As I've mentioned in the past, someone's actions on the chain tell often more about the person than their words do. So here's a story about what someone decided to do recently and maybe why most people don't use their downvotes to improve Steem and proof of brain. In a perfect world people would not take downvotes personally and would attempt to see the whole picture but unfortunately we are just humans and emotions most of the time control what we do and how we act upon it.
For those who have not been following our activity since the HF, here's a quick guide through.
The HF introduced the curve where votes that didn't bring posts up to 20 Steem payout would get an exponential penalty the lower the rewards were the bigger the tax. Although I wasn't a big fan of this change cause it meant lower influence for most users on the platform that don't have a lot of stake I saw how it would be beneficial to combat low reward spam and hidden leeching and combined with all the other changes I also saw how it could be a good mix of having more votes deciding if a certain post should make it close or past the penalty - it all builds on content discovery and proof of brain and at the same time not over-rewarding certain posts. As we have seen the effects of it now it has worked pretty well, ex bid bot owners with a lot of stake using it to curate instead of letting their vp stay at 100% are carefully choosing what to curate, most want to curate posts that take them up past the penalty zone so they don't miss out on curation rewards while trying to front-run other curators on posts that they don't mind voting afterwards because the posts are just worth it. It's beautiful really, it's a mix of greed and pick and choose where certain posts get curated anyway because they deem worthy of rewarding the front-runners because of the content whereby some ignore the ones that were front-run and try their luck on other posts that aren't past the penalty yet in hopes for someone else coming in after them and voting. These are of course things that I personally don't care much about but I'd be lying if I don't some times vote on posts I think will get more votes after, it's how the system works right now and it is much better than it was in the past. Some will of course only focus on front-running and maximizing their rewards but in a way that also adds to curation as they'll have to carefully choose which authors or posts they do so on.
At the same time it added 25% free downvotes to combat abuse such as promotion, vote-trading and self-voting or closed group voting. Now without getting too much into the details on this one it was also seen as something beneficial for proof of brain and policing/regulation the reward pool combined with all the other changes.
So me and some other users started using our downvotes with ocdb, in the beginning when we were still selling votes for the first couple weeks we focused on heavy vote-trading. Two very big accounts were targeted where one realized what they were doing and had done for the past many months was wrong and wanted to give #newsteem a try, the other retaliated on @ocd posts that had nothing to do with it and only rewarded our curators for their work but that's how it is, the accounts are similar in name so it's an easy target, even though they understood later that I was in charge of the downvotes and retaliated on my account too they kept it up for some time. In the end though they changed their ways and started curating more broadly which was a win for Steem and proof of brain.
Once we decided to go all in on #newsteem and stopped selling votes and manually curating everything we wanted others to do the same. We are not anti vote selling, there's a need for that too but during these times and bear market it was obvious that not many were interested in actually promoting their content as much as they were interested in the returns they could make by buying votes. The good thing here is that many bid bots adapted and started selling votes that were not profitable - although the adjustment was rather small but you can't sell much smaller votes cause that would mean less trending time, but it was understood that if some people don't like the ads or think the cost of said ads was too small (i.e. someone promoting a new gambling dapp would still get 90% of their promotion cost back after trending all day it would only be natural to downvote said post so the returns would be much smaller, in the real world there are no direct returns, people promote something for the attention and what that would bring in such as new users, traffic, and possible returns by using the dapp and they'd pay a lot up front without knowing the outcome of said ads).
Now when we were downvoting posts which 90%+ of were not for promotion, were bid botted late and the quality was garbage and obvious it was just for the ROI (before bid bots adjusted the ROI) certain owners would call us out that we are targeting them to "destroy" their business. Some accused us of downvoting them just because we shared delegator and that we were trying to ruin their returns in comparison to ours even though we were downvoting all bid bots we could think of in term to get them to stop selling votes to anyone or at least curate and police them better. One of the owners took it really personal, so much so that he decided to dig in to other projects of mine and come out with accusations of me cheating them and all that nice stuff. It was cute but I don't tolerate such bullshit when my actions on this chain have always been against being one of the maximizers or someone attempting to harm the ecosystem. You might say I added to the bid bots with @ocdb but as I've said many times in the past it was something that felt necessary and one of the lesser evils when our whitelist only had curated authors and we ran it at no profit after launching it late when we saw no change in the economy on the horizon. Once that change came we adapted quickly into curation.
