Bluffer's Guide to Steem/Hive - Witnesses, Governance & Forks

in hive-174578 •  5 months ago  (edited)

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Steem Hive Simplified

This could well be the last Bluffer's Guide posted on Steem with the changes that have been recently announced so what better topic to write about than Forks!

No, I'm not talking about the cutlery we use to eat our dinner with or the pitchforks that some start swinging around if you say something that might trigger them! I am in fact talking about blockchain forks, which have been at the forefront of this platform over the last month or so.

We'll not only cover forks but also the fundamentals of what witnesses are and how governance works as a lot of you were asking about this in comments from the previous guide and it's easier to explain them all in one go.

So, if you've been lost with all the blogs, comments, tweets and Discord chats that have been plastered everywhere then the whole Bluffer's Guide series aims to simplify it all using plain English via my observations and experiences to give you a basic idea of how it all works.

First, I need to do that disclaimer thingy, be right back...


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?


What Are "Forks"?

For the average, casual user like myself, a fork may as well be nothing more than a site update with slight tweaks to how things are working, usually with an announcement to say, "this has happened, carry on". Sometimes the interface will have a new look or features but the core way of using it usually remains the same.

Sounds simple enough right?

But, scratch at the surface a little bit and you find that there's a lot more going on, particularly when it comes to the underlying technology, witnesses and governance.

All fancy words yes, so let's peel these layers back like some sort of Steem orange and find out what's going on.

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Underlying Technology

The way this whole platform works is based on how much Steem Power (SP) you have in your account.

If you're not sure what I mean by SP, then this earlier Bluffer's Guide post goes in to more detail. The crux of it is that when you "power up", you voluntarily lock in any liquid STEEM to your account as SP which gives you a little bit more muscle when it comes to using your voting power on posts and witnesses 💪

If you wanted the technical term for Steem's underlying technology, then it's "Delegated Proof of Stake" or DPoS for short. This means your stake (SP) can be used to determine who runs and maintains the blockchain by voting them in.

DPoS differs from other processes such as "Proof of Stake" (e.g. Ethereum) where the ones who maintain the blockchain are purely based on how much stake someone has, or "Proof of Work" (e.g. Bitcoin) which is based on how much computing power someone has.

If you wanted to know more about these different mechanisms, then there's an earlier chapter of the Bluffer's Guide here where you get to become the CEO big boss man of a company...but only for the period of the blog... sorry 😬

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Yeah... for one blog only though...!

Witnesses

The clue is in the name but effectively all witnesses are responsible for maintaining and running the blockchain, ensuring it stays up 24/7 recording EVERY transaction that's made by you, me, everyone that uses this platform.

You could say they "witness" everything that goes on. That's not to say that someone is physically there standing over it, watching the transactions come in - that would be ridiculous! Rather, someone has bought a computer and server that does all of the transaction processing.

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Do They Get Paid For This?

All of these transactions are then collected, put in to a block every 3 seconds and the witness (computer) who put that block together gets a payment in Steem.

However, it's the top 20 witnesses that have been voted in by the users of the platform that get the lion's share of the rewards for doing this as they are creating and processing more blocks. More blocks processed equals more rewards.

The system is designed so that every 3 seconds, the next witness down the order is responsible for producing the blocks. This happens in sequence from witnesses 1-20 and then the 21st block is produced by a randomly allocated witness outside of the top 20, then it goes back to witness 1 again. In other words, there's a 21 "block producing cycle".

If you wanted to see how much witnesses get paid, @quochuy creates regular reports that show this but bear in mind, if the price of STEEM is low then it's likely witnesses are running their computers and servers at a loss so a lot of witnesses run other community projects in addition.

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Well... I just said there's not much money when prices are low...?

Who Should I Vote For?

HA! Nice try but it's not for me to decide who YOU should vote for with YOUR stake! However, I will give you some pointers on what to look out for when deciding. I'd also highly recommend you regularly review your witness votes so they are accuarately reflecting who you want to run and maintain the blockchain:

  • Are they actually still running a server on the current fork version (not disabled)?
  • Are they active and in touch with the community?
  • Are their best interests in growing the blockchain for the whole?
  • Are they supporting others?
  • What is their previous history like?
  • Are they developing other useful dapps?

In other words, vote the witnesses that best resemble your views and interests for the improvement and development of the chain. At time of writing, you can actually vote up to 30 witnesses from your account, check the full list here. Alternatively, you can always get someone you trust to do your witness voting for you in what is known as a "witness proxy". All you'd need to do here is get a "proxy link" from that person and you vote for whoever they vote for too.

