Back For One Blog Only...
It's about time we wheeled the Bluffer's Guide out of retirement and blow the dust off the covers! For those of you who don't know, the Bluffer's Guide was something I set up last year to help beginner's understand some of the complexity around cryptocurrencies in a mildly entertaining way without using any technical language.
Everything I have shared in the series has been from my own research, understanding and experience of being in this space since December 2017 and I try to provide some opinion (but mostly neutral) to help encourage your own research around these topics I present.
So, today, let's talk about Steem and it's Rewards Pool structure, along with other factors such as Post Payouts, Upvotes, Downvotes and the psychology associated with it.
Previous readers may know what's about to come next but for those who don't...
Before I begin, I want to emphasise that this is a highly simplified version of what I have learnt from my own research and I'm sharing my learning with you. If you do know this topic inside out, be nice to those who are still learning about this (myself included) and we can grow together.
Furthermore, this is not financial advice and I am not a financial advisor. I am a crypto-enthusiast and wanted to create a guide to help total beginners understand what this is all about. Please seek financial advice from a qualified professional if you have any doubt about how to spend your money.
So with that said, brace yourselves, you might learn something! Shall we begin?
The Rewards Pool
The "Rewards Pool" is simply the amount of STEEM created each day that gets dished out to users on the platform who have produced or curated content. 7 days after you've made a post or a comment, you will get a share of the Rewards Pool depending on how the community perceives the value of what you've posted in the form of upvotes or downvotes.
What Are "Upvotes" & "Downvotes"?
If you've come from social media sites such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and others, you'll see hearts, likes, thumbs up and thumbs down "reaction buttons" which are generally used by content consumers who think something is good or bad (trolling and all other human psychological conditions aside). These buttons have no direct monetary value as they aren't backed by anything financially and can be considered as a tally of how many times that particular reaction button has been pressed.
However, with Steem, these reaction buttons come in the form of an upvote and downvote and there is a BIG difference between what we have in the social media sites mentioned above. This is because the upvote and downvote buttons have a monetary value (depending on how much Steem Power you have) meaning you have a say in how much someone will get paid for their contribution of content to the Steem platform.
That's pretty powerful stuff there at the click of these buttons hey?
How Do I Use Upvotes & Downvotes?
This is of course up to you seeing as it's your account and your Steem Power. Remember, we are in Web 3.0 now which means that by virtue of having Steem Power, you have a say in everything that happens here and that INCLUDES post payouts. The upvotes and downvotes are YOUR tools to say "Hey, I think this post is undervalued and needs more rewards" or "Hey, I think this post is overvalued and needs less rewards".
In other words, if we think of these two buttons completely objectively and treat EVERY post we see in the same way with no bias whatsoever, then upvotes and downvotes are tools of equal importance to determine where you think the share of the rewards pool should be allocated for a particular post.
However, in reality, when have humans ever been that objective?
Psychological Effects Of Upvotes & Downvotes
Whether you like it or not, humans have emotions and no one should be surprised when positive emotions follow receipt of an upvote and negative emotions follow receipt of a downvote. This is even more magnified when money is at stake with these tools and can either lead to feelings of euphoria or feelings of rage.
When you join STEEM from the likes of Facebook or Twitter, your mindset towards these reaction buttons definitely needs to be different. An upvote or downvote should be related to the way that users perceive the monetary value of a post. I say should because of what I said before about human emotion - people act on emotion mostly - but it might be useful to talk about different examples of how the upvotes and downvotes are used so that you can perhaps be ready for when you use both of these rewards distribution tools. What do you think?
If You've Been Downvoted...
Without A Comment
It's likely that you're going to feel a bit upset. No-one likes to see a downvote and even if you have 1,000 upvotes, you'll stare at that 1 downvote and it will no doubt play on your mind. "Where's the comment though? Surely I deserve some feedback as to why I've received a downvote?"
Well, some would argue against that. Based on what the upvote and downvote tools are defined as above, the reason for the downvote is already given by default - "Hey, I think this post is overvalued and needs less rewards". That's your answer.
In an ideal world, every one would read through everything they vote on Steem and distribute the rewards accordingly but, again, humans. We're a lazy bunch and will look for short cuts, particularly with the various curation trails available at our disposal.
