Steem Consensus Witness Statement: Code Updated

in #steem8 months ago (edited)

This statement has been co-authored by the Steem community, which includes witnesses, developers & stakeholders.

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Consensus witnesses are bound by our task to maintain the integrity of the Steem Blockchain.

Fellow Steemians,
With the recent purchase of Steemit Inc by the TRON Foundation, the Steem blockchain obtained a new major stakeholder. As another major player in the decentralized space, the TRON Foundation's interest in the Steem ecosystem has the potential to bring marketing power, resources and other potential benefits to both companies. It is thrilling to think of what will be discovered and shared with this introduction between our two vibrant blockchain communities.

While these opportunities are exciting, in these early stages the most important task for witnesses is to ensure the security of the Steem blockchain. To this end, we have updated to a temporary protective protocol to maintain the status quo currently established in regards to Steemit Inc's stake and it's intended usage. This update is reversible, and is simply to be used to ensure that the security and decentralization of the Steem blockchain remains intact.

Communication on the company acquisition is scattered and conflicting at this time, and we believe it is important to be proactive, rather than risk a possible security threat to the Steem blockchain. Since there are many new developments in the ecosystem, this is an ideal time to take a look at one of our long term impediments to decentralization with the involvement of the entire community, old and new. With this announcement, we're providing a detailed look at this soft fork update, why it was implemented, and how you can get involved as the voices of the Steem community.

What A Soft Fork Is, and What Soft Fork 0.22.2 Does:

A soft fork is a fully reversible code update, which is an excellent way for Steem consensus witnesses to deploy changes for the community to review and give feedback on, which may include changing their witness votes if they do not agree. What is especially important when considering a soft fork is to remember: it does not require any exchange to update their node, and all 0.22 versions running now will continue to operate. A soft fork does not mean that anyone running a backup witness will suddenly disable or necessarily miss blocks!

In general, Soft Fork 0.22.2 and transactions on the Steem blockchain will continue smoothly across the board for everyone with absolutely no change to a majority of the current Steem code. With the soft fork running, if any of the below clearly defined set of transactions happen (it is unlikely that they will), they will not be processed by the consensus witnesses. As there is more community feedback, and the Tron Foundation and Steemit Inc have a better chance to detail their roadmap and their plans for the future, this temporary soft fork can be adjusted to fit whichever direction the future holds for everyone.

Here are the Technical Details of Soft Fork 0.22.2 :

Relevant Accounts

  • misterdelegation
  • steem
  • steemit
  • steemit2
  • steemitadmin

Excluded Operations

  • account_witness_proxy_operation
  • account_witness_vote_operation
  • update_proposal_votes_operation
  • vote_operation
  • withdraw_vesting_operation
  • set_withdraw_vesting_route_operation
  • transfer_operation
  • limit_order_create_operation
  • limit_order_create2_operation
  • transfer_to_vesting_operation
  • transfer_to_savings_operation
  • escrow_transfer_operation

The GitHub repos for comparison and consideration:

Files Changed:

Why Was This Soft Fork Deployed?

With the recent developments for Steemit Inc with the TRON Foundation acquisition, there have been a lot of uncertainties around the company and its continued use of the assets it controls, as well as plans for the future. This makes it an excellent time to return to a long standing situation that has had lasting repercussions for the Steem blockchain: Steemit Inc ninja-mined stake. In an ecosystem where we are moving towards true adoption for decentralized technologies, this large amount of stake, mined at the beginning of the blockchain with an "unfair" advantage, has always been problematic in terms of creating a potential for heavy centralization.

The Steemit Inc ninja-mined stake is a special case, as up to this point it has been clearly declared on many occasions as earmarked solely for the development of the Steem ecosystem, and to be non-voting in governance issues.

