Curation has been another tool to siphon money from content creators and was made into a stupid game. I won't give abusers credit because the transparency of the blockchain and the scam of their intent was the only thing preventing them from doing so by other means.
This I know believe is the real reason why an active Steemit stake was so threatening. Too much conspiring. The issue has not been any of the exploitation the Steem blockchain has experienced. But weak governance, accountability, and downright corruption by those close to the source code.
When I was conducting R&D I noticed most of my followers were made the majority of two ways. The biggest one was liking their post. At the time it took as little as a 2 cent upvote to make a new follower (random likes of any value were super rare). The second one was by tipping those that read my blogs.
@oldstone once discussed a system rewarding those that read. I like the idea of an 80/20 split. 80 to the content creator 20 to commentators whose engagement is liked by the content creator. (If the content creator doesn't like anything the 20 is burned.)
This to me seems empowering, smooth, and would plain work. Pure honest engagement would be coded into the platform. Downvotes must have been another tool introduced for coercion. However, I think it should stay to spice things up sometimes. Jajajajajaja.