The broken downvote system

in #downvotes9 months ago

A bit of history

I've been sitting on this post for a few days now, but (fortunately) got side-tracked by @Splinterlands and the new opportunities presented by becoming active again.

Then today I read a post by @TheyCallMeDan ( about downvotes and a few optimizations that he's proposing... and got inspired to weigh in with my downvote grievances. Yes, they are mostly about my personal experience with and aimed at @Spaminator / @Hivewatchers ... but they do raise an important point: We shouldn't allow a single/handful of people enough authority to wipe out an account.

edit: a bit of a long intro/history, so please feel free to scroll on down to my objection to (and some ideal-world wants re) downvotes.

I joined STEEM having a modest, but still sizeable, following on other social media platforms. Sucking up to sponsors in the real world is tedious, and I saw STEEM as a way for me to monetise my own content without the token rewards and rules of YouTube, extreme costs of AdWords & Facebook boosts etc. etc.

My 1st few (except maybe #IntroduceYourself) posts didn't see any love or attention at all. I tried giving away 10 STEEM (probably ~$40 at the time #RollsEyes) in another post as incentive. A small amount vs the amount I was spending on Adwords & Facebook promotions, so I was still inspired... but alas, I got near 0 activity on even THAT post... tried for a few more weeks but still no joy... content just wasn't being "discovered".

Whales are circle-jerking, and if you aren't a whale you have near 0 chance of joining their circle.

Hey... that's cool... it works the same in real life.
Get over it buddy! ... So I did!


Undeterred, I started @playdice & @incubot to onboard YouTube & Blogger friends. We could all circle-jerk (albeit a much smaller scale than I originally thought going into my blockchain blogging adventure) with some of our VP and 'build outside our community' with the rest.

I "invested" ~ZAR30K into some VP (OK, that's only about $2, 000, which isn't a lot in some currencies, but a fair chunk of change to those of us in countries with weak fiat currencies). But with STEEM at $3-$4 back then... it didn't have NEARLY the impact I thought it would. Yes! I was uninformed, and naive. ;-)

Onboarded 20+ users (0 of whom are active anymore BTW) - They got disinterested fighting to get noticed and being rewarded with scraps, even from the larger curation programmes that were (legitimately) trying to encourage new content creators, and the whole thing faded away.

Actually, I lie, it's just "shelved": I STILL have plans to make this all work... I have a humble real-world influence, and when the time (and environment) is right, I'll have a jump on where I was 3 years ago... and a much higher likelihood of succeeding.

Nowadays, perseverance (and good content) DOES pay off a LOT more than it used to (@wynella has 3X her initial investment for example in just a few months - but she is a lot stronger writer than 90% of my YouTuber buddies :P)... but it's still not nearly "worth it" in terms of time spent (even with the weak ZAR/$/$HIVE exchange)... but it WILL BE one day ;-)

Yes, they COULD/CAN still just copy-paste YT links, use AltYes to cross-post, @dbuzz, etc. etc. and they CAN earn a few more coins than years gone by (that might, nay WILL, be worth something in a few years - but not everyone is as long-term/bullish on crypto as me though and aren't buying it).

So yeah, if any non-Hivers are reading this: NOW is the time to get cracking and Sign-Up here on Hive.

So, while all these angles are 'low effort' (for a deservedly low pay-off), most I've spoken to prefer to "waste their available time" on other social media platforms instead. They continue to promote their content on FB/Twitter/IG/XYZ... and while they aren't getting paid ANYTHING (directly), they are getting noticed and then indirectly being paid by 3rd parties as "influencers"... and this is what I hoped to fix with the Incubation programme I so naively started all those years ago. ;-)

But I digress... 1 problem at a time... So back to my actual gripe:


Let me quickly make it very clear from the start:

I do not champion the removal of downvotes!

