The Case For the Temporary Soft Fork

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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