"Better the Devils you know, than the Devil you don't" ... Migrating to a new blockchain

in #steemlast year (edited)

I just finished reading a post published by STEEM Witness @ats-david entitled, "How to Save STEEM." I encourage you to read it before reading this article. The purpose of the post was to argue in favor of a mass migration to a newly created blockchain, one in which Justin Sun would have no stake. The essence of STEEM/Steemit, it was opined, was not in a 'name' but rather an ethos shared by a community of like-minded individuals ... Steemians.

Because I'm a serious writer, the first thing I noticed about the post was the care of composition that was undertaken in its creation. It was well written and well edited. Because I'm a serious person, the second thing I noticed was the hypocrisy.

Suddenly, Everyone's Found Religion

This post, and many recently emanating from Whales, Witnesses and Dev's, invoke the language and sentiment of heroes and patriots, the good guys drawing their swords in the face of impending tyrannical oppression. Expressions of honor and nobility are now so ubiquitous that one could be forgiven for believing that Merlin had magically transported them back to the court of Camelot.

Followers of this blog will be well-acquainted with my years-long harangue against the flagrant cheating and miscreant skullduggery that reduced STEEM/Steemit to little more than a den of thieves. Bidbots, circle jerks, multiple account self-upvoting, spam, abusive downvoting by Whales, etc., etc. A quick scroll through Trending demonstrated the sheer magnitude of the corruption.

Having adopted the ethos of a whorehouse, everything was for sale and ‘strategic community initiatives’ rarely amounted to more than quibbling over price. To wit, I recall a high-profile Whale trying to garner support for a ‘Bidbot for Witness Votes.’ “If a Witness wants a Whale’s stake-weighted vote, they ought to be willing to share in the resulting financial benefits.” Unapologetically, he referred to his would-be piece of the pie as a “kickback.” So much for the sanctity of blockchain governance.

I was not alone in voicing my disdain and disgruntlement. Indeed, a virtual army of content creators screamed bloody murder. Whales and their hand-picked Top 20 Witnesses had rigged the system such that ‘quality of content’ was irrelevant. Shakespeare-returned-from-the-grave
would have been lucky to make $5.00 on a post without first engaging in some form of vote manipulation. All the while, two paragraph posts, riddled with grammatical and syntactical errors, earned hundreds of dollars. “Well, quality is subjective.” Perhaps, but vote buying and selling is not.

Who orchestrated all this chicanery?

You guessed it – the Whales, Witnesses and Dev’s.

They owned and operated the bidbots. Some of the real assholes in their midst drove an inestimable number of users from the blockchain for the crime of commenting upon a post whose author was, at the time, on their shit list. And, because Whales and Orcas owned 85% of the SP, their diversion of the blockchain’s 'limited internal capital' (SP) via delegations (to DApp developments in which they held financial interests), resulted in there being next to nothing left over to compensate content creation.

No matter.

For on countless occasions, content creators were told by the higher-ups that “Steemit was shit.” That the only thing about the STEEM blockchain that was of value were their DApps … as evidenced not by market demand, but by their saying so. Effectively, the blockchain had become an ‘alternative source of venture capital’ for DApp development while Steemit was reduced to little more than a façade, a fiction that enabled the VIP’s to buy time for their DApps to gain an audience while claiming that, unlike other blockchains, STEEM already possessed “a going concern.”        

When not vilified, the chorus of complaints were ignored and everyone came to understand the name of the game.

It was never about what was ‘right or wrong’ or ‘fair or unfair’ or even ‘sustainable or unsustainable.’ Rather, it was about having ‘skin in the game’ and ‘voting your stake.’ It was ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and ‘Let the Devil Take the Hindmost.’ And, as the First Principle of the Law of the Jungle is ‘eat for today,’ short-term self-interests nullified considerations about the long-term consequences of such behavior.

But there’s always a Bigger Fish … and along came Justin Sun.

