The short answer is, Witnesses run the Peerplays blockchain. The long answer is … well read on.
Chances are, even if you know very little about blockchain technology, you’ll have heard of Bitcoin and Bitcoin mining. And that’s important because as we talk about Witnesses we’ll draw a big distinction between the technology behind Bitcoin and that of the Peerplays blockchain.
Bitcoin based blockchains use a consensus mechanism called Proof of Work (POW).
At its simplest this means that if you want to create new blocks in the Bitcoin blockchain, colloquially become a ‘miner’, then you need to ‘work’. The harder you work the greater your chance of being paid.
The work involves solving a computational challenging puzzle. We don’t need to know what this puzzle is, but suffice to say the processing power required to profitable solve it is huge. You don’t need anybody’s permission to become a miner, and it’s quite possible to start mining on a home computer.
But realistically, the greater the computing power at your disposal the greater your chance of successfully solving the puzzle, and get paid for creating a new block. This system is anything but fair, one computer could be up against mining pools running literally thousands of computers. It’s easy to imagine the cost of such hardware, not to mention consuming enough power to run a small town!
So enter a consensus mechanism called Delegated Proof of Stake (DPOS).
Think of Delegated Proof of Stake as technological democracy; the opportunity for any PPY token holder to vote on who creates new blocks in the Peerplays blockchain; we call these block producers Witnesses, and they keep the blockchain alive.
Witnesses also have the authority to approve, or reject, any changes to the blockchain software. Their actions have an overarching impact on all PPY token holders.
Unlike Bitcoin miners, Peerplays Witnesses have to be voted in, and once elected they need to continue to accumulate positive votes as token holders don’t just have the power to vote Witnesses in, they have the power to vote them out; remove bad actors.
To earn the right to be a Witness every prospect must accumulate votes by demonstrating why they would be a good Witness. It’s not enough for a prospective Witness to say they have a high spec computer in their basement and are tech savvy. A Witness should demonstrate qualities such as being active in the Peerplays community, blockchain competency, and past experience.
Peerplays has a unique enhancement to Delegated Proof of Stake called Gamified Proof of Stake (GPOS). In the context of Witness voting this is important as it incentivizes PPY token holders to vote. More information about GPOS can be found here:
Vote strength is determined by how many PPY tokens somebody holds. This means that people who have more tokens will influence the network more than people who have very few tokens. Vote power is determined by ‘stake’.
As the community grows, it gets harder and harder to remain a paid Witness due to increased competition.
With the introduction of GPOS it’s now more important than ever that PPY token holder’s vote. Without voting regularly any token holder’s rewards could be effected. Votes don’t have to be cast for Witnesses, they could be for advisors or proxies, but Witness voting is the most common; Witnesses generally have a higher profile and are more active in the community.
If we had to give only one reason for voting for Witnesses, then that’s simple … without them there would not be a working Peerplays blockchain. As mentioned earlier, the Witnesses are constantly signing blocks and ensuring transactions happen.
Choosing the right Witness to vote for doesn’t need to be difficult. Witnesses maintain their own blogs, contribute to public messaging channels and through the Peerplays Wallet it’s easy to see who are the most reliable block producers.
BookiePro is a decentralized sports betting exchange, the first of its kind in the world and has been built for the Peerplays blockchain.
For the Peerplays witnesses this represents a unique opportunity to play a very important role in ensuring that BookiePro is provably fair. Operations in the blockchain have to be approved and this approval requires consensus from 50% + 1 of the Witnesses.
What this means for BookiePro is that everything from the creation of a game to the final result, and settling the bet, has to be approved by more than one Witness.
For the BookiePro users this means a truly fair and decentralized application; no house and no single authority.
Let’s put the Peerplays Witnesses head-to-head against the Bitcoin miners.
No selection process, anybody can be a miner.
Every Witness has to be voted in by the PPY token holders.
Successful miner’s require a huge amount of computer processing power.
Witnesses require computer processing power that is readily available and affordable.
The block producing process is heavily biased towards mining pools.
Every Witness has the same opportunity to create blocks.
Block producing isn’t truly decentralized as over time the mining pools will control almost all the block production.
Truly decentralized because of the equal weight given to each witness for block production.
Miner’s create one new block approximately every 10 minutes.
Witnesses create one new block approximately every three seconds.
Miners are very well paid for each block they produce. But the probability of producing a block makes it cost prohibitive for many of them.
Witnesses receive much lower payment for each block, but all witnesses can create blocks equally, have a guaranteed income and the potential to create 1200 blocks or more an hour between them.
Your curiosity got you this far, but have you thought about taking the next step and becoming a Witness yourself?
Well if you have, there’s lots more resources available to you; we recommend starting here: