Voting is a critical part of any blockchain utilizing Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS), and Lisk is no exception. The delegates that secure the network are directly decided by the votes they receive.
Deciding which delegates to vote for can be a bit daunting. New users must consider a number of factors before deciding which delegate(s) to vote for. The goal of this blog post is not only to provide all the relevant criteria available to assist with deciding who to cast votes for, but also to explain all of the considerations that should be taken into account.
What are Delegates in the DPoS consensus?
To achieve consensus in DPoS, validators are required to secure the network, which in turn are voted on by shareholders. These validators are called delegates on the Lisk network. Other Web3 projects have different terminologies, such as witnesses and representatives. However, their role remains relatively the same, which is to accept transactions and produce blocks.
Delegates in the Lisk consensus
Lisk’s DPoS consensus mechanism consists of a pool of 101 active plus 2 stand-by delegates. The 101 active delegates hold the most vote weight on the network. The 2 stand-by delegates with at least 1,000 LSK delegate weight are then selected from the remaining pool. This selection is done randomly, however the more delegate weight they have, the more likely they are to be selected.
For more on how the LSK token plays a part in the consensus mechanism, along with its other functions, read The Role of LSK Token in the Lisk Ecosystem blog post.
What is Delegate Weight?
Sometimes referred to as vote weight, delegate weight is the amount of LSK tokens being used to vote for a particular delegate, with certain rules applied. Since the Lisk Core v3.0 upgrade, Lisk Delegates are required to self-lock their own LSK tokens. The maximum delegate weight any delegate can have is 10 times the amount of their self-locked amount. Therefore a delegate that self locks 1,000 LSK tokens can have a maximum delegate weight of 10,000.
For a more in-depth overview of Lisk Delegates and how DPoS works in general, read the Delegated Proof of Stake Consensus for LSK Token blog post.
Can I stake my LSK tokens?
The term staking has many different definitions in crypto, depending on which project you are referring to. In our case staking refers to deploying your LSK tokens on the Lisk network to earn more LSK tokens. In this aspect, there are two ways to stake your LSK tokens:
Becoming a delegate
There are 101 active delegates and 2 stand-by delegates securing the network at any given time. For every block that is forged, the delegate who forged it will earn 1 LSK reward + transaction fees. We will not be referring to staking by being a delegate until the very end of this blog post.
The much more common method of staking is by voting for delegates who offer to share their block rewards with voters. Keep in mind however that these voting rewards are not currently calculated or handled through the Lisk Protocol. Rather, delegates are solely responsible for communicating their policies with their voters and ultimately delivering the promised LSK tokens accurately.
At the Lisk Amplifire event, it was revealed that protocol level rewards would eventually be implemented into the Lisk Ecosystem. Currently, this process is still in the research phase.
How much can I earn from voting for delegates?
As voting rewards are not part of the protocol, there is no automatic way to determine how much you can earn. Therefore, figuring out how many LSK tokens you can earn through voting needs to be done manually. There are several factors you need to determine this amount:
- How many LSK tokens you plan to use for voting
- The current vote weight of the delegate(s) you are voting for
- The amount of LSK tokens that the delegate is sharing
To calculate this yourself, there are also several facts regarding the Lisk network you will need to consider:
- Lisk Block Rewards are always 1 LSK token
- A new block is produced every 10 seconds (not considering any missed blocks)
- 103 delegates (101 active, and 2 stand-by) forge in every block round
With this information, it is possible to estimate how many LSK tokens you can potentially earn through voting rewards. Keep in mind that there are many factors that can potentially affect this calculation, including the following:
- Changes in the vote weight of the delegate(s)
- Changes in the amount the delegate(s) share with their voters
- The delegate(s) missed blocks
- Special rules the delegate(s) may have concerning their reward payouts
Later in this blog post, we will list a few tools made by community members that may help provide you with this information without having to do the calculations yourself.
How to choose a Lisk Delegate?
The reasons for choosing which delegate(s) to secure the Lisk network is completely objective. Rather than trying to determine each user’s ideal delegate(s), we will analyze different aspects of delegating that are appreciated and sought after by voters:
The primary responsibility of delegates is to secure the network by forging blocks. A delegate’s productivity percentage refers to how many blocks they’ve forged / the number of blocks they were supposed to forge. Essentially, the higher the productivity percentage is, the less often a delegate has missed a block.
Given its importance, it might make sense to select the delegate(s) with the highest productivity percentage. That said, a quick comparison of all active delegates will show that the vast majority of delegates actually miss very few blocks. While it certainly would not make sense to select any delegates who are not productive at forging blocks, it may be difficult to use this strategy as your only criteria.
A delegate’s productivity percentage only shows a small piece of their reliability. For instance, let’s look at two delegates, which we’ll call Delegate A and Delegate B:
Delegate A has a perfect 100% productivity %, whereas Delegate B is 99.9%. At first glance, you might say that Delegate A is more reliable. However, you also need to consider how much experience they have with securing the network.
