casting their vote for witnesses the bigger their influence on the witness list than if 100% of Steemians had voted. A lot of people are currently missing out on the opportunity of supporting some witnesses and maybe in return have some support from those witnesses.

Vote for the witnesses you think have the most positive influence on Steem. This will help them gain more influence/Steem Power and in return they'll have all the reasons to support you back. The bigger your support the bigger your odds are. For these reasons, I recommend everyone to vote whether or not they end up voting for my witness or for the witnesses I support.

  • Vote for the witnesses who you share the most value with!
  • Vote for the witnesses who put Steem to good use!
  • Vote for the witnesses who support the Steem project you support!
  • Vote for the witnesses who support the authors you love!
  • Vote for the witnesses who support you!

Mutual Support Between Witnesses!

As witness We all support one another, at least we try to. Even as we compete against one another, we try not to lose sight that we work to create a better world.

To view the full list of the witnesses I support click here on the tab "Votes Received" and "Votes Cast" to see the full list of witnesses I support.

Mutual Support List!

Here's the list of the witness I support and which support my witness. Thank you guys!

If I don't vote for a witness, it doesn't necessarily mean I don't support them and if I vote for a witness it doesn't mean I agree with them on everything they do, say or think.

Follow The Witnesses

Follow the witnesses and engage them. Witnesses determine the new Steem implementations/hardfork and ultimately all Steemians determine who the witnesses are. (See: "What is a hardfork?")

@roelandp @bhuz @anyx @witness.svk @xeldal @good-karma @jesta @pfunk @gtg @pharesim @arhag @roadscape @smooth.witness @blocktrades @klye @abit @riverhead @wackou @liondani @clayop @charlieshrem @timcliff @busy.witness @ihashfury @datasecuritynode @furion @complexring @steempty @bitcoiner @someguy123 @aizensou @steemychicken1 @joseph @cyrano.witness @chainsquad.com @cervantes @delegate.lafona @thecryptodrive @boatymcboatface @au1nethyb1 @steemed @curie @fyrst-witness @krnel @chitty @bacchist @bue @ausbitbank @dragosroua @masteryoda @steem-id @nextgencrypto @archange @neoxian @teamsteem @team.alpha @protologic @idnit @viva.witness @fubar-dbhr @enki @stephanie @blockchained @glitterpig @pcste

What I Stand For!

I'm here helping in the creation of decentralized systems which empower individuals in all walks of life, amongst them, information dissemination, governance and money creation.

Wealth is just a tool and not an end in itself. Joy is what I'm all about.

For more on what I stand for see:

Approving My Witness

Consider approving my witness if you share those ideals and consider approving other witnesses too, seriously!

Type teamsteem at the bottom of the page and then click vote.


Thank you for reading and for your comments! I read them all!

Thank you @timcliff who refreshed some of these witness notions and also helped me with various other points mentioned in this article.

Find Out More!


This is pretty kickass:

Vote for the witnesses who you share the most value with!
Vote for the witnesses who put Steem to good use!
Vote for the witnesses who support the Steem project you support!
Vote for the witnesses who support the authors you love!
Vote for the witnesses who support you!

Yep. One of the most empowering things about this platform is actually having a say in who secures the network and makes influential moves regarding the ecosystem here.

I thoroughly enjoy voting for voluntaryist witnesses and those with a solid grasp on sound economics. There are some on your list I hadn't considered, and since I have quite a few unused witness votes it looks like I will have to get busy!

After attending @ned's talk in Tokyo recently and hearing his thoughts on "proof of brain" and the upcoming development/implementation of SMTs and customizable, "account-based voting" it seems critical to have the most capable, grounded, and principled people possible in witness roles to really make the most of the tech coming down the pike!

Without a clean playing field and sound, Austrian-econ-based free "playspace" Steemit can only grow so far. With freedom, however, I think the perceived "limits" are virtually non-existent!


It really like the way the EOS community is helping people learn about the witness ( block producer) candidates. They have an informative website where people can check out who each candidate is. It would be great to see something similar with steem.

Hi @teamsteem,

First up - much respect to you for being here for the long haul! It’s really cool to see someone like you who has been around from the start, still here actively engaged in the community.

