Steem Social Lab: we need a "charter"

in #steem2 years ago

By now, we have established that steem is much more than a blockchain. It has often be said that "steem is about the community", that "community is everything".

Utopian on the scene of Steemfest3 in Krakow, last year

Heck, most of the people spending time around steem hardly experience the blockchain itself, but rather interact with the dApps around it, and those dApps, whether of the "content creation and sharing" type or of the "gaming" type, are innately "social".

Yet things that are proven to work perfectly in a "currency-less" environment, such as blogs, Facebook and YouTube for "content creation and sharing" and countless online multiplayer games for "gaming", appear to fray and give rise to unexpected and unwanted behaviors when a currency is being introduced ...

The "emerging behaviors" we observe on the steem platform appear to confirm what "common lore" has always known and what social scientists have recently proven: money corrupts


What we see on steem is that "mere exposure to something which resembles money" triggers unethical behaviors, what we collectively call "reward pool abuse". This is a consequence of how we, humans, are genetically wired.

And yet all is not lost! While some degree of abuse will always exist (because it's in our genes), we are not helpless genetic automata, we can somewhat control our genetic impulsions. The degree to which it happens varies with "nurture" - i.e. upbringing and cultural background.

Trust is among the best indicators of "social" (i.e. non-corrupt) behavior. People who trust others to not abuse the system tend to refrain from abusing the system themselves! In the graph below, we can see that "interpersonal trust" varies a lot from country to country (which indicates that it depends strongly on "culture").

Interpersonal trust (i.e. share of people agreeing with the statement "most people can be trusted") can be as low as 10% in Brazil and Colombia and as high as 60% in the Netherlands, Sweden, and (perhaps surprisingly) China.


I have compared steem in several posts with a "virtual country", dubbed Steemland. As its inhabitants come from all over the world, the culture of this country is extremely heterogeneous. This poses a big challenge when it comes to trusting others not to perpetrate abuse.

As several scientific studies show, ethnic homogeneity correlates very strongly with trust (genetically, we are wired to trust people who look and act "like us")


If "social" (i.e. "not abusive") behaviour can be influenced by a "common culture" then we need to develop that culture! We want Steemland to be more like the Netherlands or Sweden than like Brazil or Colombia.

Culture, aka "norms of acceptable behavior", helps restrain and balance the frantic, "anything goes" scramble for money that so troubles and concerns us today on Steem.

A Steem Charter

There are a number of mechanisms that can help us develop our own culture. The first and foremost, as @llfarms observed, is to share a common mission and vision. In order to be as inclusive as possible, the mission and vision should be rather generic, yet at the same time not too generic as to become meaningless.

The best example I know of is the "Médecins Sans Frontières" (MSF) / "Doctors without Borders" charter:

Médecins Sans Frontières is a private, international association. The association is made up mainly of doctors and health sector workers and is also open to all other professions which might help in achieving its aims. All of its members agree to honour the following principles:

Médecins Sans Frontières provides assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters and to victims of armed conflict. They do so irrespective of race, religion, creed or political convictions.

Médecins Sans Frontières observes neutrality and impartiality in the name of universal medical ethics and the right to humanitarian assistance and claims full and unhindered freedom in the exercise of its functions.

Members undertake to respect their professional code of ethics and maintain complete independence from all political, economic or religious powers.

As volunteers, members understand the risks and dangers of the missions they carry out and make no claim for themselves or their assigns for any form of compensation other than that which the association might be able to afford them.

This five-paragraphs-charter has resisted since the inception of the organisation in 1971. And this organisation has grown and thrived as a non-profit. It shows the power of a shared set of values.

Can we come up with something equivalent for steem ? Can we elevate ourselves above the petty "blog to earn" self-interested ethos that led to the abusive behaviors that we have such a hard time fighting today?

What would a Steem Charter look like for you ?

5 Keywords: communities, freedom, respect, prosperity, happiness

Let's start from something tried and true, the MSF pattern:

Steem is a private, international association. The association is open to everybody who agree to honour the following principles:

Steem provides a home to communities whose aim is to further the prosperity and happiness of their members while respecting others. Steem does so irrespective of race, religion, creed or political convictions.

I believe it is important to think of communitieS, plural, possibly in a "confederation" setting, not try to see everything as a single community

Steem observes neutrality and impartiality in the name of the universal human right to seek happiness and prosperity, and claims full and unhindered freedom in the exercise of its functions.

Members undertake to respect the Steem code of ethics (to be defined later) and maintain complete independence from all political, economic or religious powers.

