[PROPOSAL][DRAFT] (Delaying until 1/2023 after implementation of ICS) Increase the Cosmos Hub Active Validator Set to 200 Validators (from 175)

If a delegator really wants to delegate to a top-of-the-list validator – they’re a big fan of that validator’s validation history and performance, voting record, presence in the community, etc. – we don’t want to penalize that delegator for picking their preferred validator. And if that validator is a really good validator and a really good presence in the community who has attracted a lot of delegates, we don’t want to punish that. We want good validators.

I see a move like this more as an indirect way to get there by expanding the options available. Letting newer validators compete, make their case, build, be a social presence, be active in the community – without having to ask delegators to forego their staking benefits by delegating to an inactive validator, or requiring every new validator to have 700,000 USD worth of Atom to become active in order to attract delegates.

  • About the tax, it definitely is another topic (out of context there). Validators are getting slashed/jailed for bad job, I do not see why delegators could not bear some responsibilities for the chain healthiness. It definitely it just the grand schema of things but the way I see it it would not need to be permanent and could be gradually adjusted, let’s say a target of 55% out of the actual 57.07% for the top 20. Tax runs for the delegators of top 20 validators until the target is reached. That tax could go to the community pool or help low ranked validator to offer extra incentive (temporally) until they get out of the ‘danger zone’.
    It would act as a safety net, helping those validators building without worrying to much about getting those rewards cut (being inactive) and projects stopped.

  • About security, I don’t see any valid arguments. No individual (perhaps masses/whales), can choose who’s gonna part of those extra 25 in fact nobody can pick what there infra is gonna be/if they have their own datacenter/where are they gonna be located.

  • I definitely agree with you about perception of money. I totally acknowledge that there is a barrier higher for some lower for others.

My biggest concern has to do with tendermint and it’s ability to run with many validators. Perhaps someone with more technical background should bring his knowledge there.
Referring to that post (prop10 going over the current number of validators would (noticeably?) harm the performance of the chain, increasing the blocktime.

Being in the active list should not be easy and should not just require some tokens, most of top validators really did have a great impact on the chain.

This is why we all have to option to contribute as delegators, vote governance and split our staking wherever we want.

My experience so far is that we do have enough validators, I can’t count the hours it took me to find the ones matching my criterias in the current 175 set. And it still takes me time to follow them on social media/governance to then adjust where my staking is happening.

IMHO The main Security issue we could have has more to do with concentration of staking in top X validators.
IMHO Adding validators won’t help decentralization. If they currently are in the top of the list of inactive validators it’s simply because people do not want to delegate.
IMHO We already have jailing for bad actors which then opens gate to new validators.


That is a very good idea. It would feed the community pool and promote decentralisation at the same time.

Not that it will not be a magic pill, since a lot of people just stake their funds only to return a year later or so to see how it went.

To add to this discussion; any expansion of validator set does not contribute to decentralisation of voting power. Fun thing is that we have had this discussion on Osmosiszone as well (Commonwealth) where it already became clear that the decentralisation trump card simply does not fly.

Read more about the analysis here:

The only upside of adding validator spots is that more people have the chance to validate, but they will compete with the already long tail of validators struggling to run at break-even. So the net result is that you will have more validators struggling to survive. And choosing to run on crappy hardware to save costs.

So if you want to expand the set, it has to be combined with another initiative to disincentivize staking at the top and reward staking at the lower rankings. Otherwise we can simply forget that we will ever reach a bit more decentralisation.


so what could we put in place to try to best distribute the atoms among the validators?
Because sincerely, apart from a financial reward, to encourage them to go stake with smaller validators, I see no solutions…

I see expanding the validator set as the middle ground between the status quo and some heavy-handed set of restrictions and disincentives. It is definitely not a magic pill to fix decentralization, just a potential baby step.

Adding new validators to the active set has no guarantee of causing any delegator to the top 7 validators to redelegate, or driving new delegations to those new validators instead of the top 7.

But while there’s no guarantee, newer validators would at least have a chance to be present, let the community know who they are, what they stand for, what they’re working on, and maybe interest at least a small number of delegates – and here’s the important part – without having to ask delegates to redelegate to an inactive validator and miss out on their staking benefits (potentially indefinitely if the validator never makes it into the active set).

Under the status quo, there is practically zero chance that any validator other than a person or group with pre-existing wealth would ever attract 700,000 USD worth of Atom from the multiple thousands of delegates that would likely require, who are all willing to forego their staking benefits.

