The Case For the Temporary Soft Fork

in steem •  3 years ago  (edited)

Steem on.

This phrase was coined early in Steem's life but it takes on a new meaning now. The significant stake of Steemit Inc. has been sold wholesale to another party. Justin Sun and his TRON Foundation have acquired Steemit Inc. and announced the acquisition indicating the intention of deprecating the Steem blockchain network.

Personally I welcome Justin with open arms as a new stakeholder of Steem. He's a successful and intelligent force in the blockchain world and can bring a lot of value to Steem just as Steem can bring a lot of value to him and his ventures. However, we can not allow a single stakeholder with conflicting interests to unilaterally decide the fate of the blockchain.

We must Steem on.

Not everyone has a great picture of what led up to the implementation of the v0.22.2 soft fork so I will do my best in this post to present the evidence and context in which the decision was collectively taken.

Ninja-mine: Relevant ancient history

March 23rd, 2016: The Steem blockchain is launched with Proof of Work (mining) consensus. link

March 24th: 2016: The Steem blockchain is relaunched due to the ninja-mine plan not working out in Steemit Inc.'s favor. Their servers crashed overnight. link

April 24th, 2016: The Steem blockchain transitions to Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) consensus. Witnesses voted by stakeholders now establish consensus by producing blocks.

The large stake of the Steemit Inc. ninja-mine was never ideal for a decentralized blockchain, but it was tolerated because it was understood that Steemit Inc. had all the incentives to not abuse it. Furthermore, Steemit Inc. founders Dan Larimer and Ned Scott continually communicated that the stake was to be used as a faucet for new account creation, funding of the company's operations, and would eventually be distributed enough not to matter.

"We want to have a large amount of STEEM to give away via faucets"

"We plan to decentralize the @steemit account stake."

Between then and now, a good deal of the Steemit Inc. ninja-mined stake remains on the @steemit and @steem accounts. Some of it was transferred to founder and employee accounts. Some more of it was transferred to @misterdelegation, an account used for delegating to various projects. Much has been sold via various channels such as Blocktrades, other exchanges, and over the counter trades.

What remains is still significant enough to be able to entirely override the current set of witnesses, making a unilateral decision to hard fork possible.

2020: Steemit Inc. is sold

Announced on February 14th, 2020, Steemit Inc. has been sold to the TRON Foundation, run by Justin Sun. The announcement implies it's a partnership, however Steemit Inc. employees have said it is an acquisition (@vandeberg, @gerbino) and that is plainly the case. Ned himself says that he sold it.

The announcement includes this line, which indicates an intent to deprecate "old" Steem.

Together, TRON Foundation and Steemit Inc. will look to create further value for their users and to augment their advancements in decentralized technologies, including moving old STEEM token to a new TRON based STEEM token

A post made shortly after the announcement on February 14th by Poloniex, an exchange that Justin Sun has a significant interest in, says

STEEM tokens that exist on the Steem network will migrate to the TRON blockchain and they will run giveaways for existing TRX holders with the new TRON-based STEEM token.

As a continuous effort of our strategic partnership with the TRON Foundation, we’re excited to announce that we will be supporting the STEEM token swap for our users. With the STEEM token swap, we’ll be re-listing STEEM and bringing back support for deposits and withdrawals.

February 15th "AMA" with Justin Sun and Ned Scott

YouTube link
Reacting to the Steem community's backlash of these indicated intentions of deprecating the Steem blockchain, Justin seemingly backtracked on any immediate or solid plans towards doing so. This conflicted with the imminence communicated in the Poloniex announcement. Steemit Inc. employee @andrarchy sums up the conclusion from that video call, a couple days later.

However, since the video chat with Ned, the original message is continuing to be promoted.

February 16th: Justin Sun posts this tweet which was deleted a few hours later:

February 17th: (now deleted)

Justin Sun
Steemit to Shift Its Proprietary Blockchain & Token to #TRON Network.
#TRON has just partnered with @steemit, a major blockchain-based blogging & social networking website to provide its network for #Steemit services.

February 18th: (now deleted)

Justin Sun
#Steemit, the largest decentralized # blockchain-based social media & blogging platform joining #TRON. More details
[embedded (now-deleted) YouTube video containing the information included in the original announcement]

Update: The original messaging continues

February 24th, the TRON Foundation posts their weekly report which still signals the intent of absorbing the Steem blockchain into TRON.


How TRON Foundation interacts with TRON does not bode well for Steem

February 19th, less than a week after announcing the acquisition of Steemit Inc: The TRON Foundation has used its stake, called the ZION account, to influence their DPoS Super Representatives (SRs).