All of a sudden, the sacred and inviolable principles of ‘having skin in the game’ and ‘voting your stake’ were conditional upon ‘supporting the status quo.’ And, rather astonishingly, in the absence of ‘actual commercial contracts’ to ensure compliance with the status quo, ‘implied social contracts’ would poof into existence, employing legal reasoning so twisted that ‘pretzel-like’ would become a surprising, yet apt, metaphor.  

Justin Sun didn’t need an operating system like STEEM, he had one, TRON. What he did need was a crypto-based social media platform like Steemit to offset EOS’s launching of Voice. EOS is, arguably, TRON’s most natural competitor and Justin Sun simply couldn't let Dan Larimer’s
blockchain possess something his did not.

And so, not uncoincidentally, on February 14th the long-awaited Voice Beta launch was dramatically eclipsed by the announcement of Sun's Steemit Inc. buyout, a deft PR coup. A great many Steemians rejoiced ... an infusion of money, marketing and manpower.

But it didn't take long for the STEEM Whales, Witnesses and Dev’s to grasp the likely implications of said acquisition. If Justin Sun insisted on SP being used as originally intended, to curate content on Steemit, the ability to re-direct Reward Pool payouts into their DApp projects would come to a screeching halt. They’d have to raise capital independently … just like every other software developer on the planet.

For all the moral outrage and high-minded talk about ‘protecting the community,’ it’s hard to imagine how Steemit content creators living under ‘Justin Sun’s tyranny’ would be any worse off than their living under the 'liberty of the Ancien Régime.'

‘Better the Devils you know, than the Devil you don’t,’ is cold comfort for those living under the boots of the former.

To Be Fair

To be fair, I don’t believe any of the belligerents have comported themselves particularly well. Both sides have engaged in inflammatory behavior and rhetoric, and egos and emotions are now eviscerating common sense and reason.

And, despite my generic criticism of Whales, Witnesses and Dev’s, there are a number of exceptions and I'm the first to offer salutation where it is warranted:

@theycallmedan is a Whale who has tirelessly busted his ass promoting the blockchain, often at substantial cost to himself.
@steemchiller’s signature DApp, SteemWorld, is universally admired and no one I know is anything but completely supportive of his endeavor.
For years, @timcliff earned widespread respect and admiration for his steady hand in matters of blockchain governence. Although, as the sole dissenting voice relating to the SoftFork, he was quickly disavowed by Whales and Witnesses and now ranks #48 on the Witness List. When an honorable man is so dishonorably treated, it is a stain upon us all.  

And lastly, there was nothing especially egregious about @ats-david’s post which was the inspiration for this article. His post was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and hence became a representative example of a larger phenomenon.    

Note to Whales, Witnesses and Dev’s

As has been repeatedly opined, ‘voting your stake’ means ‘voting your interests.’

So, to all you recently-turned-solicitous Whales, Witnesses and Dev's clamoring for a mass migration to a newly created blockchain - on the assumption that everyone will follow you to the Promised Land ... you might wish to consider whether the interests of people like me align with the interests of people like you.

And, before you conclude you’re capable of leading an Exodus, you might want to first determine whether anyone considers you Moses.



I love this. Everything that has been in my mind. I just don’t have the same skill with words. I hope they listen. You are not alone.

Posted using Partiko iOS


Hey mate. The tribe is down to 12,000 active users ... and that requires a rather generous definition of the word "active." And now they want to divide the tribe? Have they never heard of "critical mass?"

It's time for everyone to swallow their pride and make the peace.


Excellent breakdown as usual Quill, you've articulated my feelings perfectly. I have read many witness articles in the past two weeks that have really smacked of hypocrisy.

I've read a few with downright anger shaking through my bones, especially when I see people in the comments fawning over them because they want their votes, not because they think they're right.

They are banging on about decentralisation now, however as you and I know, Steemit and therefore its associated currency Steem, never was decentralised in the first place.

