Discussion about governance in ICON

Hello everyone. Today there was a very interesting conversation about governance between (mainly) Russ and Scott in the ICON Project Telegram channel.

Is importance for all of the P-Reps to learn, get involve and participate more actively in the governance of the network and this looked to me like a good conversation to point out to anyone to reference in the future or continue to expand on, so I decided to copy and paste it here (asking permission to the parties involved first)

I’m going to try and format it as best as I can as plain text and the screenshots would be provided as attachment.

Also, I’m currently on my phone, when I get home I’ll get on my computer to format it in a more pleasant way to read

@Russ (thelionshire) Ubik capital P-Rep

To make clear how Ubik stands:

  1. We support ICON removing self votes. Rationale:

A. ICON would remain #1 P-Rep and keep top power.

B. This would lower inflation by about 3M icx annually

C. Help decentralization

  1. We urge community members and ICON to speak up against reducing IISS stake times to provide incentive to those staking on exchanges.

A. Then there is no benefit to staking on exchanges

B. Encourages ICONists to remove icx into their own wallet and stake and vote

@Benny options

Where did u get that 3M ICX number? Can you provide the calculations? just curious

@Russ (thelionshire) Ubik capital P-Rep

Yep - 16,000,000 self votes for ICON x 18% inflation = 2,880,000

@Benny options

Did u factor in the amount that r_rep increases when they remove their votes?

I need to double check if r_rep is based on staked amount or voted amount

i would think it’s voted amount, but need to check

@Russ (thelionshire) Ubik capital P-Rep

Did not. I thought it was based on staked amount. May be mistaken though. That would change the equation. The amount would still be high I believe but it would lower some.

Our main concern with the high amount of self stake is decentralization though. The lower inflation is a silver lining.

@Benny options

Other networks, such as ZCash, have had 20% of all block rewards going to the founding team, Tezos has 26.4% of all block rewards. ICON at 16% in these early stages is not something I am concerned about tbh

@Tomas | blockmove icx P-Rep

Zcash had no ICO though.

@Russ (thelionshire) Ubik capital P-Rep

Is tezos staking those rewards and has a 26.4% say in governance? I think you’re mixing apples and oranges. ICON has over 200M icx which is about 40% of the circulating supply. I only had the concern of ICON having 16% of governance voting (double that of the second team, Which is also ICON).

In essence, ICON has presidential veto power over the network.

@William Mckenzie @RhizomeICX

Good point.

@Benny options

Text proposals are not for this purpose. @thelionshire we discussed this previously as well. It is also mentioned in the ICON Newsletter what text proposals were meant for. It’s not meant for cartels to create rules to then kick other teams out that don’t agree. It’s not meant for P-Reps to start becoming lawmakers/judges/jury. If you make a rule, who decides if it was broken? I highly disagree with attempting to replicate the US legal system on ICON, or anything close to it for that matter. Our efforts would be much better spent on creating products/projects, educating people, marketing ICON, etc.

@Russ (thelionshire) Ubik capital P-Rep

So how will contribution proposals be managed?

I never suggested kicking out teams that did not agree. I suggested making rules (which would need to be approved by 15/22 and 67% vote). Those rules would have accompanying consequences, as all rules do.

Then the rules would be approved by the governance process and enforced. There is no cartel kicking out people they don’t like. There is p-reps governing.

I don’t understand how Governance without rules will succeed. Just being honest.

@Benny options

Overall I want to take a step back and say conversations like this are better had on the forum, especially since we have already had this conversation on telegram once before, and are now having a similar one again. Having said that, I’ll address your last two points:

  • Fair point about ZCash if that is indeed the case, i didn’t know

  • Tezos has 26.4% of baking power and governance power, add up the 8 Foundation bakers ((((https://tzstats.com/cycle/207)

  • Sorry if I gave you the impression that I only have a problem with DQing. I am talking about creating laws and punishments and enforcing punishments. As we have discussed previously, you are misunderstanding blockchain governance. I’ll dig around to see if I can find my previous explanation

@Brandon unrein

I think we are getting away from how this conversation started. I am not as concerned now in early stages of the foundation having much more rewards and voting power. My concern is how we can stop a hostile takeover.

And I still believe there needs to be some basic rule structure. Nothing over complicated but some are necessary.

@Russ (thelionshire) Ubik capital P-Rep

I do agree that bureaucracy is not productive a lot of times but rules are necessary to achieve standards and success in any organization.

I’m not asking for a ton- just simple rules such as not bypassing IISS off-chain. Without something like this, exchanges or businesses can easily vote buy and take over.

