On August 13, 2020, Switcheo TradeHub coined its MainNet Genesis block. TradeHub is a standalone blockchain based on the Cosmos SDK and specially adapted to act as an order matching engine for processing and executing trades. Transactions such as transfers, stakeouts, delegations and proposals are currently being processed, but soon the Switcheo exchange and the upcoming Switcheo derivatives exchange Demex will be powered.
Transactions are processed by validators – specialized nodes selected by the community by staking SWTH tokens. Validators are not only responsible for maintaining the integrity of the network, but also for voting on suggestions for improving TradeHub. TIPS are suggestions from the community for changes or improvements to Switcheo and its products.
TIPs are regulated by SWTH token holders. When a user stakes their SWTH tokens with a validator, they also delegate the weight of votes to the host. If the user does not vote on a TIP himself, the validator votes on behalf of the user as a proxy.
It is therefore important for SWTH token holders to know who they are empowering when using their tokens with a validator. Validators must vote in the best interests of their delegates and the network.
Below, NNT hopes to be the first in a series of interviews with TradeHub validators. Our intention is to give the Switcheo community more information about who they are voting for and how they are appropriate to run a validation node.
Existing or prospective validators interested in participating should contact email@example.com.
Validator: NEO Economy ❤️ Switcheo
What is your name and where are you based?
I’m Vincent and I come from the beautiful city of Vancouver, Canada!
What is your background and what do you think qualifies you as a TradeHub validator?
I was a network technician / network architect for 15 years before I decided at the beginning of 2020 to transfer my career full-time into the world of blockchain. I have very extensive knowledge and experience in designing and managing high quality, secure and redundant infrastructures, and of course that helps me a lot when it comes to managing / maintaining the right nodes.
I’m mainly involved in three different ecosystems, Neo, Phantasma, and of course Switcheo, where I’ve done a lot of different things over the past three to four years, starting with running dApps on Neo and running some RPC nodes there to being a core team member of the Phantasma chain. I would say that even if my core background is not just software development, I like it more and more these days, but I want to be able to say that I know how to use both the network and the software.
At the time of writing, you have over 13% of the voting rights on the network – the second most common of all validators. When you set out to become a validator for Switcheo TradeHub, did you imagine you would amass as much voting power as you?
To be honest, I really didn’t think so! And while I think it’s great, it’s a lot of responsibility when you’re in one of the top spots. You get a lot more eyes when you watch everything you do and what you say 🙂
Why do you think people chose you?
I think it’s a combination of several factors: the small number of validators that were available at the start of TradeHub, the fact that I was the first to lower the commission from the original 10% fees, and the fact that many Know people in the community because I’m pretty vocal and active.
What do you think is the most important responsibility of a chosen validator?
I would say the top priority is to make sure a validator is running in a highly secure and redundant setup. The first job of the validators is to secure the network / produce blocks. Hence, this should always be their top priority to make sure they understand how to run and maintain a proper setup.
How will you use your voting rights to help the Switcheo platform?
I will try to vote with what I think is best to help Switcheo grow and expand locally. For me, it is particularly important that the validator’s vote acts as a proxy (the staker’s vote is done by default with the validators if they don’t vote themselves). Therefore a vote of the validator means “more” than a regular vote.
Are there basic principles that guide your voting decisions?
When voting, I try to cast my vote not just as a validator, but more as an end-user, and see the pros and cons of voting to see if it is beneficial for the network.
What is your setup like? How do you make sure you have optimal uptime?
Obviously, I’m not going to reveal too much about this part as proper setup involves not disclosing everything! What I can say, however, is that I have a setup based on a classic Cosmos Sentries / Validators architecture, with two validators in an active / passive setup, both separated from the internet and only connected to three Sentries servers that are distributed around the world in multiple data centers. I’m also running a few more nodes, one for the TradeHub Explorer I started and some for TradeHub TestNet.
What do you think is the most optimistic about Switcheo’s future?
I am particularly excited to see how the vision of complete decentralization will play out. Not only does this ensure that the network is censorship safe, but it also means that the (future) development of the platform is in the hands of the community, which I think is an important milestone. Anyone can build (and will be rewarded for building), and while there is still a very long way to go, Switcheo has already taken the first steps in that direction.
As a validator, how do you assess / evaluate the sense of community for your wishes and needs?
I think the main feedback would be what is posted on the social channels i.e. Telegram or Discord. If I had to comment at this point, this is that I’ve been less vocal and active since I was elected as a validator because a lot of people try to interpret everything you say both good and bad way! In order to be more transparent / “public”, I tend to refrain from commenting on some topics in order to avoid situations in which people could interpret my own opinion for my “validator opinion”.
Do you have any ideas for future TIPS? What types of TIPs would you like to see in the future?
One thing I would love to see soon, and that I think is in the works, is some kind of expedited TIP for listing suggestions. Since everything is (will be) automated / decentralized, even simple lists of tokens will have to go through a vote, which is great, but could also delay the lists of important / important pairings. I believe the team is working on this with specific rules and conditions for a vote if it is a TIP related to a token listing so as not to introduce listing delays.
In October, Ivan Poon came up with the idea of creating a new TIP that would create a higher threshold for validator performance. This could include increasing the missed blocks window from 90% to 99%, as well as increasing penalties and rewards. What do you think of the validator’s current performance and would you support this proposal? Do you have any suggestions for implementation based on current discussions?
I agree with Ivan P. Many people naively believe that running a validator is all about setting it up and collecting votes, and that’s it. But it’s not even half the story, because regular troubleshooting and improving the performance of a validator are also part of the “job”. Whether it’s figuring out why too many blocks are missing from your setup, understanding why this is happening, and avoiding the two dreaded penalties, there are many things to consider. Current and future validators should understand that maintaining a validator has multiple responsibilities, including having the right maintenance / troubleshooting skills.
As for the metric changes themselves, it has been suggested (not definitively) that the same ratio be kept when it comes to an acceptable number of missing blocks over the period of time that this occurs. So this basically means that a validator has “more”. Time to perform expected or unexpected maintenance, but over a longer period of time. It is all the more important to have a very good setup, as the period will be longer. This means that you will not be able to perform multiple maintenance tasks too often, as the “period” for deleting these missing blocks is five times longer (from one day to five days was mentioned earlier).
When it comes to penalties, I personally like the concept of rewarding good behavior more than punishing bad, but both should still exist to ensure that auditors are doing their proper due diligence rather than just “setting and forgetting” it.
Editor’s Note: Vincent is a member of the Neo News Today team. However, its Switcheo TradeHub activities are beyond the control of NNT and the scope of its NNT responsibilities.
Other existing or prospective validators interested in the Know Your Validator range should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.