HF21 - What the Fork?

in #hf212 years ago

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Source: Pixabay

Almost one year ago, in the aftermath of HF20, I wrote an article about the state of Steem then. I ended this post on a somewhat cautious note:

Right now Steem has the first mover advantage, but this only works for a limited amount of time. It is quite possible that a new blockchain based social media service will launch and maybe overtake Steem sooner than we think. Steem is a great platform, but it is far from perfect. [...] @dan already dropped quite some hints that block.one is working on "Steem 2.0" respectively a social media platform on #eos. [...]

Steem still has its first mover advantage, but we know that Dan's "Steem 2.0" is actually called Voice and will bring some new features to the table. It's difficult to say, but from the buzz block.one is generating, it seems more like they see Facebook as their main competitor and not Steem (just look how much funds they raised during their ICO).

Anyway, this time I will do it the other way around: I will write how I think Hard Fork 21 will impact Steem. A lot has already been written regarding this topic, but following the tag line of Steemit: "Your voice is worth something", I will voice my voice, even it will only by worth a few cents :)

New Reward Curve

If you want to have a very detailed explanation about that, check out this very in-depth article by @spectrumecons. The tl;dr of the new reward curve, as stated on Steemit Inc's survival guide for HF21 is:

We expect posts that would make more than 20 STEEM under the old rules to earn more after the changes. Those posts that would have made less than 20 STEEM under the old rules will receive less after the changes.

So, the question is now: how many posts get more than 20 STEEM? I will use the weekly updates from @trufflepig for last week as reference. According to this report only 80% of the posts receive more than 1 SBD (note that the report uses SDB, while the post of @steemitblog uses STEEM). At the current exchange rate, this is 4.652 STEEM, vice-versa 4.3 SBD would be around 20 STEEM (20.003 STEEM to be precise). If you look at the graph in the report it is obvious, that only a minority of the posts reaches this threshold, especially when keeping in mind that the graph only shows the top 20% of posts. Since I don't have the exact numbers, I can only guess, but looking at the graph, I would guess that only around 5000 posts per week would actually benefit from this.

50/50 Reward Split

The survival guide writes the following about the new Reward Split:

Reward funding is being changed from the 75/25 split that currently exists, to a 50/50 split between author and curator. That means you will be rewarded significantly more for curating content after the fork.

Author are getting less, while curator are getting more. The idea behind this is, that you will be using more of your STEEM Power for curating and not delegating it to bid bots. An intended side effect of this is, that quality content will be more likely found and upvoted, therefore increasing the visibility of good content on STEEM and in the long rung maybe the overall quality of content on Steem. This is nice in theory, but I think that it will also drive away a lot of smaller Steemians, as well as make it more difficult for new Steemians to "get big" (or at least to get big enough to stay motivated and continue to stay here). This could be a problem, since in my opinion Steem not only has a problem with attracting new users, but especially with keeping them on the platform. Sure this could be a side effect of the current "altcoin bear market" (especially when compared to 2017), but looking how other altcoins developed during the last few months compared to STEEM, it is not only because of the "bear market", but has IMHO a lot to do with how Steem developed during the same period.

Downvotes

Regarding downvotes, the survival guide has the following to say:

A downvote mana pool is being added, which will allow you to make a few downvotes each day without impacting your ability to earn curation rewards from upvotes.

The idea is to give some more economic incentive to downvote, by eliminating the opportunity cost of a downvote (meaning: why downvote something and decrease your voting power, when using the same voting power to upvote something and might earn curation rewards). The problem I see here is, that when it comes to downvoting, the economic costs are way less important than the social costs: if you downvote someone, he might will downvote you as revenge for this, that's how flag wars start. There is a good article from @steembasicincome on this topic.

I'm also not sure, how effective this is for fighting low quality articles, that get boosted to the trending tab, because only a flag from a whale can undo a big upvote from a bid bot (or multiple bid bots).

Conclusion

While the ideas seem to be good in theory, I'm sceptic, how they will work in practice. One of the reasons for this HF is to fight bid bot spam, but I think that the new reward curve split will rather encourage using bid bots, in order to benefit from the higher rewards and the 50/50 reward split will make running a bid bot economically even more viable than now, even with less delegation. If you are curious about how the bid bot economy effects Steem, I can again recommend two very in depth articles by spectrumecons about possible economic implications and preventing market failures because of bid bots.

