Updated Witness Application

in #witness5 years ago

As an academic at heart, I find myself often at odds with the "popularity contest" that Steem witness positions most often converge to. While I’m a quiet person more often than not, as @lukestokes has often pointed out to me that without information being neatly presented in a consumable fashion, most voters often don’t have the time to fully research the reasons they should vote for someone -- and hence, word of mouth and popularity reign supreme.

I have a hard time writing about myself (I often believe actions speak louder than words), but the goal of this post is to give an updated account of why you, as a holder of Steem, should vote for me as a witness; a bite size summary of the value that I offer and why I believe it’s important. Since it’s been quite some time since my original witness application, this updated post should help modernize information about my contributions.

To get started, it's crucial to understand the election process in Steem: the witnesses that you vote for are the ones who determine consensus of the ecosystem. They are, as I like to put it, the custodians of the blockchain. As a voter, you are delegating your trust to these actors. Therefore, the primary consideration in your votes should be your level of trust in that actor: specifically, trust for their ability to enforce security of the system.

An Academic and Technical Background

To start off, I’ll provide some background about me. I am currently a PhD Candidate in Computer Engineering. My research topic for my dissertation is mostly on Distributed Systems, Parallelism, and Graph Processing. I also have done quite a bit of Machine Learning, though outside my dissertation. That might sound a bit technical, so to simplify things: my field is mostly about understanding, building, and analyzing systems and data. Steem is, in fact, an excellent example of such a system: it is both a distributed system, and its data can be represented as a time series graph. It’s right up my alley.

As an academic, I'm a uniquely qualified expert in this domain: I have authored multiple peer reviewed publications at conferences such as Supercomputing and IPDPS (International Parallel and Distributed Processing Symposium). These conferences are highly regarded in the field of Computer Science and Engineering. Furthermore, I've previously worked in the research divisions of top tech companies like Intel and Facebook. As part of my graduate studies, I even help teach university courses on Distributed Systems. While many people in the cryptocurrency space certainly claim domain expertise, I do have the credentials to back it up.

Why is this background important or relevant? Well, simply put, I have expert knowledge in how Steem works, at its fundamentals. The ability to understand and identify security at its core is, in my opinion, crucial to the success of protecting the network. As an example, I published this post on Vote Incentivization and how it degrades Delegated Proof of Stake, a serious issue that can arise in DPoS.

Further, my expertise as a Computer Engineer (both academic and in industry) is also a key point: I speak C++, the language that the Steem software is implemented in. The value of the ability to identify, track, and repair issues in the code cannot be understated.

As an example, I recently discovered and fixed an issue in steem that caused witnesses to miss blocks seemingly randomly. The issue was in how the P2P protocol identified and handled error scenarios. I patched this issue, and most witnesses are already running this patch. Fixing issues like this is often done quietly and in the background: you, the average user, most often do not care about these kinds of software bugs. However, you should most certainly entrust your votes to people who can fix anything broken, so that the system you use can continue to operate smoothly. Now, obviously, I cannot claim or promise to be able to solve unknown future security issues, but I do believe having the right the skillset should be an important consideration when voting.

Of course, speaking the language of the code has also allowed me to implement or port features into Steem. I recently added to Steem the feature of using Unix sockets for API nodes. Again, this is a technical thing, and one that's certainly not interesting to the average user. Yet, none the less, it is progress that goes on in the background to improve the performance of the Steem ecosystem.

Finally, my technical background allows me to operate and run on dedicated computer hardware, rather than rent servers from a third party, like most witnesses do (opting for custodian services like Hetzner or OVH). A common phrase in the crypto community is “not your keys, not your crypto” -- and in my opinion, this extends to the ownership of the hardware securing the keys, too. My hardware is proudly Canadian, owned and operated securely by me, in the great white north.

Pushing Towards Improved Decentralization

Recently, a large amount of pressure and questions have risen from the community in the form of how decentralized the Steem ecosystem truly is. As some people are acutely aware, Steemit Inc has de-facto control over the Steem blockchain, and our witness positions exist simply because they currently allow it. With recent talks about “forking out Steemit stake,” something to be made clear is that such a fork would not be “Steem”. Although I am a staunch supporter of improving decentralization, I am not convinced this is the right method to do so. Yet, I do agree that actions should be taken to reduce reliance on Steemit Inc., and I have done and will continue to push this.

I have already put in a lot of effort and made strides to improve the decentralization of the Steem ecosystem and reduce this reliance; in a few blog posts (What Makes a ‘dApp’ a ‘dApp’? and Fully Decentralizing dApps), I previously outlined the importance and ability to have fully decentralized applications.

However, this is not all just talk or discussion. In my efforts to promote this, I launched a public full-node infrastructure for any application to use. I purchased tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of hardware, and pay hosting fees of over $300/month to support this infrastructure, for the sole reason of improving the decentralization of Steem. As a result, this infrastructure has proven itself to be a reliable and performant alternative to Steemit Inc's own provided infrastructure.

While the benefits of my push towards decentralization are often not visible to the end users, the impact to the ecosystem is already clear. As an example, the @steemmonsters application has moved over to run on this infrastructure, enabling them to become completely independent of Steemit Inc. Did you know @steemmonsters does more Steem transactions than Steemit does? Further, it is one of the few resources left that supports the popular Steem desktop wallet, Vessel.

Not only does this operation requires continuous maintenance, but I still am working towards improving its performance and ensuring a reliable alternative to the current centralized Steemit Inc. solution. For example, my infrastructure design has already discarded Steemit’s “Jussi” in favour of my own custom solution built in Golang.

Demonstrating Trust: My Commitment to Reducing Fraud

As the original founder of the @steemcleaners project, I remain the primary manager of the group, and the primary supporter of its financing -- regularly redistributing hundreds if not thousands of dollars weekly to community helpers. This organization has existed for over two and a half years, working daily to help reduce fraud, identity theft, and plagiarism here on Steem. While sometimes controversial, we regularly interact with the community, and those familiar with the level of work being done can attest to positive impact it has had and continues to provide.

As many also already know, I developed and continue to maintain the @cheetah bot, a service that looks through a post for similar content already existing on the web, in an effort to expose potential fraud. @cheetah is unfortunately quite expensive: the ability to scour the whole web for matching content does not come cheap. Historically, @cheetah's cost varies with activity on the steem blockchain -- i.e., how many posts she needs to review -- costing over $200 per day in some cases. Despite the current downturn in activity due to the cryptocurrency bear market we are in, she still costs about $50 per day to operate ($1500/month), or about twice the revenue generated by the logs posted on the account. The rest of the financing is subsidized by my witness pay.

Another service I provide is @guard, a rapid response bot that identifies malicious links (such as to phishing sites) and informs users of the issue. Security of your cryptocurrency keys is a huge barrier for most people, and limiting the spread of phishing is crucial to wider adoption.

While these anti-fraud initiatives that I spearhead are admittedly not perfect, I have continued to ensure that they improve over time. While these systems are not able to censor or remove content on Steem, their goal is instead to inform users and reduce the incentives for fraud in our community. I believe they are successful, and have gone a long way to reduce fraud, phishing, and plagiarism on this platform, and continue to do so every day.

TL;DR / Summary.

My technical and academic background as a PhD Candidate in Computer Engineering, with actual domain expertise, I believe uniquely qualifies me as a trusted actor to secure the Steem blockchain. Further, I have demonstrated my ability to author software fixes and feature implementations on top of Steem.

My push for decentralization has not only been talk, but also show, by providing infrastructure support that has already enabled applications like @steemmonsters to entirely remove their reliance on Steemit Inc.

Finally, my hard stance on fraud and my initiatives to address it may come controversial to some, but for many, having a system in place that attempts to address it allows other projects to spend more time on their positive and constructive goals.

While a quiet person in general, I will continue to work in the background to improve the Steem ecosystem. If I’ve convinced you to vote for me, I’d encourage you to do so, here.


Greetings @anyx,

Thank you for this informative post.

From time to time we do appreciate hearing from witnesses even if it is just an objective quarterly progress report with bullet points.

Appreciate all you do.

A request, please have a simple way to contact cheetah and please reply.

Also, is there anyway one can use cheetah's service to check if one's work is being plagerised elsewhere.

Thank you again for your knowledge that is so helpful to Steemit.

Happy New Year!


The easiest way to get support for @cheetah is via our discord.

Interesting idea about looking to check one's own work. I'll have to think about that!

You should certainly be in the top 3, IMO.

You've been one of the most consistent technical experts and contributors to the Steem ecosystem for years. I remember how much wasted effort went into people trying (and failing) to fight identity theft and fraud before your tools (which are freaking expensive to run!) came around. I've seen your technical expertise first-hand, both in the Steem world and in other arenas. Very few people can claim the title "expert" and actually back it up with anything.

You truly are an expert on the systems Steem needs most, and I'm so thankful to have you here and to learn from you. I'm also thankful to know you as a human and friend. I enjoy every chance we get to hang out because I'm always laughing and learning. I was so happy you got to meet my wife and kids in Krakow and she really liked you too (which I knew she would). You're a great person, Scott, and your dedication to this platform has been hugely valuable for us all.

Thank you.

Thanks Luke! I really appreciate the kind words, and I echo the sentiment of it being awesome to hang out in person. We have to link up to meetups more often! :)

Great comment @lukestokes and it's hard not to agree with you buddy


You will always have my vote, I know how much you do and glad you made this post so others will as well.

STEEM = “Byzantine Fault Tolerance” Cryptocurrency!

Lol, although it doesn't roll off the tongue like 'blockchain', learning the distinction between a DPOS and POW systems was very enlightening, I want to thank you for taking the time to walk us through how Steem actually functions at the core level.

It's a huge contribution you've made to Steem and the community by building and running a full public node, excellent work. I admire your selfless contributions to the ecosystem: @cheetah, @steemcleaners, @guard - all pivotal and often under-recognized additions over the years.

The work that you do with @jesta and co. here and with @greymass is amazing! You all deserve more recognition! (Not in the top 21 top BPs - a frickin' crime I tell you).

Resteemed this post, I hope it does a small part to help bring more attention to your work!

I'm glad you enjoyed that series! I hope to do more like that when I have the time.

Thanks for the support!

Thank you for this post, I learned a lot about you that I did not know before. I already voted for you as witness without knowing how much you did and do for the steem blockchain :).

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You've had my vote for a while. I think witnesses would eventually move towards being teams and each team would have more rounded skills within them. However, that won't happen with Steem priced so low. I'd like to have seen the witnesses driving more tool coding (like EOS) but yeah. The Steem Foundation currently being proposed/formed looks like it spreading governance wider and hopefully getting more code / devops witnesses.

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"Actions speak louder than words" is true for certain things but not everything. How many times do you hear people bragging about their country's sewer system ? You are doing an amazing job building infrastructure and unfortunately infrastructure is rarely bragged about but is only heavily criticized when its broken. I am an academic myself and maybe that's why I found you (through your technical posts) and voted for you as a witness. However, I am still reluctant to tell you to put a personal effort in advertising yourself as your time is better used for other things than entertaining people into voting. You can either find someone else to advertise you or just automate the process. What if you included a line in the @cheetah and @steemcleaners posts that says "brought to you by your witness ..." Anyhow, remember that what you do will eventually pay off both financially and intellectually and as with all infrastructure jobs the rewards come years if not decades later. You'll positioned at the center of this because of your expertise.

Hehe, yeah. It seems I found myself running a lot of services that aren't really recognized unless they stop working. But I've done too good a job! :)

I am still reluctant to tell you to put a personal effort in advertising yourself as your time is better used for other things than entertaining people into voting.

Yeah, this is really how I feel more often than not. I'd much prefer working on solutions than talking about them, but playing politician is turning into a necessary evil.

Thanks for the encouragement!

You can discuss your role of Witness with @blockbrothers, they are used as a proxy for a lot of people's Witness Votes.

TAG: @exyle @s3rg3

They actually already vote for me, which is greatly appreciated of course! :)

As always you have my full support. I was wondering (if you have the time), if it's possible for you give an opinion about dlux.


I think it's an unappreciated project but I lack the knowledge to give a proper assesment.

We are also interested... :p

You also have our vote for Witness! Thanks for decentralizing the actual infrastructure!!

