Rust Cup validator race: its history and the battle on EVER DAO

Rust Cup validator race: its history and the battle on EVER DAO

The history of Rust Cup

The Rust Cup validator race started on July 6, 2021. Its goal was to test a node written in the Rust programming language. The validators who participated also had other important tasks:

  • To restore the nodes written in Rust to working order
  • To test the slashing mechanism as a system for punishing validators whose work might threaten the stability of the network
  • To set a world record for smart contract execution speed

Initially, the race was planned to start in February 2021, but the launch dates were repeatedly postponed, and so the validators were kept waiting, all the while having to pay for expensive servers. The reason for postponement was work on the test network, rustnet, which was created specifically for the contest. The network had to be brought to a state where a contest could reliably be held.

"A lot of interesting things happened just before the start of the contest. The rustnet network was launched in February, and then the node was debugged. During that time, we managed to arrange a network storm in Europe, almost killing the entire European internet! The validators developed a tradition of "Friday deployment," when node updates would come out on Friday evenings. The warmup period united and rallied the entire community of validators – we became almost a single team," — Sergey Tyurin, network validator.

Slashing (a penalty, in which part of the validator tokens is confiscated) was also a problem. Punishments were almost random, with validators receiving them for the slightest mistakes. The organizers got to work on setting up slashing, and the process took over a month.

"Despite the organizational flaws, Rust Cup was one of the largest public experiments in blockchain, and we shouldn’t downplay its significance. That said, we would have organized the contest’s preparation differently today," — Vladislav Ponomarev, DeFi Alliance representative.

Rust Cup finished on September 2, 2021. The results were astonishing: during the contest, validators managed to achieve over 55,000 transactions per second on rustnet. This was done on the EverX test network in a datacenter with 128 validators. The achievement broke the world record for transaction throughput.

Now, the Rust node is successfully working in the Everscale mainnet.

What happened next?

In 2023, a proposal on EVER DAO sparked a new wave of Rust Cup discussions in the Everscale community. The proposal concerned the distribution of prizes between the winners of the race, as the Rust Cup winners had still not received their awards despite the race having ended in 2021. This could have turned out to be a problem, as the network’s decentralization currently depends on 200 validators. Most of these participate in validation using locked stakes from the Magister Ludi contest. The stakes were due to expire in February 2023, and the network could have suffered if the winners of the Rust Cup did not receive their rewards by then.

The proposal from the validators was to distribute stakes locked for four years between the Rust Cup winners, as well as to implement a four-year incentive program, in which stakers in the Rust Cup winners’ DePools receive 10% APR from stakes, and validators receive 4% APR from all stakes made in their DePools.

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The proposal attracted the attention of the DeFi Alliance, which considered it disastrous for the network's economy, and the vote became the first real battle on EVER DAO. The opinions of the community were divided: some users believed that it was important to fulfill the promises made and reward the validators for the work done, while others opposed the proposal because it did not correspond to the current economic realities, since the Rust Cup race was held a long time ago and this kind of solution could put significant pressure on the EVER rate.

There were fierce discussions in chats, with validators urging each other to withdraw their funds from the nodes and vote. In the end, the proposal was rejected by a majority, but even before the vote finished, the DeFi Alliance began preparing a draft for a new proposal.

"The global economic environment has changed radically since the contest was held, and accepting the terms of the rewards in the original design (and even in a new proposal from the validator community) could lead to catastrophic pressure on the market and the collapse of EVER. Therefore, the Alliance took the initiative to coordinate the preparation of a new, more balanced version of the proposal that took into account the interests of all parties," — Vladislav Ponomarev, DeFi Alliance representative.

"We understood that the likelihood that our original proposal would not be accepted was fairly high. But I wanted to get as much support as possible from validators in order to draw more attention to the problem of the contest, the rewards for which were delayed almost two years. And here’s what happened: the Alliance straightaway indicated its position, that it would vote against the proposal, but expressed its readiness to immediately begin cooperating to develop a solution that would take into account the interests of all parties as far as possible and minimize inflationary risks for the network. After several days of the Alliance analyzing the input data and preparing a draft text for the new proposal, a focus group was created, to which some validators were also invited, and their opinion was taken into account in the process of developing a number of points for the new proposal," — Anton, network validator.

The updated proposal

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On February 11, an updated proposal for payouts to Rust Cup validators from the DeFi Alliance appeared on EVER DAO.

The DeFi Alliance proposed two options. The first one was applicable to validators who simply wanted to receive a reward and be compensated for their investments as soon as possible. They would receive 50% of the rewards additionally in LEVER tokens.

The second option was proposed to validators who wanted to continue working in the network. This option did not involve quick payments, but provided long-term motivation for validators: increased rewards for validators’ stakes that are locked for more than 12 months with an additional yield of 8-16% per annum depending on the lockup period, as well as increased odds for prize stakes when combining several pools into one in the main network.

"The work on this proposal turned out to be probably one of the most significant manifestations of decentralization not only in Everscale, but also in Web3 in general. Representatives of the validator community (first a focus group, then a wider circle, and finally a public discussion) in dialogue with the Alliance were able to develop a very balanced and responsible reform project. Unlike many other protocols, the Eversale community has shown cohesion and excellent willingness to cooperate for the benefit of network development," — Vladislav Ponomarev, DeFi Alliance representative.

The proposal was accepted almost unanimously, and the results came as no surprise. Firstly, the updated version of the proposal was well covered at Everscale Community Meeting #121, which provided answers to community questions. Moreover, the DeFi Alliance published a detailed and understandable text for the proposal. In other words, users understood what they were voting for.

Secondly, the new decision was perceived by the community as a compromise – fair and more consistent with the current economic situation. Increased staking rewards were canceled, and a deadline was set for the validators to lock their own funds in DePools in order to receive an increased reward through vesting no later than a month after the approval of the proposal. The organizers will post a decision on vesting within one month.

The event has similar features to the recent battle on Uniswap, which began with a vote on Uniswap deployment in the BNB network using the Wormhole bridge. The "For deployment" position won 66% of the vote, but the largest Uniswap investor did not agree with the voting results and insisted on using one of its companies, LayerZero, as a bridge. This was based on doubts about the safety of using Wormhole. However, the overall results of the vote approved Wormhole as the solution for Uniswap.

The battles on EVER DAO and Uniswap DAO show how decentralized organizations are developing, with more and more decisions that have real economic consequences being made in on-chain votes.

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