There has always been a good-faith trust by the community that this would remain the case into the future. This social contract was defined by Ned in the 2017 roadmap, and has been an important background factor for the Steem ecosystem for many years. With the changes in the company ownership, this is an excellent time to transition the good-faith agreement into a truly trustless one, utilizing blockchain code, and taking further steps to help Steemit Inc support even better decentralization and the development, onboarding, and expansion of the Steem blockchain.

For now, because there has not been a clear declaration from Steemit Inc on the use of this ninja-mined stake, Soft Fork 0.22.2 has been deployed to allow for the entire community to discuss how best to achieve the original goals that this ninja-mined stake exists to support.


This reversible soft fork will not process certain transactions related only to Steemit Inc ninja-mined stake as listed above, and is simply the due diligence required by consensus witnesses in regards to centralization that could have an impact on the integrity of the Steem blockchain. It is very likely that the soft fork code will not impact any transactions at all, and that there will be further announcements from witnesses, community members, Steemit Inc, and the TRON foundation in the near future.

Let's talk about the future of Steem!

We have a vibrant platform (with many front ends) which gives us all the ability to voice our concerns and excitement while discussing topics like this one in a public manner. We encourage you all to do so! No matter if you are a witness, a content creator, a business owner, or new community member — if you feel these actions are not representative of your vision for Steem, be sure to express that and vote for witnesses accordingly. As consensus witnesses were elected to represent you and to uphold the security and integrity of the Steem blockchain, we are here to support everyone in our ecosystem. Please get involved by voicing your thoughts, and using your votes.

All rewards from this post will be sent to @null.

Steem on!

The Steem Consensus Witnesses

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I fully support and stand by the decision made collectively by the Steem witnesses. It has been a pleasure working together with you all to get this protective soft fork executed and I believe this is clearly in the best interest for all Steemians.

Looking forward to the next steps!

https://steemit.com/steem/@netuoso/steem-protection-soft-fork-0-22-2

Sun's response: https://steemit.com/steemit/@justinsunsteemit/open-letter-to-steem-community

Ya I fully support it if all you top witnesses step down now. If you don't it just looks like you are protecting your paycheck, and the possibility of you getting voted out. If you truly believe it was the best move, and really care about the site and steem. You will put any doubt to rest by stepping down. Otherwise you will be just scaring off investors, and making people choose sides.....

The paycheck you refer to is less than minimum wage. Let's see if you can learn the technical details of running a witness server and executing necessary steps to protect the network on minimum wage. I will wait ...

Just kidding I won't wait because I know you are full of shit, you won't actually do anything, and you are just offended this happened without you being included. Despite the fact that it was done to protect your small investment.

You can ask witnesses to step down all you want. Not sure that's how a voting election works usually but go ahead and give it a shot.

I'd be shocked if Steem was to attain any big serious investors from this point on unless its sometime in the very very far future. Who wants to put their funds into a project in which can just fork out the power of that investment. Justin Sun purchased his stake fair and square, he deserves to have the power that comes with it.

Thank you for truly stepping up in this situation, you were vital and I hope people take notice.

Thanks Justine. I admit everyone did a lot of work and organized this as an entire team. It truly was a fun experience and one that I know was done with good intentions, thorough testing, and analysis of all possible eventualities.

Until next time!

Are you in the top twenty ?or still trying to get back in?

While the hearts may have been in the right place, the precedent set by this (Top 20 Witnesses ability to take anyone's stake away from them) will probably keep anyone from investing in steem ever again. Why should they?

The ninja-mined stake was a problem, but taking it away after someone just paid $10m for it is not the solution, plus I am sure there are legal issues with what was done.

If this was truly about helping steem and not just preserving the current witnesses (which is what it looks like), All THE TOP 20 WITNESSES SHOULD STEP DOWN INDEFINITELY.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Possession_of_stolen_goods

The ninja-mined stake might not fit accurately the "stolen goods" definition, but the point stands ... you can not transfer fraudulent items to another part and have the fraudulence magically disappear.

If the stake had a contractual obligation, that contract remains with the entity that was purchased, in this case SteemIt, Inc.