If Delegate B has been forging for over a year, whereas Delegate A has only been forging for a day, you could make an argument that Delegate B is more reliable, since they have a much longer, proven history of forging blocks.
On the other hand, you may want to consider voting for a delegate who is new to the Lisk ecosystem. Competition between delegates can be a driving force to improve the security of the network. Giving new delegates a chance to forge blocks on the network may be something you should consider when choosing who to vote for.
Vote Sharing Amount
A very common consideration when it comes to voting is how many LSK tokens you can earn. It would make sense to consider delegates that will reward you with the most LSK tokens for simply voting for them.
Active Community Member
Lastly, you may want to consider a delegate who is going above and beyond to provide a service to the community to further enhance it These services could include building tools for the community, creating guides for other delegates and users, actively creating a sidechain project on the Lisk Network, or helping users that are in need through our various platforms, such as lisk.chat, Telegram, or Reddit.
While these benefits may be somewhat subjective, rewarding them with your vote is something to consider.
Who should I vote for?
We can not tell you which delegate(s) to vote for. All we can do is provide you with the details you may find important when making your decision, as well as sources to research for more information. As with any voting system, you must make your own educated decisions.
Where can I find information on Lisk Delegates?
On the surface, it may appear somewhat confusing and overwhelming trying to decide which delegate(s) to vote for. There are however a few places you can explore that can provide some guidance before casting your votes. Keep in mind that you may always update your votes for a very small fee, so your votes are not locked in stone.
Lisk Desktop offers the ability to monitor several network events, many of which can be used to aid in voting. For instance, by going to the delegates tab, it is possible to view a list of all active and inactive delegates. You may click or search for delegates to view specific information related to one particular delegate, which may include such data as vote weight, rank, total produced blocks, and consecutive missed blocks.
Liskscan and Lisk Observer
Similar to Lisk Desktop, both Liskscan and Lisk Observer offers a view of network events that can be used for voting decisions within a browser. These explorers may offer additional searching and sorting options not provided by Lisk Desktop. In addition, there are a few more metrics that voters may find beneficial, such as a delegate’s vote capacity.
Lisk.chat, which is hosted on Discord, is the main official platform for all community discussions. As such, you will find many delegates within the various channels. There are even two channels used to discuss delegates and voting.
The delegates-chat channel is where all delegate related conversations and dialogue take place. This pertains to voting, but also other delegate related discussions as well. Users here are encouraged to ask questions and engage in constructive discussions. Delete campaigning is not allowed in this channel.
The campaigns channel is dedicated to delegate proposals of both current and aspiring delegates. It provides an opportunity for community members to learn more about delegates and their contributions to the Lisk ecosystem. Only aspiring or current delegates are allowed to campaign on this channel.
Lisk community members have come together to create a few unofficial voting tools designed to help users. Many members have found them useful when looking into who to vote for, particularly when a primary reason for voting is to earn voting rewards.
It is worth noting that it is the sole responsibility of the tool creators to maintain the upkeep and accuracy of their tools. The Lisk team does not take any responsibility for inaccurate or misleading data that may occur on these sites, or any others that involve voting rewards.
Taking into account the warnings stated above, here are a few community tools:
What are the risks of voting?
There is no direct risk of losing your LSK tokens that you assume as a voter. In fact, the only cost to vote is the transaction fees, which are quite cheap. Nevertheless, there are several risks you need to consider.
Dishonest or Inaccurate Payouts
As we mentioned earlier, vote sharing is not currently done on the protocol level of the Lisk network, meaning that the delegates themselves are responsible for calculating the rewards and ultimately distributing them. This means that it is up to voters to ensure that delegates are handling these distributions correctly. To do this, you may need to look at transactions from Lisk Observer or Liskscan, or utilize one of the community built tools previously mentioned in this blog post.
When you vote, your LSK tokens become locked. You may keep the votes for as long as you wish. Once you unvote, however, it will take approximately 6 hours before you are able to unlock them and then transfer them under normal circumstances.
There are additional scenarios where this time period is extended. One such example is whereby a delegate that you are voting for does something incorrectly while forging, and is issued a Proof of Misbehavior (POM) transaction against them. In this case, you would not be able to move your funds for around 30 days after this transaction takes place.
You may read more about this and other situations here.
How to vote for Lisk Delegates?
You can vote for Lisk Delegates through Lisk Desktop. While the process is rather simple, it can be a bit confusing for a first time user. Luckily there is a very helpful guide to walk you through this process. Alternatively, you can watch this video:
How can I become a Lisk Delegate?
Being a delegate will require you to run a full Lisk Core node to process blocks and transactions. You can read all about how to set up a node in the Lisk Core Documentation.
In addition to running a node, it is necessary to have a certain amount of vote weight attached to your delegate. To be selected as a stand-by delegate, you will need a minimum of 1,000 LSK tokens, though the more you have, the more blocks you will likely produce. The vote weight required to be an active delegate will fluctuate but will be significantly more. You can view the top 101 delegates by vote weight on Liskscan or Lisk Observer.