“Decentralization” seems to be the key selling point of any blockchain project nowadays. It feels like the term itself is devaluing each time when it’s pronounced. The idea of “decentralized governance” sounds pretty fresh, though.
We’re caught up with Michael Kabanov who runs GoodPR creative agency and spends his free time studying crypto. Michael is not a trader, more of a researcher of social mechanics applied to crypto-communities. His current object of research is the Free TON community.
Tell us in a couple of words the story of Free TON. How did TON become Free TON?
In 2020, while COVID-19 rampaged, the SEC were hard at work, forcing the Durovs to terminate their popular ICO, GRAM. Despite months of effort, the Durovs battle was lost, and with hands in the air, they surrendered the project. However, with the technology hanging on the edge and in danger of falling into the abyss, it was open-source to the rescue yet again.
What happened next could be described as a sort of carte blanche challenge for people around the world to continue where the Durovs left off: create the most advanced next-generation blockchain, in a truly decentralized fashion. With the support of crypto-enthusiasts all over the world, leaders of the development community, well-known staking providers and trading venues, the network launched in May 2020. This is how Free TON was born.
Now, setting aside the technical stack and statistics – over 100 thousand registered wallets and 0.2 sec average block time, the mechanics of Free TON as a social organism deserve special attention.
Social organism? What do you mean, please, explain?
Free TON has no CEO, no PR and Marketing departments, no consultants – only a community who decides how the network will evolve. All proposals are published on the project’s forum where every community member can leave comments, discuss, or criticize the document. When the discussion is over and all the substantive comments are taken into account, the proposal goes to on-chain voting. If over 50% of votes are in support of the idea, the proposal passes the voting and moves on to be implemented.
Does Free TON sell its tokens? Or they are distributed another way – like airdrops or similar?
Thank you for asking – it’s one of the tricky parts. Free TON never held an ICO or any other form of token presale, the supply (5B TON Crystals) was allocated on three ‘givers’. 5% were reserved for validators who support the performance of the blockchain, 10% allocated to developers to encourage development, and a massive 85% of tokens are earmarked for community members for their efforts in building mass adoption.
The allocation of these tokens is based on a system of meritocracy, judged through contests and collaborations which are put forward by community members. There are no limitations, anyone can propose anything! And so long as their idea is based on common sense and logic, and includes the required information, it will be assessed accordingly.
Over the past 9 months, Free TON has been swiftly developing the tech stack, but the community size and their level of involvement have been growing rapidly as well. The number of contests and total workload of initial members became overwhelming.
And what about governance – how does it work?
The growth of the community led to the need for enhancing the existing model and introducing sub-governances which can help diversify the workload and make the entire process more efficient and robust. Each sub-governance comprises like-minded community members who are interested in a specific field whether it is DeFi, design, promotion, developer experience, or writing smart-contracts. There are also sub-governances that organize the work with crypto-communities in different countries or languages. Currently, there are 18 sub-governances up and running in Free TON and new ones are created pretty often.
Introducing sub-governances helped to engage more community members in active participation in the network development, increased the number of conducted contests and, as result, sped up the process of token allocation to crypto-enthusiasts interested in Free TON world-wide. There have been over 100 contests performed and over 155 million TON Crystal tokens allocated through them since May 2020. And the pace is growing daily.
155 million tokens distributed through contests and collaborations – that looks pretty massive. Congratulations. Does the community have any plans for going forward with upgrading current governance?
The work on decentralized governance is far from being over, you’re absolutely right. The community continues to conduct new experiments and discuss further enhancements of the existing model. At this point Governance 2.0 is being developed – it’s in early conception, but the word is that any holder of TON Crystal will vote on-chain for proposals he/she supports. G2.0 should enter the testing stage in spring, so everybody has a chance to take part in current contests and have a stake to vote when it goes live.
Only time will tell how this interesting social experiment will work. It’s yet to be revealed whether the crypto-community is ready for true decentralization already or there is plenty of work to be done yet.