Steem

Steem is a blockchain database that supports community building and social interaction with a built-in reward system to incentivize individuals making subjective contributions.

Background

Steem Origins
Steemit Inc. was founded in 2016 by Ned Scott and Dan Larimer. Dan, who previously founded Bitshares, acted as CTO until 2017 when he resigned to work on his next project, EOS. The Steem network is built on the same technology that powers BitShares, Graphene, which sustains 1000 transactions per second (tps) and has the possibility to scale to 10,000 tps with improvements to server capacity and communication protocols. Similar to social media like Facebook or Reddit, Steem includes a voting mechanism to bring the most engaging content to its users.

Steem's Token Variety
Steem introduces a new incentive model and Sybil resistance mechanism that incorporates multiple native cryptoassets:
STEEM - The fundamental unit of account from which other tokens derive their value. It's liquid and can be bought and sold on exchanges.
Steem Power (SP) - STEEM that has been committed to a thirteen-week vesting schedule in which it cannot be transferred. When users vote on content, their influence on how the rewards are distributed is directly proportional to the amount of SP owned. SP also gives holders the right to 15% of the annual inflation, based on a percentage of the total SP owned.
Steem Dollars (SBD) - SBD acts as a stablecoin to lower the cognitive costs of using the network. They are created in a similar fashion to convertible notes in the startup world and there are terms allowing holders to convert to STEEM with minimum notice at the fair market price of the token. To prevent the token-convertible dollar from creating too much debt in the system, the blockchain automatically reduces the amount of STEEM generated through conversions to a maximum of 10% of the markets hare ensuring there will never be a debt-to-ownership ratio higher than 10%.

Creating SBD requires a reliable feed and a system is in place where SP holders elect witnesses who are paid to publish price feeds. If a feed producer tries publishing outliers, they will likely be in the minority and their reputation will be tarnished decreasing their chance of remaining voted in.

Governance Breakdown
The community operates under a one STEEM for one vote process where individuals who have contributed the most as measured by STEEM balance have the most influence on contribution scoring. The platform only allows members to vote when STEEM is committed to a vesting schedule, creating SP. Steem also rewards voters proportionally based on the ultimate reward paid to the content creator. Posts receive payouts in either 50% SBD/50% SP or 100% SP, and they also have the option to decline in which case the money remains in the rewards pool to be distributed later.

Tron Foundation Drama and Hive Hard Fork
On Feb. 14, 2020, the Tron Foundation announced it acquired Steemit Inc., the for-profit firm behind the Steemit application, as well as the company's substantial STEEM holdings (known as the ninja-mined stake). Steem witnesses (akin to validators) voted to remove the governance rights from Tron's newly acquire STEEM tokens as a "protective measure." Tron reportedly retaliated by coordinating enough support to reverse these governance restrictions. The concerns over network centralization pushed the Steem community to move to a new chain, called Hive, which went live on Mar. 20, 2020.

Technology

Steem uses a dynamic fractional bandwidth reserve model instead of a traditional fee system where the blockchain automatically adjusts the reserve ratio for the network during times of congestion. A target utilization is set that leaves enough room for short-term surges and when the surges are sustained, the blockchain reduces the maximum bandwidth per share. Any time an individual user's moving average bandwidth exceeds the current network limit, their transaction is delayed until their average falls below the limit.

To prevent Sybil attacks, there is also a minimum account balance to be able to make transactions which is typically as low as a dollar. The reasoning behind this being that the opportunity cost of lost interest is a more acceptable cost to users than micro-fees on every transaction.

Steem employs a hierarchical private key structure to facilitate both low and high security transactions. There are posting keys that allow accounts to post, comment, edit, vote; active keys for transferring funds, converting SBD, voting for witnesses, placing market orders; and owner key which is the most powerful key because it can change any key of an account and prove ownership during an account recovery. Steem also uses a master password that encrypts all three keys and allows users to trust certain services to keep improper keys from being transferred across any servers.

According to the white paper, Steem can handle 10,000 transactions per second by keeping everything in memory, keeping the core business logic in a single thread, keeping cryptographic operations out of the core business logic, dividing validation into state-dependent and state-independent checks, and using object oriented data model.

Steem released a token protocol called Smart Media Tokens (SMTs) that allow the creation of arbitrary tokens that can be used to align incentives between users and applications in platforms with โ€œlikeโ€ or โ€œupvoteโ€ based algorithms. This model empowers websites to adopt sustainable revenue models using these native tokens and Proof-of-Brain which uses subjective human work to distribute tokens. This model enables anyone to start earning money with low barriers to entry by contributing their time to growing a community.

Other features include a native name system that allows users to send tokens to usernames rather than long strings of random letters and numbers, a decentralized exchange to trade STEEM and SBD through a peer-to-peer market with a publicly accessible order book and history, and an escrow payment service to determine if terms of an agreement have been met before funds are released.

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