What an unbelievable last year it's been! In some ways, I have no idea where the past months have gone; in others, I've barely been able to keep up as I've crammed them full of stuff and my responsibilities have grown. I wouldn't trade them for anything.
Over this past year especially, I've had to make a lot of hard decisions, do the best I can to balance my time (yes, you've heard this tune before) and prioritize big picture items over the smaller Crim-centric ones. This is a much needed update, now that I have time to sit down and breathe to write it out for you after months on the road. Let's preface this by saying: I'm proud of me but also wtf just happened?! Skip to the highlighted hexagonal points if you don't actually care about the details but need to know the gist!
The FollowBTCNews witness has been shut down permanently. Your support has meant everything- now it is time to please reallocate your vote to another deserving candidate!
I'm not leaving and nothing else is changing. Don't panic. Unless you want me gone, in which case, yikes, sorry about it, but you're quite stuck with me 🖤
Some of you have noticed that my witness has been disabled for the past little while, and some of you have even checked in on me to make sure I'm okay. I'll be posting shortly from that account so that people who are unsure are able to revoke their vote and make a new choice, but firstly for those of you who are wondering why, I certainly owe you an explanation after a great run as one of your longer term consensus block producers.
The short-ish answer is that our witness account was always meant to run as a team. We were, as far as I know, one of the first ever- two people who agreed to match up their skills to create a better functioning witness and that allowed us to cover more ground. We never worried about block rewards or money; Jeff and I simply agreed that we would split what we had after server bills and infrastructure costs, and that was that. Over the past few years, Jeff has experienced some horrible life situations, including medical problems that have very much required his full attention and most of his life savings. This has meant that overall, I've been running the witness alone. That's fine! But we were to a point where all of the witness earnings above and beyond costs were going into helping support him through his hardships. After things smoothed out for him, we had begun discussing what the future of the witness looked like and how we would handle it going forwards, as neither of us felt that that was what we wanted the block productions rewards used towards and that we knew it was getting a bit inequitable.
Let me tell you; it is very hard to be torn between loving your friends and taking care of them, and loving your entire blockchain and taking care of it. Hive has become my full time career, on top of my full time career; albeit one that I've worked towards largely unpaid for the past few years. It is difficult to describe the practical and emotional aspects of that, as I've had a lot of "well, you're top 20 and you're rich!" or "you have to work for it or else you don't deserve the spot anyways!" flung my way, and to a degree, I've always understood where the sentiment came from. I've also earned every vest that has come from block production, and then some.
If you'd like to hear a very tired me discuss this period while it was still very raw at length, there is a video of a show I had with some of our community that was never meant to see the light of day. The private link is here, and I either may or may not regret sharing it; I am hesitant to present this much of me, but it's far too late to put the genie back in the bottle now. Don't watch it if you just want to read a few sentences instead. After a long holding pattern while I threw myself into other work around the chain rather than make a decision either way, the universe stepped in to get things moving. It turns out that Jeff at some point in the past had compromised the top authority on his account. I woke up to a key change, a vesting route change, new powerdown, and a horrible gut punch.
There's lots to be said here, but the easiest is that it was likely compromised years ago, and only now was capitalized on as part of a wave of a few hundred accounts. When you're on a team, it doesn't matter whose 'fault' it might be- only that it's always your responsibility to fix it. I went around to our very largest voters and asked them to move us out of the top 20 by unvoting us; when my number one job is to secure the network, I feel it is unacceptable to be doing that with an account that has been compromised, even though that doesn't impact the blockchain specifically because of the safety of Hive's design and because your wallet keys don't automatically grant access to your hardware and node infrastructure.