I am not a lawyer and I know you aren't a lawyer either so how about we leave the legal mumbo jumbo to the lawyers.

All THE TOP 20 WITNESSES SHOULD STEP DOWN INDEFINITELY.

Then campaign to have them removed. Participate in the consensus protocol on Steem. Maybe you also failed to understand the network before you started using it. That is your fault, not the communities or the witnesses.

Also, come on @wattersblue, you have a 60 SP account (~$13). And you think your voice somehow should be able to influence those with hundreds of thousands invested in this blockchain?

Put your money where your mouth is. Get involved and make a project. UPDATE YOUR PROFILE PICTURE. Something, anything, before you try and act like you somehow speak for everyone.

While the hearts may have been in the right place, the precedent set by this (Top 20 Witnesses ability to take anyone's stake away from them) will probably keep anyone from investing in steem ever again. Why should they?

I have spoken directly with investors that have purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars of STEEM and run their business on the blockchain. Have you? The ones I spoke to personally have said what the witnesses did is the reason why they are buying more STEEM. You don't have to take my word for it. You could get off your lazy ass and go find those "investors" that you are speaking for and get their actual opinions too.

Also, you are clearly a sock puppet account. If you can't even speak your opinions from your main account then your opinions clearly don't mean much to you. Why are you hiding?

Possession of stolen goods
Possession of stolen goods is a crime in which an individual has bought, been given, or acquired stolen goods.
In many jurisdictions, if an individual has accepted possession of goods or property and knew they were stolen, then the individual is typically charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the stolen goods. If the individual did not know the goods were stolen, then the goods are returned to the owner and the individual is not prosecuted. However, there are often exceptions, because of the difficulty of proving or disproving an individual's knowledge that the goods were stolen.

Thanks for stepping up to protect the regular users. I am in the minority but I have a negative view of the situation.
https://steemit.com/steem/@ate-bit-dave/the-sacking-of-steem-the-rise-of-tron

I won't be watching the video but if you can summarize the points that would be cool.

As far as your negative view of the situation, you are most definitely entitled to that. However, it seems Justin Sun, the guy that actually bought SteemIt, Inc and the stake, does not have a negative view at this moment.

Why would you get more disturbed by what the witnesses did, when it was done to protect your "investment", than the guy that spent upwards of $10M buying SteemIt, Inc?

Well to summarize, I go over some of the history of Justin Sun. I explain why I am against ending the STEEM chain to migrate to TRON would be a bad Idea. It seems that over the past few days with all that has happened. It seems my concerns where warranted.

I had no problem with Justin Buying Steemit, I just didn't want to see the end of the Steem blockchain.

Does this open the door for lawsuits?

Maybe Justin Sun sueing Ned for misrepresentation of what Sun was purchasing. But not for witnesses, no.

And I would love that! 😅😅

lol I Love your enthusiasm.
I am not sure it was such a smart move. Do you know exactly who went along with it and who did not?

You can find the version which each witness is running at:

https://steemian.info/witnesses

If they are showing to be running version 2.22 then it can be assumed they support it.

Thanks for the link!

It looks like for now in the top 20 only @timcliff hasn't upgraded yet.

Among the witnesses with a lower rank (from 21 to 40) the following ones are still running an old version (22.1 or even 22.0):

Therefore, i've just voted for you as a witness.

Thank you

A good precautionary move that has already had a positive effect. Within hours a response by @justinsunsteemit wanting to meet with the top witnesses!
I look forward to positive results!

Are you not in support of this move sgt-dan ?

I believe I have made it quite clear that I am in full support of this soft-fork. I do understand and respect the reasoning of those that are not in support.

Sometimes people will disagree on things. There are a number of people I respect greatly that are against the action taken. I understand their reasoning.

I am in full support of SOFT FORK 22.2...

...as a temporary solution to a very real possible threat to our blockchain. It was a wise defensive move taken by our witnesses. I am sure the decision was not made lightly.

