Community Q&A - Q2 2020 Summary Call

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This thread lists questions and answers from the DCG Q2 2020 Summary Call. The first posts contain transcribed answers from the call, and remaining questions will be collected and posted here over the course of the week. Questions are as follows:
  1. Q: Is Dash Platform and Dashpay still aiming for 2020 release on mainnet? Is there a way we can see the percentage complete of Dash Platform and DashPay?

    A (Bob): I've been consistent in only setting expectations around testnet delivery for all of our products, because that's kind of when it goes out of our our hands and we can have better control of the commitment on that. So, as shown today on the roadmap, we're aiming for a platform release next quarter to testnet. We're all very excited about that. We're still exploring the possibility of Dashpay on testnet as well, and all the teams are really focused on getting Dashpay to the community as soon as reasonably possible. So with the target now communicated for Platform, we will be able to answer that question more fully on the next quarter's call. Again, going back to what I stated before, this is the first time we've gone out two quarters as far as visibility into the roadmap. So what we're talking about is next quarter, and typically in the past we've only done one quarter. So I'll have an ability to commit to that on the next quarter call for Dashpay wallet in particular.

    Another question (or part of that question) we received was regarding the actual percentage of completion of each project. We do not use that as a primary metric since there's many, many ways to define both the numerator and denominator. Whether it's hours or epochs or stories or points... I mean, it's really really tough. So I think the best metric is the amount of time left, which we just provided greater visibility into. This shows us in the home stretch.

  2. Q: Dash's codebase continues to diverge from bitcoin and AFAIK the last independent audit was five or six years ago. Will DCG commit to an independent security audit and code review within the next 12 months? If not, why not?

    A (Bob): It's a great question, and a great prompt for us to take action. The idea of an independent external security audit benefits the entire community. Our role, as just the steward of the development efforts, means obviously that we share the same concern about code reliability, quality and security. We would need to propose to the network to properly fund the venture, as well as safely convey the results of the audit. If any of you have been involved in security audits, you would understand what that means: that we need to make sure that security is protected. So I can't commit to conduct the audit if there's no resources. But I can commit to submitting a proposal to the network to fund this. So in short: yes. Thanks again for the question, and we can convene as a team and talk about how to move that forward.

  3. Q: A recent poll Ryan conducted in the #mno channel of the Dash Talk Discord showed 22 MNOs voting for a 65% masternode / 35% miner block reward split, with only 5 voting for the 60%/40% split that Ryan ended up proposing to the network. The same poll showed 26 MNOs voting for 100%-masternode-funded superblocks, with only 9 voting for miners to help subsidize the superblock. In Ryan's upcoming proposal regarding superblock funding, are MNOs going to have an option to vote for 100%-masternode-funded superblocks, or only the less popular poll option like in the last proposal? (Rion)

    I'd like to take a step back and talk about what the entire poll was about. It was really to get feedback from the masternodes on what their preferences were. There were other questions involved as well, and the questions covered four main areas:
    1. The first area was the amount that was being reallocated
    2. The second was the timing with which the reallocation occurred (and there was some subtext there about the degree to which the reallocation was front loaded versus back loaded within that time period)
    3. The third area was around when a proposal was funded, who does that affect, or when an unused portion of the available proposal funding was not used, where does that funding go? I guess there's a couple ways you could look at that.
    4. The last was the amount that is being reallocated
So there were several topics covered. What the masternodes voted for, overwhelmingly across all of these questions, was for a larger reallocation from miners to masternodes. They wanted it faster, they wanted it to occur in a more front loaded manner, they wanted it to also provide a fixed amount to miners, such that as proposals were awarded, that would come exclusively from the masternode portion of the funding. One of the things that I pointed out early in this process was all of these things are not compatible with one another. There was one other area, by the way, which was whether or not to have a cap on the funding for the proposal system. The feedback that we got was that most people preferred to have a cap and not allow the network to infinitely fund or fund 100% of the proposal funding towards proposals. The median response was the 20% that we had put forward, so that was good. There was also overwhelming support to accelerate the timeline and make the reallocation occur quicker. That was actually the strongest level of support out of all of these other options. We incorporated that feedback into the proposal, shortening it by about 30% and front loading the reallocations so they occur more quickly, with most of it occurring within the first year and a half. So we really did take the feedback into account.

