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HF21/HF22: Back in the Game! Let's Take Steem to the Next Level?


9 months agoSteemit14 min read


Okay I'm feeling somewhat confident again after seeing the effects of the EIP taking place. Time to come back home! And yes, rest assured that my witness setup is secured and updated accordingly, as always. Thought I'd only punch-in my attendance card in a larger post like this.

So where have I been?

You likely don't care, but I've actually barely been away since 2016. It's just that I haven't been engaging on the platform as often as I used to for quite some time now. I was emotionally distressed about the whole EIP shebang, before and even after managing to help get it through into the HF21 plan a few months ago.


Dealing with skeptics and getting the flak for what I think is likely a breakthrough for Steem wasn't a fun experience at all. And there were seemingly so many of them against so few of us. Could it be that I was very wrong about the things I thought I was very right about? Was my ego standing in the way? Maybe I'm just a stubborn buffoon.

That was when I began my descent into self-doubt. Being stuck in a place between certainty and uncertainty is probably the most frustrating kind of mental paralysis. I couldn't bring myself to Steem at all. I was also entirely aware that I may be suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect. The EIP is almost like trying to make a heap of metal fly in the air before it was even invented after all.

It was a dilemma. And then I thought at one point.. what about the skeptics of the EIP? Why do they seem equally as confident in their arguments, if not more than I could ever be about my own? Dunning and Kruger smiled. I took no comfort in finding out that some peers have lost interest in Steem along the way.

If only there's a way to truly map out the nuances of our worldviews so we can understand each other. And perhaps make better decisions. I wanted to be wrong and I would change my mind anytime. But I really failed to find any convincing counter-arguments. What I found was mostly less than airtight reasoning and analogies taken too far. From my point-of-view, nothing else came close to @trafalgar's clarity on the subject matter.

Rage against the machine.

There are many innovators who try to build around blockchains such as Steem. We've been seeing projects popping up, leveraging our infrastructure. But what if some of us are really only concerned about fundamentals? There's no choice then but to deal with core protocol changes and inevitably ruffle some feathers.

Scalability issues aside, the first step is really just the EIP, something which should've been tried and tested on Steem ages ago. We could've been in a very different place now if it works. But better late than never, I suppose. So here we are in the midst of it, much thanks to everyone who has taken the time to listen, develop, test, and deploy.

It's a conspiracy.

A New Steem?

It feels good to see more community members coming together to make the platform a better place after the recent hardforks. If you're seeing more accounts turning into curation, that's indeed the EIP at work. Sure, the way the reward pool works is not exactly an "equal" opportunity for all kinds of user behavior anymore, just like how Bitcoin doesn't reward all kinds of mining results. But I think we're now damn close to becoming a functional stake-based content discovery and rewards platform. For the very first time in Steem's history. Probably too early to call it, but I'm somewhat optimistic.

The 100% real secret truth behind #NewSteem.

The tipping point.

There's still a lot of work ahead in changing the overall behavior of the network, which has been dysfunctional for so many years now. But at least we're no longer fighting against the grain of a misaligned economy.

Loosely speaking, a functional economy is like one with a positive feedback loop. A dysfunctional one is an economy with a negative loop. I view the EIP as a switch in economic modality.

To better understand this point, imagine an economy that -1.0%s itself and another one that +0.01%s itself in every turn. Iterate that over many turns and we can arrive at either heaven or hell. It's a very loose way to talk about it, but I hope you get what I mean.

Even though the one with the positive loop in the example above is lower in effectiveness than the negative one, one being |+0.01|% and another being |-1.0|%, both economic systems remain to operate in opposing forces. I'm only bringing this up because there seems to be an underestimation of what the EIP could do. It's actually a whole world of difference. Our economy is now directed into a positive loop instead of a negative one. It's now self-correcting. That's the hypothesis of the EIP, at least to some of us anyway.

