Concern and questions about ICON governance for ICON Foundation and community

iconsensus

#1

Hello Scott ( Benny Options ), just a few thoughts and questions for you as well as people at ICON Foundation. Originally I asked on Telegram, but Telegram is not suitable for long discussion, so I put them here as you suggested.

  1. What if 22 Preps do not represent for the whole community, including Preps that buy their way to top 22, and at the moment there is below 50% of ICX being staked ( voter’s apathy problem ). Is it centralization of power ?

  2. What is the point of “proof of contribution” anyway ?, if it is not the most important metric for reward allocation.

  3. What is the point of on-chain governance that ICON Foundation is promoting ?, given that there is absolutely ZERO on-chain rule. All I see is people talking about social off-chain consensus to deal with problems.

  4. In other POS chains, including Cosmos and Polkadot, block producers can buy the rights to produce block ( and get reward ), but that reward is NOT as huge as in ICON, it compensates only for running node and secure the network ( with a small profit ), NOT about CONTRIBUTION to the ecosystem. For contribution, they have another types of incentives, like Community/Developer Grants, etc…

  5. In conclusion, if the duty of PReps is only about producing block and securing network, it is fine to buy token and run node without any contribution at all. In that case, reward amount must be also reasonable and not so huge. BUT in ICON, the supposed duty of PReps is not only running node, it also include contributing to the network ( hence the huge reward ). If we do not address this problem properly, there will be more and more PReps that join the game to leech money from ICON ecosystem becaus it is way too easy ( even small-medium whales can do that )

  6. Again, if you guys want to encourage people to contribute to ICON ecosystem, at least please provide a strong, clear, and fair rule, especially for open source contributors as they are really against centralization in all forms ( they don’t want to waste time on it )

  7. Finally, who is really the mastermind ( the true leader ) of ICON project ?, the one with strong arguments to answer and debate on these problems ? Without that person, a not-yet-decentralized project would be stagnant.

Thank you !


#2

Firstly, this should not be directed towards me or the ICON Foundation. This should be an open discussion about governance for all P-Reps/ICONists, as I am just one person and the ICON Foundation is just one P-Rep. All P-Reps and ICONists are encouraged to share their opinion on governance topics.

What if 22 Preps do not represent for the whole community, including Preps that buy their way to top 22, and at the moment there is below 50% of ICX being staked ( voter’s apathy problem ). Is it centralization of power ?

I don’t understand your question. All P-Reps will not all represent the whole community, that is the point of the vote. 1 ICX = 1 vote, so ICONists (ICX holders) vote on who they want to run the network. Every ICONist has the right to vote. An ICONist with more ICX has the right to more votes, this has always been the understanding.

“Is it centralization of power?” – what is “it” in your question? Personally, I think 22 P-Reps, in general, is too centralized. I’ll be looking into alternative governance/economic models to propose to fix the current misbalance of rewards amongst nodes and increase the decentralization of the ICON Network. All P-Reps have the opportunity to propose solutions.

What is the point of “proof of contribution” anyway ?, if it is not the most important metric for reward allocation.

I view Proof of Contribution, in regard to P-Rep voting, as the ethos of the ICON Republic, where ICON is trying to get ICX holders to understand the importance of voting for who they think will contribute the most. This has worked to an extent, as many people in chatrooms/twitter are currently expressing interest/opinions on ICON governance. Some people, however, just don’t care about the governance side of things and vote simply for rewards.

Additionally, a key part of DPoC is the Contribution Proposal System (EEPs/DBPs). I’m not going to flesh out this entire paper here, it’s available here.

“If it is not the most important metric for reward calculation” – I don’t understand why you are phrasing it this way, I know you think contribution is important, as do I. Also, what metric are you referring to? Contribution is a subjective thing, that’s why it’s up to each ICONist to vote for who they think will contribute the most. Many P-Reps have been stressing the importance of this since the beginning. Some people put in more effort to researching nodes than others, some people would rather just vote for themselves, some people vote simply for rewards.

What is the point of on-chain governance that ICON Foundation is promoting ?, given that there is absolutely ZERO on-chain rule. All I see is people talking about social off-chain consensus to deal with problems.

