ICF validator endorsement policy


We’re aiming to solve this with a governance proposal that commits the interchain foundation to a specific set of policies, but the previous proposal really wasn’t fit, and didn’t have enough input. As can be seen in the document above, which is not a complete list of ICF delegates, but is a complete list of ICF delegates that match two conditions:

  • ICF delegate
  • sold 100% of commissions for a year

key to this proposal is to flip the narrative from delegation with sales of icf delegation permitted, to an endorsement model, so that those with delegations from the interchain foundation are subject to the market, like all validators

Context to this is available here:


But most important, is this:


Interchain Explorer by Cosmostation

That is what the interchain foundation endorses in a validator. Totally silent, no known code contributions, no governance participation and most importantly-- compliant. And who wouldn’t comply? The rewards are incredible. But we could flip this.

I’m putting Ignite out of scope for this document. Notionally speaking, their position seems to be that they’re a private company and not subject to the same stictures. Since the ICF delegation situation is genuinely bad, I’m taking action here first, but welcome defined commitments and poicies from aib/ignite/newtendermint.

---- Proposal Text with options

Vote YES to request that Gaia, mother of chains and cosmos, politely request that the interchain foundation follow the validator endorsement policy document found at [ipfs cid pending development of policy]

Vote NO to request that Gaia, mother of chains and cosmos, NOT request anything of the Interchain Foundation.

Vote ABSTAIN to express that you’ve no opinion on the matter of ICF validator endorsement policy.

Vote NoWithVeto to cause Notional to lose the deposit on this proposal and contribute to a tally that cancels this proposal if the NoWithVeto is over 33% at the end of voting.

Jacob’s proposed delegation policy for the founding organizations of the cosmos hub

The evaluation period is quarterly, to ensure that founding organizations do not delegate to validators who have overstepped boundaries, for example firestake. Should any validator take actions that are actively harmful to users, like firestake, both founding orgs are not required to wait until the evaluation period has completed to remove delegations, but if this is done, they should communicate the reasons for that:

  • in this forum
  • in the cosmos discord server
  • on twitter, in a tweet tagging @cosmoshub and the other founding org

If an org doesn’t change delegations during an evaluation period, that is fine.

ICF loudly endorses all validators that they delegate to, and promise to never delegate to validators that they wouldn’t publicly endorse.

validator use of commissions from icf/ignite delegations
These commissions should be delegated by the endorsed validators, to themselves. This is a filter for long-term orientation, and to ensure that validators do not harm the hub community by using a founding org delegation as their sole source of delegation. Enforcement of this is delegated by the hub, to the hub’s community. Founding orgs are expected to reply to community concerns on this. This is to reduce their compliance time burden. This also economically reinforces intent: these are endorsements, not grants of money. Should a validator stop validating the hub, they could use earnings from their founding org delegation, so economic benefit could exist, but is very meaningfully deferred.

Validators who relay should be endorsed, and should also apply for an interchain foundation grant.

Software development
Notional, and historically several other validators, used to do unpaid software development work at GitHub - cosmos/gaia: Cosmos Hub . It is Notional’s view, as a validator who contributes software development work, that there absolutely should be a differential for validators who contribute to Gaia’s codebase, but not for their economic benefit. It is instead a signaling mechanism, reinforcing the intent of endorsement by the founding orgs.

Validators who contribute code to the cosmos hub can do things for Gaia that non-contributors cannot:

  • participate directly in gaia’s design
  • identify and fix bugs
  • assist in emergencies

Therefore, the more VotePower that lies with them, the better. This can also create a better culture around software contributions generally-- whichever founding org happens to control GitHub - cosmos/gaia: Cosmos Hub recognizes that code contributions from validators are preferred.

Gaia decrees that there is presently a disincentive for validator’s to contribute code and demands that this be used as a key signaling mechanism in the determination of founding organization delegations.

Gaia envies osmosis. The founding individuals and orgs behind osmosis have created a friendly, fun environment for validators and Osmosis validators — any who attempt to, are actively and kindly assisted in learning even arcane aspects of osmosis code.

Good documentation is code, and that documentation should live in the same repository: GitHub - cosmos/gaia: Cosmos Hub

Reporting should be designed around reducing compliance burden. Reporting should be done using a spreadsheet that can only be edited by the founding org and should only be edited after a founding org has made adjustments to delegations. The ICF is proud of their future delegates and endorse them strongly as responsible validators. Endorsed validators participate in governance, and lose their endorsement after two successive missed governance proposals.

codes of conduct on software repositories
Need to be tuned so that there’s known individuals responsible for their enforcement. Otherwise, there’s wide scope for abuse. The contributors covenant is an awful document. The right code of conduct is just a sentence or two long and states clearly who enforces it.

