Open Standard for a HIVE Account Referral System

in #hivelast year


In this post, I would like to cover a proposal for an open standard for a HIVE account referral system which was designed in a team of very experienced developer and entrepreneurs.

Member of the working group: @cardboard, @asgarth, @jarvie, @sisygoboom, @roomservice

The goal of this open standard is to achieve higher growth for the HIVE ecosystem and addresses different problems which aren't solved yet when it comes to account creation.


The intrinsic value of a blockchain like HIVE is determined by the market. One important factor for this valuation is the user-base. A higher demand on HIVE will lead to a higher market prices for it's cryptocurrency. On the flip-side HIVE comes with a inflation of cryptocurrency with different mechanisms like proof-of-brain author rewards, the HIVE proposal system or rewards for witnesses.

A key successor for HIVE:
Grow it's user-base and increase demand on it's cryptocurrency in a higher rate then inflation happens. If this cannot be achieved, it will ultimately lead to a loss of value for all stakeholders.

This Open Standard for a HIVE Account Referral System is trying to address this issue and will rise or fall with adaption in the HIVE ecosystem.

Current Situation

Let's take a look on the current situation and community efforts when it comes to grow the user-base.

Incentives to bring people to HIVE

People who care about on-boarding new user, act in good faith and for the greater good of the platform eventually get rewarded by up-votes when posting on his/her efforts. Funding requests for proposals which would support on-boarding did not receive nearly enough stakeholder support in the past.

Lack of Resource Credits

From my experiences I made with @hiveonboard a lot of issues in the process of account creation could be fixed (like scalability, funding resource credits, user-friendliness) but there is still a major problem yet to be solved. Take a look what an account with zero HIVE POWER can do:

  • 44 votes
  • 17 transfers

We want to get new people engaged into HIVE and when they like what they see - there is a good chance that those user get investors which lead to an increased demand of our cryptocurrency.

It's pretty much obvious that 2 comments won't be enough to achieve a good starter experience.

Let's face it: New accounts require a small delegation of HIVE POWER

From my point of view, it won't make much sense to loose those people a few hours after on-boarding because they can't broadcast any transaction. They wan't to try out the Web 3.0 and experience the future of social media - but in most cases they aren't ready for an investment at this stage. Let's convince them!

HIVE Account Referral System

Involved Entities on Account Creation

When a new user join the HIVE ecosystem there are usually up to three entities involved:

  • The referrer who brought the new user to HIVE
  • The creator who funded the account creation operation
  • The provider who provided a software solution to make it happen

These entities are important roles which will be used in the details of this open standard. It's also important to mention that it is totally possible that not all of these entities have to be involved.

Creating Incentives


Entities involved in on-boarding new user will be suggested as default beneficiaries, when a post is created on a HIVE interface, which wants to support this open standard. Bringing in new user on HIVE could be rewarded, when the new user starts using dApps, brings in value and receives up-votes. This way, on-boarding new user, will come with a long term motivation and will lead to growth of the platform.

The referrer should be motivated to care about the new user, help him to get started and consider sending out a small delegation to provide enough resource credits for a nice starting experience.

The referred user on the other hand will be glad, somebody takes care of him, so there is a good chance that there is an agreement on the beneficiary default settings. If the new user doesn't agree, he will always be able to adjust or remove this setting at any time but there is also a risk that this will come with the lost of the support from the referrer (which could be help or delegation for example).


In order to create incentives for all entities described above, a meta-information is passed in the act of account creation into the json_metadata of the new account. Since all account creation operation of HIVE support an optional json_metadata parameter, this can be done on-chain and no off-chain solution is required in order to store this information.