I’ve been here about 6 months or so, and had a few ideas about what I look for in witness. But I still struggle to keep up with enough of the top 50 to cast individual votes (in the past I have selected a proxy who I believe in).

What I really really LOVE is the culture that crytocurrencies grew from. (Summed up well by Dan’s quote)

I stand in the belief that initiation of violence is not necessary to live in a well ordered society and that everyone’s life would be better off if it could be achieved. This is a belief I choose because there is insufficient evidence to prove violence is necessary. Dan Larimer (Ex-CTO of Steemit) [1]

I also love that what you stand for is joy!

You’ve inspired me - I’m going to clear my proxy vote and check out the witness tag so that I can vote for individuals who align with my values in life and in steem.

I think this is a really important topic - it’s worth putting a little time into because it really bugs me to see certain names in the top 20, when I know there are people like you further down the list.

Keep fighting the good fight!

Thanks from all of us!

On entering steemit.com you arrive with so many expectations and a sea of new concepts that are not always easy to digest, many times I managed to read some articles that referred to the witnesses as the main promoters of steemit (at least that's how I understood it), in my ignorance I began to vote for the witnesses that I felt radiated a little feeling for the community, today I can say that I am happy with my choice of 29 witnesses, However after reading you and having much clearer the objectives of each of them, I feel indebted to them all, because they are really the heart of this platform, I understand that there will always be some better than others, the important thing is that they work together for all of us, among so many things I learned in this publication, is the way they get paid in SP!! very well (I was just a little curious), so I'm going to quote what I liked best:

As witnesses, we all support each other, at least we try. Even when we compete against each other, we try not to lose sight of the fact that we are working to create a better world.

In the union is the strength, thanks for working for us.
Excuse my English, I use a translator.

great post, thanks for writing it! Just a minor correction: the list that I am maintaining is the list of seed nodes, not a list of full API nodes (I should probably do it as well when I find the time to index them). Let me try to explain briefly the difference:

  • full node: node that has the complete blockchain (as opposed to light-weight nodes, etc.) AFAIK all Steem nodes are full nodes, distinction comes from other cryptos.
  • seed node: entry points to the Steem network, their main function is to be public, connected to the network 24/7, and accept a lot of incoming connections to ensure that people can always join the network (note that this is not a concern for people on steemit.com but only for people wanting to run other nodes) HW requirements are minimal (~2-3G RAM)
  • witness node: nodes signing blocks and adding them to the Steem blockchain. These should preferably not be known (to avoid being DDoS-ed), and also have low requirements (~2-3G RAM), similar to seed nodes
  • API nodes: this is what you refer to as full nodes, as these nodes do a lot of indexing of the data from the blockchain, digest it, and serve it in a better shape to people wanting to build other apps on the blockchain. Requirements are huge and growing every day, currently >32G RAM already. These are few and far in between, and would benefit from more people running public ones, but they do require some more advanced sysadmin skills than just seed nodes.

(small note: people here might have started to call API nodes will all plugins activated "full nodes", and I might have missed it, in which case you can just ignore what I said :) )

It shows that I'm still a newbie on some of these things. Thank you for clarifying.

hey no problem, it is by doing that you learn new things, everyone that knows anything had to go through that phase, no exceptions there ;) You already did a great job explaining what witnesses do, least I could do was to contribute a little part too. Steem on!

You're right.

@wackou, I agree! I've only been on Steemit for a month, and I keep seeing the word "witness" pop up everywhere and I was like... what the heck are people talking about. First I learned of dolphins, minnows, and whales... and I was like huh? :P This was an awesome post. @teemsteem thanks for the info. Super helpful.

You are very very smart

Thank you for explaining the differences between the nodes.
Noob question:
I'd like to support the steemit network (because I think it is a good idea), but

  • is my contribution required? Hard to find network stats.
  • maybe a upgrade to 64 Gb Ram is necessary instead of SSD
  • bandwidth requirement? my actual limit is 100Mbit/s
  • expenses vs earnings? (vs ZEC/Monero mining)

Voting for witness is something that many steemians take for granted....
I have already voted for 18 witnesses since I joined steemit and your post has encouraged me to vote for the remaining 12.
But I must admit that after reading your post, I will be looking closely into certain things before voting for someone as witness.
Things like you already mentioned
1. What are their ideals?
2. What they stand for?
3. What is their vision?
Thanks for making me realize the importance of my vote and what to look for when voting for someone as a witness.

haha damn almost exactly a post i wanted to make :)
i will delay mine a bit :)

Awesome! We need more post like this.

