Network issues over the weekend and questions about Steem attestations

As you may know the Byteball network experienced issues July 13–15. Clearly the timing was not great given the surge in new users following the Steem release made on July 12.

The good news is these have been fixed. Technical details on what happened can be found towards the bottom of this article. But first, here are some resources for the many new users we have attracted from the Steem community.

Questions relating to Steem attestation referral rewards

Steem attestations resumed July 16. If you have a question regarding referral reward attestations please submit the details through this Google Form. Please do not post your question on Slack, Telegram, Twitter etc, as to investigate your query we need all the information that the form requests.

Rumors and realities

After the announcement of the Steem attestation program, a number of rumors have spread and we would therefore like to use this moment to address some of them:

Rumor: The airdrop ends in a week/day/month!

Reality: This is an integration from Byteball to Steem and not a normal airdrop. Byteball rewards a new user for connecting his wallet with his Steem username and this feature will be in the wallet software until it for some reason doesn’t make sense. The rewards paid to new users for linking have no set end date either. The rewards are subject to change as already stated, but there’s no need to worry that you won’t make it “in time”.

Rumor: The airdrop works only for some Steem users!

Reality: No, the integration allows any Steem user to link their Byteball wallet with their Steem username. At the time of writing, users with a reputation score of 30 or more will receive a reward. But all the other benefits (reduced cost of identity attestation, possible bonuses from ICOs issued on the Byteball platform etc.) are eligible for everyone!

Rumor: The network couldn’t handle the traffic of all the Steemians wanting to attest

Reality: The network load was nowhere near the load previously proven during stress tests. The Steem attestation bot, however, has been seeing a lot of traffic and therefore it may seem slow or unresponsive at times. It’s important to distinguish between the Byteball network and a bot running on a server.

Answers to some other common questions from Steem attestors

Question: What if a user clicked a referral link and paid with funds sent to him from another attested user?

Answer: The user providing the funds will be the referrer, not the one from the link.

Question: What if there were multiple inputs from several attested users being used to pay for an attestation?

Answer: The input that is closest but not less than the output required will be the referrer.

Question: What if the user didn’t spend my funds, but instead signed a message?

Answer: Then the referrer of that attestation is determined by the referral link (if any) that was clicked by the referred user. If he clicked several referral links, the latest one wins.

Question: How on earth can I know any of this?

Answer: You can see all transactions on https://explorer.byteball.org — you can search for addresses and see ingoing and outgoing transactions of that wallet thereby allowing you to “follow the trail” just like the bot does.

Question: Where can I see attestations?

Answer: On https://byteball.co/attestors you can see all attestation bots and their number of attestations. If you click one of them, you can see the latest attestation units.

What actually happened that resulted in the network issues?

On Friday July 13, some of the witnesses crashed due to a bug. The witnesses that remained online were recently updated and didn’t have the bug. For these witnesses the steem attestation bot continued to post transactions very fast. Due to a recent upgrade it didn’t have to wait for confirmations, so the unconfirmed tail of the DAG grew very large.

The witnesses that crashed were updated and restarted. However, they started adding their units to the old part of the DAG that they last witnessed, which caused massive rebuilds of the main chain each time a new unit was added. This made validation of new units very slow.

The Byteball developers had to apply some optimizations that matter only when the DAG takes such an unusual form. These optimizations made validations faster but still much slower than normal.

When this was fixed, another issue arose: the calculation of the stability point gave unexpected results. The team had to investigate the new issue, which took another day. A mistake was found in the algorithm. The fix breaks compatibility with the old (flawed) algorithm, and makes the update mandatory for all full nodes.

On July 16, wallet version 2.4.1 was released which fixes crashes in full wallets. The update is mandatory for all full wallets.

Moving forward

We know that we could have been much better at communicating what was going on to the Byteball community, and we are truly sorry for not doing so. The issue was highlighted on our team call today, and we will put a better communication plan in place.

A reminder, if you have a question regarding Steem attestation referral rewards please submit through this form.