HIP-13: Validator Delegation Pooling

**Allow two validators to combine staking pools to encourage the growth of validator ecosystem **

It has become clear that there is an increasingly difficult hill to climb in order to achieve elected status for new validators with higher effective median stake (EMS), higher value per $one, lower minimum staking requirements, and growing popularity of Harmony (meaning more new validators competing for delegations). In order to provide a more accessible path towards 1000 validators and decentralization, I propose a change to allow two validators to combine staking pools. This new feature could be used by struggling validators to earn rewards for their delegators while trying to secure safe election status. I see two common ways this feature could be used. 1) Existing, stable validators could mentor a new validator. The new validator would have their delegations pooled with the established validator. 2) Two validators under EMS could combine pools until they achieve enough delegations to be consistently elected.

The intended effect of this proposal is to grow the Validator pool according to the wishes of the Harmony founders. To make this work, I propose an ‘edit validator’ command that allows one to add the wallet address of a 2nd validator. The staking pools would be combined once the 2nd validator adds the other’s address as well. If at anytime either validator removes the other’s address, the pools would automatically become separate again. The validator with the most delegations would be the one to maintain control of the existing BLS keys. The other validator would then have to generate new BLS keys for themself.

The requirements of making this work: both validators would have to charge the same fee % and be operating on the same shard. No more than 2 validators can join together. When both validators have individual total delegations greater than or equal to the most recent EMSx1.1, the partnership is automatically split (with a 1 epoch grace period to account for changes that need to be made by the validators). The point of this is not to create massive delegation pools, but rather to support validators in need until they can stand on their own two feet. One of the greatest hurdles of a new validator is convincing investors to delegate without the expectation of short term returns. With all of the yield farming options, large number of existing elected validators, and higher EMS the road to election is becoming increasingly difficult and costly. Keeping the status quo will not allow for the vision of 1000 validators. Under this proposal, delegators could stake with a struggling validator without worrying about not receiving rewards.

We could possibly use this setup to begin a formal mentorship program in association with the validator DAO where candidates for mentorship are chosen and assisted in their journey towards becoming an independent validator. Also, there is the opportunity for an agreement among independent validators where the well established validators could separately charge a fee to aspiring validators in order to allow the new one to sort of piggy back off of their established staking pool. If one member isn’t holding up their end of the bargain, the other can remove their wallet address at any moment to break the partnership.

I realize there might be aspects or consequences I’m not considering. I welcome your input. Also, if developers are seeing this and don’t think certain aspects are possible from a programming perspective or have suggestions on how to make this work, please share your thoughts.

Do you support the creation of a validator pooling feature to help struggling validators?

Suggested voting options : yes or no

  • yes
  • no

0 voters

7 Likes

Small validators need more tools to help secure their election. This would be a great help to many of us who are struggling maintaining our status

5 Likes

I’m some sense an elected/prominent validator aiding a new validator in the path to election would be a statement of authenticity/rapport for the budding validator(s) - erode the is this new validator entity legit or a scam sentiment? has the new validator entity done their due care in working to achieve election? ,etc.)

Seems like a great idea

5 Likes

Yes from me, this sounds like very good idea.

It’s really hard to keep delegates when you can offer no block rewards, this will go along way to help establish new validators.

4 Likes

I like where this is going, and where your head is but would need more time and more tech before I voted for this. However, I am a HUGE supporter of not supporting Billionaire companies being validators… Binance, Kucoin, etc… have NO business having so many BLS Keys. NO ONE should have that many. I will support in almost any way I can, the removal of the ability for someone/some entity to have more than a certain finite (and tiny amount) of keys. If we don’t do this… then what ARE we doing? Fooling ourselves about decentralization, that’s what.

3 Likes

Hello,

thanks for the proposal, but this sounds a bit complex, and it gets even more complex once resharding in implemented.

Dont get me wrong its one of the better proposals ive seen lately, but i just dont think its possible to do it in such form… It also introduces another complexity layer and potential security risk. It would be best to find a simpler solution, if there is one.

5 Likes

@sophoah @rongjian @lij as @mindstyle noted, this does sound fairly complex. Can you confirm the feasibillity of this proposal so we can proceed or not?

2 Likes

If this is technically possible, and wouldn’t create any unforeseen negative draw backs, it sounds like it would be a great addition to the Harmony Blockchain!

  1. It creates a more achievable pathway for smaller pools to become elected, aiding in overall ability to maintain healthy decentralization.

