STEEM: The Disproportionate Power Balance with Downvotes
One of the changes that came about with the last STEEM Hard Fork was the introduction of a pool of free downvotes to help counter disagreements about reward distribution (mostly caused by bid bots). In general, under the #newsteem banner, it appears to have made the bid-bot model unviable as most of the bot owners have turned their hand to curation instead (although, the success and quality of that curation is a bit up for debate at times...).
However, I would say that the main driver for this change was the change to the 50/50 model for author and curation shares of a post payout. This creates a much larger incentive to curate if you have a large SP stake rather than to take payments for a service that can't return short term ROI for a bidder.
The campaign to reduce the effectiveness of the bidbot model was led by @ocd and @acidyo (amongst others), and it was characterised by the proportionate downvoting of bot boosted posts to reduce the ROI to 0% rather than to create a loss for the bidders. This was in line with the reasoning that bidding was NOT for short term ROI gain but for promotion and visibility.
The key point here was the concept of proportionate downvoting. On STEEM, the power of the large accounts is such that their votes are disproportionately effective on most other accounts that are smaller. If you are hitting at your own size, then it can be absorbed via a self-vote or if you have a shield of voters around you. You just eat the downvote and move on...
However, if you are a smaller, then you are likely to get swamped unless you happen to have a few friendly large benefactors protecting you (which most of us don't, and this is NOT a sustainable solution for mass onboarding of the public). It is even trickier if you don't want to get embroiled in a flag war... and you just don't retaliate (aka, being a nice person and not escalating...).
Now, I get to the point of my post...
One of the nicer ways for a small to mid level account (like mine...) to support others in a long term sense is the Steem Basic Income program (SBI). By sending 1 STEEM to sponsor a different account, I am essentially locking up that STEEM away from the open market to provide long-term support to another account that is likely to be smaller than me.
This is done as a gift, knowing that I essentially forfeit 50% of the benefits of the sponsorship... whilst knowing that I am providing an ongoing gift to the sponsored account rather than a single one time sugar hit of a big vote (2 cents... ha ha...) or an injection of 1 STEEM. This is a long term view to supporting accounts, that works in sympathy with the curation projects of #newsteem, however, long-term projects are notoriously difficult to enact in this modern attention challenged age....
Unlike the bid-bots of old... SBI is a terrible ROI... but that said, it is a gift of support. ROI is the bane of STEEM and cryptocurrencies in general, as novice "investors" think that this is the most important metric of any asset! In fact, it is a measure that is useful... but not in the short term way that most "investors" have come to think of it!
I would argue that SBI is actually the more effective model for the public onboarding of users... whilst curation projects are great, the idea of receiving a big vote for one thing and then not for another can be a bit of a roller-coaster for new users and quite confusing.... the steady support of SBI from people who are interested in supporting you long term is a steadier way of growing... slow... but steady.
SBI has been shown to be ethical (blacklisting and removing abusers), trustworthy and honest in it's dealings.... and this was present before it was fashionable to show these traits openly in the #newsteem ecosystem.
I sponsor people via @pifc (Pay it Forward Curation) and @abh12345 (Engagement League) as well as two weekly contests (a game called Guess the Word and a different more open ended question post). It is part of of my way of returning back to others in the same way that I was helped...
However, there have been some who disagree with this SBI model of sustainable long-term support in a gifting manner of sponsorship. This is STEEM, people can do what they want (this may not be sustainable...)... there is one account that has settled one a proportionate downvoting response... I disagree, but am happy with that outcome, but it is a price that I'm willing to pay in order to gift to another person.
However, there is another account that is hitting much much harder in a disproportionate response... this highlights the problem with the STEEM chain. There is no response that I can make if they are unwilling to listen... I can't (and won't retaliate)... I have no shield of big account friends and the SBI community is by definition a collection of small accounts.
So, it highlights the problem that an account that is large has no stake risk in attacking smaller accounts disproportionately whilst the little accounts, even when banding together, can not stand up for themselves. I would argue that this is not a favourable outcome for the long term survival of STEEM.
There needs to be some stake risk for some actions on STEEM, voting and downvoting can be cast at the moment with no care for consequences (I have another post about that...), this creates a situation where there is no inherent risk for anti-social behaviour. Now, in an ideal world, people would be just good and there would be no need for any moderating risk... let's just say that the world is not perfect...
There is also the divide that some of us are attached to our blogs and posts (like me...) and care if they are attacked... whilst there are others who have little attachment to their posts and use their accounts like money pots, and don't care if they are attacked. This is an obvious weakness of asymmetry that means that downvotes are much more effective against those who care... aka, the builders!
So, I am floating the idea... that some actions on STEEM need to have some SP based stake risk... in the same way that other chains have penalties for producing bad blocks or bad consensus calculations....
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