A fundamental change to my witness voting behavior

in #witness-category3 years ago (edited)

After a chat with @jackmiller I decided to review my witness votes.

Naturally, vote trading has been a reality from the beginning. I have to count myself guilty of having checked SP before readjusting my votes in the past.
As I generally try to act as responsible as possible with my position as a big stakeholder and witness, this kept causing pains over the last two years. I kept telling myself that with ongoing distribution the issue will disappear over time.

Pixabay says I don't need to state the source

With @jerrybanfield consistently being in the top 20 witnesses now, I'm not able to keep that story up any more. The only reason for him to get there is his huge stake and willingness to trade votes. I feel like I need to finally act according to my values.

So I made a pretty simple rule: I won't vote anyone as witness who votes for banfield. If I dropped you, and you think you have good reasons to give him your vote, feel free to talk to me on discord or steem.chat - I don't expect that to really happen though.

I am aware that this action may very well cost me my own position in the top 20. Since I remove votes from valuable vote traders, that'll probably produce a dent in my own support. I'm prepared for that to happen though. I will keep my services up, but start to use delegations to finance them.
I wish that option wouldn't exist, but even more that the community wouldn't reward it with throwing another huge income after the people using it...

So if you lost my vote, here's the explanation. I won't publish the list here, it's public information anyway. If you think you'd be a good choice for one of the vacant positions, hit me up! :)

Click here to adjust your own votes


Hi @pharesim

Thank you for your willingness to speak openly about Witness Voting at the highest level.

As a new witness (teamed with @paulag and using @steemcommunity as the name), I can see it being harder to change a profitable approach, than it is to start off with your values in place and nothing to lose financially.

We have opted for a few 'policies' which are almost guaranteed to block us many larger votes (no bid-bot owners, no bid-bot delegates), but as we are just beginning, we can only move upwards - and we will do this without ever feeling we bought it, traded it, etc.

Your decision to drop Jerry fits in with our approach, but of course, bribing other witnesses, and trying to sell free materials crossed him off my list long before I ever thought about becoming a Witness.

On reading @lukestokes' excellent reply, I concede that many newer witnesses lack the proof of experience and knowledge, and we are no different here. As a seasoned witness, I would not take lightly the decision to cast votes down to lower tiers until they has been on the block for a little while, and perhaps actively responded sharply to an outage - we have not had to do this thus far.

In our favor I feel though is the community aspect of which Luke also alludes to. We currently both run engagement competitions, and I would suggest that as far as text in comments on the blockchain over the past month and of the year to date, my numbers a fairly solid. @krnel recently used my competition to distribute some of SP out to accounts he could trust to share amongst the community.

I'm well aware of the number of top/mid range witnesses that have probably read this post, the lack of comments from them speaks volumes and probably indicates that initially and sadly, there will be not a great line forming behind you - Once again, thank you for standing up for your values, and for what you see as the best interests of the platform.


Edit: Sorry, just to add that I would really like to see any commencement of talks regarding votes casts by 'dead accounts'. Clearly this is more detrimental to the older witnesses, almost in a sliding scale from the oldest down i assume, but it is just seemingly unfair, and not right to have votes cast permanently from a user who is unable to change that vote ever again. How / where can this be raised? Thank you.

I've got to get you as one of my witnesses already! :-D

That would be splendid :D

And that Ash, is why I think you are so awesome!! :)

Edit: Sorry, just to add that I would really like to see any commencement of talks regarding votes casts by 'dead accounts'. Clearly this is more detrimental to the older witnesses, almost in a sliding scale from the oldest down i assume, but it is just seemingly unfair, and not right to have votes cast permanently from a user who is unable to change that vote ever again. How / where can this be raised? Thank you.

Ive made much noise about this. Nobody listens, Asher.

EOS has a good approach on that with a vote decay over time... Worth giving a look

This was discussed at Steemfest2 and it made a lot of sense to me also. I figured it would be something we could implement without too much trouble (didn't Golos do something similar also?) Has this been brought up much lately? If so, I haven't seen anyone promoting a PR for it. If people want it, let's do it.

Here is a man who is listening! I know witnesses who want some discussions on this matter, I just don't know where they should be held/directed at?

bringing it to the witness discussion in the Steemit Ramble on May 19th might be a start.

Just checked my calendar and I am indeed free :)

well that's good to know. @shadowspub is the person behind the chat and will be hosting it in the Ramble starting at 11am. She'll be posting about it. If you want to listen to the last two she has them posted on her blog.

I attended the first two, and they run on my network @SteemStarNetwork, but I'll be in Tennessee at a steem meetup there that day, recording my episode of Hots or Shots with Jonny-Clearwater that day. I trust my mid-level, engaged, in-touch, and active witness peers to lead the day, and as usual, I bet we see at best, the typical one or two top 20s show up, because most of them cannot be bothered to care too much about users anymore, and only go on aggroed's elitist clique driven insider's shows where no one will hold them accountable for anything uncomfortable. Because echo chamber.

We would have to write a hardfork and get it accepted by the very people, many of whom, have tons of these dead voters on them....

I see, that is... probably not going to be easy. Let me find some data to present. It may not be as bad as people suggest. Back in a day or three...

I started gathering that data a while back before we began talking more often. It's way out of date now, but I was stuck and seeking some input from @ura-soul on the matter. I still think it's worthy of discussion and research.

My proposal, btw, is only one facet covered, but it's the only one we could feasibly do without fear of sybil solutions around it or other things. And that is to let votes stay, but if a witness is "red dead" (not active) for 90 days, that allows time for tech repairs, billing issue resolution or other reasons to be dead briefly, but at 3 months, votes should be reverted to their owners and removed from dead witnesses. Three months is enough time to say, yep, He's Dead Jim!

Yeah there is that side too, and 3 months doesn't sound unreasonable.

I was wondering about dead voter time limits and criteria. I assume a cast vote (on content) could work, but then we have accounts voting on trails. So maybe comments need to be used? Unless there is a 'last logon' date somewhere?

I'd say it's safe to consider someone a dead witness voter when they didn't change any witness vote for some time, let's say 6 months to a year.

Are you any how related with Alexander the Great ? +5+5+5



"I am aware that this action may very well cost me my own position in the top 20"
"I will speculate that your witness position will get stronger instead"

Sincerely after the fiasco of trying to steal the STEEMFEST brand from @roelandp it was a matter of time to get the chance to remove my vote. It's probably the perfect time to do it.

