Dealing with the Steem leeches

in #steem11 months ago (edited)

As Steem rises up past 21c we need to keep an eye out for those who could spoil things by just taking from the system. I am not against everyone having the chance to earn, but there has to be some give and take. If you are earning Steem then you ought to be adding some value to the platform. We need the sort of content that will attract a wider audience and not just recycled or autogenerated posts. As part of the @SteemFlagRewards anti-abuse effort I see a lot of crap. There are various categories thereof, but I tend to concentrate on those who buy votes for low quality content with little or no community engagement.

Case 1

@onthehook8 joined Steem two years ago, so I would assume they have some idea of how it is supposed to work. I have not looked at their entire history, but recently they have been posting several times each day with various news stories where they add a brief commentary. With 1771 followers they have attracted comments from two people in the last week apart from the SFR people who have pointed out that they are buying votes.


Up until five days ago they were sending 1.5 Steem to Boomerang for each post which could earn a varying amount with some votes exceeding 70c. They also self-vote with their 8k SP and get a few minor votes that are probably people fishing for curation rewwards.


I guess you could say they have manners as they thank the bot for the votes, but then self-vote some of their comments. Those who comment do not seem to get a vote. Steem Reports confirms 98% self-votes.


So what is this person contributing to the Steem platform? They have not responded to the SFR comments apart from to give some of us a downvote.

Case 2

@reviewzzz is a more recent joiner who has clocked up 90 posts and just 10 comments (none since October).

Posts 2

They are holding minimal SP as they exploit the likwid service to get Steem back for each post whilst buying votes on most of them. They are spending up to about 6.8 Steem across several vote sellers to get around $4 in votes. They were spending more early on. It looks like they bought about 50 Steem when they joined and are gradually increasing what they have.


Tip of the iceberg

These may seem fairly minor problems, but there are many others and there is the potential for this activity to grow. The vote sellers keep increasing their SP to gain influence. Some of them do not appear to use any sort of blacklist or seem interested in engaging with the greater Steem community.

I believe that there are less people buying votes than before the last hardforks and that may be partly down to the deterrent effect of efforts such as @SteemFlagRewards. There is also the fact that some previous vote sellers now give away votes via teams of curators. With a bigger share of rewards going to curators that can still be profitable.

What can I do?

Well I know what I do. I downvote some of the abuse I see. I can only take a few cents off, but others follow my trail to amplify that. This is why I am very careful about who I target as I do not want to abuse the trust my followers put in me. All my downvotes are manual. I may get some retaliation, but that will not put me off. I also get some SFR tokens that I use to buy votes for good posts that are under-rewarded.

So you can join the SFR collective or delegate to @SteemFlagRewards. If you delegate to any vote sellers who do not operate a blacklist then you could take that back. You may miss out on some returns, but you can use you SP elsewhere to earn whilst doing more good.

I do see cases where people threaten to leave Steem after getting downvoted, but we do it for the good of the platform. I would much rather than good people stay and earn in a more sustainable way, but the real leeches would not be missed.

I appreciate that some people are desperate to earn anything, but without some sort of enforcement Steem will deteriorate to a mess of spam and then the price will really plummet. If the Steem price is to rise it ought to be based on the platform having value. We need to attract great content creators and give them encouragement once they are here. Use your stake to help make it better. You may miss out on some profit for now, but would it not be better to see your Steem multiply in value?

Be part of the solution, not the problem.

Steem on!


Every day I am flagging something or someone, not out of malice but help to steady the ship. Some are abusive and feel it's personal, but it's not.

Look at @leighscotford as someone who could have been a wanker but was not and took it all in. Now he's doing ok, I give him some support and the community see it.

I only wish some of the others would see things the same way. Most of them think were are being arseholes and are doing it for fun.

STEEM is at 21c, and now we are going to get more of these abusers trying it on. the more it increases in value.

I'm so impressed at your commitment in Steem in terms of time and the amount of money you have invested. Thanks for all you do.

We have turned a few people around who did not initially get how Steem is supposed to work, but others have no interest in the community. They can FOAD! ;)

I did have a little bite back at ya, at the time. But it all made sense to be fair. My problem was that myself and my girlfriend had a good 6 months away from steemit for various reasons. When we came back into it, all had changed. I was buying votes to get on the hot list, or trending as everybody else was at the time. But if that continued steemit would have fallen on its face. In my unprofessional opinion, giving the users the power to self govern the platform has worked so far, although It won’t work for every scenario.