To me it seems like Steem is now adopting some kind of free-to-play (F2P) business model and one that favours pay-to-win. Everbody can join for free and "play" a bit, but in order to be successful (in terms of money), you have to pay (aka. invest). This is one way to drive up the demand (something STEEM really needs btw.), but I think that at the same time Steem has become less interesting for the small fish on the blockchain (like me) and unfortunately also for new users.

The new focus on more curation is good, but in my opinion the discovery of good content is better formulated as an usability problem than as an economic problem. Just like, in my post I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I argue that Steem needs a front end, that allows for much better content discovery, than everything we have now. IMHO that would be a huge boost for good content on Steem and it can be done without a hard fork.

I'm curious to see how this will affect the future of Steem, but for now I will remain a bit critical whether HF21 will affect Steem in a positive way. But that's just my opinion, if you see it differently, please let me know in the comments.

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Been thinking about this. I love Steemit or at least the idea of it. I do notice the lack of development, not from Dapps per say, but from Steemit itself. I don’t know how, but I just feel it could be better.

Competition? Voice? Interesting name, since a lot of people think their voices are being silenced on other social media platforms. Which I agree with them, YouTube algorithms seems to have silenced my voice and all I was talking about was Lego. Their constantly changing algorithms made it hard for smaller content producers to thrive. When at the beginning all you needed was good content and you could get views. I digress!

I welcome competition, maybe Voice will have what I think is missing from Steemit. Whatever that is. One thing that any social media platform need is adoption. More users needed!

For years I had an Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, so it would be no problem having a Steemit and a Voice account at the same time. In the end I would love to see a crypto currency social media platform thrive. Which ever one it happens to be. (I also see a lot of bitter Steemit users, who invested a lot into steem. If let’s say the voice becomes popular)

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I agree that Steem could be much better, but unfortunately I also don't know how to make it better. Probably by drawing some inspiration from Reddit, which is somehow similar, but way more popular.

About YouTube: the whole platform got way more professional as it grew. Just compare a typical video on YouTube today with one from ten years ago. Back then everything was very amateurish and low-quality (in terms of production value, not in terms of content). The problem with the professionalisation is, that it favours big media outlets, who have the capacities to create content with a high production value. I think, that the recommender algorithm also favours big media outlets, probably not even on purpose, but just because their videos get a lot of views and are made by a verified creator, which are indicators the algorithm uses to recommend their videos to others.

Voice is a curious case, I'm interessted to see, how this turns out. Even though I was a bit disappointed when it was announced: block.one build up so much hype and the big announcement was something that everybody saw kind of coming already.

Thanks for the read. I found it reasonable what you just said and I would like to add my thoughts and extensions to that.

How I see it, there are still too much decisions on the design of Steemit made by central alterations, like to fit everyone the same shoe size; It's what you also express, if I understand you correctly. On a decentralized platform central action is somehow contradicting.

Those hardforks don't work in a decentralized way, as the diversity on a social media platform requires that people can decide for themselves how much profit they would like to share with others (otherwise it's not so much different from the banks who decide about the interest rates).

Why not developing an application that puts the decision to the author of a blog? Offering different options to split on every single article one publishes and making this decision every time anew when hitting the "publish" button?

How I see life, is that the small fishes can be allowed to be more selfish, as they still need to grow. It's like between parents and their children. As a parent, you are already grown out and up and you don't need that much food and materials any more. You can afford to share the food to a greater extent with the small ones. When I am already fed up (successful as they say), I decide to take the smaller part of the outcome. Why not? Does it hurt me? Do I lose the SP in my wallet?

With centralization you always decide for the majority. That's not freedom and that does produce always many displeased people. But once responsibility and trust is put in peoples individual hands, it can turn out to be different. Of course, if distrust is the main issue, everyone will say: "No! Then abuse will be even more the case!"

But there is no other way to build a good thing other than with trust. If trust is not an asset then every system is going to fail or be abandoned eventually.

If abuse is the main expression of a platform, it shows that people are not ready to handle freedom. But to create a space, where freedom can express itself in a most positive way, one can look for things already done in that spirit.

Here is an interview with Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress. You can read the transcript or listen to the podcast:

https://tim.blog/2015/02/09/matt-mullenweg/

Yes, in some sense it is. I see it more as some kind of criticism of DPoS, especially how it is implemented here. In theory the notion that someone who is heavily invested in a platform also wants that platform to thrive is true, but what was going on here on Steem showed a slightly different picture: some whales are more interested in making a large profit instead of bringing the platform forward (btw. you can see something similar on EOS), which boils down to basic psychology: whether one is more likely to perfer some gains now instead of maybe bigger gains in the future. Steem tries to experiment and move fast, unfortunately what works with most start-ups seems to be a little different in this case, probably this is a general trend in crypto currencies (look at how STEEM performed compared to other, more slower moving altcoins, where the developers want to be sure, that things will work fine, once they are released, Ethereum is a good example for that).

