Decentralized Governance - OR - How to align your values to a new system before your preconceptions destroy us all.

in #steem2 years ago (edited)

Welcome to Steem! Its a new frontier here, an anarcho-capatalist frontier with a boisterous, voluntaryist community, many of whom have no idea what they are doing. Interested? You should be! We are closer than ever to true individual freedom, and the steem 'experiment' will hold many lessons for future communities, even outside of steem.

This is one of those posts, so obtuse and obscure to people that know me but not steem, that lead me to the creation of the @ecoinstats account. Want to see periodic photographic updates of our life? Check out @ecoinstats!

unknown road.jpg
Steem's innovative governance is literally like walking an unknown path

So I have been reading and listening to a big discussion going on about hard forks, unaccountable actors and the future of steem. Like so many other parts about this revolutionary new system, I suspect that most of the people engaging in the discussions do not understand the full scope of what they are discussing (myself included). I am not accusing any one or any side of being stupid, instead I am stating a fact that we are all quite ignorant about decentralized governance, voluntaryist economics and markets.

I would like to add a quote from @cryptoctopus here:

So for those of you who are getting worked up about conversations that other people are having, this post is for you. This is a post to remind you that there is nothing else out there like what we are doing here, and all future roads (EOS, TRON, and any other comers) will have to march straight through the decentralized governance swamp that we are already waist-deep into!

But let's remind ourselves what we are talking about:

Quote from @lukestokes

Do you want to know why decentralized governance sucks? There are too many voices, and from those too many voices all manner of ridiculous notions and ignorant blather are inevitable. Imagine a democracy where tens or even hundreds of millions of people could propose legislation. Nothing would ever get passed, indeed nothing could ever even get discussed!

And there is our challenge. In a decentralized system everything is suggested, everything is said - and that includes a lot of dumb ideas too.

Let me dig a little deeper, with a summary quote that is even well formatted:

jesta summary.png
Quote from @jesta

It is within the above situation, with a 'bad actor' on the throne, that the idea came about of implementing a coded fork of the chain to 'unstake' Steemit Inc. This is a situation that John von Neumann would have fully understood in the context of game theory. It is as simple as these actors (witnesses) looking for leverage where there is little, against a high-stake actor in our ecosystem. Even @timcliff's middle ground statement screams nuclear-deterant game theory to me:

Quotes from @timcliff - likened to international diplomacy

Accountability in a Free Society

Are claims that Steemit Inc are 'unaccountable to us' valid? I would argue that they are true but not valid, they miss the point of free, voluntaryist interaction. Steemit Inc. is accountable to itself, just as I am to myself, you are to yourself. We are all here voluntarily, and we continue to operate not because of external parameters forced upon us, but by voluntary exchange.

Taking this to the next level: Steemit Inc. is a company, like any other, whose influence will fade or grow depending on its own actions, performance and results. They are learning (as are we all) and are (most likely) hopeful that they are heading in the right direction, but if not, they will face those consequences. The more Steem Power they sell, and the faster they do it, the less influence they will have over our community.

Their future is up to them.

But wait Alex. The way they gained their stake was not FAIR

You are right! But the 'fairness' dilemma has a number of problems, too many for me to deal with exhaustively here. But let me leave some thoughts in a bulleted list.

  • Fairness has no objectively fair definition.
  • All systems are rooted in original unfairness. Maybe the big bang banged unfairly, I wasn't there.
  • Fairness moves forward.
  • Fairness is asymptotic, we can only approach a 'relative' fairness, and comparing steem to central banks seems incredibly, relatively fair!
  • Natural dilution has already taken Steemit Inc stake from 80% of the total to closer to 25%, and I believe selling will continue to take that lower. Is that fair?

Value Adjustment

It often seems to me as if some people are eager to depend on a central entity to make the decisions, but this is only culture. We still have to learn how to do it this way! And that is valuable. We must respect the process, and not allow it to freak us out. Just like comparing the simple straight lines of the city to the rampant verdant growth of a jungle - centralized systems look neat and straight, but hide systemic inefficiency in many areas while, decentralized governance looks messy, but hides an underlying vitality, resilience and sustainability.

And the messy part? Its exactly this deluge of 'everything' being said; decentralization is full of pull requests. Let me say that again for you:

Decentralized Government is a project with 7 billion pull requests.

More if we are going to get organized about it, because we each want more than one thing. It is the ultimate optimization problem, and the market mechanism is working! I personally think that a powered down ninja mine is a good thing, because I want to pick up the slack. I want to grow my stake in this revolutionary platform that is leading the way in decentralized digital governance, among other promising aspects, and I want to do it at as low a price as possible!

A note to the witnesses and about witnesses:

Keep up the great work witnesses! We have seen incredible progress on many developmental fronts, and I think future communities will look to the lessons that we are learning now to guide them. Though fork-theft isn't a great idea, with so many ideas going around, many of them have been very good. Check out this crazy brilliant idea from Jack Miller!

While we all appreciate your efforts to keep the behemoth in line and mitigate the damage they can do with the powers available to you, please don't die on this hill. Take a step back, think about first principles, and remember it is exactly these governance challenges that define us as a community!