As volunteers, members understand the risks and dangers of the missions they carry out and make no claim for themselves or their assigns for any form of compensation other than that which the association might be able to afford them.

By agreeing on such a charter back in 1971, MSF has grown to more than 100.000 people and more than 1.5 Billion euros in annual revenue ... And that, without selling anything. People donate the equivalent of 1.5 billion euros per year so that its 100 000 professionals can stay true to the charter, can bear out and act according to that charter there ...

How powerful is that ? Especially when comparing with the "free for all" of the roughly 100 000 active steemians busy devising ever-more-clever ways to abuse the reward pool ...

I contend that building our own culture, probably starting with a Steem Charter, should be the first and most important task of the upcoming Steem Foundation (on which @llfarms works with such dedication).

From the Charter we can then derive principles and a code of ethics.

We can then oversee the creation of communities, with registered "sub-charters" and a remit to enforce compliant behavior among their members.

The story of Steemland

If you know what witnesses are and agree that people commited to keeping this blockchain ticking play an important role ...

(by simply clicking on the picture)


Thank you very much for this valuable post. This article with the assessments in this post is the best I have read in steem.

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The idea is good, but I am not convinced that it will work. Who shall create the charta? How shall we vote for different versions of it? Where shall it be stored, so that steemians can find it?
Who is gonna reading the rules?
People are different and I think the charta will come automatically by talking with others. We create a culture by using steem. It stays fluent.


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That is natural, people are skeptics by nature. You need to seek for yourself arguments pro and con with an open mind. Look around you - have similar efforts ever worked ? I gave one specific example which has been a roaring success, Médecins Sans Frontières. But there are others. Think of the Christian religion for instance. Nobody was convinced it would work at the beginning. Then there were 12 guys who started believing and following Jesus around. Today, it is one of the most successful religions of the world ...

Yes, we are at the beginning of something big (maybe not as big as a religion, but the comparison is good, they also have a charta(but also a lot of rules)).
I thought, that we may put some rules into the calculation of the reputation. For example, if people upvote their self, than their reputation doesn't grow that fast, as if you don't do it.
What do you think about this first sign?

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I think that would be sensible. But a truly meaningful "reputation" would come from outside the platform. The one we have inside the platform is a kind of derivative indicator which is mildly useful

At present, steem is the largest community and least corrupt content payment social blockchain network I have found.

Unless it moved to Tron 😅

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wha? steem is on the tron network now? thats actually effing awesome.

I agree, traying to balance freedom and respect...and few more things

the global, steem-wide charter needs to stay short, simple, memorable. Then on top of it communities can be built which can more things, sometimes different, sometimes the same. Think of a tree: it has a common trunk and then, from that trunk, branches spread left and right

This post has been included in the latest edition of The Steem News in 10 posts - a compilation of the key news stories on the Steem blockchain.

Hai sa construim o comunitate puternica !

Un set de comunitati, fiecare cu specificul ei, dar toate sa se angajeze ca respecta "charta" - principiile enuntate

I’m blessed with such truths coming from you. Indeed we need a charter!

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Like beauty in the eye 👁 of the beholder, Steemit is hostage to a subjective, situational culture. @sorin.cristescu
Throw stake-weighted voting 🗳 & paying oneself first, the highest & first full power upvote is a self-vote.

Are those with a high stake, willing to completely eliminate self-voting for both posts & comments?

Eliminating the self-vote would reduce the requirement for policing & removes a test of integrity for a fledgling Steemian.

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I'll agree with @oivas on the point of keeping things open to change as we continue to discover the many possibilities and possible problems we may encounter as the steemit community grows (and the world changes).

A little revolutionary change seems necessary every once in a while to keep the spirit alive and eager for adaptation as the communities deem fit.

I also will agree on your point @sorin.cristescu that there needn't be a single community. I think that requiring folks to congregate as a singular entity perhaps can be a bit too demanding, pushing us further apart within a closed community.

I believe the full potential of steem is still yet to be recognised by many

About 175.89$ has been spent to promote this content using Steemium

Community IS everything

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Hello Steemit Members,

Tejas Rane here.

I am new on Steemit and I am quite amazed by the technological reforms we have gone so far. I am literally experiencing the blockchain phenomenon through this platform.

How Historic it is!

I would love to know more of steemit.

Thanks for this wonderful post which teaches us to embrace blockchain to reach newer heights.

Good to see

Hi @sorin.cristescu!

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Thanks for sharing.

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its shine me up, tq

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