I wish I shared your confidence.

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We support this conditioned on it being a temporary limitation made until it has been made clear by the new ownership of Steemit Inc how the stake will be used, and where sufficient guarantees has been made to ensure that it will be used as promised.

Well said.

And what if those guarantees are not made? We take this guy's stake away from him?

The damage done to steem from doing this will likely never be undone.

It would indeed make sense!

My position on the soft fork:

I do support the overall mission that the top witnesses and community/stakeholders are trying to achieve: Finding a way for Steem to progress in a way where the security of our governance and blockchain is not under the constant threat of a single stakeholder.

I however am not running the changes on my witness node. My post along with my explanation can be found here.

The precedent set by this will never be able to be overcome. Why would anyone invest in something that can be taken away from them by the Top 20 Witnesses?

Why would anyone invest in something that can be taken away from them by the witnesses Justin Sun could elect unilateraly?

but has steemit not been ruled by one small group for a long time?
I was seeing a possible future where we get rid of kowtowing witnesses and create a Steem that would change the world forever. You know.......... start distributing Steem and create some growth, get rid of flags and find another option for plagiarism sensible basic honest things - NO MORE FLAGS

I don’t foresee that in the future, although once/if SMTs launch you may be able to launch a new SMT token that doesn’t allow downvoting.

I support and run this update on my witness @roelandp. It has been an intense 10 days but great worker with a big group of long term Steem stakeholders, consisting of investors, community members, witnesses.

I will issue my own views shortly on my account - but the gist is:

  1. This is a preventive temporarily measure - softfork nonetheless
  2. The Steemit inc stake is a special fund, just like @steem.dao is and should have had been coded with special ruleset long time ago.
  3. Mixed signals from the new owner of the Steemit stake rise the risks in irreversible use of the stake.
  4. Again: this is temporal and done for the s(t)ake of the Steem chain. Your chain, our chain.

It's not temporary if he doesn't meet these strong armed demands though, correct?

Please show me on this rat doll where the witnesses touched you.

Thank you for protecting Steem @roelandp Voted for you as witness.

PLEASE investiate the Matrix-8 Multi-Level Governance Platform to be, as a potential system of governance for Steem. You can begin to find out about it here: https://steempeak.com/naturalmedicine/@atma.love/why

Namaste
Atma

I fully support this update and I'm already running it on all my servers. I'm proud we were able to organise this and come to consensus independently of Steemit INC . Historic days :)

Wow i do not know, but i know that to me this looks like criminality.
Do we have any decent and how many?

No. Yes. Many

Two in the top 20. @timcliff and @anyx are presently not running 2.22.

Think @anyx may have made the switch to 22.2. Hang in there Tim!!! ✌️😎



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We are looking forward to seeing the Steem blockchain become an even more decentralized place to develop our interface. We believe these moves can produce a step in the right direction ... the early mined stake of Steemit INC has not been used for 4 years to impact the governance of the chain and it was kept that way as trust based agreement with the community that luckily worked until now, we were always at risk but the risk never came to fruition.
NOW... We feel much more secure with it being a trustless system in the future.

It's one thing to prevent the stake from witness voting it's another one to prevent transfers and selling. Even if they did do that, powering down takes 13 weeks which would have given the community 6 or 7 weeks to prepare a countermeasure should they power down, transfer and power back up.

besides the giving reasoning: a started powerdown could only be stopped either by the keyholder, or a hardfork. A hardfork would be a way more drastic implementation which also requires exchanges to update the software.

Even ONE week would have a massive effect. Not necessarily unilateral control but still enormous influence, by itself probably in the top 5 stakeholders on the entire platform. It isn't practical or meaningful to talk about non-voting without preventing power down in my opinion.

Even 6 weeks worth of power down could have massive effects on Steem governance.

Sure, but this looks a lot like stealing. The precedent set from this cannot be undone. If this was truly done to protect steem then the Top 20 Witnesses should all step down indefinitely. It would give this movement a lot more credence.

