I was fighting Goblins and then my blockchain got soft-forked

in steem •  3 months ago  (edited)

If you're looking for an outspoken opinion on the SoftFork 22.2 then this is not your post. I'm still looking for answers to my questions so I can form my opinion.

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Well, that was another eventful 24 hours on Steem. I was playing Dungeons & Dragons all day yesterday, fighting Goblins and defeating evil Goblin Kings and meeting my elven-thieve-father who is a textile trader and adventurer (yes, really, I made him up myself :D). I was basically blowing off some steam from a 12-hour day of being a different person walking around in made-up worlds including the magical FeyWilds when I browsed Steem and Discord, and... saw this announcement being made.

Only one short glance on that post was needed to get me back in this world, the 'real' world, although there's a virtual world in that real world where this was all taking place.

A Soft Fork.

And not just some random one: one where the 'Steemit Inc related accounts' are prevented from doing certain things, like voting on witnesses and moving funds. Basically blocking the owner of said accounts (Justin Sun) to do anything with the stake he recently bought.

This Soft Fork was discussed by witnesses and community members (only those with the biggest mouths or wallets in the 'secret Slack' that we're supposed to not see as a 'secret Slack' I assume) and then shaped into code, tested, and put 'live' yesterday evening (at least it was for me).

Around midnight we went online in the PALnet server to discuss WTF was happening - while the steemd.com/witnesses page was already showing witness after witness supporting this Soft Fork.

My first reaction was...

...GOOD. The witnesses came together and decided on action to protect their/our chain. In very very generic terms that's what we need witnesses to do and they did that.

My second reaction was...

...WRONG. It feels terribly aggressive to implement such a change without setting up a proper meeting with 'The Suspect' (Justin Sun) first, ask him about his intentions, and maybe even get some important points in writing (on the chain).

On later thought...

Often the truth is somewhere in the middle (Talking is good but what if the Soft Fork comes too late? Stuff like that) but I'm mainly left with a lot of questions.

I do and appreciate the fact that when witnesses perceived a real threat they decided to 'take action to prevent a bad thing from happening'. BUT in my world, talking, showing respect and patience and maybe even hospitality and an 'I'll show you around' kind of attitude always comes before action. Seeing that we ALL were taken by surprise only a little more than a week ago by the sudden sale of Steemit, Inc to Justin Sun: how much time did we actually have to set up a call/meeting/communication channel, realistically?

Was it tried? In what way and by who? Was it rejected or just ignored? And if ignored, for how long before these actions were taken?

I asked the same thing on the post but have gotten no real answer. 'Communication was being sought', but in what way, with what question/language and invitation and perceived urgency was that done?


As I understand it for now the Soft Fork was done with at least some of the following things in mind:

  • Ned promised (not, by my knowledge, on-chain but in quirky interviews) 'stuff' about the ninja-mined stake that is property of Steemit, Inc (now owned by Justin Sun) like not using it to vote on witnesses, and so now that stake is sold Justin Sun is supposed to use it like Ned promised. And we have no way of knowing if he will or even understands we have certain expectations about how the stake should be used.
  • Justin Sun showed last week he is capable of surpassing 'community rules' on Tron by voting in 2 superrepresentatives and this is something we don't want to see repeated on Steem. This is a big one but as I understand it Tron basically can't do anything if not all 27 SR’s are on board, which is a different situation than we have on Steem.
  • The countless vagueness on what is going to happen with our coin didn't help either - there are still messages/updates on 'STEEM being moved to TRON/token swap' on for example Poloniex but also their Medium page that make people nervous. Justin Sun said about these rumours that this would not happen for now and Steem would operate 'as it does' for now. Especially the for now spreads doubt - is that simply his way of speaking or does it mean he will change his mind about this at some point?

Now, the above is only a summary from what I understand has been discussed by the witnesses before they decided to take action. I have no real way of knowing what was discussed and by whom as we will never see any transcripts of the discussion that happened on this topic.

