New Foundation Voting Policy

Hi folks,

I’d like to open a frank discussion about the Foundation voting policy that will start affecting all new applications and existing validators that are reapplying for votes this year. The requirement is that to be considered for Foundation votes you must be able to show that you have 150k votes from the community (or yourself) to be considered.

See previous discussion: Cohort 8 Application Status and Further Updates to Foundation Voting Policy

While some validators have accumulated these votes over time (from, for example) if they’ve been here since genesis, for younger groups this may be a very high barrier.

I fear that some independents without the backing VCs or external investments, but whom are otherwise very engaged in the community and high technical performers may be getting forced out with this policy.

I don’t believe there’s any deliberate hostility with this policy, but the follow-on effects may be that Celo moves from a very community driven protocol to a more by-the-numbers large corporate entity operated chain. The ultimate end-state really being only 22 well-funded validator groups each maxxed out with 5 validators each.

Some topics I’d like the current validator cohorts to consider:

    1. Is decentralisation a priority for the Celo protocol?
    1. “Wasted” votes: Would large VCs consider voting their excess CELO to proven, existing validator groups to maintain a diverse validator set?
    1. Group accumulation: is there room for an independent “Community Genesis” supergroup that maintains a combined 5 or 10 validator seats representing some of the most active smaller service providers?
    1. Would the Foundation support re-directing votes to merged groups?
    1. Would the CCF consider supporting validator groups to achieve the 150k hurdle given proven track record?
    1. What marketing and outreach activities do we need to engage in now to make sure we can garner enough support to continue validating?

Any other comments and thoughts welcome.


Ultimately the foundation is free to do as they see fit so would be good to hear from a representative.

It’s my understanding that the majority of voting power employed on Celo comes from a relatively small set of entities and thus the best means for gathering additional votes for a group would be appealing directly to these entities or self-funding. Alternatively the foundation could modify the policy to include some “merit grants” for groups that have an outsized impact on the network.

(As an aside, hopefully we get to a point one day where foundation voting isn’t a considerable decider on the validator set)

I don’t have specific suggestions here but we all know who the most actively-engaged validator groups are, including folks who have developed useful tooling like the Block Map, Celo Terminal, etc, so a good sanity check when making changes to voting policy would be to ask whether it would have an adverse impact on community engagement by excluding said groups.


Thanks @james for the feedback. I agree it would be great to loop in a representative of the Foundation.

@yaz is it possible for you to relay some of the questions we have?

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Hey @Thylacine :wave: Thanks for your thoughtful post! I surfaced this on the cLabs-side for visibility.

I’m not (personally) particularly well-read on the Foundation Voting Policy, so I appreciate you raising this tension :100:

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Thanks for the post.

It seems to me that this 150,000 requirement comes from a place of wanting more community involvement. You’re right to question whether the effect aligns with the intention.

In theory, a minimum number of verified community addresses would be a better measure of community involvement than a fixed number of CELO. Obviously this is not Sybil resistant unless we had a form of proof of humanity.


Perhaps we as a community should be funding a proof of humanity solution?
Perhaps we find a proxy for proof of humanity like verified Valora users . Are there other proxies we could use? For example, perhaps validators need support from X addresses that are validated by a phone number?


Interesting idea on it’s own, to have some PoH / Captcha type system similar to the SMS attestations, on the Celo network. (This could help with last-mile projects especially in the rural / developing world).

In terms of any given validator group being a more recognized candidate for Foundation votes - how would a cohort of humans giving a thumbs up to a group going to give the Foundation the indication that they are a professional group?

One could argue that CELO votes themselves are that thumbs-up. If you can gather an army on Twitter to give you some sort of numerical checkmark, it just turns the exercise into a marketing / botting spend activity and potentially incentivises Sybil behaviour. If those followers have CELO, they can give their approval by voting for your group with it.

Some potential candidacy ideas I would like to see would be more like:

  • $150,000 dollars voting for your group, or a smaller CELO requirement, perhaps 50,000 CELO instead of 150,000.
  • Traditionally incorporated or DAO entities with a clear human contact points / legal clarity
  • Security / technical checklist pass/fail
  • Architecture setup review
  • Proven track record on Baklava
  • Provide documentation on key management and validator group governance / backup scenarios defined
  • Community involvement and contributions

This is fairly similar to the current selection criteria, but with more of a focus on engaged and knowledgeable groups who can demonstrate a little bit more robustness than docker run, and it gives new validators a chance to meet certain criteria to be in the running.

I’m not sure I see this as a substantial point of difference with the foundation’s policy - just a disagreement on extent. However, it would be good hear from the foundation the logic on why 150,000 was chosen?

  • In practise, over 1,000,000 votes are required to be a validator, so 150,000 from the community kind of seems reasonable on that basis, no?
  • I can’t see the rich list beyond 100, but it seems likely there are about 500-1,000 addresses with at least 150,000 CELO locked. Shouldn’t each validator at least get one of those on board?

Curious to hear from more validators on this point. @thezviad, would appreciate your take.