Ever since its inception in 2016, Decred has shunned the marketing and hype oriented approach common in the blockchain world. Decred’s transparent, technology-first orientation, has earned it renown among programmers. Decred devs have spearheaded many cutting-edge cryptocurrency developments, such as pioneering atomic swap code and on-chain consensus voting. Even before Decred they had proved their mettle with btcsuite, which is being used by Lightning Labs’ lnd on Bitcoin mainnet.
The 2018 Decred Roadmap has attracted quite the attention from enthusiasts and users in the community. Although broken down for the sake of easy comprehension, certain aspects of the Roadmap bear their own shades of complexity. Decred Project Lead, Jake Yocom-Piatt, answered the many questions posed to him by Decredditors (endearing term for /r/Decred users), so as to help everyone understand the 2018 Roadmap better. We selected the best questions and answers for your comfortable reading.
MSharim: In a case where users of the Politeia Voting are not “crypto-expert” or if they are new to the crytpo space, can’t they make ignorant votes that can be dangerous for the project? Or what if someone has a lot of “financial power” and for some reason wants to stop proposals from getting the 75% yes to be approved, is there any contingency to avoid this, like Politeia-beta?
Jake: Ignorance amongst stakeholders is always a risk, but lack of “expertise” has long been a counterargument I found questionable. I do not subscribe to the belief that only people with deep technical knowledge have the capacity to make good decisions. Not every decision made by the stakeholders will be the best decision, so be ready for that when this goes live. Decred has the ability to make changes and also undo those changes, if necessary. It is possible for a large group of stakeholders to block the funding of a proposal. We have not settled on a threshold for the funding of proposals yet, and I suspect we will go with something in the 60% to 75% range.
O_rexy: How are politeia projects priced/paid/funded from the dev fund? DCR/project or USD/project?
Jake: All proposal budgets and draw schedules will be required to be denominated in USD, but monthly payouts for work completed will be in DCR, at the average DCR/USD exchange rate, averaged across the month of the billing. Until DCR has a more stable price relative to major fiat currencies, it does not make sense to denominate budgets, draw schedules and invoices in DCR.
Funkemax: What can stop a malicious actor from overwhelming the suggested votes topics with nonsense effectively deluding the communities voting sentiment (like how a flood of fake news makes it difficult to see the real story even though its reported). I might be misunderstanding how the Politeia system works but is it not possible to spam the system?
Jake: There will indeed be a fee for both getting a Politeia account and to post proposals. If a user is found to be spamming or acting maliciously, their proposal(s) or account(s) may be censored or disabled. This forces bad actors to risk some decred as part of interacting on Politeia. We’re undecided at the moment about where the fee goes, but the dev org strikes me as an acceptable recipient.
St0rmbrain: Can you provide a little more detail on the mechanics of Politeia Voting?
Jake: Politeia voting will make use of a snapshot of the ticket pool as of a particular block height, N. If you have X tickets in the ticket pool as of block N, you would be able to cast X votes on that particular proposal. The voting would occur over a 1–4 week period; we have not fixed a duration yet. We do not have a threshold for approving proposals set yet, but I expect it will require between 60% and 75% ‘yes’ votes. The 75% figure for hard-fork voting was chosen specifically to make it expensive for anyone attempting to keep a minority stakeholder chain alive. Keep in mind that these votes will require your ticket-buying wallet to sign them, so we’re keen to keep the attack surface small for any would-be attackers.
Jet_user: How mature and reliable is Lightning Network tech? Is it something we can see this year servicing points of sale? Also, is it something too complex that only a handful people on the planet can handle?
Jake: Lightning Network (LN) will make point-of-sale transactions possible in a way they just aren’t right now. The LN paper makes clear the various failure modes that are possible, and they can be handled without much overhead. The perception of complexity is based on the fact that smart contracts are really a new domain, and they are not very well understood. If you take the time to go through the LN paper, the concepts are simple, e.g. attribution / blame, time ordering and remedy of breaches, but the implementation seems complex because of the failure modes that need to be handled.
SPV WALLET SUPPORT:
Wajlima: I would like to know if with the implementation of the SPV the mobile wallets will be launched, and if this is one of the priorities in the development?
Jake: Substantial progress has been made towards SPV using compact filters. Our 1.2.0 release and release candidates will include the consensus daemon (dcrd) component of the compact filter support, so we can introduce the wallet component in the next release (1.3.0). SPV support is being tested currently and the bugs are being worked out. dcrwallet and decrediton will both support SPV by the 1.3.0 release.
INITIAL PRIVACY RELEASE:
St0rmbrain: A lot of us would really appreciate some hints as to what aspect of privacy we will begin to tackle first? Is making Decred fungible part of our first privacy installment?
Jake: We will have a substantive update on the privacy front in the near future. Our approach will be different from other projects and I will give an explanation of where we will be going from the initial release as part of the release.
KoalaGod: What steps will be taken to bring this up to a full scale exchange with several currencies available? Will you guys be going to other teams with an offer to join in on this exchange? Or will this be put into the wild and whoever wants to jump onboard can?
Jake: I will make my initial DEX proposal and then see what people think about it. While I would be happy for Decred and other CC projects to collaborate on the work, it’s really a question of whether others feel it is worth pursuing. After we have Politeia running on mainnet, we will assess stakeholder sentiment about pursuing the work as a subproject within Decred. Do note that Decred pursuing the DEX project does not mean other CC projects would not be welcome to work on it as well.