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Well, you can't vote for everyone Oprah, just 30...

Governance & Decentralisation

So with all this in mind, you can start to see how DPoS blockchain works.

You have 20 different people from all across the world, voted on by the users, maintaining the platform, whilst all our posts, comments and transactions are being recorded forever (immutably).

This is one of the benefits of decentralised governance as it means that one person can't dictate play so if someone's PC or server goes down in the top 20, then there's 19 others who will be there to keep it going.

On the other hand, it also means that reaching agreement on changes to the platform can take longer as you have to have more people agreeing with you on the changes you want to do - in fact, a minimum of 17 out of the 20 need to agree to run the changes (this is called a "super majority").

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You need a little more support than that to make a change Leo...

DPoS Risk

As stake talks on witness voting, it is possible that 20 new witness servers can be created by one person and then have one super-powered-up account voting all of them in to the top 20.

Although this may sound trivial, it means that if that one person's server goes down, it takes all the witnessing capability down for the blockchain and it would crash. In other words, we'd be at the beck and call of a central organisation which is what Facebook and Twitter are - their servers go down, you won't be able log in and use their platform.

Needless to say, we don't want that happening, which is why we need different servers run by witnesses to ensure the upkeep of the platform.

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Forking

There are a couple of ways to go about upgrading the network when it comes to forking depending on the changes that are hoping to be made.

Soft Fork (SF)

You can think of this as "minor changes" to the way things are running that won't, or shouldn't, have a massive impact on the general day to day use for most users. The advantages are that these changes are reversible so if it doesn't work out then the witnesses can always revert back to the previous version. A bit like your System Restore on your PC where you can go back to a previous known working version.

Hard Fork (HF)

This is a "major upgrade" to the network that is incompatible with previous versions simply because the changes made to the underlying technology are THAT big! You can think of this like the different Windows versions going up from Windows 8 (yuck) to Windows 10 (less yuck). There's no "reverting" back to the previous hard fork version without major work so any changes needed after a hard fork will be done on the version that's rolled out.

When there's disagreement between the way witnesses want to run and develop the blockchain with seemingly no probability of resolving the conflict then a split/hard fork is a likely result. At this point, there will be 2 copies of the blockchain where some witnesses will run one chain according to their vision and other witnesses will run the other chain according to their vision with the users choosing which chain they want to follow.

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Brief History of Steem Forks

Please bear in mind that this is a very brief summary from my research and observations. In the interest of balance, I've kept it as neutral as possible but you're welcome to find out the full details elsewhere if you wanted!

Economic Improvement Model - Hard Fork

Version (HF) 21, which was released around Q3 2020, had some colossal changes to the way the economics of the platform worked. So much so that it sent the blockchain in to meltdown, which required another upgrade (hard fork) to HF 22 to get it working again. A soft fork here wouldn't have been enough to fix it as the changes were colossal.

Temporary Freeze of Steemit Stake - Soft Fork

When STEEM was first being developed, Steemit Inc. (the lead chain developer) started giving itself tens of million of SP which they allegedly said repeatedly, "would only be used for the purpose of developing the underlying tech and not get involved with blockchain governance."

After Steemit Inc was sold to Tron in February 2020, the top 20 witnesses were concerned about how this SP would be used going forward so that it wouldn't be used to affect governance.

Therefore, they did a reversible minor upgrade (soft fork) to version 22.2, which wouldn't impact the use of the platform for a majority of users but prevented the use of Steemit Inc's original self-given millions of SP to vote on witnesses (and some other things like powering down and delegating).

Tron weren't happy about their newly purchased Steemit Inc. stake being frozen out like this and so set up 20 of their own witness servers which were voted in by various exchanges to create a new fork which would give that stake back and make the changes they wanted to make.

This resulted in a battle over governance which was only going to end one way...

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Hive - Hard Fork

And here we are...

There will be a hard fork on the 20th March 2020, which will be created by the (former) Steem witnesses who implemented soft fork v22.2 and will be a complete break away from the STEEM chain with the creation of a new brand called "Hive".

What this means for existing users of Steem is that everything will work exactly the same on Hive. You will still have your blogs, tokens and everything else but just replace the word "Steem" with "Hive" (so Hive Power, HP, Hive Backed Dollars, HBD etc.). The main difference being that new accounts cannot vote on witnesses for their first 30 days, which could be the security measure a DPoS blockchain needs... time will tell.

