HF Proposal: Remove "Free Downvote" and Stop the "Wars"

image.png from pixabay.com: image source

While we think "downvote" is a necessary mechanism in a Proof of Brain community, "daily free downvote" in long term could be a social problem that needs to reviewed and fixed.

Vote this proposal if you support "Remove Daily Free Downvote"

Proposal Voting platforms:

  • https://steemproposals.com/proposal/73
  • https://steempeak.com/proposals
  • https://steemitwallet.com/proposals

or you can vote the proposal directly with steemconnect:

  • https://beta.steemconnect.com/sign/update-proposal-votes?proposal_ids=%5B73%5D&approve=true

Please read the reasoning in the post in order to make an informed decision and feel free to contribute to the discussion.


  • 墙内用户请使用:https://steemconnect.cocozl.cn/sign/update-proposal-votes?proposal_ids=%5B73%5D&approve=true
  • 墙外用户请使用:https://beta.steemconnect.com/sign/update-proposal-votes?proposal_ids=%5B73%5D&approve=true

或者到 SPS 平台投票:

  • https://steemproposals.com/proposal/73
  • https://steempeak.com/proposals
  • https://steemitwallet.com/proposals

한국 사용자는 다음과 같이 투표 할 수 있습니다

  • 방문 https://steemproposals.com/proposal/73 또는 https://beta.steemconnect.com/sign/update-proposal-votes?proposal_ids=%5B73%5D&approve=true 투표하기
  • 또는 다음 플랫폼에서 투표하십시오.
    • https://steempeak.com/proposals
    • https://steemitwallet.com/proposals

The Mission of "Free Downvote"

Most of the systems in the world have "bugs" or "vulnabilities", which can be exploited by speculators or attackers, and then the system itself gets hurt.

The proposal of "free downvote" in HF21, as one of the three measures in Steemit’s Economic Improvement Proposal (EIP) [1], is to fix several financial "vulnabilities" in the Steem system:

The problems that we believe should be solved are that of self-voting, passive delegation to bidbots (instead of participation in content discovery), spam (especially microspam), and abuse. These problems undermine one of the core unique value propositions of the platform; proof-of-brain. People generally gravitate towards what is the most profitable thing for them to do when there is monetary incentive.

The goal of these economic changes would be to move Steem closer to delivering on the promises stated in the whitepaper of unearthing high quality content by making it more profitable for people to actively curate, and less profitable to self-vote and delegate one’s Steem Power to bid bots.

In short, the major problems can be categorized into two:

  1. self-vote, bid bots / vote selling, and other kind of abuse of power
  2. plagiarism, spamming, and other misbehaviors

The 1st category is mainly targeted at the whales, whose big amount of Steem Power could be misused for self-vote or delegating to bid bots. The 2nd category is easier to be violated by newbies, who often don't know yet the rules of the community.

Less Self-Vote and Bidbot Today

Indeed, with the EIP deployed in HF21, we could see the bid bot like @tipu has effectively changed their strategy to support content curation, and self voters may give more attention to content curation than before. Also, self-vote to comments and posts also become less today.

Though self-vote and vote selling cannot be eliminated completely, we think the EIP worked well generally, and the "free downvote" has played an important role in the process.

The remaining question is whether the self-vote and vote selling will rise again if "free downvote" is cancelled?? I believe that in certain degree, these behaviors will rise again without "free downvote" as a threat, but will be much less than original after the economic model has been improved in HF21 EIP to motivate content curation.

Less Plagiarism and Spamming ???

For the issues of plagiarism and spam, so far we have no apparent evidence these behaviors are de-motiavted or not after the "free downvote".

AFAIK, we can still see these misbehaviors often around the community, and we should not ignore the fact that the number of new comers and active users are decreasing in the past months (according to the Steem Statistics – 2020.03.03). So we cannot give all the credit to "free downvote" only, even if the situation is getting better.

visualization from Steem Statistics – 2020.03.03

But It's Now the Time to Stop the "Wars"

While recoginizing the acheivements of the "free downvote" strategy, we should never overlook its downside.

