This quote from @trafalgar perfectly sums up steem current state of affairs There is a clear incentives mis-alignement on this platform and very few people/devs seems to give a damn about it.I do though, and I'm always thinking about how we could solve this difficult but critical issue.
This is something you and I have been discussing for months in private, so without a doubt I agree with what you've said.
We're currently at a point where most SP are claiming back their vote rewards one way or another (bid bots, self votes, delegation market, vote swapping etc). It's not longer a problem of bad actors, if it ever was in the first place. It's a problem of misaligned economic incentives causing individual profit maximization strategy to be harmful to the entire system overall.
I'm guessing many whales are in the very same position as myself: we don't want this to continue. Unfortunately, we also can't trust other large stakeholders to refrain from the allure of profit maximization, so we all protect our own stake by partaking in the very activity that's deteriorating our investment. It's tragedy of the commons in full swing.
The issue isn't that bots or individual actors are malicious or greedy; very few people invest in crypto for altruistic reasons. When designing an economic system, you must assume everyone will attempt to maximize profits. When individual efforts to maximizing profits contribute to the value of the whole, then it's a successful system. But when the optimal profit maximization strategy under your system undermines the value of the whole, then you have a flawed rewards structure, that is to say misaligned economic incentives.
The entire economic system cannot be designed to depend on the selfless sacrifice of moral saints paying a high price in order to just keep in check the perfectly rational actions of individual profit maximizers, which is where we are now and why the battle is failing.
In short, readjust the economic incentives to alter profit maximizing behavior. Under other systems such as superlinear and higher curation for example, profit maximization does not involve direct or indirect self votes and bid botting market have difficulty in price discovery. Of course other alternative economic incentives/curves/curation rates etc can be explored.
It's unfortunate that you were the only person I was able to convince that this was the correct approach, and you weren't able to convince anyone else when you reached out individually either. The scope of the problem is at the level of economic incentives (I believe Linear, despite all its advantages, is the predominant cause of this), not at the level of individual bad actors. And trying to fight it on the level of individual bad actors would likely fail.
Today I was re-exploring the idea of having a limit on how much vest can be allocated towards a post. I think it would improve the current situation a lot.
What the vote selling concept has done is basically made something taboo (seff voting )acceptable. We need to go back to a system where self voting is discouraged.
By limiting vest per post ( say max $1 per post) whales will have to vote on many posts in order to use their voting power which would encourage diversification of votes and make it harder to self vote.
This will also make it more difficult for people to abuse vote buying bot.
When we had 40 votes per day self voting was mitigated and vote diversification encouraged, people used to vote for random stuff and comments a lot more back then because they knew they wouldn't be able to vote for themselves 40 times a day.
I expressed my concern before the change was implemented here you can read the discussion on top of this post https://steemit.com/steemit/@steemitblog/proposing-steem-equality-0-19-0-as-the-next-fork but apparently the devs didn't think it was an issue.
here is a quote from one of the steem developers at that time
I actually think a "mega" vote makes it less likely self-voters would hide. When we consider attacks such as these we often ask ourselves what we would do to pull it off.
So, what would I do to pull off a self voting attack with linear rewards? I would make sock puppets that would post and vote on each other. I would post a lot so that I could spread out my stake without the posts ever getting paid enough to draw attention. I would never want to have large payouts but I would slowly siphon off the reward fund. Frankly, I wouldn't care how large someone's vote would be because I would probably not vote with full weight anyways.
If you have an attack that does rely on larger votes, I am eager to hear it!
I guess he didn't anticipate that the whole platform would turn into a giant self voting ring.He also didn't anticipate that people wouldn't waste their power moderating, he was warned for both tho...
The only benefit that reducing votes from 40 a day to 10 introduced is that it gave minnows higher upvotes. This issue would have been partially solved by the linear curve change ( same fork) and could have been improved simply by adding a decimal in the UI.
I think we should go back to something like 40 or more vote per day and/or limit vest per post which would effectively achieve the same thing while keeping the concentrated vote ( 10 per day) for minnows.
Also encouraging/rewarding moderation is key. Don't expect users to get rid of the spam/selfvote without rewarding them.