The point is to maximize transparency of voting/decision making, allocate funds in a decentralized way, and maximize participation in governance in an effort to gather the collective intelligence. There could even be other benefits that I have yet to realize, this is all quite new and exciting. I’d encourage you to read the Contribution Proposal System paper if you have not already. When the Contribution Proposal System is live, the ICON Network will be the first (to my knowledge) to implement a completely on-chain system for token holders to directly participate in allocating block rewards to specific projects/initiatives. This is the vision I look forward to for DPoC.

I shouldn’t need to tell you the point of on-chain governance, ICONviet is currently ranked #10 as a P-Rep. Do some research. Look at the Contribution Proposal System, look at Decred’s Politeia, look into Aragon and form an opinion on the importance of on-chain governance. There are many resources that the ICX Station team has researched that get us excited about on-chain/decentralized governance.

There are on-chain rules, you are incorrect. Here are a few examples:

P-Rep Disqualification Proposal: If 15/22 P-Reps and greater than 66% of the stake-weighted vote decide to DQ a P-Rep, then the P-Rep will be DQ’ed. This entire process will be on-chain

Step Price Proposal: If 15/22 P-Reps and greater than 66% of the stake-weighted vote decide to increase/decrease transaction fees, then the network will change transaction fees. This entire process will be on-chain

i_rep adjustments: All votes for changes to i_rep are done on-chain and are completely transparent. The final calculation of i_rep is done on-chain and is transparent.

In other POS chains, including Cosmos and Polkadot, block producers can buy the rights to produce block ( and get reward ), but that reward is NOT as huge as in ICON, it compensates only for running node and secure the network ( with a small profit ), NOT about CONTRIBUTION to the ecosystem. For contribution, they have another types of incentives, like Community/Developer Grants, etc…

My thought on this is to both lower P-Rep rewards and/or P-Reps with excess funds can use those funds to support those that they feel are contributing but are not being supported by other token holders. P-Reps are ICONists as well, so if you want to use your ICX to reward somebody for a contribution, then do it.

I also disagree that all nodes on other networks don’t contribute to the growth of their respective ecosystem. I provided a few examples below that I found doing very minimal research.

Blog of #1 ARK delegate on with some posts about their contributions

Block Explorer created by Forbole, a Cosmos Validator

Tools for EOS built by EOS Canada

In conclusion, if the duty of PReps is only about producing block and securing network, it is fine to buy token and run node without any contribution at all. In that case, reward amount must be also reasonable and not so huge. BUT in ICON, the supposed duty of PReps is not only running node, it also include contributing to the network ( hence the huge reward ). If we do not address this problem properly, there will be more and more PReps that join the game to leech money from ICON ecosystem becaus it is way too easy ( even small-medium whales can do that )

I agree that rewards are too high for many nodes and would like to find a solution for this. This is the early stages of decentralization, and as problems arise, I hope to work together to find solutions.

Again, if you guys want to encourage people to contribute to ICON ecosystem, at least please provide a strong, clear, and fair rule, especially for open source contributors as they are really against centralization in all forms ( they don’t want to waste time on it )

This is not the job of ICX Station, me, or the ICON Foundation. This is the job of P-Reps, collectively, to create clear rules/best practices and push for a more decentralized network. ICON has come out with the ICONstitution and a Governance Paper. Both of which are being fleshed out a little bit more and will be released in the coming weeks with a few updates.

Finally, who is really the mastermind ( the true leader ) of ICON project ?, the one with strong arguments to answer and debate on these problems ? Without that person, a not-yet-decentralized project would be stagnant.

There is no single mastermind at ICON. I disagree with your assertion that a mastermind is essential to the success of ICON. Min Kim and the Council Members are ultimate decision makers, but many people contribute to the vision of the ICON Project.


#3

Okay, thank for your answers. But ICON network is not decentralized yet, it is still their duty to make thing right you know. ICON Foundation is the one designed this game.
I agree that community should care also.

Now let’s move through your points.

