The peril of compromise

trigger warning slashes and forks ahead

I don’t think that the best scenario is slashes and forks. I think that the best scenario is moving onward with Atom 2.0 with the paper slightly modified to better describe protocol owned liquidity/inflation, as well as the chain of custody of funds in the Treasury.

With that said, I would like you to please view this document as a risk mitigation mechanism. Specifically, I see grave peril in doing atom 2.0 piece by piece. It is a set of components that depend on one another, and it is absolutely not a minimal hub. Trying to blend 2.0 with the ideas of a minimal hub will likely lead to failure.

If we must get slashy, then that should be done on different chains and we end up with three hubs. Thanks to Greg from Regen for this idea, which preserves the integrity of the cosmos Hub.

I have not modified my original article, although my point of view has changed somewhat, getting all vengeance like on the Hub itself serves nobody. That said, neither AIB nor ICF should really be looked at as having kept up-to-date with their obligations.

The random string is still at large.

original article

I just wanted to mention that the biggest risk in the atom 2.0 debate is neither atom 1.0 nor atom 2.0.

The biggest risk is instead the bottom of the letter U.

Please imagine that the left side of the letter U is 1.0 and that the right side is 2.0. on either side we have clearly articulated, well formed policy that I believe has a near 100% chance of survival.

That is to say that the current hub in its current form is almost 100% likely to survive. In addition to that, atom 2.0 is almost 100% likely to survive.

But atom 1.5 is doomed. That is because a compromised scenario between these two proposals will leave the hub a designed by committee formless mass with its feature set designed by politics and compromise. A compromise on this governance proposal will lead the cosmos hub to almost certain failure.

Yesterday, @jaekwon suggested that the ICF be slashed. I agree! On the 1.0 hub, it makes perfect sense to slash the ICF. They have chronically failed at a number of important things so let’s get them right?

I would also like to advocate some additional slashing. On the 2.0 hub, it makes perfect sense to slash AIB. They have essentially exited development of the hub and keep making claims that they know what’s best for the hub despite not participating in development. In fact, if we look at recent code contributions, it is very clear that my own organization, notional, contributes far more to development of the hub than the totality of AIB. Just as ICF does not deserve 10% of atoms on the 1.0 hub, AIB does not deserve 10% of atoms on the 2.0 hub.

The early criticism of this is that it will scare away institutional investors and such. I tend to disagree. Experienced investors are fully aware of the perils of a 1.5 scenario. They understand that a successful 2.0 has many interlinked components that have dependencies. They also understand that 1.0 can be successful because of its simplicity.

So I’m suggesting that the most likely outcome of success is to have two horses to bet on. One of these horses is a minimal hub that is unburdened by ICF expansionist tendencies. The other horse is the full fat, truly non-minimal vision expressed by the authors of the 2.0 white paper.

Without further ado, I would like to suggest that the best future for the hub is two hubs. The 2.0 white paper does need some additional touches. I want to see the section on the treasury and inflation redone, and I would like to see some discussion of the chain of custody of funds that flow out of the treasury. With that said, I consider it to be a very important declaration of Independence from the legacy founding organizations.

how I’m making these decisions

Basically, I’m trying to optimize for the likelihood of success, or even for non-failure.


At the left side we have 1.0 and I think that it is unlikely to fail.

At the right side we have 2.0 and I think that it is unlikely to fail.

The bottom of the u is 1.5, and I believe that it is very likely to fail, almost 100%.


  • I do not support slashing of community members or scenarios that forest community members to choose between 1.0 and 2.0 with threat of a slash.

  • I do support slashing the ICF on 1.0 and would vote yes on proposals to do that.

  • I do support slashing AIB on 2.0 and would vote yes on proposals to do that.

  • I will veto compromise proposals that are merely aimed at passing governance and do not express a cohesive vision for the hub. I encourage others to do the same.

  • I will vote yes on a 2.0 proposal linked to an amended white paper that better explains how the treasury Will get filled, what protocol owned liquidity is, and the chain of custody for atom 2.0.

  • I will vote yes on proposals suggesting that we must have a minimal 1.0 hub.

why the slashing?

