EOS promises a fast, fee-less platform for decentralized applications via the blockchain, but it needs a great deal of participation from token holders to be a success. As a more centralized project in which twenty-one voted-in supernodes confirm transactions, voting is key to keeping block producers accountable and successful in supporting the large volume expected to roll out on EOS.
“As we move toward an open-source society, what will distinguish ourselves from one another will be our politics and our systems of governance. In EOS, there are three factions of governance: the Block Producer, Arbitration, and the Token Holder. The Block Producer must abide by the other two or else be removed from their position. Incentives are aligned between all groups to always be increasing the value of the network,” says Kevin Rose of EOS New York, which is running as a Block Production candidate.
The move to Delegated Proof of Stake with a relatively small number of twenty-one block producers is a radical departure from how other blockchains, like Ethereum, function. Voting for these supernodes begins on June 2. Anyone holding EOS tokens can cast a vote on who will validate transactions, and this is causing a heated debate.
For EOS to launch successfully, voters need to make educated decisions on block producers. Beforehand, they have the jobs of registering their tokens, researching block producers, and, finally, staking their tokens for a three-day period in order to vote. Understandably, for many casual investors, this is a lot to ask, but it’s critical to the platform’s long-term vitality.
Could too much power wind up in the hands of too few block producers? As an example. two major exchanges, Bitfinex and Huobi Global, are leading contenders in the upcoming election. Their familiarity makes it likely both will be voted in, but this does not mean they’ll be dealt a higher volume of transactions, as all of the top twenty-one producers handle the same amount of blocks per round. Some have argued that this, like mining pools filled with several dominant candidates, undermines the philosophy of a decentralized ledger. That is to say, trust can only exist on a blockchain if power over the network is adequately spread out, allowing the nodes to keep each other in check.
With twenty-one supernodes, the risk of one or a few having excessive influence is greater, but this small group is also what gives EOS its massive advantage in throughput. The EOS governance model also helps keep block producers’ power equal in weight. Block producers must obey arbitration rulings and the token holder referendum or risk being voted out.
While only twenty-one block producers are selected for each block, up to 200 standby nodes have been projected as economically viable. Standby nodes are ready to step in at a moment’s notice should a top producer be unfit or unable to perform their functions. A standby node must have enough votes to warrant, at minimum, a 100 EOS per day payout.
Another concern is that those holding more EOS will have more votes. This might lead to whales or groups of whales voting for nodes out of their own self-interest and influencing others to do the same. Swaying the election in favor of particular block producers would undermine the democratic election process and would certainly compromise the integrity of the EOS blockchain.
But there are limits. The EOS constitution exists as a Ricardian contract, the hash of which must be included on every transaction to be considered valid. Ownership of more than 10% of issued tokens by any one individual or group is prohibited. Enforcing this will be difficult, but it is at least a policy.
Some have raised concerns that voter turnout might be low, which would give a few people too much influence. To help ensure a minimum turnout, 15% of all tokens must vote at launch or the chain will not be considered valid.
A strong showing of voters from the beginning will show that EOS is supported by many decision makers seeking their delegates in the form of Block Producers. While the voting system can be confusing for the casual EOS holder, simpler voting options are in the works to help them.
EOS New York, EOS Tribe, EOS Sweden, and many other respected block producers and developers are building EOS Portal, an open-source voting portal that anyone will be able to use with little to no technical expertise using Scatter (the Metamask of EOS). The project, after posting on Steemit, raised more than $25,000 in support from block producers and community members in one week. While it’s likely that the well-informed and more tech-savvy will vote disproportionately, a fair and easy-to-use voting portal could help increase turnout among average holders.
Staking is a sign of commitment to the success of the EOS platform. Not every investor will be willing to tie up their EOS investment for the lock-in period necessary to vote. Even though it has been reduced from six months to three days, voting requires this assurance to ensure responsible voting.
Conscientious and well-informed voting is essential to maintaining the integrity of the EOS ledger. Because it uses proof-of-stake and not proof-of-work to run the blockchain, the idea is to put more power in the hands of the average user, as proof-of-work based blockchains such as Bitcoin are now disproportionately controlled by large mining operations. However, proof-of-stake comes with its own problems which, much like any voting system, can only be solved by educated and well intentioned voters.
When June 2 comes around, EOS voters need to do their research and cast their votes for the supernodes that have the best interest of the community at heart. This may be difficult, as there are over 100 candidates. Much of EOS’s initial success is tied to many token holders voting for only the best candidates. The community will be watching for the results of this highly anticipated vote, making it one of its first markers of success. That said, a platform is only as valuable as what’s built on top of it. It will take many DApps, as well as these elections, to show that EOS can be a working, successful DApp platform.
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