Q & A Regarding the Soft Fork, Tron and Witnesses

in #steem3 years ago (edited)

Q: Is the Soft Fork caused by the desire of top witnesses to stay in power?
A: No. The witnesses don't care about their positions to the point that you think. They are all concerned about the sanctity of the blockchain. Don't take my word for it as even I wouldn't believe that if I didn't know the top-20 personally. Fact: most of the top witnesses provide expensive infrastructure, which is paid by their rewards from witnessing. The type of servers they have to run to operate a top-20 are also pricier than the normal backup witness servers. Some witnesses, with the fall in price, are likely losing more than they're making. Additionally, two top witnesses shut down their nodes: @clayop and @smooth. That was for different reasons but they willingly declined being rewarded.

Q: I heard that witnesses started the Soft Fork to keep profiting.
A: This is untrue. Witnesses also, for the most part, are developers or have developers that work with them. That means they could potentially profit more than anyone else out of take over by Tron. Tron has several services that finances the development of dapps on the Tron chain. It is 1000% more rational, if one was to only think about money, to suck up to Tron and get that financing. But instead of doing that and abandoning the Steem blockchain, the witnesses chose to make sure that the Steem ecosystem remains as it is and undisturbed. Witnesses are choosing morals over money.

Q: Now some think that the issue is that the threat is other, non-top-20 witnesses, being voted into the top-20. Is it true?
A: No. That is not the case. Even if Tron started using all stake they had obtained from Ned to vote in witnesses from the current witness roster, that'd be acceptable to all. For example, they could vote me that's currently in the 50s as a top witness. I'm still a normal Steem witness and run and upgrade my code as intended by the greater vision of Steem. The issue is that with a huge witness vote, witnesses that are not actual witnesses but servers running completely different versions of the code can be voted in. That code can shut down the blockchain. It can even take over all of user accounts and empty them out. It can do anything and everything that would be malicious.

Q: Is it only the top-20 witnesses that are doing this? Did they ask other witnesses?
A: No, it's a group of collaborative, open-minded witnesses and contributors at all levels. I'm not a top-20 witness by far. A large group of individuals consisting witnesses and concerned stakeholders have worked tirelessly to ensure that this entire situation is resolved in the best interest of the Steem community. This isn't just a matter of giving opinions. It's a lot of work that requires strong technical and specialized skills. People haven't slept at times, have had to take a lot of time away from work and family and have gone above and beyond purely for the sake of the Steem community.

Q: But if Tron wants to launch 20 witnesses, won't they need 20 expensive servers?
A: No. This can be done with just a couple of servers. It's a bit complex to explain how but a hostile takeover of the blockchain doesn't require the malicious party to have 20 excellent servers. They just need to replace the consensus witnesses (about 3/4 of the top-20). The codebase they use also does not need to be Open Source. This is why mitigation had to be applied swiftly and carefully to prevent anything of the sort that would jeopardize our Steem blockchain.

Q: Can you explain why Soft Fork?
A: Sure. The reason for the Soft Fork, in a few words, is to make sure that the Steem blockchain can continue to exist and cannot be taken down at will. Now, there is one element that I have to bring up in all this: finality. Finality is a point of no return, such as when you send your STEEM to someone else. Once it's sent you cannot get a refund under your own power. The Soft Fork did not leverage any element of finality. What it did was make sure that the blockchain rejects a series of transactions which can be seen as malicious. The actual accounts are not affected and the transactions can still be made; they just won't be accepted for now.

Q: What if Justin Sun went out and just bought a whole lot of STEEM? How is the stake he got from Ned different?
A: The stake that was purchased is very unique. This isn't just stake that someone bought. This is stake that was obtained by Steemit Inc by deceiving others and giving selves an unfair advantage. The stake from a very specific set of accounts is zoned for a particular purpose. It is true that it should have been handled and placed under technical constraints long ago, but for many reasons, some of which had to do with misplaced trust, it wasn't. Ned sold that stake and potentially did so without telling Justin Sun how it was zoned. Justin should have done his due diligence and maybe he did, but we won't know that because all the communication to date has been highly fragmented.

Q: What if Justin Sun bought all new stake and then decided to take over the blockchain and shut it down in a way that could not be prevented?
A: The likeliest solution in that case would be to take the copies of the blockchain that all witnesses are running and Fork the chain into a whole new type of project. Similar to how Golos, Whaleshares, Bearshares and Scorum are Steem forks. Anyone may create a functional Fork of Steem and either run it in its entirety with the existent content or just split off a portion, like Golos did with the existing accounts. It would be basically starting the chain from the ground up.