I greatly respect your position on not supporting vote trading. I've only been approached a handful of times from people who want me to vote for their witness, and I've done my best to always evaluate the witnesses based on the value they bring to the platform from my perspective.

I had many users contact me in the past, as they had me as a proxy, and ask me to give Jerry my witness vote. At the time, he was doing a lot of promotion when no one else was so, eventually, I gave him a shot. I spent significant amounts of time talking with him at Steemfest2 and at the end of the event, I told him honestly I was going to remove my vote. It was a personal decision based on my understanding of how he views the world, his motivational psychology, and more. Again, it was a personal decision. I feel we should be allowed to have opinions about people's actions without everyone else thinking we're being "judgmental" or unfairly attacking them as people.

Immediately after I removed my vote, he removed his from me. That showed me what I already suspected. His vote for me wasn't based on principle in terms of what value he thinks I bring to the blockchain, but on what value I can bring to him personally through reciprocation. I can't find another way to interpret that. When he celebrated a tool for "mutual support" here and I called him out on it, he never replied.

In my view, some of his actions are not good for a secure, healthy, decentralized DPOS system. Witnesses should remain independent, and they should be voted on based on the value they bring to the network. I think running a secure server and backup is a given. If someone doesn't have this expertise, they aren't the right people for the job. If they are working as part of a team of people, I'm fine with that, but not okay with it if that team involves other witnesses. They should be independent to increase decentralization which improves the security of the network and decreases the likelihood of a bad actor taking over control of a majority of block-producing nodes.

As much as I'd like to see more C++ and blockchain developers in the top 20, I also think there's room for some community advocates who also run solid servers. For a long time, I thought it should be strictly sysops people only and that's why I didn't become a witness for over a year, even though many people were asking me to take on the position. I've done devops and managed servers, sure, but my career has been in programming. Eventually, I changed my mind and now think there is some room for social witnesses who also run solid servers and know what they are doing. This is a social blockchain powering social apps, and I think at least some of those who help secure it should be social themselves. Otherwise, it's very easy for them to lose touch with what's most important to the users.

I hope we can get a solid group of witnesses who are not only technically excellent, but also regularly engaged with this social community. That's my ideal witness.

Thanks for putting your views out there, @pharesim.

this is exactly our view and the reason why we are doing this with a small group of people, one that is very technical and two that are more active in the community... this is what will hopefully be the future. Small teams taking responsibility on multiple fronts because a witness is not just having a good server but its also being in contact with the community that you are "serving"

If you so choose btw...I'll give you the chance to let people know why you think they should vote for you when you're a guest on the show.
Looking forward to meeting you.

Looking forward to it. My approach has always been to do my thing, educate people, add value, and then help them make a good decision. If there are 30 other witnesses who can add more value than me, they should vote for them instead. I like to think I've demonstrated some value over time, but thankfully it's not up to me to decide (because, clearly, I'm biased). :)

And then pay fucking shit loads of bots to upvote that post so it goes on the trending page like you do with each of your video post? Shit like that needs changed too!!!

I like this comment a lot @lukestokes as well as I admire the new way @pharesim is going - Finally people wake up about this selfish "personality" - we all are kind of selfish but it should be to a certain extent only.

Yeah. I like to think in terms of rational self-interest. I think altruism can be a misleading word because even someone people would describe as the most altruistic person they've ever met (say, Mother Teresa, for example), they are still acting according to the rewards system in their brain which says, "This action helps create the world I want to live in." Rational self-interest, to me, is an honest way of looking at our motivational psychology which says, "Yes, this benefits me and it benefits the community over the long-term which also benefits me." We're a social species, and we do find joy in meeting the needs of others. When people lose sight of this, they get desperate and make poor decisions which, on the long-term, harm themselves and the community.

really dig your approach. happy to see this social intelligence from some of the active invested stakeholders in steemit :)

YouAreHOPE and SteemStar Network and The Writer's Block and SteemShelves and Steem House Publishing do plenty for user retention, user participation and steem awareness (YouAreHOPE /Steem Logos are on donated school supplies and apparel and wall size murals all over the world now.) and SSN and SH both publish on channels beyond steem, but refer everyone who sees them back to steem.

I'd say "social witnesses" are WAY more important than just box operators. That said, coding for the platform is also very very important, but it's NO WHERE in the witness job description. NONE of this stuff is, beyond "run a node" so we all make up arbitrary reasons to vote around that. Like "value" and to be honest @luke.stokes, you can't define that word here and neither can I. Same with "quality". Your definition, mine and every other user's opinion differs here.

Witnesses run boxes. Anything else we do it optional. Voters can decide accordingly. I am a social witness, and I code a small app contribution too, with more in development.

So yeah, social witnesses. Cause if you didn't say that, welp, there would go all the "community mayors" in the top 20, eh? Any metric on what people do/contribute is undefinable. It's a cult of personalities here and always has been. I believe everyone is guilty here, including you. Your very apt mother theresa comment is why.

I disagree with you that witnesses just "run boxes" as their primary job description. They define consensus which directly includes knowing what software they are running on those boxes. That means they should have someone on their team at the very least who can do a code review and recognize if a change being suggested is beneficial for the network or not. Downplaying this important role is dangerous to the security of the network. I don't think that's my opinion, but a well-supported fact, and I'm quite confident people like Dan Larimer who invented DPOS would agree. If those defining the consensus just push out whatever code is sent to them to push out then there is no decentralization at all. Whoever creates the code controls everything.

Please, please, please, understand how important this is.

Coding for the platform (as in building applications and such) can be done separately from the witness position, for sure. But so can promotion, helping with user retention, steem awareness, user participation, etc. A witness role is not needed to do any of that. If funds are needed to do that, partnering with witnesses to fund those things could be a good plan.

Additionally, Witnesses have some say in economic policy with SBD interest, price feeds (with our without bias) and bandwidth concerns via the block size settings. It's not just running boxes.

@sircork, I know you have a lot of people looking to you for leadership and education. Please be sure to give them the whole story of what witnesses do, even if that doesn't make the greatest case for you personally as a witness. I readily admit I don't code in C++ and that I haven't (yet) directly contributed to core blockchain code development. I've programmed professionally in half a dozen languages for over two decades, but C++ is something I need to skill up on to improve my value as a witness. I plan to do so and in the meantime, other witnesses who run a solid node, backup, and seed and who can do more than I can (i.e. more than just code review) as far as contributing to the consensus code which defines the blockchain are actually better witnesses than I am right now as far as securing the network.

