A lot of people have gotten this error message within the past few days:
"bandwidth limit exceeded. Please wait to transact, or power up STEEM."
In this post, I will give an overview of what happened in layman's terms and then tell you what to do to fix it.
Spoiler: Vote for witnesses who responded quickly.
Bandwidth is a system to ensure that the Steem blockchain does not get flooded too easily. Basically the more SP you have the more bandwidth you have available for voting, commenting, following other users and generally using steem.
How much bandwidth each action costs is influenced by the current_reserve_ratio. That parameter will kick in when the network is under active attack and makes each action hundreds of times more expensive, making attacks more difficult.
So what happened? High-frequency, low percentage voting caused unprecedented strain on the network and the bandwidth safety mechanism kicked in to protect the network. We noticed many minnows doing these small votes and they essentially used up all their bandwidth and got locked out. This then also affected other minnows who just did not have enough SP.
The witnesses reacted quickly, our parameter is going up again and therefore lowering the requirements as we speak. More and more minnows will be able to post again the next days.
How witnesses helped
Immediately after the first reports of the bandwidth issues, many witnesses set out to find the root cause of this problem.
It was quickly discovered that the current_reserve_ratio parameter was the reason and that increasing the block size would temporarily fix this.
So while we told other witnesses about the problem and they increased the block size, the steem developers started to work on a fix that I will review shortly.
This fix will be part of softfork 0.19.1 and will hopefully ensure this problem will not happen again.
How can You help?
Vote for witnesses who responded quickly. Many responded immediately, but were lacking the votes to actually change anything. You decide who is a top witness and those top witnesses are the ones who can quickly resolve issues. So if you vote for witnesses who were quick to react, you put them in a better position for next time an issue occurs and simultaneously send a statement to those who don't.
In my opinion, these witnesses reacted swiftly to the change and mobilized others (in no particular order):
This list is probably not complete, so use the comments to tell which witness helped you the most :)