Q: You didn't answer my question, I want to ask about ...
AMA. Ask me anything you want and I will answer you to the best of my knowledge.

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I like what you are doing. I voted for you.

Witnesses also, for the most part, are developers or have developers that work with them.

John Huckel (@matrix-8) and i plan to create a multi-level goverance system called The Matrix-8 Platform, on Steem.

The "Master" Matrix-8 Platform (which would be owned by no-one, yet owned by all) could potentially have 7 billion or so users. (Can the Steem Blockchain handle that?).

Other organisations (Such as Steem), will be able to use "Community" Matrix-8 Platforms for governance of their own organisations.

Please see my comments (and the links within) on the following post:


The particular link within which gives all the detail is: https://steempeak.com/steemit/@matrix-8/a-newbie-s-combination-introduction-and-white-paper

I would really appreciate your help with this @guiltyparties. I may be able to help fund the coding to some extent. This is not a for profit venture. It is a "improve the world" venture.

Who am i?

Thank you for the vote.

Can Steem handle 7 billion users? Yes, but we will have to explore scaling strategies to make sure we're optimizing the size of the blockchain.

I have to read up on it and will get back to you. This is the first I heard about it. Do you use Discord, Telegram or Slack?

Great. Thanks.
Discord: @Atma
Telegram: @Atma_Love

Telegram works better for me


I met this gentleman in the SBI Community. Also introduced him to @ecoinstant... I think he is trying to spread positive energy... just my two cents... and thank you for the information...

Being quite ignorant (I use the word advisedly, as I have never undertaken to well understand) regarding witness financials, the necessary relationships with substantial stakeholders, and not knowing the people well, I have said that 'the witnesses preserved their power' with the SF, which is technically true, even if that power is a financial loss and preventing their profitable incorporation into far more solvent Tron.

"...Tron has several services that finances the development of dapps on the Tron chain. It is 1000% more rational, if one was to only think about money, to suck up to Tron and get that financing. But instead of doing that and abandoning the Steem blockchain, the witnesses chose to make sure that the Steem ecosystem remains as it is and undisturbed. Witnesses are choosing morals over money."

I appreciate your provision of greater insight and understanding of the issue.

I also understand your characterization of the founders' conduct of the ninjamine pejoratively. It certainly can be understood that way, and I have never claimed it wasn't. However, I have never claimed it was, either, because I just don't know and appearances can be deceiving, particularly when slathered over ample helpings of nescience.


I didn't understand witness financials myself until I worked through a few HFs and stoppages. It's pretty simple if explained right. A witness that gets voted into the top is normally seen by the community as the most useful. They usually have large projects and offer things like full nodes or other forms of tech like steem.chat for example. These are big ticket items with a lot of monthly upkeep. In addition, it is ideal that each witness has at least 3 servers. One primary, one backup, and one for testing or secondary backup. Some also have seed servers, which is the same as a witness in size. Those servers must be of good quality to be reliable for a consensus role. They can't be the small MIRA servers (less RAM). There is a level of expenditure and skill (or hiring staff) that must go into a top witness role. For backup witnesses, there is more flexibility in terms of the hardware since the demand is less. However, a backup must invest or the server setup is simply insufficient to actively contribute to a HF or a restart of the chain after an error. Even skill can't save an aging server. But all in all, any setup is still an investment and based on STEEM prices, the good times make up for the bad times but when the bad times are extensive it's not an easy balance. It's more of a beloved hobby type.

There is a lot of confusion about the ninja-mine and about everything in general. There are many underlying factors and dynamics which can be summarized as just community conditioning towards self-censorship over the years. For the first time in years, people who were quiet are coming out and saying what they wanted to say all along.

What specific statements were made by Ned or Steemit reps that are being characterized as a promise or contractual obligation to use the funds a particular way, and was an amount mentioned?

This is a quote from Dan Larimer.
"Our only advantage is information about how we intend to use the platform. The irony is that there are legal risks in sharing information about what we intend to do for a coin until after we have done it. That information could be interpreted as a promise that in turn would give the coin value derived from our future actions. So we didn't promise anything, but we still know what our plans are."

What specific statements were made by Ned or Steemit reps that are being characterized as a promise or contractual obligation to use the funds a particular way, and was an amount mentioned?

One very clear and specific statement from Ned, among many others mostly from Ned but also some from Dan, was that the ninjamined stake was all dedicated to developing the ecosystem. The statement was made in an interview widely viewed by cryptocurrency investors, so one can reasonably conclude that it was thus made in order to encourage such investors to invest. I know of at least one very large later investor who did carefully study these recorded interviews and statements in evaluating Steem before deciding to invest. That investor, along with everyone else, has every right to expect that the promises that were relied upon in making the investment will continue to be upheld.

