How Steemit has impacted my Life – a dunce’s explanation and some random thoughts

A bit about Steemit has been on my writing list for a while.  Initially intended for my blogpals who are not on that platform, but after this call from one of Steemit’s major proponents, asking how Steemit has impacted Steemians’ lives, I thought it was time to actually do it.

What is Steemit?

Firstly, a non-tech, and a crypto-dunces’s explanation. Steemit is a social, crypto-blogging platform that operates on a blockchain. Source

That’s a bit of a mouthful, so let’s begin with the crypto bit.  I doubt that there’s anyone who’s not heard of Bitcoin, a virtual currency that is not formally (centrally managed).  It’s traded between people without the ubiquitous middle man.  A network of nodes verifies transactions through cryptography and records them in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. Source

Steemit is a platform where one can either invest in, and/or earn, an alternative crypto currency:  STEEM.

It’s different from Bitcoin which has appreciated (and depreciated) in value because it is traded and mined and the market (number of Bitcoin) is capped.  To mine Bitcoin one has to have significant capital and/or IT resources, the likes of which I cannot fathom.  As a combination investment and content-driven social media platform, Steemit offers folk like me, who do not have the resources to invest in, or mine, crypto currencies, to potentially generate some sort of alternative currency.  I like to think of this as a sweat equity investment through the creation of content:  blogs which are published from WordPress to the blockchain using the SteemPress plugin .

A random photo of one of my “real life employers”.

Resource Credits

All users on the Steemit platform, are allocated a number of resource credits when they register and which effectively float the plankton Steemian.  The embryonic whale must build his/her way up to dolphin, and to whale status.  This status is determined by the amount of Steem (currency) she or he holds, and I discussed a little here.  The greater the amount of Steem, the greater his/her power in the ecosystem.  Literally.

A word about the nomenclature

As an account builds up Steem, the eponymous token (crypto currency) generated by this blockchain, so does the Steemian’s power or ability to perform actions on the blockchain.  Each action (comment, vote (like), post, or wallet transaction (movement of crypto currency) uses up resource credits which are replenished over a 24 hour period.  One also builds both reputation and steem and as one does, one moves up the Steemit ladder.  The levels use marine analogies which are very similar to the analogies used in the gambling world.  The smallest accounts are plankton and, sadly (well, for some), much like happens in the ocean, become the fodder of the whales and orcas that inhabit the higher echelons of the Steemit chain.  One earns tokens (Steem) from votes on posts and comments (authoring) and from voting and re-steeming (re-blogging/sharing on the blockchain) (curating).

Governance

By and large, the Steemit blockchain is self-regulated and there is no formal censorship.  Governance is a touchy subject and must be seen from two perspectives.

Content

In the going on three years I’ve been playing in this virtual sea, there have been endless debates about content management and what is quality.  Realistically, “quality” is subjective – rather like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Folk show their support and/or displeasure at posts through their votes (likes) or downvotes (unlikes).  The latter are a little contentious and for the purposes of this post, not necessary to labour.  More than this, though, there is the comment facility which enables one to engage with the writer, fellow commentators and the topic.  Personally, if there’s content I don’t want to see, I skip it.  If there are views I disagree with, I’ll either walk away, or add my 2c worth.  Politely.  I’ll talk about this a bit more below.

Blockchain (i.e. technical)

The technical side of the blockchain is handled by a combination of the owners of Steemit Inc and witnesses.  Much of this is completely mystical and beyond me.  I understand principles.  Not the detail.  I admit I just accept that certain things are so.  The witnesses are investors and, by and large, the people who develop the platform and decentralised applications (like Steempress) that provide user-friendly interfaces for bloggers posting to Steemit and thus to the blockchain.  For big changes on the blockchain, there must be consensus among the majority of witnesses who achieve that status:  they manage nodes and are elected by ordinary Steemians.  The who’s who of the witnesses in the top 100 changes as witnesses receive and lose votes.

And, thank you for asking:  yes, you can remove your vote if you don’t like what a witness might be doing or proposing.

