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Coin holder voting, both for governance of technical features, and for more extensive use cases like deciding who runs validator nodes and who receives money from development bounty funds, is unfortunately continuing to be popular, and so it seems worthwhile for me to write another post explaining why I (and Vlad Zamfir and others) do not consider it wise for Ethereum (or really, any base-layer blockchain) to start adopting these kinds of mechanisms in a tightly coupled form in any significant way.

持币者的投票活动还在如火如荼的进行着,目的既是为了从技术层面为“加密货币”提供监管保障,也是为了决定某些具有重大意义的利益分配问题,比如选谁来运行这些“超级节点”(又名“见证者节点”),比如谁能获取到丰厚的奖金回报。 但对于我来说,这样的投票活动不是什么好事,而我(译注:即作者Vitalik Buterin)也觉得是时候再写一篇文章解释一下我的立场,说明一下为什么这样的投票,会伤害到以以太坊作为代表的底层区块链平台的长远发展。


I wrote about the issues with tightly coupled voting in a blog post last year, that focused on theoretical issues as well as focusing on some practical issues experienced by voting systems over the previous two years. Now, the latest scandal in DPOS land seems to be substantially worse. Because the delegate rewards in EOS are now so high (5% annual inflation, about $400m per year), the competition on who gets to run nodes has essentially become yet another frontier of US-China geopolitical economic warfare.

在两年前,我曾经在博客上写过一篇有关持币者投票的文章,文章的重点放在了理论层面出现的问题,以及投票系统在实际运作中会遇到的问题。而如今,在 DPOS 中爆出来了最新丑闻,似乎让事态往更加糟糕的方向发展了。因为现在在 EOS 圈里,每一个被选出来的代表所能够获得的回报是如此的丰厚(EOS 每年增发额中 5% 的收益,大概是每年 4 亿美金),这样超高的利润回报吸引着无数人蜂拥而至,参与到有关“谁来运行这些超级计算节点”的竞选中去。而这样一场异常激烈的竞选活动,俨然已经成为了徐徐拉开的中美经济战的另外一个全新战线。

And that’s not my own interpretation; I quote from this article (original in Chinese):


EOS supernode voting: multibillion-dollar profits leading to crypto community inter-country warfare

“任何一个超级节点候选人,都可以在任何一个地区拉票,作为 EOS 的持有者你也可以不分国别和地区的投给任何一个超级节点候选人。 但尽管如此,从竞选刚一开始,国别战争就开始了。”

Looking at community recognition, Chinese nodes feel much less represented in the community than US and Korea. Since the EOS.IO official Twitter account was founded, there has never been any interaction with the mainland Chinese EOS community. For a listing of the EOS officially promoted events and interactions with communities see the picture below.

从社区认可度这方面来看,中国节点在 EOS 社区的存在感远远不及美国和韩国。自从 EOS.IO 的官方 Twitter 上线以来,从来没有跟中国大陆的 EOS 社区进行过互动,与 EOS.IO 官推进行过活动和互动的社区见下图。


With no support from the developer community, facing competition from Korea, the Chinese EOS supernodes have invented a new strategy: buying votes.

不受开发者社群的待见,同时还面临着来自韩国的激烈竞争,所以中国的 EOS 超级节点拿出来的新的战略:贿选。

The article then continues to describe further strategies, like forming “alliances” that all vote (or buy votes) for each other.


Of course, it does not matter at all who the specific actors are that are buying votes or forming cartels; this time it’s some Chinese pools, last time it was “members located in the USA, Russia, India, Germany, Canada, Italy, Portugal and many other countries from around the globe”, next time it could be totally anonymous, or run out of a smartphone snuck into Trendon Shavers’s prison cell. 


What matters is that blockchains and cryptocurrency, originally founded in a vision of using technology to escape from the failures of human politics, have essentially all but replicated it. Crypto is a reflection of the world at large.


The EOS New York community’s response seems to be that they have issued a strongly worded letter to the world stating that buying votes will be against the constitution. Hmm, what other major political entity has made accepting bribes a violation of the constitution? And how has that been going for them lately?

EOS 纽约分部给出了回应,它向全世界写了一封措辞严厉的信,声明这样的贿选与EOS.IO 所提出的章程背道而驰。嗯……还有哪家比较大的机构组织提出了这样的说法?而除了声明之外,它们如今又做的怎么样呢?

