The Reduced Author Rewards of The Economic Improvement Proposal is Moronic and Unfair

As a creator, one of the reasons I gave this radical platform a chance, and advocated for artists and consumers alike to join, were the generous cryptocurrency rewards paid to the author. The 75% allocation to the authors on the Steem network demonstrated to me that as a social platform, the team behind it were willing to put their money where their mouths were and reward the people who made the platform worth visiting.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter or Reddit, you are rewarded for creating or sharing good content. To their credit, YouTube is the only one of the social networks that dares to share in the prosperity generated by its users. That said, YouTube’s rewards were – and still are – small. Just like Spotify, the musician’s compensation for being listened to, watched or shared still amounts to paltry sums unless you are garnering tens of millions of views. So while there are rewards to be had, they are very difficult to achieve.

Now there’s Steem, which completely inverts the dynamic. Authors are no longer an afterthought. They are centric to the platform, and as such they are the entities that are rewarded the most. It’s also much, much easier to earn. What a novel idea! Instead of keeping all the compensation for the content generated by its users, a social network that rewards them and in an effortless way, by voting on their content. I know, it’s truly shocking.

Right away I noticed a difference when I started posting on the Steem network. I’ve earned as much as $65 for a post and $0.01, but I’ve always earned SOMETHING for my efforts. On the aforementioned platforms, I’ve earned absolutely nothing, even from YouTube.

What hasn’t changed from YouTube to Steem is the effort it takes to create thoughtful content. Each Satoshi I’ve earned on Steem I’ve worked really hard for, so it was infuriating to read within the EIP there there was a proposal to reduce author rewards and allocate them to curators. I became angry enough to write this after reading @timcliff‘s post about the rewards being reduced to proposed 50%.

So why is this change being proposed?

From Improving the Economics of Steem: A Community Proposal on @steemitblog.

Increasing the percentage of rewards that are distributed to curators. One of the problems with Steem as it stands is that there is a strong incentive to self-vote. The more rewards are distributed to curators the less incentive there is to self-vote. At the same time, if curation is improved, then those content creators who are currently submitting great content which isn’t getting seen, should stand to benefit as that content will be more likely to get unearthed.

This may very well be true, but reducing author payout in favor of curators is not the answer. Furthermore, from what I can find, self-voting is actually not much of a problem at all. Maybe the evidence below isn’t sufficient or it’s wrong, but according to @steem-data self-voting accounts for 6.4% of all votes. This strikes me as an incredibly weak justification. Then again, @steemitblog doesn’t provide any data to suggest this is a problem serious enough to reduce the rewards to the engine that drives the platform, its authors.

From what the article suggests, their idea of a new rewards curve might help, but you don’t need to reduce author rewards to make that work.

As an aside, I want to be frank about how I feel Curators being placed on par with creators. There’s this image that’s put forward that Curators are like digital Indiana Jones, scouring the dangerous jungle of shit content to find the Golden Idols of the Internet.

But they’re not! Curators – and I include myself in this category – are more like feckless nerds, warping their posture while staring at pixels. As curators, we’re not a brave bunch of art critics! We read and click a thumbs up or down and maybe make a comment or share the article. Please, let’s not overplay our efforts in this aspect of the system. Also, I don’t know why – nor has there been any evidence presented – as to why this won’t just increase the volume of shit on the network.

From Tim’s article Hardfork 21 – Steem Proposal System (SPS) + Economic Improvement Proposal (EIP), his agreement with the proposal stems from the following justifications.

  1. Bid bots pretty much rule the platform.
  2. Very few stakeholders are spending time looking for quality contributions to reward.
  3. Many users who contribute a lot to the platform struggle to get any decent rewards.
  4. Little to no marketing is being done.
  5. Very few changes that users have been asking for are actually getting done.
  6. The STEEM price has fallen significantly from the all-time-high, and there is not much optimism for it going much higher than it is today. In fact, a lot of people are worried that it will just continue to go lower.