If you start piling on all of these things, all of which are negative for miners, a couple of things happen. The proposal that we had originally put forward was relatively neutral for miners, despite the reallocation. The price support that it should provide, it could be argued to miners that this is neutral to positive for them overall. And I spent a lot of time with our mining community talking to the largest miners I know of in order to get their feedback and support on it, so that we can get a smooth transition to this new allocation model. And I've largely gotten that. But I think if you start to pile on and say well, we're actually going to do a deeper reallocation, we're going to reallocate that faster. We're going to take away some of the variation that you can benefit from if the price of Dash goes up, and the proposal funding doesn't go fully utilized, that kind of supercharges that effect for the miners. And do some of these other changes that are beneficial to masternodes, but not necessarily beneficial to miners. What that creates is a dynamic where we lose that miner support.

Now, in light of ChainLocks, one of the common questions I get is "well, can't we use ChainLocks to force a hard fork upon the network?" And the answer is we've never used it that way before. We've used it to enforce the the first-seen rule on the network, so that a valid chain tip can't be invalidated later. We don't have full visibility into what it would be like to use that functionality to actually hard fork the coin. Why is that? The answer is there's a lot of third-party wallets that don't recognize ChainLocks or InstantSend. They aren't capable of detecting them. There are a lot of exchanges that are in the same category. At the very least, you'd want greater than 50% support to eliminate risks and make the transition a smooth and safe one for our users. And so I think the answer for me is, as you start to pile on all of these requests from the masternodes... I recognize the source of the desire for a larger reallocation. I think to the extent that we can reduce the disruption and risk to the network, and do this in a way that ensures that the network moves forward cohesively and not chaotically, I think that that is a beneficial one while addressing the goal that we set for ourselves in the first place, which is to reduce the circulating supply growth rate. The plan that we put forward achieves that without introducing all of these other risks.

So for me, I think if Dash Core Group is going to put forward a proposal, I don't think it should be on the basis of a popularity poll or a poll from one affected group within the network. It seems pretty obvious to me that if you ask masternodes if they want a larger share of the reward, and they want it faster and they want it, you know... it's very clear that they have a lot of incentive to answer that way. My incentive is to do it in a way that is safe and that DCG can stand behind a proposal that we're putting forward that we believe in and believe does not put the network at risk. I believe that it's our job to evaluate the options and to put forward a set of options that make the most sense for the network overall. So that's what we're doing. I've really taken the feedback and we've done a lot of analysis around this. We've engaged with a large number of the developers on what it could mean, or what the risks might be associated with doing something more extreme than what is necessary in order to address the issue that we identified. And we're not there yet. We're continuing to evaluate. But we're not going to put forward a proposal that DCG does not believe is good for the network. That isn't to say that someone else couldn't put together a proposal of their own, but if they're looking for an endorsement from DCG on whether or not that's the right path forward, I don't think we would be willing to to provide that.​
 
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  1. Q: What is the current regulatory situation in Japan regarding Dash privatesend? How many exchanges trade Dash? Does DCG have a China strategy? What is DCG currently doing in Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela?

    A: (Glenn) So as far as the Japan situation goes, we are not listed on any of the exchanges in Japan. Dash Japan, which is headed by Yosuke Suda, was funded earlier this year to get Dash relisted in Japan, and so far he's been doing a tremendous job planning, strategizing and engaging with the Japanese regulators. Dash Core Group has been collaborating with him in terms of participating in these meetings. We've met with a number of regulators, lawyers and accountants, and have been plugged into conversations wherever and whenever Yosuke considers it appropriate. It has been a slow process, but we are moving along figuring exactly what it is that we need to do in order to get relisted. As I said, we're still (I would say) in the planning phases, so we haven't spent too many resources on the effort. So for example, Yosuke received roughly thirty thousand dollars to engage in the effort, and that's being held in escrow at Dash Core Group, and so far he hasn't spent a penny of those funds. So we at Dash Core Group will continue to support Yosuke. However, it is slow moving in that particular market, and I think in terms of his efforts to get us relisted in Japan, he'll probably take us into 2021. In terms of all the other markets, Ryan covered Dash Core Group efforts in Venezuela and Mexico, where there's been a lot of heavy lifting done in the past quarter. For Brazil and Africa, there are other teams in the Dash ecosystem that are focusing on those regions, and we at Dash Core Group don't want to spread too thin in terms of our focus or to interfere with the efforts of those other teams within that ecosystem. I'm not sure Ryan if you have anything to add along for those other regions, but that's my short answer to that question.

