A Puff of Steem: Security Analysis of Decentralized Content Curation

Authors Aggelos Kiayias, Benjamin Livshits, Andrés Monteoliva Mosteiro, Orfeas Stefanos Thyfronitis Litos

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Author Details

Aggelos Kiayias
  • University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • IOHK, Hong Kong
Benjamin Livshits
  • Imperial College of London, United Kingdom
  • Brave Software, United Kingdom
Andrés Monteoliva Mosteiro
  • University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Clearmatics, London, United Kingdom
Orfeas Stefanos Thyfronitis Litos
  • University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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Aggelos Kiayias, Benjamin Livshits, Andrés Monteoliva Mosteiro, and Orfeas Stefanos Thyfronitis Litos. A Puff of Steem: Security Analysis of Decentralized Content Curation. In International Conference on Blockchain Economics, Security and Protocols (Tokenomics 2019). Open Access Series in Informatics (OASIcs), Volume 71, pp. 3:1-3:21, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2020)


Decentralized content curation is the process through which uploaded posts are ranked and filtered based exclusively on users' feedback. Platforms such as the blockchain-based Steemit employ this type of curation while providing monetary incentives to promote the visibility of high quality posts according to the perception of the participants. Despite the wide adoption of the platform very little is known regarding its performance and resilience characteristics. In this work, we provide a formal model for decentralized content curation that identifies salient complexity and game-theoretic measures of performance and resilience to selfish participants. Armed with our model, we provide a first analysis of Steemit identifying the conditions under which the system can be expected to correctly converge to curation while we demonstrate its susceptibility to selfish participant behaviour. We validate our theoretical results with system simulations in various scenarios.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Security and privacy → Distributed systems security
  • blockchain
  • content curation
  • decentralized
  • voting


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