I don’t think a good validator who’s in the top 20 and does great work and is a great presence in the community should be penalized with disincentives. I see more validator spots as a baby step than a magic pill that just fixes decentralization.

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And that is where we disagree in the end. You see, the current centralization of VP on chains, but also between chains is a serious threat for the survival rate for the ecosystem on the long run. We already see political votes everywhere, where people with a team delegate on chain X vote differently on chain Y if it involves a bit of risk for chain X…

Decentralisation should be at the very core of every step we take; and expanding the validator set under the pretense of decentralisation is just a false narrative (sorry to put it that blunt). Analysis has shown that it only adds to the competition in the tail and puts more validators at a loss running their service. At this rate adding new validators is more a risk to the security of the chain than adding any value.

And if we are not willing to take other steps, then we can also leave these expansions behind us. All the arguments are time and time again that we are not willing to “hurt” the top ranked validators at this point, but in the end this is contra-productive. Having a better decentralised ecosystem is worth more in the long run than the “punishment” large validators might experience. So we have to start looking beyond the coming week and look to the effect on the long run. And if we do so, then the only route to take is to make sure the APR for lower ranked validators is better than the APR at the top. Because people only are really moved by yield.

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There are a couple points that are totally missing.

  • Why do delegators choose top validators ?
    – Cause they are on the top of the list displayed on the interface
    – Cause delegators are getting staking rewards for 2 reasons: 1. Securing the chain (sure!) 2. Because they are taking a RISK

Being a validator, your cost aren’t exponential, in fact the more delegated the more you scale.
A top validator is a validator that has enough means to tackle down the most possible issues.

If you only are farming as delegator, you definitely want to minimise your risk thus delegating to top validators.

Adding more validators won’t change that paradigm.

  • Where are metrics in your proposal? Did you do your homeworks?

If we allow the 200th validators the ‘barrier’ would be down to 1,666 $ATOM which is exceptionally low to run a proper infra and have some people dedicated to maintenance/problem solving.

  • Why adding 25 validators ?

This one is for you to answer. Is it because we historically worked that way and took for granted the number?
Can you justify that number? Can you tell me which impact it will have on the blocktime?
Why should we not go back on track with the numbers mentionned on the whitepaper?

With that said, I definitely agree with all other comments. It would not help Decentralization nor Security nor bring any valuable options to any entity of the chain.

I am totally fine with it being a draft but moving forward I really thing we should professionalize and stop having to vote on proposals that are backed by statement without metrics.

@MaxZrt @LeonoorsCryptoman Please do not hesitate to dm/ping me if the ‘tax’ topic is brought up again. There are a couple risks to be accessed that I have in mind but I feel like here is not the place :wink:


It’s worth noting that the current amount of Atom delegated to validators #176-200 (or any other validators up to #488) aren’t good metrics to rely on, because those are inactive numbers. Atom holders typically do not delegate to inactive validators because they forego staking rewards to do so.

Any validator has the potential to draw a significant number of delegates, depending on their activity in the community, if they can do it without having to ask enough delegates to reach 700,000 USD worth of Atom (likely thousands of people) to delegate to an inactive validator and give up their staking benefits.

Atom has a theoretical maximum of 300 validators before the network begins becoming noticeably slower. (I’m a little concerned that Tendermint has a 300 validator limit – 10 years from now if/when Atom is a significant and enormous player in the cryptocurrency world, a mere 300 entities controlling the chain is tiny and makes it look like Cosmos isn’t scaleable.)

Honestly, I think, given the size of the chain, the activity of the community, the relative market cap of Atom compared to every other IBC coin, and the fact that there are 488 total validators would probably warrant increasing the active set to 300. But historically, this has been done in small increments, so rather than a radical out of the blue proposal to add 125 validators, I just erred on the side of what’s been done in the past.

Can you also share your thoughts on this one @Tritador? Because it seems you are evading this point imo… especially relevant for me to have your view on this because we have had the exact same discussion on Osmosis Commonwealth when expanding from 135 to 150 validators. And over there it did not do anything towards decentralisation… so why make the same mistake over and over again believing this time will be different?

Also on Akash there was a similar discussion and similar results.

There was a proposal to increase the validator set size from 85 to 100 raised about a year ago.

Since then, the 15 validators that have entered the set hold 1.34% of total voting power.

