Komodo’s Third Annual Notary Node Elections Will Begin Soon: Let the Campaigning Begin!

DanielMarch 22, 2019

Komodo is excited to announce that the third annual Notary Node Election will begin in April 2019. The voting tokens will be airdropped at a 1:1 ratio to all KMD holders on April 14th and one month of voting will take place. Voting will conclude on May 14th.

At that point, the winners will be announced! Testing and integration will take place in late May, and a hardforking upgrade will occur in June to officially inaugurate all of the new Notary Nodes to the Komodo network.

A Third Year of Notary Node Elections

Since the very beginning of Komodo, the Notary Node Elections have been a central piece in the project’s governance model. Every year, KMD holders elect the individuals that will take on the responsibility of running one of Komodo’s 64 Notary Nodes for the ecosystem.

The first election was held in January 2017. Since it was the very first election, KMD holders elected operators for 59 nodes. In some cases, the same people were elected to run more than one Notary Node, so there were fewer than 59 operators. But, in total, 59 open positions were decided at the ballot. Five nodes were reserved for the Komodo Development Team.

In March 2018, the second annual Notary Node Election took place. The 30 top-performing Notary Nodes were automatically re-elected to incentivize diligence among Notary Node Operators and ensure continuity with the crucial task of cross-chain notarizations. The KMD community elected a total of 30 Notary Nodes. In the second cohort of Notary Nodes, only 4 nodes were reserved for the Komodo Dev Team (as opposed to 5 nodes in the first year).

Now, the Komodo team is preparing for the third annual Notary Node Election. This year, the top 7 Notary Nodes in each of the 4 regions will be re-elected, for a total of 28 nodes automatically appointed for a position in 2019. An additional four nodes will be reserved for the Komodo Dev Team.

The remaining 32 nodes will be elected by the Komodo community. Each region will have 8 open seats to be decided through the community’s votes.

The Role of Notary Nodes in the Komodo Ecosystem

It’s important for those new to the Komodo ecosystem to understand what exactly Notary Nodes do.

Notary Nodes perform cross-chain notarizations. They simply take a block hash— a string of data that acts as a fingerprint for a blockchain at a specific block height— from one blockchain and write it onto the ledger of a different blockchain.

Let’s get a bit more specific. A typical block hash looks something like this:

0489640207f8c343a56a10e45d987516059ea82a3c6859a771b3a9cf94f5c3bb

It’s a 64-character alphanumeric code that identifies a particular block in a blockchain. Since each block is connected to the one that directly preceded it, a block hash is a unique identifier for the whole chain. The block hash above belongs to block 1,250,000 in the KMD blockchain.

Komodo’s Notary Nodes take block hashes like the one above and write them onto different blockchains. This is accomplished with the OP_RETURN command. The OP_RETURN command is a special function that allows a small amount of data to be written onto a blockchain’s ledger when a transaction is executed.

As notary nodes don’t actually need to transfer funds when they execute a notarization transaction. Instead, they execute an “empty transaction,” meaning that they pay the blockchain’s transaction fee but don’t actually move any coins. This fee is paid for the privilege of storing data on that blockchain’s ledger.

Komodo’s globally distributed network of 64 Notary Nodes carry out these cross-chain notarizations every ten minutes, every hour of every day, 365 days a year. This process is essential for Komodo’s delayed proof of work security mechanism, Komodo’s Blockchain Security Service, and for Komodo’s Multi-Chain Syncing scalability features.

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 each Notary Node Operator to easily mine 16 or 17 blocks per day. As KMD block rewards are 3 KMD per block, this adds up to about 50 KMD per day, or around 1500 KMD per month.

Finally, it’s important to emphasize some of the things that Notary Nodes cannot do.

  • Notary Nodes are not masternodes.
  • Notary Nodes cannot withhold transactions or blocks for any blockchain.
  • Notary Nodes cannot mine blocks with an easy difficulty on any chain except KMD.
  • Notary Nodes cannot solely determine the validity of a block; an entire decentralized network must come to consensus before any transactions or blocks are verified.

Notary Nodes simply take publicly-available data that has been established by a blockchain’s network (a block hash) and save it onto the ledger of a different blockchain. This is accomplished by executing an empty transaction, which any ordinary user can do.  

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 a fully decentralized mechanism for cross-chain notarizations.

How To Become A Notary Node

Anyone with the required hardware and knowledge can become a notary node operator. As pointed out in this article by veteran Komodo team member Satinder Grewal, candidates don’t need to be a current member of the KMD community or know anything at all about the inner workings of Komodo’s technology. Candidates do not need to own a single KMD coin to run.