Tron Community in Uproar as Genesis Coins Used in Super Reps Vote - Cointelegraph

The same user later added to the statement that the Zion account “ was used to vote in SRs which Justin is ‘invested’ in even after the statement from Justin [saying neither] he nor the foundation have participated in voting.”

TronWalletMe marketing and communications director Misha Lederman later noticed a third SR voted for by the Zion account. Lederman pointed out that the Poloniex SR had also benefited from Tron’s Zion account.

The timing and comparable situation between TRON and Steem are incredible.

The numbers

The Steemit Inc. ninja-mined stake is said to consist of approximately 74 million STEEM tokens by those privy to the terms of the sale. Some of these tokens are liquid but most of them are powered up in @steem, @steemit, and @misterdelegation accounts. The sum of STEEM Power in these accounts alone is currently about 60 million SP. They also have almost 5 million liquid STEEM total. The rest of the total amount of STEEM is presumed to sit on exchange accounts.

What can you do with just the 65 million STEEM and STEEM Power that we can easily see between @steem, @steemit, and @misterdelegation? As of writing, the top-ranked Steem witness has about 45.4 million SP of Steem user stake approval. If used, the 65 million SP of known Steemit Inc. ninja-mined stake can put that witness in 31st place and well out of establishing blockchain consensus.

Update: Links deleted

On February 28th or 29th, some tweets and blog posts were removed. I originally recorded the text of the tweets in this post and have found some screenshots of them. I have updated the post links with archived versions. These are the deleted posts:

Soft fork

The community of Steem witnesses have come together to prevent a catastrophe for Steem and to assert Steem's resilience over unilateral control. It is intended to be a temporary measure to make it unmistakably clear that the blockchain will not fall to centralized control. I wish for Steem to be a win for all of its stakeholders, including Justin Sun and the TRON Foundation.

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I just spent the last two hours attempting to understand what was happening with this soft fork and this is the first post that offered some insight in a way that I could understand. Thanks!

The only thing that I am still confused about: another post implied that Justin Sun lost his stake in the soft fork, is this true or did I misread something?

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

Justin/TRON Foundation has not lost any stake. The soft fork is a temporary measure that prevents the formerly-Steemit Inc. accounts @steem, @steemit, @misterdelegation and a couple others with miniscule stake from taking measures to unilaterally control the blockchain.

The post by @softfork222 goes into better detail about those measures.

Thanks, I'll check it out.

No stake lost.. only the sauce.

Thank you :)

Super glad that I jumped into this content.
I am a minow with less power, and mightn't have a strong role in this whole system.
However, I will play my role to make it up to the mark. The more concerned thing for me is the whole stake of years of hard work will be driven on uncertain causes and motives by the TRON.
It really looks to be an acquisition and the threat looks great to the communities and chain.
Till then, we can hope for the best.

Still, Justin saying the shift of steem to Tron is what couldn't make me stay still. Does this mean, Justin can take everything in his personal accounts and behalf of Tron not caring about the Steemit? @pfunk

Justin just released his content on steemit.
looks very pleasing and optimistic to me.
"Together," he said, looks more satisfying and welcoming to new ideas on Steemit.
Hoping for the best.

We'll see. As a few people point out, he's still talking about Tron.

This update is reversible, and is simply to be used to ensure that the security and decentralization of the Steem blockchain remains intact.

Its good to see, if things go well, then this can be reversible if the townhall with Justin goes well.

While not the most diplomatic approach I guess it’s getting the desired result!

I hope the town hall with Justin work out I think he needs to clear things up and with Andrachy speak from one sheet man!

It’s all confusing and upsetting for a lot of people who have enjoyed using this service for so long!

A soft fork was necessary to preempt a power down. If the mentioned accounts began a powerdown, this would not have been possible in the same way. There was a window of opportunity for Steem to assert itself and it was taken.

Ah I see, no then it makes sense as to why it was turned around so quickly and the witnesses had to all come out and say yeah or nay post fork.

Thanks for the explanation of the early days of Steem and the comparison to Tron. Very useful for me.

You're welcome and thank you for the feedback.

Thanks for presenting the facts.

While I don't like the centralized governance of Tron, we've just used a similar, if not worse method to exclude a rightful shareholder (stake purchased, not mined, regardless of its history!) from exerting any decisions on Steem. Actually, it's far worse: we're holding that stake hostage... temporarily. Meaning however long top witnesses so desire.

If our great witnesses couldn't find a solution for the ninja mined stake while it was still in the possession of the initial owner, before it was sold, they should have done it by the book now.

I know democracy and free market is hard, and at times we all think coercive methods are easier (and they are), while condemning them. But resorting to them doesn't make us better, it makes us the same or worse as the ones using them regularly.

The only right solution to this problem that I see would have been to stop powering down and start powering up until "the community" held more stake that any single shareholder at least to block a super majority.