Yes, downvotes are a VERY powerful tool... necessary to curb plagiarism, and even the (egomaniacal, IMHO) @spaminator / @hivewatcher / @hivewatchers etc. accounts DO actually do some good and ARE necessary... even if it's just "disagreeing on vote rewards". Hell, I noticed @OCDB downvoting their own @OCD account the other day (their reason: it was over-rewarded)... WOW! #HighFive

The downvote (power) problem & decentralisation lie

We hear it time and time again how awesome HIVE is especially if you have fringe views & opinions:

"You can't be censored on Hive, you can't get demonetised, you can't get your account disabled etc. etc."


While the latter is true, there are 100s of legit accounts that HAVE been censored & demonitised through downvotes and/or demoralised and chased from the blockchain.

Yes, your data itself is still there on the blockchain... but if most front-ends are hiding it and the rewards are 0... then you have been censored and demonitised.

I'm not talking about the whale bullies with fragile egos, but large stake, downvoting because they disagree on personal issues (sometimes even 'punishing' people on-chain for disagreements off chain).

These whales ARE a problem, yes, and one which @theycallmedan 's idea for a free "counter with a free upvote" would probably go a long way to sorting out... Instead, I'm talking about the self-appointed HIVE police that is @spaminator / @hivewatchers

There's too much power in the hands of these egomaniacs

... and others like them that came before and others like them that will surely follow if the downvote rules aren't "fixed"

@PlayDice is 'controversial', I 100% agree!

But if you have a problem, let's discuss it like logical, clear-thinking adults. Which is why, over the last 3 years, I've actively engaged many communities to see if they have a problem with me "farming" their tokens. Some did (so I didn't post in their communities), others didn't have a problem and others even actively welcomed it.

I even had long chats with the original @spaminator creators and got @PlayDice whitelisted.

3 Years later, @guiltyparties et al, randomly, and without warning, decided they don't like it and effectively (and with a few quick keystrokes) demonitised the account.

As a bonus, their misdirected sense-of-power put my main account (and even the fiat sponsor of @PlayDice) onto their "naughty list", downvoting/flagging anything that's posted... just because they can!
... Oh yes, and this happened several days after I paused posting on @PlayDice and started looking for the right people to engage/appeal.


A handful of (large) stakeholders determine what is and isn't allowed on "their" platform.


Sound familiar?

Yes, YouTube / Facebook / Twitter / XYZ can (and do) decide what they want and don't want on their platform. It's privately owned and not pretending to be anything else... and that is 100% cool with me. It's then up to me to decide: Do I want to be a part of that (and therefore play by their rules) or not.

The same can be argued for HIVE
They have the largest stake, so IT IS THEIR PLATFORM, and they decide what is and isn't allowed, and if I don't like it I should go elsewhere.

Fair Enough! But is that what WE want for Hive?
I most certainly don't, and many others agree. Many of us discover Hive because of the promises of censorship-resistance, decentralisation and a host of other catch-phrase promises.

The @PlayDice scenario

As Covid took hold here in SA, right about the time when Hive forked from STEEM, I went into 'survival mode' in real life and didn't have the time it needed to port @PlayDice from STEEM to HIVE. I only needed a few days, but a day became a week, a week a month and before I knew it... you get the idea.

I would still lurk about every other day, and I got tons of queries on-chain and off about when I was going to get @PlayDice going on HIVE.

The lockdown restrictions eventually eased up, my Bistros were able to re-open, I could hire some staff back and managed to free up some time.

I'm a retired / ex programmer, so it probably took a few days longer than it should have, but I managed to get @PlayDice running on HIVE with only a few minor hiccups.

Time to demonitise @PlayDice

A few weeks on and @spaminator (& @usainvote who I believe has nothing to do with them) randomly start zeroing all our games. Efforts to reach out to @usainvote proved futile. They haven't posted in forever, and except for a random comment here and there claiming

"this is my stake, I'll vote and do with it as I please, you should do the same"

they weren't/aren't communicating with anyone (from what I could find).

