How fast does the corruption come? If we could stop it... we would solve world problems.

3년 전

It doesn't matter how ingenious or nifty an idea sounds. It can sound like the answer to all of our problems, or it can sound like the ultimate answer to a certain set of problems.

Yet ultimately it falls prey to something that we see in human nature. We also see it in the nature of many other animal life forms.


Many life forms attempt to adapt and game any system they are in to make it more favorable. This makes sense as it does likely increase chances of progeny continuing after you and succeeding. It is a survival mechanism to a certain degree.

The problem is that our inner survival mechanism doesn't really discern when that is necessary and when it is not. It is a drive that is always present. Some people train themselves to be aware of it and try to keep it in check within themselves and it is tamed some, but never completely. Some people embrace an organized structure of rules and tenants that they follow that encourage them to resist. That can have some effect, but it can also be exploited.

The reality is that no matter how good sounding an idea is. Given time this tendency within us will corrupt it. It happens faster in some places, slower in others, yet the inevitability is that it will happen.

It kind of makes me think of the Third Law of Thermodynamics (aka Entropy) that states something along the lines of "all things tend to maximum disorder". Yet it is not quite that. It does feel like a built in law of human nature and of survival nature in other animals.

"all things tend towards maximum chance of survival, procreation, and legacy."

The problem is that we all have different ideas of morality, and ethics. Yet we all have that same drive to varying degrees.

If there is a central authority, a central policeman, a governing body, a supervisor, etc over time they all will be subject to this tendency. Corruption will occur.

How fast it occurs depends upon how long it takes for people seeking ways to exploit it can find the loopholes to do so. So in some cases it will happen very fast. In others it may take some time.

Many beautiful ideas have worked in history. Many companies have been wonderful in history. Many governments have had moments they seem to shine. Have you noticed that there is usually a golden period where the idea seems to be working, and then given time that is gone?

When people find a problem, propose a solution, and seek to implement it there is a period of TRUE BELIEVERS that likely buy completely into the idea, what it is for, and what it is keeping in check. As long as they live and are able to steer this idea ship then it may achieve what it was designed for. Yet a lot of that knowledge of steerage comes from the experience of what came before that, and why it was created.

Those that come later will realistically lack a lot of that experiential knowledge.

Yet that is not the only factor. Most systems are used by other humans that may not be those who implemented it and are attempting to steer it. Human nature is going to lead them to try to find ways to benefit even more, or get ahead in the system. Depending upon their views on morality, ethics, critical thinking, etc. they may have zero problems with stepping on others or holding them down if it gets them ahead.

The truth is that all systems are potentially exploitable. We all also have ingrained in us some drive to seek a way to better our chances. We identify potential exploits. Whether it is the person convinced they have found a way to cheat or beat the system in gambling, whether it is government, or whether it is a blockchain driven social media platform.

I was chatting with @everittdmickey in some replies and that inspired this. We were talking about steem.

He was indicating that until we remove flags and make bots impossible steem is doomed to fail.

The problem is we as humans follow instructions. As long as that is the case we can code bots to follow those same instructions. They can't ever be made impossible. We do slow them down on frontend websites by using captchas and recaptchas. Those are frontend. Most bots on blockchains (they exist on ALL blockchains) simply use the API and access the chain without needing those frontends. So you could theoretically put captcha type mechanisms inside the chain, but that would bring the chains to a crawl almost instantly being far slower than anything we have seen if every significant action required a human to verify a captcha.

So making bots impossible as far as I am concerned is impossible. You could make them more difficult to achieve, but never make them impossible.

If you know to go type here, and click this button then a bot can be made to do the same thing. You can't really detect them perfectly and if you try you WILL most certainly get many false positives as humans are accused of being a bot.

This lead him to saying that "steem is doomed to fail". I answered that this was not necessarily the case but it is most certainly "doomed to be corrupted". Corruption can happen rapidly in computers as things move so much faster.

What is corruption? What do I mean by it? I realize that the same thing I use to define evil actually defines corruption for me as well. I know that is not true for all, but today I realized for me they are one in the same.

I think the only system that actually works is freedom. You should be free to do as you like as long as your action does not infringe upon the freedom of another.

So what is evil, and what is corruption? It is any action that infringes upon the freedom of someone else when their actions are infringing on no others. Basically it is involuntary force being used against people that technically are not impacting you.

Now an obvious answer to this is that they may say "they are eating food, using resources, etc so extra food, resources, etc that I might otherwise have are being used by them. If I restrict them then I get MORE."

