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After asking around, I learned that Steem blockchain crushed due to an incompatible block when some witness nodes / block producers updated to version 20 of Steem the software.
This new version added the ability to upvote posts in the last 12 hours of a post payout. A user reportedly upvoted a post in that last period which resulted in an incompatible block. Steem witness neoxian said in the witness channel of Steem chat:
Someone flagged something at the last 12 hours, then seraph defended it with an upvote…and then boom, you have an incompatible block.
Another Steem witness, timcliff stated:
The consensus that was decided by the top witnesses is to rollback to 19.x *Everyone should switch to 19.6 / 19.12.*
– If you are running any nodes with 20, you will need to stop the node.
– The 20.0 block_log will not be compatible with the 19.x version.
He further said:
Basically the best thing to do right now is hang tight. There is a bug in V19 and V20, and the chain has stopped until a solution can be found. It is being worked on and a solution will be posted once it’s known.
In order to fix this, Steem witnesses will have to revert back to Steem version 19.6 / 19.12 and start the chain with a newly released version of Steem with current bugs fixed. Several witnesses / block producers said that Steem Inc is working on releasing a new fixed version.