I agree, that spam and abuse have to be combated here on Steem, but at the same time I think that most of the ways how this is done has a negative effect on smaller fish on this platform.

Your idea of allowing users to chose, how to split their rewards is interesting. I guess, it would create an interesting situation, where users can risk to get less upvotes, but setting a higher reward for themselves. I have no idea how that would play out, following the arguments around the 50/50 share, it might help bid bots, since they are not relying too heavily on the curation rewards and therefore makes boosting low quality articles more profitable.

Thanks for the link to the Matt Mullenweg interview, I will check it out.

The perfect consensus protocol has yet to be drawn up.

I don't know if I interpret the beginnings of Steemit correctly, but after the mining was done, it seems that the developers together with the early adopters (friends, acquaintances?) have thought about a design, after which the fast growth of this crypto currency was pushed by very high and attractive payouts and thus in consequence the growth of the SP. In so far as such a scenario prevailed - and not as with open source projects like WordPress or other new applications like now for example the translation program I work with (deepl.com), I would think that there is no optimal protocol yet.

Steemit has a hard time defining itself. It's not a classic open source project, it's not an application that already has a product or has one in mind, it's a rather awkward tool for bloggers (there are much better standards), it's not a shop, it doesn't offer business contacts and it's also not a dating portal. You can't upload audio or video here and there's no "Subscribe" button at all that would personally improve my time here on Steemit. In comparison, the feed is bad and hardly worth talking about. Even customized adds (which I actually like more than being overloaded with things I have no interest in) can be something good.

The fact that content and currency are so closely linked is new and unusual. All other rating systems provide thumbs or asterisks or bars or whatever. Here crypto monetary units are assigned. Maybe people first must mature to this new opportunity and do all the childish mistakes. I did, too :-)

I don't know how you can change the design in such a way that content generated by bots, for example, cannot be published in the first place, e.g. by adding a security query to the Publish button. Similarly, you could lock other activities automated by bots, but most likely the actions you want would suffer as well (such as Auto-Votes).

So you might ask: What makes Steemit interesting for ordinary people anyway? The prospect of making contacts and making new friends? You can do just as well elsewhere. The prospect of being found much faster by an audience in this still niche market? Not quite impossible in comparison to the vastness of the Internet, but also not particularly competitive in comparison to what there is. So what?

For my part, it fascinates me that I made a real purchase with a crypto complementary currency: a work of art that I saw exhibited here and that the artist sold me for SBD. I can imagine that for anything else: Fashion, furniture, photography, services like someone fixing something for me or giving me a technical support for my SBD.

I don't see it as a main source of income, but as part of a concept of life that offers a greater variety and blending of activities and skills. The model of a 40 hour week in a classical working contract is no longer acceptable for many modern people. A mixture of bartering, crypto and classical work is a good vision of the future for me. To be able to pay anywhere else with STEEM would of course be very attractive. Until then, everyone needs patience, but above all people who know something about business. Quite honestly, I think many users here are either very young or very inexperienced in the business world.

For the masses, the hurdles must be small and the activities must receive a level of attention that keeps them in line. That is probably a very big weakness here. If the course goes down, there's hardly anything going on. This is very bad and shows little interest in a genuine investment or blogging/business...

Sorry for this long comment. It's hard for me to be brief. And we agree mostly on what we think of this platform, I guess :)

Sorry for this long comment. It's hard for me to be brief. And we agree mostly on what we think of this platform, I guess :)

Don't worry, I studied philosophy :D

I don't know if I interpret the beginnings of Steemit correctly, but after the mining was done, it seems that the developers together with the early adopters (friends, acquaintances?) [...]

I'm also not sure about how it was in the early days, since I joined Steem in November 2017 and had the feeling, that I was already a bit late for the party. I assume that Steemit INC launched the blockchain and gave big upvotes to all the early adopters, hoping it will attract a lot of other people to sign up. It was for sure a phase where a lot of experimenting took place, since Steem launched in March 2016 and this was already the 21st time a hard fork took place.

Steemit has a hard time defining itself. It's not a classic open source project, it's not an application that already has a product or has one in mind, [...]