Free Downvote Abuse and Wars

Downvote always happens on Steem. There's no need to emphasize more about how frequent that happens on the platform and how many troubles it brings before HF21.

However, as predictable when the EIP was proposed, with the arrival of "free downvote", we're seeing more and more downvote abuse, retaliation and battles within and among communities. Quite some users will downvote because they don't want to WASTE their daily "free downvotes". These fights split the communities and enforce more users to leave Steem.

From the graph below, it's obvious the number of downvotes have increased hugely by 50% to 100% after HF21. You can see that the total downvote have DOUBLED: from 100K before Sep 2019 (before HF21) , to over 200K in Jan 2020. And please don't forget the number of active users have dropped by 25%~50% after Aug 2019 (HF21) in the same period of time, if you have looked at the visualization of active user count in the above section. This means the frequency of downvote have increased by 2~3 times on average to each active user after HF21. If you used to receive 1 downvote on average each day before HF21, now you're receiving 3 ~ 4 downvotes every day. This is a bit crazy and ridiculous. Isn't it?

Graph: monthly downvote count, with data queried from SteemSQL

Then why did everyone got more downvotes on average??? Does it mean there're 2~3 times more self-vote, vote-selling, plagiarism or spam which need to be downvoted now, if we compare to the situation before HF21?

The answer is apparently NO. We already have less self-vote and vote selling as we observed. We didn't see much more new comers who may not know the rules. We didn't see more naive users who are increasing the misbehaviors of plagiarism or spam than what it is before HF21. So what are the guys downvoting for today?? Nothing else, but more battles and abuse, therefore more victims and more people who leave Steem.

We love collaboration and competition on Steem, but we never need "wars" in the community. Remove "free downvote" definitely reduce the occurence of fights. From a survey by @proxy.token, we see more witnesses want to remove "free downvote" / "downvote pool", than those who want to keep it. (Survey: Do you agree to remove downvote pool in Hardfork23 as a witness? -- by @proxy.token ==> Vote Result)

from dpoll Do you agree to remove downvote pool in Hardfork23 as a witness? Asked by proxy.token

The same request was proposed in @proxy.token 's recent post, and a lot of witnesses have got involved the discussion. [공지] @proxy.token 증인 투표 운영 방침(@proxy.token witness voting policy).

Eventually I don't believe remove "free downvote" will stop all the retaliation and battles, but the existence of such a tool definitely encourages more hate and fighting, and make more people leave STEEM.

The "Hidden" Downvote Market

When most people don't like a "vote selling market", they actually were not aware the existence of a hidden downvote market there, and we'll show you how it looks like.

For the 1st case, in the home page of the delegation and curation service @curangel https://curangel.com/, they stated clearly they are providing 3 times of downvote every 12 hours for their delegators.

screenshot from https://curangel.com/

As delegators "pay" (send) their delegation to @curangel, and they get some extra downvote rights as return, @curangel is a de facto downvote seller in this case.

For the 2nd case, SP leasers such as https://dlease.io/ are kind of hidden enabler for a downvote market. When they are leasing SP to their customers for voting, they are actually not only selling upvotes for curation, but also selling free downvotes with strong power.

The annual cost of leasing SP are around 12~13%. But after the curation reward ratio increases to 50% after HF21, it's possible now to acheive 15~18% annual revenue with the same amount of SP. This means, after lending a huge amount of SP from https://dlease.io/ , a hacker can not only earn some STEEM, but also downvote freely every day with the same among of SP. There will be a lot of victims in this case.

This is indeed a financial and social vulnability that can be exploited: with the help of SP delegation service, you can earn benefits and also downvote freely with huge amount of SP. And all of us should notice: Downvote Market is never better than Bid Bot.

Unfriendly Environment for Newbies

The last but not least, hates and wars always make a worse and unfriendly environment for everyone, and scare away newbies, not to mention how a downvote war could impact the loyality of all the victims.

While you see a lot of fights and hates on Facebook or Twitter, it doesn't mean we should tolerate the same or an even worse atmosphere here in Steem.