In the steem it is "they are draining the reward pool for things I don't think promote steem well". Often that statement is hypocritical and just a convenient excuse that is used when it can be used as some kind of appeal to authority, appeal to emotion, and/or appeal to popularity (aka bandwagon) fallacy to shut a challenge to someone oppressing another.

This happens everywhere. Not just inside of steem. Steem it is just easier to see in many ways. Steem is also an experiment based upon some rather grand ideology. It is a beautiful ideology. Sadly it doesn't really address that human nature and animal nature drive that leads to corrupting everything I have ever studied to see if it happened.

Steem and many blockchains go for complete decentralization. This ultimately means there is no central authority who gets to act as the policemen. The grand idea was that the community would police itself. This is more inclined to work when our votes have equal value. They do not (nor am I saying they should) so it becomes exploitable for some to gain enough that the community at large cannot really police them. This is especially true if by supporting those consolidating power they receive kick backs for being supporters. I've described it at times as being much like a Ramora, or if you prefer a leech. I prefer Ramora as they clean the sharks, rather than leaching off of them. A leech is parasitic. A Ramora is symbiotic.

Yet while "Steem is doomed to corruption" so is every other system. They all can have that sweet spot where corruption is not ruling. What varies is how long it takes for our nature to find and harness exploits and game the system.

Typically a competitor may arise in a free market and syphon clients/users away to a place that is new and has that sweet spot. It too will inevitably be corrupted. How long it takes before that happens is the key.

Now we keep recycling the capitalism, socialism, communist, Marxist, anarchy, etc type of ideologies. We as humans will hit a cycle where we believe one of those is better than the others, or perhaps even some new ideology we have never tried before.

Ultimately no matter how good they sound this nature that drives us will still corrupt them.

The key is which methods have we found that can slow this down the most?

What methods are in place to purge and try again when it happens again?

Capitalism of the free market variety is perhaps the most free. The problem is that every system tends to need policemen to police the system for the most predatory of the would be exploiters. Who polices the policemen? Does that make the policemen a potential avenue for exploitation? Most certainly. They have more power in the system than others. This is why so many people advocate for decentralization. No policemen, but a system that doesn't need policemen.

The problem with this is when exploits are found, there is no way to counter them. So perhaps a method for the community to counter them is provided. That method can then be exploited and used to provide advantage as well.

In the steem case. I was long an advocate for having NO FLAG in steem. I was of the opinion that you vote on the things you like. If you don't like them, ignore them. Much like walking into a store. You buy the things you want. You don't pull things off the shelf as you walk by because you think they taste bad or are unappealing. You simply don't buy them.

That is how I see the voting. Yet in steem your vote is allocating a portion of the voting pool. If you have power and you focus it on upvoting your content, or friends content and you've gotten it down so that each of you need only do the least amount of effort to justify that up vote then you can focus all that pool allocation to yourself and your friends without ever spreading it into the community at large. As that power accumulates you get more and more of the pool and the entire idea of curation is corrupted. The counter to this is that the community can attempt to flag people that can be confirmed as using this particular exploit. That has worked in the past. Yet some people became too big for that to really be feasible and at the top it seems more like a cartel than a community.

I am not dismissing steem. This is a problem I think is likely to happen in any system.

Then because votes are weighted by this increasing power they begin to use the flag to subjectively attack topics, and people they don't like. If they were smaller they could be crushed by the community and their reputation ruined for such activities. However, if they make it into the upper echelons they become untouchable and can do this at a whim. They can financially restrict topics, questions, etc they do not like. Infringing upon the freedom of other people, though in reality they could simply ignore it and vote on things they like instead. No. They decide they should dictate what other people are allowed to support, want, etc. Rather than the market deciding what should be on the market shelves, they have taken it upon themselves to pull off some things whether the market wants them or not.

Now the argument here would be that steem power is not just market but it is also essentially shares in a voting boardroom for the direction of a company. This is true and the problem is that the reasons for voting in a boardroom differ from those in a market. They don't in practice work very well together. Most of humans will be approaching steem like a market. These others will fallback on the boardroom claim to justify why they feel they have the right to dictate what others are allowed to support, talk about, etc.

Remember steem is an experiment. This had never been done before. Thus, it has flaws. Yet if you've gathered anything from what I am writing here, every system has flaws. Those that find them and can exploit them the quickest seem to gather power and advantage. Hard work and dedication matter as well. So when I say exploit I am talking about techniques that give power and advantage over others without hard work and dedication.