The most recent of the big changes (Hardfork 21 and 22) has seen a major improvement in the quality of content published and with that, the quality of engagement.  The main reasons for this is that the rewards for reblogging, upvoting and commenting (curating) have increased.  The use of bots (paid-for votes) has been discouraged and virtually disappeared.  I admit to initially having been  very concerned, if not opposed to elements of these changes.  Not long after the changes, the demise of the bid bots had a positive impact on my personal rewards (and levels of engagement) on the blockchain.

The even shorter version

Steemit is a platform where one can publish content that is in the public domain in perpetuity.  Every transaction associated with that content is similarly public and recorded for posterity.  For folk who develop content and who want to both protect and never lose it, publishing to a blockchain is the way to go.

This returns me to the issue of governance and self-regulation:  as a platform that continues to exist because creators publish novel material, plagiarism and the theft of others’ intellectual and artistic property is not just frowned upon, it is actively sanctioned.

For some more “authoritative” thoughts and facts about Steemit, read this.

Mixed media and user-friendly back-ends

I have already alluded to the fact that that one can use a range of interfaces to publish to the blockchain.   When I started blogging on Steemit, one had to use www.steemit.com;  the phone apps were are clunky.  That was a challenge for someone like me who knew no coding or markdown.  I’ve learned a little since then, and the advent of decentralised apps and communities with their own frontends not dissimilar to a word processor, have made it much, much easier.

Then there are the apps for those who don’t like to write that these are geared to the Steemian’s preferred medium and/or interests e.g. vlogging, and travel just to name two.

Steemit really is a blockchain for all.

A less random pic of the other current employer.

Steemit and me

My blogging journey predates the advent of Steemit and I have often commented that the virtual world is not very different from the three dimensional one in which we live. The virtual world is inhabited with folk with whom one shares things in common and who can be kindred spirits.  Similarly there are folk whom one would rather avoid.  Then there are the bullies, megalomaniacs and criminals. I was the (stupid) victim of one of these last not long after I returned to Steemit after an hiatus.  It taught me to be mindful of my own security as well as about the care and generosity of strangers in the Steemiverse.  It’s a lesson I shall never forget and which set the tone for me, too, to pay it forward when I am able.

That there are initiatives on Steemit that look out for newbies and which work with them to weather the storms, is testimony to the fact that there are good people in the world.  One of them, @pifc played a significant role in my moving up the ranks.  Its founder, @thedarkhorse arrived as an investor and then began engaging with people on the platform.  The rest is history.  Another, @steemterminal works hard to help plankton that haven’t even reached the floundering stage.  One of its founders @brittandjosie, from the Netherlands, is generous and tireless with her energy.

The corollary to all of this are the people who close doors on one without as much as a goodbye or a “you’ve-served-your-purpose” or “you’ve-annoyed-me”.  Like in the real world, this kind of behaviour leaves one confused and with more questions than answers.  I’m now more considered about how I engage with posts and people.

One of the things I try never to forget:  warm, feeling human beings live behind those noms de plume, so my blood boils in defense of people when I see rude, mean and unkind comments that are simply uncalled for.

People may be hard and crusty on the outside, but inside they’re warm, soft and sweet. Often.

Communities and interest groups

This brings me to a feature not often discussed:  the groups that operate in parallel to the social blockchain on Discord.  Although it’s described as a place for gamers, that I am not.  Discord’s an application that allows one to set up chat rooms and channels based on common interests and concerns.  Like taking care of minnows and plankton.  Or photography.  Or natural medicine.  Or a fun monthly contest run by the folk from @yourtop3.  These communities operate in parallel with Steemit and in synchronous (real) time unlike the asynchronous Steemiverse.

Writing prompts

I don’t often need a prompt to write and I’ve long said I don’t participate in contests to win.  I stand by that.  However, if a topic rocks my socks, I’ll participate.  Boots and all.  One of the things I particularly like about Your Top 3 is that to participate one has to really write:  one must list, analyse, synthesise and justify or argue.  All important techniques if one is to produce a compelling piece of writing.  I’ll chuck in another element:  reflection.  Reflective writing is often the most difficult and high risk type of writing.  This contest allows one to develop all these skills in a safe and fun space.