@Benny options

Here is what I wrote previously.

[Forwarded from Benny Options]

That’s actually not the idea at all Russell. When me Bong Ricky and Changju wrote the IISS paper we did not envision p-reps acting as detectives, lawmakers, judges, and jury. We are not recreating the US government on ICON with P-Reps filling all the roles of the three branches of government.

You have completely misinterpreted to definition of “governance” in a blockchain, ICON’s blockchain specifically. Maybe this should have been made more clear in the yellow paper writings, maybe it was too high level and left too much room for interpretation.

Governance is to prevent forks and agree on protocol changes. Text proposals are for deciding on something in advance of development (like increasing block time or adjusting consensus mechanism), they are not for groups of p-reps to try to create laws and rules to punish other p-reps. P-rep DQ proposals are not punishments, but for exactly what we have already used them for - removing a faulty node that could not be removed for some unforeseen reason (lost pk) or to protect against some 51% attack.

Also, the best place to turn this into a constructive discussion that will actually lead to next steps and actions would be at forum.icon.community

@Russ (thelionshire) Ubik capital P-Rep

Yeah. Just expressing our position. Ubik things a system without rules is doomed to fail. I’ll have to agree to disagree on that.

Also, we cannot autonomously approve contribution proposals, or monitor their progress on a monthly basis. This will require rules and regulation as well. If we award a proposal for $100,000 for a month effort and nothing is done over the first 3 months, we will need to determine that and cancel any further payments.

@Fidel ~ Espanicon

Do you guys mind if I copy the exchange to publish it at the forum? I really think some very good points were raised. @thelionshire

@Benny options

sure no problem

I’d recommend including links from this newsletter on governance as well

@Russ (thelionshire) Ubik capital P-Rep

Go for it. That is a good place

To put the discussion.

Really the big thing is our position is that there needs to be some high level rules. I don’t think most organizations can be successful without any rules. Not a fan of a lot of rules or overburden of bureaucracy but there are some items that nearly everyone agrees with- such as no vote buying. Another that might be good would be you can’t bypass IISS features off chain. Maybe a few others.

I don’t think we are at the point of technology being able to run entire organizations without human intervention.

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Thank you for posting! A critical point and our position in this discussion is that we need some rules. It is generally agreed that vote buying is a bad thing and also that we should all play by the same rules set forward in the IISS system (regarding % earning and lockup period).

Without rules, there is cultural norms but no clear guidance on what is acceptable and what is not. We are in the early stages of decentralization and the system must have care to succeed. If exchanges or other businesses come in and vote buy / get rid of lock-up, they could take over the network. Without rules, we have nothing to point to other then just saying “well we all agreed not to do this but never made it a rule.”

I’m not asking for a lot of bureaucracy, but In my opinion we need some simple agreed upon rules to prevent potential chaos and maintain control of the network.

I don’t believe the technology yet exists such that a system can govern itself.


In terms of rule I believe that these would be actual on chain processes that can be used to discourage or avoid those scenarios you point out to possible occur.

What would be an example of one of those processes that can actually be implemented without it being a double-edged sword?

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For rules, I’d propose two simple ones: no vote buying and no off-chain bypassing IISS (IE if people stake on an exchange, they receive the same %, same lockup period, and also same opportunity to vote for any team).

I see this as a 3 step process of collaboration and voting on all 3 steps with P-Reps:

I think the first stage is figuring out what rules we should make and then we should figure out what the consequences are for breaking those rules. Lastly, we figure out how to enforce it.


The common point of failure for the most DPOS project is cartelization. ICON DPoC is an attempt to solve the failures of previous systems. We fully support the point that governance is not about P-Reps to start becoming lawmakers/judges/jury. If you make a rule, who decides if it was broken? One in the power that is gaining more power by enforcing his own rules?

As mentioned before we support full transparency, we would like to see big spenders show the community where is the money? Does this mean we are entitled to enforce the rule and disqualify everyone that doesn’t show the bills? No, it doesn’t. DPoC was designed to support proactive measures, not the punishment or witch hunting.

We are looking forward to read the new IISS3.0 measures as a step forward to the better system.


Thank for the answer and I agree but I believe that we are forgetting about another crucial point and that is 3rd parties taking control by self voting which I think is what is happening in Tron if I understand correctly.

Given that stopping self voting is not posible as far as I know, shouldn’t we create a way that incentivizes teams to vote and support other teams?


What is the vote buying? Isnt that potentially everyone that is hiding the money by doing the wash trades through the exchange accounts? Are you willing to take the risk of being disqualified for doing the same?