To me truth is in the details: tone and intent matter, not just the actions taken. Who was the initiator? Who followed without questions asked? Who played the devils advocate? Who was opposed but 'joined the majority' anyway? Who seemed to really follow his beliefs and who just followed along?

To me this all matters and makes the process and actions taken yesterday so incredibly frustrating. How can I know which witnesses to vote on if I don't get any insight in what they discuss, how they discuss it, and what they base their actions on?

Again, I could just look at the witness list and base my votes on who does/doesn't support HardFork 22.2, but that really is not the whole story.

Not enough for me, at least, although I also understand those who for now just vote/unvote the general actions taken, but looking past the current situation - I'm none the wiser.

I've seen many witnesses say this is 'only a temporary thing'

It is reversible, and it's meant as a means of pressure to get Justin Sun to explain his intentions for Steem, after which the Soft Fork can be made undone so he can do with his stake what he wants again.

This sounds good, in theory, but this only leaves me with more questions:

  • What, then, have the witnesses decided is the GOAL once they finally speak with him?
  • What does Justin have to do/promise after which a reversal of the Soft Fork will take place?
  • Will the witnesses be happy with 'clear communication by Justin Sun/Steemit Inc from now on'?
  • Will the witnesses be happy with a post on the blockchain by Justin Sun that states his plans for the next... what, 6 months? 6 years? Forever?
  • Will the witnesses be happy when he sends his stake to @null?
  • Donate them to the Steem Proposal Funds?
  • Airdrop his stake to the Steem community?
  • ...?

I feel this is where the actions of yesterday lack the most: in a clear well-defined goal. 'We took you hostage and THIS is what we want in return'. I've not yet seen what Justin Sun exactly has to 'give in return' for his Steem Hostage situation. I also can't find if and how the statement posted yesterday was delivered to him - with a clear letter stating the history of the Ninja-mined stake and Ned's promises, therefore explaining in detail why 'the community' might see the takeover as a threat? Or...?

What I'm afraid of is that a pretty invasive decision was taken without knowing exactly when to reverse it.


Please add to the discussion, correct me where I'm wrong, challenge me to think about it differently, I'm really just sharing my thoughts and all the questions I feel are unanswered.

It's one of those things you can look at in black & white, from an ethical or more practical standpoint, from a witness, community or stakeholder perspective, and which probably has more than one 'truth'. I'd still like to find some sort of 'final opinion' for myself though. I do applaud all the witnesses for trying to take an action that they believed was right, because if I have this many questions they must've had them too - and more.

I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision, and I'm very anxious to see if it will turn out to be the right one.

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I didn't want to edit the post, but this is an announcement by Justin Sun that states he will 'speak with the community' on March 6th. It's a first step, but he will really have to prove to me/us that he has read up on Steem(it), has a vision on the future of Steem(it) and Tron, and not just 'checks in for a happy chat' like he (in my view) wanted the AMA to be.

...WRONG. It feels terribly aggressive to implement such a change without setting up a proper meeting with 'The Suspect' (Justin Sun) first

Witnesses did reach out for clarifications on the most pressing questions regarding the planned use for the Steemit Inc stake and if it would be considered to be used for witness voting within minutes of the announcement of the acquisition.

There's been a lot of well intended effort to correct much of the communications coming from Tron that have suggested Steem and its dApps being "migrated" to Tron (consider this article from today as the latest).

I can't speak for everyone who now runs patch 22.2, but for me and my team, we need to better understand the new direction for Steemit Inc and how it plans to utilize its stake, as well as some measures for the community to trust that it will be used as stated.

Myself, I will be spending a lot of time the next few days working to help create a mutually beneficial outcome. I think we have a lot of possibilities now that the need for marketing talent and resources are potentially there, and the community is more active than ever.

Thanks for replying @fredrikaa, I appreciate it.

Witnesses did reach out for clarifications on the most pressing questions regarding the planned use for the Steemit Inc stake and if it would be considered to be used for witness voting within minutes of the announcement of the acquisition.