   "beneficiaries": [

Properties for each entity:

  • name: valid HIVE account name
  • weight: suggested fee percentage (100 means 1%)
  • label: label of the entity (referrer, creator, provider)

Mandatory rules:

  • Put at least one entity into the beneficiaries array
  • Only the property keys described above may be used, the values are variable

Since the information is an array of objects, it's not a requirement to use all three entities:

  • Let's assume you are running a account creation service for a fee of 3 HIVE - in this case it would make sense to to leave out the creator entity since the user has funded the account on his own.
  • Let's assume you create an account on a blockchain level without any frontend support - in this case it would make sense to leave out the provider entity since no other software was required.

Ability to change those values:

  • The owner of the account created can always change or remove this meta-information with his key.
  • The beneficiaries array could also be used to persist beneficiary settings across all HIVE dApps

Let's talk about Abuse

Bad Actor is creating multiple referred accounts

Since no posting rewards are created or given out on top of the existing HIVE rewards mechanics, bad actors won't have any incentives to create multiple referred accounts and make use of the system. They could try to abuse the beneficiary system and disguise their activity with multiple referred accounts, but that's an issue, which HIVE has already to handle since the beneficiaries system was introduced.

Bad Actor is creating accounts with inappropriate fees

As already mentioned before, the beneficiaries meta-data on account creation is a suggestion to HIVE dApps. In the guidelines for dApps (next chapter) there is a recommendation that fees could always be hard-capped or removed entirely if inappropriate.

Even if that's not handled on a front-end-side, this will have consequences:

  • The account creation service will quickly loose trust and it's user-base
  • Referred user, will remove the beneficiaries meta-data from their account

So the risk vs. rewards ratio for this attack scenario is pretty low and there are counter-measures in place.

Guidelines for dApps

The whole system will rise or fall with dApp support. The more dApps will adapt this system, the better for the whole HIVE ecosystem. Here are a few guidelines for dApps.

  • Use the beneficiaries information whenever a user creates a post.
  • Allow the user to change/remove beneficiaries settings on each post or account-wide.
  • Consider hard capping suggested fees on a limit or remove it entirely when it's feels inappropriate.
  • Consider a notification for the referred user, recommending removing the beneficiaries from his json_metadata when you feel it is appropriate. For example if the referrer removes his initial delegation support, after a period of time and/or the referred user reached a cap of posting rewards.
  • Create an interface where referrer can keep track of referred accounts, it's activity and available rc.
  • If you offer account creation, create an interface where user can create a referral link.
  • If you offer account creation, validate the referrer information and make sure it's a valid account.
  • If you offer account creation, include information about those entities and fees into your TOS.

Feel free to add suggestions yourself, it's just a starting point.

Let's work together and make it happen

If you think a referral system like this could help the HIVE ecosystem to grow, reach out to your favorite dApp and ask for integration.

Since this post should stay as neutral as possible when it comes to dApps, I'd love to see statements from dApp developers if and maybe how they are going to use this open standard on their platform.

Regarding this topic a lot of stuff has happened on @hiveonboard behind the scenes in the last few weeks and all of it will be covered in an upcoming post. I've hard about dApps working behind the scenes as well.

Beneficiaries of this post are member of the working group mentioned in the first chapter.

This is @roomservice and when you like my work, I would be glad to be your witness: Vote here


Best post i've seen, i tried to vote on this post but nothing happened, how encouraging :(

Maybe your account haven't had enough resource credits.

Just delegated you a little HIVE POWER - should work better now 👍

Thank you so much, seems it's working now :)

have a !BEER

That's dope!

HIVE.D because the secret decoder ring thingy... ; )

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 10.50.50 AM.png

Forcing the setting is an option too, but in this draft we decided against it. Removing the json_metadata usually leads to a lost in support from the referrer (HP delegation for example).

So there is an incentive to keep it for starters.

From my point of view - HIVE should honor freedom over anything else.

Hivemind support would be great, I agree!

For now everyone could also use my public API for referral information.

You only see this from a hivers perspective. No newbie cares a lot about HP etc. The successful bloggers are the ones you really want to have under you, as they pay for your time and engagement for all inactive or low referrals. And the successful ones are the first to opt out of a free system. Leaving marketers with only 'junk'.

