Feeding Developers with Miner Taxes: Zcash's Decentralized Governance Dilemma

Original author: William Foxley

Compilation: Alice, Jiang Xiaoyu

According to the voting results announced by the Zcash Foundation on January 30, the Zcash community has agreed to continue funding the development of the privacy coin ZEC led by the ZCC (Electric Coin Company) and the Zcash Fund. It is worth noting that this vote also means raising funds for the public chain through the miner tax, and the miners are not participating in the vote.

01About Zcash

Zcash is the first blockchain system to use a zero-knowledge proof mechanism, which can provide complete payment confidentiality. Similar to Bitcoin, the total amount of Zcash tokens (ZEC) is 21 million. The difference is that Zcash transactions automatically hide the sender, receiver and amount of all transactions on the blockchain. Only those who have the viewing key can see the contents of the transaction. Users have full control and they can choose to provide the viewing key to others. On July 19, 2019, Zcash successfully carried out a "friendly fork" at a block height of 570,000, and forked out Ycash.

02 friendly fork background

Ycash founder Howard Loo is also a member of the Zcash development team. In April 2019, he posted on the Zcash Community Forum in detail the main motivations of the fork: 1. Rebuilding the goal of mining on commercial hardware, this goal seems to have been abandoned on the Zcash blockchain. 2. Fulfill the promise of Zcash at the beginning: Founder rewards will never exceed 2.1 million.

In fact, with the development of the Zcash project, the "founder rewards" (20% of the first four years of mining rewards allocated to founders, investors, employees and consultants) set by Zcash born in 2016 will be in November 2020 maturity. According to the plan, by November 2020, when the 570000th block is mined, the supply of Zcash will be halved and the rewards to the founders will be cancelled. Zcash will also face the dilemma of no money to continue research and development.

In this context, after the proposal of Howard Loo's new project Ycash, it was quickly supported by Zcash founder Zooko Wilcox and tweeted that Ycash was a "friendly fork" of Zcash.

The concept of "friendly fork" was first proposed by Zooko Wilcox in 2017. After the fork, two chains are generated, but the community is not divided into friendly forks. Zooko stated in the blog: "I hope that when the time is ripe, the Zcash community will have a friendly fork, deploy different technologies, and fully adapt to different needs, but continue to be tolerant and cooperate with each other for the benefit of everyone."

At the same time, Zooko Wilcox said that he has nothing to do with Ycash personally, and the Zcash team has nothing to do with the Ycash team. In fact, Ycash is a similar product with almost the same code base as Zcash and belongs to Zcash's competitors. The "friendly fork" mentioned by both parties means that Ycash has not disputed with the original chain Zcash, and has also been approved by the original chain team. Not quite the same as the "friendly fork" concept proposed by Zooko in 2017.

After the fork, Ycash made four major changes:

1. Founder reward: The founder reward is reduced from 20% to 5%, and Ycash miners can always receive 95% of the revenue.

2. Address distinction:

Transparent addresses begin with "s1" instead of "t1".

Multi-signature addresses begin with "s3" instead of "t3".

Shielded sprout addresses begin with "yc" instead of "zc".

Shield sapling addresses begin with "ys" instead of "zs".

3. Timelock coins will never be distinguished

4. Reduce transaction fees, the method is not limited to block expansion or block size

Here is the translation:

According to the voting results announced by the Zcash Foundation on January 30, the Zcash community has agreed to continue funding the development of the privacy coin ZEC led by the ZCC (Electric Coin Company) and the Zcash Fund.

Both organizations face imminent funding issues, and the decision marks a two-month bail-out of funds for them.

In order for the ZCC and Zcash Foundation to continue to develop Zcash, especially the use of privacy coins is facing increasing scrutiny by international regulators (carbon chain value note: the Nordic digital asset exchange BitBay, in order to comply with international anti-money laundering standards, from 2020 From February 19, 2012, the monero (XML) privacy currency will no longer be allowed to be traded. All users must withdraw all remaining XML before May 20, 2020.) This funding is like a snowball for the continued employment of top R & D personnel.

For others, however, voting means a breach of Zcash's original commitment to founder rewards limited to 2.1 million ZEC (10% of ZEC's total supply). The result of the broken promise is Zcash's first "friendly fork" in July 2019. (Carbon chain value note: The so-called friendly fork refers to the fork that has not been disputed with the "original chain" and has also been approved by the original chain team. .Different from the concept proposed by Zooko in 2017.) Bringing a new product Ycash (carbon chain value note: After the fork, Ycash will reduce the founder reward from 20% to 5%.).

It is worth noting that this vote also means raising funds for the public chain through a miner tax. Compared with other funding mechanisms (such as ICOs, Treasury bills, or external grants from third parties), Zcash's innovation depends on the performance of the token.

Zooko co-founder and CEO of ECC, Zooko Wilcox, called for a new regular development fund, saying in an August post on Medium: "I chose to withdraw from the initial development fund so that if Zcash succeeds in the future, and When a community grows enough to support it, the community will have to decide together what to do next. "

Despite the controversy, in the past year, the performance of ECC and Zcash on encryption technology is worth noting.For example, they broke the Zcash zero-knowledge proof technology bottleneck (Carbon Chain Value Note: Early September 2019, CEO of ECC Zooko founder Zooko Wilcox claims that the discovery of a trust-free recursive combination of zero-knowledge proofs is a long-term breakthrough in cryptography and may become the key to protecting and expanding the blockchain.) Innovative construction of a bridge with Ethereum ( Carbon chain value note: At the Devcon Developer Conference held in Osaka, Japan in October 2019, the vice president of ECC marketing and business development told the media that in the next six months, the Zcash community will develop a network that can be used on the Ethereum network. ZEC tokens). Despite its outstanding technical performance, it has been losing money during the bear market.