I don’t understand your question. All P-Reps will not all represent the whole community, that is the point of the vote. 1 ICX = 1 vote, so ICONists (ICX holders) vote on who they want to run the network. Every ICONist has the right to vote. An ICONist with more ICX has the right to more votes, this has always been the understanding.

As I know, PReps are the ones decide on-chain proposals ( things like i_rep adjustments, etc…), therefore the decisive power is totally in their hand. And that power can be delegated, so PReps must represent the whole community right ?, at least majority of community.
In perfect scenario where all ICONists stake and vote, it may work as PReps cannot buy all ICX anyway. But with ICON, at this moment, there is only 30% ICX in circulating staked and voted. If some PReps are rich enough ( not so rich ), they can easily take over that power by buying their PRep positions and control top 22.
You cannot just expect/hope the network to be staked at over 70%, what if never ?

“Is it centralization of power?” – what is “it” in your question? Personally, I think 22 P-Reps, in general, is too centralized. I’ll be looking into alternative governance/economic models to propose to fix the current misbalance of rewards amongst nodes and increase the decentralization of the ICON Network. All P-Reps have the opportunity to propose solutions.

It is centralization of power in hand of Preps that hold a large amount of ICX. ICON voting rule is too naive and it does not take much effort to secure top 22.

I view Proof of Contribution, in regard to P-Rep voting, as the ethos of the ICON Republic, where ICON is trying to get ICX holders to understand the importance of voting for who they think will contribute the most. This has worked to an extent, as many people in chatrooms/twitter are currently expressing interest/opinions on ICON governance. Some people, however, just don’t care about the governance side of things and vote simply for rewards.

If so, we cannot call that “proof of contribution” when there is a lot of people do not care about contribution at all, what is the “proof” here ? Proof means strict rule and it must be coded into the system. We cannot just use it as a concept, an idea, or ethos, and expect things will work like that.

Additionally, a key part of DPoC is the Contribution Proposal System (EEPs/DBPs). I’m not going to flesh out this entire paper here, it’s available here.

“If it is not the most important metric for reward calculation” – I don’t understand why you are phrasing it this way, I know you think contribution is important, as do I. Also, what metric are you referring to? Contribution is a subjective thing, that’s why it’s up to each ICONist to vote for who they think will contribute the most. Many P-Reps have been stressing the importance of this since the beginning. Some people put in more effort to researching nodes than others, some people would rather just vote for themselves, some people vote simply for rewards.

I am just talking about the proof of contribution part in the role of PReps. If PReps do not need community-votes at all ( by buying ICX and get to top 22 ), the idea of contribution is pointless you know. It may work if all ICX are staked and overweight self-vote Preps, but what if it does not ? ICON network could be taken easily. It is exactly what happened to EOS.

And for your mention of EEP/DBP, if those proposal are still voted by exactly the same rule as PReps election, nothing change at all. After a quick look at the paper, I think it is still just token-weighted voting again.
Anyone with a lot of ICX can easily vote for their own proposals, unless all ICONists stake and vote. But I don’t think all ICONists will stake at all. It is just on theory. Let’s be real here please.
That said, Contribution Proposal Paper is still subjective to be improved, right ?

I shouldn’t need to tell you the point of on-chain governance, ICONviet is currently ranked #10 as a P-Rep. Do some research. Look at the Contribution Proposal System, look at Decred’s Politeia, look into Aragon and form an opinion on the importance of on-chain governance. There are many resources that the ICX Station team has researched that get us excited about on-chain/decentralized governance.

There are on-chain rules, you are incorrect. Here are a few examples:

It is my fault at exaggerating there is ZERO on-chain rules. Sorry for that. My point is at this moment, that system is not live yet, so all these discussions must be done off-chain, on this forum.
And by the way, I know what on-chain governance is, I were just wondering how it is implemented in ICON network.

My thought on this is to both lower P-Rep rewards and/or P-Reps with excess funds can use those funds to support those that they feel are contributing but are not being supported by other token holders. P-Reps are ICONists as well, so if you want to use your ICX to reward somebody for a contribution, then do it.