    A: (Ryan) The key for us is we have limited resources. We want to make sure that the efforts that we do pursue are successful, and that requires a certain amount of focus. There are synergies between a lot of the activities that we do, where one effort builds upon another, and so having that concentration within specific markets is really important for us. With a business development team of two, you can appreciate that we can't really cover the entire globe.

  2. Q: It was announced in March 2018 that DCG filed for provisional patents, however "The patent itself is not public record currently, though it will become publicly available within 18 months after a non-provisional patent is filed." Are these patents yet publicly available?

    A (Ryan): The patent was filed. We initially had the provisional patent. There's a limited time period in which a provisional patent sits in that state before you need to file for the full patent. I think that was completed in the spring or as far as back as fall of last year. The way the patent office works is they have groups that review each of the patents, and I was told by our law firm that the particular group that reviews the type of patent that we submitted, for the category that we submitted the patent in, has a backlog of about two years from the time when you submit the patent to the time when they review it. Different groups have different backlogs, and at present this was a two-year backlog that they were looking at. What that means is it'd probably be 18 months to two years after the filing, and so I think that that puts us in fall of 2021 when this would finally be decided on. Now in filing the patent, it doesn't matter when it's approved. What matters is the fact that it was filed, and any protection that it would provide would be backdated to the date that we filed it, or even prior. So there's no concern with the length of time that they take. We're just in waiting period at this point.

    Really the outcome of that patent filing doesn't matter, and I'll explain more about why that is. For most people filing a patent, they're doing it so that they can protect a product that they're selling or extract patent licensing fees from the marketplace. So it's really important for them to get the patent approved. In our case, we filed the patent for defensive purposes. What we didn't want to have happen was have someone else look at our technology, copy it basically and then patent it themselves. That would potentially lead to issues, for example such a patent holder could approach an exchange and say: "hey, you're using this technology without our patent, you have to pay a fee in order to continue listing Dash". And so we would be forced to fight the patent at that point, and claim that we had open sourced this material beforehand. It would be costly to fight such a claim. By filing first, one of two things is going to happen: it's either going to be approved or it's going to be denied. If it is approved, that's great, we now hold a patent on behalf of the network. We are still open sourcing our software, and we are still allowing under that license anyone to use it. But what that does, is it makes it impossible for anyone else to file for the same thing. If they were to and it were to be granted in error, we would be able to point to our own patents and say: no, we had patented this technology first. So it would significantly reduce the costs of fighting this, and if it were to even occur, then it would be very unlikely that such a patent would be approved. If the patent is instead rejected, this actually isn't bad for us either. Why is that? Well, if the patent is rejected, that means that if someone else files for the patent later, it's very likely that theirs will also be rejected. If theirs is approved, we nonetheless have a tool that makes it very easy to fight their patent. We had a prior filing. So we can point to that prior filing and say: "look, either our patent was rejected in error, in which case we should have gotten the patent and this other patent is invalid, or the patent office correctly rejected our patent, and their patent should also be rejected. So what this does is it really protects the network from having any type of patent related attack against it for the technologies that we're rolling out. It really doesn't matter whether the patent is approved or if it's rejected, we will achieve the goal, which is to make it very difficult for anyone to try and challenge the open source nature of our project. So that's really the goal behind it. They've been filed. It's really out of our hands at this point. Sometime next year, between the spring of 2021 and the fall of 2021, my guess is because of Covid this has all been pushed back. Maybe it'll even extend into 2022, depending on whether the patent office has been working. I think that we'll have a good outcome here, so hopefully that kind of addresses the question or the underlying concern behind the question.

