HF Proposal: Remove "Free Downvote" and Stop the "Wars"

in STEEM CN/中文4 years ago (edited)

from pixabay.com: image source

While we think "downvote" is a necessary mechanism in a Proof of Brain community, "daily free downvote" in long term could be a social problem that needs to reviewed and fixed.

Vote this proposal if you support "Remove Daily Free Downvote"

Proposal Voting platforms:

or you can vote the proposal directly with steemconnect:

Please read the reasoning in the post in order to make an informed decision and feel free to contribute to the discussion.


或者到 SPS 平台投票:

한국 사용자는 다음과 같이 투표 할 수 있습니다

The Mission of "Free Downvote"

Most of the systems in the world have "bugs" or "vulnabilities", which can be exploited by speculators or attackers, and then the system itself gets hurt.

The proposal of "free downvote" in HF21, as one of the three measures in Steemit’s Economic Improvement Proposal (EIP) [1], is to fix several financial "vulnabilities" in the Steem system:

The problems that we believe should be solved are that of self-voting, passive delegation to bidbots (instead of participation in content discovery), spam (especially microspam), and abuse. These problems undermine one of the core unique value propositions of the platform; proof-of-brain. People generally gravitate towards what is the most profitable thing for them to do when there is monetary incentive.

The goal of these economic changes would be to move Steem closer to delivering on the promises stated in the whitepaper of unearthing high quality content by making it more profitable for people to actively curate, and less profitable to self-vote and delegate one’s Steem Power to bid bots.

In short, the major problems can be categorized into two:

  1. self-vote, bid bots / vote selling, and other kind of abuse of power
  2. plagiarism, spamming, and other misbehaviors

The 1st category is mainly targeted at the whales, whose big amount of Steem Power could be misused for self-vote or delegating to bid bots. The 2nd category is easier to be violated by newbies, who often don't know yet the rules of the community.

Less Self-Vote and Bidbot Today

Indeed, with the EIP deployed in HF21, we could see the bid bot like @tipu has effectively changed their strategy to support content curation, and self voters may give more attention to content curation than before. Also, self-vote to comments and posts also become less today.

Though self-vote and vote selling cannot be eliminated completely, we think the EIP worked well generally, and the "free downvote" has played an important role in the process.

The remaining question is whether the self-vote and vote selling will rise again if "free downvote" is cancelled?? I believe that in certain degree, these behaviors will rise again without "free downvote" as a threat, but will be much less than original after the economic model has been improved in HF21 EIP to motivate content curation.

Less Plagiarism and Spamming ???

For the issues of plagiarism and spam, so far we have no apparent evidence these behaviors are de-motiavted or not after the "free downvote".

AFAIK, we can still see these misbehaviors often around the community, and we should not ignore the fact that the number of new comers and active users are decreasing in the past months (according to the Steem Statistics – 2020.03.03). So we cannot give all the credit to "free downvote" only, even if the situation is getting better.

visualization from Steem Statistics – 2020.03.03

But It's Now the Time to Stop the "Wars"

While recoginizing the acheivements of the "free downvote" strategy, we should never overlook its downside.

Free Downvote Abuse and Wars

Downvote always happens on Steem. There's no need to emphasize more about how frequent that happens on the platform and how many troubles it brings before HF21.

However, as predictable when the EIP was proposed, with the arrival of "free downvote", we're seeing more and more downvote abuse, retaliation and battles within and among communities. Quite some users will downvote because they don't want to WASTE their daily "free downvotes". These fights split the communities and enforce more users to leave Steem.

From the graph below, it's obvious the number of downvotes have increased hugely by 50% to 100% after HF21. You can see that the total downvote have DOUBLED: from 100K before Sep 2019 (before HF21) , to over 200K in Jan 2020. And please don't forget the number of active users have dropped by 25%~50% after Aug 2019 (HF21) in the same period of time, if you have looked at the visualization of active user count in the above section. This means the frequency of downvote have increased by 2~3 times on average to each active user after HF21. If you used to receive 1 downvote on average each day before HF21, now you're receiving 3 ~ 4 downvotes every day. This is a bit crazy and ridiculous. Isn't it?