The best way to combat any negative feelings towards the downvoters in this case would be to take it on the chin and put it down to differences about how you perceive the rewards of the post you created. If you really can't let it go, make a comment under your post and tag the user who downvoted you and ask for feedback but don't expect a response.
With A Comment
This is not as likely but it does happen where someone leaves a comment as to why they have given a downvote. Most of the time it will be reaffirming the definition above of "Hey, I think this post is overvalued and needs less rewards" and that's the end of it.
Or the comment could actually give you feedback on how to perhaps improve your post or content in future, things to bear in mind when posting again or what they'd have like to have seen to make the post more valuable.
By all means, don't expect a comment with a downvote but if you do get one, the best thing you can do is to say thanks for the feedback and if you believe it was really helpful apply it to your future posts and test your content creation skills. Even if it's through gritted teeth...
If You've Been Upvoted...
Without A Comment
On the contrary to the above, you're probably going to start feeling pretty good about things! Your post value increases and you will start thinking about a life of lambos... OK, maybe not quite yet. However, there's no comments, so how do you know what was good about the content you posted so that you can post something like it again?
Sure, a lot of upvotes means more money in the steem wallet at the end of 7 days but a lot of votes can happen on auto... is anyone really looking at your content? More upvotes without comments can seem a bit empty and for a community based social-economic platform, there's a bit of an imbalance there.
Best course of action? Find out the accounts that have voted you and interact with their content, leave a comment and even go out to find other posts related to yours to build up a network. It goes without saying, be grateful too :)
With A Comment
It doesn't get any better than this and you've really resonated with those who have read through your content. You've made a pretty awesome impression and not only have you got an upvote but you're starting or continuing to build a relationship with your readers.
This is the dream and is exactly what a community based content platform is all about and if it happens to you, definitely interact with the comment, go check out their blog too and spread those feel good vibes all around the place!
If You're Downvoting...
Without A Comment
You're well within your right to do this of course but it's likely that you're having more of an impact then you think, even if you're just doing it purely based on the definition of the rewards distribution tools above.
A lot of people still don't fully understand what Web 3.0 is and what these rewards distribution tools are about (but hopefully they will know a bit more after reading this blog). It's a novel concept and not seen in many other sites so be wary that you may get some "splash back" or retaliation.
Best approach here? Stick to your guns with your objective approach to the rewards pool and brace for any reactions that may happen - remember... humans.
With A Comment
Although leaving a comment is not 100% necessary, given the current circumstances with the new culture since HF21, it's definitely more favourable if you're wanting to keep relations going well and are honest in your approach to building a "better Steem".
Things to consider when leaving a comment are constructive feedback to the author of the post, being civil and perhaps revisit at a later date to see how they are getting on since you redistributed their rewards.
If You're Upvoting
Without A Comment
You may not feel like the need to comment and let your upvote do the talking for you, assuming you're working on the definition above and you've read through the post - fair enough. Other sources of giving upvotes may be from following a curation trail to help discover content for you, which allows you to reward authors without reading their content or you like a specific author so much that you have them an auto and believe they are creating (subjectively) quality content every time.
Nothing wrong with that fundamentally but you have to really trust that the author will not start lowering their standards and it'll be good practice to actually check what it is you're voting on from time to time. Remember, the rewards pool is a shared resource and blindly following someone may not be a good representation of where you want to be distributing your upvote value so perhaps get that magnifying glass out from time to time...
With A Comment
Probably the most positive of all scenarios is this one. You've given an upvote after you've read the post and you've left a comment on the original author's post, potentially increasing your network and maybe making a new friend in the process. On a platform where interacting and socialising is key to growing your account, doing things like this is probably what you want to be doing.
Best thing to do here? KEEP DOING THIS!
Bluffer's Comments On...
Since HF21, there's been a real drive by the community to stop anyone using bidbots on their post, no matter how large or small the purchase of the vote was. This drive has come in the form of downvoting bid botted posts to redistribute the rewards back in to the rewards pool.
It's understandable when the whole concept of Steem was based around rewarding content that is deemed to be (subjectively) high quality as voted for by the users of the platform - so called "Proof of Brain".
