Symbiont{s} | Steem Sentinels | Update [26-04-2020]

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Thriving Through a Symbiotic Equilibrium

Anti-Abuse Initiative {Steem Sentinels} - Update [26-04-2020]


TL;DR:

The reputation and integrity of the Steem Blockchain are at risk if we do not do something now, the chain is slowly turning into a perfect incubator for cybercrime, abuse, and becoming less and less attractive for investors and users. We need to act quickly and effectively by unifying our efforts to stabilize the ecosystem of the chain. Our efforts are currently too divided to have a tangible effect and the people who are abusing the chain clearly count on such a division to continue their systemic abuse.

Greetings,

We were really glad when we saw that several members of the community are now taking part in the fight against abuse on the Steem Blockchain, because this shows everyone that we have a mature community that understands the fundamentals of their chain and its functioning. Furthermore, it is natural to admit that doing such a thing will certainly require a tremendous effort on the part of those involved in the war on abuse. Especially if most of the work is done manually.

However, we really believe that the community could benefit from a systemic method that relies on a professional-like approach to deal with the abuse problem. Despite the power that the community can have, there is a limitation to what a community of normal users can do to fight abuse, which leads us to several types of abuse that can not be spotted by normal users or will require advanced technical skills to counter them. In addition to that, we have already seen before how futile it can be to try and deter a large user from doing something wrong or abusing the chain by normal users which can lead people to leave the chain because of the feeling of hopelessness and toxic environment.

We need to find a solution to secure the chain without having to drag the entire community to the battlefield. As on other successful social media platforms, we should instead make it easier for people to report abuse in order for projects that fight abuse to take action and spread awareness. If we assume that a new user has created a new account on Steem simply because he wanted to create a community around ponies or gardening. Forcing him to participate in this war against abuse will not be beneficial.

While we do appreciate that the community can take part in such a mission, it is nonetheless a drawback that will surely play against onboarding and user retention in the future. The main reason behind this is that on Steem, users must play a constant role in regulating the flow of rewards in order to make the distribution more equitable by engaging in downvotes. Thus, some users might find it useless or even less beneficial to spend their power and time to fight abuse, considering that such action could easily harm them if the target user has a large stake and decides to retaliate. Not to mention that it could happen to a community or project that the PO or a normal user has spent years building and perfecting it.

People should come here because of the ease and convenience, not primarily to take part in flag wars. We believe that the majority of simple users should be kept away from this, even though they must be informed and express their ideas by downvoting if necessary as it is the case on other well-known platforms. We consider that Steem is still an ongoing experiment that needs more refinement to reach its full potential. Linking the downvotes to the economy of the chain is definitely an interesting choice, but by doing that, we have literally opened pandora's box. We ended up with an economic system that is not based on definite metrics, but on highly subjective and relative standards, which caused and will keep causing constant wars and conflicts on the chain.

The abuse issue is heavily taking its tool on the chain and is automatically rendering all our effort to make things improve worthless and without any meaning. We need to build a solid foundation to fight abuse right now before going forward, especially If we are aiming for communities and SMT to play a key role in catalyzing mass adoption in the future. Some might see it as a dilemma, where we do not know what the future is going to look like. But we are sure of one thing, that parasitism is not going to be beneficial to anything, regardless if we are talking about Steem or anything else.

Consensus on who to blacklist or downvote is always a recurrent topic in the fight against abuse, but how to involve our delegators in the fight and let them decide and influence decisions? We are constantly trying to imagine what this consensus would look like because we have a hard time imagining that all those who have delegated to fight against abuse are prepared to invest their time daily in a voting mechanism that will define who to downvote. Such a situation could result in delegators having to investigate each of the hundreds of people and thousands of comments and posts just to be sure that X really deserves it and that the decision was not based on subjective criteria. Consequently, we truly think that it is more about a delegation of trust than a delegation of power when it comes to fighting abuse. People need to have trust in who fight abuse, they also need the ability to proceed with audits, suggest new entries, vote on the final decisions (stake based), and discuss already blacklisted users.

In the end, we kindly invite [@steemit, @misterdelegation, @steem, @steemitblog] to take note of the situation and provide us or any other project (involved in abuse fight) with more support if possible. It does not matter which project, as long as something is done, and people can communicate with the people behind the main project (umbrella of antiabuse projects).

We would love to hear more from the community on this matter, feel free to speak your mind and leave a comment below.


If you are willing to delegate SP for the cause, please point the delegation to the @sentinels.

If you want to help us, or report an abuse, please join us on Discord.

If you want to trail Steem Sentinels downvotes, you can follow @sentinels on Steemauto.

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I really do not believe this is the best approach for the problem of abuse. You cannot fight Downvotes with Downvotes; nor can you discourage Trolls with Downvotes. I offer these as alternatives:
The Tino Take - Take 7
Troll Hunters

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Hi, @famigliacurione,

  • Removing the downvotes will completely destroy the reward pool, as people will just automate the milking, without having to post anything. Downvotes are here (supposedly) to regulate the distribution of rewards.
  • keeping the economic-related-downvotes will cause toxicity and retaliation. Popple will just downvote to allocate a portion of the reward pool, it does not matter to them if what they downvoted is considered as high-quality content or not.

We actually do agree that PoB failed, this is why we have suggested way back to completely scrap it from the native token after passing SMT. Steem then will exist without severe flaws, and the project owners will have the responsibility to configure their PoW as they wish, they will also have the responsibility and freedom to fight abuse as they like.

We are also well aware that this is not a long term solution, but we need to do something to at least fight blatant abuse. Even if this is not ideal, this is nonetheless what the current chain code is dictating. We are proposing a temporary fix that will act as a contingency plan until a better solution or a new system is implemented.

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your thoughts, we really appreciate it.

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It's great to see that you take the time to share such details in your answers. We don't get much from Witnesses lately. I have expanded on this topic in my new post:
The Tino Take - Take 8

I think the community should discuss whether self-votes should be allowed. Personally I don't think they make much sense from a proof-of-brain perspective since it's nearly impossible to evaluate your own work in an unbiased way, and it's not done on most other social media platforms. They should be relatively easy to auto-detect and prevent, either at the blockchain level or with a voting bot that counteracts the votes. It's true that a rule like this can be circumvented by people creating alt accounts, but establishing a baseline rule could have some impact, and would establish a firmer norm than the fuzzy rule we have now.

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Hi, @danmaruschak,

I think the community should discuss whether self-votes should be allowed

What we have learned these past years is that humans can be very imaginative when they want something, especially if there is a monetary gain from it. There will always be abuse as long as the distribution of rewards is linked to a human factor.

The more we think about it, the more we are accepting the idea of completely separating the PoB model from the native token and leave it to SMTs. The Current PoB is like a one-point failure (long term economic success), It cannot and will never work because we are expecting people of different religions and cultures to agree on what is quality and what should be considered moral.

After dealing with the abuse mess, we should really start thinking about how we can use SMTs to enrich the Steem ecosystem and solve some of its flaws.

Thank you a lot for dropping by and sharing your thoughts with us.