Compared to many others, you took it well. Good to see you doing OK now and @bettynoir.

Haha, I saw a dapp trying to promote itself via everyone spamming screenshots in return for $2 votes.

I know, but there has to be some compromise about how much they are allowed to promote themselves from the start. Unless we can prove it's some form of circle jerk then any content is really valid for Steem. We cannot afford to drive people away even if they are not those we choose to hang out with. We need to get such projects to work with us as we can help them root out abuse of their dapps.

Oh, and obviously massive thanks for the support. Both through promoting my posts, and with the advice and help given. Both yourself and steevc have been very good towards both of us, and I am very grateful. 👍

Your welcome!

That's a lot for providing me a target for my daily downvotes, Steve! Please keep doing the good work.

Cheers. It's not hard to find such leeches if you see who is constantly buying votes. I'll keep calling them out.

I believe you’ve posted before about properly joining & setting up to follow a downvote trail (or someone else did...) Can you link me to something like that? I’ve got into fights with a plagiarist or two but my votes are going mostly unused. I’ll follow you as I respect your judgement & manual voting.

The simplest may be Steem Auto. You can set parameters on how much your downvote is used. I don't go looking for fights, but they can happen. I have talked a few people around to doing things better.

These are actually minor problem just like you suggested. But that doesn’t mean they are not important. Numerous minor problems collectively makes a major problem.

What I personally deal with fairly regularly are non-standard abuse. Farming at a much larger scale, with multiple 200K SP accounts, shadow account self-voting, abuse related to witness proxy votes, large scale circle voting with 1.8M SP account..... so on and so forth. None of these are actionable by SFR or by SC or other conventional abuse fighting mechanisms. It is incredibly funny to me, that we have certain rules and boundaries when fighting abuse, while the abuser have no rules. It is like going to a fist fight with one arm tied behind your back.

Well I refuse to do that :)

My primary problem with the system is the general sense of entitlement....nothing gives us that right. Just because you wrote something.... took a picture.... wrote a song... you are not entitled to any reward. If the reward comes ... great... be thankful to the community. Community can give you the reward.... community can take it away as easily.... at least that is the way it should be.

Thanks for caring. I know there is a lot of sneaky abuse going on. It should be dealt with. The whales and orcas could cover most of it even if it meant some retaliation. The freedom of Steem does empower the trolls and some of them have a lot of SP. I'll just keep on doing what I can. I'd love to buy a mass of SP, but it's not viable for now.

These shitty scammers are all across the internet and it hurts my brain. I guess all we can do is educate people and stay together.

Thank you for doing this work of cleaning #steem!

I think I wouldn't even consider selling or converting until Steem got up to like $4 which it will probably never do again. Otherwise it just isn't worth it. You spend more in fees to exchange it out than you actually get. I am all about growing my account anyway. That 10K goal is close I can feel it.

You are definitely on the right track and there is no need to 'sell out'. If Steem can get to a decent level then we may see more people actually spending it and that helps spread it around. We have been through tough times, but the potential is still there.

FYI, the SFR Hive is #hive-145452

I've not got into the habit of using hives yet. Will try to add my next related post there.

As part of the @SteemFlagRewards anti-abuse effort I see a lot of crap.
Indeed! Keep fighting the good fight ~

I wrote you this post.

Though it's mostly about the points you touched on, but didn't get into -- about the give and take of steem.

Not about the core of your post, which was about eliminating abuse and unsustainable gaming.

There is so much to say about Steem. I have to set a focus for each post. Yours was interesting too.

Yea - I did my best to be respectful and just share opinions about what was worth sharing opinions about. I'm not familiar with the consequences of flags, or the economics of buying votes, or self voting, etc. Not really a radical thing to say -- that people on this platform are looking for rewards, but I read through the recent announcement about the power downs, and there are a variety of opinions.

I think it would be ideal to be a long term SP holdler. Better to cash out when the market is high.

Treat it like a long term investment.

But, initially, I thought "this is an excellent opportunity to secure working capital to channel into my business -- and I'm already creating all of this regular content, Let's just try and put it here and see what happens." -- Still here.

If you want the money now you can use a service like likwid that gives you the Steem and takes a cut. Or you take 50% Steem rewards so you can use that. I am powering up everything as I am not desperate for the money. I consider myself to be fortunate.

There's also the possibility to sell work for Steem. I've bought stuff by other artists for Steem, but the low price makes that less attractive for now.