Whether you agree with the methods of some that are trying to stop the use of bidbots or not, the best thing for you to do is either not use them and join communities based around your interest that can help you grow your account organically or, if you insist on using them, set your post payouts to "decline" or set beneficiary to @null. This is my recommendation based on what I've seen.
Since the advent of HF21, downvote trails have popped up that operate rather like curation trails, except you're downvoting rather than upvoting whatever content the person you follow decides to downvote. Now, blindly downvoting without commenting (as suggested in the section above) can leave yourself open to revenge downvotes which is wholly unsavoury for the platform but I feel these trails will be necessary as we get used to this new ethos around rewards pool distribution. The argument here is: "If you have curation trails to redistribute rewards towards a post, why not have downvote trails to redistribute rewards away from a post?"
However, with all that's been mentioned in the Bluffer's Notes, if there's this really extreme movement of going down the manual curation route, surely we should just turn all the automatic voting tools off and share our collective responsibility for what we choose to reward with our stake? Ultimate "Proof of Brain" there? Maybe. Although there is a use case for downvote trails and that is in the fight against...
Spam & Plagiarism
Spam can be considered as extremely low effort posts (such as one image or word) that occur at an extremely high frequency (10+ more per day). Plagiarism can be defined as someone who has completely copied and pasted someone else's work and claimed it as their own (with no reference to the original).
It's hard to find an argument against redistributing all rewards from users that fall in to these two categories and there are a group on steem that have been doing great work to combat it all. But even they can get it wrong - no system is without its faults.
If you feel you have been wrongly downvoted for the above then you will need to reach out to the relevant party who's given the downvote and make your case.
0 Value Downvotes/"Mosquito Bites"
We're seeing more of these 0 value downvotes from seemingly random accounts that pop up with a single post on their blog and very low Steem Power (less than 100SP) - in some instances, 10 of these mosquito bites (0.000 value downvotes) have landed on posts. There's no financial loss associated with these downvotes but again, the psychology of seeing them can impact new people to steem in a bad way and we definitely don't want it to leave a sour taste. The good news is...
These are the "camillesteemer" group of accounts and, from what information I've received about them, they are just bot accounts from someone who got caught plagiarising by the community earlier in 2019. Then went on a "V for Vendetta" style rampage to downvote anyone that caught her or is supporting those that caught her.
Best course of action? Laugh it off and move on.
Upvote Rings/"Circle Jerks"
This is a little bit of a grey area but you can consider upvote rings as a group of accounts that seemingly only vote each other and don't look elsewhere to curate content. The affectionate name of "Circle Jerks" is something that I'll only use twice in this blog.
I'm not completely convinced and, after having many discussions elsewhere on various posts, I will adopt a neutral approach on this one as there are many steem groups doing their own things on this platform who I'm sure favour certain authors over others because they are friends, family or it's part of some other guidelines of the community they are in. However, it's up to you to find out more if you really want to go looking and decide to use your reward distribution tools as you see fit.
It's been an interesting period on STEEM since HF21 brought us the ability to redistribute rewards via the downvote button without adversely affecting our upvoting capability. What it's brought to light is a glaring issue in the misunderstanding of what the rewards pool is, how big the gulf in understanding the true equal importance of the upvote and downvote buttons and what it all means in the grand scheme of things for the STEEM social-economic model.
I hope this blog proves to be a useful guide for anyone that reads it, new or seasoned veterans of Steem, and helps address some of the concerns raised in the many discussions I've been involved with over the last 6 weeks. Consider this post the last time I'll be getting involved in the discussion (comments and feedback welcome of course).
And for the record, I don't work for Steem, I am not in with "the cool kids", I'm just a guy who makes Drum & Bass music and writes travel blogs from time to time, trying to make STEEM as prosperous as it can be for every one so we can all win.
Now, back to the music studio ;)
For those what wanted to see the body of work behind the Bluffer's Guide, these are most of the posts I did (some of the platforms I reviewed in Chapter 7 have since collapsed, under delivered or lost their way). Enjoy :)
The history and technology of Bitcoin
2.1 How and why did Bitcoin come in to existence?
2.2 How does Bitcoin & blockchain actually work (Part 1)?
2.3 How does Bitcoin & Blockchain actually work (Part 2)?
Concluding Thoughts (never got here)