I mean basically, @jaekwon spent yesterday suggesting that we slash the ICF. He’s right. They have messed up a lot of stuff.

The same can be said of AIB.

I think that the important thing here is that we do not compromise. Engineering compromise scenarios rarely have a good result.

optimal scenario

I thought it was obvious, but the optimal scenario is to have no slashing.


This is an interesting analysis, thanks for putting it together Jacob!

Not sure AiB or Jae have the capacity (or desire) to even help maintain Hub 1.0. Do they? If they do, a “two horses to bet on makes sense”. But seems more realistic that only 2.0 will take off and be maintained.

AIB does not deserve 10% of atoms on the 2.0 hub.

We can argue that this is true, and maybe it is. But this would still be a vengeful strike. AiB had a foundational role in the Cosmos ecosystem. They are like the patron, or rich uncle, or rich grandpa that had a good idea say 100 years ago. Shouldn’t AiB inherit that? Some people believe inheritance should be canceled. The approach of slashing AiB is similar to that. Not convinced it’s productive.


Oh allow me to explain that I don’t think it’s productive either it’s just that the mutual slashes scenario avoids the 1.5 scenario .

I do think that they have the resources necessary to maintain the hub, although if history is any judge, they likely wouldn’t.

But the reality is that the 1.0 hub is basically the simplest possible Cosmos chain, and it’s likely that even I myself could maintain it personally.

I’m not loving the slashes. But if we’re going to do this, and @jaekwon Does seem quite enamored with the concept, then we should do it in the manner that is most productive to the community.

The most productive possible slash scenario eliminates future contention, does not harm community members, and most importantly avoids a tragic 1.5 compromise that would serve no one well.

During the discussion of slashes yesterday, I myself said that I believe that both ICF and AIB have failed in various ways and yet it is likely best to simply respect their historical contributions. Jae doesn’t agree. As you are aware, at times, I have felt that the ICF should be slashed. Many people felt that I wasn’t being fair or balanced, and that AIB had also failed in major ways. Those people are right.

I guess you can look at this proposal as a little bit of a backstop to compromise. I really don’t want to see a compromised scenario that affects engineering, because I think that’s a path of near a certain doom. I think it is much better to end up with two hubs than to compromise on 2.0 and end up mired in 1.5.

There’s also the reality that We have a uniquely bad politics on the hub. I think that’s because at some point ICF and AIB views diverged in a major way. There is no longer even a semblance of consensus on the appropriate direction for the hub. And unfortunately the polarization is being driven by the organizations that created the cosmos Hub. Furthermore, there’s some sense To both of these directions. Minimalism in high risk engineering is almost always a good thing. Atom 2.0 also seems like a good thing, it seems like there’s finally some sort of an independent direction to the hub in atom 2.0.

2.0 is clearly not minimal though. If we attempt to mix 2.0 with the minimal 1.0 and end up with 1.5, I think that we can kiss the hub goodbye.


I also want to mention, in response to some feedback from Twitter, that I do have a favorite scenario, and that is the passage of a slightly modified atom 2.0.

However, atom 2.0 has motivated @jaekwon to get slashy and The only utility of this is to prevent an engineering compromise that would likely end in disaster.

So, please understand that this is simply a risk mitigation.

I remain in support of atom 2.0, and I don’t think that the slashing is a very good idea at all. With that said, if there’s going to be slashing, then that slashing should most likely be mutual.

Sacha raises a really great point, The one true hub should not engage in this slash.

It bears repeating

I believe that 2.0 is probably the ideal.

I believe that 1.0 would continue to amble along as it does now.

I believe that if 1.0 is the left side of the letter U and 2.0 is the right side, what we really need to do is avoid an engineering compromise that puts us at the bottom of the U because I do not believe that 1.0 and 2.0 can be blended successfully. That’s the only place where I see a failure as likely.


A couple of quick thoughts and a disclaimer.

This turned into a bit of a ramble exploring different options and likely outcomes. It is not a pithy proposal, but me digesting Jacobs suggestion of forking and my interpretation of the opportunities and threats at this moment in time as we all contemplate the Atom 2.0 vision and the historical relationships that make coalescing into a shared vision together challenging.