Yep, every Jedi padawan remembers his Jedi master after his training is completed. There is a deep connection. Sometimes human beings don't only make decisions on pure monetary facts.

Have faith in dApp devs - I'am pretty sure they will bring awesome stuff to create this connection.

the ones that would remove it ... are the successful ones !the ones worth referring.

i think it should just be made simple .

tie to account creation token 5% beneficiary for 3 months . chain level.

provider than can charge % of the 5 % for token listing and divide that with referrer. this doesn't have to be chain level.

Maybe the system isn't perfect - but it's a system which can implemented very quickly on HIVE frontends.

The crypto market moves very fast - so we have to adept or we will end up like Steemit Inc.

We can make experiences and use them to craft a perfect solution into the chain later.

i like it if nothing else it's good to track how successful a campaign can be. i will try something in coming days. but that's just me messing about:P

has any front end implemented it yet? is already fully supporting it - including an API where you or dApps can pull data from:

I'll cover all those features, implemented yet on the @hiveonboard blog in a later post.

Other dApps will follow (eventually) - but someone has to have move first.

would be interesting if the tipping works to onboard new users with @lightproject

lol you mean with hivetips ? :)

Good idea, but a time limit is kinda bad too. Who will be super successful in 3 months?

i think 3 months is fair you get something without hurting the end user. but that's something a single poll can sort out

Yes @hiveonboard!

This is really important as part of creating a solid and thriving community.

However, some very important limitations need to be built into such a referral system. TOP of the list is countermeasures against the inevitable referral spam which will lead to potentially millions of "dead" accounts.

I would suggest downplaying the reward end of a referral system completely, so that it is effectively only attractive to people who are making a long term commitment to Hive. What do I mean?

When you refer someone, you don't get squat till that person has (a) been a member for at least a month, AND (b) has created an introduceyourself post AND (c) has actually completed some minimal amount of community interaction, like commented five times and voted on 10+ pieces of content.

"Dead accounts" is a HUGE issue in referral systems and network marketing, so any kind of "short term gain" thinking should be taken OFF the table as much as possible so the only real beneficiaries are those who are serious about building long term community and bringing onboard potentially serious new members.

I think it would also be essential to "tie" new referrals to whomever referred them (not the dApps, the individuals) in order to facilitate encouragement of newbies.

Let's say someone creates an account because they saw a post I created on Facebook. If I am "tied" to that person, it would be easy for me to follow them, AND perhaps to give them a 25HP delegation for a month to encourage them to be active.

I don't come at this from the technical end, I come at it from loads of involvement in network/relationship marketing for 30-odd years.

Wow great feedback, much appreciated!

I understand your concerns about the "Dead accounts" issue.
The best countermeasure against it, from my point of view, is to don't give any incentives for just referring an account alone.

As written in this post, it's required that the referred user is going to use HIVE as it's intended and bring value to the platform: creating quality content. Since a quality post can generate thousand times much post rewards than multiple low quality post - I can't think of any scenario, where creating endless accounts would generate any referral rewards at all.

I would agree, if a referred user would receive some-kind of welcome reward - which would ultimately lead to the referral spam you pointed out.

Really cool that you mentioned the idea of "tie" a user to his referral. That's exactly what I have done with @hiveonboard (but not announced yet).

If a referred user has created an account, I'am sending out 2 memos: 1 for the referred person and 1 for the referrer in order to create a connection.

Just check out the 0.001 transactions seen in here:

This sounds like a great idea, I have no doubts that a referral system is exactly what some people need to introduce others to Hive, and more importantly, to help them grow. I have brought some of my friends here, but I reckon that sometimes one needs an incentive to teach them more than just the basics, and to help them reach a larger audience.