I saw expressed blown-out-of-proportions concerns about Sun setting up 30 servers of his own as top witnesses, having an overnight hard fork to steer Steem in whatever direction he wanted.

That would have disqualified him publicly, and as a marketer and businessman he couldn't afford to do such a stunt. That would have made a Steem hard fork in which his stake was burned or given to steem.dao publicly justified.

But our top witnesses chose to force his hand into the negotiations table. And make the first hostile act, instead of talk.

Thanks for accepting my invitation and providing your feedback!

At the time of the soft fork, a supermajority of top 20 witnesses (19/20) were running it on their nodes. Many more backup witnesses were running it too. These witnesses are approved by Steem stakeholders, the community. Much like a stake-based republic, witnesses are given a collective authority divided between 20 individuals or organizations. That is not unilateral.

I know the decision was a hard one for many, including myself even as a witness not in the top 20. In fact my initial reaction to being invited to discuss this was something along the lines of "What the fuck are they doing?" However, as I saw the things I've presented in this post as part of the broader picture, I saw why that difficult decision had been made by so many different people.

Whether the possibility of Justin Sun/TRON Foundation using the Steemit Inc. stake to shut down Steem is blown out of proportion is a matter of differing opinion. The signals of imminent deprecation I see in their communications don't make me optimistic. If you don't like the centralized governance of TRON, I'm sure you wouldn't like to see it on Steem either. The soft fork was a preemptive action to keep the governance of Steem decentralized for the moment, so that the Steem community of witnesses and stakeholders can discuss the future of Steem with the buyer of Steemit Inc. on equal terms.

Yes, I understand the reasoning and I saw how many witnesses run the new soft fork version.

The problem still remains.

You guys chose the coercive measure by holding his stake hostage against the harder solution which didn't depend entirely on you and it cost money and it meant persuading people not to sell but instead buy STEEM and power up and vote for top witnesses.

That is how free market works and, since Ned sold Steemit along with its stake, that would have been a measure I would have fully supported.

Because yes, I don't want Steem's governance to become centralized, but unfortunately you guys showed us DPOS is lacking severely as well, through this secret soft fork.

I will let you have my Wtiness vote for now as I am encouraging unification within the circle of Top Witnesses until this Fork is Resolved.

There is a few Witness's who I have removed my up vote from in order to prevent their bias towards Tron be encouraged with my vote.

I am very frustrated that I was almost coerced into endorsing Tron and a very happy with the measures taken.

Here is the Bitsharestalk forum post from back then.

Thank you

Great info - this sheds light on the subject we discussed at our Steemit-Austria meeting yesterday. I re-steemed it and will share with my friends from that meeting.

@pfunk, In my opinion one thing is for sure and that is, knowingly or unknowingly Unclear Announcements 📢 or Statements were made and in a way it was reflecting as our beloved Steem Blockchain is about to face Potential Crisis.

Definitely there are mixed feelings and stand points regarding Soft Fork are there and that's the beauty of Decentralised Structure. But in my opinion Witnesses taken this decision to protect the future of Steem Blockchain.

Now let's hope that after the Town Hall Session everything will be cleared and from there on both Steem Blockchain and TRON Foundation can start new and positive Journey instead of a Journey which doesn't have any clarity.

Have a wonderful time ahead and stay blessed.

Posted using Partiko Android

Thanks for the update, it's much clearer now.

Greatly well documented and very informative post about this subject @pfunk. :)

And since I know you like good music big time. Let's fling one moving tune way in sync with the ass shaking mood of this article.

Thank you, and thanks for providing some music :)

My pleasure mate. :)

As you know, I always enjoy read a well documented essay with no speculation inside. };)

So we are now a ¿20 million Steemit community users?
Holy cow! and I'm dancing here alone. Go figure!! LoL

I guess it was a necessary percussion that needed to be done. I still think it's time to stop living in the past and move forward in a positive optimistic manner while new steemit users come on board.

A win for all stakeholders, big and small. Sad that it took something like this to get a response. It may not be about the money, and I get that safety for everyone here across the chain is the key component in the decision. Can we request he make a show of faith and burn it all? Honestly, it will make STEEM worth a lot more and since he's a businessman, he could see the logic behind it. I'm not top 50 so I probably won't be invited to the meeting in March. If he does that, says, ya know what, it's not about the money, I really do believe Steem and TRON can work together to form a beautiful future for the entire crypto space? Something along those lines, would be great. I know he's a major cutthroat tho. And that's what I'm looking at and even more scared now, as to what kind of revenge may be stewing in his soul. If he doesn't burn it all to eliminate any threat to the consensus, honestly, it would have to be permanent until it changes to more trusted hands.