Demystifying HIVE: What are Witnesses?

in LeoFinance7 months ago (edited)

Demystifying HIVE is a series of bite-sized posts targeted to new Hivians and for people outside of the HIVE blockchain.

The purpose is to try and break down the many complexities of the HIVE blockchain, its acronyms, and the current facts and falsehoods associated with it.


I say ‘current’ because within 6 months some of the things I say may well no longer be relevant. It is an evolving experiment, and little remains static.

It's little wonder that the retention rate is abysmal given the huge learning curve a new person needs to endure.

Without some guidance, most give up quite soon deeming it bewildering and over-complicated.


Other article's in this series:
Demystifying HIVE: Expectations
Demystifying HIVE: The Police Force


Who and what are Witnesses?

When I first heard the word witness, I thought of ‘crime’, and then an old movie starring Harrison Ford about the Amish.

Neither are true and many newbies won’t know what the HIVE witnesses are. In a nutshell, these are the people who keep HIVE going, providing storage for your words, your images, providing communication between yourself and the infrastructure, writing HIVE dApps such as Splinterlands, dCity (Games), Peakd, 3Speak, etc…

The difference between a large centralised institution such as Facebook and HIVE is that these people are all independents and providing miscellaneous services to you, the content consumer or creator.

...'don't think of Harrison, these witnesses are far from the lands of the Amish'...

Think of them as MP’s (Ministers of Parliament) or Senators in the USA. You vote them in, or you don’t.

They will rarely come canvassing and knocking on your door begging for your vote, as that practice is mostly frowned upon, so if you don't even know about them, then that is perfectly excusable.

Instead of a single President, on HIVE we have a Top 100+, with the Top 20 Witnesses wielding the power to make changes to how HIVE works by majority vote.

You can vote for these witnesses and every one of you gets THIRTY votes.

Witness Vote.JPG

…'as a HIVE stakeholder you should use your votes, you don't even need to step outside as it can all be done using or'…

Do you play Splinterlands? The lead developer for this game is @yapabmatt who is currently loitering around at the number 10 slot. If you think Splinterlands is helping HIVE, then give him your vote.


He has some notes in there to say just that. He's also the creator of Keychain and Hive.engine, fundamental tools many of us use.

How about @blocktrades? This guy holds together HIVE and is the fundamental glue. Does he deserve your vote? He's currently sitting at the top of the tree.


@blocktrades has no notes to read but is probably the most important person we have on HIVE. He also runs a handy exchange here.

You might have heard about LEO Finance, and they also have a witness sitting at #34 in the Witness charts. As they are outside the Top 20 LEO Finance will not get any kind of say in the governance of changes.


Do you think they should be higher and are doing great things for HIVE? Then vote for them.

…' the three example I use are random ones, I am not here to provide favouritism or promote one witness over the next'…

Unlike when you vote Labour or Conservative (Democrat or Republican), not all votes are equal.

The bigger your HIVE stake, the more weight your vote casts.

Is this fair? Consider the scenario if all votes were equal. I can create HIVE accounts (which will be explained in a future blog), lots of them. If they were equal there would be more manipulations due to mass fake accounts being created and used to skew the voting.

…’ All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others – George Orwell’…

Does this mean that you as a new user yield a useless vote and should not bother?

No, as a stakeholder of ANY size you have the chance to propel or dislodge a Top 20 witness.


Use your votes and use them wisely. If you favour a project such as @curie (currently 24th on the list), then give them your witness vote.


How to vote with

Browse to :


Add a Tick to whichever witness you would like to support (far right column).


How to vote with

Browse to:

It's a little more spread out in its content format, and to vote there's a small red up arrow you need to check (left). voting.JPG

Don’t copy my witness votes. I have my reasons why I vote for some and not others. It’s all politics, make your own decisions.

...'you can use either or Both of them do the same thing, the user interface is a personal preference'...

Look outside the Top 20 and consider supporting some of these other witnesses. Besides having a say in changes, the Top 20 witnesses get a large stash of HIVE daily for just being there.

It drops off dramatically when are you are number 21 witness and beyond.

All of them have to provide hardware that is running 24/7 and it costs money, regardless of rank.


Notice that I support some outside the 20. Take time to look them up, and see what they are doing.

Some might seem to be doing nothing, so should they have your vote or be in the position they claim to be?

If you don't vote then don't start moaning about how HIVE works, or 'it's not fair'. You have your say much like everyone else, so get voting or become a witness yourself if you feel up to it.


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Drooling Maniac.JPG

If you found this article so invigorating that you are now a positively googly-eyed, drooling lunatic with dripping saliva or even if you liked it just a bit, then please upvote, comment, rehive, engage me or all of these things.

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Great post for newbies @slobberchops! Gonna check out the other 2 posts of this series, really enjoyed your writing style!

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Thank you, I try and make them at least a little entertaining as well as educational.

Each one has its weight and importance within the platform.

This is interesting since we can see the great weight and responsibility that voters have in choosing the correct witness so that the platform takes the platform on the right track and also provides us with tools that are useful for the development and evolution of both the community and the platform. .

It's up to us too vote and choose who you think is doing good things for HIVE. Votes can be chopped and changed later.

This is why choosing the correct witness is so important.

That movie is so awesome. Still one of my favorites to this very day. Very intense. Great job here breaking all of this down. I think it wasn't until I had been on the platform at least six months that I learned about witnesses and what they did. It was all so confusing to me back then.