Dead accounts are a no issue. If you don't help people set foot, you simply earn nothing from them. I don't see the problem

Lovin it. I am a saxophonist musician and affiliate marketing is what helps me to gain more time to focus a bit more on my main passion. I have only been using Hive for a week now although I did have a couple of months using steemit 3 years back. I see a lot has changed but moving forward.. I would love to see some kind of backed incentive for bringing people to the hive platform. I'm going be shooting a few videos and targeting a few niches and when I fully understand everything a quick video start guide. it's quite a big learning curve and it's not very easy as a total newbie to get your head into it. If it feels complicated and you have to go digging for the info to much it doesn't encourage people to stay. I love the hive community and the potential we have here. Iv'e started to wave the banner over on twitter and i'm sure I will grab a few people with my music videos and invites from 3speak. Please comment if your involved in this project and I will definatly come and follow and team up and share some promo that i'm taking action on :)

Great work behind the scenes and thanks for the awesome transparency and movement towards HIVE innovation! Yeah, certainly seems a little more Hive Power for new accounts would help a whole lot!

This will greatly help in bringing people to Hive. Also can bring a lot of new engagement 'coz the person who will market Hive to others are within his/her inner social circle. Nice work!

woot, this is big. i remember how STEEM initialy had refs but then never did nothing with it. i wonder how many people i got there in early days

most people on this planet do not understand English, but HIVE has blocked the ability to translate pages

I want to bring in a lot of new users. Users who never heard of Bitcoin, leave alone Hive. But, 3 things cause the problem.

  1. Keys, Keys and Keys - A video demo needs to be made for the new users. All the referrers can benifit from that. If general public has to embrace Hive & web 3.0, the tech part needs to be made as simple as possible.

  2. Biased curators - It is a known fact & I mean it. Decentralization is good on paper, hard in practice.

  3. Gender bias - Girls get more upvotes, even when brand new. Everyone knows the reason. Instead of this, an automated bot should be there to delegate hive power to everyone and upvote an equal amount to everyone. This can start with people already onboard. A fixed amount of upvoting bot.

Decentralization will happen when the bias of curators is replaced by a bot tipping everyone equally. This will retain new users. This tip can be one time, but the impact will be long-lasting.

stupid question, but couldn't all this be simply fixed if we were able to delegate RC? Probably 90% of current users do not use RC, which means that there is more than enough for new users. We are just not using it.

I'm afraid that every referral programme will result in spamming.
I take your point it may result in influx of users and it's quite safe for them as they would be able to change post beneficiaries or this feature will dissappear in time or after numbers of actions.
But you have to bear in mind that all* of big and legitimate platforms allowing referral programmes are using only verified users - whales, not plankton. But the implementation of a privileged group would be hard and morally debatable in a decentralised community.

*OK not all platforms, but the big ones I know, like Alibaba.

I guess, they're doing so especially to exclude excessive spam, that IMHO can hurt the platform. Google doesn't like spammy sites.

The idea for dApps that have creation service to may allow users to automatically set the dApp as a beneficiary, may be as close to the referral programmes of big players, as possible.

Nice timing, just wrote down my thoughts on it here :)

Seems like our minds are connected 😀

Me párese muy buena idea ojala se materialice

Great initiative. I would like to see a conversation about onboarding entire communities.

For instance, I have a friend who organizes a Facebook group of nearly 1,000 users. I’m hoping to speak with him this week about how we can transition his group to Hive, after explaining the numerous benefits to be had by doing so.

I like the Onfocoin referrral system very much, Try it to earn 10 Onfocoin:
Click the following link: and sign up.
We could do both at the same time. :)

Let's make it happen!

excuse me..! I don't know if it will be me alone. but when I enter the hiveonboard page it appears blank. I mean, nothing comes out

Should work the whole time. Which link did you use?
Those both should work:

Hi. Thanks for responding, I used, but I already managed to connect through another team, thanks for your attention

This is the boat I'm in. Fortunately I signed up through 3Speak and they've delegated some HP to me. Someone also gifted me 0.001 Hive that I've now powered up... Not sure how I got it.

