Why The 50/50 Author/Curator Split Is About Right In My Opinion

in #steemlast year (edited)


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The best split between authors and curators in content rewards has been discussed a lot. I'm hoping to be able to clarify why curators must be paid more than they are being paid now (25% of content rewards).

Steem has a thing called Proof-of-Brain which does not the name of any consensus mechanism such as Proof-of-Work (PoW) or Proof-of-Stake (PoS). The consensus mechanism Steem has is Delegated-Proof-of-Stake (DPoS). In PoW, miners who do the computational work get paid for validating transactions and thus securing the network. In PoS, those who have stake are given the right to validate transactions. In DPoS, those who have the trust of stakeholders get to be validators of transactions/blockproducers as a result of an ongoing stake-based voting (witness voting). The term Proof-of-Brain refers to how a portion of the STEEM inflation is distributed to content authors and curators in addition to paying witnesses and stakeholders.

In PoS, all of the inflation is distributed to stakeholders who are the same people who run the nodes that produce the blocks. It's very straightforward. In DPoS, however, one does not need to have any stake of one's own to become a witness/blockproducer. Some DPoS chains such as Steem distribute a large portion of the token inflation not only to blockproducers but accounts whose owners may do a host of other stuff.

Steem has a thing called Proof-of-Brain which does not refer to the consensus mechanism but to how a large part of the inflation is distributed to content creators and curators whose job it is to discover and reward valuable content. In PoB on Steem content rewards are distributed based on stake-based voting instead of account-based (one vote per account) because otherwise the system would be really easy to cheat by creating very large numbers of sock puppet accounts. That can be done because we don't have KYC like the EOS blogging app Voice has - and I don't think we want to have.

Now, the always relevant question is, like in the case of any investment vehicle, why would anyone pay real money for stake if the only return on investment allowed is the paltry 1-2% per year paid directly to Steem Power holders. Remember, witness rewards go to witnesses who do actual work to pay for their hardware and power and who do the work to maintain them. Many of the top witnesses who get paid the best are active developers of applications which is highly valued by stakeholders. Witness voting does not pay the voter anything. Witnesses get the rewards as they should.

Let's look at other avenues for generating ROI.

  • Self-upvoting

This is frowned upon by purists despite the majority of Steemians accepting it. The fact of the matter is that it interferes with Proof-of-Brain. Just because your vote is valuable doesn't mean your content is.

  • Exchanging votes

This, too, is frowned upon by purists as well as a larger proportion of Steemians in general. Blindly upvoting weak content just to exchange votes to avoid being accused of self-upvoting is no good. That, too, interferes with PoB.

  • Vote selling

This is where bidbots automate the process. This is very much frowned upon by most Steemians who see it as interfering PoB in a major way.

The three above are sometimes called vote farming. It is true that all three forms are harmful to varying degrees.

What this debate is actually about is the contradiction between capital (curators) and labor (authors). What should never be forgotten by anyone is that not only does everyone on here have voice but they also have exit. Both the capitalists and the workers are free to leave. We know socialism doesn't work in the long term. It can be kept up for a while but it takes barbed wire fences and guards who will shoot to kill. Steem has none. But the capitalists can't keep everything to themselves, either, because if they try, the workers will pack up and leave to work for someone else.

What would both find acceptable? Suppose you have $100,000 and you want to invest that in stake on Steem. Now, if you have any sense in your head, you will take a look at alternatives. The stock market yields and average of about 9% over a very long period and that's completely passive income. Merely passively holding Steem Power will yield less than 2%. If no active curation takes place the value of everyone's stake can be expected to go down fast. Passive curation with no thought given to what is being curated (using tools to automate it) is worthless. So, curators who have either bought stake or earned it must be paid better for them to want to do the work. Curating is much less work than creating content, which is why authors must be able to get a significant cut. But you have to appreciate the fact that stake is worth real money and there is nothing stopping anyone from selling their mined, earned or bought stake if they believe its value will depreciate in the future. The current 75%/25% author/curator split is obviously not working because so many stakeholders are using vote farming to improve their ROI.

I think 50/50 is a good starting point for the experiment that all hard forks are at this stage of the development of Steem. Any stakeholder has to bother to curate for the system to work but what curation is actually about is consuming content and rating it. Very large numbers of people pay for getting to consume content. Curators on Steem get paid for that. The 50/50 split will tilt the scales more in favour of manual curation. It won't kill bidbots but it will favour manual curators on balance and I have a hunch based on experience that there are some influential curators who will become active again post HF21.


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Great post. got a good understanding of what is going on with steem right now. Thank you!

In the old days here, delegations were not allowed. Once delegations were allowed bid bots were born and have put us in the toilet where we are now.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I would not be surprised if Steemit remains largely a niche site.

Bid bots are but one way of vote farming like circle jerking. There must have been plenty of that those in various forms. Was Trending really any better than now back then?

Steemit is likely to remain a niche site but Steem can find many uses. For instance, @exyle is promoting Actifit to the Dutch Diabetes Foundation and making progress.

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Totally agree with your ideas on curation. It’s viral that we properly incentivize the curators - especially the manual curators who take the time to read/unearth good content - without proper incentivizarion on the curation side, curators will continue to leave the platform/opt for automation. I believe that more incentives for curators will lead to more upvotes for authors in the long run. Win-win. Time will tell how it plays out.

Even if curation is better rewarded that doesn't necessary mean manual curation being any better rewarded than automated curation. I'll have to think about how that could be accomplished better, preferably with existing tools.

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