Komodo’s Fourth Annual Notary Node Election To Begin On March 15, 2020

DanielFebruary 5, 2020

Komodo’s Annual Notary Node Election has been a primary component of the project’s governance since Komodo was founded in September 2016. Every year, the Komodo community elects a new cohort of Notary Node operators. The first Notary Node Election was in January 2017, the second annual Notary Node Election was held in March 2018, and the third annual Notary Node Election took place in April 2019. 

Now, the Komodo Team is excited to announce that the Fourth Annual Notary Node Election will begin on March 15, 2020. 

In keeping with tradition, KMD holders will receive VOTE tokens at a 1:1 ratio to the KMD coins they hold in a private wallet. The Komodo community will cast their ballots by sending the VOTE tokens to the address of their preferred candidate(s). The voting period will last until March 31, 2020. At that point, the newly-elected Notary Node Operators will be announced.

A total of 30 Notary Node Operator positions will be chosen in the upcoming election. With so many positions available in the Notary Node network, the Komodo team would like to encourage everyone who is interested to run. This post will explain more about what exactly Notary Node Operators do and how to become a candidate in the upcoming election.

Komodo's Fourth Annual Notary Node Election

The Role Of The Notary Node Network

Before we discuss the elections at greater length, it’s important to explain the function of the Notary Node network within the Komodo ecosystem. 

In short, Notary Nodes perform cross-chain notarizations to provide security, scaling, and interoperability features. Cross-chain notarizations are transactions that store a small piece of crucial blockchain data from one blockchain on the ledger of different blockchain.

Notarizations are required for Delayed Proof of Work (dPoW) security, which recycles the hash rate of the Bitcoin network to secure third-party blockchains, as well as Platform Synchronizations, a technology that makes scaling and interoperability features available to all Smart Chain projects. That, in short, is why Notary Nodes are such an important aspect of the Komodo ecosystem.

Cross-Chain Notarizations Explained

The cross-chain notarizations that Notary Nodes perform are “empty” transactions. In other words, they are transactions that pay a transaction fee to a blockchain’s peer to peer network but don’t send any funds from one wallet to another.

Instead, the purpose of a notarization transaction is to write a small amount of data onto a blockchain’s ledger. This is accomplished with the OP_RETURN command, which allows the sender to store data on a blockchain whenever a transaction of this variety is performed.

The Komodo Notary Node network performs dozens of notarization transactions every hour, including one notarization transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain approximately every ten minutes. The remainder of these notarization transactions are on the Komodo blockchain.

All notarizations are 13-of-64 multi-signature transactions, meaning that 13 of the 64 nodes in the Notary Nodes network participate in every transaction. The 13 signatory nodes are chosen on a semi-random basis, with the probability of a particular node being selected increasing with the amount of time that has passed since that node last participated in a notarization. 

As mentioned above, notarization transactions store data on a blockchain’s ledger. The piece of data that notarization transaction use is known as a block hash— a string of data that acts as a fingerprint for a specific block in a blockchain. A block hash looks something like this:

0effad18a314a40d00cc907add09ca535f20542ac751dc8b6b9fb17aabf53412

As you can see, it’s just a 64-character alphanumeric code. The block hash above belongs to block 1,725,000 in the KMD blockchain. Since each block is connected to the one that directly preceded it, as well as the one that comes immediately after it, a block hash is a significant piece of data.

Komodo’s Notary Nodes take block hashes like the one above and write them onto different blockchains with notarization transactions. For the most part, Notary Nodes write block hashes from third-party Smart Chains onto the KMD ledger. There are also approximately 6 notarization transactions per hour that notarize a KMD block hash onto the Bitcoin ledger.

The Limitations Of Notary Node Capabilities

Now that we’ve covered what Notary Nodes do, it’s important to emphasize some of the things that Notary Nodes do not and cannot do.

  • Notary Nodes are not masternodes.
  • Notary Nodes cannot withhold or censor transactions or blocks for any blockchain.
  • Notary Nodes cannot mine blocks with an easy difficulty on any chain except KMD.
  • Notary Nodes cannot determine the validity of a block; a blockchain’s decentralized network must reach consensus before a block hash is eligible for notarization.

Notary Nodes simply take publicly-available and network-approved data that already exists on-chain— a block hash— and save it onto the ledger of a different blockchain. This is accomplished by performing a transaction, which any ordinary user could do manually if they wish.

While the notarization process is critical to the security, blockchain interoperability, and scalability of the Komodo ecosystem, Notary Nodes don’t have any special powers over any blockchain. It is simply a decentralized mechanism for cross-chain notarizations. 

The Governance of the Notary Node Network

There are a total of 64 nodes in Komodo’s Notary Node network. The nodes are evenly spread across four geographic regions: Europe (EU), Asia-Russia (AR), North America (NA), and the Southern Hemisphere (SH). Each region contains at least 15 nodes, boosting the physical distribution and security of the network.

Every year, the 30 top-performing nodes— meaning those that participated in the most notarizations— are automatically re-elected for another year in the network. This ensures continuity in the notarization process and provides an incentive for Notary Node Operators to run their node diligently.