Make sure you are voting for witnesses, here is a list of witnesses I vote for to forge our blocks - I update periodically; feel free to use me as a proxy for your witness voting. These are very important actors in our decentralized government, in our checks and balances.

List from

So yeah, decentralized government sucks. But look at it this way, we here on steem are getting pretty good at it!


Great words!

" Imagine a democracy where tens or even hundreds of millions of people could propose legislation. Nothing would ever get passed, indeed nothing could ever even get discussed!"

Oh, I don't know. First imagine Steem has 100M users. Those users don't only organize themselves as one discreet organization. They self-organize into communities, that share many views in common. Those communities make it far simpler to propose, discuss, and enact 'legislation' that impacts their community. Their community.

This is why voluntarism is the key to freedom: because being forced is not freedom.

Each community can have it's own rules, and as long as it isn't forcing anyone to obey them against their will, the folks in that community are free. As ideas tend to be imperfect, and experience shows how they're imperfect, proposals will refine the ideas, and folks that discover those ideas aren't actually what they wanted will move to a community that better reflects the ideas they support, or make their own. The disparate communities will also share points of agreement, other that what they disagree on, and such communities can work together to forward those shared goals, as long as they don't tread on each other's toes.

In the long run, I expect coalitions of communities composed purely voluntarily to be far more productive than extant political systems that seek to force victims to comply, and thus suffer resistance and outright opposition to national goals.

I hunger for this more than I ever will food. I think Steem is showing the way to make this happen.


Thank you for a well thought out glimpse at the current turmoil. I would like to add one thought for those who feel Steemit has an unfair stake. The fact is, they co created the chain with Dan and as the creators had the privilege of determining how that creation shaped out. It was their vision. Anyone who has equal vision, equal ability to code and ability to convince exchanges to list the coin, and convince others to use the coin and platform can do so and make their own creators shape to their creation.

I may not agree with some of the decisions and ramifications by them, but everyday I am thankful for the opportunity their initial vision and capabilities give to me.

You are spot on when you focus on decentralization. It scares many, even those who talk of it as the way. It can be frightening to suddenly realize that in such a system, the burden/honor of being important and making decisions that affect the whole is on all of us.

Great points! You could consider that stake their 'due', I suspect they do.

I prefer to focus on my responsibilities, as you elegantly state - it is up to us!

Agree with everything you said. Seriously, you deserve to be a witness. In case you to become one you are totally getting my vote. Glad to see someone who talks sensibly with a full perspective on everything.

I appreciate that!

We're the folks blazing a trail and figuring it out; we're going to fuck up sometimes, but that's how you learn.
Also, I am not a techie, so I have learned to just kinda shrug sometimes whilst the cryptographers among us discuss the technical aspects I don't fully grasp. As I doodled the other day:
steem war 2019.png
If I start to get stressed, I go read some of @taskmaster4450's blog to cheer myself up. ;)

This is absolutely brilliant! I love the flag gun!

Also, I frequent @taskmaster4450's blog for precisely the same reason! Always a great fresh perspective about events. In fact, it was specifically this post that left me feeling that there was something more to be said, which is why this post exists - not that anybody is wrong about unaccountability, but that unaccountability doesn't matter. Unaccountability is in fact an artifact of a different system.

The flag gun is totally my favorite part too. LOL. I conceived of it when imagining doing a cartoon about Steem life. XD
I hadn't seen that post by Task yet, I'll go check it out!

All other things being equal, we do seem to be getting better at decentralized governance of a sort. And part of that process seems to be that someone has to get enraged and throw a "radical proposal" out there to shake other people out of the comfort zones and start looking at issues.

As a metaphor, someone yelling "Let's overthrow the government!" isn't necessarily a reason to actually do that, but a good reason to wake up and start talking about what's wrong with the government.

Bright Blessings!

Radical proposals do tend to frame the debate! Very good point.

Well one good thing you can say about the HF proposal.... it certainly got a reaction!

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So true - depending on how you look at it, you may even see it as effective, especially considering that there was basically no way it was going to pass.

I just want to make sure that everyone understands that decentralized government is a spectator sport, and as such we should take each claim (and the stress that comes with each) with the appropriate grains of salt.

Great post other than our 21 out of 30 disagreements with our witness picks. 😎

Thank you for sharing your witness list, and bonus points for including reasoning behind each one!

Can you recommend a good article on how witnesses work?

Posted using Partiko Android

This is an older post but it explains it really well:

The only thing is now the list goes to 100 when he says it goes to 50. That was changed recently to help give more witnesses visibility on the page.

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wow, this one as well ???

goes to show how much it is about control instead of content, sorry to see that happen to you, i think the trolls are on a rampage again ...

but i never knew until today steemcleaners is actually powered by ned himself ... talk about police state lol

don't let them get you down, they tend to lose intrest eventually

Thank you for this! Yes, I just turned my head for a second, because sometimes decentralization makes us shake our heads.

That is news to me about steemcleaners, but its just par for the course - people thinking they need to govern others.

I appreciate you! Have they put on the yellow vests there yet?

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