Graph: monthly downvote count, with data queried from SteemSQL

Then why did everyone got more downvotes on average??? Does it mean there're 2~3 times more self-vote, vote-selling, plagiarism or spam which need to be downvoted now, if we compare to the situation before HF21?

The answer is apparently NO. We already have less self-vote and vote selling as we observed. We didn't see much more new comers who may not know the rules. We didn't see more naive users who are increasing the misbehaviors of plagiarism or spam than what it is before HF21. So what are the guys downvoting for today?? Nothing else, but more battles and abuse, therefore more victims and more people who leave Steem.

We love collaboration and competition on Steem, but we never need "wars" in the community. Remove "free downvote" definitely reduce the occurence of fights. From a survey by @proxy.token, we see more witnesses want to remove "free downvote" / "downvote pool", than those who want to keep it. (Survey: Do you agree to remove downvote pool in Hardfork23 as a witness? -- by @proxy.token ==> Vote Result)

from dpoll Do you agree to remove downvote pool in Hardfork23 as a witness?
Asked by proxy.token

The same request was proposed in @proxy.token 's recent post, and a lot of witnesses have got involved the discussion. [공지] @proxy.token 증인 투표 운영 방침(@proxy.token witness voting policy).

Eventually I don't believe remove "free downvote" will stop all the retaliation and battles, but the existence of such a tool definitely encourages more hate and fighting, and make more people leave STEEM.

The "Hidden" Downvote Market

When most people don't like a "vote selling market", they actually were not aware the existence of a hidden downvote market there, and we'll show you how it looks like.

For the 1st case, in the home page of the delegation and curation service @curangel https://curangel.com/, they stated clearly they are providing 3 times of downvote every 12 hours for their delegators.

screenshot from https://curangel.com/

As delegators "pay" (send) their delegation to @curangel, and they get some extra downvote rights as return, @curangel is a de facto downvote seller in this case.

For the 2nd case, SP leasers such as https://dlease.io/ are kind of hidden enabler for a downvote market. When they are leasing SP to their customers for voting, they are actually not only selling upvotes for curation, but also selling free downvotes with strong power.

The annual cost of leasing SP are around 12~13%. But after the curation reward ratio increases to 50% after HF21, it's possible now to acheive 15~18% annual revenue with the same amount of SP. This means, after lending a huge amount of SP from https://dlease.io/ , a hacker can not only earn some STEEM, but also downvote freely every day with the same among of SP. There will be a lot of victims in this case.

This is indeed a financial and social vulnability that can be exploited: with the help of SP delegation service, you can earn benefits and also downvote freely with huge amount of SP. And all of us should notice: Downvote Market is never better than Bid Bot.

Unfriendly Environment for Newbies

The last but not least, hates and wars always make a worse and unfriendly environment for everyone, and scare away newbies, not to mention how a downvote war could impact the loyality of all the victims.

While you see a lot of fights and hates on Facebook or Twitter, it doesn't mean we should tolerate the same or an even worse atmosphere here in Steem.

You could learn from the below two surveys about how community members think about downvote.

screenshot from Survey: What keeps you from using your daily free downvotes? -- by @shaka

screenshot from Survey: Is separate downvote pool helping mischievous people on Steem platform? -- by @akdx

Finally, everyone who support this change please kindly vote this proposal.

Proposal Recipient Disclaimer: The proposal recipient will be @steem.dao, funds will be returned to the SPS pool, the purpose of the proposal is to achieve voting consensus either IN FAVOUR or AGAINST the "daily free downvote".