I do program, in many languages, including c++, and i've been doing it professionally longer than the majority of witnesses have been ALIVE. (I began working professionally in tech in 1985) so I do know what's at stake, and sure, 17 of the top witnesses do in fact make that consensus out of the top 20.

I have yet to encounter any requirement in witnessing that doesn't basically require a pumpkin/freedom vote to get anywhere near making any decisions though, and even then, you gotta be in Ned's not-so-secret super secret slack to be even aware of potential changes. Cause if you didn't ride in here with the bitshares posse or become one of the chosen ones by less than 100 voters after the fact? LOLZ at "need to do anything" but run a box.

Reality, bro. Simple math. You can't get in the top 20 to think about decision making without a blessing, and of those that are up there, I'd venture about 2-5 of them can read c++.

So maybe we should tell users the REAL truth... like you know, you just admitted you hold this criteria up to preclude lesser witnesses in the minds of the people, but you yourself admit you cant currently do. Shit Aggroed can't even work windows very well. Program? Ha, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ha. hah ahem.

And many others of the same ilk.

So if you want to talk "truth", Let's count how many witnesses even built from source, again probably fits on 1-2 hands worth of fingers out of 200+ active. You know, those ones that aren't on the top 100 page at all, but do more than half the top 20, in their sleep, for the communities, for the platform and for it's future?

Now call me a sore loser, and tell me I just need to work harder, and ignore the available SP math, how its been distributed since the beginning of time, and please elaborate on how all those top 20 people meet the criteria you and pharesim are laying down here, yourselves included. Because you know it cannot be done.

Sounds more like 2 years in, you guys all thought you could hold this forever, but people came along and started outperforming you all (look at public consensus via VOTE COUNTS, not sp, to see what people REALLY believe in and want for witnesses, not who the rich kids deemed reliable at time to vote for anything STINC wants.)

Dan LEFT because of this shit. His own words from bitcointalk and other sources. Do your own research. It's fact.


I didn't explicitly state the need for certain dev skills I support social witnesses too as long as they have someone on their team to take care of the tech.
Code reviews are important, but I don't expect every witness to do that individually.

Jerry has shown on countless occations that he doesn't care about the community, at least not those parts that can't make him more income. You yourself said in another comment how he paid smaller witnesses, others said similar - in the end it always boils down to vote buying.

And his bullshit videos talking about 10/100/1000000$ steem in the future are not the kind of marketing i'd regard as healthy. Wonder about low retention rate? Check the expectations that are given to new users...

He empowered smaller witnesses to stay in the game, as I understand it, this did not require a vote back, in fact, one recipient I know is actually quite anti-jerry, but still met the criteria and got the funds. So that argument is invalid.

If we need more funds for smaller witnesses that's something to be decided on in the code (or maybe witness parameters?), but it's not a responsibility of other witnesses. And it doesn't help the general community a bit to give handouts.

There may be exceptions, but in the general picture it's obvious that all "support" coming from him is pure marketing, either for himself or to pump steem.

Extending this to include the reply to your other comment: Of course nobody is forced to vote for him. That'd be stupid, bribes don't include threats. Although there are several cases where he withdrew support after being unvoted.

Ha, this POST Is pure marketing, a total publicity stunt, seeing as you believe you get to decide who is responsible for what, I've just decided this is a stunt, which it is, since voting is a private decision and you just had to self aggrandize your virtue signalling. Meh lame.

I like this entire blog post and discussion. I find it refreshing for it to be discussed openly and also really appreciate people giving different points of view and explaining their reasoning and experience.

You've articulated better than I could my concerns about The Banfield. I'd add that another problem is that he's not an 'expert' in steemit, or you might say masquerading as an expert in his videos (same goes for his setting up a witness server) because he believes in the platform, he's turned himself into an 'expert in steem' because he's realised there's money it - It's as if there's zero substance to the man. He's as soulless as his voting bot.

It's the same with his Parys prodigy - his instructional videos aren't entirely useless, they will teach you something, but they are mediocre, and at the end of the day he's just some bloke in a blazer with no real expertise in anything.

I absolutely agree with your general view that in order for someone to be voted as a witness they should actually be doing something substantive for the benefit of the platform.

There's lots of worrying stuff in these comments... still, we live in hope, and I think I've got my witness votes right!

well you are voting for wackou who has not been active for over a month and has not update his price feed for 2 weeks longer than that

apart from that, you have 2 slots open which could easily be given out to some of the lower ranked witnesses that are struggling to make it up the ladder or even to break even on the costs.
so use those votes and spread them around
I would appreciate one for the project I am part of but there are others out there that are just as deserving

Thanks - will review and revise as necessaRY!

great brother i am agree with you. I also want to thank him for puttig his views out there.

You may vote for me instead :)

Thank you. I have a very simple rule for voting - only underappreciated witness that actually work to build social communities. (Key word - underappreciated) Because, hey, Steem was intended to be a social platform. (And yes, vote trading, bid bots and the like are blatantly asocial) At this time, there are only 10 witnesses that qualify for my votes, and that's just fine. I have refused every single attempt at vote trading. I don't care about how I personally benefit, I'll only do what I feel is right for Steem. If you ever dropped out of the top 20, you will have my vote.

Thank you for your integrity, and of course the support!

@liberosist, I'm half of witness team Sircork. He and I both are very involved in charity work on and off platform, so we had common ground to form a team. The reason I'm commenting is your statement:

Steem was intended to be a social platform.

This has been a big issue for me lately. I'm co-admin of the @thewritersblock with @gmuxx, and I've watched the mounting angst of writers and other creatives as more and more, Steemit seems to lose sight of its original vision. Since most of us have little control over the platform's direction, I've hoped that a grass roots effort by people with a keen interest in evergreen content (fiction, art, etc.) would help retain users who are drifting away. Paulag posted statistics recently that show new user signup was down by half from March to April. I believe this is due to frustration. Do you have any thoughts about how to turn this around?

Something either has to be the best in class, or the most popular in class for it to succeed. Steemit and steem struggle because it tries to be several things and ends up being a shitty spork instead of a really good spoon or fork. If it doesn't offer easy, efficient ROI without incurring huge tax bills then it loses out to better, more hands-off passive investments in the crypto space, and if it's a shitty social media website due to its catering to large investors over small users then it will never grow as a social media platform.