So okay, this post is already getting really long and you might be wondering where it's going. Let me just say a few more things about our downvotes and why the current system sucks for those using them.
There's a lack of retaliation combating. @blocktrades was one of the few big accounts who automated haejin's and rancho's abusive downvotes and it quickly got the latter to do curation instead of wasting all of his future curation rewards, at least from what I've noticed that account doing lately. People like to hold grudges. As I mentioned in a post recently it is important for those doing the downvoting to curate the content constantly as well and not just continuously downvote just because of what that author has done in return. You have to be professional about it or else you're not much different than them.
At the same time @ocdb was a really big account which meant a lot of eyes on its curation and a lot of responsibility. Responsibility that we won't be abusing it's voting power by giving ourselves an advantage and votes, that was a no-brainer not to abuse though cause considering how many people it pissed off, especially ex bid bot owners who were not selling as many votes now meaning their returns had dropped and other people running vote-selling services it would quickly come back to bite us if we attempted to use it for our own sake. For the longest time we didn't self-vote but then came a time where the grudge holding people just kept retaliating, worst off when it was on users that had nothing to do with it like our team of curators. It's not difficult to see how so many are downvoting @ocd's posts that go out through beneficiaries to the curators while they vote on other automated curation reports. At the same time it's also not hard to see who is doing the downvoting, abusers such as @dobartim who are blacklisted by @buildawhale and his friend @flysky who are steemcleaned but kept trying to post garbage nonsensical poetry to keep their image up of being "Dr. Great SUCCESS" or whatever scams they were running in their discord. Most of our downvotes have had a reason and even though we lately have only focused on a few people cause we hoped @curangel's more decentralized downvoting would take care of new things and alert us of their findings so we could help them with downvotes (we were following their downvotes for a while) - it seems to have gone down and been down for some time now. Who knows why but I'm starting to understand the disadvantage that comes with being the people downvoting at these times when we're still so early in the transition phase and people still take downvotes so personal. It's kind of funny considering we are downvoting to help Steem which is what they themselves are invested in and they retaliate on that activity and activity that is there to help Steem further. Look for instance at the blind downvotes of @ocd's Gods Unchained tournmanets which we take no cut from and have been running for months trying to build a community of players introduced to Steem and are constantly getting in new ones.
So what triggered me to make this post. One of said bid bot owners who accused me of targeting them for ulterior motives, who doubled down and accused me of cheating my own Fantasy Football tournaments, who downvoted @ocd posts while automating his own reports and having his bid bot friends vote them up, who recently received most of freedom's stake threw a nice downvote on one of my recent posts taking it down from $105 to $30. Sounds a bit much wouldn't you say? Well let's look at the details, shall we.
As I mentioned before, we didn't self-vote for the longest time, but when there's 4-5 big stake holders retaliating on @ocd's and my posts constantly at some point enough is enough and we started voting it to mitigate that abuse. Not just ourselves though but other users that are targeted by them as well. You can easily track their downvotes either on steemd or on the steemreports downvote page: http://steemreports.com/outgoing-flags-info/
Here's the chart of one of these classy retaliators:
It would only take you a few seconds to check out his content, his usual replies and the words used in the posts to realize that this is either a malfunctioning AI bot that's been through a difficult childhood or it's someone trying to produce garbage content and tag it with poetry to sneak away with rewards. If you dare to call him out on it or the rest of the history of what he's done on Steem or how he's accumulated most of his SP you'll find yourself in a deep rabbithole that I don't want to get into right now, but his actions of retaliation on not just the big users downvoting him but any small account daring to use their downvotes will instantly get retaliated upon by him and his friend @flysky:
The amount of flags does not seem to be working properly on steemreports so take it with a grain of salt, there's a lot more of them if you look through the @ocd posts or mine.
