Voting power on the Steem network

Steem network has a very interesting approach to voting on the network. Because the network allocates a significant amount of funds to both those who vote and who create content that gets votes, users have an incentive to vote for themselves and to figure out how to abuse the system. Steem founders believe that eliminating abuse of the voting system completely is not possible and those who are trying to figure out how to use the system for their own benefit are doing work that has value because if they succeed, the success would serve as proof-of-work similar to how miners on the Bitcoin platform add bitcoins to circulation.


How Steem applies the “crab mentality” principle

The reason why the concepts of voting and distribution of funds work on the Steem platform is that a large concentration of votes also gets large attention from the members of the community. This means that through the option of negative voting, which the platform does offer to its members, it is possible for a large number of small stakeholders in the system to prevent a small number of large stakeholders from accomplishing the results that they want. In addition to that, large stakeholders on the platform have more to lose if the platform is not doing successfully and its currency is going down than they have to gain by trying to game the system for short-term profits. Because of this, large stakeholders are actually much more likely to be effective in noticing and reporting potential abuses of the system, and using negative voting.

The use of negative voting also implements the “crab mentality” of people. The term “crab mentality” comes for a story in which a fisherman has a bucket full of crabs he just caught right next to him. The bucket has no lid, and yet the crabs are not escaping because if one of them tries to escape, others will pull it back down. Steem whitepaper tells the story in full on page 15 of the white paper. You can download the full whitepaper here:


The psychology of large groups of people

The psychology of large groups of people works in the similar way. People get comfortable with the behavior of others in their group and to the roles of others in the group. When one member tries to do something very different, others are often not happy about it because different behavior of someone comes with a lot of uncertainty for other members of the group. Others are not sure if what the person is doing will work or not and if they personally will benefit or lose from that behavior change. Examples of such groups and behavior change include a group of friends in which nobody exercises and one friend that suddenly starts eating healthy and going to the gym five times a week. While no friend would argue that going to the gym is bad or unhealthy, if others in the group of friends have no interest in joining the gym, they are likely to have a negative attitude towards the friend who has just started working out.

The impact of the negative attitude of others multiplies as the number of members in the group multiplies. This is why Steem has been doing its best to build as large of a community as possible. In the whitepaper, the developers state that their goal is to “get more crabs in the bucket.” An attempt to eliminate all abuse would be similar to trying to put a lid on the bucket. It is much easier to get more crabs and give them voting power, which is exactly what the platform has done.


How voting works on the Steem Platform

Here’s how voting works on the Steem platform: voting rights on a user are similar to an “energy bar” of a device battery. The user starts with 100% of voting power. Every time the user votes, he or she uses a small portion of the power. For example, if the user has 100% voting power, then a vote is going to cost 2% of that power.    In addition to that, the influence of the power declines as the power declines. This means that if the user has 50% of voting power left, then the platform is going to treat his or her vote as having 50% of value of a vote of someone with 100% of voting power.

The networks recharges the voting power of users by 20% every day, which means that if a user wants his or her votes to count, he or she can make about 12-15 votes every day and keep the power availability close to 100%.


Reason for the different weight of voting power

The main reason why the algorithm that weighs the voting power is so complex is that the Steemit platform recognizes the fact that a person can only consume so much content in a given period of time. Any attempt to cross the threshold of content consumption is a sign of using automated tools and a sign of potential abuse of the system. This is why votes from users who vote more frequently have less power per vote than votes of the users who vote more often.

In addition to each vote having influence calculated as a percentage of voting power left, voting power of a user is multiplied according to the number of vested tokens SP that the user currently has.