Investors want to free themselves from the tedium of actively managing their investment, more time spent on steemit is less time spent living in the non-steemit world. Most investors do not want to circle-jerk all day with other people who invested in the same thing. They could probably care less who the other investors are. They just want returns. Getting more involved with steem's ecosystem and trying to maximize returns within it often means losing out on free time, which is what most investors actually want.

Sadly there doesn't seem to be a lot of overlap between these large investors and people who love the arts, and I don't think these investors really want people coming here who hope to make income off their art, either. They just want more traders buying up what they're selling.

There is no turning it around from this aspect, it would be easier to just make a whole new website.

Hi @liberosist, maybe you will like to vote for @castellano as a witness:

"@castellano witness, aims to represent the users of the language and the myriad small projects with sustainability potential (but no means to invest) in hopes of creating a bridge between bigger projects and the user base to increase retention and educate steemians and encourage re-investment of their rewards to avoid extraction mining."


By the way, I vote for you as a witness because I think it is an important task to vote for those unappreciated witnesses who are striving to improve Steem.

I also agree a lot with the opinion of @lukestokes, we need witness that handle very well both the technical and the social stuff.

I also believe that those witnesses who are doing great things for Steem and the community, should improve their marketing strategy, sometimes it is useless to do something good if nobody knows.

Thanks @joedukeg on behalf of the team behind @castellano

Actually that has been my main problem, to find the time to properly market and report our deeds for the community, I have always been a strong believer that results should speak for themselves.

Sadly the only results we have to show are the communities and subprojects built under the tiny @castellano's umbrella.

Hopefully it will be noticed with the help of users like you that take the time to share our deeds where it matters.

I might add that @castellano is a social experiment, where we aim to incite the users being part of the Spanish speaking community to be empowered to create representative committees bridging and helping understand the gaps between: Users, investors, projects and witnesses.

Our main areas of action are:

  • Educational projects to increase user understanding of the platform and encourage rewards reinvestment to increase the users stake. (like @reveur)

  • Sustainable projects to bring and retain high quality content creators, encourage reinvestment and investment in the platform. (Like @celfmagazine)

  • Curation projects that aim to reward properly good content and retain the best users, and are not a drain-to-own-pockets in disguise.

We also aim to create a tribune to enable discussions and share our views.

For that we have a team working hard into summoning the community to be part of it.

I missed the opportunity of a life time to be able to share and explain all of this in last year's steem-fest but the birth of my daughter took precedence.


It is kind of interesting seeing the 'big players' problems through the eyes of a small minnow (550 SP).

I have removed some of the witnesses I have voted before. Nothing personal. Reason: there was nothing personal. (Don't worry: I would -never- vote for @jerrybanfield and his sick mind). I would love to see Witnesses vote for loyal and potential Steemians on the platform. I honestly think that @anomadsoul, @sndbox and curation trails like @curie and @ocd are offering a great perspective on those talented content creators.

Distributing wealth is something else. It is nearly an impossible or very difficult task to accomplish. Where GEO location is affecting the distribution as well, a dollar here in Europe might not seem a lot, but in the Philippines, it is.

I am a bit surprised I haven't seen (maybe they did before) witnesses enrolling a program for their voters. Increasing their stake, so their witness vote will grow with them as well.

I guess Europeans would need about 15-20k SP to be able to Steem on a daily base. Imagine: 200 100% upvotes from a single player with a Stake like yours could change a life within 7 months. Within a month if you'd do hardcore voting.

This is why Jerrybanfield grows twice as fast with only selling his votes. He is changing lives, but he charges money and a witness vote for it. Truly unethical imho. Giving his (potential) witness voters a bigger stake, allowing him to get higher and more valuable witness-votes. Plus with the liquid SBD that he can exchange for Steem and the curation rewards on the post that he upvoted will add up significantly. It is smart, I give you that. But his greed might destroy the platform. In my opinion, it is a higher threat than @haejin, I have no problems with him up-voting only himself since he and his investor hold a lot of Stakes. At this very moment, it would take about 4.5k 100% self-upvotes to get your investment back.

While wealth is being distributed by some. There are a few players that are focusing on themselves, which is alright. You can't judge selfish or selflessness behaviour I guess. But the best way to address this is to counter-attack with more distribution without losing yourself.

One of the greatest marketing/strategy tips I ever received was: If you want to grow fast; invest 70% of your profit all the time and make that 30% your 100% goal.

I'd love to see you take your time @pharesim to see what you think of these two cents. I am a fan for throwing some ideas high up in the sky, trying to get them picked up someday.


Can't say much but agree ;)

All we can do is raise awareness and use our votes in a way that distributes the pool as wide as possible. And for small guys like you, grow of course!

@pharesim i'm new join steemit.today i post my #introduceyourself.
See this and support me world best platform.

he made it there?
who was dropped then?

I hope people start viewing the witness' chat channel

and hopefully what they get to read there help them to vote witnesses wisely

Thanks for your honesty and openness. As a witness moving up the witness table it is pretty obvious that as with the general post voting patterns on the platform, there is a great deal of SP weight being used to vote for witnesses that provide no clear input into platform - at least overtly. As long as there are passionate Steemians putting long hours into creating projects that promote and enhance the Steem eco-system, who get little or no support - while the chosen few receive big support for little in exchange - the wider world will look at the situation with dis-trust and are likely neither to invest nor participate. In short, when 'proof of brain' becomes only 'proof of wallet' - we will see the system decline.

In case you are unaware, I created Steem Ocean as a way to gradually add more tools that make the job of exposing the behaviour of Steem accounts a lot easier, so that we can see whether the actions of those we vote for are a match for the image we have of them and if they are aligned with our vision for what makes Steem great and what can make Steem evolve/grow. I have seen since the beginning that you, @pharesim, are consistently in or near the top 10 users on the whole blockchain in the Steem Ocean Voter Rank Table, which is produced from an algorithm that roughly calculates altruism - so kudos for that!

I haven't really known much about you as I don't see you post much, but I appreciate your show of integrity here, so will gladly give you one of my remaining spare witness votes. Obviously, I think I am a good choice for one of your vacant positions too :)

(The irony is not lost on me that I appear to be offering a vote trade.. lol.. However, I'm not intending this to be a vote trade based on SP, obviously, since I am barely a dolphin - I think all voting must be done based on value potential and reality.)