  1. Improving the Economics of Steem: A Community Proposal by @steemit - The Economic Improvement Proposal (EIP) which is implemented in HF21
  2. HF21 Release Note on GitHub - The HF21 Release Note that explains what downvote pool is
  3. The Steem downvote pool explained - A more details explanation about what "free downvote" means
  4. HF21's free downvotes are having some positive impacts on the Steem ecosystem! - The postivie impacts of "free downvote"
  5. Why free downvotes are a good and necessary part of STEEM - Another post about the postive impacts of "free downvotes"
  6. Why Downvotes Won't Always be FREE - Explain that the "free downvote" will form a "downvote market"
  7. STEEM Warfare of Downvotes - A short introduction about downvote war and its new weapons
  8. HF21/HF22: Back in the Game --- Starting Downvote War or Making community Stable - A detailed review about how downvote looks like after HF21
  9. Survey: What keeps you from using your daily free downvotes? -- by @
    ==> Vote Result
  10. Survey: Do you agree to remove downvote pool in Hardfork23 as a witness? -- by @proxy.token ==> Vote Result
  11. Survey: Is separate downvote pool helping mischievous people on Steem platform? -- by @akdx ==> Vote Result
  12. Steem Statistics – 2020.03.03 - Checkout the active users monthly data here
  13. [공지] @proxy.token 증인 투표 운영 방침(@proxy.token witness voting policy)
  14. To retrieve the monthly downvote count in past 18 months, we can run the below SQL statement against SteemSQL.
    select concat(year(timestamp), month(timestamp)), count(1) 
    from TxVotes
    where weight < 0 and
    datediff(month, timestamp, getdate()) < 18
    group by concat(year(timestamp), month(timestamp))

Hi! To be effective I d suggest you make one proposal for, and one against, so that everyone can voice their opinion and we can compare effectively. As a witness, Id be willing to take the results into account only if both options were votable. The Return Proposal is not intended for this use and that could disrupt other projects otherwise. Thanks.

Thanks. I have invited @abitcoinskeptic to help propose one, and he has written a post but may not submit immediately to SPS : https://steempeak.com/hive-145452/@abitcoinskeptic/opinion-poll-yes-keep-free-downvotes-no-hf-or-change-required

What's the correct way to use Return Proposal?

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Return proposal is to judge the projects that deserve funding, in general proposals going above the return proposal are funded (except if projects even higher take all the daily funds).

In a case of SPS used for polling, the proposal should not compete with the return proposal but with another proposal tailored to this purpose.
P1 : We should HF to remove the free pool of downvotes.
P2 : We should not remove the free pool of downvotes.

It s a bit more expensive to put in place but its the only fair way to measure the community support.

EDIT : To go further, the different proposals should start and end at a predetermined and identical time to be absolutely fair.


The reason that the proposal appears as a RETURN PROPOSAL is because I imitated what @thecryptodrive 's proposals for Power Down Period in https://steemproposals.com/proposal/53 (https://steempeak.com/steemdao/@thecryptodrive/hf-proposal-vote-to-reduce-power-down-period-to-4-weeks). Following that proposal, we set the "fund receiver" to @steem.dao, because we don't want to take fund from SPS, then it shows with RETURN PROPOSAL there. So what's your recommended way to decline fund to the proposal?

I don't understand what "compete with the return proposal" means. And as I mentioned, @abitcoinskeptic has written a proposal but just didn't get it ready to submit yet.

It's a good suggestion to keep the other factors the same, including the authors, creators, start/end date, for the two proposals, I'll talk with @abitcoinskeptic to see whether it's possible for me to use his post to submit to SPS, so voters are not impacted by the name of the submitter.

Also, as you said "it s a bit more expensive", I have also used up my SBD/Steem for submitting the proposal (since I don't post often to receive rewards). Do you mind help funding this proposal for "Keep FREE Downvote"? If you cannot, do you mind recommending anyone else who might help provide the fund? Or we can wait a bit longer such as 1 week after my recent two posts get some rewards back.

Hey I think there s a quid pro quo, when I talked about competing the return proposal, I was referring to what had been done before by thecryptodrive, not talking about your current endeavor.
I am okay to fund the 10SBD if manage to get back the control of our chain, for now this would be pointless. When we do, do not hesitate to contact me about this in here or Discord.

cool. thanks for your support in advance.

Just waiting for the other drama to die down a bit...

Return proposal is optional.

I also think it's not the right timing for this.
About the return proposal, I think there was a misunderstanding about what I meant. I was saying that this proposal shouldnt be competing with the gtg return proposal to mean something, it should compete with another proposal that represents the other alternative.