This response is broken into three parts:

  1. A proposal about definitions

  2. A proposal about the “fork on the road”

  3. An exploration of different scenarios

  4. A proposal about the process and culture of governance we should embrace at this moment as the Cosmos Hub Community.

1: Definitions:
We should not be using the term slashing for any of this discussion. It is technically inaccurate imho. Slashing is a predefined and deterministic removal of tokens from a wallet associated with actions that can undermine the health of a PoS network. It should not be used to describe any social processes resulting in token holdings being changed via token voting. (In this I may be going against @jaekwon’s statements, I am not sure, but I think it’s important to be very precise in our language for discussions as important as these). Therefore I propose that heretofore we agree to use the following terms:

  • - Slashing: Exclusively for in-protocol, deterministic removal of token holdings for actions that are provable in a deterministic way such as double signing or too much down time.
  • - Forking out: Creating a new genesis file for a distinct chain, and rearranging the token distribution on the fork (Daughter chain?) in a way that is more reflective of what a sub community determines is a healthy token distribution). This is my understanding of a well understood and healthy mechanism for PoS networks to remove what are considered to be bad actors from a token distribution. Note that there will always (or almost always) be a original chain that may keep running if there are enough validators and token holders that think it is important to maintain the original chain.
  • - Social slashing: It is. important to put that social word in front of slashing to denote out of protocol removal of token holding to a reason that a community deems important while NOT FORKING. Now we get into the weeds a little bit because if a change is made to the chain that breaks consensus (like changing token holding), and everyone choses to run the new chain and no one chose to run the old chain, then we are really forking out someone and in a way social slashing…If we fork out token holding and but there is still a legacy chain running, I would argue there was not social slashing. So there are two distinct options a community may have.

Now I would like to share my opinion and state clearly that I do not consider ICF or AiB to be “bad actors” in a way that we should be using the term “social slashing” for any of the discussion. My understanding as a community member who has worked extensively with both AiB and ICF and the Cosmos Hub is that there are long held disagreements, and different visions that are reaching a moment where we need to arrange more space for the exploration of these different visions. Mistakes have been made. Mistakes are always made doing bold and innovative things. But imho there has never been any negligence or malfeasance or corruption from founding orgs that I am aware of. Therefore I would like to propose that we are not discussing SLASHING or SOCIAL SLASHING, but instead, we are discussing the potential that FORKS are the appropriate way to realign stakeholder vision with state machine (blockchain) operation and political economy. I am grateful for @jacobgadikian for bringing up this option, and would like to continue to explore it within the bounds of discourse I have outlined.

2: A proposal about the “The Fork in the Road”.

I will start by stating that I am ambivalent about the prospect of a cosmos hub “fork off”. There are elements I find invigorating, exciting and aligned deeply with economy, philosophical and technical opportunities. Equally there are hazards and challenges and a sense of sadness that “we all cannot get along”. This proposal is an attempt to outline another iteration of @jacobgadikian’s suggestion above with a little more detail and in my own words such that I find it attractive. I am not yet sure I would support this yet. So that is my disclaimer.

The Cosmos Holy Trinity
In which Gaia becomes three and we have our cake and eat it too (ideally).
The Mother, The Daughter and Holy Wild Spirit.

(From wikipedia)

Gaia (The name of the cosmos hub blockchain), is the mother of cosmos. She has been a benevolent mother, and raised up a whole ecosystem around her. She deserves respect, care and should not be abandoned. Therefore I propose that we hold AiB and ICF accountable for working better and being responsible token holders and founders by continuing to maintain the “motherchain” of Gaia Into the future. No Slashing except for those in protocol, or in the case of proven (in due process) malfeasance, corruption or negligence).

Anesidora should be the new Atom 2.0 Chain. Just as her mother, Gaia, gave birth to her, Rhea will serve to give birth to the next generation of cosmos projects. She will invest in them, she will secure them and nurture them. She will be a novel and powerful onchain institution, providing much needed onchain services. Her token holders should be people who believe in that vision, and she should fork out those who don’t believe. I would not presume to advice on who gets forked out and why, as I myself am an excited advocate of the need for this new daughter of Gaia, however I believe it is being suggested that AiB is excluded from this fork, or has a lesser role than current holdings on Cosmos Hub.