The @spaminator / @hivewatchers crew was a lot easier: They even have a discord server where you can bow down to their superiority, jump through a bunch of hoops, post a massively degrading public apology, beg for forgiveness... and maybe, if they like what they see, will stop their malice.

... but @PlayDice is beyond redemption

They decided they didn't like the game, and that was going to be that. First ignoring me on discord, and then on-chain... I obviously wasn't worthy of their time. If I didn't like their vague justifications, that was my problem!


I protested & tried to plead my case, but when they weren't ignoring me, they simply cut-paste the same thing:

You have been found guilty of vote-buying and since we are both judge & jury we aren't going to bother responding to your pleas. (I'm paraphrasing for dramatic effect).

They finally threatened to ban me from their server and mute me if I continued "trolling".

Trolling in their definition is calling them assholes for responding with a screenshot to a (imho) well laid out argument for @PlayDice. (This screenshot did NOTHING to answer my disputes or even explain their badly-worded 'vote-buying' stance).

Spoiler Alert
Their initial arrogance was met with (drunken) antagonistic posts from my side which definitely didn't help. But hey, I'm not a fan of fake authority, even less so when it's self-appointed and unreasonable.

In short: I was accused of vote-buying, but eventually managed to drag it out of them that their problem was in fact "vote-begging" instead.

Side-Question: How on earth is soliciting upvotes in exchange for a chance at winning MORE than their vote back a bad thing? That's literally the fundamentals of tons of daily giveaways here on Hive.

Fair enough, English probably isn't their 1st language, but then EVEN MORE REASON why the blockchain code shouldn't allow them to be policing and zeroing posts then.

The end is death, whether you want it or not:

So... THEY decided "vote-begging" (in some cases, not necc. all) was not sitting well with them and "no correspondence will be entered into". END OF STORY!

FWIW: The case for @PlayDice

Not that it matters while @PlayDice is on a permanent naughty-list and will now be downvoted to 0 every time it posts a game... but if you're still reading this: Please give me your 2 cents in the comments below.

YES! I AM trying to play the HIVE game and maximise my return on time & effort on the chain.

The mitigating circumstances:

  • Every month I use my own (fiat) funds to pay for the server hosting the scripts.

    Yes, it's only $5... but that's an extra $5 invested in HIVE every month. The $5 leaves my bank account instead of HBD/HIVE being sold to cover the cost. We should be enabling/encouraging 10s of 1000s of accounts to do the same... IMHO of course.

  • I solicited real-world @BraaiBoy sponsors to give me fiat every 12 weeks in exchange for advertising. It's actually a little more complicated since I gave them off-chain value in addition to on-chain advertising in exchange for that fiat (which was then spent buying up the HIVE which the whales were merrily dumping).
  • I used my own (@BraaiBoy) funds (fiat & post rewards) to pay for SBI units and other community subscriptions for @PlayDice for the benefit of everyone playing.
  • @BraaiBoy (& @incubot) votes FAR EXCEED the minimum required by the game. This benefits neither of those accounts, other than pumping the potential prize pool for everyone and attracting more players.

There are a few more "FWIW" tidbits, but none of these are promised/guaranteed. i.e. They may or may not be a part of the game in the future... e.g. @JimmySauces that cut their fiat funding during Covid as they face their own real world business challenges. They will "continue when things have become normal again"... but that could be another 5 years... who knows!

So, ignoring all that:

Are you claiming @PlayDice is pure ALTRUISM?
NO... definitely for (future) profit. Doing some quick math, @PlayDice has accumulated LESS HP from keeping the non-liquid post rewards than I have spent in fiat alone. However, I believe that if I can create a big enough noise/following that I will eventually & naturally benefit from those users that trickle through and follow @BraaiBoy.

ALSO NO... @PlayDice IS opportunistic, yes... but it (more so) benefits the voters/players.