Thanks for clarifying and yes I intend to work on a counter proposal. The return proposal is completely unrelated. Technically this is a sort of return proposal too.

We will pick similar proposal subjects so it is obvious.

I agree it's not the right timing.

The community is too distracted at the moment and the next planned hard fork is SMT.

sure. I actually mean to include this change in HF23 (similar to what the Power Down period proposal has mentioned), but I want to add another section to analyze the implementation cost, so we won't delay the SMT release (HF23).

Is it possible to implement both Vote and Against in a proposal in SPS? Just an idea

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This is not possible for now. See my other answer.



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@tipu curate

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Do you think you could also put another proposal up for those who are opposed to removing free downvotes much like what was done with the powerdown time proposals.

yeah. I think that's a great suggestion. we can do that.

do you mind writing a proposal for "keep free downvote" if that's your point of view? that will be helpful.

I don't really have the knowledge or expertise to write up a proposal for keeping free downvotes,

no problem. I believe there're quite some people that support FREE downvote. I'll look for someone to help propose one. thanks.



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Even now, with "free" downvotes, people like overall-servant and his cronies are happily spamming the blockchain and working their voting circle. I don't want to know how much rewards such people would give themselves if we had no more downvotes.

I believe we need "downvote", but not "FREE downvote".

"FREE downvote" indeed has some good achievements after HF21, as mentioned in the proposal. In my opinion, it's a nice short-term strategy.

But it doesn't mean we need "FREE downvote" in long term, which indeed encouraged the attack to more victims rather than identify and focus on the actual misbehaviors. I have analyzed why that is the case with data in the proposal.


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還有效嗎? 我看steempeak裡的SPS怎麼寫著return proposal?

还有效的,return proposal 的意思是提案收到的资金会退回给 @steem.dao,不是已经结束了。


Great... 學習了... 果然鹽質很高!^^


Thanks for sharing. I indeed didn't see that SPS proposal when I write this one, but I have heard about the "reason-for-down-voting feature" it proposed. I personally think that is not very practical for implementation and wide adoption (maybe I'm wrong).

This proposal focuses on the FREE downvote feature, and analyze its pros and cons. We should have some way to measure its value, and figure out whether to keep it or not. Or maybe we'll have other better solutions to resolve the challenges in the community, which is also totally fine and let's discuss about that.

I do note the difference. This proposal has more to offer and consider.

People may be interested in changing the amount of free downvote% either increasing or decreasing it, too.

I personally thing the ratio of 25% is functional. You can already upvote 4x as much.

One thing I also notice, it is customary to decline rewards or send them to @null or @steem.dao on proposal posts.

Thanks for the comments. Appreciated.

I think it would be nice if you can raise an opposite SPS proposal that support keeping the 25% FREE downvotes, with its pros and cons, and why it's necessary, and what might get worse if it's removed, with some collected data and facts.

This should help us to make a better discussion and debate on the topic.

And if you think you could not help to make a proposal, could you please help recommend anyone else who like FREE downvote to help write one?

I completely agree that this is a debate that needs to keep happening. Everyone can reach an agreement or at least an understanding of what happens. Or why one should be careful.

I'm actually interested in making the counter-proposal. I don't have as much research, but I'll try to at least link other posts where the discussion has gone down.

The only issue is people are really focused on the other things happening with Steemit right now that this debate is secondary at the moment.

Awesome. Take your time.

I will appreciate if you could make one recently, but it should be totally fine to wait a bit longer after the current fights end. (though we don't know really what the outcomes would be)

This proposal was actually written two weeks ago, before the fight happens, and I actually paused the submission due to the dramas.

But later I still submitted it at this timing, because:

  1. we want to show how conflicts and debate should be discussed inside the community without fights and wars.
  2. downvote seems to be a topic on their table, and this one may help to provide context, facts and data for the discussions, if everybody calms down.

Hello, I made one

However, I did not start the proposal yet. I noticed you run it until May so there is a lot of time and I would like to wait 1 or 2 weeks until the situation of Steemit and Justin Sun calms down a little.


谢谢 June 的支持!

So surprise to see you at @donartim’s resteem✌️✌️支持支持,已委托村长投了✌️✌️

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