The best protocol level solution to the Tron takeover impasse: DO NOTHING

in #steemlast year (edited)

View this post on Hive: The best protocol level solution to the Tron takeover impasse: DO NOTHING


In March 2020, many Steem users, including @dhimmel, migrated to the Hive blockchain in response to the hostile takeover of Steem. Please use the Hive link when sharing this post and comment on the Hive version to get in touch.


To recap the situation, Tron attempted a hostile takeover of Steem governance using sock-puppet witnesses elected with vested-exchange-STEEM and now STINC Steem. Currently there's a mix of Tron and duly elected witnesses in the top 20:

Top Steem witnesses as of 2020-03-06 10AM EST

What is the best way forward? Do Nothing.

This strategy has a couple components.

  1. Community witnesses should not support any hardfork to change power down rules. Exchanges don't deserve or need a bail out. They can initiate power down now, and get some liquidity in a week.

    They powered up under consensus rules that everyone else is subject to. Let's not trash the impartiality and sanctity of the blockchain to bail out actors who attempted, perhaps unwittingly, to attack the blockchain. As far as I can tell, exchanges powering down is zero risk to them. They could always cancel the power down or power back up liquid STEEM. The fact that Binance and Huobi haven't initiated power down is worrisome because it indicates they're hoping for a bail out and perhaps playing dumb to force the issue.

  2. Should Tron acquire a super-majority of witnesses and hardfork, economic nodes should refuse the protocol changes. It appears that if Tron does attempt a hardfork, they will do so without proper community feedback and review. Even if they regain a super-majority of witnesses, we the community are not forced to adopt their protocol.

    Therefore, we should be prepared to keep our nodes running 0.22. This would create an unpleasant fork in the Steem blockchain database. There would be two STEEM tokens. It's not ideal for anyone in this situation, but at the end of the day, the community decides the protocol. Like in Bitcoin, miners cannot force protocol changes upon users just because they have the most PoW. Same with STEEM.

  3. Concede that Sun's STINC stake is unencumbered. I haven't seen binding statements from STINC that their STEEM / stake would only be used in certain ways in perpetuity. I think Ned mislead the community and could face legal repercussions. See this compilation by @ura-soul. But whatever social agreement there was, it was never codified in the blockchain.

    Actions speak louder than words, and it was a mistake to trust Ned's comments as paramount to protocol level constraints on the STINC stake, which were never put in place. If we can convince Sun to decline voting rights, that's a win, but it shouldn't be a requirement.

These three components are easy! We don't need to make any rushed decisions or actions. In fact, we don't need to do anything. It's a good idea to continue civil discussion with Tron and exchanges, given that they are large stakeholders. But let's relax.

Now it would be far preferable if we can retain sufficient witnesses to prevent protocol changes. There is risk that exchanges or Tron could gather additional stake to regain complete control. We need to make it clear that in this case the community will run the protocol they believe in and not blindly follow sock-puppet witnesses.

To avoid this situation, we should continue to get out the vote.

In the longterm, we should reassess witness voting such that one vest equals one vote and it's harder for a few entities to change the protocol.

Would love your comments and feedback!

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Some excellent thinking here ; hopefully some compromise will be made but I also don't see anything too binding in the ninja minded stake. That said the developers who had private meetings with Ned and co and put in years of work and lots of funds would no doubt have other views.

'Don't just do something, sit there.'

That's actually good advice here, as long as we have the stake to effect meaningful governance of the chain while we sit tight. Presently, I do not think we actually do. The exchanges remain powered up, and this is as much a threat as an unholstered weapon in a confrontation.

If the exchanges powered down, and/or Sun airdropped/sold enough of his stake that he could no longer assume control of Steem governance at will, we would be able to do nothing. Those things haven't happened.

Not that we can do anything about it anyway.

Thanks!

Do nothing has to be paired with a commitment by the community to not adopt any protocol changes (hardforks) that could result from a Tron witness super-majority. If the community is steadfast in its support of the existing protocol, I think we would win the battle for the true Steem resulting from a fork.

Tron witnesses can do a bad job at being witnesses under the current protocol and the network will suffer to some extent. For example, when they don't update the price feed. But as long as economic nodes refuse to switch protocols, the damage they can do is limited.

"... we would win the battle for the true Steem..."

That completely depends on how much stake Tron holds, under the current rules. My understanding is that Tron presently holds nominal stake to exercise Steem governance at it's sole option.

Do you have information that may affect that understanding?

Doing nothing has the imminent risk exchanges yet again misusing customer funds to implement a quick power down HF for them and there is also the risk that the economic nodes (i.e. exchanges) will then follow Justin's chain and not ours. Our witnesses are also in a deadlock situation and without a compromise/deal we cannot really move forward because JS/Tron became the largest stakeholder by obtaining Steemit Inc's stake whether we like it or not. Besides negotiating makes a mutual beneficial solution possible, which I would prefer.

Doing nothing has the imminent risk exchanges yet again misusing customer funds to implement a quick power down HF for them and there is also the risk that the economic nodes (i.e. exchanges) will then follow Justin's chain and not ours.

Yes exactly. This risk has always been there. If exchanges and Tron want to hardfork the protocol in a way the community does not support, let them do it. Let the exchanges initially support whatever chain they want to. The community gives the token value and in the longterm exchanges will support anything with value.

Hardforks are messy and confusing for users, but if an entity is determined to change the protocol against community wishes, a hardfork is an inevitability. Given that this hardfork would have Tron + Exchanges versus Community + Developers, I have little doubt the later would eventually come out on top.