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Concluding Thoughts

After recent events, putting together this latest Bluffer's Guide was a no-brainer given that the topic of decentralised governance has been inescapable and it's likely that new and even more experienced users never really considered just how important witness voting is - I hope you do now!

It's completely up to you if you stay with Steem, move to Hive, use a different network altogether or even create your own chain but it all really depends what you're looking for with this. What I will say is whatever version you decide to end up on, do your research and most importantly have fun!

For this Bluffer, I've tried a balancing act of different platforms and it just doesn't work for me so I'll be going with the majority and where my friends are going, which looks to be Hive I suspect. There'll be a transition with the Your Top 3 contest though so watch out for announcements there as Q is on the case 😃

If there's anything you'd like me to cover next time, let me know!

As an aside, I don't work for Steem Hive, I'm just a guy who makes Drum & Bass music, writes travel blogs and these Bluffer's Guides from time to time, trying to make STEEM Hive as prosperous as it can be for every one so we can all win.

Now, back to the music studio 😉

Nicky

Source

All memes made by me at https://imgflip.com/memegenerator, gifs and images credited where appropriate

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 😃

Contents

  1. Welcome

  2. 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)?

  3. Buying Bitcoin
    3.1 Being secure with cryptocurrency & wallets
    3.2 How to Buy Bitcoin & How Exchanges Work

  4. Definitions of common phrases

  5. Portfolio Management

  6. Cryptocurrency News Outlets & Fluctuations in Price

  7. Blockchain Platforms for Musicians & Music Fans

  8. STEEM/Hive
    8.1 The Rewards Pool, Upvotes & Downvotes
    8.2 STEEM, SBD, STU, VP, SBD...WTF?
    8.3 Getting Started, Networking and Growing Your Account
    8.4 Keys & Account Security
    8.5 Witnesses, Governance & Forks (you are here)

  9. Concluding Thoughts (never getting here)

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Dear @nickyhavey

Such a great and valuable publication. Thanks for sharing this "comprehensive" and long guide it with me :)

I shared it with few guys from project.hope. I think they may benefit from reading your article.

What this means for existing users of Steem is that everything will work exactly the same on Hive.

Kind of. Will we have steemd.com to check our voting power? Will we have steemauto and steemworld? What about steemconnect and steem keychain? Not many things will work exacly the same way on hive.

After recent events, putting together this latest Bluffer's Guide was a no-brainer given that the topic of decentralised governance

Hive will show if decentralized governance can work out. Right now HIVE will be fully centralized. More than steemit ever was. And no storytelling will change it. Hive will be absolutely dominated by group of few closely realted users/businesses and I can forsee that anyone having different view on their actions will be quickly silenced.

Yours, Piotr

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Thanks a lot for this great article. It was quite hard to understand for me all that happened as I am only here since a little less than a year.

I have a question you may be able to answer : what will happen to communities ? I work a lot and use the steemleo community to share my blog/market analysis. And it is a very powerful tool for me. But will the steemleo community be driven into the hive ?

Thanks a lot @blesspatrick - I know how you feel. I've been here about 2 years now and there is a steep learning curve, I'm still learning now but hope to share what I know to make it a little easier!

Communities as in the hive communities? I believe they will all be on BOTH Steem and Hive chains but I can't speak for individual communities. I'll tag @steem.leo in here so that they might be able to answer - I also found a link to their Discord server that I had on a previous guide which you can join and ask them directly there.

I contacted them directly into the discord and received an answer. I post it here for all having the same questions :

“In the beginning days of the fork, you'll be able to interact with the same SteemLeo community on the Hive blockchain (using Hive.blog) or Steempeak Communities (when they're ready).

The Steemleo interface and LEO token won't be ready to move to Hive right when the hard fork happens.

A full post explaining what SteemLeo will be like post hard-fork will be released tomorrow.”

Thanks again for all your work and replies. Go on your great work @nickyhavey

Fantastic! Thanks for relaying the response! I thought this might be the case but always better to ask directly!

Keep your eyes on that post from SteemLeo by the sounds of it then 😃

This is great! Thanks!

One question - how will we move to Hive? Is there anything I ought to consider doing now? I know people are pulling delegations and powering down. Many have stopped posting already. It feels a lot like the Y2K buzz.

I'm carrying on as before for now, because I have no idea what else to do.

Hey @owasco! Thanks for checking it out and glad you found it helpful!

Firstly, the move to Hive is all automatic, you don't need to do anything, it's basically going to start off as a copy paste job with the Hive logo attached to it.

