With the pure opt-in side of PSS, it is theoretically possible to launch consumer chains in a completely permissionless manner. However, it may still be beneficial to piggyback on the Cosmos Hub’s governance practices and UX. Let’s look at two alternatives to see why:
Let’s look at how a fully permissionless consumer chain could launch:
- Consumer chain developers post a transaction to the Hub, claiming a chain ID and launching their chain
- Validators post transactions opting into the chain
- As validators opt in, the chain’s security increases
This is very simple; in theory, there is no barrier to launching a consumer chain. But this ignores the realities of UX. Consumer chains must reach validators to get them to opt in. Either this will need to be done through back channels and social platforms, or we need to build an interface to list all active consumer chains and help validators opt in.
Building such a platform would be a lot of work and even once it is built, validators would need to be notified about consumer chain launches and driven to engage with the platform. One of the key value adds of ICS is eliminating some of the validator set creation overhead, and needing to drive validators to a new platform may negate this advantage.
We could also piggyback on the existing governance proposal system.
- Consumer chain developers post a governance prop to the Hub launching their consumer chain.
- Validators vote
- YES if they want to validate on the consumer chain
- NO if the do not want it to launch at all
- ABSTAIN if they do not personally want to validate, but don’t mind the chain launching
- When the vote concludes successfully, the YES voters are automatically opted in
- The criteria for a proposal to pass is
- It passes quorum
- There are more YES than NO votes
- So for most opt-in consumer chain proposals, it should be pretty easy for them to pass as long as they can get to quorum, since people are unlikely to vote NO, even if they don’t want to validate themselves.
In theory, this has a higher technical bar than the fully permissionless approach. The proposal must pass the quorum threshold to even launch. But this is the main hurdle. After quorum is met, as long as there are more YES than NO votes, the chain launches. It seems unlikely that people will vote NO in any numbers, since it doesn’t really affect them.
So technically, it is a little harder to get a consumer chain launched this way, although it is possible to modify quorum requirements on specific proposal types, making the difficulty of reaching quorum negligeable.
But the UX might be way better. Instead of someone needing to push validators to use a new platform, and get into the habit of checking for new consumer chains etc., they use a platform they are well accustomed to. Consumer chain launches can follow the same processes as any governance proposal. The power of utilizing an existing platform shouldn’t be underestimated.
One potential downside is that voters might not know the difference between an opt-in proposal and a top-n proposal. On an opt-in proposal, they won’t have to run the consumer chain if they don’t want to, while on a top-n proposal, the top validators will have to run it if it passes. This confusion could result in voters voting NO on a chain, even if they would have no problem with it if they realized that it was opt-in. This can be solved by clearly marking the proposals to avoid confusion.