The witnesses preferred Ned's centralisation because it enriched them, and put them in a place of power. However when he left, that created an uncomfortable power vacuum, because it made them come to terms with the fact that all their power, lay at the control of Ned.
They were the ones to push things like the 50/50 content/creator split, which is obviously ridiculous, to try and suggest that I am creating as much value for the chain by clicking a button, as someone who puts as much thought and time into their articles, like yourself, is obviously bunkum.

However, most of the whales and witnesses are curators, ergo they wanted a larger slice of the pie. Thus suddenly creators and curators are the same....

Anyway, I'm finding it quite funny how they are all crying wolf now, my only hope is Justin eventually puts people in charge who know what they're doing.

Oh, and I didn't know they had treated @timcliff like that, so I'll go and give him a witness vote, not that it will make much difference of course, but still, it's a show of support.



Hey Crypt.

First of all, "bunkum" ... good word. You Brits really do enrich the language. ;-)

When I read through all the rage-filled diatribes, I find myself in a state of disbelief. Yes, I agree, no one has handled any of this particularly well. But, come on, Justin Sun is not Lex Luthor and writing code doesn't make you Superman. Put things in perspective people.

If it were not for the Coronavirus, I would cite this as the largest case of mass hysteria I've ever witnessed.

I agree with you completely on the 50/50 author/curator split. The higher-ups finally caved into the pressure about bidbots and so had to replace one gravy train with another. No one is more supportive of professional curators than I but authoring is about creating quality while curation is about consuming quantity. If it takes me 5 hours to create a post and it takes you 5 minutes to read it, you can curate 100 times faster than I can create. Surely that justifies the traditional 75/25 split. But the Whales and Witnesses have always got to rig it so that they are getting something for nothing. Take a look at my feed ... I stopped posting after HardFork 21 for exactly this reason.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Keep talking reason Ol' Boy. Slowly, it'll rattle a few cages.


Welcome back Quilldiva/Quillington!

Exactly everything you said. I can't add any more and discussed this a lot with trusted friends making the same points. I've just cracked on with creating music and content as I will do that regardless. Can't really try Voice out as it's for US citizens only at the moment?

I guess you have been away for so long setting up your own witness server? 😁


There he is!!!

Good to hear from you again.

I stopped interacting with Steemit several months ago following HardFork 21. Simply, I could feel my brain coming unglued. Call it a character flaw but I just don't suffer fools gladly and things finally reached the tipping point. I figured I'd just wait for Voice to launch and try again there. (The Voice Beta launch was delayed so things took longer than expected.) I have to admit, though, I really miss the interaction with the Steemit crew, especially the PHC folks. My hope is that we all reconnect again on Voice once it "goes live." I miss tormenting @jaynie. :-)

In any event, when I heard about the Justin Sun buyout (on the same day as the Voice Beta launch), I couldn't help myself but to go check it out. It was like the Dark Side of the Force calling to me: "Quill. Quill ... come hither." Like Anakin, I tried to resist ... but couldn't. Alas, I fear I might now be a Sith Lord.

Anyway, the drama soon began and reminded me why I was a Jedi in the first place.

Arrrgh, what a mess.

Fooling aside, I'm participating in the Voice Beta. It's great, but you're not missing out on anything. Block.One is working out the bugs and we're just the guinea pigs required to stress test the system. When it "goes live," all of our Voice Tokens will be reset to zero so as not to give us an advantage over everyone else. This is perfectly fine by me as I only want a FAIR platform where the only 'advantage' one receives in based upon the quality of the content they create.

Anyway, say Hi to everyone for me ... and do something that gives Jaynie heartburn and tell her it's from me. :-)


Yea it's a pretty big mess hey. Would you have expected anything less though? 😁

Are the reward pool mechanics and principles the same as on steem then or completely different? I have no idea how Voice works or the differences as I stopped researching when it was US only.

Just so you know, I left PHC around October time so you may have to do the salutations yourself 😉


Hey Nicky.

The Voice model is radically different than that of Steemit ... and it reflects a lot of "lessons learned" from the Steemit experience. Ironically, I'm in the midst of a lengthy 'feedback article' on Voice where I argue for a couple of adaptations to the current model to, in essence, adopt a few of Steemit's features.

