NewSteem and Downvoting Needs to Find Balance
Downvoting/flagging or whatever you want to call it, was baked into the Steem blockchain at conception. You might as well know that if you don’t already. It’s there, that’s a fact.
It didn’t just start with HF21.
I’ve heard and seen a lot about downvoting in the last while. Probably because it is impacting more people than ever before. Some of the posts I’ve read contain some thoughtful comments on different sides of the discussion. Some of what I’ve read is just downright disrespectful of others.
Content Discovery on Steem
Content discovery through curation/upvoting was also baked into the blockchain from the beginning. The downvoting is meant to work in conjunction with upvoting to work the better quality content into view while lower quality drops down.
If tech ran as tech was designed, this would be a perfect blockchain. Add people and the various ways people find to game a system, out goes any chance of perfect. The Steem blockchain was also an experiment and a first trying to build a social media which gives rewards.
Effectively getting good content to be visible is a struggle on any site. Medium.com has 30-50 people who spend their days doing nothing but curate content. I hear similar complaints over there that I hear here about visibiity.
They also have the ability to terminate accounts of bad actors. That is not available here. On Steem, the larger stakeholders using downvoting are the only deterrent available to deal with bad actors.
Human that we are, we don’t have any problem with the feel goods of getting an upvote. And we’re just as human when we feel badly about receiving a downvote. It’s a negative experience. The feelings are to be expected.
How Not to Normalize Downvoting
I’ve seen it argued, none too kindly, that we’re going to ‘normalize’ downvoting and people shouldn’t feel any differently about getting a downvote than an upvote. That argument is total bullshit. It ranks right up there with “beatings will continue until morale improves”.
Death is normal too but we don’t expect people not to feel badly when they experience losing someone near them. What is done with feeling badly is more important.
I’ve seen it argued a comment should be required if you downvote someone. I’ve seen the counter-argument that you’re no more entitled to a comment about a downvote than for an upvote. The counter-argument is correct. All things being equal, a downvote doesn’t need any more explanation than an upvote.
Accepting the Humanity of Community Members
People generally will respond better to a negative experience when they have some understanding of why it happened. Steem is a community, least we claim we are, so a comment isn’t as much an entitlement as it is a courtesy which allows the receiver to understand what is happening.
If there is an expectation on the downvoter to leave a comment, there also needs to be an equal expectation on the recipient to receive the comment without becoming the Steemian from hell and going off the deep end.
I don’t downvote very often. When I do, I will usually leave a comment. I’ve had some try to argue the point with me. I wont engage. I’ve left a comment on why I’m downvoting. They can adjust their behaviour or not. It’s they’re choice.
Not All Downvotes Have Any Effect.
I’ve read some posts where the Steemian writes about being so upset about being downvoted they are ready to leave the platform. The downvotes have wounded them to the core. As I’m reading this tale of woe I’m thinking wow, this person must have been really hit hard.
Off I go to Steemworld to have a look at their account. I set the filter to show me the flags and click back through the previous week. Yes, there are two or three downvotes, all at 10% and no value lost on rewards.
Really? Did the person even look at the situation? Those 10% downvotes with no reward loss come from a group of accounts that randomly downvote and have been doing so for months. Think of a swarm of gnats flying around, they are a nuisance but don’t do any harm.
Remember I mentioned earlier that feeling hurt/disappointment was normal? Well these ones are the exception to the rule. If your response to getting these nuisance downvotes is a desire to leave the platform, you might be just a tad over-sensitive.
Maybe you think that life should always be good experiences and you should never have a negative experience, even a small one. Sorry, life’s not like that. If you don’t know that by now, you’ve got bigger problems than some downvotes on Steem.
Moving On To Downvotes Which Actually Impact Pending Rewards.
There are multiple reasons you might receive a downvote on your post. The main ones can be found when you click on the downvote button. They include: disagreement on rewards, fraud or plagiarism, hate speech or trolling, miscategorized content or spam.
In most cases if you receive a downvote without explanation, it is likely for disagreement on rewards. There is a reason post upvotes don’t payout immediately. The community aka your readers have opportunity to weigh in on how they want to value your post. They can both agree by upvoting or disagree with downvoting. It hurts to see a drop, but that is the way the system works.
If you have used Tribe tags, you better be sure those tags are relevant or you will receive downvotes for wrong tags. If you don’t know the purpose of the Tribe, don’t use the tag. It’s that simple.
OH, and don’t whine over losing rewards on the other tokens not related to the wrong tag. The same applies to misusing the regular tags. There are consequences to actions.