The second part of this article will involve me, an armchair economist, hopefully convincing you, the reader, that yes, bribery is, in fact, bad. There are actually people who dispute this claim; the usual argument has something to do with market efficiency, as in “isn’t this good, because it means that the nodes that win will be the nodes that can be the cheapest, taking the least money for themselves and their expenses and giving the rest back to the community?” The answer is, kinda yes, but in a way that’s centralizing and vulnerable to rent-seeking cartels and explicitly contradicts many of the explicit promises made by most DPOS proponents along the way.

接下来,我作为一个纸上谈兵者,想做一次一厢情愿的尝试,希望能够借着此文来说服你们这些读者:贿选,真的是一件非常不好的事。当然,有很多人是不同意我这个看法的。他们会说:“如果这些节点胜出了的话,它们有可能成为最便宜的,往自己的口袋里放最少的钱,将其余的钱全部回馈给社群,这难道不好吗?”对这样的反问,我的回答只能是:“没错,这是一件好事。” 但是我们也必须看到其他事实:这样的做法是在“中心化”,而且会方便某些大的垄断组织进来进行“寻租交易”,更何况,它也明显的违背了一直以来绝大多数 DPOS 倡导者所做出的承诺。

Let us create a toy economic model as follows. There are a number of people all of which are running to be delegates. The delegate slot gives a reward of $100 per period, and candidates promise to share some portion of that as a bribe, equally split among all of their voters. The actual N delegates (eg. N = 35) in any period are the N delegates that received the most votes; that is, during every period a threshold of votes emerges where if you get more votes than that threshold you are a delegate, if you get less you are not, and the threshold is set so that N delegates are above the threshold.

让我们来假设某种经济模型说明上面的问题吧。现在有一群人,他们每个人都在竞选代表。选上的人会在当选期内获得 100 美金的酬劳。然后呢,其中一个参选者承诺,将酬劳中的一部分拿出来分给所有投票选他的选民,金额平分。(这当然就是贿选啦。)最后选出来 N 个代表(让我们假设 N 是 35),每个代表所获得的选票最多。在每一个竞选期开始的时候,有一个标准就会出现,如果你获得的选票高于这个标准,那么你当选;如果低于,那么你就下来。35 个代表,每个人所获得的选票都是要在这条线之上的。

We expect that voters vote for the candidate that gives them the highest expected bribe. Suppose that all candidates start off by sharing 1%; that is, equally splitting $1 among all of their voters. Then, if some candidate becomes a delegate with K voters, each voter gets a payment of 1/K. 

我们现在假设,选民们看谁给出的贿赂多,就选谁为代表。假设所有参选者一开始都承诺要将报酬的 1% 拿出来平分给选民。也就是说,如果现在有 K 个选民支持他,每个选民所获得的贿赂就是 1/K。

The candidate that it’s most profitable to vote for is a candidate that’s expected to be in the top N, but is expected to earn the fewest votes within that set. Thus, we expect votes to be fairly evenly split among 35 delegates.

现在,如果这个参选者要实现利润的最大化,那么首先它所获得的选票是进入到前 35 名的,但同时呢,它在当选的前提下,获得的支持者数量应该是最少的。在利益驱动之下,我们有理由假设,最后 35 名选出来的代表,它们各自所获得的选票数趋近于相同。

Now, some candidates will want to secure their position by sharing more; by sharing 2%, you are likely to get twice as many votes as those that share 1%, as that’s the equilibrium point where voting for you has the same payout as voting for anyone else. The extra guarantee of being elected that this gives is definitely worth losing an additional 1% of your revenue when you do get elected. We can expect delegates to bid up their bribes and eventually share something close to 100% of their revenue. So the outcome seems to be that the delegate payouts are largely simply returned to voters, making the delegate payout mechanism close to meaningless.

现在好了,其中有一些参选者不安分了,他想要确保自己的地位,方法无非是将自己的收入分出去更多,比如说分出去 2% 吧,也很有可能获得的选票数是之前的两倍。其实这样做是很划算的,虽然你的收入多划出去了 1%,但是现在你的地位绝对获得了保证。我们完全可以假设所有的代表都将自己的贿赂上限提升了,一个比一个的高,最后就近乎于收入的 100%。所以从结果上来看,似乎代表们所获得的收益,完全去向了选民的口袋,也似乎让这个贿赂变得没有任何意义了,对吧?

But it gets worse. At this point, there’s an incentive for delegates to form alliances (aka political parties, aka cartels) to coordinate their share percentages; this reduces losses to the cartel from chaotic competition that accidentally leads to some delegates not getting enough votes. 


Once a cartel is in place, it can start bringing its share percentages down, as dislodging it is a hard coordination problem: if a cartel offers 80%, then a new entrant offers 90%, then to a voter, seeking a share of that extra 10% is not worth the risk of either (i) voting for someone who gets insufficient votes and does not pay rewards, or (ii) voting for someone who gets too many votes and so pays out a reward that’s excessively diluted.