In any event, the difference in attitude between the two blockchains is stark. Everything about Voice is being designed to ensure compliance with real world regulatory authorities. No 'flying by the seat of your pants' stuff. The 'professionalism' is palpable. Dan Larimer is not targeting Steemit, he's targeting FaceBook ... and he's spending the money, and taking the time, to do it right the first time around.


“Because I'm a serious person, the second thing I noticed was the hypocrisy.”

Because I’m an inquisitive person, I’d like to know why you think I’m being hypocritical.

Was there something that I wrote in that post that made me a hypocrite? Or was it something in that post that seemed hypocritical because other people who are not me have not been critical of the poor leadership around here? Perhaps you saw hypocrisy because you think witnesses are a monolithic group?

You have indeed piqued my curiosity. :)


As I disclaimed in the article:

... And lastly, there was nothing especially egregious about @ats-david’s post which was the inspiration for this article. His post was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and hence became a representative example of a larger phenomenon.

My post WAS NOT designed to be a criticism of you personally (or anyone, personally, for that matter) but rather to elucidate a recent phenomenon I've observed amongst Whales, Witnesses and Dev's ... hypocrisy. An attempt to assume a 'moral mantle' of leadership despite years spent as exemplars of 'moral turpitude.'

As I mentioned in my article:

Followers of this blog will be well-acquainted with my years-long harangue against the flagrant cheating and miscreant skullduggery that reduced STEEM/Steemit to little more than a den of thieves. Bidbots, circle jerks, multiple account self-upvoting, spam, abusive downvoting by Whales, etc., etc.

That was not an exaggeration. In terms of pure wordcount there are few Steemians who could equal my own. Posts, comments and replies. Poetry and prose, seriously and satirically. I tried it all. To no avail. From time to time, my criticism drew the attention, and ire, of a number of Witnesses and, at times, you were amongst them.

To wit (scroll about 70% down the comments section for a lengthy exchange between you an I):


Admittedly, it's all I can do not to publish a post entitled, "Whales, Witnesses and Dev's... I Told You So." Almost everything I predicted would occur, absent reform, has now happened. And my 'Proposed Reforms' of which you were so dismissive ... almost all have been adopted by Voice.


I stand by everything written in those comments back then. What you want this blockchain to be and what it is are completely different. You won’t find many investors around here that want a Voice-like platform.

I’m not even sure how you can have or want a platform like Voice and also champion things like decentralization, free-speech, and free association, which are pretty much the underpinnings of social media on a blockchain. Voice offers nothing that Facebook can’t already do...except maybe give you tokens, but even they’ll likely have that soon enough - and with Voice, you get to dox yourself so that anything said can be traced back to your physical self. I’m sure I don’t need to point out how that can affect free-speech in the face of government suppression.

I think what you also missed is that I have been criticizing the leadership on this platform for pretty much the bulk of my 3.5 years here. And that criticism includes bots, witnesses, Steemit Inc., and even large stakeholders. But there’s a difference between informed opinions based on the comprehension of blockchain protocols and their intent and a wish list of things that you would like to forbid because you just don’t like them.

I understand that you were fairly new back then and I suppose that it can be an excuse for not understanding things, but then it doesn’t make much sense to try to propose sweeping “reforms” that can’t practically be applied without fundamentally altering the purpose of the blockchain in the first place. Ignorance can be easily forgiven. Arrogance...not so much.

“That was not an exaggeration. In terms of pure wordcount there are few Steemians who could equal my own.”

This is a perfect example of both ignorance and arrogance. It would have been much better if you acknowledged how many people and how much criticism has been levied against the very people and actions that you’ve mentioned, including from myself, over the span of four years.

“Whales, witnesses, and devs” are not a monolithic cabal, neither as a whole nor in their respective groups. It would do a lot of people a lot of good if they truly accepted and understood this fact.