You and I both know its only about proof of wallet or proof of the wallet you know!

oh, scratch that, I was already voting for you.. trade fail! lol

Haha. No way, worked :D

Awesome, thanks a lot - your help is greatly appreciated. :)

You should a bit more systematic with your approach, it's not because @jerrybanfield openly trade votes that others don't.

I will personally consider something like not voting for any top 20 witness that is voted by or votes for more than 5 other top witness. (curious how that will change my votes.)

Thanks for your feedback! I absolutely agree, it's not more than an indicator.

I'm not sure if your idea is practical though. Many of the top witnesses deserve their spot, and personally I wouldn't want to choose something like the tops of the tops. On the other hand, moving your votes down the list is something I always support, I try to do that myself more and more too.

Yeah this reminds me of school @pharesim, my teacher always told me that sometimes you can agree to disagree.

Could you guys change the voting algorithm for witnesses so that no witness in the top 20 could vote for another witness in the top 20, that sounds like it would solve the problem and really help decentralize the power of the platform. I hope it wouldn't influence your positions either and I think anyone involved in the decision would get massive support from the whole community. I would personally encourage everyone to vote for you and whoever else made it happen. Is it possible though? @pharesim @transisto

I need your help on how steemit can be developed. Would you help me?

Got it. Also, thanks for making use of our #nobidbot tag :-) Welcome to curate from the tag :-D

As @lukestokes explained, it's hard to do that. I vote for many of the top 20 because they're pretty much good friends with me at this point. They've helped me out in many different ways with my projects, or provided other support to me as a witness.

I do try to vote for smaller witnesses when I can, and may sometimes remove votes from top 20's if I know they're in there safely.

Sorry, but I'd bet that's not what lukestokes meant. That you're friends, or that they help you personally, should exactly not be the reason for a witness vote...

Meanwhile though, in reality, that's exactly how real life works!

Be part of the change you want to see in the world

Given that the worldwide humanitarian aid organization I created here has LITERALLY saved lives of the unfortunate, and quite assuredly, thousands of disadvantaged lives have been touched.... while other witnesses did what? In some cases not a doggamn thing of any use to the world at all (most cases really to be honest) Welp, okay, that's a pretty ridiculous response. Get back to me when any other witness has actually "changed the world" with steem like I have with the aid our network of agents and generous donors here providing food, construction labor, medicine, clothing, shoes, seeds and educational supplies to homeless, orphans, sick and dying and entire villages of people among other things in a dozen countries around the globe.

Want me to point at myself or what?

Get back to me when any other witness has actually [done more good than myself]

Are you trying to reach a new level of arrogance with every new comment?

There are some grains of salt in your criticism of course. Your generalizations and switching and mixing of issues and people prevent to focus on them though. That way you won't reach anything, boy.

Ouch. . .wow. . .yikes. Things did take a nasty turn here. But you can expect me to side with Cork, if not in tone, then in principle. It's the effective charity work that made me want to align with his witness and become part of it. Those accomplishments are irrefutable. I realize that in a cutthroat world, altruism and philanthropy are the wrong horses to bet on. But I'll put my money on them every time, regardless.

Cork's "delivery" doesn't bother me overmuch because I'd rather see someone walk the walk than talk the talk. Is it really arrogance if it's true? Maybe, but how else would the point get made? This is the Wild West, and everyone is scrabbling for a foothold. I'd like to see less nastiness on the platform overall. But I can dream, right?

For what it's worth, I am for things that make sense. Decaying vote power for dead or dying witnesses is logical. A voting page with more than 50 choices is logical, as well. The platform is growing. These types of things need to grow with it.

Anyone who thinks we don't have problems here at Steemit needs only to look at the statistics published last week by paulag . New user signup is down by 50%. That should be scaring the shit out of anyone with a vested interest in the platform. Or maybe I just don't know what's happening behind the scenes, i.e.: if there's a reason investors want users to go away. The only thing I can do is assure everyone that I'm doing everything in my power to make this a place where content creators feel welcome and appreciated. That in itself is a battle royale in the current paradigm.

Becoming part of a witness team with Sircork (or anyone else) is not going to give me an edge with that. I know this. I labor under no misapprehension. But I do think top level witnesses are out of touch with things happening at the "street level" of Steemit. Basically what I've seen in this conversation is Cork raising his voice to be heard over the noise, and feeling frustrated at the amount of effort it takes to get a point across. Maybe witnesses do need better communication across the ranks. I think the business model of Steemit will have to incorporate a lot of changes like that to make it as scaleable as it needs to be to survive.

Boy, Ha, I was working in tech before you were born Son, the problem is not in my delivery, it's in your inability to either acknowledge or recognize things that require more wisdom than you've ever earned or accumulated. Son

One thing I noticed, with my own personal voting over time, is that a good number of my witness votes are now top 20 witnesses when previously they were not. I vote for them because I believe they provide value to the ecosystem. Some obvious answers (like Jesta) were clearly always there, but some others were not and moved up to the top 20 later. Seems odd to arbitrarily determine the value of my vote based on the ranking instead of the value the actual witness provides to the network.

Any metric outside of "How valuable is this account's contribution over time?" seems like a shortcut to me. Then again, giving others a better chance to rise up into the top 20 might be a good thing to shake things up.

It's supposed to naturally be that way, right? Makes sense to have the leadership change sometimes so we can learn. It can easily be changed back again. Or am I mistaken?

Leadership change is, to me, as good as the new leaders are better than the old ones. Change for change sake isn't always a good thing (it can also lead to worse outcomes). But yes, you're right, they can easily be changed back again which is a very nice aspect of this ecosystem.

What would it hurt to do away with self upvoting? It seems to be a major point of contention between the little guys and big guys. A lot of folks complain that if you have enough SP you can just upvote yourself all the time and not worry about providing value. While it may not be the exact topic in this thread, I feel they're close. It's hard to believe it hasn't been discussed, but I haven't seen it anywhere yet.

I don't self vote (check steemreports). This has been discussed at length in many places by myself and others. It can't be stopped because of game theory dynamics and Sybil attack concerns. Many don't understand this and get frustrated asking for simple solutions to very complex problems.

SMTs will have Oracles which may allow for 1 person, 1 vote. This would involve some form of KYC or identity management (to prevent Sybil attacks) and it would be opt in. That, I think, will be the answer for those who want vote strength based on proof of human over voting weight (which tries to get close to proof of brain).