So is Steem doomed to fail? I don't know. Maybe not. It is doomed to corruption. Yet so is everything else. The question is when will that corruption become enough at a time when there is an alternative for people to flee to the new system?

Furthermore, steem power and wealth earned by the powerful need not be confined to steem. It can easily become currency. If the new system can be powered up by currency then they can become powerful on any new system almost immediately as well.

The key is, how can that power be used?

In steem accumulating power grants more earnings from curating, creating, etc. Thus getting more power is encouraged by the system. This is ingenious. It also encourages people to curate and create to gain power which keeps content and activity happening. Yet it also makes it so votes are not equivalent. It lends itself towards creating powerful elites (with or without monetary investment) and thus at some point by human nature they may decide it is important to impose their beliefs and ideologies upon users of the system. Corruption.

If all votes were equal, but it still encouraged the curating, creating, etc that would likely weather the trend towards corruption longer. It would not be immune. Yet it also is not tapping into human nature quite like the ability to get ahead is.

I worked my ass off on steemit to get the power I once had. I had to power down a lot of it to pay some bills, but I still put in thousands and thousands of hours. I am glad I gained something from it. Yet that doesn't mean it is the ONLY or even BEST way to approach it. It is simply an experiment.

Yet all of this is mirrored in the systems of reality.

I prefer free market capitalism because it maximizes freedom. Which by my measure makes it the least evil and corrupt. Yet just like any system those that exploit it will eventually corrupt it.

So when it is no longer a free market and has been corrupted via the cronyism with those that police the market people begin to decry capitalism.

They may push for socialism which survives on redistribution which is not voluntary and thus is theft. This tends to work for awhile if it is built upon say the foundation of previous capitalism UNTIL it runs out of other people's money. It also has an immediate element of corruption. Those who decide who receives the redistribution, who they take it for, how much, etc. These people immediately have vast power. One popular form of this has been Socialist nations working in cooperation with big Corporations. This is what the National Socialist German Workers' Party (aka the NAZI party) did. It is where the term fascism comes from. The marriage of corporations and governments into a ruling force. This has happened rather quickly in the socialist experiments we have had before.

Then there is Communism which basically operates the same as socialism without any concept of private property, and corporations not being owned by people, but instead by the government. The corruption is instantaneous in this as well for it immediately gives those controlling the government near ultimate control over all other people in the society. It also is most certainly not voluntary as the hundreds of millions of deaths when they are implemented at a large scale are observable evidence of.

The argument for most of these things Capitalism, Socialism, Communism ultimately comes down to "It wasn't true capitalism, socialism, or communism" followed by the implication that "we'll get it right this time"

The ideology I most admire is anarcho-capitalism. It is where I would like to see the future. Yet I am not deluded into thinking it would work today. We have many human nature problems that would quickly destroy any such attempt. Chief among them is this internal drive to seek advantage.

Do I have a solution?

No. If I did I could solve most of the world's problems.

I do think that maximizing freedom is always the way to go. Yet when I say freedom that freedom is for YOU and YOUR property. Restricting and infringing on others is not freedom. It is oppression.

By this measure it seems logical that minimizing rules to those only absolutely necessary is the path to go. By extension this would lead to minimizing governments. You might call me a minarchist simply because I say this. You likely would not be wrong.

Ultimately I consider myself a voluntarist, but also a realist. I seek a voluntary society, but I am aware me simply wanting it to happen won't make all the other problems that need to be dealt with fall away.

There is no fairy god mother that can turn this pumpkin into a carriage. Well perhaps they can... yet it is doomed to be turned into a pumpkin (corrupted) by midnight.

I do think free speech is the MOST important thing to freedom. Without it, all other freedoms are in jeopardy.

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If you don't want corruption then it is best to not interact with anything more than a small group of people. When a group becomes too big, it requires management since no one can watch each other 24/7. With management, comes laws and policemen. None of which are infallible, opening the door for corruption. Steem will eventually become too big.

BTW, steemit still says it's in beta. So isn't it our job to find and exploit these things become it reaches mainstream?


Well it is important to remember that steemit is just a front end website that views the data on the blockchain. Steemit Inc. refers to the website as a concentrator. There are other concentrators and anyone can make one. So saying is in beta doesn't mean they consider the steem blockchain beta. In addition, technically any company that is always adding new things could leave the BETA stamp on their product indefinitely.

