Preparing for Polkadot

I have been seeing a lot of discussion about Polkadot online recently and Aragon came up, after some digging I see that @jorge mentioned it as a possible scaling solution at the AraCon in his presentation (good presentation btw). Since he brought it up, I will direct most of these questions at him, but others are welcome to add their input if they have answers/ ideas/ more questions along these lines.

I have a few questions and thoughts to put out there about this separate and different from another thread I found about this, which seemed more about the tech details of the implementation. In this thread I want to talk about the social/ economic details.

  • How has the general reception of this idea been, publicly and privately? I don’t spend a lot of time online, just enough to follow updates from projects I support, so I’m not “in” on the day to day discussions as much as I’d like. The discussion I did see about Polkadot recently was mostly negative in reaction to a Parity dev who said it was better than Ethereum or shipping faster or something. Have Aragon devs gotten any flak for talking about moving to Polkadot yet? Are we as a community ready to weather the kind of storm it could bring if that negativity gets directed at us?

  • If Aragon does move some or all of the system to Polkadot, will the Aragon Network need to hold DOTs? Would it be smart to get some anyways as a hedge against ETH? Does this need an ANT vote (if it is even possible to buy DOTs on the timeframe when we would want to buy them) to approve the hedge?

  • If the Aragon Chain is getting built by a Flock team, that means ANT holders could approve or reject moving to Polkadot. Financially speaking, would it make more sense to buy DOTs before or after the vote on the Flock team? And if it gets rejected, what is plan B or C for scaling?

On the topic of plan B or C, I also want to ask about “why Polkadot” to begin with. I only know a little bit about it so forgive me if these questions are “noobish”. A few more questions come to mind:

  • Why Polkadot instead of an Ethereum sidechain like Loom or POA Network or a hand-rolled sidechain connected using a popular, well-audited bridge?
  • Have other alternatives like Cosmos been considered and if so why was Polkadot chosen instead?
  • Has a cost-benefit analysis of all these alternatives been done? If so, can you share it so we (ANT holders) can start analyzing it for ourselves?

Sorry for all the questions I just want to understand better what I might be voting for soon if a team does step up to work on Polkadot.


I’m actually also really really curious about this. A discussion was recently started on Reddit because Will Warren of 0x mentioned some good points on how the incentives and cryptoeconomics of becoming a Polkadot Para-chain node only make sense if you can participate in the overall Polkadot governance and and have a say in the outcome of the network. Otherwise, it’s yet another API situation where your chain is dependent on Polkadot for security, but investors could get greedy and vote Dot fees up: making you pay high fees or leave the network. Sounds similar to the API scenario that occurs whenever anyone builds something cool on a centralized platform lol. Hopefully this will be addressed, but atm it looks like a real problem :confused:

Here’s the discussion for reference, but I’m really curious to hear how Aragon is thinking of this and what would be required for it to make sense :slight_smile:


It has been pretty positive in my opinion. There’s already some movement and conversations happening with people that would be interested in helping build the Aragon Chain.

Also I believe it has been very positive for Ethereum, the fact that one big project went on the record to say that we will just use the best technology available to us. According to a person quite involved with Ethereum 2.0, our announcement has definitely sparked Eth 2.0 developers in a positive way (and some of it can be perceived in public conversations).

The ‘negative’ side-effect is that the least productive part of the Ethereum community has finally started seeing Polkadot as a competitor of Ethereum 2.0, and we are starting to see the start of very ugly tribalism (IMO it is only going to get worse).

We won’t be migrating out of Ethereum, Aragon DAOs are unstoppable and even if we (ANT holders, AA or A1) wanted to force everyone to migrate to a hypothetic Aragon Chain, we couldn’t do it. I have also absolute conviction that aragonOS will be rearchitected as needed to take advantage and be ready for Ethereum 2.0 once there is more clarity on how it will work for application developers. Also, Aragon One is working hard on delivering our promise of deploying the Aragon Network on Ethereum this year.

We have given back incredible value to the Ethereum community (Nest, aragonOS and radspec being the most prominent), so if anyone gets angry that ANT holders decide to hedge technically and financially to ensure the success of our project, oh well, let them be angry. Ethereum is a wonderful technology, the community has given Aragon so much and it’s still is the best tool in the toolbox to build Aragon. I don’t think this will be as clear going into 2020. I won’t make technical decisions for quasi-religious reasons as some people I am sure expect us to do, and Aragon’s success is way more important than Ethereum’s success for me and many more in this community, while I wish that Ethereum succeeds immensely.