Komodo currently only works on Linux. Here is a list of the hardware requirements for those interested in running for election:

  • CPU: A good CPU (Xeon/i7)
  • RAM: 64GB
  • Disk: Minimum of 500GB SSD (1 TB recommended)
  • Bandwidth: 100Mbps
  • Operating System: Ubuntu x64 - 14.04 or 16.04 minimal installation with Openssh server.

In addition, those interested in becoming a Notary Node will need a Bitcoin address with a small amount of BTC in it. The BTC is for paying the transaction fees necessary for the notarization process to occur, as described above. Candidates must fund their own BTC addresses while participating in testnet notarizations but, for those who are elected, Komodo provides the BTC.

Apart from that, the only other requirement is the technical know-how to successfully run a Notary Node. This can be easily proven on Komodo’s test net.

For more information about becoming a Notary Node Operator, please see this guide.

To gain exposure and inform the Komodo community about one’s candidacy, as well as the motivations for that candidacy, it’s essential to submit a written proposal to the Komodo community. If you plan to run in the upcoming election, you are encouraged to submit your proposal to the Notary Node repository on Github before April 1, 2019.

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, even if you have proven your technical skills on Komodo’s test net.

Conversely, even if you are an ardent supporter of the Komodo ecosystem, you may fail to win a seat if your node is under-performing on the test net. A balance of both attributes— dedication to the Komodo ecosystem and strong technical abilities— is the ideal combination.

The Notary Node Election Process

There are four notary node regions: Europe (EU), Asia-Russia (AR), North America (NA), and the Southern Hemisphere (SH). Each region contains at least 13 notary nodes, boosting the physical distribution and security of Komodo’s notary node network. In 2019, each region will have an even 15 notary nodes.

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, their node will not be allowed to participate in the notarization process until they correct the location of the node. This keeps things fair, as different geographic locations offer Internet connections at varying cost and speeds.

If desired, candidates may choose to run for one seat in each of the four regions. As there are four regions, that means that, at the most, any individual candidate can seek 4 Notary Node positions. Of course, this is not required. Candidates may also run for one position in one region. Four is the maximum, as candidates may not run for more than one Notary Node position in any single region.

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 VOTE2019— will be airdropped to KMD holders at a 1:1 ratio. If you have 1000 KMD, you will receive 1000 VOTE2019 tokens.

The airdrop will take place on April 14, 2019. The current supply of KMD is around 112 Million, so roughly 112 Million VOTE2019 tokens will be airdropped.

It’s important to note that you must hold you private keys in order to receive your VOTE2019 tokens. If you hold your KMD on a centralized exchange, then you do not hold your private keys and you will not receive any VOTE2019 tokens.

Once you’ve received your VOTE2019 tokens, you may cast your ballot by sending them to the candidate(s) of your choice. All candidates will publicly post an address and the community votes by sending the tokens to the candidates they wish to see elected.

The only rule for voting is that the sale of VOTE2019 tokens is strictly prohibited. Anyone caught selling VOTE2019 tokens will be disqualified from participating in the election.

Apart from that, community members may vote for any candidates in any region. VOTE2019 tokens can be sent in any amount so there is no requirement to cast votes in any set percentages for any number of candidates in any region.

For instance, if you want to send 100% of your VOTE2019 tokens to a single candidate, you may do so. If you want to send 20% of your votes to five different candidates in a single region, you may do that, too. If you want to send an equal 25% of your votes to one candidate in each of the four regions, that’s also an option. There are no rules dictating how you cast your ballot.

Voting will be open for one month. It is highly encouraged that each community member 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. 

All of the candidates' proposals, along with other useful information, will be posted on this new site dedicated to Komodo's Notary Node Elections.

Let the Campaigning Begin!

As VOTE2019 tokens will be airdropped in less than one month’s time, now is the time for all who would like to run for election to announce their candidacy.

To announce your candidacy, please submit a written proposal to the Notary Node repository on Github. All candidates are strongly encouraged to submit their proposals prior to April 1, 2019.

For more details, including information on how to submit a proposal, please visit Komodo's Notary Node Election website

Those who are interested in running in the election are also encouraged to become an active member in Komodo’s community on Discord. Questions about becoming a Notary Node Operator can be asked in the #notary-node channel or directed to Kolo, Komodo's Election Master (@kolo#1111 on Discord).

For more information about the upcoming Notary Node Election, sign up for Komodo’s Five Bullet Friday newsletter. Every Friday, we’ll send you an email with the 5 most important events from the previous week. You can also join Komodo’s community on Discord to chat with other community members and members of the Komodo team.

Let the campaigning begin!