Yeah but that's 6 weeks of warning time to prepare for it. You just fired a warning shot and accidentally punctured a hole in their haul, I'm sure that's going to go well.

Why? This SF is really just temporary without bad intentions. It's a protective measure, nothing more.

What is the sunset clause on this? Temporary is just a word until you set an end-point. If you said: "For 3 months until we have time to negotiate terms with the Tron team." That would be one thing but as it stands it might as well be until the heat death of the universe.

Don't forget, witnesses can change their mind or get voted out. If the community doesn't want this protection in place, it won't have it.

That's exactly what I did. Obviously I'm just a grain of salt so ultimately it doesnt matter

It means "for now", just like Justin Sun said he wouldnt initiate a swap "for now"....

A "for now" for a "for now" appears reasonably balanced! ;)

While I was hesitant at first to this idea, the signals that TRON has been sending about the future of Steem and Steemit say to me that the blockchain is under threat from their newly acquired stake and I must support this for the sake of Steem. My witness server is running the updated software from the SteemDevs repository.

I wish for the best outcome both for Steem and its stakeholders, incuding Justin Sun and the TRON Foundation. I look forward to the cooperation between us and hope for the best for TRON as well as the Steem blockchain.

Edit: I have done my best to fill in the context of this collective decision. Please see this post for more details:

The Case For the Temporary Soft Fork

I stepped down as a witness due to concerns over the ongoing time commitment as well as anticipated increase in witness demands connected to this fork and the recent sale of Steemit more broadly.

However, as a stakeholder, I support the actions taken, I am voting for witnesses running the modified code. I believe that firm action to address Steemit's lack of transparency and candor, repeated empty and broken promises, mismanagement, and exploitation of the community should have been taken long ago, though, unfortunately, consensus to do so could never be reached for a variety of reasons. Better late then never, I guess.

Is there an easy way to see who has upgraded and who hasn't so people might adjust their witness votes?

Thanks

0.22.2 is the updated version. Look on https://steemd.com/witnesses

Thanks

Time to reshuffle my votes

Is there an easy way to see who has upgraded...

https://steemian.info/witnesses

Better late then never

Well said, @smooth!

Doesn't this look like a form of the Top witnesses just entrenching themselves in the top witness spots?

Not to me, unless you think that the way to get them out would be with the ninja-mined stake voting. I don't believe that.

No other votes are affected. The top witnesses can be voted out just as easily today as they could two days ago. In fact I would venture to say there has been more movement in and out of the top 20 in the wake of this fork than most times before, but I'm not basing that on real data, just an impression.



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This is an excellent representation of witnesses coming together to ensure the sanctity of the Steem blockchain. We are in full support from all aspects. Running on this version.

@smooth shut down his witness today.. Got a free spot. ;)

How would you feel if it was your stake which was frozen?

I appreciate your feelings on this and have had many discussions regarding this subject over the last twenty four hours. I am really sad to loose your Witness vote, but I also appreciate why and everyone has to have their own perspective on what is happening. In fact I just had a very involved discord discussion with @freedompoint who has exactly your feelings in the @innerblocks discord.

For sure! And it is ok that we all have different feelings and opinions ...that's how we find balance! I am glad that this whole thing is getting a rise out of people haha atleast we are all doing something haha

If it is any consolation all witnesses which installed 22.2 have lost my support. It concerns only this issue and is not meant to demean your other great work as a witness.

Something had to be done, yet in my opinion it needed to be something generic and not targetting one account. For exanple requiring 51% of all registered witnesses install a new HF before it becomes the new law. That would make corrupting the top 20 not such an easy thing.

There must be better approaches, yet something that would affect all accounts while protecting the blockchain from STINC's stake would have been my suggestion if the community had been consulted.