  2. It lowers the barrier of entry for IT Professionals which might currently discourage them from running a validator node because of the uncertainty involved with the fund raising aspects of starting a successful validator.

  3. It continues the message that Harmony speaks to the greater Crypto space, with it’s Effective Proof of Stake model and tokenomic considerations for economically challenged people, that Harmony is tirelessly here to provide “open consensus for 10,000,000,000 People” and that we understand that sometimes means from the bottom up! :clap:

Thank you @Harmonious_Dude !

3 Likes

I agree on that we need to find a system that helps new validators to get elect but I agree as well with the ones that consider this maybe a bit too complex. This is not exactly an elegant solution IMO.

I am thinking about how this will look from the delegators perspective. How will a delegator know that a smaller validator has a mentor and if he/she chooses to delegate there the APY will come from the mentor validator?

I have the sensation than most of delegators do not understand fully how the elected/unelected stuff works and that is why they stay on the top of the table where stuff that they don’t understand wont affect them anyway.

I appreciate the amount of work you have put on this, but I hope for a solution that removes complexity rather than increasing it.

3 Likes

Awesome idea, sounds a bit complex, but if we have the mechanisms to do so, I believe it will be a nice add to the protocol as whole, since it will help for further decentralization, making somehow easier to new validators to climb.

But to prevent leeching, I think there must be a maximum period of merging as well as a cooldown or grace period after that, preventing the same “mentor” and the same “mentored” merge pools again during this time. By doing this, the validators community will need to interact between AND will prevent the same players to play the same game.

2 Likes

I like your idea and think it would certainly benefit new validators. On the other hand, I don’t think the implementation looks too feasible, although we’ll have to wait and see what the devs say to be sure.

Also, as others have mentioned, this not only presents difficulties on the technical side, but also on the communication’s side. By this I mean that if it is already difficult to explain to the community and delegators how staking works in Harmony, imagine how difficult it would be to explain this to them.

Finally, let’s not forget that behind every validator there are people, and people are complex. Merging two validators for a certain amount of time would be like merging two people. While it may work, it is very likely that interpersonal relationships kind of problems would arise, and that would not leave a good impression on the community.

I think a short term solution involves the support of the VDAO by means of a program of delegations to new (and perhaps not so new as well) validators.

2 Likes

I support the idea of Validators cooperation, but IMHO it needs to have no limitations of the number of validators going to cooperate other than based on the Effective PoS - this should make limitless conglomeration useless and even counterproductive. Besides that, it will allow cooperation for groups of small validators, excluding any disadvantaged position for them when cooperating with a Validator with a critically bigger share of delegated tokens.
Also absolutely there is a need for a Validator’s school if we want to onboard more validators - this is a strong must and Validators DAO should consider this as a priority IMHO.

3 Likes

Couldn’t agree more! Very helpful schemes for small and not elected validator

1 Like

ONE question that immediately comes to mind is… How will this affect the stability, security, and decentralization of the network?

Is the purpose of having separate independent validators with their own stake, not the aforementioned things?

Just a thought that immediately comes to mind and leaves me unsure of how to vote on this ONE atm…

3 Likes

(Noob here) Wouldn’t this make the network more centralised? And also large validators could combine to corrupt the network?

2 Likes

Concerns over security, feasibility (extra dev work) and complexity for delegators have been mentioned already. At the moment, with my limited knowledge, it is very difficult to cast a vote on this.

I’m wondering what the Validator DAO has been working on to address the issue at the root of this proposal (i.e. helping new/smaller validators reach election). I remember seeing some posts on Reddit a while back where new Validators were being showcases and AMA’ed, which was a nice initiative.

2 Likes

I agree that with it being so hard to get elected this would be a great idea in getting things rolling for new validators.

I do however wonder if this is borderline going in the direction of a permissioned blockchain since you could pick and choose who you work with ( though this is a problem we almost currently face anyway due to how hard it is to come up from unelection without help). Maybe there is a way we can avoid that issue by basing who gets chosen either randomly or based off of some statistic that the new validator has some control over.

We definitely would need to implement the idea of automatically breaking them up after the 2 validators get to a certain size in order to avoid large validators from pooling together and also to stop from large validators opening a 2nd node and pooling with themselves.

With so many different great ideas for how to solve one problem posted all over this forum, I wonder if there is a way for us to group them all together into one place for people to more easily review the information. Such as a main section for “Getting new validators elected”, call it what you will, and then all of these topics listed in that section.