I have become accustomed to often being downvoted by swarms of those attempting to punish me and many others for exercising free speech because we choose to voice politically incorrect or dissident views. And in all my time on this blockchain, I have never written an entire post on the downvote issue, despite it being an issue of major debate, but it has now come to my attention that certain downvote behavior I was not even aware of - what can accurately be described as policing rewards - is beginning to drive good people who are creating original / well-researched content away from this otherwise great platform, so I will now finally make a short post to address the issue and share my views on the subject.
From the start, I have never been a fan of the downvote function, as it seems to be the cause of far more of what I would describe as blockchain or power abuse than the supposed good it does to reign in blockchain abuse it was set up to, such as plagiarized / fraudulent content or spam. I have never understood why certain users would spend so much time and energy to hunt for content they disagree with to downvote when they have the power to support content they support, but such is the way of many stuck in negative thought patterns of this world, rather spending majority of resources punishing those they disagree with than supporting those they do. I don't make a practice of downvoting, in fact as far as I can recall I have only downloaded a post once, and have resolved to never do so again. We only strengthen what we fight against, and so I believe it is far healthier and more productive to spend our time, energy and resources building the world we want to see than fighting against what we don't support, and that's how I use my votes, to support posts and users I want to. If I really disagree with a post so much so that I don't wish to ignore it, I will leave a comment, but why downvote? Others clearly do not feel the same way, rather feeling they have the 'right' to downvote whoever they want to, without leaving a comment to tell the user why they are 'punishing' them or what they did 'wrong' to 'deserve' the flag / reward adjustment. And I suppose it is their right, as long as downvotes are built into the blockchain, which is why I've wondered for a while now if the harm caused by this function in fact far outweighs the little good it may accomplish in diminishing spam, plagiarism, and the like. From my perspective that does certainly appear to be the case, and increasingly so as the days go by.
Now it has come to my attention that not only are their swarms of mindless trolls whose only response to speech they can't stand is with a downvote absent any comment or debate, but there are also those, at least one prominent user anyhow, who acts as the blockchain reward pool police, policing rewards by downvoting content deemed by their subjective opinion to be 'too high'. I became aware of this only because the user, who I was previously unaware of, targeted two of my posts in a row, around the same time @thoughts-in-time was hit with a huge downvote on similar content of his own, prompting me to look for a reason for the massive downvotes, at which point I realized I had apparently fallen victim to being rewarded 'too much' for my work. And here I was thinking a major incentive to investing so much time and energy in a reward-based platform like this was to build a following and hopefully some day reach the point where users appreciate the content enough that one is rewarded with a decent payout. Apparently I was mistaken, however, for as soon as you start making 'too much' for quality work, then comes along the reward police to adjust your rewards down to what they deem to be 'appropriate', as if a truly free-market could not decide that on its own, as if people being rewarded more for their work is somehow bad for the platform and that it is their right and duty to ensure that people don't get rewarded 'too much'.
Many of you are surely aware of the user I am referring to as some of my followers and favorite users I follow have also been recently (or previously) targeted by the reward police - @smooth - although there may be others who do the same. I intentionally choose the term reward police not to be demeaning but because I find it to be the least offensive and most accurate term possible, based upon the user's own description of why they habitually dish out massive downvotes to users who are not trolling, spamming, engaging in fraud, hate speech or plagiarism of any kind, or otherwise abusing the blockchain; and not only that, but that slashing the payouts of popular posts that many people clearly wanted to reward with their votes is somehow altruistic in nature, by claiming that doing so increases rewards of everyone else's posts.
Now I am no expert on blockchain technology nor a Hive programmer, but somehow I do not feel that anytime someone else's post is downvoted, those removed rewards somehow increase the payout of my posts, but maybe I just don't fully understand how Hive works. Never mind that a number of those downvotes are in fact dished straight out to 'small content creators', some who just happen to have hit the jackpot one day or who have a small following of decently staked supporter base they have worked for months or years to build spending countless hours creating content that users actually appreciate and want to support. But even if this is exactly how it works, and only 'large creators' were being downvoted (would who constitutes a 'large' creator not also be entirely subjective?), would it not be much more beneficial to find those deemed to be small and under-rewarded and support them with a huge upvote rather than policing rewards by constantly downvoting content simply for doing what we are all told Hive is supposed to do - to give content creators opportunity to build a following and to be well rewarded for making great content?!?! How does punishing blockchain success, however minor or major that success may be, encourage use and growth of the platform? I argue it does not, which is why new users are being deterred from joining after seeing such behavior and why others are packing their bags and leaving.