Eurusternos Should be the name of the new Gaia fork that could be called the "Tendermint 2.0 Chain, (in which ICF is forked out or the stake of that org is reduced to represent a share that feels appropriate for this vision of a minimalist and lean cosmos classic). Perhaps this chain secures gnoland. Perhaps this chain competes to be “the real atom”. I am much much less clear about the role of a fork that is presumably maintained mostly by AiB than the other two versions (atom 2.0 sans AiB, and the continuation of Gaia as the Cosmos Hub in an uneasy continued alliance between the founding orgs, the broader community expressed through the protocol politics of the cosmos hub). However setting that aside, a resurgent and healthy AiB investing into a daughter of the cosmos hub could be very invigorating and exciting, so I want to set out that

IF THERE IS GOING TO BE A FORK OUT, I would prefer not to see protocol politics in which we are voting on social slashing, but instead positive and proactive visions in which those who are into a specific vision are opting into governing and securing a chain with a specific purpose.

Now that it is clear what I am proposing (which is that if there is to be a “fork off” that we should acknowledge the need for three separate chains, one which preserves the original token distribution, and two which prioritize token holder alignment with different visions for a new direction), we can talk about the relationship between these different chains.

These chains could either:

  • compete for supremacy in the interchain
  • compliment each other with different application specific services to the interchain

The Daughters staying at home Scenario:

It is possible that there is a scenario in which the two daughter chains are secured by Gaia, and then prioritize different directions. Perhaps they even still use the same atoms (which complicates things and goes in a very different direction from the atom 2.0 paper I admit, but it is a thought worth considering I think).

The Game of Thrones Scenario:

But setting aside the version of future history in which we maintain unity through daughter chain forks leasing security from the existing cosmos hub, we have three distinct validator sets, each of which needs to compete for validator, developer and exchange attention. The current cosmos hub gives a massive service to the community with its’ deep liquidity, stability, and exchange on and off ramps. Whatever we do, we need to not threaten that existing value.

In a game of thrones scenario there is a fight for being “the real atom”. This fight is zero sum and only the strongest fork survives. This plays out the Eth - Eth Classic scenario in which eventually there is a remnant chain that has little value or adoption and a “main chain” which is generally accepted as the “true and proper chain”. Given Cosmos’s vastly different thesis in which chains are meant to represent a seet of stakeholders and provide a specific application service to a broad interchain world, this seems dumb to me. Surely there are enough different services to use this as an opportunity to focus on providing much needed services in a complimentary fashion? We are so early, with some much space to grow that falling into a zero sum game at this stage seems to me to be a folly.

But then again my go to modus operandi is “out cooperate the competition” and I see the world through the lens of my biases.

However, despite my distaste for the zero sum game:

From an exchange and user perspective therefore we should acknowledge the need to cut down confusion and maintain the value of the original hub. Unless there is hard work and cooperation to get adoption for different versions of the Cosmos Hub, the community outside of core contributors and validators is likely to “chose one chain to rule them all”. This fact will tend to force us towards reconciliation instead of forking each other out, or into a zero sum competition. This is the most dangerous element of the fork in the road. Unless the great fork-off is orchestrated and amicable, we are likely to see the short term fragmentation of the ecosystem and of liquidity, doing great damage to the viability of cosmos as a place to build.

Mycelial Mesh Scenario:
In this scenario these three forks work hard towards a version of mesh security (I wont call this " @sunnya97’s mesh security" because although he recently presented on it is has been something being discussed and socialized for as long as I have been a part of the community (2017), however I am exited and grateful for his attention and leadership on this! Sunny and the osmosis team should be proud of the way they consistently step into the leadership gap and move the community towards value, functionality and security.). In this scenario these three visions for cosmos bind themselves together not through the traditional app chain approach of token distribution, but through shared interchain security. Each focused on a specific service to the community, in a way that is complementary and pre competitive with the other three. The token economics are designed in a way to compliment and not compete, and no single chain of these three is considered the mother chain. This is attractive because of the challenges of human ego, but challenging due to technical implementation and business development realities. It seems more likely because of the sensitivity around sovereignty that is part of the founding spirit of cosmos in which none of us want to give up sovereignty of the consensus layer to focus only on the application layer.

