Polkabot — Keeping an eye on the Polkadot network

Network alerts in your pocket

Polkadot is a platform that allows diverse blockchains to transfer messages, including value, in a trust-free fashion; sharing their unique features while pooling their security. In brief, Polkadot is a scalable, heterogeneous, multi-chain technology.

Monitoring the Polkadot network can mean either staring at charts the whole day until something happens…

Chris Liverani on Unsplash

…or asking PolkaBot to take care of the watching. It doesn’t sleep!

Polkadot - what’s it good for?

The Polkadot network is dynamic in that it can be upgraded via on-chain governance, while operators of the network can be added or removed according to their behavior. Thus participants of the network need to monitor how the network is performing and adjust accordingly. Polkabot helps with this by keeping participants in the network informed, providing updates on new governance proposals and network stalls.

The Polkadot network is based on Proof Of Stake (PoS), which requires the network’s validators (or miners) to verify transactions and be online 24 hours a day with no downtime.

If a validator runs properly, the network rewards that account with DOTs, the native token of the Polkadot platform. If a validator does not run properly (or not at all), it will get slashed, losing some or all of the DOTs at stake. A validator may even be kicked out of the validators pool.

Another innovative aspect of Polkadot is its on-chain governance system for upgrading the Polkadot software. Unlike many of the currently existing blockchains, the code defining the rules of the Polkadot network (or runtime) is not stored into the program you download and install on your computer. Instead, the runtime is stored in the blockchain itself.

Modifying this code is possible only after enough users agree to the change. Upgrades to the runtime does not require users to install new software to their clients, but instead is similar to existing operating systems in that upgrades occur automatically.

Matrix.org

Matrix.org is an open network for secure, decentralized communication. It allows users (or bots) to communicate with each other. Real-time discussion around Polkadot and Substrate occur on Riot, an app built on Matrix.

Clients like Riot make Matrix.org available to many users whether from their computer, laptop or smart phone.

The Matrix.org API allows programmatically interacting with the network. That makes it a tool of choice to alert users and lets them take actions on the go with what is probably the only tool they carry around everywhere: their smartphone.

Introducing Polkabot

Polkabot is an extensible chatbot who knows how to speak both on the Matrix.org and Polkadot networks.

Join the Polkabot room to receive real-time updates on how Polkadot is performing:
https://matrix.to/#/#polkadot-network-status:matrix.org

You can also find the code for Polkabot here.

Polkabot is being optimised to issue as few critical alerts as possible so that the important information stands out.

Polkabot currently packages a few plugins:

  • Blocthday: A demo plugin that wishes Polkadot a happy blocthday every nth block.
  • BlockStats: A plugin that monitors the network and posts statistics if some metrics are atypical.
  • StallWatcher: Polkadot PoC-2 is still in its early days and the network is currently supported by a small number of validators (roughly 20). Being alerted early is key to keeping the network running. StallWatcher posts an alert if the last block was seen greater than X seconds ago.
  • Reporter: A must for any good Polkadot citizen who is interested in the on-chain governance capabilities that Polkadot offers. The Reporter plugin constantly watches the Polkadot network and informs its citizen of new proposals and referenda, as soon as they are proposed for a vote.
  • Validators: This plugin watches changes in the Validator list, informs of validators coming in and out, and warns validators as soon have they may have been slashed.

More plugins are still being implemented and will be seamlessly added, including direct communication with Polkabot.


About the author

Will is also writing articles for Base58.de where Blockchain news are decrypted and explained in German. Find other Polkadot related articles translated to German at https://base58.de/tag/polkadot/

References & links