It could work, or not at all. What if majority of PReps do not want to do that ?, or what if majority of Preps are controlled by the same entity and it does not want to do that ? Again, potential risk of centralization and bad actors. Also please don’t say that community will kick them out, it only happen if nearly ALL ICONists stake their ICX and vote.

I also disagree that all nodes on other networks don’t contribute to the growth of their respective ecosystem. I provided a few examples below that I found doing very minimal research.

They do not contribute because of the proof of contribution they must do, they contribute just because they love the project and can be benefited from that ( potential more votes from supporters, but it is not the ultimate goal )

This is not the job of ICX Station, me, or the ICON Foundation. This is the job of P-Reps, collectively, to create clear rules/best practices and push for a more decentralized network. ICON has come out with the ICONstitution and a Governance Paper. Both of which are being fleshed out a little bit more and will be released in the coming weeks with a few updates.

Sorry, I do not aim to neither you nor ICX Station. It is ICON Foundation, they are the one started all of this. It is very important to kick start the interest of community and open source dev teams. Without it, it will be very hard for community to build project together.

There is no single mastermind at ICON. I disagree with your assertion that a mastermind is essential to the success of ICON. Min Kim and the Council Members are ultimate decision makers, but many people contribute to the vision of the ICON Project.

Okay, you can disagree on this. But please don’t forget the fact that all other successful projects out there, they ALL have great leaders :slight_smile: ( include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tron, EOS, Binance…)

Conclusion
TL;DR
If PPeps just need to buy ICX and secure top 22 without any contribution, and total amount of staked ICX is low, ICON network will be at risk of power-centralization in small groups of whales/PReps. The first thing we need is a better voting mechanism.

Anyway, I really appreciate your time and effort to give the reply, I hope we can make it all better.

Thank you.


#4

If 15/22 P-Reps and greater than 66% of the stake-weighted vote decide to DQ a P-Rep

Is it 15 or 16? 2/3 + 1 from 22 is ~ 15.66 which I’d round up to 16.

I’ll be looking into alternative governance/economic models to propose to fix the current misbalance of rewards amongst nodes and increase the decentralization of the ICON Network.

Can you give us a hint which direction/materials/blockchains are you looking to explore?

This is the early stages of decentralization, and as problems arise, I hope to work together to find solutions.

Nothing is perfect right from the beginning, I agree. However, I am uncertain that top few P-Reps would support any solution resulting in them losing power/income.


#5

I don’t think it can be a significant change in consensus algorithm as such change probably require a new development of the whole client implementation ( node software )

Maybe some improvement in voting rule or scoring system.


#6

Is it 15 or 16? 2/3 + 1 from 22 is ~ 15.66 which I’d round up to 16.

The number is 15, because the way it actually works, I have learned, is that to accomplish BFT you need 3f + 1 nodes and 2f + 1 honest nodes. So we have 3f + 1 = 22, so f = 7. So for honest nodes, we require 2(7) + 1 = 15.

Can you give us a hint which direction/materials/blockchains are you looking to explore?

In terms of achieving a more decentralized network, I have been looking into a Tezos style system. I am trying to think of ways that we can accomplish something similar without such a major overhaul to our Core. A good first step is increasing the number of Main P-Reps.

Nothing is perfect right from the beginning, I agree. However, I am uncertain that top few P-Reps would support any solution resulting in them losing power/income.

Honestly I am not that concerned about this. We are fortunate that currently many of the top P-Reps are teams that have the best interest of the network in mind.


#7

It is good to increase number of main PReps, however will it affect block time ? Without change in the consensus core, increment in number of block producers requires more time for nodes to come to a consensus, it leads to longer block time, ultimately affect TPS negatively.


#8

I see what you mean about block time, that would make sense. Ultimately I would like a consensus mechanism that can psuedo-randomly select 22 P-Reps every 43,120 blocks (representative term) to produce blocks. This would obviously involve more core development. I think a good short term solution, given that scalability is not currently a large issue on ICON, would be to increase the number of Main P-Reps.


#9

Not exactly depends on how much increase we made. We will definitely lost 2 sec block time if we jump to 44 from 22 but slight adjustments can be tolerated.