Coin-holder voting as a governance mechanism

I share that fear. I’ve been trying for many years to conduct a discussion here on how coin-weighted voting should work, and how to implement it securely. But this discussion never got much traction. Over and over, it devolved into superficial populism (“won’t anyone think of the ZEC holders, large and small?!”), followed by silence, followed by haphazard ill-defined polls announced the next time there’s a decision to be made.

(This used to be a reply inside a different topic, and was moved to become a new topic by the moderators.)


I suggested this topic in January as a panel discussion for Zcon3. Would love to see it happen.
@aiyadt and @BrunchTime are currently working on an RFI/RFP for a coin-holder voting mechanism. Now seems like a good time to work out the security issues that have been raised.


Those other things aside I think my problem at least is how to think of a ‘Zec Holder’. The general consensus, from what I gather, is the bare minimum; anybody having bought Zcash and has yet to sell it. Is that good enough? You could say “It should be.” and I could agree however I think that’s an unripe idealism that presupposes all those people knowingly share in our perceived universal importance of the project. Of course then it circles back around to all sorts of other issues but that’s my 2 zat.

I fully support a grant that works on Zcash governance ZIP, design & implementation that empowers ZEC holders on critical decisions. It’s the best way forward for Zcash & it’s time!

“We can’t build a perfect system but we can adopt.”


We prefer to not enshrine coin-weighted polling to be binding on the protocol or governance layers, and instead to use this mechanism as an additional source of feedback for governance
^ extract from ECC blog

I’m not sure how to feel about this


Making coin-weighted polling binding gives a lot of power to whales (see Terra “revival” debacle), at the expense of everyone else. Not making it binding can allow a protocol to ignore the community. :man_shrugging:

Rather than a “figure out how to do coin-weighted voting” RFP, I’d love to see a “figure out a Sybil-resistant voting” RFP. Maybe leverage ZSAs?


Coin-weighted polling in a no-cap, over-collateralized system does not work. There are successful coin-weighted mechanisms with Sybil-resistant characteristics that are live in practice, so Zcash won’t be the first to implement such a system.

My proposal for coin-weighted voting is coming along quite well, can’t wait to share it with the community!


Hi, @dontbeevil, thanks for the feedback! Your quote came from ECC’s stated preference on coin-weighted polling from our Zcash Proof-of-Stake Research post. This is a great thread to share deeper thinking behind that stated preference.

Our rationale at ECC for not introducing any binding governance through coin-weighted polling is general caution about disrupting the existing functioning governance.
At the same time, we also believe ZEC coin holders need a voice and we support experimentation and development in this area, so I’m glad to see this conversation and design efforts that @aiyadt alluded to.

I personally consider the current governance sufficient for now, as well as having improved as necessary through history. Yet, I still see a strong need to improve as Zcash grows to more stake-holders and adoption, because the impacts of governance decisions will grow to affect more participants to a larger degree.

Our preference is informed by some experimentation we’ve already done around coin-weighted polling: ECC conducted two polls, one around the Dev Fund ZIP proposals (results here) and one about which protocol features ECC should prioritize (results here). While these were helpful experiments they were much too rough around the edges for reliable governance. Imagine if the Zcash community had decided prior to those experiments to make the outcomes binding. That seems rash.

What we’d like to see is for one or more mechanisms to be designed, deployed, and actively used for polling prior to instituting any notion of binding governance, so that everyone has time to understand how it works, what the dyamics / benefits / short-comings are, and what a roadmap for improvements would be. I believe the protocol features of polling will be crucial, but also, even if those were perfect, a good system will need a lot of effort on UX, such as wallet integration, and that will take time.

In particular, one feature I personally would love to see is permissionless polling: an ideal experiment mechanism, IMO, would allow anyone to open a poll with any topic/content, then for ZEC holders to decide which polls they care to participate in. This has several important implications. A deeper motivation for this is to decouple the polling mechanism itself from the control of polls, so that different orgs or users can use the same platform equally. This introduces some design challenges, such as avoiding the ability for trolls to create polls that can be confused for existing/planned community-supported polls, but I think it’s important and worth it.

Designing and implementing a robust polling system has not risen to the level of priority previously within ECC that we devoted resources beyond those experiments. However, this has changed with our prioritization of developing a Proof-of-Stake protocol transition proposal. (Background: Should Zcash switch from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake? (spoiler: we think yes) for motivation and Zcash Proof-of-Stake Research for our first status update on that process.)

The reason this changes is that Proof-of-Stake protocols tend to enable coin-weighted polling mechanisms, since they rely on a very similar mechanism for block-producer selection. However, I want to point out that there’s no guarantee the Proof-of-Stake mechanisms will be the best fit for a good ZEC holder polling mechanisms, so I encourage others to continue developing their own approaches and not assume coin-polling will be bundled with our initial PoS proposal.

Finally, let’s imagine a good polling mechanism is deployed, what should be the path to integrating it with governance? I’d love to see more discussion around that transition. My main thought here is that even without any “official / binding” tie-in, a well functioning permissionless polling mechanism would naturally influence governance decisions if it had a high participation rate.

Does this change or clarify how you feel about our stated preference?