Staked Poll on Zcash Dev Fund Debate

No problem, thank you for taking your time to participate. It really means a lot to me to see successful people backing this project. I am now sure we are going to make this work.

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I’d like to point out another issue with the coin-weighted polling.

Let’s put aside the privacy and security problems; hopefully we can resolve these using new protocols (and perhaps a network upgrade to enable them). Let’s also put aside the “plutocracy” and “pay to vote” issues; maybe we’ll decide that these are acceptable, at least when the coin-weighted voting is just one non-binding signal among several. There’s still this:

The whales are silent. [1] They’re not vocal about their position. As far as I can tell, no one on the Dev Fund public discussions identified as holding significant fraction of the ZEC supply, so how can we tell in advance what’s on the mind of those whales?

Now, for a poll about a simple “yes/no” question, maybe it doesn’t matter: the question is what it is, and we’ll know the result when the poll is over. But in the Dev Fund discussion, we had complicated adaptive dynamics where proposals were created and modified based on the ongoing sentiments expressed on the forum, blog posts, Twitter, etc. Many of the final proposals were honed to those sentiments. If the whales don’t contribute to to the formation of the proposals, then perhaps none of the proposals properly reflects their perspective?

And so with “silent coin-holder-weighted poll”, things become reminiscent of ancient cultures arguing about sacrifies to the silent gods. The fields are dry? Clearly we need to sacrifice a goat. No, the gods desire a lamb. No, it must be a child! No, a maiden! So which is it? Only the gods know… And then there’s a flood, so people explain that it was because the lamb had a blemish. Perhaps, all along, the gods just wanted a nice salade niçoise?

Now, perhaps whales’ opinions are close enough to what we are hearing, and their opinions are already adequately weighted in. Maybe. The incentives are very different, so it’s hard to tell. But for what it’s worth, to the extent that the recent experiment is indicative of the whales’ opinions (despite the many reservations), we see very significant divergence between the opinions expressed there vs. the forum members and Community Governance Panel, so there’s reason for concern.

Action items?

  • Obviously, encourage the whales to show up and express their opinions (whether or not they identify as such)
  • Recognize that this is another issue with the signal quality of coin-weighted polling.
  • Strive to make the poll questions simple, with few moving parts, so that it’s more likely that some choice represents the wishes of parties who did not contribute to the formation of the poll questions

Note: all of the above applies also to miner polling.


[1] By “whale”, I mean someone who holds a large fraction of the pertinent ZEC supply; enough to significantly affect (or even dominate) a coin-weighted vote. No derogatory insinuations are intended.

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The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water

Strange women lying in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government

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Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses not from some farcical aquatic (staking) ceremony!

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Are you and @Autotunafish denying the legitimacy and authority of king Arthur?

Sounds like treason to me…

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Lol at the Monty Python references. Over on the Community Sentiment thread I posted my reason for why Coin-Holders Petitioning is an important long-term strategic advantage for Zcash.

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In my comment over on the Community Sentiment thread I said why I believe that Coin-Holders Petitioning is an important long-term strategic advantage for Zcash. If you hold Zcash coins and you want to participate in the Coin-Holders Petition, here is how:

First, read the Zcash Foundation’s blog post explaining what we’re voting on and the Electric Coin Company’s blog post saying why we won’t take dev fund money under a U.S. Dollar-denominated cap, and make up your mind how you want to vote.

Second, follow Andrew Miller’s instructions on how to vote with your coins (quoted below). Use zecwallet-full not zecwallet-lite.

Encoding your vote: If you put “1A2C3B4A5A” into the encrypted memo field, that would mean that you vote for answer A to question 1, answer C to question 2, etc, based on the ballot with these question numbers and answer letters:

#1 of 5: Do you support the ZIP 1014 presented here? https://zips.z.cash/zip-1014 (ZIP 1014 is a lightly modified version of ZIP 1012, which had the most support in the previous sentiment collection poll. Note that all follow up questions in this poll assume ZIP 1014 as a basis; please read it carefully before answering the rest of this poll)
A: Yes
B: No

#2 of 5: Using this ZIP as a basis, what should the distribution of the dev fund slices be?
A: ECC: 35%, MG: 40%, ZF: 25%
B: ECC: 40%, MG: 35%, ZF: 25%
C: ECC: 45%, MG: 30%, ZF: 25%
D: ECC: 50%, MG: 25%, ZF: 25%
E: Any of the above distributions is acceptable

#3 of 5: Do you believe the Foundation should have independent authority in determining Major Grants, or should there be a new Major Grant Review Committee as prescribed in this ZIP?
A: The Foundation should have independent authority in determining Major Grants
B: There should be a new Major Grant Review Committee with near-complete authority
C: Either option is acceptable