The 30 lowest-performing Notary Nodes lose their position. Of course, they may run for election again, if they so choose. But they must receive enough votes from the Komodo community in order to reclaim their role. 

The remaining 4 nodes in the network are maintained by Komodo team members for research and debugging operations, which include the usage of custom and experimental code.

Those running for election must declare in which region they intend to operate their Notary Node. If anyone is discovered to be running a node in a region other than the one for which they were elected, this operator will be immediately disqualified and that Notary Node position will be assigned to the next candidate in the election result list. This keeps things fair, as different geographic locations offer Internet connections at varying costs and speeds.

Those who would like to run in the 2020 Notary Node Election must announce their candidacy by February 28, 2020. 

For more information about running in the election, please see this guide to setting up a Notary Node. You’re also encouraged to read the Notary Node Bible, which contains more information about the duties and responsibilities of a Notary Node Operator.

Incentives For Notary Node Operators

Komodo’s globally distributed network of 64 Notary Nodes carry out notarization transactions every ten minutes, every hour of every day, 365 days a year. In exchange for performing these duties, Notary Node Operators are rewarded with the ability to mine one block with an easy difficulty level roughly every 90 minutes. 

This allows Notary Nodes to easily earn block rewards as compensation. Diligent Notary Node Operators— meaning those that ensure their node has no or very little down time— can mine 16 or 17 blocks per day. At present, KMD block rewards are 3 KMD per block, so this adds up to about 50 KMD per day, or around 1500 KMD per month per Notary Node.

The Voting Process

The Komodo Notary Node Elections are stake weighted, meaning that those who hold more KMD have more voting power in the election. The process works as follows.

A special voting token — let’s call it VOTE2020 — will be airdropped to KMD holders at a 1:1 ratio. If you have 1000 KMD, you will receive 1000 VOTE2020 tokens. The current supply of KMD is around 120 Million, so roughly 120 Million VOTE2020 tokens will be airdropped to the Komodo community.

It’s important to note that you must hold your private keys in order to receive your VOTE2020 tokens. If you hold your KMD on a centralized exchange, then you do not hold your private keys and you will not receive any VOTE2020 tokens. If you’re a KMD holder and you wish to participate in the election, now is time to withdraw your coins into a private wallet.

All candidates will publicly post an address in which they can receive VOTE2020 tokens. Once you’ve received your VOTE2020 tokens, you may cast your ballot by sending them to the candidate(s) of your choice. 

The only rule for voting is that the sale of VOTE2020 tokens is strictly prohibited. Anyone caught buying or selling VOTE2020 tokens will be disqualified from participating in the election. Apart from that, community members may vote for any candidates in any region. 

Voting will be open from March 15 until March 31. KMD holders are highly encouraged to read through the proposals of all the candidates before casting their vote. The proposals contain important information about how each candidate intends to help the Komodo ecosystem. 

The election ends on March 31 and the winners will be announced the same day. The Komodo Core update is planned for April 1 and the hardfork activation is scheduled for May 31, 2020. 

How To Run For A Notary Node Operator Position

Anyone with the required hardware and knowledge can run in the Notary Node Election. As veteran team member Satinder Grewal points out in this deep-dive article on dPoW, candidates don’t need to own a single KMD coin to become a Notary Node Operator. In fact, candidates don’t need to be a current member of the Komodo community or know anything at all about the inner workings of Komodo’s technology. 

The only requirements are technical in nature. Candidates must own or have access to two computers that meet the following requirements: 

  • OS: Linux is mandatory. Ubuntu 18.x or Debian 10.x recommended.
  • CPU: A High-Performance CPU, e.g. Xeon, i7/i9, Ryzen, EPYC, etc.
  • RAM: 64GB or more
  • Disk: 1TB SSD or greater
  • Bandwidth: 100Mbps or higher

In order to run in the Notary Node Election, candidates must submit a written proposal to the Notary Node repository on Github. Proposals can contain, among other things, a brief bio, motivations for running in the election, and planned contributions to the Komodo ecosystem. 

At a minimum, a candidate’s proposal must state which region they are running in and post an address to which KMD community members can send VOTE2020 tokens. Candidates may choose to run for one seat in one of the four regions. That means that, at most, an individual candidate can seek 1 Notary Node position in their first election participation.

Those who would like to run in the 2020 Notary Node Election must announce their candidacy by February 28, 2020. 

In general, the Komodo community elects Notary Node Operators who are committed to the development of the ecosystem. If your primary motivation is personal financial gain, you may find it difficult to garner support.

Conversely, even if you are an ardent supporter of the Komodo ecosystem, you may fail to win a seat if your technical skills are lacking. A balance of both attributes — dedication to the Komodo ecosystem and strong technical abilities — is the ideal combination.

For more information about running in the election, please see this guide to setting up a Notary Node. You’re also encouraged to read the Notary Node Bible, which contains more information about the duties and responsibilities of a Notary Node Operator.

If you’re interested in becoming a candidate in the Notary Node Election, please join Komodo’s Community Portal to connect with the team and other community members. The Komodo team is more than happy to answer questions and provide support when needed.