In fact, we don't need to do anything

There is one thing we all have to do: Continue to get more user to vote for witnesses.

I agree! As I aim to communicate, ideally the community prevents a Tron super-majority. However, even if we fail in that regard, we are under no obligation to accept a new protocol proposed by a Tron hardfork. Let there be a fork.

This sounds interesting. Definitely a very unique approach to the war we are waging. I have heard there is a large Korean account that purposely keep the witness stalemate to make both sides negotiate.

@dhimmel, In my opinion the best thing is, to prepare for all the Possibilities because in my opinion till now we faced so many surprises so future events should not surprise us. And at the end of the day it's important to stand with what is right. Stay blessed.

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In the longterm, we should reassess witness voting such that one vest equals one vote and it's harder for a few entities to change the protocol.

I agree. Multiplying voting power seems absurd.

What do you think about the idea of increasing the number of "top witnesses" to something like 200 instead of the current 20?

I believe this would make it more difficult to implement changes in the future, but that could be considered a "positive" as it would have a stabilizing effect and would make things much harder for any future attempt at a hostile take-over.

What do you think about the idea of increasing the number of "top witnesses" to something like 200 instead of the current 20?

A larger number of witnesses seems more decentralized. The Steem/EOS/BitShares adopt a middle ground of decentralization. Centralized enough to maintain high capacity and efficiency (i.e. only requiring hundreds rather than thousands of nodes). Decentralized enough to prevent censorship and ensure immutability. I'm not sure what number of witnesses ensures the best balance.

It would be good to get feedback from someone who knows a bit more about running a witness node to know whether a higher number of witnesses would have any negative technical consequences or require a larger block interval.

That sounds reasonable. Even 40 would be superior to 20. My first thought was that The Sun would probably just DDOS the top 20 and do whatever it wants while they're flailing.

If a government wanted to force a take-down of the steem blockchain for whatever reason, killing 20 servers would seem like child's play.

If a government wanted to force a take-down of the bitcoin blockchain for whatever reason, they'd really have a difficult time and they'd probably have to invest a ton of cash into developing their own highly-specialized server farms.

What would happen to Sun's stake on the new chain?

What are you calling the new chain? I consider the "new chain" to be the chain that adopts the hardforking protocol change even if a supermajority of witnesses back it. I imagine this new chain would give special treatment to vested exchanges and power down their stake. I don't think it would make any change to Sun's stake, which currently has no protocol-level restrictions on it.

The legacy / community chain would also have Sun's stake. It's possible the community could decide to destroy ninja-mined stake. This perhaps would be the right move if Sun creates his own hardfork. But I think it may not be necessary. Do nothing. Leave Sun's property alone. The protocol should really be distinct from disputes.

So in essence, if he got involved in the politics without an
organic consensus, he'd in essence be forking himself over.
This as opposed to the Steem community forking him over.
I like this, it might be the smartest post yet on the matter-
if I'm not missing any important angles, which I could be.
If he's put on notice that astroturf-forking is tantamount
to forking himself over, he would be less inclined to do it.

If Sun is able to changes the protocol in a backwards-incompatible way, the community can either:

  1. upgrade their nodes to the new protocol, thereby accepting the rotten rules but keeping a single chain.
  2. remain on the existing protocol, thereby having two parallel protocols running that share a common ledger up to a certain point and then diverge (like Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash).

"...the community could decide to destroy ninja-mined stake."

All Steem originated via the ninjamine. Steem disbursed as rewards since then was not mined, but all other Steem was mined. How do you propose that stake originally not produced via the rewards mechanisms be separated from Steem created through the rewards pool?

It is not possible to burn or otherwise destroy ninjamined stake as a whole. There simply would no longer be a nominal supply of Steem without mined tokens.

Just cut to the chase: the founders gained too much stake to enable the blockchain to remain decentralized if their representations that it would not be applied to governance have been renounced. It is that specific hodling that threatens governance, not all the rest of the Steem in existence. The reason it is a threat is not because it was mined, but because it is so large the governance mechanism cannot survive it's application to governance.

I agree totally and don't have a specific proposal for addressed mined STEEM, except that we probably shouldn't encumber or interfere with it until there's a hard fork resulting in two chains going forward.

If an entity like Tron or the exchanges decides to hardfork and therefore create two chains, I think it's more justifiable to punish them and their tokens on the legacy chain.

How do you propose that stake originally not produced via the rewards mechanisms be separated from Steem created through the rewards pool?

Freezing or seizing the STEEM / vests from certain accounts that ninja-mined comes to mind. It's a sub-optimal solution because if someone ninjamined and then transferred prior to this, they'd keep the STEEM. Again, I don't really favor seizing other entitity's assets unless they continually demonstrate that they are using the assets to threaten the survival of the network.

I note that freezing the stake of Tron is exactly what witnesses attempted to do, and failed.

We no longer have that ability, and unless Tron and the exchanges execute code voluntarily to prevent their governance of Steem, the blockchain remains the exclusive possession of Tron.

The ball's in Tron's court. We await their pleasure.

The balance that you see 10/10 is by choice...you should know it..

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Do nothing is not too bad an option except for the fact doing nothing will be taken advantage of by the ChiCom agents and a lot of steemians have a lot on the line.

Personally i don't have that much on the line invested in STEEM but I do believe the morals and ethics behind fighting is imperative

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