I have proposed one, titled Jacobs tiny CoC. Unlike a big CoC, it respects that contributors have lives and differing points of view, while setting the tone for productive work between diverse groups.

validator pump airdrops
NFTs and token promises have been used to launch validators high into sets giving them the kind of control that can harm networks. Out of protocol payments by validators to delegators should not get delegations from icf.

exchange validators
We should take responsibility here. We love to go aggro on them but our users clearly love their services. We should make very sure that we are publicly guiding them towards successful outcomes, like the recent huobi proposal on evmos.


I think that is a very good second draft. Now I need help from the validators, founding orgs and community members concerned with gaias long term viability and meaningful decentralization to help me finish up.

In my second pass, I removed any mention of ignite and AIB, as well as some “flavor text”. I kept the section about Gaia envying osmosis because I think that osmosis development processes and validator relations are truly impressive and special.

By the way I did not get into numbers for the like what should the differential be if you’re a code contributor I have no idea how to quantify that and I’m going to try to roll it around in my head a bit before having another stab at it. Better than nothing though I think

I think it’s important to have trustworthy information about validators and especially recognition for the public good contributions. I don’t think it’s wise to dictate how any organization operates when there’s no way to enforce that. Once the gov module updates come in the Rho upgrade, the Cosmos Hub Community Pool can make delegations. That kind of delegation can be enforced with the governance module and I think should be the focus if you’re looking for enforceable delegations.

The criteria listed is valuable and I know that it would likely overlap with any public transparent delegation policy (which ICF has had near the top of the to do list for a very long time but unfortunately other critical items keep topping it) but I don’t think there is any reason to attempt to force brick and mortar entities to follow something that can’t actually be enforced. I think that collecting public data about validators and making it more accessible is valuable work. I know Thyborg from twitter is working on one such endeavor (link). In order to avoid bias i think it’s important that there is never one “canonical” approved validator list either. That would be too easy to corrupt.

Jacob, my suggestion would be that you use the data you collected to make a validator ranking system that incorporates all of these qualities and provide it to the community in addition to Thyborgs. Maybe cosmonauts and institutions like ICF or Ignite will save time by using one or both of those lists, maybe they will take input from them, and maybe block explorers will incorporate the ratings like Michelin stars for users to choose. I believe that would satisfy the core issue and doesn’t lead to a centralized “who’s in” whitelist of validators or any attempt to control individuals or entities that have no legal obligation to manage their funds according to the cosmos hub governance system.

1 Like

You endorse this?

I didn’t describe a canonical list I described a set of policies that Will aid in the creation of one and I don’t want a delegation from the community pool thank you. I think that making that governance proposal would be far too difficult and I don’t want to be involved in the campaign for that. On the flipside I think it’s very easy to see that the ICF has done a very poor job with delegating given that it is the foundation behind the chain and its delegations should signal quality.

In my view, they do not.

As you can see, my document made absolutely no attempt to create a canonical list. I don’t know why you would describe it that way other than ill intent.

The icf needs guidance here. I’m claiming that the icf delegations are of such low quality that they’d harm the use of the hub for consumer chains.

Since you’ve decided to mischaracterize this document, which would not in any way take control away from the icf— except for minimum standards like governance I shall now link to the words of icf funded informal systems team members regarding governance, delegations, language, and drama.

OK so now it’s extremely clear where informal systems stands on matters, they find the validators frustrating, they support the current delegations of the interchain foundation, and find work to stop delegations to validators who don’t participate in gov to be annoying.

I initiated the private conversation adi described, it is my nth private conversation on this topic. That was with a broad range of informal and icf and it people including Ethan Buchman.

The private conversations don’t work.

Jehan does not seem committed to working with validators.

Tim Copeland is a journalist that Jehan misled, this is the most heavily disincentivized work I have ever done, mainly due to the volume of attacks on my character because people don’t like the facts. Once again, this work actually costs money. Like it is negative value to me, though the hope is that in the long run it is worth it because improving the valset and transforming the relationship of icf and validators to a more reasonable one will lead to atom value accrual and the hub is supposed to be important to cosmos.

Validators who never participate in governance block the success of interchain security.

