Takeaways from The Great Celo Stake Off

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The Great Celo Stake Off was one of the most talked about incentivized testnets of Q1 2020. Over 100 teams participated in the competition, and 72 validators received Celo Gold (cGLD) as a reward for completing tasks in the competition. Figment placed 16th overall in the competition, and received one of the highest security audit scores (115 out of 120). We were awarded 30,000 cGLD and have been selected to be one of the few validators in the genesis block during Celo’s “New Baklava Testnet”, which plans to launch on April 6th and will continue after mainnet launch. 

We wanted to share some takeaways from the Great Celo Stake Off as we inch closer to the New Baklava Testnet, and ultimate mainnet. 

Great Celo Stake Off

Competition Design Led to Increased Participation

Gamification of The Great Celo Stake Off was highly thought out. The main goal of the competition was to earn as many Baklava Test Units (BTUs) as possible. Additionally, there were score multipliers set in place for participants who completed specific challenges. Challenges included the Attestation Challenge, Master Validator Challenge, and Buddy Challenge. More information on the challenges can be found here.

Multipliers of these challenges greatly changed the dynamic of the competition, which led to a wide variety of strategies. The implementation of the score multipliers allowed us to focus on maintaining high uptime, attestation scores, and quality security, which led us to beat 6 participants who would have placed higher than us if these multipliers were not in place. 

Implementation of these multipliers proved successful for Celo. Participation in their testnet was high, and it kept the community engaged on their chat channels. 

Understanding Validator Groups is Key to Success on Mainnet

One of the most unique aspects of Celo is their use of validator groups. Voters on Celo will not vote for individual validators, instead they will vote for validator groups. There are a maximum of 5 validators per group and validators within a group do not have to be controlled by the same entity. This makes sense in theory, but this function led to easy cartel creation on the testnet.

Validator groups on mainnet are supposed to help mitigate the information disparity between voters and individual validators. These groups are incentivized to only include high quality validators within their groups through a reward share. Groups were given the audit score of the lowest performing validator in their group. This protocol design forces groups to do extensive due diligence on the validators they allow into the group, therefore raising the overall operating standard for the network.

We are interested to see how validator groups will evolve overtime. The number of variables involved in validator groups make it difficult to test. Regardless, our focus on security, uptime, and reputation will benefit us and our voters in the long term when it comes to validator groups on Celo.

Security is Important but Hardware Wasn’t Fully Tested

The main goals of the Great Celo Stake Off were to build validator operational experience and establish security best practices. cLABS, in collaboration with MultiSig, performed an extensive security audit on all participants of the testnet. 

The audit accessed: 

  • Physical security
  • Endpoint Configuration Management
  • User Management
  • Network Security
  • Container Security
  • Key Management
  • Redundancy and Availability

We scored one of the highest security audit scores during the competition, and we appreciate how much of a focus this was for Celo. However, hardware signing was not ready in time for the testnet, which had us competing with purely cloud setups that may have been equally performant at a lower cost, but with lower security as well. Having said that, we still plan to test and evaluate the benefit of using the Ledger Validator Signer App on our Celo validators once it is available. 

One thing we really appreciate in Celo’s design is the ability to rotate signing keys. The signing keys are disposable, which means they can be changed as much as is necessary, thus limiting the potential for our validators to become compromised. 

Overall, our infrastructure is well positioned to be highly secure and functional on Celo mainnet. 

A Success for Celo

The Great Celo Stake Off proved to be a huge success for Celo. They created, educated, and energized a large community of validators who are prepared to support Celo when it launches. 

Their New Baklava Testnet plans to launch on April 6th. This will further prep the validator community for mainnet, and will be used as a testing ground for new features after mainnet launch. We will be a genesis block producer on this testnet. 

For more information on Celo, check out the recap of our AMA or our Preparing to Stake Celo Gold (cGLD) article.

Join the Celo Discord for future updates.

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