To recap, the economic changes are about:-

Reward Pool (3).png

  • Acknowledging the fact that voters would become increasingly dishonest as we introduce monetary rewards under a naive economic system (more costly to be honest, less costly to be dishonest). Honest voters had been losing out too much in #OldSteem, being rewarded 4 times lesser than dishonest voting. If you started off on Steem with 1000 SP just like someone else, you would end up with 1150 SP at the end of the year being an honest voter, while the other person would end up with 1600 SP instead for doing the total opposite of what you're doing. This disparity grows larger and larger as the years go by. More and more voters (especially larger stakeholders who bought-in) would over time, learn to be dishonest as well. This is how we ended up with an overall content indifferent social media platform, which is generally boring and uninteresting. This leads to less total time spent on the platform on a global level. That's bad for business.

  • Acknowledging that all the successful social media platforms out there work the way they do because honest voting behavior is inherent in their nature, as there are very few economic incentives to behave otherwise. So it'd be wise to ride on the effectiveness of the social media framework since it's the world's #1 activity right now, which is why Steem's economic design needs to render honest voting more at least as favorable as dishonest voting. The point here is to effectively lower the cost for doing something that achieves the better outcome. For example: if the eco-friendly choice is still way more costly than the eco-unfriendly choice, guess what's likely going to happen? And what happens when both choices cost the same? Eco-friendliness will likely become the new norm. So in Steem's case, one of its fundamental problems is the cost between honest and dishonest voting behavior.

Now that the EIP has been put into motion, there's a better chance that we'll arrive at the tipping point where it's economically more or less the same between honest and dishonest voting behavior. Learning and knowing that honest voting behavior leads to better outcomes for our platform, more and more users / investors will likely begin to tip over and favor honest voting behavior over time, becoming the new status quo. Because why not? It's how the platform ought to be utilized.

Social media is a technology that we use to interest each other, connecting points-of-interests, ranking interesting posts, etc. Interests makes interests, and that's how we end up with an interesting platform that sustains and generates interests for our interesting community and interesting currency.

Did I say interesting?

But before we get there, curation (which includes downvotes) would have to happen in sufficient force to keep the #NewSteem momentum going before settling on the desired equilibrium. Or else we'd likely relapse back into #OldSteem and end with the same old thing as before, if not worse.


Before EIP: Steem, Disarrayed.
After EIP: Steem, Defined.

But downvotes are bad.

Just like cholesterol is bad? Not nearly as bad as bidbots that work hard to undercut Steem's value all the time though. Sure, downvotes can be abused just like anything else, which is why the EIP has a limit of 25% free downvotes per day. It's not a necessary evil. It's a necessary measure for Steem to better express itself and arrive at a better aggregation of our subjective evaluations. We've already learned that barely anyone uses their downvotes when it costs them their upvotes.

Now, imagine a hypothetical trending page that is truly unforgiving like a Dark Souls game. A place where voters hold everything up to some extremely high standard. Imagine what kinds of content would survive? It can only be stuff that are so super interesting and so valuable, so much that they'd even transcend the most nitpicky bastards on the Internet. It's vague, but I think the bulk of us will know when we see it.

We are nowhere near there yet, of course. So much damage has been done with a dysfunctional economy over the past couple of years. But things are really starting to look better this time around with the economic changes in effect. It'd be great if we can get ready for the potential bull-run of 2020 that may come along with Bitcoin's halving event. That's our next big chance. If it ever comes. We can only prepare.

So don't take it personally if I'm downvoting your stuff. It doesn't matter if you're a friend or a supporter of my witness position. I try to be impartial and I just want what's best for Steem. A platform and currency that improves in value is much more important than having a degraded content discovery and rewards platform that barely anyone finds interesting.

Even Sun Tzu looked like he wrote about #NewSteem.
I can't read Chinese by the way. #FakeNews

The art of change.

Bidbotting is a secondary market where people are able to effectively buy discounted Steem perpetually. This sabotages the primary market, leading to a sustained devaluation of our currency and platform. I have no idea why they're still being defended until this day even in #NewSteem. It doesn't make any economic sense to be paying people to promote their posts. It's (free) market failure.

Now is really the best time to start turning the tide of the game. Bidbots and such are understandable practices before the EIP as there's a 4x difference in returns compared to honest curation, but there's just no good reason to continue maintaining the worst of #OldSteem habits anymore. It's hard to change before, but it's much easier now.

