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A Beginner’s Overview of SteemIt – a Blockchain-based Social/Posting Platform – CryptoBB
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A Beginner’s Overview of SteemIt – a Blockchain-based Social/Posting Platform

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SteemIt is a content publishing and reward system that makes the users, or “crowd”, the “beneficiary of the attention economy.” What does that mean? You can earn a reward called Steem by either 1) posting content that is voted up, or 2) by voting up the content of other people. Steem can be converted into your own local currency.

Int he Steem 2017 Roadmap, the creators stated their goal: “Our long-term goal remains the same: to provide the best platform for censorship-resistant publishing and store of value to the widest user base possible, in an effort to increase human freedom and accelerate the spread of access to basic rights for all people on Earth.”

SteemIt runs on a block chain called “Steem”, and SteemIt is a front end website to interact with the blockchain (implying that other websites could do the same, using commonly available software interfaces). The blockchain is a public accessible distributed database, which records all posts, comments, upvotes and dowvotes and distributes the rewards. The state-of-the-art blockchain technology behind STEEM is Graphene, which also runs BitShares. The Steem blockchain was launched on March 23, 2016. Steemit, Inc. is a privately held company, but I think Steem itself runs like an “distributed autonomus company.”

Compare this to Reddit, Facebook, or even a new site like Medium. On those sites, the site owners profit from your work, where as with Steem, you and your fellow members profit. Steem is not mined like BitCoin, instead it is generated by doing the above activities, and can be earned by witnesses (similar to mining but different, this will be explained below).

Basically, member compete for attention and rewards by bringing quality content and adding value to the platform. They are rewarded by “tokens” which can be traded. Steem is not a way to “get rich quick”. Occassionally you may see a post that earns several hundred dollars, but there’s a good chance that that user has built a following over time, especially of other “power users” within the Steem community.


It is free to join SteemIt, and it is free to post, comment, and vote. Your phone number is required to avoid people and “bots” (robots or automated software) from creating multiple fake accounts. For those interested, there are actually ways to create anonymous or extra accounts for small fees. One of the downsides it that you must retain and not lose your password; the system has no way to give you a new one. It’s basically a security protection, to make sure your account is not stolen along with your hard-earned tokens.   Apparently there is a manual approval process; it took me about 5 days to get mine approved, but that probably is because of a recent conference where many of caused a surge of new members.

STEEM and Steem Dollars and STEEM Power and Reputation

There are two items that might be confusing at first: STEEM and Steem Dollar (SBD) tokens.
There is a third concept called “Steem Power” which you earn, but it cannot be traded or spent.

There is a Steam Reward pool, and you can get some of that by posting and curating (voting).
Any rewards are subjected to a three-day holding period before you can cash them out.

Steem is really just a point system, but since the points are altcoins, they can be traded on the market.

To recap, STEEM is the curerncy token for the platform. Steem Power is a measure of a member’s influence, based on how much he or she has contributed to the system. A person can convert his Steem Power to Steem Dollars slowly over a 13 week period in a process called a “Power Down”. Steem Dollars is another currency token pegged to $1 USD. Steem Dollars can be traded with STEEM and used to buy other things in marketplaces, such as PeerHub.com.

PeerHub is A marketplace with a social side. It’s similar to eBay, Craigslist, and/or Etsy combined. Use it to buy — and sell — new, used, vintage, and handmade stuff with people you know, in your local area, or anywhere in the world.

A “Reputation Score” is assigned to each user. It is based on a logarithmic scale, such that a score of 40 is worth 10 times more than a 30. STEEM and Steem Dollars cannot be used for reputation because they can be bought and sold.

Controlling what you see

Steem is an open platform meant to host and welcome any legal content. Users can post anything they want, whether it be phrases, quotes, blogs, anecdotes, photos, videos, memes, songs, and more. Be creative!

Because of this openess, that means people could post porn, hate, violence or other such material. The phrase “Not Safe for Work” (NSFW) has been adopted by the social word to describe posts that fit this category. By default, NSFW content is not shown; but you can click a checkbox to allow it to be seen.

You can also mute any user you don’t like, and of course, they can mute you too. You can see which users you have muted, but there is no way to see who has muted you.

Earning Money – Choosing your Reward

You have a choice of receiving 100% STEEM Power, or 50%/50% STEEM Power and Steem Dollars, or for some reason, they allow you to choose “Decline Payout” (I’m not sure why anyone would do that).

