The Hivewatchers Dilemma

avatar of @taskmaster4450
7 min read

These things happen from periodically on Hive.

Over the last 24 hours, there were a few articles posted about Hivewatchers. It is something that crops of once in a while, often pointing to a larger issue.

For those who don't know, Hivewatchers is an account that is tasked with "policing" the blockchain. It goes around compiling a list of accounts and blacklisting those who are detrimental to the community. The main focus is plagiarism and spammers.

Much of this article stems from the one posted by @neoxian titled The Stupidity of Hivewatchers and a follow up by @ecoinstant called My experience with Hive Watchers.

So let us dive right in.


Right off the bat we get emotion. Here is where we run off the rails.

That is not to say the points being made are wrong or should not be considered. However, name calling and other attacks get us nowhere. We are obviously dealing with an emotional issue yet we need to maintain a cool head.

The best NFL quarterbacks (eggball to @belemo) have the same demeanor whether they are up or down by two touchdowns. Then we have the opposite who is Ryan Leaf and a quick search reveals how his career went.

So let us try to take this to a level that is constructive.


The issue here, in my view, has less to do with Hivewatchers and more to do with downvotes. This is something that was argued from the beginning. We keep reverting back to this without much solution.

That isn't to say we should not bring it up periodically along with working actively to improve things. That should be Hive's mantra: consistent improvement. I am sure most of the community is open to ideas that make things better.

Unfortunately, this is a very tough situation to navigate. While people get understandably upset and we know there is abuse, they are a necessary part of the ecosystem. This is especially true when we are dealing with spammers and overt plagiarists.

Hence, this is discussion is actually part of a larger one.


It was pointed out that Hivewatchers is being funded through a proposal. So, naturally, there are calls to defund them.

Where have we heard that before? Didn't we see a great deal of emotion tied to that in the United States? What happens when you defund the policing entity? Crime goes up. Simple logic should have warned people of that.

What happens if we defund Hivewatchers without an acceptable solution? It is likely we see the amount of spam and plagiarism increase.

Does that mean the point to take their funding away is misplaced? Not necessarily. That might be the appropriate move. However, without a viable alternative, whatever they are counteracting will return.

One point that must be made is that, from my observation, is the comment sections are relatively free of spam such as grow your penis, 1% mortgage rates, and make $1M in 2 days with my online program ads.

Take a look at the spam in the comment sections on YouTube, most of which is autogenerated.

Most Do Nothing

Here is another problem that exists, not only on Hive, but in most organizations. The sad reality is most people are slugs. They will not get involved nor lift a finger if they do not have to. We know most organizations that 95% of the work is done by 10% of the people.

We see it all the time on Hive. How many projects are in desperate need of more people yet are struggling with a few? Of the thousands on here, how many really do anything more than put up posts seeking to make some rewards? Hell, most don't even comment on replies to their own articles.

Yet, you go on Twitter or Discord and they are there day-after-day.

It was mentioned that people like @blocktrades, @theycallmedan, and @smooth basically delegate the responsibility for fighting spam to Hivewatchers. Unlike what was just mentioned, these three are not sitting around doing nothing. Builders are too busy for that. Personally, I think creating smart contract platforms, core development, scaling of the blockchain, decentralized sidechains, and moving HBD forward should remain their focus.

Remove Layer 1 Rewards

This has been brought up on a number of occasions. Leaving aside the lack of infrastructure at the moment, it was presented that we move the reward system from the base layer.

On the surface this appears that it might solve the problem. Or perhaps it just relocates where the fights take place. If we create a token to act as Hive in terms of rewards, will this stop discussions like this? Probably not. The only thing this accomplishes is moving the fight.

The fact remains that $HIVE, in addition to being an access token, is used for governance. Anyone can come to earn and start to participate in that regard. Removing this means that we are basically restricting the governance to the [witnesses]( who will be the ones still paid out at the base layer. Everyone else will have to buy it on the open market (aside from stake already accumulated).

As we can see, there is no easy answer to this.

Who Is Going To Do The Policing?

If we operate from the presumption Hivewatchers is completely inept, tone deaf, and a total failure, then who is going to do the policing?

