eosio.forum Part 1: EOSIO Referendum

Obsidian Labs
Oct 17 · 4 min read

The purpose of this tutorial series is to elaborate on some EOS smart contracts in depth. We will carefully select examples that are well designed and built, some are already widely used on the EOS Mainnet. Through this series, we hope to provide more learning materials for dApp developers and help them understand more design patterns and application scenarios of smart contracts.

eosio.forum

The first smart contract we want to talk about is eosio.forum built by EOS Canada (the team behind dfuse) to support the EOS Referendum system by storing proposals and their related votes in-RAM in the blockchain’s state. It has been adopted by EOS Mainnet as one of the system contracts and being used regularly to practice on-chain governance.

In this 3-part tutorial, we will introduce the motivation and development process of eosio.forum (part 1), how to use it to create a proposal and cast votes (part 2), and walk through the source code in detail (part 3).

Motivation

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” – Plato

EOSIO is a self-governed blockchain which encourages its token holders to share their voice through proposals and voting as a means for consensus.

Block.one had proposed to create an on-chain forum so that messages could be posted to the blockchain, allowing for verification of a user’s opinion on a matter. EOS Canada recognized that if we used this messaging system to post approval or disapproval of a question, we would have the underlying structure of a referendum system. It can be used to poll a community to discover a communal opinion on a topic or question.

As a self-governed blockchain, token holders will use their stake to vote on proposals and decide on questions that impact changes to the governing documents, system-level Ricardian Contracts, or the EOSIO codebase. A simple proposal or poll allows the EOS community’s voice to be heard on specific matters without changing any contracts or system code. A referendum, if passed, should produce an actionable result to enact a change on the EOS mainnet, as decided by the EOS community.

The referendum is crucial to ensure EOSIO blockchain to be decentralized yet self-evolving. EOSIO codebase, governing documents, and usage of network fund can be modified through token holder consensus by way of referendum through proposing, voting, and ratification. This principle is written in the EOS User Agreement (EUA):

Article IV Governing Documents — Any modifications to the EUA and governing documents may be made by eosio.prods. It is admonished that a statement be crafted and issued through eosio.prods via eosio.forum referendum contract describing such a modification in advance.

Article VII Network Funds — It is admonished that any altering of the state of any tokens contained within network fund accounts, or altering any pre-existing code that directly or indirectly governs the allocation, fulfillment, or distribution of any network funds be preceded by a statement crafted and issued by eosio.prods to the eosio.forum referendum system contract describing the effect in advance.

Implementation

EOS Canada had taken the lead in writing the code that drives the referendum system that is being proposed for the EOS mainnet. They took Block.one’s sample contract and started refactoring it to meet the community’s needs as discovered through long back-and-forth discussions with other teams who were involved.

In July 2018, EOS Canada first deployed the beta version to the account eosforumdapp, to run it through some further testing, and to gather some community feedback. Later, the smart contract was deployed to another account eosforumrcpp, which stands for EOS Forum Release Candidate Pre-Production. EOS Canada also modified the permission structure for this account to be a shared multisig, set up amongst the other block producers who have been working alongside them.

On EOS Mainnet

After many weeks of testing, the eosio.forum contract was ready for the release. EOS Canada proposed that this contract be deployed to a system contract account eosio.forum so that all users would know this is the official referendum contract that they can have faith in. The smart contract would also be fully under the control of the block producers collectively, and thus of the EOS Mainnet itself.

The EOS community approved this proposal in January 2019 and eosio.forum formally became the official referendum system on EOS Mainnet. Since then, EOS token holders have submitted numerous proposals on this contract to improve the mainnet governance and promote the development of the EOS mainnet. For example, the EOS User Agreement itself was adopted through a referendum on eosio.forum in May 2019.

To encourage EOS holders to actively participate in voting and community governance, many teams have created user interfaces that make it easy to view proposals and cast a vote. This is a list of them:

On Sidechains

The same smart contract has also been adopted in other EOSIO sidechains. For example, BOSCore deployed its own version of the forum contract to support its referendum and Worker Proposal System (WPS). They also used the referendum system to launch the BOS Development Incentive Program to incentivize technical contributions to its ecosystem.

Other Applications

The eosio.forum contract can be used in many other scenarios. An interesting example is that the EOS community was able to use eosio.forum to create an on-chain Reddit substitute called Novusphere. The forum contract is like the backend server for Novusphere and it has another web user interface for users to easily create or read posts. You can go to their website at https://discussions.app, and compare the posts with eosio.forum’s transaction history.


What’s next?

Don’t forget to clap and star if you find this tutorial helpful, and make sure to follow us if you’d like to be notified when we have new updates.

EOS Contract in Depth: eosio.forum

- Part 1: EOSIO Referendum

- Part 2: Workflow of Voting

- Part 3: Source Code Walkthrough

Many thanks to the dfuse team for their help in writing this tutorial!

Well designed smart contracts with in-depth explanation

Obsidian Labs

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EOS Smart Contracts in Depth

Well designed smart contracts with in-depth explanation

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