Blockchain startup Tezos just completed its first voting round to update its “self-amending” blockchain network. It’s the first step of this kind for the platform’s protocol amendment procedures.
Tezos has had its fair share of promise and peril. Once talked about as the “possible Ethereum killer,” Tezos raised a record $232 million through an ICO in 2017, only to experience multiple prolonged legal battles and dramatic infighting. Despite this, Tezos launched in 2018 and since then, the community has been focused on how to best iterate upon the Tezos blockchain. After this inaugural vote, the market cap of Tezos is over $500 million, according to CoinMarketCap.
Nomadic Labs is the first entity to introduce proposals to Tezos, offering a chance to test the self-governance mechanisms that are at the heart of its design. The proposals were called Athens A and Athens B.
Athens A won 18,181 of the 25,855 community votes from bakers, which are the equivalent to miners on a traditional proof-of-work blockchain like bitcoin. This set the stage for the implementation of two main changes to the network.
First, it would increase the gas limits. Gas is a unit that codifies the amount of computational effort that it will take to execute smart contracts and other operations. In a Medium post, Awa Sun Yin, the founder of Cryptium Labs and a prominent baker on Tezos described the changes as: “If the gas limit is increased, it would enable more computation in blocks and operations, meaning that not only the maximum of transactions per block could increase, but also the complexity of the transactions with Michelson smart contracts.”
Essentially, the proposal would allow for the computation steps in each block to be doubled, making it somewhat easier to implement smart contracts on Tezos.
The second part of Athens A would decrease roll sizes, or the amount of Tezos tokens that bakers must hold to be randomly selected for the block creation process, from 10,000 XTZ to 8,000 XTZ.
The only difference between Athens A and Athens B was this development; Athens B kept the roll sizes at 10,000 XTZ. But by introducing both them, Nomadic Labs set it up so that they’d be competing with each other, fully testing the competitive voting mechanisms.
So what’s next?
Now that the proposal has been voted on, bakers will enter into a three-week “exploration period,” the second step in the four-part process towards full implementation. In this period, bakers can vote on whether to put the proposal into testing. If the proposal gets 80 percent of votes in the exploration phase, it will proceed to another three-week period in which a separate blockchain will be created, where the alterations will be tested to ensure they function properly. After 48 hours of testing, the proposal moves to the “promotion period,” where the blockchain network is reviewed, voted on again, and, if it passes, the new protocol activates to adopt the proposal.
Of course, Tezos is not alone in testing such mechanisms. Self-governance procedures are a hot topic in many blockchain communities, including those of Ethereum, MakerDAO, and EOS. When it comes to Tezos, Nomadic Labs says they wanted to test the processes in place and see if they worked, rather than try to implement more sweeping changes, which could come later. “Nomadic Labs is currently preparing to submit its first protocol amendment proposals for a vote,” the company wrote in a January blog post. “Of course, it means selecting and implementing the contents of our proposals, but also monitoring that the process behaves as intended.”
That monitoring includes making sure that the voting and test chain mechanisms perform like they’re supposed to. This vote is just a first step for Tezos, but an important one, as it puts rubber to the road.