Perhaps it’s the blue stocking in me, but in my opinion, Your Top 3 is one of the best and well thought-through contests on the blockchain.  It’s receiving well deserved support from some contestants and investors.  Congratulations to the multinational set of brains behind it: @nickyhavey, @cheese4ead, @plantstoplanks and @foxyspirit!   In addition to the contest, each of them brings their unique interests to Steemit and which remain the added connection(s) outside the contest – food, travel, indigenous cultures, language, and, and….

Virtual breaking of bread

This brings me to my final point (I think): Steemit has introduced me to new people and new ideas.  I have “met” a Canadian in Korea, @abitcoinskeptic, from whom I’ve learned about working the blockchain and working Steemit.  One of our most memorable conversations had nothing to do with either, but education about which both he and I know a bit from our past lives.   Then there is @iamjadeline who walks a difficult path with a son who has a serious congenital medical condition.  I’ve met compatriots from other parts of my own country, not yet explored, like @joanstewart and @lizelle.  I’ve been encouraged to embrace my more esoteric side by my witchy friend @traciyork (whom you can also find on WordPress).  I’ve been introduced to some of the culture and practices of Candada’s first nation.  Also, from Canada, @thekitchenfairy, an Indonesian woman who’s zest for life is catchy.  She has inspired me to “fiddle” with making muffins – especially vegan muffins which I’d never before considered.

For various reasons, I am, and will be, a whole lot less active on Steemit and Discord for a while.  I will post from time to time, and there are many folk with whom I’d welcome breaking bread.  I often imagine the conversations that would happen around our table in The Sandbag House.  Add to that group @zord189, from Kuala Lumpur, and from the United States, @goldendawne, @dswigle and @blockurator. Oh my word, there are so many.  It would be a veritable Babel.  A cornucopia.  A fusion.  All these people, in their own ways have stretched and enriched my thinking on a range of issues and topics.

Our table around which Sunday Suppers and many fun and engaging conversations happen.  A Steemfriend get together would be such fun!

A last word

I have not repeated my thanks to the folk who brought me to, and kept me on, the blockchain.  I thanked them in my reflections in this post to mark my second anniversary on Steemit.

Like many, I too, can chant the mantra: I came for the crypto and stayed for the community. The potential for earning did attract me, but I was blogging, anyway, and having walked a path, have realised that Steemit is another (receptive) audience for my musings.  They are, as I said, my sweat equity investment in the platform.  At the moment, I’m reinvesting all my Steem in Steemit, and am a regular participant in @streetstyles monthly #spud (Steem Power Up Day), i.e. invest in the platform.  I, like other investors, am hoping believing Steem will moon.

On Steemit, to one and all, I remain grateful.  And to @theycallmedan for the inspiration to ramp this topic up my “to-write” list.

For the rest, not interested in this crypto-blockchain gobbledygook, normal programming resumes with my next post.

Until next time
Fiona
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa


Photo: Selma

Post Script

In addition to WordPress I blog on a number of platforms:

  • Steemit – a crypto, social network and blogging platform, to which I post from WordPress using the SteemPress plugin.
  • If you’d also like to use your WordPress blog to earn crypto, join us on SteemPress.

  • My WordPress site is hosted by fellow Steemian, @gmuxx, with fees paid in crypto currency: Steem Based Dollars.  If you want more information, join the Steemblogs Club on Discord
  • Should you join the Steem platform, you are welcome to contact me on Discord on be sure to look out for the Steem Terminal – a dynamic team of folk who will happily guide you through the apparent quagmire of blogging on blockchain.
  • Instagram is a mostly visual platform where I post microblogs about fluff:  usually food and the cats as well as posts that sometimes promise hint about future WordPress posts.

 

Let me know what you think....