Qtum’s Blockchain governance

This post describes Qtum’s approach towards Blockchain governance.
Qtum, a Blockchain focused on enterprise use case, takes a hybrid approaches towards Blockchain-governance:
  • hard and soft forks
  • Decentralized Governance Protocol (DGP)

Qtum uses hard and soft forks – as many other projects – for new features and significant changes.

Furthermore, Qtum has developed the so called Decentralized Governance Protocol (DGP) to fix specific blockchain parameters (e.g. block size or gas prices). Deploying „hot-fixes“ instead of more complicated hard or soft forks entails a couple advantages. Most notably, “hot-fixes“ do not disrupt the user experience; agents (stakers, node operators, users) do not need to download new software or intervene in any other way. However, in certain instances both types might be used. For instance, in the case of problematic gas prices for certain operations (higher prices for processing blocks than creating them – this scenario can be used to attack the network) DGP will temporarily increase the prices for the problematic operations to mitigate malign attacks on the network. A fork will then fix the operation’s underlying problem.

Qtum's blockchain governance model
Qtum’s blockchain governance model

Decentralized Governance Protocol (DGP)

Changing certain blockchain parameters through a dedicated smart contract

Process of Qtum’s Decentralized Governance Protocol (DGP)

  1. Proposal creation: Governing party makes a proposal to change parameters
  2. Voting: Governing parties vote for or against the proposal
  3. Implementation or rejection: If vote threshold is reached, the proposal is implemented
  4. Archiving: Proposal data is stored in a standardized format on a particular storage. Thus, the proposal can be accessed without executing the DGP.
Design variations can be made along the vote sources (i.e. who has voted); differentiating between users, miners, and developers. This allows for a requirement-based governance process where, for example, a change can only be implemented if 100 users, 10 miners, and 50 developers have voted for the change.

Governance spectrum: from full to none human involvement

The governing parties are either people or smart contracts. The nature of these governing parties is important because depending on whether it consists of people or smart contracts it takes different positions along the governance spectrum.
Qtum's blockchain governance spectrum
Qtum’s blockchain governance spectrum
  • No code: On the far left of the governance spectrum Qtum’s governing parties consist primarily of people. Those people would propose changes, vote on them, and implement the changes.
  • No people: On the far right of the governance spectrum the governing parties consist primarily of code, i.e. smart contracts. In this scenario there are different smart contracts for different tasks. Some would monitor the blockchain for technical issues, some would create the proposals, others would vote or take care of collecting votes from other smart contracts, and yet others would finally implement the proposals leading to what Qtum calls a „self-aware“ Blockchain.
In between those two extremes of full and zero human involvement lies a range of variations in regards to the human/machine distribution.

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