Voting on each game/post is the exact same as you would in any other competition requiring an upvote/reblog/whatever as entry mechanism. Additionally, with ~0.002 upvote requirement (depending on the HBD/HIVE price) required to qualify for a game, it prevents spammers creating a multitude of bot accounts and simultaneously leaves real users the majority of their VP to carry on with their normal curation efforts - there's no benefit to throwing a $10 vote on a game (unless you feel generous and just wanna give your money away to others... as is the case with @BraaiBoy and @IncuBot ;-))

In an ideal world

To be honest I have no idea... but I do know that pretending to be decentralised while centralising the police is a problem.

Some thinking-out-loud points:


  • limit the maximum upvote(s) that 1 account CAN give to another account on a single post/day/XYZ days.
  • limit the efficacy of voting the same account over and over:
    • e.g. implement a cool-down for voting the same account. e.g. voting uses up the same amount of RCs for every vote, but rewards a decreasing amount of HBD/HP to @PLayDice if they happen too quickly in succession.
  • SEVERELY limit the efficacy of SELF-voting
    • similar scenario above, but the "cool-down" time is much longer.


  1. Allow the community to police/vote - but not based purely on stake!!!

    • Yes, we need 'downvote champions' (incl. the misguided @hivewatchers etc.) to have a (slightly) more weighted say (built up over time)... but a single or even handful of people's vote shouldn't be able to 0 a post
    • maybe incorporate something with a flatter distribution (like the REP system) into downvotes?
    • Limit the "damage" a single downvote can do - and even more NB: Limit the damage repeated downvotes can do.
    • Would everyone REALLY take the time to vet every post & 'downvote champion' though?
  2. INCENTIVISE (legit) downvotes... and PENALISE incorrect ones (again a community vote).
    Feeding in to Dan's "encourage people to do the right thing because it's good for them" argument:

    • More than X proper flags result in some form of reward.
    • More than X false-flags result in a penalty.
  3. Have a "community appeals" process (separate from the original downvoter):

    • Like with @PlayDice: I got into trouble/argument with one of the @SteemFlagRewards folks back on STEEM. Hopped on to their discord, made my appeal, made some changes, and even became a champion for IDENTIFYING spammers for them (Yes, @PlayDice IS opportunistic and attracts opportunists as I already mentioned, but it also attracts scammers - and was eventually a great source of identifying plagiarists etc.).


WHO decides what's right or wrong?
If the community felt that @PlayDice was BS and detrimental, then I would (sadly) accept my fate and cease posting, but now because 1 or 2 overlords (who randomly changed their rules after WHITELISTING me) changed their minds/rules, I have no choice but to obey! NOT COOL!

What's preventing PETA from buying a large enough stake on HIVE and downvoting all my BBQ videos for example?


downvote for plagiarism and offensive content is good.
not for those posts that you don't like.

if I don't like a post, I just ignore it.

but if I notice some offensive I'll sure will downvote it.

but I see some friends receiving downvotes by spamminator even posting good content... not sure why.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

Cool... downvoting for plagiarism is an easy one. Or is it?
We (mostly) all agree that stealing someone's else's stuff is bad. But Why? Easy... That's what we've ?all? been taught since we can remember... but what if I could make better use of someone else's property? ... should I not be allowed to copy it and make a profit?

OK, so now I'm just taking the piss with the above example... but I'm exaggerating to prove a point: What IS offensive and therefore worth downvoting? Same as: What IS abuse and worth downvoting? @PLayDice ? WHO gets to decide these things? You? ME?

you dam right!

I just understand that is the community police. But I agree, we can change that!

Pulling from the pool to finance things was frowned upon from very early on.
Steemsports used to take the votes of the whales and spread those curation rewards to the little people.
All you had to do was vote on the winner, and bam, much more than a redfish could get for posting.
'They' shut that down when they noticed that the redfish were growing too fast and 'their' moar was decreasing.

I guess I missed the dustup you referenced, how long ago was it?

WHO decides what's right or wrong?

We do.
If you participate with us.
Otherwise, folks will do it without you.
If we waited for others to flag abuse, the bots would have won by now.

Hi @antisocialist

Thanks for responding...

