Been meaning to write a post about this, not that it will change anything and not that I'm sure we should attempt to change anything but just to highlight what I think might be something that's hindering from a good looking trending and especially to cover the burnposts that so many dislike seeing there and what we could do about it.
I understand not many will care but maybe with some added incentives they might, who knows.
Maybe many of you may not be aware of what I'm talking about so let me describe what I see as a small issue since post EIP and then once you're aware of it it might change your perspective or maybe give you some ideas of what you could do to help or help improve your curation if you're a smaller account looking to not just let the big accounts maximize their stake and since we have a shared pool it pretty much means they're taking rewards from everyone.
I want to address though that this is not a big issue, the consequences of many big accounts maximizing their curation rewards post EIP means that it is instead helping distribution a lot more. As someone who's been working hard towards distributing curation far and wide to deserving authors, no matter the hardfork or rules of the chain I'm happy that this is finally happening and making Steem one of the most distributed currencies out there. Despite the stake steemit or freedom own most of the other currencies are way worse distributed. This will be more about why we see so few posts on trending earning a lot of rewards even though they may be of really great quality and why the burnposts seem to always sneak their way up there no matter how hard they attempt to make more posts instead to spread out the voting power.
As you all know the curation penalty now stops at 5 minutes of post age, it goes up exponentially meaning that at 2.5 minutes you're "giving up" on half of your potential curation rewards to be returned to the pool. This can still be worth it though depending on how much earlier your vote lands compared to other votes and how well the post ends up doing. As a basic example, if you find a great post with 0 rewards past 5 minutes, you vote on it 100% and share it around/resteem and it ends up making $50+ you will earn some of the best curation rewards possible unless your stake you're voting is too big. What this means is that if your 100% vote is, say worth 1 Steem and you'd theoretically get 0.5 Steem back after the post pays out, depending on the amount of Steem the post makes after your vote your return will be higher due to the curation curve which incentivizes early curators and content discovery. This is all fine and well but since not many posts ever end up making more than $100+ rewards it means that if your vote, no matter how early or before other bigger votes it lands will always be penalized if it's too big due to the "max" rewards a post usually ends up making. This incentivizes accounts to spread their votes much thinner knowing that with their 1-5m SP casting a 100% vote, no matter how well the post will do, will never outperform casting 5-10 votes on posts that will just do "okay" due to the "roof" of max post rewards a post will ever end up earning.
In case you're having a hard time understanding my hard to explain text above, I decided to record a video of a few accounts from steemworld.org just to show their voting behavior - how early they vote on a post age and their max vote % they cast on them. I tried to not let it show which account it was as that's not the important part here but it might explain what I'm trying to say better. It's three accounts starting from the ones maximizing rewards the most to less and less. In case you didn't know, steemworld.org shows your upcoming curation rewards and how well they are doing and can give you some hindsight in how you can improve your curation rewards if you're interested in that.
Here's the video:
What shows here is that the first account focuses mainly on voting as early as possible while "sacrificing curation rewards" to the reward pool but still casting votes so early knowing that many others will vote it after thus still keeping his curation reward efficiency high. This could also be considered as a lot of autovoting on "popular" accounts or manually voting early as to front-run other voters. Like I mentioned above, this post is not about hating or pointing out specific accounts, just merely showing what some are doing and why. You can see the max votes cast are also very often under 20% as to maximize curation rewards because many of the posts will be capped at a 20-60$ rewards making it unnecessary to vote higher than that for the best returns.
The second one is a bigger account which explains why the vote % it gives out is even smaller than the first one, ranging from 5-16% mostly because they have also figured out that the potential "cap" in post rewards will not reward them much more if they give out bigger votes. This account also doesn't seem as concerned about "front-running" and voting under the 5 minute mark which is a good thing as it's a curation project. Again, I'm not trying to throw any account dirt here, as I mentioned this is doing wonders for distribution.
As for trending though, it is having a consequence when many of these accounts will rather vote on a post that hasn't received any other big voters before them than rewarding other bigger curators with higher curation rewards with casting their vote on top of it and knowing that the chances of a 3rd big account doing so are even slimmer. As you can tell this now creates a cycle where these curators will rather vote on a less "great quality" post as long as their vote gets them past the curation curve that was implemented with the EIP. This is also good because the author doesn't get taxed by the curve but at the same time the curator doesn't get taxed either. I admit we do this with our own curation accounts as well and it's a big reason we don't vote on single photo pictures because giving them the rewards to take them past the curve seem too high but giving them a small vote will just cost us curation rewards due to the curve. Even though we may not care as much about curation rewards, we're already sacrificing a lot of them by not focusing on front-running and also ignoring other bigger accounts voting before us if the post seems worthy of more rewards or trending. This is also the reason so many are refraining from curating comments, the same curve exists there punishing both the post rewards and curation rewards unless they get up to 20 steem where the tax ends.
In closing words, I am okay with this right now, the EIP has brought so many good changes to Steem that this is not a big problem and with SMT's and communities I'm sure it won't matter as much as trending will be changed dramatically once everyone is subscribed to their own communities and only see what's trending through them (if you're into Reddit you may understand how it will look like in the future when your trending is only the communities you're subscribed to). As for comments, we're sure there will be new solutions to it, the curve is part of the reason we decided to team up with @abh12345's ENGAGE token to add some extra incentives to commenting since the curve removed that. (even though there's always incentives to commenting, especially if you are a new account and want to connect and build a following) but Steem is big on incentives and incentivizing most actions so why not have one for commenting too.
Many of you aware of our activities with OCD may already know that we're voting late with the @ocdb account to let other curators front-run us on purpose and to empower proof of brain so that we can reward something that has genuinely attracted a lot of curation on it's own before we step in whether that's from many smaller curators or other big curators or projects. We're also helping the @trendthis account get a post to trending with a big vote even though it means a huge penalty for our returns just because we know Steemit will look way better to outsiders with quality posts up there. One thing that's pretty discouraging is when we go out of our way to place something onto trending even after all the disincentives I mentioned above and some accounts downvote the post due to disagreement of rewards or another unknown reason as it feels like a slap in the face and another disincentive to our already weak returns for having attempted to make trending look better.
You know how it is though, everyone can do what they want with their stake but similar to that anyone can judge those who misuse it or constantly attempt to just maximize it no matter the effects it has on the front-ends and the eyes from the outside.
Here's to communities making everything better and with SMT's allowing for other tokens to decide a specific community's or front-end's trending. Who knows, maybe we'll even get to a point where the ENGAGE token will decide the order of comments depending on the votes received from ENGAGE holders in our community in the near future. Everything is possible with Steem. ;)