4: A note on process.
The culture of governance is EVERYTHING. I would like to propose that we follow the following norms as a community, and that we call each other out when we are not following these norms.

  1. Decorum. This discussion should be civil, polite and focus on substantive discourse with precise definitions. I would like to applaud the efforts of the atom2.0 authors and team for putting a huge amount of work into a positive vision for the hub, and ask that everyone maintain decorum and not take the easy road of hyperbole and inflammatory rhetoric. If someone is engaging with inflammatory rhetoric I pledge to call them out even if I agree with their position.
  2. Disclosure of interests. If there are interests to disclose that are unknown to community members, they should be disclosed. We need to do better as a community about this. It should be a norm.
  3. Benefit of the Doubt combined with rigorous clear and precise critical feedback. Give people disagreeing the benefit of the doubt, and when you disagree be clear about exactly what you disagree with and why. (maybe a subset of decorum)
  4. Parliamentary Proceeduralism. We should vote down ANYTHING regardless of if we agree with it, if it does not follow due process. We should clearly outline what due process is, and maintain and upgrade that understanding to facilitate transparent, clear and effective governance.

Thanks @jacobgadikian for starting this post on the forum.
Thanks @Gregory for your elaborate post which clearly shows you took your time to put down your thoughts in a very constructive way.

In principle we have 2 basic scenario’s:

  • keep the Hub as one
  • fork

My absolute preference has the first scenario, where the Hub operates as one. I think on the long run having all the combined power of the skilled devs will allow the Cosmoverse to thrive and become bigger and better than it already is. We have already achieved quite a lot and there is still a lot to come. It surely requires strong leaders to take a step back sometimes and see the big picture and be able to come to a workable compromise where everyone agrees that it is the best route forward.

However, this is currently not the case. So something has to change to be able to live the ideal scenario.

If this proves impossible, then we have to go for the second best thing. Which is something which is done in the “real” economy all the time, where people leave a company and start their own. We can call it “forking out” or a divorce or a management buyout or just creating a new start-up. In all cases we have to think long and hard if it is the best move to do, since it indeed offers opportunities, but for sure also a lot of risks. I mean, we now have modules which are used by the complete ecosystem like IBC and the SDK. How will this be maintained? For the ecosystem it is crucial that this is clear before we are going to make a choice, simply because we depend on it. The Cosmoverse is strong, due to the ability to build on a shared platform, but being able to innovate on top of that. Talking to eachothers chains without the need of being on the same chain. Losing that would actually mean the death of the ecosystem, so it is not a quick move we have to make. I like how @Gregory put it; these things are like kids. If you are not careful, kids are always the victims in case of a divorce.

So yes, my opinion;

  • we need to get to clear definitions to avoid confusion.
  • we need to think about the preferred situation
  • we need to document the pros and cons to make them tangible
  • we need to think about what will be affected in the scenarios
  • we need to map who will do what (in both scenarios)
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Hi, I just want to make clear, slashes aren’t ideal and in my opinion the largest possible risk to the hub is a mix-and-match of minimalist ideas and 2.0. That’s why I also disagree with the notion that 2.0 should be passed in several proposals, that could leave the hub in a compromised state.

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Interestingly, I find the prospect of a fork compelling. Reminds me a lot of the DAO hack on Ethereum, and well - we have Ethereum Classic and Ethereum 2.0. When it happened a “stock split” of sorts occurred. Ethereum Classic chugged right along producing blocks with the effects of “code is law” and Ethereum returned the hacked funds back to investors and recently made it’s transition to PoS, which gave Ethereum owners another “stock split” with EthPoW.