As sort of stated above, any claim that is made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. So claims 1 – 4 can be ignored in their entirety even if they’re true.
I’m not saying I’d change my mind if they were, but if there was actual evidence presented here I’d be open to it. The evidence may exist for these justifications that are being leveraged to reduce author payout, but they’re not here, so we’re left with claims 5 & 6.

Is Claim 5 true? Anecdotally it seems true, but then again, I don’t think it should be easy to change the network. I think it should be hard because it should be thoughtful, unlike the proposals here. I mean, maybe the reason so little gets done is because the proposals aren’t good enough. Has it occurred to anyone that those in the top witness categories might not be fit to run the network and that their proposals are garbage? Just a thought.

Claim 6 is a bullshit justification because it’s besides the point. The reasons for the price of Steem are as opaque to me as the code running system. We simply don’t know why the price is as low as it is now, but I can tell you why it was much higher a year or so ago, irrational exuberance. It’s a real term. It’s when people start buying and buying and buying for fear of missing out on huge profits of whatever class of stock or commodity others are buying. Bitcoin experienced it with its $20,000 spike and so did Steem. This justification is just a shitty sleight of hand to make you think the price is related to the rewards system. The truth is we don’t know why and Tim doesn’t present any evidence that these price changes are related.


There simply aren’t any principles at play here in this proposed reduction in author rewards. I’d go so far as to say that it is unprincipled in the extreme. When someone does the work, in principle, who should get paid? Should it be the painter or the person admiring the painting? The author or the reader? The filmmaker or the critic?

In principle the creators of the work should be the ones getting paid out of these arrangements, but a reduction in payout on the Steem network to a 50/50 split seems to suggest that the viewer of the painting or the reader of the book somehow deserves equal, compensatory footing with the creator. Or that as a class they do. Maybe I’m way off base here, but in principle the creator should get all the compensation save what little is required to run museum or distribute the film or publish a book. The people in each of these cases are working to further the work and have actual overhead costs, training and other intangibles like institutional reputation. Reading and liking and re-steeming a work on Steem is not equivalent in any stretch of imagination.

It only gets close with efforts like @sndbox or @curie, but even then a 50/50 split is an offense to the senses and reason. Even Amazon, a virtual monopoly when it comes to digital book sales, will give the author the option to take 70% of the profits, even though I’m sure there are many asterisks to this deal.

I sometimes spend hours creating content. Researching, writing, proofreading, image creation, video editing, et al. A curator is a much more passive participant. They MIGHT spend only a few minutes reading said content and that somehow entitles them to 50% of the rewards?! No! Absolutely not. I cannot agree to this. I dedicate a lot of time to enhancing the network with good and thoughtful content and this new split proposal makes me viscerally angry.

This is outrageously unfair and this is guaranteed to act as a disincentive towards creation! Creators do the content heavy lifting!

If you want to decrease self-voting, then punish self-voting. If you want to get investors, create better and easier to use software. Go and innovate. If you want to decrease bid-bots, then come up with a solution that does that, but DO NOT think that just because someone reads our work, comments and re-steems entitles them to half our reward. It will not make the network better, it will make the network worse.

It will make it worse be making the rewards inherently unfair. Curators as a class have not earned the privilege of that much reward. This is not a share and share alike platform or world. I’ve earned my place on the network. I’ve invested a lot of time and actual capital into it and if you take 25% of my rewards away to fix problems that aren’t even that big I will be inclined to stop creating.


The biggest problem the network has is not the rewards system.


EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON… That is to say…


…of everyone I’ve ever gotten to sign up became frustrated because of confusion and an inappropriate amount of Steem Power for interactions on the network. They don’t like that they can’t vote a lot during their first day or two. It frustrates their efforts to explore the network and they GIVE UP. Facebook and the other horrible networks got one thing right. EASE OF USE! They’re so easy a literal moron could use them.

If you gift newbies more, INITIAL Steem Power, they will be able to participate more, earlier. Passive interactions with the Steem Network need to be made more effortless for Curators, not more profitable!

Good grief.

In any case, for these reasons, and others, everyone proposing to lessen the creator’s rewards on the platform can shove it up their collective ass.