Very cool. That probably is much more technical than I can comprehend at the moment. I'll be checking for self votes as I get more into voting. Cast my first 5 votes last night, and you were definitely one. Keep up the good work.

Do you mean self voting specific to witness voting or in terms of content?

I'm late to this thread since I've only been a user for just over a week, but I'm finding this conversation very helpful. Above, you say that [self votes?] can't be stopped due to game theory dynamics and Sybil attack concerns. Do you have any pointers to posts I can read explaining this?

Then again, giving others a better chance to rise up into the top 20 might be a good thing to shake things up.

I think that's the point. More decentralization of power. It may not have any effect on who is in the top 20 if the top 20 are that good.

I agree, as long as the top 20 are solid and providing real value to the network, it doesn't matter to the network who they are.


Stupid suggestion to be totally arbitrary + largest vote is vote for self.

Yep, I'm reading a Transisto comment.

You are worse than useless.

You are worse than useless.

Is this a beneficial comment to the community to encourage open discussion and new ideas? Do you know how much transisto invested in this community by purchasing STEEM and how many valuable rewards have been paid out to people because of investment from people like him?

The irony here is your comment might actually be more "worse than useless" because you're putting down a comment which was just a "consideration" to discuss.

Let's be nice, even if we disagree.

Stupid suggestion to be totally arbitrary

I was specifically suggesting to not be arbitrary and be more systematic.

largest vote is vote for self.

What does reward voting has to do with witness voting?

well this is very timely...

We have just today launched our witness server @swisswitness

if you still would have some votes left over we would appreciate them... We are starting this project because we believe in Steem and the future of this blockchain.
The three of us are meaning to continue blogging (@felander and @wolfje) and interacting with the community while @sirwries will probably be mostly focused on maintaining the server and developing tools to make it possible to analyse the blockchain data.

Any and all votes are welcome and I applaud you having the guts to move away from this "small elite club" that just vote for eachother and make it impossible for smaller initiatives to launch and make it in the top 20.

thanks in advance for anyone that chooses to support us in our first hours

I've added my vote for you! Good luck. :)

Hi Michael, I agreed with your thoughts and you have my support and respect for been so frank and open to tell what you think without worrying that you may lose the support from one or other supporters.
I think for many newcomers and "little fishes" it is a great pleasure to see your name and upvotes in our posts. When I saw it first time I went to read your blog from year beginning and it was possible to feel that you are the one who really cares in what you do, to bring changes and to stay fair. As one of the stakeholders I believe you my vote is in good hands and I am pretty sure there are many other people who have the same opinion and who would keep supporting you. Was nice to see your post again after such a long break.

You were on my potential witness list...this was enough for me to click that vote.
Still sad to see wackou go though.

Just saw on a trending post that you powered up a massive amount and i wanted to drop by, see what you are up to..i sonetimes check up on my witnesses.
If i wasnt promoting curie as witness and musicoin on my posts id probably add you. Its a miniscule insignificant thing to get promoted by a minnow, but you just do great work and i kind of feel like i need to promote those that do good work with anything i do here. I cant even count how many times ive seen your upvotes spread across posts on steemit.
Projects, going on radio shows, clamoring how steem will be 1000 dollars by what ever date is great and all, but spreading your voting power to those that dont have much luck and create great content is the only effective way to keep great creators on this platform.
Promises are promises but even your small 1-2-3$ upvotes do wonders for some.

Hats of to that.👏👏👏.

I applaud your honesty and integrity... I just moved my votes around and now I'm voting for you.


For what it is worth, from a "minnow," I am replying to you @pharesim in this post (not sure of a better way to "reach out") to let you know I have both begun to follow you (not a problem!) and cast one of my 30 votes for you as Witness (a little uneasy about that, simply due to not fully understanding it yet ...) .

Very specifically, my first (time) Witness vote.

Why? I don't "know you from Adam," nor do you "know" me. New to participating in our Steem Community, it has come to my attention, however, that you are upvoting my posts. That means something to me obviously or I wouldn't take my time (which I value highly) to write this (which, as a "minnow" the "profit" from the investment of that time isn't of value to me ...).

Now, I can't tell if that means you actually read my posts, but it shows a "personal touch" from you (unless I am deceived and it is one of these %^&*&^^%%$ bots ...). Since I have invested the time to try and write something worth reading in my posts (and comments), in doing my small part to build our Steem Community, that matters.

Pretty simple. Straight up. Letting you know.

I'll close saying I've read a lot of what is "in here" in the commentary and clearly a lot of "passion" amongst the writers discussing matters "high over the head" of most of us. From my limited understanding, not "knowing" any of the personalities involved, I support your philosophy written down here for us all to see.

As time permits, I can assure you I will work to understand this vital topic of Witnesses better. And, therefore, may have more to say in the future.

Steemin’ along and on the move ... Posted using Partiko Android

ah good ol' Jerry.....

I have worked on other platforms where Jerry got banned (as mentioned by @themarkymark below) and was there at the time of his banning. It was instructors like me that worked hard to ensure Udemy/skillshare were platforms that both instructors and students would benefit and spoke openly about Jerrys ways at the time. People power works. And I applaud what you are doing here @pharesim

I myself need to do a good clean up on the witnesses I voted for. although I don't think too many will miss my vote cos I am still only a minnow. Its very hard to find a good balance on who to vote for and why.

I am fully aware of vote swapping between the top witnesses and it seems to me the the devs are all clapping each other on their backs, giving each other golden handshakes. Some awesome tools have been created by these guys and apps and they do deserve recognition. But fundamentals remain....

People are not sticking with steemit, retention rates are so so low. Did you know there is <8% retention for those on steemit 12 months? There are other problems in the 'model' or lack of 'model' too. Problems that need to be addressed from the ground up. And if they are not addresses then these witnesses and devs wont have anyone to use their awesome apps and tools.

Then we have witnesses like myself and @abh12345 running @steemcommunity witness server, working on the ground with people on the platform, trying to address the issues we can from the ground up. Tools are awesome, but interaction, engagement, education, help, advice, support and growth of Steemains that join is what will make steemit a world class platform.

Unfortunately how the top witnesses behave is not inline with a long term sustainable steemit. It is antisocial & centralized and narrow focused.

Shifting the mindset takes time, understanding the reasons and need for change should be simple...long term viability of STEEM and steemit. Although we have some awesome devs, we lack awesome business people with strategic vision. But I believe this can and will change. Just like Jerry was removed from other platforms...