I've used this opportunity over the last month since it happened to talk a lot about all of the security features that Hive has that worked flawlessly because I believe if bad stuff has to happen, then the least you can do is use it for good- what better way to underline that we have a robust block production schedule, consensus requirements and a whole network of backups, the ability to recover keys, tiered keys and staking which give protection to funds and adequate time to respond to a threat. For most of you, and for the blockchain, this whole thing didn't matter at all! Not even a little; not even a blip. And so, we plummeted out of consensus and I used this crappy circumstance to become even more of an advocate for Hive's structure, and as a chance to sunset the witness and the team which have come to a natural end. I just needed to come to terms that I simply can't be perfect and in control all the time. After more than a month on the road and now another hardfork under our belts, I am okay with saying, "I am tired and need to rest for a moment."
The FollowBTCNews witness owner key was compromised alongside hundreds of accounts, likely years ago before we had great open source options for key management and transaction signing for dApps. It's recovered and fine now.
The lovely part of an immutable, transparent ledger is that any of you can check on this whole string of events for yourself. And, as many of you are wont to do, you have been asking about the new powerdown in place for this now disabled witness. The HP represents the better part of five years of hard work, of dedication, and of being a part of the creation of Hive. I am diverting a larger portion of the funds to my account to grow it, as I've always been doing with my portion of things. Since I haven't always gotten an allocation month to month, the split is a bit lopsided, in my favour. We're both comfortable with this, as it is deserved, and it allows Jeff to finally say that he's done witnessing in name to go along with in deed and focus on his health and his life. It frees me up a bit to not have that aspect of things weighing on my mind.
So that's the worst of the unpleasant stuff out of the way! To address one more question that has been coming alongside all the others... but what do you even do around here? You came into and fell out of the top 20 and the blockchain never even noticed. Now what? I do not usually like to list things out, as it makes me feel like I am protesting too much to prove my relevancy and effort or just bragging, both of which feel very uncomfortable. However, here we are with my supporters saying "tell everyone proudly!", my detractors saying "prove you mean it", and most importantly, a huge part of our ever-growing community who I have not been able to meet or help yet who have no idea I exist.
I do a lot of "invisible work" for Hive, which is a big part of how I help make sure this network grows stronger and more robust day to day. With or without block production, I believe it is meaningful, so here's the shortest incomplete summary I can make.
consensus block producer(okay, it's a joke 😅)
- community and dApp liaison. This is a made up term, but what it means for me is every time one of our groups or projects has a problem, needs help with code, needs to be help kept informed, needs advice, funds, account recovery, layman's explanations, info changed on repositories or Hive websites, an introduction, conflict mediation or more information on how Hive fits with what they're trying to accomplish, I'm there. I spend usually 2-3 hours of the day before my job most days helping coordinate developers, community builders, witnesses, end users, newbs, while moderating discords and telegram gathering places; you name it. My long term goal is to help people find smooth paths through the crazy and difficult communication of a decentralized ecosystem. We have a social blockchain, but sometimes having a project manager and human resources person is what really helps get things moving. @guiltyparties does this too, and he's been an amazing friend and colleague over the years while we've tackled this head on. As we come through the bulk of core chain upgrades, it will be more important than ever to understand what devs and projects need from Hive and help them either create it or communicate it, while onboarding more people ready to join in. When it's hardfork time, I go to directly the people who have projects and sites, developers, etc. and check to see if they're ready, need help, or if I can get them tested or the info and push to start testing. It is weeks of personal check ins and record keeping; I am literally Hive's naggy mom. I do the same thing with Hive's business relationships and exchanges.
- Speaking of exchanges, I help out all over the place there as well. It's usually around hardfork and listing times when there's a flurry of activity. Getting announcements made, info to tech teams (though our core dev liaisons do the heavy setup lifting! 🧙), informing and prepping through code upgrades, filling out forms, preparing pitches and legal documents, negotiating and helping plan cross promotions, and a bunch of other very tedious and very unfortunately non-anonymous work. I've been around since the legacy fork split, and have been doing this since before Hive ever existed and during it's creation. This often includes meetings in the middle of the night with overseas teams, graphics, video work, and so many presentations. AMAs, in text, voice, or in video usually also fall to me. It is a lot of heavy negotiation and thinking on my feet while trying to bridge the gap between strict corporate structure and a grassroots codebase.
