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= Abstract Steem is a blockchain database that supports community building and social interaction with cryptocurrency rewards. Steem combines concepts from social media with lessons learned from building cryptocurrencies and their communities. An important key to inspiring participation in any community, currency or free market economy is a fair accounting system that consistently reflects each person's contribution. Steem is the first cryptocurrency that attempts to accurately and transparently reward an unbounded number of individuals who make _subjective contributions_ to its community.
= Introduction Collectively, user-generated content has created billions of dollars worth of value for the shareholders of social media companies, such as Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter. **In 2014, Reddit hypothesized that its platform would be improved if everyone who contributed to reddit.com by posting stories, adding comments or voting were rewarded with a fair share in Reddit, Inc^http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikamorphy/2014/10/01/reddits-cryptocurrency-could-have-many-uses/#4e07b05332b9^.** Steem aims to support social media and online communities by returning much of its value to the people who provide valuable contributions by rewarding them with cryptocurrency, and through this process create a currency that is able to reach a broad market, including people who have yet to participate in any cryptocurrency economy. There are some key principles that have been used to guide the design of Steem. The most important principle is that everyone who contributes to a venture should receive pro-rata ownership, payment or debt from the venture. This principle is the same principle that is applied to all startups as they allocate shares at founding and during subsequent funding rounds. The second principle is that all forms of capital are equally valuable. This means that those who contribute their scarce time and attention toward producing and curating content for others are just as valuable as those who contribute their scarce cash. This is the sweat equity principle^http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sweatequity.asp^ and is a concept that prior cryptocurrencies have often had trouble providing to more than a few dozen individuals. The third principle is that the community produces products to serve its members. This principle is exemplified by credit unions, food co-ops, and health sharing plans, which serve the members of their community rather than sell products or services to people outside the community. The Steem community provides the following services to its members: 1. A source of curated news and commentary. 2. A means to get high quality answers to personalized questions. 3. A stable cryptocurrency pegged to the U.S. dollar. 4. Free payments. 5. Jobs providing above services to other members. Steem's purposeful realignment of economic incentives has the potential to produce fairer and more inclusive results for everyone involved than the social media and cryptocurrency platforms that have gone before it. This paper will explore the existing economic incentives and demonstrate how Steem's incentives may result in better outcomes for most participants. include::sections/recognizing-contribution.asc
== Recognizing Contribution Steem is designed from the ground up to address the major barriers to adoption and monetization of a social media based economy. Our thesis is that the same techniques used to grow major social media platforms can be used to bootstrap a successful cryptocurrency. Economic incentives enabled by cryptocurrency can dramatically facilitate the growth of a new social media platform. It is the synergy between cryptocurrency and social media that we believe may give Steem a powerful advantage in the market. The challenge faced by Steem is deriving an algorithm for scoring individual contributions that most community members consider to be a fair assessment of the subjective value of each contribution. In a perfect world, community members would cooperate to rate each other's contribution and derive a fair compensation. In the real world, algorithms must be designed in such a manner that they are resistant to intentional manipulation for profit. Any widespread abuse of the scoring system could cause community members to lose faith in the perceived fairness of the economic system. Existing platforms operate on a one-user, one-vote principle. This creates an environment where rankings can be manipulated by sybil attacks and the service providers must pro-actively identify and block abusers. People already attempt to manipulate the Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter scoring algorithms when the only reward is web traffic or censorship. The fundamental unit of account on the Steem platform is STEEM, a crypto currency token. Steem operates on the basis of one-STEEM, one-vote. Under this model, individuals who have contributed the most to the platform, as measured by their account balance, have the most influence over how contributions are scored. Furthermore, Steem only allows members to vote with STEEM when it is committed to a multi-year vesting schedule. Under this model, members have a financial incentive to vote in a way that maximises the long term value of their STEEM. Steem is designed around a relatively simple concept: everyone's meaningful contribution to the community should be recognized for the value it adds. When people are recognized for their meaningful contributions, they continue contributing and the community grows. Any imbalance in the give and take within a community is unsustainable. Eventually the givers grow tired of supporting the takers and disengage from the community. The challenge is creating a system capable of identifying what contributions are needed and their relative worth in a way that can scale to an unbounded number of people. A proven system for evaluating and rewarding contributions is the free market. The free market can be viewed as a single community where everyone trades with one another and rewards are allocated by profit and loss. The market system rewards those who provide value to others and punishes those who consume more value than they produce. The free market supports many different currencies and money is simply a commodity that everyone finds easy to exchange. Since the free market is a proven system, it is tempting to try to create a free-market system where content consumers directly pay content producers. However, direct payment is inefficient and not really viable for content creation and curation. The value of most content is so low relative to the cognitive, financial, and opportunity costs associated with making a payment that few readers choose to tip. The abundance of free alternatives means that enforcing a 'paywall' will drive readers elsewhere. There have been several attempts to implement per-article micropayments from readers to authors, but none have become widespread. Steem is designed to enable effective micropayments for all kinds of contribution by changing the economic equation. Readers no longer have to decide whether or not they want to pay someone from their own pocket, instead they can vote content up or down and Steem will use their votes to determine individual rewards. This means that people are given a familiar and widely used interface and no longer face the cognitive, financial, and opportunity costs associated traditional micropayment and tipping platforms. Voting input from community members is critical for Steem to accurately allocate payments to contributors. Voting can therefore be viewed as a crucial contribution and worthy of rewards on its own. Some platforms, such as Slashdot, use meta-moderation^https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta-moderation_system^ as a way to rank and reward honest moderators. Steem chooses to reward those who contribute the most to the total promotion of a piece of content and rewards the voters proportional to the ultimate reward paid to the content creator. There are other forms of contribution that Steem recognizes and rewards using objective metrics. Among these are: transaction validation, proof of work mining, liquidity rewards, and reporting of misbehaving block producers.