귀하의 게시물을 좋아 보인다
나를 @emaa 따라

I liked, enjoyed and learned from both posts so I think no harm done, right?

The first time i came on steemit, i saw WITNESS on some peoples bio i thought they were 'jehovah witnesses' and used that in their account to attract people who had practiced same beliefs with them. I got to ask what it meant but i couldn't understand those terms everyone was using like nodes,server and blocks all what i understood was my vote mattered to them, so i started using some votes randomly on some witness i didn't even know why i was voting for them, but ama tell you that this is the very first detailed explanation i have seen in here. Although another new user would find it still a bit complicated but i think i understand to a large extent what witnesses do, they do not just run a server i could say simply that they are liason officers and shareholders on steemit right? Btw as to getting votes i learnt some witnesses trade votes amongst themselves seems you do not practice that @teamsteem do you?

This is great, and while I still have some unassigned witness votes I would have liked to see this much earlier in my Steem journey! I didn't vote any for months, and did not proxy because I don't like the thought of giving away my precious vote.

You answered a question I didn't know I had, about full nodes. I had just assumed those were for signing blocks and I never thought about how apps run. Considering speed and stability of apps is my second-biggest concern about Steem (it's ok, but could be better), I can add full nodes to the list of things I might look for in a witness. Since full nodes aren't directly part of witnessing, can non-witnesses run them? Does doing so carry its own rewards? Should it?

It's daunting, voting for a witness when you don't know what they do, so I appreciate this guide and think it would make a good addition to a Steem 101 course for new users.

You only touched briefly on the role of witnesses in community support and governance, which I see as the #1 attribute beyond the technical requirements. Do witnesses need to govern a decentralized community? Not really, but you have a lot of power and with great power comes great responsibility.

I read your piece on governance and was struck by the idea that in our current system, money is created out of thin air by an elite few at the expense of everyone else. We haven't exactly left that behind with Steem, at least not yet. Since one can buy more Steem power directly with fiat currency, they are linked.

Upvoting, if directed mostly at oneself, sure seems like creating money from thin air. Of all the facets of the Steem economy, I am most fascinated by the unfolding process of how the community establishes shared morals and expected behavior (every society has them!) Witnesses, because of their power, must play an important role in this.

Since full nodes aren't directly part of witnessing, can non-witnesses run them? Does doing so carry its own rewards? Should it?

Yes. No. No, not sure how this could be incorporated in the consensus code of Steem. I think it<s easier to let the witnesses make sure there is enough full nodes. Witnesses have incentives to run full nodes.

You should really try to make a contest on a topic i can argue on. hehe.

I think i have been following you for a few weeks now, maybe longer and your as a witness really do what i care most for. You interact with the community, you spread your voting power and dont engage in shady business.
And thats something we minnows care most about.
1.Do i think my witness is a decent enough person?

  1. What do they stand for?
  2. How do they contribute?

There are many different approaches witnesses take and while most dont have a great reach outside steem, the biggest concern right now for minnows is growth. The well-being of the ecosystem always comes in second if you yourself cannot achieve some kind of growth, recognition.
I would always, for example vote Curie or Pharesim over Banfield.
A minnow can clearly see which witness here gives the most and which one is here to maximize profits.
When you are a witness you should put others above your own personal gain. You need to show that with your actions.
Anyways... Keep up the good work.

And self plug :) : Im a singer violinist, write sometimes, etc.. Im doing quite well but you can never have enough comments. :)
Ill give you my full upvote if you leave a comment on one of my videos. :D haha. Tc

I am here helping in the creation of decentralized systems which empower individuals in all walks of life, amongst them, information dissemination, governance and money creation.
Wealth is just a tool and not an end in itself. Joy is what I'm all about.

I have always thought about what steem witnesses are when i see steemians with high reputation begging for witness votes. With this post i now have full knowlgde of what being a witness entails. I can now use my voting right properly and judiciously. Kudos

I am Anyasi Emmanuel and i am a proud steemit blogger.

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