How Steem Should Work

Those familiar with Steem and Steemit know that while it's a great network, it could work better than it does, especially when it comes to making things easy for new users and attracting new users.  In this episode of the Cosmic Crypto Explorer podcast I present a few ideas on how Steem could be improved.

Welcome to the Cosmic Crypto Explorer podcast. In this episode we’re going to talk about the Steem token and its related network.

When it comes to Steem one of the complaints I hear the most often, both from new users and existing users, and those just exploring the platform, is that it seems complicated and it’s difficult to get started with.

With most cryptocurrency you generate a wallet address and a private key and that’s about it. Even those concepts tend to be unfamiliar to those that haven’t worked with cryptocurrency before, but those concepts also tend to be explained fairly well so that getting started is pretty easy. Create your wallet address and private key, have funds sent to your wallet address, and don’t share your private key with anyone. Pretty simple.

With Steem, you have a Steem username, which is also your wallet address. But in order to sign up, first you have to give them your phone number to verify your account. This is one of the only major crypto networks I know of where you have to provide them with a phone number. Then you have to either pay money to create your account, or wait a couple of weeks for your account to be created for free.

Then once your account is created you have the whole Steem and Steemit infrastructure to deal with. Multiple access keys, Steem Power, Steem-Backed Dollars. In addition to this the headline banner of Steemit promises that people can get paid for using the social network but when new users start posting and voting and commenting they don’t see any rewards, because most of the people that vote on their posts don’t have enough Steem Power to generate rewards and the new users themselves don’t have enough Steem Power to generate rewards on the posts they vote on, or to get a portion of the curation rewards.

Steem is a good network and a good currency. The technology behind it is interesting, but as many people have discovered, there are more barriers to entry than there needs to be. So what can be done about this? At least some of the issues should be fixable with just a few tweaks.

First, signing up for an account and a wallet address should be instant and free, just like the other cryptocurrencies. I’ve heard a little discussion around this topic but I haven’t seen any conclusive plans for it yet, other than for an existing user to sponsor in a new user by paying for them, which still requires more fiddling than there should be.

One of the reasons it costs money or time to sign up for Steem is because every user needs some Steem Power to be able to post to and interact with the network, and users need to either buy the Steem Power themselves, or they have to wait for a couple weeks for some Steem Power to be delegated to them, which means the network loans them some Steem Power to use until they’ve earned enough of their own.

So, as I said, the first thing that should change is Steem accounts and wallets should be instant and free to create. The second thing that should change is the name of Steem Power. Calling it Steem Power just confuses a lot of people. New users are dealing with Steem and Steem Power and Steem-Backed Dollars and they often wonder why there are three currencies for one network.

Instead of calling it Steem Power, it should simply be stake, or Steem Stake. Most other cryptocurrencies that have a staking mechanic call it stake and staking so more people are familiar with that term, and even if they’re not familiar with it, because it’s a general term it’s a lot easier to find information about what a stake is and how it works. Steem Power is basically the amount of Steem you’ve staked on the network.

At the moment it takes a certain amount of Steem Power (SP) to be able to post on Steemit and interact with the network. After changing the name to Steem Stake, the next change in order to make things very clear and transparent is to clearly define how much stake is required in order to post. The new user could then be given the option of buying the necessary amount of stake, after having already created their free account, or there could be small tasks or things for them to do from which they could earn the amount of stake needed. I suppose there could also be an option to wait for a delegation similar to the delegation that people get now, but at least they would already have their Steem address in the meantime and could begin participating in the Steem economy.

Not only would this make what Steem Power is all about more clear, and not only would it make it easier and quicker for people to sign up, it would also help the Steem economy overall by getting people more involved with it from the beginning, but in a more clear way.

Next is Steem-Backed Dollars (SBD). They should simply be dropped. I know the Steem team wants to have SBD as a sort of stable coin in the Steem network, but it’s not really. The price might not fluctuate as often or as much as Steem itself does, but it still does fluctuate. Everything that’s done on the network is done with Steem. For a while earnings were paid out partially in SBD but lately they’ve just been paid out in Steem and SP. It would once again make things more clear and simple to just eliminate SBD and stick with just Steem, and Steem Stake.

Another change to help with clarity and transparency would be to stop listing earnings in dollar amounts and instead list them in straight amounts of Steem. The other Steem tokens on the network… which is a topic we’ll get to in another podcast… all list the direct token amount for their earnings, not their estimated dollar amount. Especially with the fluctuating value of Steem, it would be much more simple and direct to simply list how much a particular post is earning in Steem rather than estimated dollars.

To go along with this change, the payout threshold on posts needs to be adjusted. Currently, in order for a post to receive whatever payment it’s earned it has to earn at least 2 cents worth of rewards. It can be discouraging for new users to make a post and get five votes on it but not earn anything on that post because the people voting don’t have enough SP to influence the amount of reward, or to get one cent on the post and have the reward just disappear. Having a post earn one cent might not seem like much but when a new user is just starting out every little bit of reward encourages them to keep going and to get more involved with the network.

Especially considering Steem transfers are free and there are enough decimal places in the value calculations to be able to easily accommodate a value of one cent, when someone earns rewards on their posts they should be paid those rewards no matter how small they might be.

There are many other ways that Steem can be improved beyond what’s been talked about here but this small list of changes would certainly help to make Steem more clear, transparent, easier to get started with, and easier for new users to use, which would benefit everyone on the network.

What do you think about these ideas? Do you have any other ideas to improve the network? Let me know in the comments. Also, remember to like, vote, subscribe, follow, dance, and yodel.

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