Does your governor or congressman consult you before making a decision? No
Does your joint chief of staff consult you when there is an immediate threat to your country? No.
Why? because there is no time and because they are responsible, not you.
Then why are you expecting this from the steem witnesses, this is a representative system just like a parlamentary system, not a direct democracy, and you knew this when you got here.

Are you concerned at all about the precedent this sets? The Top 20 Witnesses can take away your stake if they choose to. That is something that steem will carry with it forever gong forward. It looks a lot like a move by the top witnesses to ensure they remain as the top witnesses going forward. If this was truly a play to protect steem (and not to financially benefit themselves), all of the Top 20 Witnesses should step down indefinitely.

Steem has a lot of things that it will have to carry with it, like having a retard like Ned as CEO for 4 years and having him ninja sell the ninja mined stake.
We are not concerned about the witnesses having done what they should have done a long time ago, at all.



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Ha! This is much more concise and clear compared to your post yesterday "Thoughts".

This is amazing. Real strength of this chain is shown right here. Gratitude for all the hard work of dedicated witnesses to make this happen and protect the Steem community.

Note—I also would like to see the views of those witnesses who have qualms with how things are being done to make sure there is not overreaction/overextension of limitation going on.

EDIT: Something that concerns me a bit is the "preparing for the worst scenario" mentality. It is possible that Sun and Tron intend to use some of those stakes benevolently in delegation or otherwise. (Actually, looks like they would still be able to delegate.) I know being optimistic is often seen as naivety, but by comparison it is equally imbalanced to expect a negative outcome.

The other quandary that comes up is whether or not this is setting a bad precedent for the future of this chain's politics. Especially in the scenario of substantial appreciation of the token value, I could see a devolution into petty squabbles among factions of witnesses ruining the integrity of the chain and undermining investor's trust in its viability as a store of value.

Self-upvoted for visibility.

Delegation takes steem out of your rewards.
It is not a benign act.
It is hostile to every other account.
When whales vote/delegate, we all get less.

Higher amount of STU rewards does not necessarily mean a greater value if no one uses the platform. Reducing rewards by re-allocating how and to whom they flow can potentially drive the token price upwards.

Higher payouts to authors brings authors.
We've been through this over the entire 4 years of chain history.
Unless those that can suck it all up let more escape, fewer will want to play.
Such is the nature of this crab bucket from the very beginning.

As long as sellers sell for what they can get, the price will only remain low.
It is up to us as a collective to stop voting rewards to those that sell for less than 4usd per steem.
When that happens, steem thrives.

It was good to finally see some coordination to address blockchain security risks. I, @ats-witness, am in full support of the actions taken and have an official statement posted. I invite anyone to read it and leave me comments and I will answer them.

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I am currently supporting this temporary soft fork and have been working with an amazing group of Steem witnesses, community members, and stake holders to come to this point. You can read more about my perspective here: What is property? Is it defined by consensus?

I welcome questions about my perspective and look forward to useful conversations with the Tron Foundation.

I am currently running this soft fork, as a temporary measure.

I would also like to note that this is an instance of network availability (of utility) and that this measure does not affect ownership of property.

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I like what you said!



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I'm not stealing your land but I'm putting a fence all around it and you cannot get in or out.

These analogies are highly flawed, and different types of property are, frankly, different. Land just sits there and doesn't require anyone else to take action in order for you to use it. Putting up a fence is an action which requires authority.

In this case, witnesses are declining to process certain (hypothetical) transactions because they do not believe, on balance, those transactions are in the best interests of Steem. Stakeholders are free to vote in a different set of witnesses if they disagree with that judgment (and I wouldn't rule out that this may well happen especially once some very large stakeholders have found out about the situation and decided to weigh in on it).

just for now, to make sure you don't shoot me with your shotgun, yes. But once i'm sure you won't, the fence will come down!

Exactly.
The mental gymnastics employed to justify an unethical decision, shows everything about the character.

We are talking about ninja-mined and ninja-exited stake here that posed an existential threat to Steem, not land. You are sufficiently smart to see the difference.
And BTW , to talk in your jargon, the NAP was clearly broken by Justin announcing a swap and plans to deprecate the steem chain.