I'll like to be involved in what @steemcommunity is doing, and maybe help, do you have a discord server or steem chat? thank you...

Tools are awesome, but interaction, engagement, education, help, advice, support and growth of Steemains that join is what will make steemit a world class platform.

That was great.


Tools are awesome, but interaction, engagement, education, help, advice, support and growth of Steemains that join is what will make steemit a world class platform.

Unfortunately how the top witnesses behave is not inline with a long term sustainable steemit. It is antisocial & centralized and narrow focused.


Yes. Let's light this quote up a little louder.

Well said, Paula.
Well said.

I don't see retention as the main pressing issue at the moment. As long as they don't lose their keys everything is fine. And if they do they'll need a new account eventually.
Steem is not a Facebook with a need for strategies to addict users so they see as many ads as possible. With enough use cases around user engagement will naturally rise - not on steemit.com, but all over the web.

You are right, Steemit is not Facebook. at least Facebook managed to hold out and not monetize for years. Steemit on the other hand has a bunch of witnesses running bidbots and have monetized way to early. It is not about strategies to addict users, but strategies to ensure the wealth stays with a few hungry boys. Do you not think investors have long term strategies? Steemit needs a continuous flow of investors, not speculator. So far the crypto market is full of speculators and steems strength is based on that. But the market is going to change. I hope its not to late to change the mindset of steem witnesses then.

Anything that needs a continuous flow of investors is pretty much a ponzi scheme. And you're right, market conditions unrelated to how things are going here are pushing the prices up on the open markets. I cannot fault anyone who tries to profit off of this scheme under current market conditions. It's not a guarantee that STEEM and SBD will remain this high, and if the prices are high through no one on this website's actions then it only makes sense to exploit the limited time window that is presumably available to them.

I understand what you're saying in that big changes to how things operate around here are needed for steemit to remain relevant when prices crater. Sadly I don't think anyone who is profiting massively from this all right now is, even if they are aware of better ways to go about things in the future, going to cut their own legs from under them in the present, because it may well be the better option to shore up capital while you can and worry about how you can revive genuine interest in the platform later, especially if there aren't many real repercussions to doing so.

The main damage was done in creating a blockchain where stake determines everything, and then doling that stake out to a handful of people you know will back the same opinions. Everything else is just fallout from that initial shockwave of bad decision-making.

Seems like a pretty short sighted view, throwing together all those different groups in the last two posts. The top witnesses represent a small fraction of the top stakeholders, and not all do even belong to both groups.
As it's impossible to draw a sharp line between investing and speculation. Those are moral terms, not factual.
And there's quite a lot of devs working on community projects...

I guess i'm frustrated with both sides. To be a top witness you need votes from the top whales (of the ones that vote)

while I agree with almost everything you say, almost all the time, I'm wary of creating blanket statements...

Unfortunately how the top witnesses behave is not inline with a long term sustainable steemit. It is antisocial & centralized and narrow focused.

As one of the top witnesses who knows fully we aren't covered by this particular brush stroke, I find myself doing more DMing back and forth these days with voters who say, "well, but I was told the top twenty are bad and they don't need my vote but I like you and now I'm confused."

We are a part of the change that many want to see happening who also need votes and who need support like many others, and we balance community with dev work with service and with charitable action and with any number of facets here. I suppose an addendum to your on-point statement is that the tools and the community work should also strive to teach critical thinking and communication so that we don't have a school suddenly flashing in a new direction without actually understanding why.

I don't vote for witnesses in the top 20 purely because as a new user, the site looks sh*t and as far as I am concerned, these people have let it happen.

They have rewarded all types of bad behaviour and at the same time seem to think their only job is to provide a successful block producing server.

I am always looking at new witnesses who engage with the community and are being innovative.

Steem needs new blood or else it will be dead in the water.

The fact that the beast of steemit can go around flagging minnows and destroy their accounts in retaliation without a peep from any of the witnesses was a major concern for me.

The reality is, something better will come along and of steemit doesn't shape up soon, people will go elsewhere.

Yes, it will take 13 weeks to power down, but that's just enough time for Crypto to bounce back up and for me to dump all my stake.

I am still in two minds as I have seen some really cool people doing interesting things here.

But steem in its current state is just not good enough for mass adoption.


It's very refreshing to see a top 20 witness acting on their values. Bravo, I wish we could see more of this.

@jerrybanfield is one of the few people I have ever downvoted on steemit I support you fully in your decision.

This is natural change to figure

I voted for you as witness because I know you support people in the community, whereas I voted for Jerry Banfield because of he was a prominent crypto-youtuber who not only promoted steemit but also made it his main investment publicly .
I thought he was a plus to steemit, why do you think he isn't?

I don't think he's bad for the platform, no. I just don't see him qualified to secure the blockchain and provide infrastructure, which in my opinion is what witness funds should be used for.

You mean he can't run a docker and keep a vps paid for? C'mon, be real. He has paid into development projects, paid steem to any witness under 100 to help them stay turned on, and has repented and refrained from coming in like a bulldozer, like many others do, once he figured out the environment.

If securing the chain is a deal, let's see you yank your votes from @aggroed, @nextgencrypto and @ausbitbank among others, none of whom have ever seen a line of code in their entire lives. And in at least one case, possibly two of those, hasn't done shit, except ride on the backs of other people's largely unrecognized efforts on their behalf.

Oh wait, if they took THEIR votes off you, welp, you'd be triple digits in no time, eh?

Be honest and real @pharesim, just say you don't like Jerry. Because your other excuses are kinda flimsy under a light.

so it goes. hate to inform yall, but jerry has done a metric ton more for steem visibility, user influx, and user retention, as well as for developers and young witnesses than pharesim has ever dreamed of, further, if you look at who pharesim kept, compared to his "criteria", his "criteria" are full of crap and basically, he just doesn't like Jerry, so man up and just say so?
i found a half dozen more names I could have included in my comment
curie, ocd, adsactly - none of them "technical"
The hypocrisy in this post summarized right there in one name

Uh, what's that mean?

That your comments are way too butthurt and personal for me to bother with a serious reply. Have a good life.

hah, well, if i was butthurt, I would have unvoted you in return out of spite, but i didn't. Because you are entitled to your opinion of Jerry. Just be sure to disclose the real reasons, like how he just passed you in the top 20 and pushed you down one, but to cite your reasons and still keep bernie and the others who dont meet your same "criteria" screams YOU are the butthurt hypocrite, not me. ;)

Well you now have my tiny fish vote.

