HIP-3: Reserving slots for new or unelected validators via a "trial" pool

Recently harmony increased the available slots for election from 640 to 800. You would think this would have allowed new validators to gain election, instead, the validator count barely budged from 98 to 99.

It’s hard for new validators to become elected due to the difficulty of acquiring 4m+ delegations. Delegators are unwilling to risk getting 0% ER by taking a chance on an unelected validator since the 4m+ ONE barrier is so high.

To give these new validators a better chance to gain a foothold into the Harmony ecosystem and in turn become incentivized to promote and grow harmony, as well as to increase decentralization we could reserve the bottom 50 to 100 slots for new or unelected validators via the creation of a “trial” pool. The criteria for this pool could be something like: 1 BLS key only and election status is < 100 epochs since the first election or being unelected. Those who graduate from 1 BLS key can join the normal pool of validators.

This could also weave into a subset of the 5% minimum validator fee proposal. The validators in this “trial” pool would also be able to charge 0% fees.

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While this seems an admirable idea, i feel like most of the free slots that will be made, will be taken over by other validators that will try to bid below the lower bound for the extra incentives.

It is a nice gesture though, if everyone could agree upon it.

Unsure if this can really be a proposal though, as it would need a drastic change in the core EPoS mechanism while at the same time posing a higher risk on the network due to a large difference between the bottom and top stakers.

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I thought of the possibility of other validators trying to game the system as well and have some arguments for why this may not be as big of an issue as one would think.

  1. Large validators have a brand to protect, if they’re caught creating new validators to join the pool they would be shamed and their brand would be tarnished.
  2. New validators spend a lot of time marketing and developing their brand. It takes a lot of work to create another social media presence, website and maintain separate telegram and discord accounts just for the sake of creating a new validator that can at most bid 1 bls key.

I think most large validators wouldn’t bother going through the trouble of gaming this pool since the ROI would not be worth it.

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Regarding the second point, the gap between the bottom and top stakers would eventually become smaller. The expected return for an elected validator with a small stake would be larger than normal and would organically attract more delegations.

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Yes, but this is not a simple implementation, and im personally not sure it warrants such drastic changes in core protocol, to accomodate this. It introduces a bunch of moving pieces working together, to make it happen.

As for the incentives, if those places would be reserved, it means anyone with low stake can get in, potentially making their ROI skyrocket. Imagine a 10-100k validator getting in, they would have a few million worth of effective stake, making them earn crazy gains. I think that would be enough for many validators to try to game this system.

Unsure really, i feel like this is too much of a stretch to make it a viable EPoS change and the details of it, and mechanics needed to implemented are still missing/would need to be discussed. Lets see what others think :slight_smile:

Yea I acknowledge this proposal adds more complexity and simplicity is better in most cases in software engineering. I guess it would be up to the harmony devs to decide if it’s worth implementing and if there is an availability of simpler solutions that would fix the current system which entrenches legacy validators.

But I also think the ROI issue would be reduced since validators with a lower stake will quickly receive more delegations as is currently happening.

Really forward-thinking proposal. I like the idea, but i’m also concerned with implementation. It sounds easier than it looks. Maybe instead, we can brainstorm a method to curate and promote newer validators that doesn’t involve significant epos changes.

Thanks again for this proposal.

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Currently there’s very little incentive to stake with an unelected validator since the ER is 0 until they accumulate 4m delegations so the risk is huge for delegators. I’m not sure if there’s a simple solution to this but I could be wrong. Maybe we could see how the 0% minimum fee rule for new validators works out if it gets implemented.

I really like coinbois idea of identifying and promoting new validators that are active in the community. I keep an eye on new validators on twitter since that’s more my playground.

I agree that this is an issue… though we may be premature in wanting to make sweeping changes.

The EMS has dropped considerably. If we can get the current EPoS proposal passed, then the lower Bound would be 2,951,231.

This will go even lower once the other 200 seats are opened up.

Being a successful multi-BLS validator is a considerable amount of work at this point.

In the future, when we have 10-20 shards… virtually anyone will be able to create their own Validator and practically self delegate themselves into election.

In the short term, we need committed individuals, who are willing to put in the work, and actively participate in the ecosystem and governance.

If we make it too easy, too quickly… we will end up with a bunch of zombie Validators, I fear.

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The biggest problem right now with zombie validators are the stale 40m to 80m Binance delegations to validators with high fees, poor uptime and low community presence.

It seems like the new validators are bringing a lot of much needed energy to the community, compared to the legacy validators who went AFK after they got the Binance delegations and no longer have to work for anything.

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yes, we are working on that, but as you can imagine, binance is quite swamped at the moment due to the market conditions and so many new people coming in etc… so it will take some time i think before we resolve all of this

Since we can’t change the title anymore. I’d just add a comment. This is “HIP-3”.