Warning: Steem witnesses executed a hard fork on 2020-05-20, seizing 23.6M STEEM from 65 accounts. The funds were transferred to an account named @community321, the ownership (and intentions) of which have not been revealed. The witnesses claim to have been targeting accounts which defended against a hostile takeover in early March, but at least 2 accounts on the list have been inactive for over 4 years.
Hi, may I add a few things. The so-called bidbots emerged when vote-buying was largely done manually; once it became automated it hit the obvious problem of the voting account running out of VP. So bidbots are one way to distribute a limited resource, the voting-account's upvote value, among more than one vote-buyer.
Why this even works is due to the mathematics embedded within the Steem blockchain. If user A transfers some STEEM to user B and then B upvotes A, then it is possible that both A and B profit from the dual transaction. Any two people can do the calculations and profit from this.
It is not "cheating the system" because it is encoded in the system and, from what I can see, nobody has the stomach to change the algorithm. One may have moral qualms, but the blockchain has no moral functions or commands. I'm not even being flippant here, the Steem blockchain has a built-in economic model that allows content-less profits. Steemit the website just uses the Steem model as is. What a website like SteemHunt has done, and to some extent SteemSTEM, is to add the social aspects of their social websites by having human curators and their own tokens with a different model to the underlying Steem blockchain. I am surprised we have not seen more take this route - perhaps we will with tools like SCOT and some well designed new tokens.
Like you, this got long :-)
When I read the SMT whitepaper (which SCOT also is using as their design specifications document - although as a layer 2 sidechain instead of at protocol level, obviously) a year ago, I had a lot of thoughts about how SBI could transition into an SMT and help build a different economic model. The pieces aren't all in place yet and we will have to evaluate and make the right decisions once they are, but that possibility is still there.
When I read that SMT paper the things I didn't like were the limited choices of upvote-curve and curation-curve. My understanding of SCOT is that those limitations are no longer there. On the one hand, one needs to keep the current Steem model but it also means that one's token could have a completely different model. Needs some serious dev tho!