You could learn from the below two surveys about how community members think about downvote.

screenshot from Survey: What keeps you from using your daily free downvotes? -- by @shaka

screenshot from Survey: Is separate downvote pool helping mischievous people on Steem platform? -- by @akdx

Finally, everyone who support this change please kindly vote this proposal.

Proposal Recipient Disclaimer: The proposal recipient will be @steem.dao, funds will be returned to the SPS pool, the purpose of the proposal is to achieve voting consensus either IN FAVOUR or AGAINST the "daily free downvote".


  1. Improving the Economics of Steem: A Community Proposal by @steemit - The Economic Improvement Proposal (EIP) which is implemented in HF21
  2. HF21 Release Note on GitHub - The HF21 Release Note that explains what downvote pool is
  3. The Steem downvote pool explained - A more details explanation about what "free downvote" means
  4. HF21's free downvotes are having some positive impacts on the Steem ecosystem! - The postivie impacts of "free downvote"
  5. Why free downvotes are a good and necessary part of STEEM - Another post about the postive impacts of "free downvotes"
  6. Why Downvotes Won't Always be FREE - Explain that the "free downvote" will form a "downvote market"
  7. STEEM Warfare of Downvotes - A short introduction about downvote war and its new weapons
  8. HF21/HF22: Back in the Game --- Starting Downvote War or Making community Stable - A detailed review about how downvote looks like after HF21
  9. Survey: What keeps you from using your daily free downvotes? -- by @ shaka ==> Vote Result
  10. Survey: Do you agree to remove downvote pool in Hardfork23 as a witness? -- by @proxy.token ==> Vote Result
  11. Survey: Is separate downvote pool helping mischievous people on Steem platform? -- by @akdx ==> Vote Result
  12. Steem Statistics – 2020.03.03 - Checkout the active users monthly data here
  13. [공지] @proxy.token 증인 투표 운영 방침(@proxy.token witness voting policy)
  14. To retrieve the monthly downvote count in past 18 months, we can run the below SQL statement against SteemSQL.
    select concat(year(timestamp), month(timestamp)), count(1) 
    from TxVotes
    where weight < 0 and
    datediff(month, timestamp, getdate()) < 18
    group by concat(year(timestamp), month(timestamp))

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  • @annepink

    @tipu curate

    Posted using Partiko Android

  • @ericet


  • @yysb

    加油!@robertyan 鸽子在mediaofficials支持你。

  • @justyy


  • @shmoogleosukami

    Do you think you could also put another proposal up for those who are opposed to removing free downvotes much like what was done with the powerdown time proposals.

  • @tanlikming

    阿盐 告诉我要怎样支持你 你的英文搞得我有点头晕

  • @lnakuma


  • @olaf123

    According to the Bible, God is everywhere: Fact or Fiction.

    Watch the Video below to know the Answer...

    (Sorry for sending this comment. We are not looking for our self profit, our intentions is to preach the words of God in any means possible.) https://youtu.be/m9KhPCiG9EM Comment what you understand of our Youtube Video to receive our full votes. We have 30,000 #SteemPower. It's our little way to Thank you, our beloved friend.
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  • @muscara

    Even now, with "free" downvotes, people like overall-servant and his cronies are happily spamming the blockchain and working their voting circle. I don't want to know how much rewards such people would give themselves if we had no more downvotes.

  • @aellly


    Posted using Partiko Android

  • @deanliu

    還有效嗎? 我看steempeak裡的SPS怎麼寫著return proposal?

  • @abitcoinskeptic

    It wasn't popular the first time it was suggested.


  • @june0620

    已投票,我也觉得FREE这个没有必要。 拍手👏

  • @stoodkev

    Hi! To be effective I d suggest you make one proposal for, and one against, so that everyone can voice their opinion and we can compare effectively. As a witness, Id be willing to take the results into account only if both options were votable. The Return Proposal is not intended for this use and that could disrupt other projects otherwise. Thanks.

  • @annzhao

    So surprise to see you at @donartim’s resteem✌️✌️支持支持,已委托村长投了✌️✌️

    Posted using Partiko iOS

  • @also.einstein


  • @annepink


  • @littleksroad