Witnesses are the governance of the Steem blockchain.
All decisions about the Steem blockchain, its mechanics, its future and for example how the rewards function are made by the Top 20 witnesses.
If tomorrow the SBD is truly pegged, that’s a decision only the witnesses can make.
If rewards are changed to 50% for creator and 50% for curators, that’s a decision only the witnesses can make.
The same applies to HardForks. The upcoming hardfork is not the decision of Steemit Inc, they prepared and released the code (in collaboration with witnesses, stakeholders, and community developers). But the acceptance of the HF is done by witnesses. If less than 2/3+1 witness deploy the HF on their server the HF is rejected. HardForks require super majority (2/3 + 1 vote).
The Steem community is a community owned and operated blockchain but the witnesses are its government.
Withnesses are one of the most valuable members of the Steem community, without whom the Steem blockchain wouldn't function. They are expected to run a block-producing Steem node running 24/7/365 and provide a correct ongoing price feed of the value of STEEM in US dollars, set the mininum Steem Power deposit to create an account, set the APR% for the Steem Dollar interest rate and many other things.
It's of crucial importance that you:
Because only if all, or at least most Steem users have handed out their withness votes can we assure that our top withnesses really are really the most trustworthy and valuble members of the community which have nothing other than the success of the Steem blockchain on their mind.
If you don't excercise your right to choose a withness, some that don't deserve to be ranking high on the withness list might get there.This is very important as the top Steem withnesses make a huge amount of money and we wouldn't want to have someone that doesn't have the best interests of our community to be raking in so many rewards. Wouldn't we?