I do think any company should respond to feedback and attempt to adjust based upon that feedback.

Well written. It is odd seeing this article as I just spent hours arguing with others against the flagging they do for rewards!

I did think of limiting rewards...but that would limit the amounts of investments into Steemit.

I hope some wise person like @everittdmickey evolves a solution. Steemit could have a wonderful potential if not for the factor of 'human nature'.

On the other hand, a Steemit for robots only would not be that wonderful

The third law of thermodynamics is wrong.
Kozyrev proved it. And dozens of people proved his proving because they wanted to disprove it very badly. (and failed)

Or, in other words, if there was only in an entropy negative direction, there would be tons of dead galaxies all around to see. When we look out, we see none. No dead galaxies. Entropy is not uni-directional.

Humans in all developed nations are slowly lowering populations. None of the developed world has births high enough for replacement.

There are all kinds of ways to limit bots, but the main way is by rewarding good content. But, that is not how steemit was designed. That was just a story, just a white paper pulled over the eyes of the users. When i first got here i commented loudly and often that what is coded is not what is in the white paper.

But, really, steem is doomed, but only like you said, from corruption. It was designed from the beginning to be corrupted. If you investigate the people who started this ... you end up with... people living on a boat in international waters off the coast of a non-extradition treaty country.

Fortunately, the future will show us many structures where humans work better together in. Basically, it is inbuilt rewarding of good behavior.

One of my favorites is ... the "steemit" you see is not the steemit everyone else sees. So, you follow a group of people, called your 'people' group, and only their votes count for what you see as good or flagged.


There are all kinds of ways to limit bots,

Limit. Yet you need to be able to detect them. It also does not make them impossible.

Who polices the policemen?

decentralized law generation + centralized law system (police/courts) + decentralized accountability of the law system?

spitballing here.

@everittdmickey ..was indicating that until we remove flags and make bots impossible steem is doomed to fail.

Those things accelerate the problems we far as bots? probably an insurmountable tech problem, but ignorant use of the flag is probably the second worst thing we have here.

I'd also add voting cliques (even tho I'm part of one ;>)...

BUT the worst thing we have going on here is the timing reward for payouts. there is absolutely no reason for steemers to look for content outside of the higher payout ratios

In any case, this is digressing from the main point, which is that power corrupts.

My solution would be a culture that socializes against this tendency...
the problem is that you have to have power in order to control the socialization process...oops ;>


An easy way that I use to toss aside ideas of what may work is this...

Can I think of a way to exploit it or get advantage?

If I can think of a way, then so can others, and that also means they likely will think of things I did not.

Simply because I think something is immoral or unethical to do is no stop gap to stop other humans from doing it.

The only mind I can truly read, hear, and somewhat control is my own. :)


I have been thinking in terms of "tribalism" rather than "rule of law" lately. Rule of law seems to be easily corrupted.

It seems that the flaws of tribalism (it's inflexible nature, for one) may be outweighed by the flaws in rule of law, especially in allowing technicalities.

At the end of the day though, in ANY system, it's up to the individual to understand what is right and wrong, and to have the strength to carry on with that. That is a cultural trait, or at least cultures can reinforce the trait.

Over at (a decentralised version of reddit) they have a really neat system of up-votes and down-votes and no flagging.
However the up and down votes are restricted by a proof of work system which requires a certain amount of CPU power from the user to enact a vote either up or down.

In steemit, I can't understand why the system allows users to vote for themselves and to vote more than once for their own or others posts etc.
To my mind this arrangement is wide open to corruption.
I'm sure I'm not the first to say this but voting for your own posts or voting more than once for any post should not be possible.
I feel that if such a feature was built into the system there would be much less abuse possible.


If they had implemented this at the start it would be good. Right now voting for your own post is the closest you can get to trying to counter the elite that consolidated power. You see it is easy to bypass such a restriction.

Don't want me voting for myself? Fine I can use another account and vote for me. That's how it has been for a long time.

This would potentially have been useful at the beginning but it is super easy to bypass simply by using other accounts.

My biggest problem is hypocrisy. Some big players have actively flagged posts they didn't like to $0 with the claim it was draining the reward pool, only to turn around and upvote their own comments to much larger amounts than that.

Stopping people from voting from themselves won't really fix anything as it is really easy to simply use more than one account.

Many solutions people have proposed are easy to bypass by using more than one account.