I'll be honest, I haven't really looked much into what they're doing. At first look I always hesitate on using IPFS -- a lot of people think it's a magic solution to data storage, but its really fundamentally no different than torrents, which have their use-cases and drawbacks.
That being said, decentralized AR/VR is an interesting up-and-coming tech, and one I think will get more popular in the next 10 years or so (once hardware can catch up). So it will be interesting to see if they get a good head-start.

You knowing the codebase and operating a node is akin to a race car driver also being their own mechanic/tuner. They develop intuition what is going on with the car, just by driving it. I have no idea how many witnesses fit into that category, but there is no doubt in my mind they are essential.

I like the analogy! But I would take it one step further -- it's a bus or a plane, and the average users are along for the ride. Since your fate is beholden to them not crashing, you probably want the best in the pilot seat, and the best making sure things don't fall apart.

I've freed up a witness vote and so I'll move it to you for all the valuable work you do to make Steem better. It doesn't hurt that I met you at Steemfest last year and you seemed like a nice guy :)

Thank you! Appreciate it! Indeed, it was great meeting you at steemfest. That's one of the best parts of those events, really getting to engage with other community members on a more personal level.

As someone who have been working with media houses trying to establish themselves on the STEEM blockchain and inevitably getting stuck on Cheetah and the other Steemcleaner bots and getting them untangled from them and approved, with all the cultural conflicts & frustration that has entailed, you might be surprised that you have my vote, but you do because I see the value you provide. Thank you for everything you do.

I appreciate it! I know the anti-fraud mechanisms can be annoying, and it's unfortunate that they are necessary. Believe me, I wish we lived in a world where they weren't needed. And sadly it has to burden everyone just to weed out the problems.
But I what I often see is if someone has ever had their work stolen before, they're immediately understanding and supportive, because they know just how frustrating the alternative is.

Hello @anyx,
I just came across your post by accident and I'm glad I did. I'm heading to vote for you for witness as soon as I finish this reply. I am very impressed with all you have done, and continue to do, for the blockchain. I'm glad that SteemMonsters was able to move off SteemIt, and I did not know that they have that huge amount of transactions. I still have a few open votes, are there other witnesses you would recommend that feel the same as you, and work together with you toward the same goals?

Thanks, appreciate it!
Recommending witnesses isn't something I'd normally do, so my recommendation is to try and find "technical" ones. The chain is more secure in my mind when experts in tech are the ones in control of security.

Dear @anyx

I just realized that you're one of witnesses. Im impressed and you've my full respect for being very responsive so far. Most witnessed I know do not bother to engage with people here.

most voters often don’t have the time to fully research the reasons they should vote for someone -- and hence, word of mouth and popularity reign supreme.

You nailed it.

Thank you for sharing your goals with us. Perhaps you could contact me via email ? [email protected] or telegram: crypto_piotr

I would gladly help you get some extra exposure and some voters and hopefully we could find ways to collaborate closer.

ps. great explanation what voting is about. I just found this site:

Would you mind telling me what's the difference between Votes and Voters? You have almost 63k votes, and 7404 voters. I found it a bit confusing.


Hey! Appreciate the support! Feel free to ping me on telegram, I'm any_x there.

Regarding votes vs voters, what you're looking at is the difference between stake weighted votes, i.e. the number of steem tokens voting for you, versus account votes, the number of accounts voting for you.
The reason accounts is not often used as an important metric is because they are too easy to create, so anyone can spoof that number to be high.

Thank you for this amazing explanation @anyx

Appreciate. I added you already on telegram.

Would you also mind telling me what are benefits of being top20 or top50 on list of witnesses? Hope you don't mind sharing your knowledge.


Being a top witness (in the top 20) means two things: greater pay of steem for being a witness, and more importantly, the responsibility of being part of the "consensus set" of the Steem blockchain. What this means is that you are responsible for ensuring validity and correctness of the blockchain.
While the responsibility is mostly automated, its important to not let these positions become corrupted or vulnerable, as they are like a form of governance.

Positions underneath don't have the same responsibility, but might become elected by getting voted in, so they should prepare for it. Positions under 20 are paid far less steem.