The Association according to AGP-11 has the mandate to:

  • Diversify the capital base according to the project’s needs.

so technically the AA could make the decision to hedge into DOTs without going through an AGP. I personally would prefer if an AGP is passed for such an important strategic decision.

I think Aragon will have an opportunity to get DOTs before they hit the market.

I don’t think it is very relevant. If the AN decided to buy DOTs, that would be a very strong signal for Flock teams to apply to build it.

Aragon One is pushing for L2 scaling projects on Ethereum like SVRP, and it is actually while building these that we kept hitting the same problems that blockchains are really good at solving. This is what actually made us consider very strongly building our own L1 chain.

If the AN rejects all the Flock proposals for teams building the Aragon Chain, I will build this on the weekends on my own if necessary.

Proof of Authority chains are a no-go for me, I think it is a terrible idea to tradeoff permissionless block validation for any serious L1 chain.

Cosmos chains require each chain to take care of their own security, Cosmos only provides message passing which they have designed focused on asset transfers between chains, not arbitrary protocol messages AFAIK. Bootstrapping a validator network for the first version of the Aragon Chain is not an activity with tons of leverage IMO, specially before we test out whether the L1 approach makes sense and find chain-market fit.

On a lighter note, Cosmos has been ‘launching next quarter’ ever since their token sale in April 2017, they have an even less healthy relationship with deadlines and estimates than Ethereum. It seems that the Ethermint launch has been called off, after being about to launch for most of last year :woman_shrugging:.

Substrate is the most advanced blockchain development framework, built by a world-class team that usually over-delivers on what they promise. It is orders of magnitude more powerful and better designed than any alternative out there today. It will also make it trivial for Substrate chains to plug into Polkadot for security, rather than having its own isolated validation.

I am quite confident that during 2020, Substrate will be the obvious starting point for anyone developing a blockchain, in the same way that using Ethereum is the obvious answer for almost anyone that needs to build a smart contract system nowadays.

This is an interesting point, if they do that DOT holders would be creating an incentive for the network to be forked by the chains that feel they are being abused. Also the fact that breaking out of the network wouldn’t have a high cost (the main downside being the connectivity with other chains in Polkadot which wouldn’t be as convenient) as the chain can bootstrap its own security if the cost to stay in Polkadot (paying by inflation because the chain deposit is unproductive capital) becomes too high.

I think that precisely because of how easy it would be to exit the system if DOT holders become greedy, they will have an incentive not to be greedy in the first place.


Similar to this, if a technological solution (as opposed to a governance-based solution) becomes available for managing para-chain slots effectively it would be possible for a para-chain to migrate to that new solution with minimal disruption.


I could lack technical knowledge to understand the distinction but this doesn’t seem too dissimilar to Proof of Work miners deciding to cartelize and arbitrarily raise the gas price (by rejecting any txs paying less than X gas price). Isn’t the threat - and mitigating factor (competition, forking) - pretty much the same?


Not quite. At least when you have a separation of consensus validation and governance the miners/stakers are only incentivized to manipulate a few metrics. Then you can design systems that have cryptoeconomic incentives against those things. When token holders are staking and voting, the range of things they can manipulate is unbounded. Then “security” or “immutability” becomes more of a game grounded in politics than computer science and crypto. I mean think about it… how can you build an “unstoppable organization” on a platform where at any time token holders or elected officials could interrupt, censor, or remove your organization from the platform it depends on?

  • I have more detailed (long winded) thoughts on that here too if anyone’s interested.
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Check this out, clears up some of these misconceptions!

Also helpful, this analysis of genesis distributions versus Cosmos and Ethereum:

There’s a proliferation of projects in the blockchain space that say the all those same things. The Twitter link you shared doesn’t explain anything at all besides throwing buzz words out there. From the mechanics of the Polkadot governance mechanism, DOT holders can choose to change rules arbitrarily at any time. This could be due to market pressures to make profits, regulatory pressures to operate in certain jurisdictions, or simply sentiment in the community that something needs to change.