Ah, @quillfire

How things change and yet stay the same, right? It's interesting that I went and looked at @ats-david's post before reading this. I liked what he said - in the context of what's been happening on/in Steem in the last three weeks. As you note, a great deal has happened since you went AWOL.

Interestingly, the advent of HF21/22, about which I, and a whole lot of people, as well as you, were very concerned, ended up being a good thing. For the little creators like me. As it so happened, things conspired so that I am unable to spend as much time on writing and on Steem as I'd like. However I've seen far better returns subsequent to the HF than ever.

The demise of bidbots has been a good thing. That bidbot owners have had to actually do some work has been a good thing. It's not perfect by a long shot, but by golly, it's a whole lot better than it was.

What IMO is not good, is as you say, this tug-o-war. I fear it can only have one outcome. Not necessarily the one that the majority of also-rans would prefer. It's also spawned a steem love fest which again, IMHO creates spam and content that's repetitive and really not worth reading. It's one thing waging a war, but as you always say, it must be strategic and battles considered. A shotgun approach? Well, lots of shrapnel and potential collateral damage.

I suspect, having been here nearly three years and watching the ectoplasmic swirling, not to mention the swirling dervishes, there will be a split.

The demise of Narrative and its potential resuscitation as pubNooks is interesting. I am interested in Voice but I do have to say that starting over has no appeal at all. If this kind of platform rises and falls on whims, then, frankly, it feels as though I'm just well, xxxxx in the wind.

Given the inevitability that there will be a fork, my question then is, what is the real implication for Steem and SBD, both of which, I understand, are tradable?

Or have I learned nothing in the time I've been here?



I fully agree with your section on the witnesses running bid bots and driving out users. We lost so many good people due to those with large stakes, throwing them around to intimidate those who didn't agree with them or spoke out.

The lack of development over the first two years was a real killer but before the justin sun announcement i felt we were on a really good track with the steemit.inc team rolling out upgrades and some of the apps doing really well to improve our experience on steem and add functionality to it like @splinterlands and @travelfeed.

While we had lost a lot of ground from where we should be it felt like turning a corner under eli powell and i could see a bright future again. With justin I was cautiously optimistic until we saw his true colours. While the witnesses fucked up with their soft fork that was sprung way too early an before we had any real information. His actions since then have been very telling. If Justin really wanted to improve steem and grow it's value he has had every opportunity to put a plan in place. Discuss it rationally with the witnesses and we could all work towards that. Instead it's been all lies, aggression and downright ignorance from a so called businessman and marketing guru. What kind of CEO acts in this manner and expects to succeed in the long run?

The witnessess fucked up and were very underhanded in how they went about the hardfork but a good businessman would have solved this situation from the beginning instead of inflaming it and making a mockery of his own projects and this one.


As I wrote in my article:

To be fair, I don’t believe any of the belligerents have comported themselves particularly well. Both sides have engaged in inflammatory behavior and rhetoric, and egos and emotions are now eviscerating common sense and reason.

War escalates. You slap my face and I punch yours. You reach for a stick and I pull out a sword. On and on it goes until someone says, "If I can't have it, no one will."

And that's where we are now. What we need is an off-ramp (although, honestly, I don't see one). In any event, the worst thing any of us non-VIPS's can do at this point is cheer on either side.

To avoid redundancy, I'd point you to my reply to @fionasfavourities' comment.



This post has been manually curated, resteemed
and gifted with some virtually delicious cake
from the @helpiecake curation team!

Much love to you from all of us at @helpie!
Keep up the great work!


Manually curated by @niallon11.

@helpie is a Community Witness.


@helpie, thanks for the cake ... and @niallon11 for calling in calories. :-)


But it didn't take long for the STEEM Whales, Witnesses and Dev’s to grasp the likely implications of said acquisition. If Justin Sun insisted on SP being used as originally intended, to curate content on Steemit,...

You had me up until here. There was no indication that Justin Sun had any plans for Steem or SP other than to move all Steem tokens to Tron (to the point of announcing that Steem tokens will turn into nothing). To be fair,that was the major factor that spurred the action.