All I want is for people to think about whether others should be able to take a slice of the finite rewards whilst not contributing anything? Our stake gives us a say and that is one benefit of powering up. If just ignore the abuse Steem will go to shit and we all lose.

I'd rather post and accumulate, and succeed financially in other areas in order to maintain my minimum financial needs.

But I've only made 8k/year or less for the last 3 years as an artist, and I've just been stubborn about not getting a job at a cafe, and instead working full time. So, I can understand why it would be attractive for someone to want to withdraw a portion of their STEEM on a regular basis to pay the bills, or on a quarterly basis to invest in their business, or even an annual basis to make major business costs. It could be a total game changer.

That and the Venezuela argument are both excellent reasons why people would adopt a more short term mentality for reward extraction.

If you have time to respond to a question, I'd be curious what you think of the voting system sort of auto filtering those people out?

Even if you posted 4 shitty posts a day, and self-upvoted, you'd probably only get like $30 a month, and your hourly wage would probably be worse than if you had just done gigs on fivverr.

Doesn't that sort of automatically disincentivize abuse?

I#m fortunate to have a job that cover the bills, so Steem can be a hobby for me. It has great potential for creative people to earn from their work. It really needs a bigger audience to make that viable, but a few people do well already.

I'm not sure what you mean about filtering. Self-voting is only really worth while if you have a lot of SP. For now some people can get a good return on buying votes unless we take action. A couple of dollars profit per day may be worth it to some.

Some people do thorough investigations that uncover voting circles and sock puppet accounts. If these are exposed then the bigger accounts could cancel out their rewards. I would hope that more users would lead to a better reward spread, but if we attract lots of scammers then it could get worse.

We shall see.

I'm confused at your comments here.

  1. I earn a couple of bucks a day just by posting daily. Sometimes it has dropped lower, but that was when I was posting in a lower value SP value hive.

  2. Aren't Hives technically loosely associated voting circles? Like there's no obligation to vote for others in your hive, but it seems like the inclination is to vote for your friends or associates, and if you're within a hive, then the idea is that you might be more inclined to follow those people, and thus form improvised voting circles.

I suppose buying votes is sort of like "I pay you less than I receive but more than you would get by voting otherwise".

Seems like a lot of effort when you could jut share good content on a regular basis, and get about the same takeaway -- I guess what I mean is that if that's the case -- and there are diminishing returns for gaming the system, then those people will self-elect to remove themselves.

As in, the amount of effort required to get a couple of bucks a day versus the amount of time, and hassle, and diminishing returns over time -- would lead a person to pursue a more fulfilling occupation.

Thus filtering people out people.

I suppose your purpose in flagging and downvoting is to accellerate the amount of hassle and diminishing returns in these accounts.

Hives/communities are intented to bring people with shared interests together rather than having to follow everyone who might post on that topic. A lot of people may stay within one community, but I have broad interests.

I try to help make anti-social activity unprofitable. If those people do not want to work with the community they can change their ways or leave. I prefer the former. If we do nothing then more will buy votes, self-vote, plagiarise and 'circle jerk'. There has to be a disincentive to do these.

For now a couple of dollars per day is all most of us can hope to make, but in book times I was making nearly $1000 per month. I did not cash it out, but it was a little scary. Others made thousands on a post in the early days, but that is less likely to happen due to various changes.

As I said, this is really a hobby for me. I want to do what I can to help Steem, but if it makes me rich in the long term that's a nice bonus.

Gaining influence/SP here allows me to do more good, but also brings some responsibilities to use it well. Bigger accounts also earn more in curation and in some cases will get more support as people hope for something in return. The more big accounts we have the wider we spread the load. I have tried to help small accounts grow with @tenkminnows so they gain influence and feel they have more stake.


This post has been manually curated, resteemed
and gifted with some virtually delicious cake
from the @helpiecake curation team!

Much love to you from all of us at @helpie!
Keep up the great work!


Manually curated by @solominer.

@helpie is a Community Witness.

Re-posted on the Twitters

Hi, @steevc!

You just got a 6.21% upvote from SteemPlus!
To get higher upvotes, earn more SteemPlus Points (SPP). On your Steemit wallet, check your SPP balance and click on "How to earn SPP?" to find out all the ways to earn.
If you're not using SteemPlus yet, please check our last posts in here to see the many ways in which SteemPlus can improve your Steem experience on Steemit and Busy.