But their delegated HP expires 15 days after signing up. Busy until the end of the day tomorrow but then I have a few blog posts I'd like to submit before the HP expires.

I'd like to invite some more friends and encourage on boarding but the big obstacle is exactly what you outline. If you sign up for free(and have to wait a few days), you have very very limited actions you can take.

Thanks for your feedback! Send you a small delegation just in case :)

This is a wonderful idea. This will lead to excess motivation in the hive community. It will bring a lot of people to hive. Some people dont like to post but they are good with mobilizing people. This will give them a chance to get more people and so start earning passively.
Ofcourse there will be spammers and useless pepewhoople who will want to scam the system. There should be something like phone number verification or face verification...

This is a great idea. I hope to see it implemented

Totally in accordance with this proposal.

I think thisnis an interesting idea for dApps.
Thanks for sharing!

I really really do hope this get's as much attention that it needs to actually get implemented! I agree there needs to be incentive to actively try and recruit users to Hive!

Should make a place to remove it easily. Advanced users can do it with code, but I haven't found a site that lets me modify json_metadata for fields that aren't native to the site. I can do it, but a regular user won't be able to.

Also some UIs are using posting_json_metadata instead of json_metadata (because it requires a lower level posting key than active key), so you need to think about that.

Also, your witness shows up as disabled. LMK when its reenabled and I'll gladly vote for someone who's brought along a great onboarding solution to hive.

Great idea! I always thought there should be a proper referral system on Hive so that there can be incentives to get new people onboard.

A long time back, I did an initiative to delegate 50 Hive power to new users with the objective to attract new users. But yours is simply much better. Kudos!

You may have done a good job making the onboarding process attractive however the UI & UX still far from main stream social media platforms.

There's too much drama here and the Trending page doesn't appeal to the masses. Highly paid Hive-centric or dev-centric posts is giving negative impression to content creators: arts, lifestyle, fashion, & photo have the biggest followers in social media which is under appreciated in this platform.

I just hate to see good project like yours go to waste because of the unresolved core issues in this platform.

I hope you have the patience to maintain this project until the core issues are resolved.

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To support your work, I also upvoted your post!

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fantastic work! I look forward to the dApps adopting this. Thank you again for your work!

Good work @roomservice and team. Onboarding new users will be a major factor to the success of HIVE. Starting with this referral system will definitely generate new users.

Ok, How will this match with the Splinterlands referring system?
We rathere would bring the HIVE new users (their new accounts) through the game registration, and the second - to bring them to the social-media)

If Splinterlands devs support this open standard, this could work very well on top of their referral system.

All they have to do is, passing the custom_json object by, when an account is created.

If a Splinterlands player decides to get social on a HIVE interface, everything is set and Splinterlands create an extra income stream while they would act as a creator and provider.

Ok, we hope someone from your team will negotiate with the Splinterlands team)

Since it's an open standard - anyone can make use of it - without any permission.

I'am sure they will be interested - maybe not right now, since they HIVE migration will take their full attention.

This is good news for all.

How can I refer my friends? How much will I get for doing do?

Seems overly-complicated for every party involved.

We need this! I want moar tokens!

I really feel this is a great innovation, I had to read all being said from tart to finish and I must agree that's it's a good plan

This is necessary if you really want to spread out the name of Hive. Good idea!

This is a good idea, but when my friends come to hive, they don't know how to use the keys, and hive English plays a key role. Content in other languages ​​is often unable to get upvote. Some people get a good upvote for any content they have.

The referral proposal is one that this ecosystem lacks at the moment and it would bring motivation and a mechanism for those helping to grow the user base. A must have if you were to ask me if we want to expand into to wide world.

Congratulations @hiveonboard!
You raised your level and are now a Minnow!

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Good initiative

Very well, is workin? rigth now?