- Speaking of speaking! 😂 I do a lot of help with communicating what Hive is and can and will be. I travel for conferences, do talks that range from beginner's first crypto all the way up to technical and philosophical discussions on Web3, Hive's origin, distribution and importance in the scheme of truly decentralized governance and technological benefits. While it started out as hosting a weekly live personal radio show and stream simply just explaining complex topics to make Hive easier to grasp, it's turned into being one of the faces for Hive and all of its dApps amd users, guest spots on podcasts, live spaces on crypto twitter groups, outreach, debates and panels at crypto gatherings, online conference presentations, exchange knowledge sessions and interviews and yes, even public speaking engagements out and around the world in person. I was blown away by the interest and enthusiasm from a whole new group of users after a brief intro talk last week at Splinterfest in Las Vegas! While many people attending were veteran Hive users, many more had no idea it automagically powers their favourite game and I was able to connect with a bunch of game devs, dApps, project managers and more who I look forward to helping navigate a really bright future here.
- Communications matter, and so do relationships. Though Hive isn't corporate, being your own form of professional matters. In the "real" meatsack world, my career straddles web development and graphic design; I manage teams, produce content, guide a brand story, harmonize messaging, design on and offline environments and do light code work to make them look and perform the way they need to. I write scripts and design UI; I create documents and marketing materials; I spend entire days resolving conflict so contractors can be supported but also accountable. Being a creative and a dev and having this 15 year career in my corner helps me be of better use to our ecosystem and the people here, because everything I do offline for a big company, I also do here for Hive. I spend a lot of time working on comms and socials, proofreading, copy writing, helping make or give feedback on graphics, websites, merchandise, cost management, channeling people into tasks and things that they'll be interested in and can help out with, and all manner of weird little incidentals that crop up as you try to arrange events, services, and upgrades inside a constantly evolving social ecosystem. In the coming year, via @valueplan as well as in concert with our dApps and core devs, there will be more initiatives and legacy work that I'll be working to bring to life, manage, mentor, and help strengthen.
This list is already not-so-short and is woefully incomplete, but hopefully it helps you understand why I'm very proud of the past half decade even as I'm telling you the unfortunate final news about our team witness. I do also work with and for a number of projects and communities, many of which I helped create starting back in 2017 and onwards, and I've been heavily involved in leadership in the ecosystem dating right back to the days of helping out Steemit Inc with a lot of these tasks... and then breaking away and doing them for ourselves as part of the team who created and prepared Hive for the split. Like so many of you doing amazing things, I've been here building through the very worst, through disaster and triumph, and I look forward to figuring out where I can take on even more.
I could pad this out like a resume with all of the personal accomplishments and projects that I've worked on or am working on, but I feel like those are less relevant to the question of "what do you do for the Hive ecosystem itself" so as awesome as they all are I'm leaving them out for now. I am not leaving, and nothing at all is changing. The shut down witness and powerdown on the witness account is not because I don't intend to keep at all the tasks that need doing and the goals that we're setting; I am just tired of carrying some parts of the burden by myself and realized that with conferences, travel, and hardfork 26 that the smartest thing I could do was focus on those and let every other block producer continue to move Hive along. Go ahead and ask or suggest whatever you need to if somehow this absolute unit of a novel didn't address something.
If you read all this, you're nuts. But I appreciate it. Even if I often am really busy and am slow to get back to you, or haven't really had time for updates, I have a responsibility to all of you over this whole event. I'll keep on helping you out, keeping you informed, and doing my best. If you were voting for @followbtcnews, I value that trust you put into me, knowingly or not. Please use the awesome features of this blockchain to support another witness as they work to help make Hive even better and more secure. 🖤