All pending payouts, delegations, balances (that includes in your 3 day savings), EVERYTHING, will move over.

I'm not sure why folks would be pulling delegations other than to powerdown more steem and sell it on the market when it's fully liquid. My guess is those folks will want to get some cash for their steem before everyone else dumps their steem and drives the price down I.e. The ones who definitely don't want to stay on the Steem chain but want to go fully to Hive chain.

Hope that made sense!

My advice, carry on doing what you're doing, there will be a transition period for those of us who are still trying to figure out what happened this last month but I hope this post clears the air a bit and whatever people decide, it's done with respect (that could be wishful thinking)!

Freaking out seems to be in style worldwide. I don't have enough value here to care about the money I might lose, and pulling delegations seems a lot like closing restaurants to protect ourselves from the common cold. I'll just carry on and not worry about, in part thanks to this post of yours. Thanks again for putting it together.

Haha well, I declare my blog a drama free zone 😁 I prefer finding things out, observing the views and actions from the different sides and then share the knowledge.

I have bought up about 24k steem with my own money so I don't want to wave goodbye to that just yet but I have also only bought what I could afford so also not too bothered if it goes to 0. I've spent more on other various liabilities (cars etc haha).

Keep on carrying on my friend, it will all work out in the end, I'm sure 😀

Hello Friend.

I don't want to be arrogant (I never have been) but with your nice explanations I could see that I was already in control of everything that was happening with steem - hive.

You know what? I am going to do the resteem (or "rehive"?) so that all my colleagues can read this clarifying post.

Good one, buddy! Thank you.

Hey Juan, glad you're already in control your end! That's what these guides are about as well, helping more experienced users reaffirm what they already know!

Thanks for stopping by and checking it!

Who knows where we'll be in the next month hey?

Who knows where we'll be in the next month hey?

I am totally convinced that we will be in the best place in the world!

My views well captured here.

In other words, vote the witnesses that best resemble your views and interests for the improvement and development of the chain.

It's what you want to see acted upon hence giving your rights to that person who you truly believes will act on your best faith.

Definitely and if you don't like the actions then you can easily unvote a witness and replace your vote with a new one that you trust.

Also good practice to review your witness votes regularly to make sure they are still active - some have been known to ghost without warning.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting 😀

Thank-you for putting together this information ! It helps clear up some confusion as we wait for the launch of the new blockchain HIVE!

You're most welcome @porters and thanks for stopping by! Glad it has helped clear the air a little bit as there's been a lot of noise but we wait with anticipation for Hive!

I'm still getting a handle on using Steem. If I have all of my Steem locked up as SP do I have to wait two years to unlock it and move over to Hive or what?

It's a never ending learning experience hey!

It takes 13 weeks (at time of writing) to fully power down all your SP into liquid STEEM - so you'll get 13 equal amounts each week converted from SP to STEEM.

As for getting Hive tokens, there will be a "snapshot" in the next day or two of your current STEEM holdings and you will get the equivalent amount of Hive tokens on Hive when it launches at the weekend.

If you want to move the STEEM tokens over to Hive then you'll need to exchange them - @blocktrades just made a post saying they will create a STEEM/HIVE instant exchange if you have liquid STEEM you want to convert.

Hope that helps 😀

Ok cool, that helps a lot. The snapshot includes Steem powered up as SP then? (Ie. I don't have to start a powerdown before the "snapshot" in order to migrate to be airdropped Hive tokens?)

That's it, it includes it all, even pending post payouts, anything in savings and any conversions you have going on from SBD etc. The lot (that's what I've been lead to believe from when I asked in the Hive Discord a day or two ago). So you don't need to powerdown for the snapshot.

However, I think a lot will be powering down after the snapshot and then using their steem to buy Hive to get a stronger position over there...

Yeah that makes sense. Ok I think I've got it now. Thank you @nickyhavey!

No worries @mark.ember! Happy to have helped 😁

Wow, this was a long but helpful read.
The guide important for newbies like me and i think i will have to bookmark this page on my browser, as this will make it easy for me to check back whenever i need a quick reminder.

Thanks a lot @papa-mensa, I'm glad you found it useful but I'm sure there will be more developments and things that need explaining as this space evolves!

Very well explained. Do you know if they are decreasing the number of votes each account gets for witnesses on HIVE?

Firstly, thanks for checking it out and leaving a comment, glad you found it useful.