#4 of 5: Using this ZIP as a basis, should there be a US Dollar-denominated Monthly Funding Cap/Volatility Reserve for the shares to ECC, ZF, and Major Grants or should there be no restrictions? Note that ECC has indicated they plan to decline their funding if a US Dollar-denominated funding cap is imposed, while ZF has indicated that they have no issue with a funding cap. We are not measuring your approval of the specific amount of the Monthly Funding Cap in the ZIP; we are interested in your approval of the concept as a whole. The exact cap can be set by processes outlined in the ZIP.
A: There SHOULD NOT be a Monthly Funding Cap and Volatility Reserve
B: There SHOULD be a Monthly Funding Cap and Volatility Reserve
C: Either option is acceptable

#5 of 5: ECC has indicated they plan to decline their funding slice if there is a Monthly Funding Cap/Volatility Reserve restriction. If the community decides on a Monthly Funding Cap/Volatility Reserve and ECC declines their funding, where should their slice be redirected?
A: Major Grants
B: Zcash Foundation
C: Miners

You can also put whatever additional comments, explanations for why you voted that way or why you care about Zcash, Bible verses, etc. in the encrypted memo field after your encoded vote!

See also my comment on simple, actionable observations about the risks.

By the way, the deadline is Monday, January 27, but if you’ve never done something like this before, I bet it will take you a few tries over a few days to get it working, so don’t put it off til the last day.

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This would be such a cool ZecWallet feature… imagine voting on anything/everything/anytime.

Edit: Closest real-world example I can think of is the Swiss who seem to vote on everything, even trivial stuff like changes to a bus route. Almost like being asked your opinion every time you use an ATM machine.

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But this was foretold!


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Thanks for suggesting a format, that looks pretty clear to me. I’ve dusted off my machine that generates views of memos to the stakepoll address, so I can happiy produce the same kind of spreadsheets as before. I rebased the code for parsing the viewing key to a recent release, so folks following at home can see the memos too. https://github.com/zcash/zcash/pull/3822#issuecomment-576383402

Incidentally, the instructions I gave earlier in this thread no longer work using recent versions of zecwallet, since the UI got rid of the “From” selector, in favor (I think) of automatically choosing which addresses to send from. I posted an issue accordingly https://github.com/adityapk00/zecwallet-lite/issues/35 but I don’t have any clear resolution in mind.
I wonder if anyone has an alternative recommended way to send memos from a t-address if you really wanted to? Maybe CLI is the only viable alternative for now.

Thanks for clarifying below, this is still supported by zecwallet full. I think this may not have even been a change since last time, it’s just zecwallet-light wasn’t ready the last time I tried this so was using zecwallet full anyway.

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Zecwallet Lite doesn’t support (and has never supported) the from field.

Zecwallet Fullnode has support for the ‘from’ field, so the instructions work with Zecwallet FullNode, which allows you to send memos from a ‘t’ address.

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@zooko, thanks for elucidating your rationale on the merits of coin-weighted voting even if imperfect, as well as your recommendations on how to participate in imperfect coin-weighted voting.

Unfortunately, I disagree with many of your points.

Learning from the imperfect?

We’ve already learned a great deal from the first Coin Holders Petition.

We used it last time around, and it was a success.

Actually, what did we really learn? As far as I can tell, all we learned is that some people amassed ~1% of the ZEC supply and managed to follow the instructions. That’s it.

We don’t know if it’s one person or many. We don’t know if they had any economical stake in this ZEC, or just loaned or custodied it. We don’t know if they voted according to their preferences, or tried to fake a crowd, or just wanted to make some weird point. We don’t know what technical or financial hurdles they surpassed, or how many others did not surpass those. We don’t know whether they compromised their privacy when voting.

So, why do you judge this a success, and what valuable lessons were learned?

Voices large and small?

Coin Holders, large and small, are treasured parts of the Zcash community. […] We should encourage Coin Holders of all sizes to know that their voice matters.

If your goal is to have voices heard regardless of their ZEC holdings, then why are you weighting them by ZEC holding?

Yes, all raw ballots are available, but you’re calling for people to interpret them by ZEC weighting, and doing that yourself. You even explicity advised risk-averge voters to

use a fraction (like 1%) of your coins in your petition [which] means your vote only weighs 1/100 as much as if you voted all your coins [but still] show that you exist and raises your voice

This doesn’t make any sense to me. A voice diluted a hundredfold, and lost in a crowd of Sybils, is hardly heard.

So if you insist that small ZEC-holder matter, then go ahead and explicitly disregard ZEC weights. Just do a plain z2z bulletin board where a ballot costs 0.0001 ZEC. Yes, you’d have to acknowledge the fact that such votes can be trivially faked and Sybilled, and that maybe the real vote result was the insights we gained by along the way by reading the encrypted memos?

But you can’t have it both way. A vote must have a clear pre-commitment to how it will be interpreted, but you’re juggling two inconsistent interpretations, neither of which is very good, and speaking as if the vote magically assumes the best aspects of each.

Throwing caution to the crowd

What you wrote about how to mitigate fund and privacy risk created by participating in the poll is truly horrifying to my ears. You’re expecting users to practice extreme levels of technical sophistication, at their own peril, to paper over the fact the voting protocol is broken!

Choice quotes.