Don't stay off-chain for too long, your rank will definitely and gradually suffer because of that. The race to the top is now more competitive than ever before. My only advice: be more present.

Yes, I see that now. The rise of "community witnesses", dare I say politicians, has definitely made it more of a popularity contest. Interestingly, many want a more decentralized ecosystem, but it's talk, and it almost seems it's squeezing out technical witnesses that would work towards it.

But, being more open with progress should help. For example, I never really shared the Unix Socket support with anyone else other than node operators. But perhaps even if the community doesn't fully understand it, they can appreciate progress.

We need some reputation system for witnesses, especially around technical contributions and competency. Not the politicians... Do you have any thoughts on how to do it? Holy grail for dpos

Sadly, there's no way to enforce that. You have to convince the community of the necessity of having technically capable witnesses, so that they vote accordingly.

It's an interesting critique of DPoS actually -- does it devolve over time to politicians who are able to rally with all talk and no show, since they are the loudest?

You have my vote for a long time but I'll resteem your post for my followers to read and maybe recognize your true value.
Go Canada, go.
Oh, and btw.
Will steem survive?

Appreciate it!

Steem will of course survive. What most don't realize (perhaps because the "now" is more visible) is that we've survived much, much worse than the current situation. I think right now many people are upset and frustrated because we aren't thriving, and that progress has been slow. And I sympathize and agree with the concerns; our reliance on Steemit hasn't been met with the progress we desired.
So, I will continue to push for less reliance on Steemit, as I think we can make it thrive ourselves.

Wise words.

I am going to give you my vote because of all the work you have done but it's not without hesitation. I believe a good witness most also use the platform, post, vote, comment daily/weekly. Most witnesses only post every few months. If you truly believe in Steem, THEN UPVOTE THOSE MINNOWS and be active in posting. I review my witness votes often...I will be keeping an eye out for more post from you.

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I do understand the desire for popular witnesses. I only hope I can convince you that witness are not here to be popular, they are here to ensure the security of the network.

I do upvote minnows quite often! I'm a huge supporter in the Japanese community particularly. Ask people like @knozaki2015 or @kinakomochi how much I've helped support the @steemit-jp community with curation tools :)

I dont think you need to be popular at all. I just look before voting and seems all witnesses only post every few weeks/months. Some on the list havent posted ever....if they dont believe in the platform then hard to believe in them

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Dear @anyx

I just had a pleasure to read your post a moment ago. Most of all thank you for being so responsive so far. I really appreciate it a lot.

Thank you for sharing your achievements with us. Indeed impressive.

without information being neatly presented in a consumable fashion, most voters often don’t have the time to fully research the reasons they should vote for someone -- and hence, word of mouth and popularity reign supreme.

That's very true. On top of that people do not understand why they should vote in the first place. And most of them simply do not care (including me).

While a quiet person in general, I will continue to work in the background to improve the Steem ecosystem. If I’ve convinced you to vote for me, I’d encourage you to do so, here.

Please allow me to make small suggestion to you. It's best to add visible and clickable link to your post "https://steemit.com/~witnesses".

It may not look as neat as the way you did it, but from my experience this is the best way to encourage people to open some link (which they recognize right away). YOU GOT MY VOTE anyway Tadam! :)

ps. aren't you already in top20 as a witness? Do you sill need more votes? just wondering.

pss Sometimes I'm wondering who has more power (more to say on steemit). Whales or witnesses? What's your opinion?


Thanks for the feedback!

Indeed I am currently in the top 20, but it's a "continuous election" process, so every vote counts and it always counts, as the ranking changes all the time. If I want to stay in the top 20 I still need to get votes!

Regarding whales vs witnesses... each has their own power. The witnesses have the immediate power, but they are beholden to the whales. Right now a sad fact is that Steemit Inc has "de-facto" control of the blockchain, since they can immediately elect the entire set of witness positions to be themselves at any point in time. Their ability to do this means everyone is beholden to them at least in some way.

Dear @anyx

Thank you for your kind and mature comment. Appreciate sharing with me your knowledge.

Regarding whales vs witnesses... each has their own power. The witnesses have the immediate power, but they are beholden to the whales.