Did you/them get any response on these attempts? No response or an 'avoiding' response imply different things.

I can't speak for everyone who now runs patch 22.2, but for me and my team, we need to better understand the new direction for Steemit Inc and how it plans to utilize its stake, as well as some measures for the community to trust that it will be used as stated.

What kind of measures should I think about? What would make you and your team feel confident we can let Justin Sun 'handle his stake' again? :-)

Myself, I will be spending a lot of time the next few days working to help create a mutually beneficial outcome. I think we have a lot of possibilities now that the need for marketing talent and resources are potentially there, and the community is more active than ever.

Agreed. I see so many possibilities. I was actually starting to get excited about 'our new friend Justin' and what it could mean for us, and then this happened - not saying this will turn back the possibilities, but it is a risk. A risk I understand is big enough to take actions on, but a risk nonetheless, and one with some big ethical question marks I have not yet found an definitive answer on :-)

Wishing you and your team the wisdom that's needed to make the most out of what is happening now and in the past few weeks. Cheers.

Did you/them get any response on these attempts? No response or an 'avoiding' response imply different things.

Our first experience was being told we could provide a list of questions for the AMA with Ned and Sun. After having carefully come together around aset of questions and handed them over, they were ignored in the AMA.

We continued to stress the urgency to know how if the new owner planned to use the stake similar to the conditions that have been made and taken for granted by the community and investors for years, namely that it shall not vote and be used to grow Steem, and were told that it would be a "high priority" to get that answered. It was asked more or less daily for the past 10 days.

What kind of measures should I think about? What would make you and your team feel confident we can let Justin Sun 'handle his stake' again? :-)

To me, there should be no possible way for the stake to be used for witness voting. Actions may include disabling the voting rights on the account (which can be done as an irreversible action by the account owner). It could also wait until a new hardfork where we limit the number of votes to 10 which would mean that nobody would be able to single-handedly vote in a sufficient number of witnesses to have a supermajority. I would also need a clear and public statement on what the intended use of the funds would be. At least it is something the community should know since so many have invested money in this chain on the assumption that this particular stake would be used to market and grow it. Whether or not I would fully agree with it is less important.

with some big ethical question marks I have not yet found an definitive answer on.

This was by no means an easy decision. But I believe it was the only responsible thing to do in the end. It feels wrong to deny network access to a certain user (which is what the witnesses are doing. No account details are changed. Nor is the blockchain changed. Access to it is denied), but I believe it would be irresponsible to allow an account to have the complete power to practically destroy everyone's value here. I don't want to assume bad intentions on Tron's side the way I've seen many do since the acquisition. Regardless of who the buyer was, such a vulnerability should not exist. Thus my main regret is not to see this action made, but that it should have been done 3-4 years ago in one way or another.

Love this post. Thank you for explaining it and voicing your thoughts so clearly. I understand better what's going on, and look forward to seeing what kind of communication comes out of it. As for me, I'm gonna sit back and watch... for now. ;)

Glad the post was able to add some clarification to all that is happening - it's a lot :D

And definitely, sitting back and relaxing is all you can do sometimes... March 6th will get us some new insights.

i tried to get an answer to the attempted communication in different places, all public as i don't know any inside people :) and what i got so far, justineh responded with:

"Multiple attempts were made to contact him or his team by multiple people through many means - email, slack, etc There was no response until his post went out shortly after the announcement post."

Thanks @bil.prag, and yes, I do understand now that contact has been made, but I'm curious about the details at it tells a lot about tone, intent, and also timing :-)

Great post! I agree with all that you shared and the tone you shared it in (neutrally asking important questions and sharing your opinions and concerns without undue accusations). It’s posts like this that will help those (like me) who are not as close to it to learn the issues of concern to the community.

Very glad it was a useful read to you @jdkennedy! I always doubt writing these posts as there's often a lot of people repeating the same points, but I'm glad I did :-) It also helps me organize my own thoughts about it, and by reading other posts I also gain new insights - maybe I'll write an update on my stance later this week :-)