Without further funding subsidies, the future development of the project will be unclear.

The report from the community clearly shows that ECC cannot make ends meet, and in order to increase revenue, the previous developer returns have been adjusted. An unnamed source told reporters: Poor financial records are not conducive to a company's community fundraising. Speaking of the voting process, he said: "Advance in good faith does not always create a good process."

If the current currency price is maintained at around $ 65 each, ECC expects to receive approximately $ 480,000 per month after the first halving of zcash in November 2020. (However, Zcash's recent price performance has been disappointing: the start of 2020 was accompanied by a decline, with prices falling by almost 45% from the beginning of 2019, although prices have doubled since January 1.)

03   Milestone year

The Zcash Developer Fund was created in 2016 for a four-year period and will expire in November 2020. The well-known "founder rewards", 20% of block rewards are obtained from miners, and are used to distribute to Zcash's founders and investors, providing some help for the sustainable development of the project.

The newly passed Zcash Improvement Proposal (ZIP) 1014 will allocate 20% of mining rewards for development between miners and ordinary community funds in a manner similar to the original founder rewards. The 20% asset pool is divided into three categories: ECC accounts for 35%, Zcash Foundation accounts for 25%, and third-party developers account for 40%.

According to Steven McKie, CEO of Amentum Investment Management and member of the Zcash community, the presence of third-party developers is designed to promote decentralization.

Voting was conducted by Zcash community forum members and a 72-person community advisory group. Of the 112 eligible voters, 88 members voted, and the vast majority of voters demanded continued funding.

"After a long and fruitful debate, the integration of the Zcash community has made me very happy," Josh Cincinnati, executive director of the Zcash Foundation, told the media.

Both the Zcash Foundation and ECC have accepted the community proposal, which is expected to take effect when the Zcash Fourth Network ((NU4)) is upgraded in November 2020. (Carbon chain value note: In late August 2019, Zcash's fourth network upgrade NU4 was postponed due to disputes between Zcash Development Company ECC and Zcash Foundation over the transfer of Zcash trademarks.)

04   Why implement block subsidies?

McKie said: "Such research and development projects like Zcash, ensuring sufficient funding is a necessary condition for the Zcash Foundation and ECC. Moreover, because the product itself is a token, betting on the future success of the token and obtaining funds from it is Unrealistic. Developer funds are a more mature way for Zcash to continue financing than other options.

McKie said in a telephone interview: "Zcash is one of the most technically-efficient public chains at the moment. Zero-knowledge proofs require top-level math on top of low-level programming. If you want to produce a product, you might as well buy the finished product directly."

Zcash co-founder and cryptographer Ian Miers agrees with this view, noting that it is difficult to devolve voting power and use it to distribute public goods: "The cryptocurrency community has learned a lot in the past four years. One thing is that there needs to be some way to fund ongoing development. "

The head of ECC Josh Swihart said that community efforts represent a model for the right future of democratic governance. "It is very difficult to transfer power and decentralize," Swihart said .

05   Token Politics

In addition to the Ycash fork, the foundation and ECC have their own difficulties in their development.

Since no miners participated in the first round of voting, there was no miner participation in the final vote. An email from Cincinnati stated that due to the lack of participation of miners, the foundation still does not count the number of miners in the second round of voting.

Regarding Zcash's trademark negotiations (Note on the value of the carbon chain: Since late August 2019, ECC and the Zcash Foundation have been negotiating on the transfer of Zcash trademarks. The negotiations lasted nearly three months. Zcash agreed to donate the trademark to the Zcash Foundation. Under the agreement signed on November 6, the Zcash Foundation will be financially responsible for costs associated with trademark allocation and protection.) It also took longer than expected, a process that Wilcox refers to as "emotional pain."

Defining voters themselves is difficult, as some people believe that ZEC's "loyal holders" should participate as representatives.

McKie said that although ZEC's "loyal holders" voted, it was actually more of a life-saving vote than political blocs. Although the ECC references the results, the Zcash Foundation does not consider them. As Ethereum co-founders Vitalik Buterin and Miers pointed out on the main chat forum of the Zcash community, blockchain voting has not yet solved the challenges associated with manipulation or witch attacks.

Finally, the first version of the Improvement Proposal (ZIP) passed in the first ballot was rejected by the ECC. The Improvement Proposal (ZIP) proposes to raise funds for ECC through a new block reward allocation and sets a ceiling. ECC said that for a company with privacy technology at the forefront of the industry, any cap would limit the organization's ability to attract talent. Therefore, the ECC stated that it would not accept any proposals with similar constraints.

A source who asked not to be named said: "ECC is a very principled organization. ECC's behavior is the unconscious kidnapping of investors. Calls against ECC will only lead to" tensed relationships "and are not worth The price is paid. The voting is over and the community continues to operate. A very good result is that ECC is giving up control of Zcash, and I really hope this happened six months ago. "

Original link: https://www.coindesk.com/Zcashs-funding-vote-and-the-problems-with-decentralized-governance