How EOSIO Vote Decay Works

One of the most interesting concepts that EOSIO Dawn 4.0 has brought to our attention is the “Voter Decay” model. We believe that this could potentially be a very powerful model that future blockchain projects can use. However, before we get into it, it is important to understand why voting is such a critical component of EOS.

Importance of Voting in EOS

EOS plans to be a decentralized operating system for developers who want to create industrial scale Dapps. The words “industrial scale” is especially important to understand. They want their EOS blockchain to have extremely high throughput and performance. The way that they achieved this is by utilizing the Delegated Proof of Stake (DPOS) consensus mechanism, where the entire ecosystem votes for 21 block producers.

The important of these block producers cannot be underestimated. Not only are they required for general consensus duties, they must also take care of the network as well. This becomes doubly important when you consider the EOS value proposition. In exchange for staking certain amount of tokens, you get access to EOS.IO’s resources such as RAM, Network Bandwidth, and CPU Bandwidth.

Now, assume that the price of the tokens increases threefold, your access to the network resources should still remain unaffected post token staking. However, what if you don’t own the tokens and are merely looking to secure resources for your Dapp? This is where the block producer (BP) takes charge. The BP must handle the delicate relationship between the network resources and tokens. So, if the price of one token goes up, the BP must work on bringing the cost per unit of resource down to a reasonable range.

This is, arguably, the most important task of the BP and this is the reason why BP voting is such an important task.

Voting Apathy and The Free Rider

The importance of voting in the modern era simply cannot be underestimated. Voting is literally the lifeblood of most democratic governments. In a delegated democracy system, voting is how the people gain a voice. The same is true for a decentralized system like EOS.

This is the single biggest reason why the blockchain technology is considered to be so revolutionary because it takes the power away from centralized authoritarian entities and gives it back to the people (to be more accurate, the interested participants.)

However, voting generally falls victim to the free-rider problem. The “free-rider problem” is a concept in game theory where “those who benefit from resources, public goods, or services do not pay for them, which results in an underprovision of those goods or services.”

Let’s see an example of this to understand the concept, after that we will see how this works wrt voting.

The free rider problem works on public goods/services which are:

  • Non-Excludable: People can’t be prevented from using these goods.
  • Non-Rivalrous: One person’s use doesn’t diminish the ability of another person to use the same good.

Let’s think of “Public Transport” as this public service. Ideally speaking, as a citizen, you should be paying taxes to the government regularly so that they can use it to maintain and improve the transportation. However, what happens if you don’t pay these taxes?

Well…nothing.

Even if you don’t pay these taxes, you use public transportation like anyone else. You essentially become a “free-rider.”

The problem is that as more and more free-riders enter the market….especially when it comes to paying taxes. It could lead to dire consequences. The government may not have enough money to do any public good and the entire country may go into turmoil.

So, how does that factor into voting you ask?

A very common reaction that one gets from someone when asked why they didn’t vote is: “My vote will not change anything.”

The thinking behind this logic is that since there are so many people voting, one single vote will not make any difference. However, as the number of free-riders increases, it can lead to some “interesting” consequences. One need not look any further than the 2016 US Presidential Elections contested between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Only 56.9% of the eligible population bothered to turn up for the elections.

Image Credit: Statista

This kind of voter apathy could be extremely detrimental for EOS. We have already shown you how important the role of the block producer will be. In order to make sure that the best block producers are put in charge, the EOS participants should take part in the elections in an active way.

In order to do that, something needed to be done to ensure that each and every vote means something. This is the reason why EOS creator Dan Larimer introduced the concept of “Vote Decay.”

Vote Decay

By implementing “Vote Decay” the power of each vote cast halves every year (i.e. 365 days). In order to re-assert the strength of each vote, a voter must re-cast their vote every single week. Now this has the potential to make each and every vote count and circumvent the “free rider problem” by giving the voters a chance to re-evaluate their vote and change it if needed. This leads to two great advantages:

· Firstly, as we have seen time and again, elected officials may become corrupt and change their tune after getting elected. The vote decay system gives the voters a chance to reconsider their vote every week. This keeps the block producers accountable and on their toes.

· Secondly, people simply change over time. Maybe the political beliefs and ideologies that someone has today is completely different than what they had a year ago. The vote decay system will allow people to vote for someone who is more congruent with their newly evolved ideologies.

This has the potential to be a truly revolutionary concept and can change decentralized voting (maybe even voting) forever.

Like we already mentioned, the power of each vote cast halves every year. I had earlier shown how this will work over here:

“The base time for the calculation of weight is Jan 1st, 2000.

Now instead of rewriting the weighted vote to the blockchain every time, Dan came up with the idea of increasing the weight of the future votes. eg Jan 1st, 2019 is ²¹⁹ and Jan 1st, 2018 is ²¹⁸ — this makes the vote on Jan 1st, 2019 twice as powerful as Jan 1st, 2018.”

Voting for more than one BP

It is very important of voting your full 30 votes to help keep EOS decentralised so that it can continue to serve you through a wide and varied group of block producers from around the globe. Voting for BP Candidates outside the top 21 will help to ensure there are enough standbys ready to take over in the event of major technical outages, geographical or environmental issues with the top 21 BPs. Share the love, spread the votes out and “Vote 30”

Conclusion

The vote decay is one of the most intriguing things to have come from EOSIO Dawn 4.0. A potential problem could be the use of bots for the voting protocol, however Dan Larimer addresses it as such:

“We recommend that the constitution contain language forbidding the use of automated voting bots as the purpose of vote-decay was to ensure that voters re-evaluate their decisions rather than “set-it and forget it”. While it is not possible to prove the use of bots, it will be possible to prove that people do not use smart contracts to auto-vote.”

It looks like everything has been well thought out and in place. It will be interesting to see this in action.


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