01 Dec BitShares – Rough Guide to the DAC – Part 2: Witnesses and DPoS (Not Mining)
Mine BitShares? Not really. Let’s talk DPoS and BitShares Witness Nodes…
There is no ‘mining’ as such in BitShares (BTS). Instead, BitShares witness nodes are the closest approximation. Welcome to the second installment of our 3 part article, introducing key concepts of the BitShares DAC. part 3 can be found here
In part 1, we learned how the committee operates the blockchain parameters, and shareholders vote on them. Today we are looking at how running a witness node replaces ‘mining’ seen in many other cryptocurrencies. Why is it different? In Bitcoin, the idea was you or I could set up a node to mine coins. The problem arose where hashing power becomes the monopoly.
BitShares (i.e. Graphene, the core blockchain technology BitShares, STEEM and others), introduced the Delegated Proof of Stake mechanism, (referred to since BitShares 2.0 as Witnesses). This makes it impossible to dominate by hashing power alone, even with a billion-dollar hydra-dam powered rig.
Before we go on to understand witnesses, first we must explain the nodes in the BitShares network. Prior to that, the DPOS concept is one of the most important in grasping the overall concept of the witness.
In DPOS, the witnesses (formally delegates) sign the blocks and voted for by shareholders. Voting for witness means every client on the network says who to trust and best for block signing. This is preferable to relying on those with most resources. Whilst some centralization (i.e. someone can provide more infrastructure than others) will occur, it still means the network retains a very much democratic means of choosing who to trust.
What are BitShares Full Nodes?
BitShares has decentralization at it’s heart of a peer-2-peer network. The network is made up of nodes being run voluntarily by other shareholders around the world, whereby every additional node grows the strength and performance of the network. There is no central command or company with a data center holding the master servers. In order to run a full node, anyone (with reasonable server admin skills) can connect to any known node and download the full current copy of the blockchain, and run it on a private server or VPS. Once done, it will sync to the latest and start to receive new blocks to place on its own exact replica of the blockchain file, as well as helping distribute them to other nodes.
However, these full network nodes are not earning transaction fees or mining anything. Network nodes receive transactions from the other participants and forward them on, until they reach a witness. The current witness only is in charge of constructing the next block and being rewarded for the task. Note that new transactions need only meet the current witness, not required to reach all nodes on the network. Additionally, the witness is in charge of writing as many transactions to the block as possible, instead of power-hungry mining puzzles. This and the transaction distribution method are two factors that greatly contribute to BitShares blazing fast performance and efficiency.
Wait, who the heck runs crypto nodes without mining rewards?
If you run BitShares witness and full nodes you should be well introduced to the BitShares community. They may also be committee members, workers, or already running a witness. Reasons vary, typically it shores up presence and credibility to further support proposals, products and services they offer on top of BitShares. BitShares is achieving growth and sustaining itself because of prior and ongoing contributions. Your past help is appreciated when you make a proposal to request worker funding (covered in part 3), or obtain witness votes. This is all positive as it forms a symbiosis that only builds, grows and strengthens the eco-system. In no cases, does opportunity for ‘set and forget’ mining exist. Furthermore, some users may elect to run their own private nodes for a variety of purposes including developing their own decentralized apps.
How do I vote for my chosen Witnesses?
Log in to the BitShares UI, and follow the arrows below to vote for BitShares witenesses.
How do I become a paid Witness?
Anyone can set up a BitShares witness node by following the documentation or how-to posts. You as shareholder vote who will run the active BitShares witness nodes. BitShares, in order to maintain true delegated proof of stake, needs a minimum quantity of BitShares witness nodes for the protocol to operate. Currently 19, with an additional 30 or so as backup ready to step in and selected at random for a ‘try out’, should any active running witness node go down. There is always room for more to come and make an impact on the community. We’ve covered some of what it takes for you voted as a witness, and everyone starts from somewhere.
If you are curious about voting @apasia.tech as a BitShares witness, you’ll have to wait until 2018. As an example, prior to us doing that, we are running fully synced public nodes. Bangkok, Thailand is in the BitShares official UI. As a part of setting up BitShares DEX Thailand, (localization underway), we found Asia to be lacking in nodes. Thereby we invested to provide our own to the community. We are coming to almost 3 months of testing and refinements on our own hosting and admin for non-block producing Graphene nodes (we also have Steem instances). Once a BitShares witness, your track record of un-missed blocks begins you can’t reverse it! If witness don’t meet you’re expectations, members can cancel votes.
BitShares blockchain has a budget reserve pool for paying those that sustain the network, and this begins with Witnesses and continues with Workers. A BitShares witness secure and lock down the network, verifying, stamping and signing block records and adding finished blocks – the block producers. They are also at the core of the DPOS, a democratic layer preventing BitShares from becoming over-centralized. Anyone can set up and start a witness node, however as covered, this doesn’t mean any witness can earn rewards. All witnesses must obtain recognition and trust to become active.
Coming up in part 3 – Workers
The folkspaid ‘by the blockchain’ for improvements or contributions to the BitShares network.
“it’s a long, winding road with ups and downs to a good reputation, and a quick, short, bumpy road to a bad one” (anon)