Ideas about how to achieve blockchain decentralization abound among developers and technologists, and the lack of consensus has led to the creation of numerous networks vying for user interest.
One thing most people can agree on, of course, is that the power within a blockchain network should reside with the people rather than any central authority. Although numerous blockchains recognize this, a great many have fallen short in their efforts to put it into practice. Self-evidently, the key to actualizing such a hopeful ideal lies in empowering users who support and operate the network, yet still we see deserving criticisms made of many purportedly decentralized platforms.
The team behind Layer3 public blockchain infrastructure Orbs believes it has achieved a high level of decentralization by following a unique approach. Specifically, it has sought to empower its community members through the creation of “Guardians” within its ecosystem. Guardians are not mere participants; rather, they are pivotal stakeholders in the Orbs Universe, their role transcending traditional participation and giving them responsibilities akin to that of network custodians.
The Blockchain Backbone: Community Involvement
If we can agree that blockchains depend on the strength, engagement and loyalty of their communities, then it stands to reason that such community members should be incentivized for their contributions. Acknowledging that such users are the very foundation upon which network resilience and functionality relies, Orbs has created the Guardian designation to give certain community members the opportunity to contribute in a significant capacity. Note: Guardians can be companies or individuals!
Among other duties, Guardians in Orbs’ ecosystem are tasked with reviewing and monitoring network Validators, ensuring these essential nodes adhere to the protocol and maintain network security. Guardians also uphold the chain’s integrity by retaining the power to vote out Validators who misbehave. Beyond such technical functions, these permissionless PoS validators engage with the Delegator community, representing their interests while participating actively in Orbs’ governance decisions.
The Guardian-Delegator relationship can be viewed as a pillar of Orbs’ philosophy of decentralization. Here’s how it works: Delegators – ORBS token-holders who do not participate directly in the consensus process – assign their voting weight or stake to Guardians they trust, with this interaction representing a critical building block of the network’s decentralized governance structure. In turn, Guardians keep Delegators updated on news and developments related to Orbs. They are also required to own a personal stake of at least 8% of their total delegated stake, a caveat intended to guarantee a high level of commitment.
The Guardian-Delegator relationship is a symbiotic one, with the former accountable to those who entrust them with their stake. Guardians also determine the level of rewards that are to be distributed to their Delegators, strengthening the relationship further. The outcome is a more democratic and decentralized network. To vet and select a Guardian, incidentally, Delegators can view statistics related to candidates via Orbs.
To compromise the Orbs network, attackers would need to overpower the collective stake of the Guardians, an onerous feat given the distributed nature of stakeholding; staking rewards are allocated according to the stake that elected Guardians and their Delegators contribute to network security. This distributed stakeholding not only fortifies the chain against the actions of bad actors but also deepens the sense of ownership and responsibility among the wider community.
Guardians who abuse the system, meanwhile, not only lose the value of their own staked tokens but also the trust of their Delegator.
By entrusting more control to users, Orbs is moving closer to realizing the true ethos of decentralization: a network operated by and for its users. The introduction of Guardians is a testament to the platform’s commitment to giving community members a genuine sense of ownership. By empowering them to take on meaningful roles in network governance and security, be that as Guardian or Delegator, Orbs favors an approach that aligns perfectly with the foundational principles of blockchain technology.