Every time the GNC is mentioned in the different eCash Social media groups and channels it becomes clear that there is not a lot of information available and that those newer to eCash or those who have not closely followed events in 2020 are at a loss as to what it is all about. Nonetheless the Bitcoin ABC team through the official eCash twitter account, recently communicated the new GNC website located on a subdomain of the e.Cash website and more recently announced there is a deadline for people to apply to it. This is reason enough for eCash NEWS Today to have a closer look at available information about the GNC, the new website and try to find out more about the organization and the process.
History of the GNC
The first mention of the GNC concept was in an article presented by the Bitcoin ABC team that detailed their vision of how infrastructure funding plan coins would be managed and governed. Coins that would become available for Bitcoin Cash infrastructure development as a result of the Bitcoin ABC protocol software release that included a new rule. Where before 100% of the newly minted coins were awarded to the miner of the block they were minted in, the new infrastructure funding plan diverted 8% to an address where it would be used to fund infrastructure development and projects. Although the plan was presented for Bitcoin Cash, the chain that included this new rule became known as Bitcoin Cash ABC or BCHA where indeed there now is an address that receives 8% of block reward and fees of each block that is added to the blockchain. And of course that has now become an eCash (XEC) rule and address. In an article published in his Proof Of Writing blog, CainBCHA recently named this the NCR or new coinbase rule so we will use that name going forward.
According to the August 2020 proposal and the early September follow up article the coins resulting from this new coinbase rule would be governed by two groups: half of the funding earmarked for the ABC development team led by Amaury Séchet and Antony Zegers. With it they could pay developers working to maintain and improve the network protocol software and any other infrastructure software they chose to develop. The other half would be governed by a group made up of the largest miners (52 votes) and largest coin holders (21 votes). Together they would form the GNC or Global Network Council and decide on how these coins would be spent.
From the September 2020 document:
“Once a year, we’ll invite miners and holders to apply to join the Global Network Council. During this application process, we’ll calculate the number of votes they’re entitled to based on the cryptographic proof of coinbase rewards or holdings they share with us. For holders, there will be a blind submission process to cryptographically prove holdings so identities can remain hidden. Likewise, we won’t reveal any figures until the selection process is complete, so only invited stakeholders’ figures will be shared. “
GNC Since November 15th 2020
Since those documents were published before the November 15th upgrade that resulted in the chain split that created BCHA / eCash (XEC), there has not been any additional information about the planned governance system. Other than an explanation for why the GNC meeting would be delayed to a later date, no official updates on the 2020 NCR and GNC plans were published. The people eCash NEWS Today spoke with over the period of almost a year, had assumed the 2020 plans were unchanged other than the first meeting being delayed.
First GNC Member Meeting
After many months of silence the first news of the GNC was when Amaury Séchet mentioned it during the AMA organised by the Turkish telegram group October 13th. No specific information was given other than the suggestion that the answer to one of the questions was better decided upon by the GNC in November.
The gnc.e.Cash Website
The days after the AMA, two further events took place. First there was a mention of a GNC website and the removal of older documents from the bitcoinABC.org website in a pull request on the Bitcoin ABC Phabricator repository. The day after, on October 15th, the ABC team announced the new website URL with a tweet from the official eCash twitter account. No further explanation was given with the tweet, by members of the development team or by people known to be working closely with the team. The tweet only contained the link to the new website.
As minimal as the tweet was, the website also gave absolutely no information or instructions. Only a form for people to enter and apply and a login field if the Login button is selected from the top menu. After entering information and clicking apply one can proceed with adding an address and verifying this address by signing a message with its private keys.
Application Deadline Announced - One Week to Apply
On October 22, a week after sharing the GNC website URL, the official e.cash twitter account mentioned the GNC again and communicated a deadline for applications a week later on October 29th. The tweet added some new information that is still quite cryptic. The tweet reads:
What is the GNC? The GNC is a group of proven eCash stakeholders who guide reinvestment in the eCash ecosystem. Applications are due by Friday, Oct 29.
Missing Information and Issues
The minimalistic approach for both the website and the official communication means that reporting on what is there may not tell the whole story. So we also had a look at what we did not find or the questions that we had for which no answers were found. With the deadline for applications being set on coming Friday we decided to provide you with what we found and what we did not find.
No Document Detailing the GNC Plan
The 2020 documents announcing and detailing the GNC plans are no longer posted on the bitcoinabc.org website or in any other location. The original plan was written for the Bitcoin Cash upgrade and network. It is not known if it is meant to be implemented unchanged or if the split and creation of eCash has changed the plans. The documents were not replaced with rebranded and or updated versions.
Selection Criteria for Successful Application Unknown
The form uses the word “apply” which suggests there will be a process where applications are reviewed. The Selection criteria are not clear so it is unknown if all applicants will be accepted as GNC members, only those with a certain number of coins that they register on the site, counting or not counting coin age, people with known real life or community identities or selection on the basis of the “tell us about yourself” information entered by the applicant.