  • Ethereum Classic

  • Ethereum 2.0

  • Ethereum PoW

Basically there are parallels to events we have seen in the blockchain industry, and I think it should be noted to anyone contemplating these proposals that this equates to your current holdings being amplified into these different ideological directions the Cosmos ecosystem could go in. We can not predict the success or failure of one or the other, but if there are engineers aligned to the development of the protocols in these different ideological directions - it’s not much different than launching a new zone. The bonus for stakers is - your current holdings would be represented in each developmental effort. What I mean when I say that we cannot predict the failure or success - who will hold and who will dump “stock splits”? Which ideological direction will create the most value for early participants and the future of ecosystem? One will come out on top.

My vote would be to fork, and stakers should understand the benefits of this.

That being said…in any of the prescribed ecosystems, my biggest desire is interoperability with traditional systems. Quickly drafted a summary to accomplish this, but it could be turned into a more formal proposal instead of being shared in the forum as miscellaneous or conversation. Fortunately/Unfortunately I have stayed current with regulatory direction provided for my region, and have made conscious decisions based on this guidance. It is possible the industry as a whole gets the regulatory direction - and slashing, from their respective regulatory bodies. (Note the “stock splits” nomenclature, and terms like “dividends” that are used generously throughout discussions about ATOM 2.0)

Does anyone suppose there will be a penalty to come into compliance with the guidance of international regulatory bodies, and should this not be taken into consideration and discussed by participants?

Bitcoin too from: Wikipedia:

Hard forks splitting bitcoin (aka “split coins”) are created via changes of the blockchain rules and sharing a transaction history with bitcoin up to a certain time and date. The first hard fork splitting bitcoin happened on 1 August 2017, resulting in the creation of Bitcoin Cash.

The following is a list of notable hard forks splitting bitcoin by date and/or block:

  • Bitcoin Cash: Forked at block 478558, 1 August 2017, for each bitcoin (BTC), an owner got 1 Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
    • Bitcoin SV: Forked at block 556766, 15 November 2018, for each Bitcoin Cash (BCH), an owner got 1 Bitcoin SV (BSV).
    • eCash: Forked at block 661648, 15 November 2020, for each Bitcoin Cash (BCH), an owner got 1,000,000 eCash (XEC).
  • Bitcoin Gold: Forked at block 491407, 24 October 2017, for each bitcoin (BTC), an owner got 1 Bitcoin Gold (BTG)

This conversation has been very fascinating, many thanks to all who have contributed to it.

If this discussion is to continue beyond a theoretical discussion, it makes sense to begin gathering the following information:

  • who would be contributing to which fork?
  • who would be validating on which fork?
  • how will each fork be governed?

Additionally, there is clear ownership over the direction of ATOM 2.0, something that ATOM 1.0 currently struggles with (as represented by the conversations that have been occurring on the forum). As such, it may be useful for us to lay out a clear path to execute on all of the discussions that have already occurred since the release of the 2.0 whitepaper.

Part of the purpose of signaling proposals, is in fact to signal sentiment, with the percentage of yes / no / no with veto / abstain votes being particularly useful for understanding stakeholders opinions.

As such, I feel that the next logical step for all of us is to await the changes made by the original whitepaper authors (if they choose to make them, and they are certainly not obligated to) to the existing document, wait for the result of the proposal, and then seriously discuss forking if there is a clear divergence in sentiment. But until there is a pressing need for it, I don’t find it particularly compelling.

Would be quite interested in knowing this too.

My interest is mainly rooted in knowing that in a regulatory blockchain enforcement era, which I sense is getting closer, there are going to be reporting responsibilities associated with the development of applications and/or chains. ISO-20022 will streamline those responsibilities.

As far as governance goes…I think this is the ideal target for an advanced civilization regardless if it’s blockchain, traditional or any flavor of a hybrid system. I like the practical approach he proposes to mature the technology too. I’ve contemplated if is the ideal platform to build a governance solution as proposed in that TED talk, especially with the ability to scale transaction thruputs horizontally with ICS - Interchain Security.

Just gonna say this: nature always heals

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seems kinda not

but who knows? we could also just prattle on about ethnicities and blasphemy forever.

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