Presumably, Justin didn't drop USD $12 million for no reason.

He wanted a "crypto-based social media platform" on TRON to offset EOS' launch of Voice. And hence, the Steemit buyout announcement on Feb. 14, the very day of the long-awaited Voice Beta launch. Justin Sun was trying to steal Dan Larimer's thunder (and it worked).

But what good would buying the Steemit stake be without a plan to change the strategy that had resulted in STEEM/Steemit's stagnancy?

What could Sun possibly do that would be more effective (and cost-effective) in attracting new Steemit users than to ensure that ALL SP was used for curating content? And by all, I'm not just including the SP diverted into DApps but also the massive Steemit stake that has here-to-for not participated in curation.

Imagine that everyone now making $5.00 per post started making $20.00. Activity would skyrocket. Inactive users would become active. New users would sign up. STEEM held on exchanges would be converted to SP so as to increase earning potential (both from content creation and curation). The liquid STEEM supply would be thereby reduced. The ever-increasing money supply, caused by distributions from the Reward Pool, (price-deflationary) would now get absorbed by the increased productivity and increasing user base ... and the price of STEEM would go up. An increasing price would attract more users and investors ... a positive feedback loop.

Whether this occurred to an nominally independent STEEM/Steemit or one that had been merged into TRON would make little difference as the dynamics would remain the same.

The point is that if this happens, SP would no longer be available to fund DApp development ... and it is this, I'd proffer, that was the source of DApp developers' (and interested parties') fear and discontent. What would be good for content creators would not be good for them. And hence, the rather astonishing decision to freeze the Steemit stake in the SoftFork. Steemit bloggers weren't facing an existential crisis, DApp developers were.


Do you still think Justin's plan is to migrate steem users and steemit.com over to Tron? Or do you think recent develoments have him just wanting to dump as soon as possible and move on?


Honestly, I haven't a clue.

@justinsunsteemit has a huge stake and he can't start dumping STEEM without causing the price to collapse ... which would hurt him more than anyone else.

If I were him, I'd maintain the status quo (re: Witness Votes) ... but I'd use the Steemit Inc. stake to start curating content on Steemit. That would generate cashflow (curation awards), materially increase post payouts (author awards) while diminishing the percentage of the Reward Pool being paid out to Whales, Witnesses & DApp developers.

There's nothing that would win the hearts and minds of regular Steemians faster than increasing their post payouts. If he were disciplined ... and only curated "quality content" ... it would also rapidly augment the reputation of the Steemit social media platform. The higher quality in Trending, combined with the increased post payouts, could very easily re-activate inactive users while attracting new ones. And this is what would be required to initiate a positive feedback loop.

P.S. Justin, on the off chance you read this comment, you need to hire a native anglophone to communicate with the community ... especially respecting a resolution to the current impasse. While I applaud your use of English, your linguistic skills (and those of your current non-anglophone spokespeople) are insufficient to communicate the required nuances.


I agree with all of this, but the question is will he? Nothing we have seen to date leads me to believe he has serious plans for steem or steemit. He doesn't do anything on here or really even mention it on his twitter. This might have been his plan initially (growing the ecosystem and creating value), but are you seeing any evidence that this is still his plan?


At this point, who knows? My guess is that he's trying to let the dust settle, to let people cool down. At this point, if he posted, "Good Morning," there would those who would have a fit.

My guess is that there are private communications going on between him and some of the Whales/Witnesses. The more pragmatic of the Whales/Witnesses know that the status quo is not sustainable and that he's not just going to walk away from $10-12 million.


There is no evidence to suggest that Justin Sun knew anything about SP or Steem's problems with curation. In fact, his words indicated the opposite, a lack of understanding.

But the end of all things has drawn near. Therefore be sober-minded and be sober unto prayers.(1 Peter 4:7)

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If anybody seeing this agrees with me, please consider upvoting my comment or delegating to @the-real-jesus