You might wonder why his posts are zero'd out, well we tried being nice about it and just lowering it for the longest time but continous retaliation and no improvement in quality (it's weird, he could just be creating poetry in his own language and most people wouldn't have anything against it or his lack of english and wouldn't downvote it, so why is he so stubborn to create gabarge in english - probably cause the only way he's gotten to that high rep has been by using his stake to vote-trade with and his content as a placeholder for rewards and if he were to write in his own language other vote-traders would not have a reason to justify voting it when they don't understand it).
Similar to these constant downvotes at some point we started voting up ocd with ocd and ocdb, it has a lot of downvoting fans nowadays who are there either because of retaliation, because they didn't like certain posts we voted on at some point in the past or people who hold a grudge for what we have done with ocdb.
So to get back to my post, I was pretty happy with this post. It was a really fun interview, a promising upcoming blockchain game who was looking into adding splinterlands into its mix and give the game and Steem more attention. You might think this was promoted content but I wouldn't have anything against buying votes if it was and I've mentioned in the past that if I ever post about something I gain a profit from to promote it, I would address this in the post. Since I found this post to be of high value not just for splinterlands (who I've talked to @yabapmatt about to try and connect the devs to find a solution on how they could be integrated) and the interview and post itself took a lot of time and combine it with all the downvoting I've been receiving in the past few months I decided to vote it up with @ocdb as well. Something I don't do often, looking at ocdb's voting pattern the past 30 days I'm at 0.8% votes on my account and 0.9% in the last 14 days.
Anyway I found the post to be of value to Steem in general, did it deserve $105 of rewards? Probably not, we also have some trails that seem to go off at random. Would I have been triggered if it had gotten downvoted by the usual people who downvote? Not at all, I'm a big proponent of downvotes and encourage everyone to use them, in fact we have a lack of usage and I keep defending people using them whether they have delegated stake or not.
But... a 100% downvote from an account with 5.5m SP, who's only downvotes before that have been on users who literally just spam the chain:
well, you be the judge if you think that was disagreement on rewards or maybe something else with a history behind it. :)
I don't mind the slashing of rewards either, I know there are many others out there in worse positions right now and even though I try to combat some of that retaliation I can't be everywhere until we find a better solution to automate it but that also requires trust in the people doing the mitigation. I am also fine in general cause a lot of other stake holders support my content because they know I'm not just an author here and I spend most of my time doing diverse steem things such as onboarding, approaching, "shilling" and curation and they want to reward me with autovotes and the likes.
One thing that is pretty sad, though, is how those downvoting are treated in the short term and long term because people hold a grudge. Can you imagine how many downvotes @trafalgar would get if he attempted to post something right now? Since he's been a big proponent for downvotes and used his wide and consistently, he'd get so much retaliation back if he decided to post right now I bet, and it's sad cause I really liked his posts in the past as he is pretty funny. What I'm saying is that I am understanding those who don't use their downvotes to clean up this place, one way or another you are going to tick off some people who are either going to instantly retaliate on your content or someone you curate or a project you run, or they will let it sit there building up and come at you later when it won't even matter what your content is about or what you do for Steem or how you are directly helping their own investment to grow in value. They will want to take you out because of something in the past they didn't like.
Think about it, if we hadn't downvoted those obvious bid bot purchases that were landing on garbage content and just being used for ROI. If bid bots hadn't adjusted their votes to not be profitable and mainly be used for promotion like they are today. Not trying to take much credit here cause we weren't the only ones and I really, really appreciate those who stopped selling votes altogether, but what would Steem be looking like today if no one had? More importantly, what would the returns of said bid bots be like if they were still selling profitable votes and not curating - what would the content creators not buying votes be making today withotu curation.
I understand that missing out on those returns is something one could hold a grudge over, I also understand that there is no limit to profit and greed. I understand that those who played by the systems rules are doing much better today in terms of stake and control over the rewardpool, it's just the way it is. Who knows how the system is going to change in the near future but it's a shame that those who should have a lot of responsibility decide to use it this way just because they can and just because we decided to put a stop on their ROI to help Steem become something else than another shitty proof of stake coin where content doesn't matter and trending was filled with garbage as long as it was lining their pockets.
All I can do is tell my story and you decide what you make of it.