If you’re considering participating in a Coin Holders Petition, and you’re concerned about the risk of your coins being lost to accident or theft, then just use a fraction (like 1%) of your coins in your petition. […] Your call.
2. If you’re worried about the risk of your privacy being compromised by participating in a Coin Holders petition, I would say this. […many lines of technical explanation…]
3. […] One particular off-chain data leakage that you should be aware of is the network layer. […] Whether this is a problem for you in practice really depends on your situation. […] If you’re a real privacy ninja, you could mitigate this risk by using Tor in a particular way. […]
Think about the fact that a network observer can link your IP address with other transactions you make from the same IP address. The consequences of this are confusing to think about, but if you have concerns about your privacy even though you are using a z-address for long-term storage, then you need to think through this network-level privacy leakage.

From a protocol design perspective, this is completely unacceptable. Users should not be assumed to understand any of the above. And if you require participants to understand all of the above, then at please recognize that you’ve restricted participation to those who are either exceptionally cognizant or dangerously misinformed.

Incidentally, this is a point where ECC, ZF and others (including ZF grantees!) can take the lead and design better protocols that really do reduce these risks.

Process

As mentioned earlier and being discussed there, now is too late in the game to introduce new signals and expect them to materialize in time. Especially when even the (rudimentary) current protocol is not supported by GUI tooling.

The usual critique of coin-weighted voting

By now we have ample analysis showing that coin-weighted voting is way too easy to capture, and devolves into pay-to-vote or worse given efficient markets and even small incentives. This is discussed extensively earlier in this thread, but let me just copy some pointers that are buried in another thread:

So I get your wishes for decentralized permissionless voting, but if you’re going to stake anything of importance on it, then please first offer a rebuttal to the analysis saying that it’s bound to fail.

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Hi, Eran. It seems like we disagree about a bunch of details, and that’s okay. As I said previously, I believe it is critically important to Zcash’s long-term success that we include and empower coin-holders in Zcash’s governance, and that the benefits of doing it far outweigh its downsides. If you disagree, that’s fine. Reasonable people often disagree about such trade-offs.

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The Voices large and small? concern, above, is not about tradeoffs. It’s about what does such a poll even mean, how to interpret the results, and does this really match the idealized and apparently-contradictory goals you’ve set.

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Zcash — and all other cybercoins — are already relying on coin-holders, and we’re already vulnerable to their decisions. If all the coin-holders were to sell their ZEC and walk away because they disagreed with the direction of the project, that would destroy the price, which would have major, long-term consequences for the entire ecosystem. On the other hand, the more coin-holders come on board and become long-term holders, the greater the price.

Listening to what the coin-holders are saying, should they choose to post their petition to the blockchain, is not making Zcash vulnerable to coin-holders. It is finding out in advance what their opinions are, before they buy or sell because they agree or disagree with the direction of the project.

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Here’s a zboard-style spreadsheet view for stake polling alongside the governance panel vote.

I’m torn on this actually - on one hand, I don’t particularly want to attract more hype to the present stakepolling mechanism. We’ve learned we have a lot of clear ways to fix it already. On the other hand, if someone does want to send messages to vote here anyway, their voices do matter and I want to help boost them. Also it’s permissionless and not much effort to host, so :man_shrugging:. The channel is live and I’m monitoring it, zeal with it.

I’m grateful to everyone who participated in the first stakepoll. I don’t know whether y’all spent $600 to borrow zec then immediately close your position or what. What I do know is you made a deliberate speech act, using shielded memo technology! That’s neat, so,… thanks!

I think this is best called a “petition.” Petitions don’t have this quality, but still can happily run alongside official votes/elections/polls.

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I strongly agree with this idea, but haven’t seen an implementation whose results can be trusted meaningfully. The details matter a lot here – the coin is liquid and can be entered and exited easily for a vote.

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Is this your argument? Surely no one is under the illusion that their voice, large or small, is “heard” because they sold a few zatoshis, any more that they’re under the illusion that their voice about the value of gold is “heard” because they bought a $5 earring.

You’re explicitly saying that small ZEC holders should have a say, while advocating for a voting scheme that overwhelms their voice.

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These comments seem to conflate whether it’s desirable to determine coin-holders’ views and whether it’s possible to determine them in a representative way using this method.

Most commenters (including me) seem to think it’s desirable; however, it appears that because it could be so easy to game this particular approach, it’s not possible to know if the results are representative. I argue that means the approach is flawed, and the results cannot be relied upon.

(Edit to add) This also doesn’t address the other myriad issues with the approach, including its safety.

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Maybe if someone borrows or buys millions of dollars worth of ZEC, risking tremendous loss to themselves, in order to make a statement to the Zcash community using the world’s first uncensorable, private, publicly-verifiable blockchain, then that’s still meaningful?

I mean, maybe it partially depends on what the statement is? Last time around someone demonstrated ownership of a huge amount of ZEC and then instead of voting on the NU4 ZIP they just referenced a Bible verse. Was that “meaningful”? I thought so. :slight_smile:

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