KoalaGod: What will this truly decentralized exchange look/feel like and will it include a GUI or all command line?
Jake: As with most new technology, it would start as a command line tool, to make sure it is working properly before integrating it with a GUI. I expect the kind UI people would want is something similar to what existing centralized and decentralized exchanges already have, which should not be too difficult to create.
Jet_user: Is the decentralized exchange effort a collaboration with Sia or other crypto project(s)? I suppose several projects are realizing the benefits of investing into DEX infrastructure.
Jake: We don’t have any collaborators signed on for the DEX work yet, but we’ll see if people dig it once I publish the proposal. It certainly would be nice if other projects were interested in collaborating.
Dragonfrugal: Are there any plans to increase liquidity with more exchanges or market makers?
Jake: I cannot comment on specific exchanges, but there are efforts underway to get DCR listed on more exchanges, both centralized and decentralized. The market maker situation is messy because in the fiat world it is the exchanges themselves that engage the market makers, so they have a lot of visibility into their behavior, whereas CCS are much less standardized in this regard.
Jet_user: With SPV and mobile tech Decred will be in perfect shape for mass adoption. Specifically, are there any strategic partnerships in the pipeline? And generally, what is your view on this? Do you believe pure organic growth can reach mainstream or it is impossible without heavy promotion? And is heavy promotion doable in an ethical way?
Jake: We are steadily beefing up our marketing group, so we will likely see developments on this front later in 2018. “Crossing the chasm” is hard and takes a lot of work, so we’ll see what happens soon enough. Facebook and Google have seemed to limit or ban CC advertising, due to a glut of ethically questionable ICOs or perhaps their own internal plans to launch CC projects, so it’s going to be interesting.
Jet_user: Is Decred ready to handle a sudden spike of attention and inflow of thousands new community members?
Jake: You can never really be ready for success, it just happens. It’s all about how you deal with it.
St0rmbrain: Why did Company 0 decide not to integrate segwit like Bitcoin or is it something we are doing over a longer period of time considering we didn’t need the malleability fix (segwit) that bitcoin needed in order to have LND?
Jake: Bitcoin’s segwit change set is several separate consensus changes all combined, and Decred has had a malleability fix in place since its initial release.
Decredible: What kind of particular use case do you see Decred best positioned for versus other blockchains? What market do you think it can capture today, and what do you think we need to do to get it?
Jake: I am of the view that it is best to focus on making Decred a superior store of value prior to focusing on its transactional aspects. We have already decentralized the process for making consensus changes, and we will continue in this vein by decentralizing the rest of the project-level decision making, which includes control of the dev org funds. Before the end of 2018, I expect for us to have completed this top-level decentralization, which is, imo, the lowest hanging fruit at the moment. Once we have SPV and LN, we can begin to focus more on the transactional component of Decred. In the absence of these tools, the user experience for on-chain transactions is not great for smaller purchases.
Jet_user: How do you handle the stress and keep going regardless of what people say?
Jake: Those of us at Company 0 have seen good times and bad, and we try to tune out the nonsense. It certainly gets old, but such is open source.
Jet_user: In an open source world, what is the best protection from clones stealing thunder?
Jake: If your repositories are active, it is challenging for competitors to take your work since they have to sync from your repos regularly to keep up. A certain amount of cloning is inevitable when your project is successful.
CosmicCF: CFOs and the finance function generally provide a lot of value to an organisation in managing financial resources. I am wondering if this is an area you have thought about regarding Decred becoming a DAO and how would the decisions that a CFO or treasury department make be developed for Decred?
Jake: To date, the dev org, DHG, has spent only 18% of the dev subsidy accrued — we have been very thrifty. Once DHG is replaced by a DAO, budgets and project funding will be dictated by our stakeholders. It could certainly make sense to create a working group that provides advice on how to allocate DAO funds prior to budget votes or similar.
Lewildbeast: What are your thoughts on putting parts of the code under patent as a purely defensive measure against patent trolls and other unsavory actors? I would expect not all elements of the software base needs to be open sourced.
Jake: Since the project is entirely open source, demonstrating prior art should be straightforward. I think describing a patent as a “lottery ticket to a lawsuit” is most accurate.
Blockdawn: With Decred’s growth, how do you plan to organize and scale the software development teams including the rest of the Decred organization? If Decred was to take on a rock band as an official spokesband, which band would it be?
Jake: Our proposal system, Politeia, is going to be used as a key organizational tool for project-level decision making, which will address some of the scaling. There will be further governance infrastructure added to address some of the other issues you cite, e.g. scaling dev teams, after we get the project-level tools set with Politeia. Hard to answer the rock band question properly; it’s not easy to map our musical tastes and preferences onto a group of musicians. I personally don’t listen to much rock, I am into electronic and hiphop.
Furinal: What’s your opinion on delaying source code release of new features to prevent other projects from copying (too soon)?
Jake: In some cases, it makes sense, particularly in subdomains where there is a lot of competition, e.g. privacy. Most of the time, it just doesn’t make sense to release the source code until you have a working MVP.
Solar128: What upcoming developments are you excited for that aren’t on this roadmap?
Jake: Mobile Wallets from the Raedah Group LLC developers.
To conclude, the overall orientation is best summed up by a quote from Jake in a recent Bitcoin Magazine article:
“Our goal for 2018 is to cut the head off the snake, so nobody can cut the head off the snake later.”