When asked about it, the answer is always the same, this user uses their time/energy/power to act as reward pool police, and any repeat downvotes of the same user is always pure coincidence...
In other words, the users collectively via their upvotes are not properly distributing their rewards 'for the benefit of Hive' as it is, until the reward police step in and reduce those rewards deemed 'excessive'. No need to help the underdogs whose posts are under-valued, just punish those who are coming out ahead. One user with more hive power than most posts ever get rewarded, so actually has the power on their own to determine the 'proper' payout of absolutely any user whose payout is $115 or less, and instead of using that power to upvote content, uses it to diminish rewards of popular posts that others chose to reward. To his credit, he rarely takes a post down to near zero, so this does not diminish reputation, but that is not the point, the point is that many feel this is a very clear and subjective abuse of power and also a clear and present threat to the viability and neutrality of the platform if it ever had neutrality to begin with, and it is driving users away to other friendlier platforms.
Not only that, we are told the downvotes are not systematic to a user's posts, despite downvotes hitting multiple posts of the same user in a row, for multiple users (that's how it recently happened to me), but I suppose it's plausible that this too is another coincidence...
Now I like Hive and have been here since over a year before it forked from Steem, and I like it, despite the downvotes, I liked it back when I had a tiny following when I made nothing and a dollar post seemed like massive payout in my book, blockchain technology is cool and there is great diverse community here with much potential to be much better for everyone involved, and that is why I think the developers need to have a real discussion on regulating downvote function or remove it altogether, before the downvote 'abuse' drives all of the great content creators away, leaving the platform barren of diversity and growth it now has. I think anyone who claims to be a supporter of the platform should take a serious look at how such negative use of voting power is effecting user base and whether it is in any way actually in the best interest of the Hive community to use their power to police rewards rather than supporting those seen as under-rewarded.
This post is not an attack on this user, but a call to question the 'accepted' use of downvotes in general as useful, and I along with many others would appreciate a more detailed explanation of how such downvoting behavior is actually in the best interest of the blockchain, not from those theorizing as to why his votes are being cast, but by @smooth directly, as theories are no substitute for a direct explanation from the source of these massive downvotes that are, as I will document, driving many people away from Hive, not exactly great for the Hive ecosystem.
It is entirely within their right to do so as the blockchain is currently set up, however, listed as legitimate use of downvote under 'disagreement on rewards', but it sure would be nice to see some kind of a formula, or criteria, for what constitutes too big of a payout, and what content is 'allowed' and 'not allowed' to receive what amounts of rewards. It is all a bit subjective, don't you think, folks? Why do some minority of users feel the need to police rewards and decide payout amounts based on their power on particular posts, but not others that get even higher payouts? Why are some posts deemed 'not worthy' of the rewards the platform users decide based upon their delegations, and yet others are? What constitutes content that is 'over-rewarded' and why not also reward 'under-rewarded' content at the same time, if your goal is truly to help the blockchain and 'equalize' reward disparity?
I don't have the answers as to what exactly is driving such behavior, but I can point out what appears to be a clear pattern that I have noticed looking at the past 2 weeks of this user's history. You can look for yourself and go as far back as you want, do the same for other abusive downvoters too and find the patterns for those too: https://hiveblocks.com/@smooth
First thing I noticed, upvotes on posts are almost entirely absent apart from repeat voting for @hbd-funder posts (and spam comments) raising money for hbd stabilizer and some votes on a few other comments, while downvotes are prolific, a clear pattern of punishing some while not actively rewarding any of the rest. Furthermore, hbd stabilizer is run by none other than the upvoter himself, so apart from an upvote to other users' posts every blue moon, the only regular rewarding of content here is funneled to his own accounts and projects.
Followed by reaping the curation rewards for those massive upvotes that are going straight to his own project.
All while minnows the blockchain over aren't getting any such big votes, while others get punished when some of those who actually do give out rewards from their vote power attempt to reward them for great content and take major hits to their reward pools. To be fair, this project is supposed to help Hive blockchain and it may, but at the expense of being programmed by a user who is punishing a whole bunch of others simply for being rewarded more than he subjectively deems to be appropriate.