Since Steemit INC is by far the largest stakeholder in terms of SP, I think its business model relies on the price of STEEM (meaning selling STEEM to keep the company liquid). We saw this last year, when the company had to do some restructuring because of STEEM's price being so low. The idea is that as the STEEM blockchain gets more and more used, the price of STEEM will rise and Steemit INC will thrive. So far blogging is the number one use-case for this blockchain, but also other projects like @steemmonsters are based on it and we will might see more and more projects utilising Steem as their underlying technology, further increasing the value of STEEM (at least in theory).

[...] and there's no "Subscribe" button at all that would personally improve my time here on Steemit [...]

Do you mean like subscribing to a topic? E.g. getting notified when there is a new post tagged with #gaming. That would be indeed a huge benefit in terms of usability and ever since I signed up for Steem, I'm wondering, why there is no front-end doing it like this.

I don't know how you can change the design in such a way that content generated by bots, for example, cannot be published in the first place, e.g. by adding a security query to the Publish button. [...]

Short answer: you can't. As an open source project all the APIs are open and can be used by anyone (like it should be), so adding a CAPTCHA to a front-end wouldn't change anything and adding a CAPTCHA on a protocol level would call for a major re-design of how the system works (I'm not even sure, if this is possible at all, I personally don't think so).

So you might ask: What makes Steemit interesting for ordinary people anyway? The prospect of making contacts and making new friends? You can do just as well elsewhere. The prospect of being found much faster by an audience in this still niche market? Not quite impossible in comparison to the vastness of the Internet, but also not particularly competitive in comparison to what there is. So what?

I fully agree with your view. Getting paid for creating content on social media is Steem's major selling point. The value from pretty much all social networks comes from the content people put on it (which is actually a brilliant business strategy: you provide the infrastructure, your users provide the content and then you monetise their content), but only very few make some money of their content and most of the money is made by the middle man, who provides the platform. Steem cuts out the middle men and allows for users to directly monetise their content, which is a paradigm shift.

I agree that for there also has to be a way that the masses are somehow able to make some money of their content, but if the threshold for monteising content is low, then it attracts a lot of low-quality content, trying to milk the system. Fixing this is indeed very difficult, but I'm not sure that the current direction Steem is moving (what I called F2P or more specifically pay-to-win model) is the right way. To be honest, personally I'd prefer a model where you have to pay before publishing something, but I'm also aware that this would be too much of a barrier for most potential users.

Thank you for responding. It's a pleasure talking to you (a philosopher, I like that!) :D

I believe that I have always understood "decentralisation" in a slightly different way from how it was and is predominantly communicated here. What I see is that the influencers are basically emulating the role models in society outside of Steemit (often without being aware of it). The reign and divide principle seems to be really strongly established and recognized by many civilizations. Much is said about the "community" that must be led in this or that direction for the whole to be "successful". I think that every individual has the resources and the sense to make reasonable decisions when he realizes that he is trusted. But as soon as people feel compelled to make decisions in favor of others' likes or dislikes, they become stubborn or unpleasant. What I can understand, but to take the step of distancing myself from it and trying something completely different, I had suspected, would be possible here in this system and would generate curiosity. I think I was wrong. I'm sure there are people who are interested in a concept that would be fun just by making simple changes to the technical framework: As an experiment.

But I probably only wanted to hear or read what I would have liked to see put into practice. Basically, I was rebuffed both online and offline with my proposal of a systemic consensus; nobody catches the idea - maybe it's just to unknown. It is discouraging. Not the right place here?

Does it matter how the price of STEEM rises again? Are all means justified?

Yes, I think Steemit doesn't even offer the standard you are used to from other platforms. That's quite strange, considering. All the focus is on profit, and a product suffers a lot from that.

Thinking about quality: I asked myself if my blog can be considered to offer quality content. I am not quite certain. I too, could be tempted to think of my writing as quality. But then, it's hard to tell. I do my blogs with care and thought. But maybe that's just nothing really special. Others do that, too. And when I compare my contents with what you can find elsewhere I must admit, that what I do is quite average. Which doesn't have to be bad. Being paid for it? I still don't know.

To write without a commission, without occupying a niche or dealing with a real special topic seems to be quite pointless. To publish for the common good: That can also be a reason. Paying for it is a thought that is quite unusual, especially in times when you first get free access. But maybe you're right. Before the Internet existed, you had to deal with publishers, prepare and invest a lot, before even someone considered printing something from an unnamed author.

Probably, if you're not an eccentric or an excellent artist/technician/engineer/philosopher, you should hold back with publications. HaHa! Check out my blog, I have over 4000 postings. LOL.

I digressed from what you have answered me but as I am agreeing, I offer you some more thoughts instead. Have a good weekend!