Maybe Ned should have paid closer attention to Dan's warning that you quoted, but in fact he did not. (Though as an aside, one also ought to be extremely skeptical about "legal" theories coming from Dan, who later used similar theories to launch EOS, which was prosecuted and settled with the SEC.)

But, in truth, Ned knew perfectly well that his project and company would go nowhere unless he made these promises. People were not and are not going to sign up to put their own money (as well as time and effort) into giving something value where 80% of the money would then get sucked out by the founders dumping stake just to put money in the own pocket. So it was really the statements of Dan, not Ned, that were out of touch the the practical reality at the time, and with the actual practice.

There were many other statements that reinforced the model and intent, such as consideration at one point to transferring the stake to a non-profit foundation, a roadmap document that put forth a whole list of things the stake was going to be used to pay for (most of which, in fact, did not ever get done), etc., etc.

As a stakeholder, I support the decision of the witnesses to stop processing transactions and leave the stake in place until a better path forward can be worked out. Ned and Steemit used Steem and the ninja-mined stake as a manipulative game to mislead and deceive everyone else for their own enrichment for far too long. It was long past time for stakeholders to finally say, "No more!" Something like this should have been done long ago, and if it had been, less of the stakeholders' money would been unfairly and sneakily drained away. Still, better late than never.

Can you provide a link to the statement or the direct quote?

This isn't that easy to answer.

Larimer was trying to figure out how to raise funds in an ICO type scenario without any of the legal repercussions, thus the mining. The mining would have been a good idea if it had been fairly executed. The original Bitcoin Talk Forums post had incorrect instructions, preventing normal users from mining when the topic of the post was asking them to mine. When they figured it out, he reset the blockchain, deleting their work and giving himself even more of an advantage. That's how that stake came about and it set the tone for the future. That statement by him is the norm; create obscurity while personally profit. I don't know what took place between him and Ned when he left. That's some background and in relation to your quote.

For the sake of some brevity, let's look at the 2017 Roadmap for starters. In addition to it there are several good recordings but I can't go through them in the middle of the night right now when the rest of the house is asleep.


According to the roadmap, the fact that the stake was to be decentralized and put to use for promoting, developing and supporting the Steem blockchain. There was very little, in proportion of the amount of owned STEEM, investment in any of the ideas in that roadmap. In Sept 2018, when Steemit Inc had a few marketing staff members and with the community there was progress being made, suddenly the staff were let go and potential stopped. In around April/May 2019, Ned promised to move a significant portion of the stake to the Steem Foundation and while he eventually provided some money for incorporation, the remainder wasn't transferred. Those are two roadmapped applications that ended with virtually no transfer. However, it was still understood and maintained that the purpose of the stake is to be use for a communal good in the end once Steemit Inc got on its feet, which is why it was left alone.

I'll add more to my reply when I can actually open up videos and tell you where to start them unless someone else beats me to it.

(Also, I removed you from the Spaminator blacklist.)

I doubt a roadmap would be considered any sort of promise or contract, but let's say it was for the sake of argument. Here are the key phrases:

@steemit...will be gradually divested of its holdings in an effort to increase promotion and development of the platform...Several methods will be employed, including and not limited to...

The term "not limited to" means they could spend the funds any way they like as long as it can be argued it's for the "promotion and development of the platform," but of course the fork is preventing them from spending the funds at all, and thus they are unable to fulfill this promise because of the fork, right? Do you have any direct quotes from Ned or a link to a video?

Thank you so much for putting this FAQ together. Although I have been reading a great deal concerning this whole SNAFU which is the Aquisition, I learned a great deal from reading this post.

The current witnesses I vote for still remain the same. I feel much more confident now than when I made my initial reactions public via a video on 3Speak.

Communications is key. This entire problem has been due to a lack of communication. That is my spin.

Once again, thank you for making a concentrated effort to make this a little less of a shit show.

Thanks a lot. Yeah communication is something that's a major gap and has been since day one but hopefully with some effort that can change.

Good Job Bruv, my faith wasn't misplaced.

I do have a question: You stated that the witnesses paramount concern in enacting this soft-fork was to protect, not profit and this is something I believe you all did very well. Do you (and the other witnesses that supported this move) believe that TRON's / Justin Sun's intent with the STEEM blockchain + tech behind it was to acquire it for a third party?


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