A very large number of the downvotes, at least one third based upon the sample pages I actually counted (8 of 24 in 2 pages of data), also seem to be directed towards independent journalism and those voicing politically incorrect views and 'conspiracy' subjects, especially in regards to the coronavirus and related 'vaccine', while a sizeable number also seem to be directed towards recipe posts and those related to various natural medicine and gardening related topics. Many of the users were downvoted multiple times, appearing to indicate these downvotes are not as random and more targeted than has been admitted, though of course these apparent patterns could just be coincidental. I'm sure it's also just a coincidence that high payout posts from some other users don't look to ever be downvoted, which gives us a general idea of the possible types of posts that this reward policeman finds to be consistently overvalued compared to similarly rewarded posts of other subjects in his opinion, that being non-mainstream views.
All theorizing aside, however, the one pattern that is self evident to all is the pattern of systematic downvoting to a wide variety of users with minimal upvoting of content outside of hbd stabilizer fundraising, and that this behavior is understandably driving people away from the blockchain. It is said these downvotes are given out to balance out haejin and rancho votes which tend to be randomly given out to trending posts, and yet this is clearly not the case for a large number of these downvoted posts. There are people who rarely get such a high payout, and then lose a good chunk of it with a -40 vote, there are people whose primary means of income is from Hive rewards whose hours of research put into well-liked posts is deemed 'over-valued', and the only consolation is that it's nothing personal, it's just 'fixing' an 'over-rewarded' post, as if those who support the work were wrong to give it the value they did with their votes! This is absurd. Who are they to decide a post is not worth what those supporting it have decided based upon their own votes? Often times these posts have been reblogged, have good engagement, and have received tips, all signs they are deserving of being rewarded, and aren't just getting random auto upvotes by whales, but who cares about that right, the payout looks too high so better get it back in line with and acceptably low reward level closer to the average I guess. Never mind that people actually use their own money to send a tip and one downvote takes 10 times the tip from the reward value, never mind that the post could be written by a poor family man in a developing country just struggling to get by or even a poor American just barely making ends meet in these troubling times, don't bother actually taking into account how many hours of research or work went into a post or the circumstances of the user that may cause a larger than usual payout, or the fact it could be so popular because people actually like it and want the user to get an exceptional payout, just toss empathy and compassion out the window and if it looks disproportionately high then just whack it down and put those peasants back in their place, just don't touch those other whales cuz they always deserve their high payouts.
Why is getting high rewards a bad thing, and shouldn't there be encouragement for all of us to work towards getting higher rewards, on a reward-based platform? I would hope everyone on Hive could someday be able to make $100 payouts on most of their posts, not trying to adjust their rewards down when they start to get enough to potentially actually survive off of these relatively small earnings or start making more than I do on a post. Why would I care about how much someone else is getting if I have so much power and can just reward the people I support with substantial upvotes? I guess if I only supported myself and my own project, though, maybe I'd see everybody else as competition, but that's not how most of us are on here, and most of us don't take it upon ourselves to police rewards either, even those with substantial stake, but some do for some reason.
Personally, If I think the content isn't worthwhile, I simply don't give it my vote, it's really that simple, and I think it's quite pathetic that we have those who have appointed themselves to be the reward police to punish users for succeeding, and doing so in the name of the greater good of the platform.
Is driving users away good for the platform, though? Because that is what this abuse of power is doing, it's driving people away, people who make good original content, people who are taking their business elsewhere, some long-time users, others who are interested never even joining because they see such behavior as quite the opposite of welcoming.
It is my strong opinion that rewarding what one deems to be good content will do far more to encourage growth here than punishing high rewards or content you disagree with. Isn't high rewards to be an incentive to reach for, rather than an accomplishment to bring about punishment? I would greatly appreciate an answer from the user engaging in this behavior, answering this question and explaining how, if not, the alternate is the case when it is actively driving people away from the platform. I suspect growing the platform is not actually the goal, as @lucylin has opined, but rather 'feeding the beast' (the in crowd, the accepted whales who don't make waves or challenge the status quo). Like Steem, Hive now seems to be heading downhill due to increasingly rampant downvote abuse from this and many other users, and being there are already viable alternatives offering friendlier atmosphere along with opportunity for the combination of crypto rewards and censorship-proof blockchain preservation of online data, if those running the show do not soon address this issue or those engaging in this behavior radically shift their voting practices from punishing to rewarding, then it seems Hive will lose much of its user base just like Steem, and such an exodus looks to be already beginning. I would love to hear people's thoughts and experiences below, as open discussion on this topic can be the only answer, and I know many are sick and tired of the rampant downvoting while many others defend it.
What do you think, is reward pool policing and downvotes given out to punish dissenting views an abuse of power or actually good for the platform as proponents of downvote feature claim, a form of tyranny or free market justice?