As far as I know, I don't think HIVE is planning on doing that in the first instance - they are just going to be preventing new accounts voting on witnesses for the first 30 days. But I believe they will be having further discussions among the lead developers, witnesses and the community about how to tweak witness voting as time goes on.

The PAL Discord server is where a lot of the witnesses and developers are so you might be able to get an answer here is a link to that one. There is also a Hive Discord but I don't have a link for that one, sorry! Try PAL first - let me know if you get an answer 😃

Thanks a ton for the layman's terms of everything Steem/Hive. I've been here on and off the past 3 yrs and found it a steep learning curve. However now you have explained things quite clear and concise.

Hey @duanesworld, thanks for stopping by and checking out the post - glad you found it useful!

Yea very steep learning curve but for casual users like us, we probably just need to be aware of our options rather than get bogged down in all the technical details. It's only if you're a developer or want to be a witness then you probably need to have more technical knowledge.

What are your plans with Steem/Hive?

Resteemed already :) Upvote on the way

Thanks a lot @project.hope! Think we need a lot of that "h" word at the moment haha!

Thanks for this writeup @nickyhavey. You made me understand things I was worried about. :)

Hey hey @rem-steem, you're welcome and thanks for stopping by - glad it helped clarify a few things!

No need to be worried, just go with the flow and it will all work out fine 😀

I hope so.
Just another query, if you have any idea. I'm feeling really awkward right now with my user name. There are many steem based dapps like esteem also feeling the same, I guess. But I didn't see enough info if it's possible to migrate our account, like with a new user name. Any idea?

Hmm, good question.

As far as I know, everything will just be copied over as it is now so you will have the same username over on Hive.

The PAL Discord server has a load of knowledgeable people and the developers of the platform if you wanted to ask in there - here's a link to the Discord

I have a feeling you may have to start a new account with a different username if you wanted to lose the "steem" part of it but as it is a new platform, I'd like to think they can be flexible in the transition... I'll keep my fingers crossed you get the right answer 🤞

yeah, the username is unchangeable. Got the answer from Good-karma. And he's suggesting to make a new account and gradually transfer my fund there. Maybe have to do that. But I'm worried to build this same reputation over again.
Let's see what fits best.

Yea I thought that might be the case unfortunately 🙁

It's a good chance to rebrand yourself though and think of an "evergreen" username, rather than a platform specific one. As we have all learned, one platform isn't guaranteed to stay up and running in this space...

Drum & Bass eh?.

Followed :)

Haha! Probably the most important bit of the whole blog right there 😃

Nice one @greencross, good to meet a fellow dnb head! More of a liquid lover myself, how about you?

@nickyhavey,

Nice job mate. As I will undoubtedly screw up something technical regarding HIVE, I will be sure to solicit your insights ... SOON.

Quill

Thanks @quillfire! There's been a lot of noise to try and filter out and shorten the story for the casual users who probably aren't as into the whole governance side of things.

There really is no change to the way things will initially start on Hive other than new accounts can't vote witnesses in their first 30 days.

Also, it looks like 300+ accounts will have their airdrop put into the DAO if they voted 2 or more of Tron's witnesses...

Thanks a lot for this great article. It was quite hard to understand for me all that happened as I am only here since a little less than a year.

You're most welcome @technical01! Well, a lot has happened, even for the more experienced users, to get our heads around! I've been here 2 years and keeping your finger on the pulse isn't always easy but glad to be able to help out with these guides!

Great content, @nickyhavey!

Let's hope for the best!

That's it man! Always hope for the best and be open to change, let's see where we are in a month's time 😀

A great publication, a great guide that summarizes everything in a simple way, thanks for sharing it, it is sure to be very useful.

Thanks a lot for checking it out man! Glad you found it useful 😊

Ehm, what? I voted this up and it went from $85 to $67? xD

You are sure you pressed the upvote button right, not the other one? 😂

Is that a bug on Hive? Upvotes now decrease post rewards haha

Exciting times! We're creating history as we speak! The future of decentralization is bright with Hive!

Haha there's never a dull moment around here is there! Exciting time to be around with all these changes! No doubt a gradual transition period as people get to grips with what's going on but let's hope the lessons learned from the past will be rectified with Hive 😃

I hope so too! Together we have the ability to make something unique, something nobody has seen before!

What a huge Post, your insane! Cya on the other side.

Insane? I'll take that! Haha thank you and see you around 😃


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Well that's pretty badass! Wasn't expecting that, thanks @arcange! Just trying to shed some light on what's been going on here 😊