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Thanks you @anyx

PLEASE investigate the Matrix-8 Multi-Level Governance Platform to be, as a potential system of governance for Steem. You can begin to find out about it here: https://steempeak.com/naturalmedicine/@atma.love/why

Namaste
Atma

Been a long weekend and discussions before that, @ocd-witness is also fully supporting this update, hoping for the best outcome for both chains and communities.



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Thank you @acidyo / @ocdwitness for supporting this update.

PLEASE investigate the Matrix-8 Multi-Level Governance Platform to be, as a potential system of governance for Steem. You can begin to find out about it here: https://steempeak.com/naturalmedicine/@atma.love/why

Namaste
Atma

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Justin bought this stake, and if you want to counter it, buy more steem. Or, at least be consistent and include all ninjamined accounts.

To be clear, Justin's actions and FUD have made me greatly concerned about the future of Steem. But we all knew about the huge Steemit Inc stake and its potential for abuse. This is a stake-based platform, and in doing this, it will set a dangerous precedent in the future of the platform.

While everyone recognizes the fact that Justin made a purchase of a company and its holdings, with any merger/acquisition comes a process of due diligence. We are responsible for the sanctity of the Steem blockchain and its excellent community first and foremost.

We are responsible for the sanctity of the Steem blockchain

I would argue this soft fork goes against that. This is a stake based platform, and what this essentially does is says "your stake matters, but don't have too much of it".

This is a stake based platform, and what this essentially does is says "your stake matters, but don't have too much of it".

That's absolutely misleading. This isn't about an account having too much stake, but rather about the ninja mined stake from Steemit Inc., which was unfairly mined and is now threatening the governance of this system.

Nobody of these Witnesses would just censor an account, because of too much stake. That is absurd and misleading.

So why isn't freedom included in this?

Because he's voted in all of the witnesses who made this decision. Isn't that obvious?

The conflict of interest here is ludicrous.

They just think we're stupid.

That has nothing to do with it. I would have at least expected for you to understand the difference between Steemit Inc and non Steemit Inc stakeholders.

Doesn't this look like the top witnesses just ensuring they will remain the top witnesses?

He isn't part of Steemit Inc.

I could say he is, and we have no way of proving either way. That's beside the point though; if the problem is ninja-mined stake, selectively picking the biggest one absolutely shows that this is about the amount of stake.

To be clear, everyone here that did due diligence when investing knows about the ninjamine, and I'm not advocating removing any of the powers that comes along with that stake, just using it as a rhetorical device.

It's more than selectively picking the biggest one. They've selectively chosen to ignore the ninja-mined stake that is already doing what they're afraid of in favor of blocking one that isn't, while doing things that way accrues financial benefit to themselves.

Its not only about the ninjamine, its about conflicting information, its about clear and open lies, its about broken promises.
If Ned makes a statement that he will not use the ninjamine stake to influence the community consensus, essentially entering into a social contract with us over that stake, then when that stake is sold, that social contract is passed on to Justin.

If you could prove that freedom was/is part of Steemit then I would argue for it to be included. But as you say, you can't prove this, so I doubt many/any witnesses are going to take action on the basis of nothing but speculation.

Then why didn't the witnesses ban the stake BEFORE? If it was illegal and mined improperly, then why wasn't it dealt with many years ago? Why do you not ban the ninja mined stake from others too, ones that support your projects @therealwolf?

This stake is a piece of property that had specific terms of use on it. Take a look at the helpful roadmap link in the post. This mitigation is proposed, written and implemented by a group of people who believe in decentralization and the vision behind Steem building communities like nothing before it first and foremost.

So why didn't the fork happen when misterdelegation started delegating steem power, even though that stake was never to be using the reward pool?

Face it, there was no terms with this stake, there was only empty promises, which could have been handled in good faith by declining voting rights.