Applicants are left to guess the best way to fill in the form in order to optimise their chance of receiving a seat on the council. This lack of clarity is increasing the chance people will disclose private information that makes it possible to connect holdings to real identities.
No Cookie or Third Party Tracking Information.
It is not clear if the site uses third party cookies and trackers and no ways for users of the site to manage them if it does.
No Privacy or Data Storage Information
The website currently does not provide information about how, where and by who the provided data is stored, how it is secured and who can access and analyse it.
When Will There be Another Chance to Apply?
The original GNC plan speaks of holders and miners being invited once a year to apply for a seat. It is unclear if that part of the plan has remained in place or has changed. Will there be another chance before November 2022 or will the group selected now remain unchanged and voting rights remain valid for a year?
Do Miners and Holders Register in the Same Way?
The original document assigns 21 votes to holders and 52 votes to miners. It is unclear how those miner voting rights are calculated and if they would have to register the same way. With mostly pools mining XEC blocks, would the pool operator need to apply or could individual hashers that found blocks apply. Or have the GNC rules changed on this part?
No Option to Revoke Application
When one has registered an address there is no option to revoke such an application. One can of course move the coins to another address but if coin age counts as was part of the original GNC proposal, this would lower the weight given to votes using those coins. Lack of clear information may cause people to act in ways that later turn out to have negative effects.
No Confirm or Reset Password Options
As the password is only provided once there is the chance a typo in it makes that one can not reproduce the correct password when logging in a next time. For this reason many websites ask users to submit a new password twice. There also is no “reset password” option so if a mistake was made with the password or a user simply forgets it, there seems to not be an option to recover the account. It is unclear if someone could apply again and register the same address again.
Some people are reporting they are running into problems when trying to register their eCash address on the site. The fact that some of these people are experienced users and even experienced devs means that the website is not always functioning correctly a week after it went live and less than a week before the application deadline.
Organising and Pooling Holdings
Late last year and early this year there was a lot of talk about the possibility for smaller holders to organise and pool their holdings with a representative joining the GNC in their name. With very little communication and even less time before the October 29 deadline that was communicated on October 22nd, it is unlikely people will be able to organise pooling their holdings in time. It is not even known if there would be need or value to doing so as currently nobody knows what the rules and requirements are.
Being Your Own Bank Requires Safety Measures
For those who want to give it a try and apply, it may be good to not share personal info but instead use an Alias and an email address that can not be traced back to you. This is to preserve privacy and prevent problems in case the database is ever hacked or in other ways compromised. Bitcoin history shows that keeping information about crypto holdings private is very much advisable. Especially since they often are stored in non custodial wallets with keys stored at home. Being your own bank means one has to keep oneself safe against less technically advanced threats also. This includes not publicly advertising holdings. What effect this will have on applications being successful or not, is unclear but it is advisable to prioritize safety and security.
Signing an Address: Some Pointers
Applicants will need to have their holdings in an Electrum ABC wallet in order to be able to sign a message with the private key and that way prove access to the coin in the address. On the address tab in that wallet, one can find the addresses that hold the coins that one wants to add to the GNC application. Select the address that needs to be used for the GNC application. Copy it and enter it on the site. Now go back and right click the address in the Electrum ABC wallet while being in the address tab. A list of options will appear. One of them is: sign/verify message. Click that.
On the website a message will be provided that needs to be signed. Copy this and enter it in the “sign message” box in Electrum. The resulting string of characters now needs to be entered on the website where, if executed correctly, it will be accepted as proof of the applicant holding the keys to that address. The balance of the address will be shown and an option to add another address also.
Tip: Freeze Address
Right clicking again on the address while being in the address tab of the Electrum ABC wallet, one can now select the “freeze” option. This will lock the address in a way that it can still receive coins but when creating a transaction with the wallet, the coins in that particular wallet will be ignored. Only when the wallet holder unfreezes the address will the wallet be able to send those coins again. Freezing that address will prevent sending coins out of the registered address into a new change address when moving some coins. One could of course send coins back into the registered address again but it is easier to just freeze the address and the coins in it.
Although it is great to see progress on GNC governance organization, the current website and lack of information (including older information having been taken down) continues to make it difficult for people to make rational and informed decisions. It remains unclear if the current plans follow the August/September 2020 plans or have changed on important parts. It is also unclear if the news of the GNC website and the application deadline has reached large holders and if there is enough time and information for them to successfully apply in time. With the total communication being two tweets and with many people not following twitter daily, it is likely important holders will miss this short window of opportunity or will consider the lack of information a reason not to apply. Maybe the reasons behind this roll-out method and communication strategy will become clearer in the future.
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