@Tritador, I agree that decentralization of the network should be very high priority. But, there are higher leverage ways to work toward this goal than increasing the size of the validator set.

Adding onto this point: with ICS coming up, validators will need a lot of educational and operational support. Adding 25 additional validators to the Hub has a definitively higher cost (supporting them) than it does return (no significant improvement in network decentralization).


Increasing the size of the active set is not a fix, just a baby step. I’m comfortable leaving complex plans regarding education, taxes, and incentives to the experts.

If 25 new validators are added, this will not cause a significant number of delegates to the top 7 to rush to redelegate to bottom-of-the-list validators.

If 25 new validators are added, this will most likely not cause a significant number of new Atom entering the ecosystem to delegate to those bottom-of-the-list validators. Some, but not a huge number (though any amount helps at least a little bit).

Where increasing the active set has a chance to shine is new validators who are serious about the task and work hard in the ecosystem. For example, if you are validator #176, you’re serious about validation, you’re building in the ecosystem, you even have a community who follows what you’re working on, and you have real potential to get your name out there – you might actually end up with, let’s say 50,000 delegated Atom if you get promoted into the active set by expansion and work hard at it.

That doesn’t fix everything, but that’s 50,000 Atom not delegated to the #1 validator on the list. Every bit helps. (And if multiple new validators were to put in a similar showing, those bits help more as well.) It’s worth noting that 50,000 Atom – a huge amount in the eyes of most normal investors – currently worth about 480,000 USD at today’s price (and that’s an under $10 bear-market price), is still not enough for a validator to reach the active set today.

Without expanding the active set to lower the bar to entry, there is a practically-zero chance of the above happening – of any new validator getting multiple thousands of delegates to delegate over 68,253 Atom (currently worth about 655,000 USD at this minute’s price of 9.6/Atom) to an inactive validator and forego staking benefits. There just aren’t thousands of people with that much money to spare willing to give up staking rewards. The 175 validators we have currently are a pretty much a permanent and unchanging active set with the entry cost being so large. Only a wealthy entity (likely from validating on other chains) would have enough Atom to buy its way into the active set.

That is a different reasons for expansion than decentralisation.

Time has shown that the 50k ATOM you are talking about is in general not coming from the top ranked validators… but from the tail of validators already. So in terms of decentralisation it does not add any value to expand.

If you want more validators to take part in the validating business of the Hub in general, then we have a different discussion. There I am more keen on following your line of reasoning… but please keep the text for decentralisation out of the proposals, since it hurts more than it does good in the discussions around that specific subject.



I appreciate the feedback. I assumed some amount of the Atom that ends up delegated to a new validator would come from the top of the list, just because statistically that’s where a lot of Atom is. But maybe that’s not the case and the top of the list is mostly stake-and-forget Atom that never moves.

I’ll make some edits to soften the decentralization language and make some adds bring out the other advantages once the workday permits.

Yeah, I really hoped in the past that an expansion would work that way… but it sadly doesn’t…

I think your statement “stake-and-forget Atom” is true. People delegating in the top are often also not people very much engaged, but rather wanting to stake their coins safely and return after a loooooooooong time seeing rewards on their coins. Active people are more keen to redelegate, because they understand the value of decentralisation.
But that is also why some sort of bonus for delegating to lower ranked validators is needed. Because APR chasers will then take a bit more risk with a slightly higher APR >> and we will get more decentralisation of VP.

Thanks again for all of your feedback. I made some edits to focus more heavily on some of the other advantages of expanding the active set, softened the parts about decentralization, and tweaked some things per other comments in this thread.

Did you already do this in the original post? (not sure if I should see “edited” marked somewhere)

Yes. The edit status is rather subtly displayed with the number next to the pencil icon at the very top of the post.

But the text of the post has been reworked from the original version. The thrust is mostly the same, but the order things appear and which things are emphasized is different.

In principle I am in favour of increasing the validator set incrementally over time as this proposal is suggesting. However, I think as @ala.tusz.am said we should keep ICS in mind and the additional overhead that will come with it:

Personally, I would prefer to wait until ICS is live and we have some consumer chains up and running before expanding the validator set.

I share this sentiment, I’m concerned for how increasing the validators set with ICS approaching could impact the performance and coordination of validators for ICS.

Considering how the upcoming upgrade is important for the Cosmos Hub future, I would prefer avoid any extra risk and wait to increase the validators set after Interchain Security is successfully implemented along with the first Consumer Chains onboarded.

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