Photo by Saffu on Unsplash

Steem, fast and slow.

When it comes to thinking about Steem's economy, it may be oddly useful to put yourself at the center of the blockchain like it's your brain. The human mind deals with thinking in two modes: fast and slow. Just mere honesty is enough to tell that pre-HF21 Steem was mostly about being fast. It was what the economy favored. It was how the Steem brain was fed. In turn, it was how it largely operated. #OldSteem encouraged spammy behavior with its misaligned incentives.

My own yardstick for what I find to be the most sensible posting frequency comes from Pewdiepie. He's been averaging 1.15 videos per day since 2010. One good post a day. It's arbitrary, but it kinda makes sense if you think about it. Even then, I consider that to be on the faster side of things.

So yeah, the EIP provides a better balance between the fast and the slow:-

  • Steem Fast: Post like there's no tomorrow. But #NewSteem doesn't make this mode as overpowering as it was before anymore in terms of potential rewards, which is a good thing.

  • Steem Slow: Take your time to contribute. Your efforts will likely reflect well in your work. The new economic system in theory would better encourage others to actually check out and support your stuff.

Basically, #NewSteem is now better suited for content creators that take their time to produce. And SP holders don't have to farm their own posts 24/7 anymore. Being fast is no longer the gold standard.

Also, I expect a slower form of social media to be the norm in the future especially after the novelty and addiction wears off. That's coincidentally kinda fitting for a blockchain too, don't you think?


Phew, finally I can put my alt-account @etherpunk to rest. The profile caption went on for so long that I thought it was going to be printed on my future tombstone as a joke. Well, I might just continue tweeting over there and post my dog pictures, but I'd rather spend the majority of my votes curating stuff elsewhere. And get back to writing.

So what do I prefer to curate?

I've been searching through Steem again for the past month. There's a shortage of what I'd like to support. Still taking the time to transition into something more manual, hunting for what I think are trendworthy. If you're a good content creator with your eyes always on the prize, I'd definitely like to support your work.

Here's the list of stuff that I'd like to curate:-

  1. Thought-provoking pieces. Extra brownie points when they have some relevance to (2) and (3).
  2. Subjects surrounding Tau, technical or not. If you're still not into it yet as a crypto enthusiast, you're doing crypto wrong, in my opinion.
  3. Non-typical Steem stuff. (Steem stuff should have its own separate new/hot/trending/etc, independent from the rest, btw)
  4. Slice-of-life.
  5. Comedy, satire, travel, etc. I'd prefer them to be somewhat unusual.
  6. Futurology and science-fiction.
  7. Business and entrepreneurship.
  8. Art and STEM.

Maybe I'll just end up curating exotic memes after talking so much here. But items (1) and (2) are currently the highest on my list by far. My senses are telling me that it'd be what's most beneficial for Steem, for both internal and external reasons. I'll explain in one of my next posts.

For now, I'd suggest anyone reading this to take a look at Tau ( and go through everything that you can learn about if you've the free time. I've been sitting on hundreds of drafts ever since getting into it in late 2017. It's crypto enlightenment. Now that the EIP is through, I'm planning on revisiting those pieces and attempt to finish them up. Naturally, I'll prioritize my curation in this section if there's a supply of good content about it.

Next level?

Source: Magical Mystery Mix.

Hopefully my feed is going to change in a good way in the coming months as more users begin to sync up to the best of #NewSteem. Somewhat slower, livelier, better. But that's just my own preference anyway. You don't have to follow my standards. Everyone still has the freedom to post and upvote / downvote however they like. It's just a more balanced game now with the EIP, overall.

Anyways, happy to be back. Glad that I can already put this behind me and focus on other things for now.

So what do you think about #NewSteem so far? Better? Worse? Same old crap? What would you like to see more on trending? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Extra note: No votes have been purchased for this post. I even spoke out against bidbots. SmartSteem has pivoted into curation and OCDB as well (partially and would fully transition in the future). Hopefully more will follow suit. That's the whole point of #NewSteem. A healthier curation economy and the wind down of bidbots / similar activities, hopefully.

Disclaimer: Not to be taken as financial advice.
Vote @kevinwong as witness today.


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