Here is direct quote from the first article:

I don't have any solutions, but I know this dumbness isn't what we need in Hive.

That is very convenient. Not for nothing, it is easy to point out the shortcomings of another (or a system), engage in name calling, and then offer nothing. We see it all the time on Hive.

So, once again, who is going to do the policing? Who will spend their days fighting spam and plagiarism? Is another team ready to step up and give it a shot? If that is the case, then let's fund them and see what happens.

Sadly, I have a feeling there is nobody ready to take on this role.

Perhaps Hivewatchers needs more people. If the single person is not cut out for it, maybe more should be involved. Now we harken back to the fact most will not lift a finger.

AI Generated Content

This was another point brought up that is worthy of a quick comment.

Here is what was stated:

And now Hivewatchers has to jump on band wagon and wield their barbaric monkey club at AI users. Look, I get it, in the surface, if you are emotional and not a very deep thinker, yes I agree that if I know that someone is using ChatGTP to write their posts for them, this is bad, and I would probably avoid upvoting this, possibly might flag it (or not).

And then:

So, Hivewatchers, enjoy your witch hunt few years until it's all over. All you will accomplish is temporarily scaring people away from a new technology, and looking like a stupid asshole. Congrats!

Here is what the Hivewatchers article said:

Any text created by AI should be treated as an outside source, which means it must be quoted, or print-screened. Basically, treat it like any other quote from any other source.

Please remember that Hive prides itself for original content; at least 50% of writing in the post must be original.

If your post does not fit these criteria, please decline the rewards.

When we step back from the ledge, this seems reasonable. As a policy, it is clear: cite when you use AI.

Here is where we have to distinguish reasonable versus will it work. This appears to be a sensible approach and one that makes sense. In the long run, will it work? That is entirely up to debate.

It might be that, as some point, we will be unable to distinguish at all between human and computer written. In fact, it is likely we will get there. However, we are not at this point now.

If someone is really interested in an AI generated community, create a layer 2 token and reward all the AI generate content you want. That is what second layer applications are for.

The Solution

So what is the solution to all this?

Basically, it all boils down to the end of small thinking on Hive. I get attacked at times for the numbers I toss out and vision that I have of the future. However, the reality is people are arguing over mouse turds.

Do you really think Hivewatchers will be an issue with 5 million daily active, social media users on Hive? Does anyone think the base layer will be the only one with value? What happens when some of the layer 2 tokens have market caps over $100 million?

Hence, the solution to many of Hive's problems is numbers. We get millions of people posting on a daily basis, the numbers simply get too large for any one person (or small group) to monitor. If each person is averaging 5 on-chain posts or comments, that is 25 million in a day.

Over course, that that point, like most social media platforms, there will be a ton of garbage posted. There is also a good chance much of it will be computer generated. And, yes, in the end, there will be spam and plagiarism.

With those numbers, however, not only will we see a change in the value of the base layer, this will extend to many communities at the second. Here is where we see the focus shift.

Hive is an immutable database. That is true whether the text is spam, AI generated, downvoted, or a total shitpost. Go to Hiveblocks and it is there.

Time will determine what gets posted on-chain based upon how valuable this digital real estate becomes. If it costs the equivalent of 100 HP to post a comment due to resource credit increases, then we will see that at the second layer.

That means only the most important stuff (to those posting) gets put on-chain.

In Conclusion

We must remember that Hive is a complex, organic system that is continually expanding. It sucks when people leave because of downvotes. However, over the years we saw more than a million accounts opened without activity. Thus, most left and it had nothing to do with downvotes.

Through all of this, we will prevail. Compare Hive to the way things were in 2017 and we see night and day. Continued effort is improving things. In the blockchain world, you can either be like Bitcoin which changes at the pace of an oil taker or Solana which updates every 3 minutes while breaking equally as often.

Hivewatchers, like most things in this industry, is a dilemma. We need to work on solutions, even if they are incremental.

Ideas are a starting point but, without people to implement them, it is nothing more than theory.

Bringing attention to these issues is how we move forward.

If you found this article informative, please give an upvote and rehive.

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