It does remind me of power regulators/politicians and big businesses have in real world.

Right now a sad fact is that Steemit Inc has "de-facto" control of the blockchain, since they can immediately elect the entire set of witness positions to be themselves at any point in time. Their ability to do this means everyone is beholden to them at least in some way.

Could it ever change?


Indeed I am currently in the top 20, but it's a "continuous election" process, so every vote counts and it always counts, as the ranking changes all the time. If I want to stay in the top 20 I still need to get votes!

Perhaps we could help each other. I've some idea which could benefit both of us. What would you say about supporting each other ? As you may noticed I managed to build a solid presence here on Steemit and lately one of my posts reached over 800 comments.

So I have reach and I know quite a number of people on the platform. At the same time Im supporting group of around 70 content creators (mostly blogging about blockchain). Most of them struggled with low RC limits and the majority cannot purchase their own SP because they cannot afford (3rd world countries like Venezuela etc). I delegated 3500 SP of my own resources and few friends supported this cause as well delegating 10-20 SP to each of those people.

If you could consider supporting my efforts then I will surely help you get more voters. It's a win-win-win for everyone. You get voters, all those people will receive extra support and my influence will also grow.

Let me know what do you think


Thanks for a reminder of why I voted for you in first place. I value both your academic scientific background (I am a PhD in another field myself) and also your fight against spam and plagiarism.
You should definatly be one of the top witnesses.

Thanks for this extensive post @anyx. I voted for you in the past and then 'let you go' at some point since I had a lot of 'word of mouth' votes back then and wanted to be able to 'defend' my witness votes if someone asked me about it. Not every witness is visible or I had the pleasure of getting to know (I believe you were at SteemFest, but we didn't meet unfortunately.)

Anyway, I keep a 'rotating list' of witnesses I feel deserve my vote and will be voted in once I have open slots. I'm putting you on that list because this post above gives me enough of an idea what you add to Steem, which is clearly a lot, and from now on I'll be able to 'defend' my choice for your witness if someone asked me about it. That's often all I need :-)

Thanks again for writing this down, and I'm hoping my comment can give a final push to those witnesses who read this and are in doubt whether 'writing' instead of 'just doing' might help getting votes - Yes, it does.


Seems good dude, I added my vote! I especially like to help out a fellow student (even though I'm in a different subject).

Thank you! Academics, regardless of field, certainly have a lot in common. Like lack of sleep! :)

For what it's worth, you just got my vote.

Thank you for cheetah, steemcleaners et al. I really appreciate the effort you have put in and continuous commitment.

Hey Anyx! Long time no speak mate =)

You have my vote for the past 2 years or so anyway. So I have a different question. Couldn't notice the topic of your dissertation there. Got intrigued. Any work in public already?

Hey! I appreciate it :)
My PhD work so far is all published, so it's all available online. A good place to check it out is at my Google Scholar page here.
I actually just got a recent paper accepted (woohoo!) so that list will be growing soon :)


I find this educational post for my studies of steemit.
But my internet and my mind are not stable now to give a good comment.
So I'll take this post to study later. Thank you.
Greetings from Venezuela.
(I use a translator)

This post has been included in the latest edition of SoS Daily News - a digest of all you need to know about the State of Steem.

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You made more than 72000 upvotes. Your next target is to reach 73000 upvotes.

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I am a community manager at Snax. We are trying to make public blockchain based on EOS node. Snax chain will provide transactions over social networks, token supply based on user social influence.

Snax as well as Steemit rewards its users for the content created, but Snax works as overlay solution over existing social networks (e.g. Twitter)

We have no ICO. We already have a testnet, mainnet will be launched this month, and we currently looking for great candidates for Block Producers like yourself. You can find out more about us at our website snax.one

If our project is interesting for you, please let me know by emailing me at [email protected]

Looking forward to hearing from you, and keep rocking this world!

@anyx. What will it take to get your cat to leave us alone?

We’re changing the opening paragraph every week. We’re featuring new chefs every week. We’re personally reaching out to you every week. What else do we need to do to get you to call off your cat?

popularity contest

Such a polite way to phrase it. 😁

Anyway you've had my vote since forever, not that it amounts to much.

Keep on steeming!