What is a Steem witness? Would you like me to learn and teach the steps to become a Steem witness? View current Steem witnesses at https://steemd.com/witnesses.
In summary, Steem witnesses are part of an amazing system for the Steem blockchain which saves massive amounts of energy versus the competitive nature of mining Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurriences. Instead of allowing many machines to work on making a block and rewarding the winner with payouts influenced by hashing power contributed, the Delegated Proof-of-Stake system Steem uses allows a small amount of trusted servers to produce each block as explained in detail at https://bitshares.org/technology/delegated-proof-of-stake-consensus/.
To paraphrase with my limited introductory level of understanding, the critical tasks needed such as determining who should make the next block in the blockchain, when it should be made, and which transactions to include are determined by the witnesses that handle the calculations. Witness are elected by votes by members of the community in much the same way posts are upvoted where the more "stake" which for Steem is the Steem Power you have, the more influence your vote has on the witness level. When witnesses consistently perform well, their approval rating remains high and they are paid at the compensation level they ask for. If witnesses take actions stakeholders disapprove of from going offline to missing blocks and more, voters can reduce the approval limiting the amount the witness can contribute.
Witnesses are a position of great trust because the servers they maintain literally are handling the critical transactions for Steem. As the transactions for Steem grow, we are likely to need more witnesses to continue to maintain and build our blockchain. Being a top 20 witness currently seems to be profitable because each time a block is completed by that witness nearly once a minute, the witness gets a fee which appears to add up to hundreds of dollars or more a day. Becoming a witness seems fairly challenging even if you have technical experience with Ubuntu Linux and can afford to setup the server because outside of being a top 20 witness, the payments appear to be maybe 1% to 5% of what the top 20 receive meaning it might actually cost thousands of dollars to start being a witness and last long enough to make it into the top 20. Actually getting into the top 20 as a Steem witness appears to require a rare combination of both technical ability and community service dependent on communication, networking, and even marketing skills in campaigning for votes.
Would you like me to continue to learn more about becoming a witness, document each step I take as I get my servers online, and launch my campaign for votes because I am in a great position to do all of that? Learning about each step is exciting for me and our generosity gives me the opportunity to do everything without the need to turn a profit for the foreseeable future while creating educational resources to empower more new Steem witnesses.
As I have been learning about Steemit, I see one of our possible weak points is the witness system. If we get viral growth, we might have a hard time keeping up with expanding the witnesses to match it. If a few of the top witnesses go offline due to hacking, natural disasters, or anything unexpected such as the crash of the Steem price removing the profitability for a foreseeable future in maintaining even a top position, we are vulnerable to not have a critical mass of backup witnesses capable of providing reliable service which then could cause everything to come crashing down. Attrition in the top 100 witnesses is surprisingly high with many of those having served when Steem was originally launched now offline and newer witnesses already in the top 20 which has expanded from the top 19 it was before. With the amount of votes and effort it appears to take to reach the top 20, the more people willing to make the effort to be a non-top 20 witness, the more resilient our network is in the face of any challenges to our witness system.
If you would like me to take the next critical steps of starting my server setup, would you help me to become a Steem witness in whatever way is best for you with an upvote and/or helpful comments with tips here because with just researching it now, I still do not know most of what I need to in order to be a witness. If you are confident our witness system is already rock solid going forward and think I would be better off using my time to do something else which would serve our community better, would you please let me know that in a comment with more resources for me to see how deep our witness system is and suggestions for what I should do instead?
My initial plan to become a witness is to build Ubuntu Linux servers at home and document the process to help other users do the same because this will give me the lowest cost solution overall give that I have 300 mbs upload and download on my internet with the ability to upgrade I think to 500/500. That said, I might need to use a VPS if the terms and conditions of Frontier (formerly Verizon Fios) are not friendly towards me hosting a server like this at home or if it is questionable whether I can maintain the security of my entire system this way. I have read posts providing ups and downs on both approaches some of which have suggested using an alternate account to begin in case of losing access or getting the test account hacked. If you know a lot about this, would you please help guide me as to what you recommend especially if you are a top 20 witness? I have ranked the top 20 as of today below in case they follow their tags as I do and to help you get to know them!
What are my greatest assets for becoming a witness? I can afford to set everything up without needing a profit perhaps ever and teach others exactly how I did it with a combination of free video tutorials and paid video courses showing every single step in full detail. If I can effectively become a Steem witness, it should inspire many others to try also!
What are my greatest limitations? I have almost no experience with Linux although I have used command line interfaces as far back as fifth or sixth grade and am very excited to learn the basis of Ubuntu Linux to allow me to setup the servers. I am fairly certain I can watch video courses combined with following the steps to get up to speed fairly quickly. While I am known online for my hacking tutorials in partnership with Ermin Kreponic, I personally have very little hands on experience with networking and IT security. After all the videos I have watched and the in depth tutorials available, I am confident I can setup and maintain a secure server.
Here are the links I have visited so far in my research and I am very grateful each poster took the time to share in detail what to do to become a Steem witness because these posts gave me the courage to try. I am certain I have missed lots more which I will be looking for immediately after posting this. Would you please share any helpful links I have missed outside of those shared in these guides in the comments to help me research faster?
Who are the top 20 Witnesses as of June 18, 2017?
Thank you very much for reading this post! Will you help me decide with your votes and comments what to do next with my idea for becoming a Steem Witness?