The Great Celo Stake-Off — a personal overview

George Bunea
Apr 7 · 4 min read

The Great Celo Stake-Off was an incentivised test net designed by Celo for community members and validators. The competition was inspired by various cooking shows and competitions (as the Celo Team claimed) and for sure from the various incentivised test nets in the space (following GoS example from Cosmos). The main purposes of the competition were for potentially interested participants that plan to run a validator on the Main Net to:

  • build operational experience
  • establish security best practices
  • test the protocol
  • provide feedback in order to improve Celo and it’s design

and for all the other community members it was an occasion to earn some Celo Gold (the native token on the Celo Blockchain), meet new people and have some fun.

Source: Celo’s article where the competition was announced

More than 100 teams joined the competition and 72 validators received cGLD as rewards for their effort and implication. We, syncnode validator were placed on the 5th place and we received the “Master Validator” seal with a score of 105 of a max of 120 points (minimum required was 80 for the seal) on the security audit and we received a reward of 50100 cGLD.

Competition details

The Great Celo Stake Off competition and gamification were extremely well designed and calculated from the beginning. The main purpose of the competition was to earn as many Baklava Test Units (BTUs) as possible. Beside that there were specific challenges that could provide multipliers if minimum requirements were met. These challenges brought an unexpected dynamic on the entire competition and the final leaderboard suffered substantial modification due to the up-mentioned multipliers.

The design proved to be inspired since the implication and engagement were high and the community was very active on the communication channels. Also it increased the spirit of collaboration among participants which was great to see on an adversarial network.

Operating a validator

Coming with an extensive experience from Tendermint based chains was both an advantage and a disadvantage for us. The advantage was greatly on the technical and operations side, however we soon realised that we can’t apply same strategy as the one applied during Game of Stakes for example (incentivised test net from Cosmos) and we had to change our approach into a more collaborative one.

The collaboration among different entities involved in the competition was required due to the Validators Group design that is specific to Celo. Validators Group is one of the unique aspects of Celo and it was something totally new for us. Voters on Celo vote for validator groups instead of individual validators. Every group can have up to 5 validators and validators within a group do not have to be controlled by the same entity. This design should, in theory increase the security of the network, as groups should accept only validators that have a secure setup. In practice however, during stake of competition we saw a tendency of cartel-like group creation.

This approach, being unique will be quite interesting to follow on the long run. Considering the large number of teams that obtain high scores during security audits we tend to believe that this approach may provide a solid advantage for the network security.

Security audits

Another unique point during the incentivised test net was the security audit conducted by the Celo Team in collaboration with 3rd party entities. This was part of The Master Validator Challenge and it had the biggest impact in terms of multipliers for the entire competition. It could have doubled your earned BTUs and strongly propulsate a validator in final standings.

Also the interesting part was that the multiplier applied was pro-rata with the weakest validator that was part of a group, so every group had to make sure it has only reliable validators accepted. That pushed the collaboration between validators at a whole new level.

The final details of the competition can be seen here

Overall impressions

Of course I am absolutely subjective in this part of the article. Overall the competition was a mix of high dynamism, surprises, joy of collaboration and frustration of being unable to estimate future results due to the dynamics. I can say that it was an overall success for both Celo and the community. The most important achievement of the competition was the fact that a large number of validators was educated, caught operational experience and understood how Celo works.

For me personally the fact that I got to know new people and collaborate at a new level with both newly known people and the ones I already knew before was the highest achievement.

Syncnode validator will be involved in the new test net launch and we are getting ready to operate validator for the upcoming Main Net as well.

For additional information regarding Celo you can join their discord

As always, thank you for reading and for support and stay safe during these times.

All the best from syncnode team!

Syncnode Validator

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