ATOM 2.0 white paper rejected: Avoid the tyranny of the majority, the best teaching material for blockchain governance

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Atom 2.0, Long-term readers must know that in the blockchain ecosystem, apart from Ethereum, which is “unable to lose” , I have always liked Cosmos the most, although Cosmos Hub’s native token ATOM is not eye-catching in terms of market value. , at best, it can only be called not bad.

Cosmos’ diverse worldview accommodates small but independent sovereign communities. In the “Cosmos universe”, each vertical application is an independent and autonomous sovereign chain, and at the same time it is interconnected with other sovereign chains in the ecology. This governance framework similar to the EU makes the governance of each sovereign chain particularly deep and wide, and the degree of participation is much higher than other ecology.

Cosmos Hub, as the leader in the alliance, does not have many proposals, but because of its far-reaching impact, it often arouses strong repercussions. Proposal 82 “ATOM 2.0: A new vision for Cosmos Hub” [1] , which was just rejected this week , is considered the best among them. Not only did the voting process turn around and was full of drama, but the final result also made this proposal a blockchain The best textbook on governance.


Three conditions for passing the bill

The Cosmos voting mechanism is very ingenious. The most special design is that in addition to the three standard options of Yes, No, and Abstain, there is a fourth option NoWithVeto, which I translate as “veto”. In summary, for the proposal of Cosmos Hub to be passed, three conditions must be met:

  1. The voting rate is higher than 40% of the total amount of pledged tokens. Abstain counts in turnout
  2. Yes votes accounted for more than 50% of the votes except Abstain
  3. NoWithVeto accounted for less than 33.4% of the total votes

This time the bill 82 failed, precisely because NoWithVeto accounted for more than 33.4% of the total votes. Even if the votes of Yes (excluding Abstain) exceeded 50%, the bill was still rejected.

In other words, Proposal 82 is not “rejected” with less than half of Yes, nor “opposed” with more than half of No, but “rejected” with more than 33.4% of NoWithVeto, and the proposal deposit was confiscated.


The practice of ideas, the logic of mathematics

The design of the veto is not only the practice of ideas, but also the logic of mathematics.

Conceptually, the veto is to counteract the tyranny of the majority, that is, the masses abuse the “minority obeying the majority” mechanism to pass bills that violate basic ethics and human rights.

For example, if someone proposes to confiscate all assets whose wallet addresses end with “p” and distribute them equally to other wallets, if all voters are rational and selfish, except for the victim users whose wallet ends with “p”, they will all vote Yes, and the proposal will pass , the assets were successfully confiscated, which is the tyranny of the majority. Although the above examples are absurd, if you are familiar with the Juno 16 bill [2][3] earlier this year , you will know that the distance between it and reality is not as far as imagined.

However, to fight against the tyranny of the minority, why choose 33.4%, that is, 1/3? That’s math. The core design of Tendermint, the underlying consensus engine of Cosmos, stipulates that each block needs to be confirmed by 66.7%, that is, more than 2/3 of the votes, in order to produce a valid block. Conversely, when 33.4% or more of the votes do not confirm the newly generated block, the entire chain will stop.

Therefore, logically, even without NoWithVeto’s design, if 33.4% of the votes united to “strike” and “struggle” by not confirming the newly generated blocks, the objective effect would still be veto, or even “both perish.” Therefore, the design of NoWithVeto is to reinterpret the underlying mathematical logic in the surface voting mechanism, so that individual proposals can veto any transaction with the same logic as the underlying consensus mechanism under the premise of a voting rate of more than 40%.


What is NoWithVeto

a little complicated? Sorry, I did my best to educate.

Not only you, but even Cosmos OG is at odds with NoWithVeto. Although the objective effect is clear, different stakeholders and validators have been voting for NoWithVeto for different reasons. Some people understand it as “more against than against”, while others understand it as “If the bill is passed, I will not hesitate to leave the community.” Someone used it purely to vent, expressing “I am very upset with the proposer”, and used it as a Facebook “嬲嬲” (angry) emoji.

In response to this strange phenomenon, Proposal 75 “Establishing a definition of NoWithVeto” [4] was submitted earlier . The proposal was drafted very clearly. First, it listed the six major understandings of NoWithVeto by the community, and then made an analysis to exclude three of them. It successfully passed with 55.67% of the total votes, and reached a consensus on the meaning of NoWithVeto for the community:

  1. Irrelevant to the community, self-promotion and other rubbish proposals
  2. infringe upon the interests of the minority
  3. Violating or encouraging violations of established community rules (rules of engagement)

It can be seen from the above that there are extremely serious political discussions in the blockchain ecology, and the quality is several times higher than that of the so-called members of the Legislative Council of some governments.

Proposal 75, while establishing the significance of NoWithVeto, also laid the groundwork for the stillborn ATOM 2.0 proposal; after three months, a total of 43 validators including DHK dao voted for NoWithVeto, vetoing Proposal 82 with more than half of the approval rate.

With this result, the supporters of the proposal were disappointed. Some were extremely angry, and some were worried that the core figures who promoted ATOM 2.0 would quit because of their long-term dedication to the community, pushing the Cosmos Hub to its demise.

As for me, although I am in awe of the contributors who promoted the proposal, I think that the result of proposal 82 highlights the beauty of Cosmos ecological autonomy and provides a good example for the research of blockchain governance.

As for my understanding of the ATOM 2.0 proposal and the reason why DHK dao voted for NoWithVeto, I will discuss it later.


  1. Cosmos hub Proposal 82: ATOM 2.0: A new vision for Cosmos Hub
  2. How did “common prosperity” come about? Juno Proposal 16 Event Book
  3. A Trial of Democracy: The Wake of Juno Proposition 16
  4. Cosmos hub Proposal 75: Establishing a definition of NoWithVeto

The article is reproduced with authorization, the title is modified by the editor, and the original text can be found here .

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