Zillacracy November Update — Staking Bot, Zillionaires Lottery, and The End To Commission Compensation

Andy Little
Nov 17, 2020 · 6 min read

Your monthly round up of Zillacracy news and updates!

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Hi Zilliqans, time for an update and tell you a bit more what has happened the last weeks and what to look out for.

  • Zillacracy will do everything in its power to minimise downtime as much as possible. Expectation of 100% uptime is not realistic though;
  • Decreasing commission to compensate for downtime is not a durable and sustainable solution;
  • Zillacracy believes that all SSN operators should gradually move to a higher commission percentage to further grow the Zilliqa ecosystem;
  • Initial commission discount is coming to an end and will be increased to 5% at block number 889000;
  • Zillacracy staking reward bot on Telegram has been created thanks to @real_steal85;
  • Zillionaires, the first non custodial lottery on Zilliqa which makes use of distributed randomness to ensure fairness, is getting ready for closed public testing. Thanks @csajedi from LLC starling foundries and @renatex;
  • Announcement of Meridian.

Commission decrease to overcompensate for missed rewards due to downtime

On the 2nd of November the Zillacracy SSN infrastructure faced downtime and as a result the staking rewards were lower than the usual 100%.

We came up with a solution by temporarily lowering the commission rate to overcompensate for missed rewards. For 15 cycles we have decreased the commission from 2,5% to 0,5%. While we are happy to have been able to provide a quick solution, we realised down the line that it is not a durable and sustainable solution. Why?

First of all, for most of the SSN operators, the commission is the first revenue stream to build out a healthy and thriving Zilliqa ecosystem. Most of the SSN operators are depending on the commission to pay for infrastructure costs, development of tools and applications.

Second is that apart from every individual SSN operator goal, lowering the commission also affects other SSN operators. If SSN operators start lowering their commission rate when they face downtime other SSN operators also are being affected indirectly as there is an arbitrage opportunity to move your stake to the SSN operator with a temporary lower commission.

Zillacracy will do everything in its power to minimise SSN downtime as much as possible. Expectation of 100% uptime is not realistic though:

It is in nobody’s best interest to create a cut throat environment where commission rates are being kept artificially low as this translates to less value available for the SSN operators to continue offering the staking service and growing out of the ecosystem.

Post Incident Report:
In the current setup, the Zillacracy SSN consists of multiple servers working together equipped to handle heavy transaction and query load. The reason for the downtime was that one of the servers didn’t respond in time to the so-called Verifier.

To quote ZIP-11: “ The (trusted) verifier which sits off-chain periodically checks the health of each SSN node for example by querying for random transaction data via the public APIs.”

The Verifier monitors if the SSNs are doing their job and checks every now and then to see if the SSNs are responsive and can give the correct answer to a question being asked by it. And while our monitoring showed that all the servers were completely in sync with the latest block height, one server didn’t communicate on time resulting in several checks missed.

We have had a meeting with the Zilliqa team to discuss what happened and how we can mitigate such issues in the future.

And while we continuously strive to better our infrastructure and lower chances of downtime, we have to be realistic. Downtime will most likely occur in the future. To adapt as quickly as possible, we will share Post Incidence Reports with other SSNs to make sure others can learn from our experiences too.

While at the same time benefiting from lessons learned by other SSN operators too.

End of initial commission discount:

A month ago at the beginning of non-custodial staking we announced a temporary commission discount to attract stakers and posted a detailed breakdown of the commission increase until medi January 2021.

With the commission decrease to overcompensate for downtime, the schedule got a bit off track, but from block number 885400 we will start increasing the commission percentage.

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While we still strongly believe that eventually a 10% commission rate would be healthy for the entire ecosystem and is in our intention to do so, we must also keep track of other SSN operators and their commission rates.

Meaning that we will measure the impact of the commission increase on the staked amount to Zillacracy and decide later on when we can increase the commission rate further.

Status update Zillacracy

We’re working on several dApps and tools beside other organisational topics to streamline Zillacracy and build it out to the envisioned community hub.

First of all the Zillacracy staking reward bot, a Telegram bot that allows you to easily fetch the latest block height, when rewards have been disbursed for the last time, at which block the next rewards will be disbursed and how many blocks left before you can claim your beloved newly minted $ZILs. Shout out to @real_steal85 for making it.

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Subscribe here to receive a notification when the staking rewards have been disbursed.

Next, as teased earlier, we have been working for quite a while on Zillionaires. Recently we’ve seen various lottery and other chance based games popping up left and right but -to our knowledge- Zillionaires is the first non custodial lottery on Zilliqa where via an oracle Drand (distributed randomness) is being used to make sure that the drawing of the winning ticket is fair and cheating is nearly impossible.

To read more about why randomness is so important, read this article. Relevant snippet of the article:
“An example of where this (randomness) can come in handy is a typical lottery where the winners are chosen by supposedly random draws from a hat.

The problem is that lotteries have been gamed by the creators over the years, especially in cases where the creator has some control over the randomness generation process. It helps to have a beacon that chooses these random numbers, rather than a less public entity, as it makes it harder to game.”

Zillionaires makes use of “a state-of-the-art stream of unguessable random seeds in order to determine the winning ticket. The contract is locked with the latest available Drand seed and then will refuse drawings from the oracle until a new seed has been generated by the Drand network. This prevents anyone from being able to purchase tickets knowing in advance anything about the seed used for drawing”.

While it takes some technical knowledge, it is possible for everyone to verify that Zillionaires is using the randomness provided via Drand.

And while we can’t wait to release Zillionaires, it is only one of the many applications where we can apply the Drand oracle. What to think of on chain verifiable random airdrops or giveaways to Zillacracy stakers for example?

From here on out, we can experiment and easily spawn multiple chance based games where we use the randomness via the oracle or apply it to other use cases

And lastly, we are working on a project called Meridian. We aim to have at least an MVP ready this year, but we just might make it to also finish the first version of the product. It will make your life a lot easier, but that’s all we can share for now.

Thanks for reading and make sure you watch out for our next news letter!

Zillacracy

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