  3. Q: Can we have an Alt 36 update?

    A (Ryan): Really, there hasn't been a lot of movement on the situation with Alt 36. Although I do think that there are reasons to explore whether or not we can turn the payments back on at this point. Alt 36 does continue to leverage the Dash blockchain for each transaction that they do. At this time, compliance concerns from several of our Alt 36's partners prevent them from turning on direct payments from consumers to merchants. That functionality was built and it was actually turned on for a brief time, I think in November or December of last year, maybe even into January. Although because of the concerns, they weren't really able to publicize that very much. Subsequently they determined that they needed to turn it off in order to maintain banking and other relationships with point-of-sale providers that they're integrated into. So until those compliance concerns can be adequately addressed, we're kind of in the same situation. Alt 36 does continue to work with partners to address those concerns. But so far, getting all parties to align on that fact is kind of difficult to achieve that the compliance obligations can be met while processing Dash payments. We did integrate with Chainalysis about a month ago, and Chainalysis I know is very well respected by regulators. That may reopen the door for some of these conversations. I hope to be able to re-engage some of those partners soon, to see if we can make another attempt at this. The functionality is great. I have seen demos of it in action. I think they had it up for a brief period of time, and I'd like to see it be able to turn back on. They do continue to grow, and if we able are able to turn that functionality back on at some point, we're going to have a larger ecosystem with which Dash can be used. Because they they do seem to be growing quite quickly, adding new dispensaries and so on. So we continue to be in communication with them. This is far more challenging than I anticipated it would be, and my hope is with some of these new well-respected AML platform capabilities that we have, that we can reopen those conversations and be successful at it.

  4. Q: What are the plans for viral marketing strategies to promote and quickly ramp up user accounts once Dash Platform is on mainnet?

    A (Fernando): Here I'd like to distinguish between two different launches. One is Platform, which is a developer product, and then Dashpay with a user-available name service and usernames. So the Dash Platform release will be more focused on developers. The Dashpay launch will be focused on final users. There are several parts we want to tackle there. The first one would be the traditional PR and things like that. Hopefully by then we can ramp up our efforts through our current newsroom team, internal efforts and maybe even hire some help for that, because this is a huge milestone for us, and we will we we need to make as much noise as possible. Then we have a couple of actions that you could call viral marketing strategies that revolve around the community, invitations and generating some excitement around grabbing your username. The details and mechanics will be finalized once we have the specific mechanics of the invitations and name registrations finalized. Those actions can be complemented if there is enough budget available, with some third parties getting involved in different ways. And on top of that, if the budget is still higher, then we would probably would do some paid advertising in certain crypto channels that are good for us. But that will depend a lot on the budget situation, the timing of the launch. Right now we are operating at a very low bar, close to zero, to conserve the limited funds we have. We'll have to fill up the budget later in the year. Depending on the price situation, the budget available for all these things will be more or less. So as we approach that, we will be able to give more details on this.

  5. Q: Are there still plans to organize hackathons or did the idea become irrelevant since there is now also the bounty program for developers?

    A (Bob): I really like the idea of hackathons and will look for opportunities to promote them once Platform is complete. We have talked about that as a team before, and I know Dana as well as the developers are all very keen on it.

    So we previously discussed doing so in coordination with our delivery to mainnet, and so that would probably still be the timing. We've considered both in-person as well as virtual hackathons. So obviously based on the current travel climate, we may have to look harder at the virtual events. As far as the bounty programs go, I don't think the bounty program replaces it. I think they because hackathons are often more about the educational and networking benefits of the event itself. So i think the bounty program's fantastic, I believe they complement each other. There are still plans to do that.

  6. Q: With Dashpay soon to be released, what are your thoughts about bringing on a growth team when the budget allows for it?

    A (Fernando): I think we all agree that'd be great. We have very limited resources on the growth area, and that encompasses business development and marketing. There are many activities we would love to do if the budget allowed for it, so the more the better.
 
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