I am deeply questioning the point of contributing to Gaia. As a gaia contributor I have experienced numerous things that I’ve not experienced anywhere else in cosmos, and witnessed a highly unaccountable / unpleasant development culture.

Yet another false statement from an informal systems team member

I’m not going to make a list!

The foundation needs to take responsibility. I can help the foundation to make policy. I am not interested in making a list. The interchain foundation should make the list, based on the policies, and should steadfastly and resolutely stand behind the validators it endorses.

Given the state of affairs here….

Why we not slamming People who agree with and defend the foundations policies with code of conduct threats?

Oh right.

Rules are just so that we can remove anybody who disagrees.

But no worries, if anybody wants to argue that this should not be a governance proposal and that the interchange foundation but should not make defined commitments to the community, they only need to say that. At no time was I discussing the ridiculous notion of farming the community pool for delegations simply because I can.

Hi I also just wanted to post a link here to the single canonical list that we seem to be cool with we are at a serious state of fundamental disconnect.

I think all these models with complex criteria for good and bad validators are silly. We determine who is a good or bad validator by their on-chain activity, that’s the whole point of on-chain stake. If we can’t figure out how to slash them for it, it doesn’t seem fair to anyone, especially the ICF, to place on them the burden of policing the validator set. As I understand it, this policing isn’t part of the ICF’s mandate.

In a similar vein, I think the criteria the ICF uses to distribute funds should be clear and transparent and super easy for anyone to verify.

If we want to vote validators off the network for bad behavior, that should be a one-validator-one-vote super majority decision. All of this extra complexity just makes things worse and no one has been able to explain to me the benefit.

1 Like

I think that any large delegator has that burden. Particularly with respect to governance. Currently, interchange security has a hard dependency on governance participation. Governance is used to signal whether or not the hubs validators set will validate a consumer chain or not. Furthermore, the hub needs to be an attractive place for consumer chains. Part of that is active curation of the validator set including by the ICF, maybe especially by the ICF.

So for example the hub becomes less attractive to consumer chains when the ICF does not re-delegate away from validators that dump 100% and have a 20% commission because the consumer chains need to anticipate that dumpage.

So the ICF would want to delegate in ways that make ICS viable. Currently that’s not happening.

Also I believe that it is now pretty easy construct the necessary type of/ just so you know, I don’t really think that governance non-participation should result in tombstoning, instead I feel that it should result in the progressive deprivation of earnings. Basically that validator and their delegates should earn less. I do have some kind of bad prototype code on this. Let me make it less bad and make an SDK pull request.

in my view, the entire situation could easily be resolved with a sincere apology and changing ICF validator policy so that they’re required to formally and strongly endorse who they delegate to. I know they can’t do that right now, and that’s not my fault, despite countless attempts to say that somehow, the situation here is my fault. I have only brought a very ugly situation to light. I did not cause it.

Really, the sole policy needed is endorsement. I am fully aware that the ICF cannot endorse their delegates. That is a problem.

If it isn’t a problem, well, those are the ICF’s atoms and I just call for endorsements.

I think that any large delegator has that burden.

The assumption is that large delegators do so to earn rewards without having to run their own infra. My opinion is such large delegators shouldn’t exist in the first place, those entities should be running their own validators and for the most part this is the case. As I currently understand it, the ICF has no plans for running their own validator, so they’re in a unique position that we probably shouldn’t be creating mechanisms for. That said, As I’ve proposed other places, I think The ICF should first publish an easy to audit policy something like an inverse pro-rata. Then eventually, we can put that policy on chain and allow the active validator set to vote on it.

My ideal PoS system IMO has these properties:

  • The Validators use the network as a user would
  • All validators directly fund software development
  • The range of wealth between the biggest and smallest validator is at most 10x (maybe smaller)
  • Some governance decisions are token weighted, while other are one-validator-one-vote, for minority protection purposes.
  • There is a relatively small common pool that’s used to fund marketing, development, etc. Most of these validators do on their own.

In the above model, it should be clear that conflicts of interest are minimized and the validator set should be sovereign and self-governing. The model above explicitly excludes coordinating entities such as the ICF, which are required to serve some bootstrapping function. Ideally, they could continue to serve some their bootstrapping function until some point where they become a validator as I’ve outlined above.

I’ll appreciate any feedback on this model.

1 Like

I will Sleep, think then post.

First pass?

Don’t dislike at all. Worried about how much code is needed to arrive at this though

Probably okay for icf to run their own validator BUT I think that it could be too large in VotePower terms

Given how stuff works now, not delegating at all would be okay too