It's one of the last things I learned about. I haven't seen Witness since the 80's. My mate fell asleep watching it, but I thought it was OK.

It isn't one of the blockbuster action flicks like they have today, but I felt it was good. Suspenseful and heartwarming all at the same time.

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This is so timely. I have been thinking about setting up a node and was wondering about the whole process. My main question is how much bandwidth do I need and how much will it consume? I'm currently mining Eth and was considering upgrading and trying to setup a hive node. Any idea on how much running a node requires and consumes?

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Not a question for me, sorry. I have never tried to configure a node and wouldn't know the first place to start.

I think more people need to check if the witnesses they voted for are still active. Some have stopped operating. We need votes to count. I support those I see doing good work for Hive. I easily use up all my votes, so I can have issues when a new good one crops up as I hate to drop any. I think most of the top ones can manage without my vote.

So many witnesses are keeping their rank due to a few votes which haven't been removed but the user hasn't been active on the platform.

Exactly. There has been talk about having expiring votes, but for the witnesses to approve that is like turkeys voting for Christmas/Thanksgiving ;)

I would love for that to be implemented as it would ensure that dead stake wouldn't be voting. I'll always push for it where I can and I hope that it is something that gets implemented into Hive in the near future.

Maybe witnesses could lose their positions if they are inactive. We should at least keep encouraging people to vote.

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I dropped a couple just a few days ago. People I have either never interacted with or I just didn't make a connection with (despite trying). I chatted with several at both SteemFests and some were more friendly than others.

Not everyone who is a geek can have a personality I suppose, but most were OK. I now have 2 free slots to use at will.

Having met a few at Steemfest has had some influence on my votes. It's good to get to know the person behind the name. I have had some ask me why I dropped them, so they do monitor the votes.

Leofinance certainly needs to be a consensus witness.

Every person Leofinance needs to give a vote to that one.

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I hope this gives Leo Finance a push. It's tough to get up in that 20, and there's been little changes to those names since I started here. Too many idle old votes in the system IMO.

Too many idle old votes in the system IMO

Without a doubt. Vote decay needs to be implemented. If not, it is going to be tough to breakthrough.

We will have to create a number of wealth centers so that a portion of what is generated can flow back into HP and help to get some new blood in there.

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Vote decay needs to be implemented.

The more it's discussed, the better chance it will happen. I would love to see the fallout from this.

I wonder how it will change the consensus witnesses. How many votes are they holding that are basically dead.

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We have both seen hundreds of accounts come and go, and don't forget the archives of accounts going back to 2016. Even @jerrybanfield is still clinging on to the 100 spot as of right now. There's lots, not lot's but shitloads.

Yeah without a doubt there is a lot of dead witness servers with MV voting for them.

However, is there enough still in there that will seriously change the top 20. I am sure there are a couple million MV, is that enough to bump a few out. I guess those on the fringe could seriously be affected.

Either way, it is time for vote decay to be implemented. I would like to see it happen over a year, where when a vote is placed, it is good for a year. If the vote is placed again 3 months from now, it is good for another year.

It spurs active voting.

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A great thing is that you can change your vote whenever. If a witness you are voting for supports something you would rather not, just unvote them. We aren't tied to the witnesses we have right now and should be voting for the witnesses who are pushing for Hive to be better.

Thanks for this tips in form of pills because it is very hard to understand some times, and this post give us an amazing short understand about this,
unfortunately a lot of people do not uses their voting power for select a great kind of wittnesses

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Voting power as well as voting for witnesses is something else I need to cover. There is so much wasted opportunity as people don't utilise it correctly.

This is very helpful, thanks for taking the time to put it together!

Does this mean you are gonna write again!?

I think so yes, though I make no promises about frequency. 😄

But, (dramatic pause) IT'S NOT FAIR!

It's a really important thing for everybody, all hands on Hive. It's a part and parcel of being active and engaged and it's not particularly hard. As you said, the hardest part is deciding who gets my vote and why.

Thanks for another great article in the series. It's really a dandy!

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Thanks, I seem to be spitting these out more and more. Is anyone else doing these besides me?

Not that I know of right now. I don't think I've seen a really usable series like this since that other place that hurts my mouth to say and my fingers to type...

Thanks for your nice post about witnesses @slobberchops 👍

For those who would be interested in who @blocktrades is, I suggest you read this fabulous post by Tim Copeland on : Steem vs Tron: The rebellion against a cryptocurrency empire

Little addition on the rules of witnesses, they're also in charge of providing an updated price feed to ensure that an exact amount is shown as a reward on your posts. Typically, they provide this feed every hour by posting it in the blockchain.

Another thing to consider when choosing a witness is the number of missed blocks (the number of failed attempts to write a block because the server didn't respond in time). For a high ranked witness, it's normal to have few of them (in the top 20, they write almost 1400 blocks/day) but not for the lowest, this may be a sign of an unsuitable (cheaper) server configuration/specification.

You can see these information on (from @arcange witness) or here (from @oflyhigh witness)

@mintrawa: Witness FR - Gen X - Geek 🤓 Gamer 🎮 traveler ⛩️
Don't miss the Hive Power UP Day! more info here

Very good explanation @slobberchops! All posts from Demystifying HIVE are worth every minute of reading. 👏 👌

Thanks for continuing to make Hive awesome.

pretty informative and with simple words for all the newbies as well as some old members!

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