Why Hardfork20 is a big deal for Steem Blockchain – Hacker Noon

This story was originally posted on September 25, before Hardfork20 went live.

In another couple of hours Hardfork20 will occur on Steem blockchain. Top 20 witnesses are running their nodes on version 0.20.2 which means they are all set for the hardfork.

What is Hardfork?

For those of you who are not familiar with the term, Hardfork means an upgrade to the blockchain. The current code release or the upgrade can be found on Steem Github Page This release is called Velocity. Hence you might be hearing the word Velocity Hardfork if you are reading any blogs related to this upgrade.

What is Steem Blockchain?

Steem is a DPOS based blockchain built for websites and apps that are centred around content. Steem makes it easier for content driven websites to run on blockchain. Steem has an inbuilt reward mechanism which incentivises content creators, content curators and app developers based on the value they add to the overall network.

The common misconception is that Steem Blockchain= www.steemit.com This is farthest from the truth. Steem blockchain is just the backend and there can be any number of interfaces (websites or apps) that can be built on steem blockchain.

Image from steemit.com

As you can see from this image Steem blockchain forms the central piece and there other services and apps that make use of this blockchain like https://steemit.com, https://busy.org/, https://steepshot.io/, https://join.utopian.io/, https://d.tube/, https://esteem.app/

There are just some of the apps that are live and popular already. There are many more and you can check them out on https://steemprojects.com/

What are the new features in Velocity Hardfork?

Velocity Hardfork has many important changes. Most of these changes will have a great impact on User experience and Interaction, how apps will work in future and how Steem Media Tokens will finally shape up.

The major features in this Hardfork are

1 . Unlimited Editing

Prior to this hardfork content couldn’t be edited once the rewards were awarded. This effective meant that you couldn’t update the content after seven days. While this makes sense to keep the demand for new content high on the platform it also meant that you couldn’t update your content after seven days if you found something missing or error prone. Most of the times you need to update you content as the context changes.

If this was not the case we would have so many posts on Steem blockchain which would have been full of broken links as the time progresses.

With hardfork 20 this is going to change.

2 . Resource Credits Implementation

Most of the blockchains do not take into consideration the future cost of current actions on blockchain. While various transactions on blockchain are seemingly free it is not. There is a cost to every action and it has to be borne by somebody. It may not be you at the time, but the cost has to be borne nevertheless. With centralised services the cost is borne by the likes of Facebook and Google as they invest it in you now so that they can later sell ads to you, sell your data to the third parties or use you to train their massive AI models 🙂

It is the same with blockchains as well. Whether you realise or not there is a cost for every action and that is borne by somebody. In fact it costs money for you to create an account on Steem blockchain and perform every action like post, comment and upvote on the blockchain. But you may not realise this as this is being paid by Steem INC for now. Currently the cost approximates are not accurate and a lot of generalisations have been made. With Resource Credits Steem will be able to identify the costs of each and every action. This will also help the app developer identify the costs of the transactions so that they can make sure that UI/UX of their users doesn’t suffer.

It might take some time for the equilibrium to reached. Based on how the community responds witnesses will be able to make some tweaks over the time so that the User experience is not hampered but at the same time there is a better mechanism to handle the spam on the platform. EOS is also doing something on similar lines. But the outcome in Steem will be much more interesting as it will affect the existing community. The outcome of this experiment might define how the content based and community based websites of future will be defined.

3. Free Account creation by Dapps

Currently it takes close to 1 weeks to 2 weeks to create accounts on www.steemit.com Post Hardfork20 users will be able to purchase Account Creation Tokens using their Resource Credits (RCs). These Account Creation Tokens can be used to create accounts for the new users on the platform. The supply of these Account Creation Tokens will be decided by the witnesses. Initially the supply of these Account Creation Tokens will be low and hence their exchange rate very high. This will make sure that new accounts are not flooded on the platform. Once the equilibrium is reached Apps will be able to better estimate the cost of account creation and they can purchase the Account Creation Tokens accordingly.

We are working on a product that will be based on Steem blockchain. We thought of releasing a beta after integrating with the SMTs (First or second quarter of 2019). But after some deliberation we have decided to build it on the existing steem blockchain and integrate with the SMTs once they are ready for deployment. So each of the changes introduced in Hardfork will be important for us as they will address our pain points.

Feature Wishlist

One feature we wish was part of this Hardfork was perpetual rewards. But after posting comments on few posts looks like this is not going to be implemented in the core any time soon. The consensus amongst the development team and the witnesses seems to be that if it can be handled in the second layer, then it should be handled in the second layer. The idea seems to be that only minimal required changes will be made to the core blockchain. I think this makes sense. So we will be handling the perpetual tokens on our interface. But we are not sure how it will translate in general as most of the users still use www.steemit.com and I don’t think steemit will do anything in this regard.

However these are some interesting changes in this particular Hardfork and we are looking forward to how they will play out over the next week. Its not going to be all rosy. In fact there was an issues over the last week and steem blockchain was down for couple of hours.

Why was Steem blockchain down last week?

Steem blockchain was down last week. The issue was related to this hardfork. All the witnesses and exchanges were asked to run their nodes on version 0.20.0 But due to a bug in the latest code the blockchain was down. The built in safety measures made sure that the funds were not at risk and took the blockchain down until the issue was fixed. You can read more about it in their blog detailing what went wrong.

There are many people including a couple of witnesses who expressed their discomfort saying that the upgrade should have been tested further and it might have been a good idea not to club all the critical upgrades in a Hardfork. But however from https://steemd.com/witnesses we can see that top 25 witnesses are already running on 0.20.2 and hence it will go live at September 25, 2018 at 15:00:00 UTC if there are no major hiccups.

Let us know how this hardfork will affect your product or service. If you are an end user be patient over the next week and provide your feedback. The community needs it 🙂

References

  1. Latest blog about hardfork by Steemit — https://steemit.com/steem/@steemitblog/hardfork-20-what-to-expect-tomorrow
  2. Recent blogs by steemitblog about the Steem roadmap — https://steemit.com/@steemitblog
  3. ATS Witness’ thoughts on velocity — https://steemit.com/witness/@ats-witness/steem-hardfork-20-thoughts-on-velocity

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