Technical Details

– Post size – up to 64,000 characters. (Most redaers are willing to read that much in one sitting.)
– Posting Images – you must resize your images before posting
– Posting Videos – Simply include the video link (for YouTube and Vimeo)
– Tags – can be utilized to categorize your post, up to 5 tags are supported
– You use language specific tags to identify the language used for your post
– There is a 20 second wait limit between comments to limit spam
– Text can be formatted using the “MarkDown” standard (see https://github.com/adam-p/markdown-here/wiki/Markdown-Cheatsheet)

Promotion with Steem Dollars

You may promote a post with Steem Dollars, causing it to show up on the “Promoted Tab”. If I understand correctly, this is one gives Steem Dollars financial tradeable value. For instance, a Steem member could post good quality articles and earn Steem Dollars. He could trade them on the marketplace to another user who was interested in promoting his article, i.e. someone who wants to do paid advertising. This creates a marketplace of people who have Steem Dollars to sell, and those who want to buy. Others buy Steem Dollars to invest speculatively, counting on the price increasing, when they can sell for a profit.

The Reward Pool

Each day, new tokens are generated by the system itself based on a “yearly inflation rate” (I have no idea yet what the inflation rate means.) 75% of those go to the “Reward Pool”, 15% to the holders of STEEM Power, and 10% to pay the witnesses that power the blockchain. (The witnesses are computers that run the system, the closest thing Steem has to cryptocoin miners, but still very different. Briefly, they are elected by those that have STEEM Power. According to the FAQ, there are only 20 full-time witnesses operating the system. But if you go https://steemit.com/~witnesses you see a list of 50. Maybe these are potential or available witnesses, out of which only 20 are full-time? They say you can vote for 30.)

From the reward pool, 25% is awarded to curators (people who upvote posts, thus curating it and bringing it to the attention of others), and 75% is awarded to the content creator (the authors). The amount the curator (voter) gets changes over time, because at first, a larger portion of it is awarded to the content creator.

Upvoting and downvoting doesing add or remove ‘currency’ from the reward pool; but rather changes how that pool is divided up.

Most importantly, votes are “stake-weighted”. Those that have more STEEM Power have a bigger influence, but high-staked voters don’t increase the overall rewards. So for example, Stan Larimer is one of the founders of BitShares and father of Dan Larimer, founder of SteemIt, so he probably has more STEEM power than most users. So if he upvotes your post, you will probably get a bigger reward.

Each post has a “potential reward” shown on the screen, and the number can go up or down based on the overall allocation of the rewards. So for example, if you post the best post of the day, you might have the biggest reward, but if that afternoon, someone else posts a better post, and it gets more upvotes and more powerful people (based on STEEM power) voting for it, your reward might actually go down.

Posts and comments remain active for 7 days. After that, you can claim your earned rewards to your wallet.

When you join, your voting power has 100% influence, but the more you vote, that influence goes down. They compare it to an “energy bar” in a typical online game. It gets recharged 20% every day. Based on this, you can get about 40 full strength votes within a day without totally depleting your voting power.

Beginners have no choice on how much of their power to vote with. But when you reach 500 in STEEM Power, you will see a slider when you vote, where you can direct between 1% and 100% of your voting strength to the particular post. This is one of the factors of trust; i.e. trust users are ones that have been on the system longer to accumulate that much STEEM Power, or perhaps invested money into the system to buy that power. Upvotes and downvotes use the same amount of voting power (but downvoting does earn curation rewards). You can see your own (or any other member’s) power and history on a third party site, such as http://steemd.com/@accountname.

The 2017 Roadmap

The roadmap quotes a report that says: “All data we have available suggests that most mainstream internet users have already or will soon stop using traditional personal computers to access the internet, opting instead for mobile devices exclusively.”.  Thus, they want to get Steem working on mobile devices as soon as possible.

They also recognize the need for a “signing service” to allow third-party sites and apps to allow users to take actions, without turning over their keys to that third party.

The Steemit, Inc.-controlled primary account, @steemit, which holds approximately 41% of the platform’s Steem Power, will be gradually divested of its holdings in an effort to increase
promotion and development of the platform, and this distribution shall further the platform’s security through decentralization of voting power.

To get an idea of how many developers are playing with Steem, check out the Steem Toosl and apps here: http://steemtools.com

In Summary

I suggest you sign-up for a free Steem account.  Add a profile picture, then get involved by making a few posts or blogs, replying to other blogs that interest you, and upvoting what you like.  Start to build your following, and you might have some Steem Dollar and Steem Power in a few months.

Signup For A free Account on SteemIt here:  http://steemit.com?r=nealwalters.  It may take several days to get your approval/confirmation email.

Neal Walters

About the Author

Neal Walters