But if you were also allowed only one vote for ANY post, you'd need a lot of accounts to do any effective manipulation. No?


Making a lot of accounts is pretty easy. In fact some of the worst offenders and most powerful people on steemit have dozens of accounts they are spread across. If you have the patience, OR the software to control them it is not difficult at all.

I have the following accounts each created with a different style of post in mind:

I did not create them to game the system. I created them as places to post very specific types of content. Yet that is just me. I had @chaospoet and @dwinblood almost since I began using Steemit over 2.5 years ago. The others I created in the last year when I decided I wanted to diversify and have places I could write about specific things.

This is mainly because I am pretty diverse in the things I am interested in. So someone might follow me because I am writing about music, and then be turned off when I switch to philosophy or politics. Then I might post about art and game development and turn off others.

So I created:
@becauseisaidso to resteem my philosophy, politics, and history related posts.
@metal4ever to resteem or publish my music related posts.
@seductiveart to resteem my art and game development related posts.

I had @chaospoet as an outlet for when I get in a poetic bent and I had a gimmic of only speaking with that account in poetry. I have to be in the mood for that account to come alive, but when it does it is fun.

@newsagg I created as an attempt to present mostly unbiased news aggregation from many sources, including sources I personally do not like or agree with.

Yet some of the big players that financially censor people, and up vote things to large sums likely have accounts numbering in the 100s.

I don't use any special tools to control mine. I just manually log in and out of accounts. I didn't create them to game the system just to segment my interests.


Hmm that's interesting.
So do you up-vote your own posts and if so approx how many votes would you give them on average?
I'll understand if you don't want to answer that for whatever reason but I'm just trying to get a feel of how many people are doing it and by how much.
i.e. I don't want to be the only fool not doing it while most others are.


By the way voting LESS has been tried too. It results in less interaction. So if you limited it to a single vote and no self vote you'd get less interaction, and people would quickly resort to using multiple accounts and those with ethics and morality that chose not to would soon be buried by the people that have no qualms with that and game the system.

This is why the flag exists. With no central authority there needs to be a way to police the exploits, fraud, abuse, plagiarism, etc. Yet since their is no central authority that can police the FLAG it can literally be used however, a person wants to use it. If they are powerful enough they can (and some do) use it to financially and visibility censor/oppress others. Sure it is still on the blockchain if you know how to look for it so not 100% censored, but it can be 100% financially censored.


Hmm I see. It's quite complicated
Thanks for filling me in.
At least I can upvote your replies lol

BTW. I just upvoted my latest post which had no votes and it immediately went to 12 votes and I checked and they all have different names.

So now I realise I have no idea what's going on or how this all works.:(


Well you figure there are people looking for trends and small trends even. So if there are no votes those don't even stick out as much as one with 1 vote.

It becomes quite a dogpiling thing. That is one of the reasons I up vote my own POST, but not my comments. I did some experimentation and I'd say what you experienced there is kind of the norm.


Yes. I up vote my own posts. It is often the only way I get visibility and any earning for my time. These days if I upvote with all of those accounts I think it ends up being somewhere between $0.10 and $0.11 :)

I also do not up vote my own comments ever. Only the original post.

I also vote on other people's posts, and I do up vote comments by other people.

I have zero problem with people up voting their own posts. I do have a problem with it when it is clear people are gaming the system. I also have seen more gaming the system through upvoting their own comments so I refuse to do that.

They like doing comments as it is less noticeable to those that are anti-self voting.

I've also posted before and not self voted to see what would happen. I've tried a lot of different things in the 2.5+ years I've been here.

If I never powered down then this account would be over 20,000 steem power. I've had to power down recently to pay some medical bills and such.

I also donate a portion of my steem power to organizations here that I think promote positive things for steem and the world.

EDIT: Also to be clear most of those accounts are using some delegated power from this account. So if I want to get a single vote that is equivalent to the full power of this account I'd have to use this account and the ones I delegated my power to. Then it would be the same as if I voted once with just this account without any delegation. Though I also delegate to accounts that are not me. So I never control any of that power I give away.

I also don't always vote with all of my accounts. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I forget, because unlike the bot masters, everything I do is manual. :)

EDIT 2: A little bit of history. For a very long time at the beginning of this steemit experiment you automatically up voted your own posts as part of the editor. You had to uncheck a box when creating your post to remove that. Later when people started complaining about self voting sometimes for very legit reasons, and other times not so much so they removed that.

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