假设如果同盟提出分成 80%,另外一个新参选者说我给你们 90%,现在选民会怎么想?选民会不会为了那多出来的 10%,选择新人呢?它无非就是两个选择:要么选这个新人,但很有可能因为它拿不到足够多的选票,它给我的承诺也就泡汤了;要么我选这个巨无霸同盟,虽然少赚了,但肯定它能当选。但与此同时,贿赂也因为选民众多而被过度稀释掉了……


Furthermore, even if cartel mechanics don’t come into play, there is a further issue. This equilibrium of coin holders voting for whoever gives them the most bribes, or a cartel that has become an entrenched rent seeker, contradicts explicit promises made by DPOS proponents.

进一步的,就算没有这个大型垄断组织的出现,它还会出现进一步的问题。哪个参选者承诺贿赂最多,就把选票投给它,这样的博弈最后出现的结果违背了 DPOS 先驱们当年所做出的清楚无误的承诺:

从《假设我 5 岁,你给我解释解释什么是 DPOS?》一文中引用:

If a Witness starts acting like an asshole, or stops doing a quality job securing the network, people in the community can remove their votes, essentially firing the bad actor. Voting is always ongoing.

如果现在关键节点( 见证者节点)开始表现地像个混蛋,或者不再高质量的维护这个网络,那么这个社群中的每一个人都可以将自己的投票撤回,本质上来说就是把这个人给开掉了。选举无时无刻不在发生之中!


By custom, we suggest that the bulk of the value be returned to the community for the common good – software improvements, dispute resolution, and the like can be entertained. In the spirit of “eating our own dogfood,” the design envisages that the community votes on a set of open entry contracts that act like “foundations” for the benefit of the community. Known as Community Benefit Contracts, the mechanism highlights the importance of DPOS as enabling direct on-chain governance by the community (below).

习惯上来说,我们建议,出于公共利益,大部分的价值是回馈到整个社群当中的,比如软件方面的提升,争议的解决机制等等。本着“吃我们自家狗粮”的精神(注:一句英语俚语,常用于描述公司(尤指软件公司)使用自己生产的产品这一情况),社群的投票是要基于“社群利益协议”(Community Benefit Contracts)来进行,这个机制强调了 DPOS 的重要性,使得社群作为一个整体对各种活动进行实时动态的监管。

The flaw in all of this, of course, is that the average voter has only a very small chance of impacting which delegates get selected, and so they only have a very small incentive to vote based on any of these high-minded and lofty goals; rather, their incentive is to vote for whoever offers the highest and most reliable bribe. Attacking is easy. If a cartel equilibrium does not form, then an attacker can simply offer a share percentage slightly higher than 100% (perhaps using fee sharing or some kind of “starter promotion” as justification), capture the majority of delegate positions, and then start an attack. If they get removed from the delegate position via a hard fork, they can simply restart the attack again with a different identity.

当然,现在问题的症结就出在:虽然愿景听上去那么高大上,但是选民作为单个的个体,它所能施加的影响真的是微乎其微,更加现实的做法通常只能是乖乖收起看得见、摸得着的贿赂,而将什么美好的愿景和承诺丢至脑后。攻击这样的网路平台也是非常容易的,作为攻击者,你只需要将自己的贿赂比例提升到比 100% 多那么一点点就成,你就能获得绝大多数代表席位,然后开始攻击。一旦社群发现后将你移除,你还是可以换一套另外的身份再次故技重施。

The above is not intended purely as a criticism of DPOS consensus or its use in any specific blockchain. Rather, the critique reaches much further. There has been a large number of projects recently that extol the virtues of extensive on-chain governance, where on-chain coin holder voting can be used not just to vote on protocol features, but also to control a bounty fund. Quoting a blog post from last year:

其实,DOPS 的这种“链上监管”(on-chain governance)还是赢得了很多人的欣赏,最近有很多项目都在夸它的这种好处。链上的持币者进行投票,不仅仅可以在“协议功能”上进行投票表决,同样也能对奖金池进行控制。引用自去年的博客文章:

Anyone can submit a change to the governance structure in the form of a code update. An on-chain vote occurs, and if passed, the update makes its way on to a test network. After a period of time on the test network, a confirmation vote occurs, at which point the change goes live on the main network. They call this concept a “self-amending ledger”.