Thanks! I wanted to reply to you earlier, but the weekend and some technical difficulties didn't let that happen.

I think that decentralisation has slightly different meanings for everybody. To me it basically means that there is not central authority, who controls everything and who can change the rules for participating in a network by the blink of an eye.

When you are talking about systemic consensus, are you talking about this, because I see some of those ideas realised here on Steem (some, not all though).

After taking a quick look at your blog, I have to say, that I think it qualifies as "quality content", because one can clearly tell that you put a lot of thought into it.

Having a special topic in mind, to blog about, certainly helps when trying to get an audience. Here on Steem an anywhere else. Even though I'm aware of this, it didn't stop me using this as my personal blog and publishing very random stuff. I've been thinking of focusing on one topic for a while now, but so far I couldn't motivate myself to do that. Maybe at one point in the future.

About paying for publishing: I'm not suggesting, that we need high fees here on Steem, but rather a symbolic one, maybe just 0.001 STEEM would prevent spam and all authors would have to put some "Skin in the Game"

Thank you so much!
The two links are gold. Yes, systemic consensus is well described there.

I find your skin in the game link especially inspiring.

For me personally this means: I haven't invested a single cent from Fiat currency here. I put two years of work as a blogger into it. I don't know if this counts as skin in the game. At the time I existed here with 10,000 monetary units in my wallet, I didn't power down. I simply didn't want this money, probably because I didn't consider it "honestly earned", just without skin in the game. I'm not even sure if I would find it wise to start with Fiat money when I don't have it to spare. To have invested with all my financial reserves, which I consider unwise.

Interesting that further down in the Wiki article Jesus is mentioned as the archetype of a risk taker. In fact, one could say that although Jesus risked and lost all his skin with his full conviction and existence, he did not lose because he knew that he would be in good hands in heaven. He was a free man without money, without wife and children, without permanent residence, always on mission. Basically he had nothing to lose except his life. This may sound strange, but none of us is like Jesus, because we all have something to lose, everything except our lives. Nobody puts his life at risk by investing in Steemit. Whoever has done this may judge for himself whether it was wise or not.

I see it this way: The diversity of those who live in such a system as Steemit is what makes it attractive. There are risky types, as well as cautious ones, spontaneous ones as well as deliberate ones, enthusiastic ones as well as quiet ones, sluggish ones as well as fast ones. It is irrelevant who of them risks their skin from my point of view, because there are always those who do and those who do not. Those who make up a minority or majority are also of no concern to me, because I am always interested in a good encounter and in the potential of people. Those who take risks are no more valuable than those who take little or no risk.

Outside the Steemit world, this is reflected in their social environment, it has effects. Those who like to risk high stakes should not complain about those who prefer to be cautious. The fact is that you are never one or the other, not for all time. What is a piece of cake for one person is a great achievement for another.

As charming and logical as the skin in the game argument is, it must not be transferred - by means of coercion - as a valid behaviour to everyone, because it would basically define a code of conduct that everyone would never want to live up to, because it would not be voluntary. So Steemit reflects just like the offline world - the voluntariness of those who risk their skin just like those who don't (both for probably good reasons). The roles may be divided from time to time, who knows anyway?

Spam, abuse, differentials are a normal part of humanity. A system can take care of those needy or greedy ones by it's mass. If the mass is not big enough it will not carry them. But people have to realize themselves when they should switch from need or greed to gratitude and grace. They usually do when they feel trusted and encouraged. It requires to be felt a voluntary act, not an ordered or demanded one.

Here is too much fuzz about control and demand.

What topic do you have in mind? Maybe I can encourage you? :-)

I have to read Skin in the Game at one point, just like all the other books by N.N. Taleb.

What I meant with putting "skin in the game" in this context is rather simply psychology: when people have to give something in order to get a good or service, their personal valuation of it drastically changes. Therefore I think that people will think twice before posting something (thus increasing the quality of the content) and spam wouldn't be as lucrative anymore, since you have to pay (e.g. 100000 * 0.001 STEEM = 100 STEEM, which is quite something).

I also made all of my rewards here just by blogging, therefore one can argue, that I don't put skin into the game, but instead of money I invested time to write posts, which is in my opinion also quite valuable.

What topic do you have in mind? Maybe I can encourage you? :-)

Privacy preserving machine learning :D
I started a PhD a couple of months ago and as it looks now, this will be my specialisation. Right now, I'm in the process of learning about all these techonlogies and I was thinking that it would be good the share the progress of my learning with the world, because the best way to understand something is by explaining it to others.

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