Pulling from the pool to finance things was frowned upon from very early on.

I'm not sure I agree with this entirely... I've seen many real-world (charity and private) projects being funded from the reward pool. If memory serves, there's even a project building houses in Venezuela for Steemians/Hivers.

Either way... I didn't know about the Steemsports situation.
P.S. Are you part of HW? If I'd got a response like this on the HW discord originally, the "conversation" between myself and them would have gone way differently... would have probably even (begrudgingly) accepted my fate and gone away quietly.

We do.
If you participate with us.
Otherwise, folks will do it without you.

Well, I DO (USED to when I was more active on the chain anyway) participate in the various discords. Have had lengthy chats with Spaminator originally, and @playdice was even whitelisted. My HW woes started out of the blue, and without warning, and the "flag the last 7 days posts while we're at it" flags came in after @PlayDice had been OFF for 3 days already and I'd tried to approach them for a discussion, but all I was able to get from them was an (incorrect, IMO) "vote-buying allegation".
As I mentioned it was actually HW having a problem with soliciting votes and splitting the liquid rewards with random voters, similar to Steemsports.

In short: I've accepted that HW has the power to end the game and they're not willing to discuss any opposing viewpoints. So in the absence of my buying a ton of HP to counter them, there's no point even trying.

I DO still have a problem though with a single entity having all the power to make such unilateral calls though... There are more than enough people that WOULD love to see @PlayDice trickle some rewards through to them, but because we're all small stakeholders there won't be any discussion on the matter... and THAT's not cool :-(

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta


P.S. I just noticed that @usainvote has downvoted this very post to 0, 3 days after it was posted... so it's not an automated thing, and he/she/they have no discord or posts/comments on-chain either to get in touch.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

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I had the same experience with that crew. I think the problem lies with the characters you mentioned controlling those accounts, not the voting system itself. I don't think it is even their stake, it was probably inherited from the ninja mine.

The root cause of this unnecessary friction is a backwards economic philosophy amongst some big stakeholders who think the best way to pump the price of this token is to kill inflation and focus on whale accounts accumulating. This strategy is antithetical to the founding principles and it's likely to fail as it will also decrease trading volume and limit distribution, which two key factors for determining value in cryptocurrency.

Yeah... I totally get the controversy around, and (at first glance) sketchy looking vibe of @playdice, which is why over the last 3 years I've always been willing to play open cards with anyone that has a problem and more often than not we walk away as friends (even if that parting means they didn't want @playdice showing up in their tribe)... but if HW want to play judge & executioner, they should be willing to play the jury too - it's their arrogance that got me all up in arms now.

I totally agree with you that more redfish becoming minnows and minnows becoming dolphins would be much better for the entire chain. I'm no economist, but more liquidity can only give rise to more activity and demand for $HIVE
... but I can also understand (but don't agree) the point of the whales trying to protect what they've earned (regardless of the means) and invested... but the way in which they're doing it with the heavy-handed downvotes on the small accounts is very toxic.


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@braaiboy, sorry. :(

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 9 months ago  Reveal Comment

"You can't be censored on Hive, you can't get demonetised, you can't get your account disabled etc. etc."

True, False, True, etc.
Solid template for introducing incorrect statements.

I'm not sure I'm following? I'm saying the same thing in the post.

People can monetise you, people can demonetise you. Two people? Thousand people? What is the difference?

There's a big difference to me: If it's 1000s of people downvoting, it's likely you're doing something seriously wrong and deserve to be demonitised. If it's just 1 or 2 wiping out your account, then there's a chance it's just subjective.

Anyway, you should have run your scheme in any non-English language and you would have been fine.

Hahahaha... not sure I agree with that one. Plagiarism in any language is still plagiarism, whereas I'm arguing that @PlayDice should be allowed (in any language). It's not about "getting away with it", it's about "Your decision to downvote the game into oblivion is wrong". ... Besides if I wrote the game in my native Afrikaans, then I doubt there would be too many people playing it :-)