If there is a fraud or plagiarism issue, most of the time you’re going to get a comment either from the person informing you they have caught your misbehaviour or from Steemcleaners. Only use content you own or actually have rights to and this wont be a problem.
When I see posts I consider to be hate speech or trolling I generally move on. There is lots of content to see without wasting my time on haters. I think in most cases, if the person is ticked enough to downvote, they will be ticked enough to leave a comment.
Bid-Bots and Downvoting
Since HF21 many of the larger stakeholders have added bid-bot use for profit to reasons they will downvote. This actually comes under disagreement on rewards. Since it is so controversial, I’m addressing it separately.
Keep in mind that many, if not most, of those downvoting for the use of bid-bots are also actively curating content. They would rather upvote you for good content than have to deal with you using bid-bots for profit.
Bid-bots were not originally built into the chain. They arrived with the ability to delegate stake. Large stakeholders could delegate stake to an account for people to bid for votes. Didn’t take long for it to be figured out, there was profit to be made from bid-bots.
Stakeholders delegated to earn passive income and steemians used them to get more notice on their posts and more rewards. The argument was put forward the bid-bots created a utility for the token and provided a sort of advertising for the customer.
Those who are downvoting for bot use are doing so with the counter-argument that when you purchase advertising any where else, you bear the cost of doing so. If you want to advertise using the bid-bots you need to do so without earning profit.
So, if you have a post you think just needs to be up on Trending, decline rewards and bot away.
The topic of downvotes came up during the Witness Chat in The Ramble last week. I asked a couple of people who have been involved in the downvoting to come on voice to give their views on the topic.
@theycallmedan made the point that bid-bot use impacts the value of curation. Remember I mentioned earlier that curation was there at the beginning to churn good content into view? Bid-bots artificially churn content into view. That is counter to how the system is supposed to work.
@nonamelefttouse who has been on the platform almost from the beginning left a really good comment on @guiltyparties’ post on the subject of bid-bots in which he describes how bid-bots negatively impacts content creators like him. I’ve linked to the post which I recommend reading along with the comments.
Living With Community Standards
On a decentralized platform, there are not so much rules as community standards. Since this platform is a proof of stake based platform, the more stake a person holds the more influence they get over establishing those standards.
You might not agree with the standards but as long as they are in play, life in the community is a lot easier by respecting them. That is not to say you shouldn't advocate for what you believe is a better way. You need to do so in a responsible manner if you want to be actually heard and considered.
Revenge Flagging And NewSteem
It comes as zero surprise to me that there is a lot of revenge flagging going on in response to the downvotes.
I’m glad to hear that there is some effort in the community to support and help those who are maliciously downvoted. Like so many things on Steem, more information needs to be available to help those who need it.
I’m going to largely ignore the can’t fix stupid factor. There are some people, no matter what you do, they are going to be the Steemians from hell. My usual response to that group of people is to first attempt positive engagement, then ignore them. Life’s too short to burn energy on them.
Respect Breeds Respect — Stop the Disrespect
Notice I said positive engagement? Responding to people who have been downvoted with a ‘get over it, it’s normal’ or ‘you’re being silly’ is neither helpful nor positive. It’s disrespectful. Just because you can downvote doesn’t grant you power to demean others.
It was similar disrespect toward others during the leadup to HF21 which prompted people to decide to walk away from the platform. More so than the change in reward structure. It will also contribute to pushing others away from the platform if it continues over the downvoting.
It wont be the ones who react badly and become the steemians from hell who will leave. It will be others who are already struggling trying to find their place on here. They see this going on and decide to flee before they get hit. They leave quietly and without fanfare.
The sad part is, some of them probably would have been good community members.
Welcoming and Helpful Doesn’t Cost Anyone
Recently a new person showed up in one of the Pimp Your Post Thursday afterchats. She joined in the conversation and we started to get to know her. She told us she had actually joined over a year ago but found the platform unwelcoming. She had left not long after.
She came back to look around and see what was happening. Her positive experience in The Ramble and The Steem Terminal discords encouraged her to stay. She’s now active on the platform.
If NewSteem is going to be part of moving this platform forward, people need to be treated with respect. Treating people badly because they feel badly over a negative experience is not helpful.
If you have been downvoted, you have a responsibility to manage your own feelings. Just because you’ve received a negative experience doesn’t mean you get to lash out. Everyone, including you, have an investment in this platform.
Put your energy into building up the platform. When you lash out, you work against your investment.
Bad news travels faster than good news every time. It’s our choice which gets better fed.
*Images courtesy of Pixabay