For what it's worth I recommend @themarkymark for one of your open votes. His blog would do a better job of illustrating why than I could. My impression is that he works daily to curate and improve the platform as well as running servers, teaching people about Steem and programming with his posts, and running a bot that I think is a force for good. He and @lukestokes.mhth were my first two witness votes, because I randomly stumbled across some content that taught me more about the platform and inspired trust.

Unlike jerrybanfield (another early vote of mine), these two did not disappoint.

Looks like you don't like jerry much!

This pushed me over the edge to vote for you, along with a few who proxy their votes to me. Great integrity and much that I agree with.

Oh, good. Now I don't have to poke you and ask if we do. ;-)

Didn't you receive a significant and helpful payment from Jerry for being a sub-100 witness when you were still witnessing? On the other hand, what has Pharesim done for you? Virtue signalling isn't always cool.

You're aware that you're blatantly promoting vote buying here, yes?

That's a logical fail based on throwing red herrings. Noone was forced to vote for Jerry, and as I understand it, @gmuxx was under no obligation to do so, not sure he even did... I do know he's pretty vocally anti-jerry. I didn't follow every disbursement he made through. I can say, if someone is empowering witnesses, they might just deserve that vote for it, as opposed to those who vehemently argue against free market competition by say, ignoring the witness voting page fallacy, or the motives and money that ensure collusion is required at the top. See the longer comment with references.

So yeah, making shit up, won't make your case any stronger.

You live and learn, and learn I have.

Fair enough. (did you pay him back then?) :)

No, but should he so wish all he has to do is ask.

lol I like you, and don't want this to get ugly. :) But that doesn't seem like how this is supposed to work from an integrity point of view. :D

I ceased my witness under a cloud of mental health that didn't seem conducive towards running a server effectively. Not a lot of clear thought steered the decisions I made at the time. You're right, from an integrity point of view I should have contacted Jerry regarding the payment to cover server costs. I have now rectified this mistake.

<3 Thanks for having a rational conversation, and not just getting all defensey :) Love you muxx-ay!

I've been here since January 2018 but I was traveling the last 2 months and I wasn't able to consistently read or write here to stay on top of what's going on in the Steemit world. Embarassing to say but I just learned what witness is yesterday. Through your post and peoples comments, it's helping me learn more...thanks!

Thanks for sharing valuable information.your expression is very good I like it.

im very lucky that youre my witness. Thanks @pharesim sir. and best wishes for you.

yoi like your express and thinking you are so good.best wishes for you.

Hello @pharesim.
Some of us quite new to this platform, do not really understand all the mechanics behind witness voting.
I read your post and understand think I get your point, witnesses should be there for their effort and performance not from just being able to manage to get votes, but I would appreciate getting a better understanding of how all that part of Steem works. I value sincere positions as yours and would appreciate any link where I could get deep information on how all the process works.
Thank you.

Best point to start is the "Witnesses" section in the FAQ I'd say

I don't think that says what they actually do or why we should care. I used to ask what witnesses do but now it's a meme that no one knows.

That's because every witness does a job of their own. The main responsibility is keeping the blockchain running, but most have side projects.
There's a column URL on https://steemd.com/witnesses where every witness can put a description.

Oh, k, so my experience running other blockchains means I could just as easily be a witness should I be able to get the votes. K.

You can "be a witness" here for the cost of a cloud vps. Being a visible, profitable, witness with votes enough to even get to a break even position is a whole nother matter entirely.

You may have experience in POW chains, but what experience do you have with dPOS chains?

Thank you very much for your support!!!!! It is very difficult for me to get used to it because I do not speak English, and the translator online distorts the text. I of course still on this platform just plankton, and my voice little that gives, but all???... if I can help you with anything, I will be very glad!!!

Hey @pharesim, great post! I enjoyed your content. Keep up the good work! It's always nice to see good content here on Steemit! :)

i hope the post Thats pretty cool to know.......I will waiting for your next post.

I have chosen you as a witness .. Hope this be the best .. Full support for @pharesim I'm happy to follow you.

Hello pharesim!

Congratulations! This post has been randomly Resteemed! For a chance to get more of your content resteemed join the Steem Engine Team

@pharesim, Hopefully fore😁, I am including the person you deserve support, I keep writing daily activities, I am anti plagiarism😍.

I voted for you for witness awhile back when I saw that you were genuinely interested in working to make Steem function the best it could. Also you upvoted a number of small posters (Minnows) like myself which definitely keeps us motivated to continue on Steemit.

Since this article I am happy to see that a lot of new people are now voting for you for witness. Good Luck!

P.S. - I also have voted for witness a few of the new people you voted for. I had only voted for 18 witnesses because I don't know everyone and what most people are doing. I trust your judgement so I added those you thought were good.

Interesting content. 👌

I'm happy to vote for you man :) not that I have a big influence, but values prevail and if everyone thinks the same, we'll keep you at the top!

Fucking Thank you @pharesim. You will always have the favor of the Greek community.

Your vote will not be cost-effective. It's my hope that it gives you the same amount of people who share your opinions ........ And I'm racing too. I only need to look at witness mechanics as I only have a loose understanding.DQmbtXLu5pwejQkgxphprnapY7B5Exd9qanio1CMSqjsHQ9_640x480.png

I had voted for you as witness and had him voted as well. I just removed him from my list of votes. I haven’t been on this platform for long to know much about how witnesses work and how they help the site (I’ve been here for like 13 days). However, I think you probably deserve more credit then you get. It’s hard to start without a lot of money and I think he started with 1K invested to get to where he’s at. I saw him explain that in one of his videos. I hope this site works for me as it has others, but I just started with the pocket change of many. Good Luck! 👍🏼

Thats pretty cool to know.......I will waiting for your next post. God bless you

Massive Kudos to you mate!! @jackmiller is stiring up a lot of shit and that is bloody awesome to see some of the top 20 witnesses actually paying attention.

I 100% stand behind my witness vote for you (not that its much influence) but I appreciate someone having the balls to do something for the good of the community.

Mate, I'm the one who has to sit back and rethink a lot of things after our conversation. Might be offline for a day or so, except for the after action report on the Team Australia Karaoke Fundraiser.

So it's time for some deep thought and putting the pieces of this puzzle together again.