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@iCONsolidation thanks for participating and I appreciate your teams effort on putting up transparency above everything for the improvement of the project.

But is really hard to not see your opinions as some kind of vendetta against Ubik with the tone and types of comments you are bringing to these conversations.

I kindly ask that at least on this specific thread we stay on topic and leave aside any comments that might be seen as personal attacks.


Thank you for your feedback. This is merely a reply to the statement that certain exchanges are doing the vote-buying and disqualification rule needs to be set. As mentioned in the previous post, if you make a rule who decides if it was broken? Who draws a line what is the vote-buying and what is not? We have given a clear example why we do not support this type of governance that leads to cartelization.

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Very interesting to learn that “governance” in the blockchain is different. If ICON is truly DPoC, I hope there’s a way to objectively measure “contributions” since human error (tribalism, subjectivity, bias, or being bad at math etc) is unavoidable.

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Thanks for clarifying.

In regards to your questions, I believe that the idea is to create a process in which we all collectively decide if a rule was broken by way of votes and we all decide on where the line gets draw.

Clearly is a compromise in a way, but if we don’t, how can we make sure that big pockets won’t do whatever they please?

Should we really leave the governance to whomever has more money?

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In theory the way of measuring contribution would account all of those individual biases by way of vote, the goal is to have a great amount of indivuals voting instead of a few with big pockets, that way the bigger the sample the least those bias would play out in the governance.

At least that’s how I see it.

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By enforcing the rules arent we doing the same? Giving the big pockets power to do whatever they want?

The thing we need to do is to help the network grow and mature. If the staked amount is like 70%, nobody would talk about this.

Really good discussion here everybody - just one bit of constructive feedback for everybody that is involved. Please try to limit the amount of rhetorical questions - they result in a less constructive discussion and less clear/less direct viewpoints from everybody involved. We end up answering questions with more questions and it can become frustrating for those involved.

As a couple quick examples (just examples, not trying to pick you guys out, you just happen to be in here first)

@espanicon - instead of “Should we really leave governance to whomever has more money?” try something like “I believe we should not leave governance to those that have more money than others”

@iCONsolidation - “By enforcing rules arent we doing the same?” - try something like “I believe by allowing the most powerful teams to make and enforce rules, we are doing the same thing”.

Hopefully as we do this more and more often the conversations can be more constructive and efficient. I am guilty of this as well, but I find it helpful when people point these things out to me. Thanks again to everybody that participates in these types of discussions.


Thanks for the feedback :+1:

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I need to pause you right there and correct you, because some of the things you are saying are incorrect.

  1. I said P-Reps should make rules and consequences for them. P-Reps should follow a 3-step process: make rules, determine the consequences, and then enforce. You are incorrectly assuming the consequence before even making the rules.

  2. We would need to determine the definition of vote buying as part of making rules. The are some clear areas for vote buying and gray areas. Our team Ubik Capital is above board in every area, one of the top contributors to the ecosystem, and have earned all of our votes. Thus, there is no risk of us having ‘consequences’ for vote buying as we don’t engage in that behavior, or anything close.

Not sure of the relevance of the rest of what you said…

The P-Reps would first determine a few major areas (not talking a lot of rules or becoming the US Law system - just a few rules to maintain the system).

Once rules are agreed upon, the P-Reps would then write clear and encompassing boundaries of the rules. Then, the P-Reps would determine the consequences for breaking the rule. At that point, it would be very clear what to do if a rule is broken.

Again, these would need to be decided upon by the P-Rep body. Since there are no rules right now, there is no inappropriate behavior - just accepted and frowned upon cultural norms.

Of course the alternative is to leave it to the ICONists to decide fully - and this is a good thing for Democracy, but at the same time ICONists elected P-Reps to Govern.

I believe we need to at least consider adding some rules to have proper Governance, one of the main responsibilities of a P-Rep:

From the Yellow Paper:

" Article 6 (Duty of a Representative)

Each representative shall perform the following duties in good faith for the ICON network.

a. Duty to manage the ICON Network.
b. Duty to participate in the governance of the ICON Network.
c. Duty to protect the ICON Network.
d. Duty to nurture ICON Network."


This was not the purpose of governance…

The purpose of governance is to run a clean node for Icon…

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This is an important foundational fact.


I don’t see how this is relevant to the conversation, but I’ll oblige.

We changed this policy well before decentralization and announced this change very frequently on all social media channels. We lost a few votes but not a lot as most of our voters are loyal supporters of our team and contributions.

You said we don’t need more rules, but we literally have no rules right now. I don’t think we need a lot of rules but a guideline and a few general agreed upon rules would be beneficial imo

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