Before the HF21 there was a lot of complaints already beforehand how the rich are getting richer and the little guy is stripped even from the little he/she is getting. The reason people thought this way, was because they looked at the reward changes and assumed behavior will remain static, without a holistic view on the changes.
"People won't change their behavior."
Yet what I saw just minutes after the Hard Fork was several major stake holders getting their hands dirty in Trending with downvoting posts that were pumped with bid bots to an unproportionally high rewards relative to the quality.
Who would've known what a drastic action 2.5 free flags would start?
Even Steemit is rolling with the #newsteem and while the change wasn't just an overnight shift, but due to a long process and shift in culture in anticipation of the Hard Fork which was just the spark to set the fire ablaze, I gotta say that Steem definitely feels like a new fresh Steem with much more dynamic.
We need more time to see where things stabilize, but we are off to a good start: there's some actual content in Trending. Of course there will be abuse and some flagwars too, I assume, but I think those who are abusing the free flags would've gone down the trollhall anyway. To give them couple more free flag is unfortunate, but you can't have it all in a fair decentralized system. However, trolls and abusers are few and between and with most people using their flags appropriately, I believe the result will be net positive. There's always going to be few malicious actors if there are no consequences for actions, so to have tools to fight abuse is necessary even if not always fun to do – and aligning that with individual goals, like was done with the separate downvote pool that will not have an effect on upvotes therefore with no direct consequences on user's curation returns.
It's somewhat funny to read comments just two days ago where people were overly dramatic how bid bot use will increase in order to reach the 20 STEEM payout treshold to get above the convergent curve, small users will be fucked yada yada... But again, this was with the assumption that behavior will stay the same – it didn't.
Now when there are real consequences to abusing bid bots – the possibility of losing money instead of having guaranteed return regardless of quality – it makes users much more careful. Unless they've been living under a rock, in which case they might get burned.
Pain is a great teacher.
This also affects the bid bots who might be forced to actually start moderating their votes, because if they are making less on curation, the delegators will get less return and they might start to reconsider their investment strategy when return isn't guaranteed anymore. Bid bots might not go out of business, but what I imagine happening is that they will start to be much more careful with the content they're votes will be landing on. Well, if they want to keep their delegators happy, that is. If they don't care about the content, they will drive delegators away, if they start to care about the content, it means that bids will land on quality content. Either way, it seems that more value will be landing on quality content either by bid bots being more careful or from people downvoting the bidded post rewards which will return back to the pool. This is a key point to understand, because it means that the more posts are downvoted, the more other users rewards will increase. Taking away from a single user(s), and spreading it out to many.
We can't know for sure what's ahead of us, Hard Forks being a very good example of that. How many have kept track of their predictions and the actual outcome? Even though the same data and knowledge is out there for all of us, we can arrive to different conclusions. While others see the accelerating speed as doom and inevitable fall, others see it as a launch into a controlled flight. Are we trained or born to see in a particular way or not, I don't know, but for myself I try not come to any strong conclusions beforehand – I'd rather wait and see how things turn out first before going up in arms to the streets so angry that I forget to put my underwear on.
And that's definitely something I'd rather not get blockchained.