Such a system is interesting because it shifts power towards users and away from the more centralized group of developers and miners. On the developer side, anyone can submit a change, and most importantly, everyone has an economic incentive to do it. Contributions are rewarded by the community with newly minted tokens through inflation funding. This shifts from the current Bitcoin and Ethereum dynamics where a new developer has little incentive to evolve the protocol, thus power tends to concentrate amongst the existing developers, to one where everyone has equal earning power.


In practice, of course, what this can easily lead to is funds that offer kickbacks to users who vote for them, leading to the exact scenario that we saw above with DPOS delegates. In the best case, the funds will simply be returned to voters, giving coin holders an interest rate that cancels out the inflation, and in the worst case, some portion of the inflation will get captured as economic rent by a cartel.


Note also that the above is not a criticism of all on-chain voting; it does not rule out systems like futarchy. However, futarchy is untested, but coin voting is tested, and so far it seems to lead to a high risk of economic or political failure of some kind – far too high a risk for a platform that seeks to be an economic base layer for development of decentralized applications and institutions.

注意,上面所说的这一切,并不是对所有“链上投票”的否定批评,它并没有排除掉诸如 futarchy 这种管理模式(译注:一种要求选民对未来状况进行预测的管理模式,并且根据预测准确性进行奖励或惩罚)存在的可能。但是,futarchy 还没有经过测试,但持币投票是经过了实践,从目前来看,它似乎带我们走向了曾经我们熟悉的某种政治体制的失败,对于一个致力于打造去中心化应用和工具的底层平台来说,这似乎显得风险太高了一些。

So what’s the alternative? The answer is what we’ve been saying all along: cryptoeconomics. Cryptoeconomics is fundamentally about the use of economic incentives together with cryptography to design and secure different kinds of systems and applications, including consensus protocols. The goal is simple: to be able to measure the security of a system (that is, the cost of breaking the system or causing it to violate certain guarantees) in dollars. 


Traditionally, the security of systems often depends on social trust assumptions: the system works if 2 of 3 of Alice, Bob and Charlie are honest, and we trust Alice, Bob and Charlie to be honest because I know Alice and she’s a nice girl, Bob registered with FINCEN and has a money transmitter license, and Charlie has run a successful business for three years and wears a suit.

一般来说,系统的安全是建立在社会化的信任共识上的。就比如说,现在有 Alice、Bob、和 Charlie 三个人,这三个人中至少有两个人是诚实的,那么这个系统就能运转起来。我们之所以信任 Bob 和 Charlie ,是因为我们跟 Alice 很熟,她是个不错的女孩儿,而她又跟其他二人是朋友。Bob 在金融犯罪执法网络(FINCEN)有清白的记录,并且还有钱款转账执照;而 Charlie 呢,成功的运行一家公司三年的时间,并且还穿了一身的西服。

Social trust assumptions can work well in many contexts, but they are difficult to universalize; what is trusted in one country or one company or one political tribe may not be trusted in others. They are also difficult to quantify; how much money does it take to manipulate social media to favor some particular delegate in a vote? Social trust assumptions seem secure and controllable, in the sense that “people” are in charge, but in reality they can be manipulated by economic incentives in all sorts of ways.


Cryptoeconomics is about trying to reduce social trust assumptions by creating systems where we introduce explicit economic incentives for good behavior and economic penalties for ban behavior, and making mathematical proofs of the form “in order for guarantee X to be violated, at least these people need to misbehave in this way, which means the minimum amount of penalties or foregone revenue that the participants suffer is Y”. Casper is designed to accomplish precisely this objective in the context of proof of stake consensus. Yes, this does mean that you can’t create a “blockchain” by concentrating the consensus validation into 20 uber-powerful “supernodes” and you have to actually think to make a design that intelligently breaks through and navigates existing tradeoffs and achieves massive scalability in a still-decentralized network. 

而“加密经济”就摆脱掉了对人的依赖,让我们创建了一个系统,引入很明确的经济奖惩机制,好的行为获得奖励;坏的行为获得惩罚,充分发挥数学模型的威力,以保证:“如果要违反 X,那么至少这些人要在这些途径上走偏,而一旦走偏,它们必定会至少承担 Y 的损失。”Casper(译注:以太坊的POS机制) 就是完全为了这个目标而设计出来的。当然,从这个角度出发,你不可能想着通过设置拥有 20 个超级计算验证节点的网络,就能达成这样的信任共识。你必须从头去思考另外的一种设计,能够很聪明的绕过目前的种种限制,既能够实现规模化的增长,还能保证它依然是去中心化的。

But the reward is that you don’t get a network that’s constantly liable to breaking in half or becoming economically captured by unpredictable political forces.


文章原标题:V神谈EOS节点投票:我们必须绕开的阴影之地  原作者: BlockBeat