Thoughts on the Steem Whitepaper

steem whitepaper review

A month or so ago I ended up examining the Steem whitepaper. I read it start to finish in one sitting. Now I don’t know Dan Larimer, the author, personally. I knew Ned Scott somewhat but I never said two words to Dan. So what I say here is purely based on my inference from reading the whitepaper and, in general, these are my observations that I’ve put into writing as I was reading. The following is purely an opinion piece based on my observations.

This is by far the worst experience I’ve ever had since discovering that Steem was about to be created. I understand why Tone Vays went out of his way to make that essay long tweet about why Steem is a scam. I hope he sees this reflection when I’m done.

Overall, reading the Steem whitepaper in detail made me want to puke about halfway through. It is the most condescending and elitist attempts at project justification I’ve come across. I believe all human beings are equal irrespective of how rich, poor, privileged, or destitute they are. I was genuinely disgusted examining that whitepaper line by line. I never read it like that, in the same sitting, prior to that. Every other time I’d start, drop, pick up at different sections. Reading it in one sitting was a whole different experience and not a great one I’d ever repeat.

Dan really loved his sybil attacks and constantly referred to them. He was very interested in every possible types of attacks and manipulations except for the one he orchestrated when he restarted the blockchain during the early mining days to give himself an unfair advantage and create that artificial Steem stake that led to the 51% attack (the hostile takeover). This is likely because he didn’t see himself as the aggressor but as a savior of the masses. He also presented a full document, aside from the whitepaper of course, as to why his way of *fundraising* with this unfair advantage was a brilliant method to circumvent the typical funding rounds of an ICO. He was so brilliant he had to brag.

Dan created Steem and wrote the whitepaper to onboard the masses, to whom he refers with marked disdain. It is my observation that he assumes they are stupid, uneducated, poor, have free time and no other value but to work on content to be consumed by the investors, whom he sees as elites investing in a business. There are two identifiable classes here: creator and investor. He refers to users’ cognitive processes and “mental energy” several times, even considering that an interaction is an exercise for them. Users are stupid and therefore transactions are hard for users. Users have time. Their time is worthless. The pennies or dollars they randomly get for using the blockchain are a fair valuation of their time for this reason.

There were many mentions of “cognitive” and “government” that were a gross overestimation of the significance of Steem. All the “cognitive” mentions first and foremost reminded me of Darwin’s approach to humanity. The “government” mentions were akin to Plato’s ideal city state of Kallipolis (see *The Republic*). However, there is a marked difference between the work of Plato and the whitepaper for an altcoin. To attempt to convey blockchain governance from a moral standpoint of philosophy is madness.

Interestingly, Dan also foreshadowed the downfall of Steem. “Consider that if Satoshi had kept 100% of Bitcoin for himself, Bitcoin would be worthless”. “It would be like the CEO of a company deciding to stop paying salaries so he could pocket all of the profits. Everyone would leave to work for other companies and the company would become worthless, leaving the CEO bankrupt rather than wealthy.” This is exactly what happened. The illicit mining activities of himself led to Steemit Inc holding the majority of Steem. Later on, long after Dan’s resignation, Ned pocketed a portion of the Steemit Inc stake holdings. This was around the same time that Steemit Inc employees started relating to their friends that they were not getting fairly compensated and there were significant financial troubles at the company. It’s ironic to say the least.

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