The Minting Consensus Process

This thread was inspired by an exchange with @TFFarmer on the farmer’s Telegram chat group. A slightly abridged log from the chat is included below (click to expand).

Chat log

Erwin, [04.08.20 00:12]
Have the farming tokens for July been distributed yet?

Kristof De Spiegeleer, [04.08.20 00:17]
no, the consensus has not been achieved yet. 5 from 7 consensus nodes need to verify the minting, this did not happen yet, team will look into it today and should be ok today.

Erwin, [04.08.20 00:56]
Does the mechanism involve human consensus? Because that introduces a completely decentralized model in the farming protocol.
Imagine Satoshi Nakamoto, Roger Ver and Andreas Antonopoulos having to OK every Bitcoin block that is mined before it is paid out

Kristof De Spiegeleer, [04.08.20 01:01]
The model used is the model as recommended by some Governments in relation to crypto projects. Go to our wiki and read about decentralization steps there, Thank you.

Scott Yeager, [05.08.20 02:35]
[In reply to Erwin]
Minting is substantially more complicated than issuing mining rewards, and also happens much less often. Smart contracts are easier said than done, and by design are difficult to change. Having human consensus, especially in the beginning, makes a lot of sense. BTC had to be bootstrapped without an existing community to implement staking or create a non profit, so it’s model makes sense for the environment it was launched into. These days, much mining is done via pools anyway, where rewards are split up via a centralized mechanism (attempts to do this by smart contract haven’t been implemented yet, as far as I can see), and I hope there is some human oversight there

Erwin, [05.08.20 02:55]
Scott, I am not talking about centralized/decentralized, but manual vs automatic through code, without human intervention.
How can you sell this to a potential farmer? After each month, it is the council of the wise that decides if the farming is ok… Really?

Kristof De Spiegeleer, [05.08.20 03:01]
Erwin this is not how it works.

Kristof De Spiegeleer, [05.08.20 03:07]
Dear Erwin, please put your question on the forum so it can get answered to the benefit of everyone, if its not clear for you its probably also not clear for others.

Kristof De Spiegeleer, [05.08.20 03:12]
But please everyone, questions need to be objective questions, not a way to try and manipulate a community, this is not in line with the code of conduct of our community which we will enforce. The foundation and its community of developers and contributors did everything possible to create the most decentralized possible system without making it unreliable. A human element will always have to be involved and by the way even a requirement from certain countries before you can have a regulated digital currency.

Erwin, [05.08.20 03:30]
OK, than let me rephrase in simple, unbiased and clear terms: Why is the payment of the July farming tokens not yet done?

Kristof De Spiegeleer, [05.08.20 05:57]
like mentioned above, we introduced the next phase of our decentralization, see our wiki, it should be done today. Its in everyone’s interest that this happens with a lot of care and in line with future requirements. All of this has been mentioned in our updates & wiki, see

In summary, the questions raised are and my attempts to answer are below. Please add further questions or details to complete these answers. This wiki page is relevant to review.

Why doesn’t minting happen immediately at the end of each month?

The consensus process has a human element and takes time.

What is the consensus process for minting and why does it benefit from human consensus rather than being fully automated?

“Consensus nodes” calculate farming rewards and compare their results. Five of seven nodes must agree to complete minting, along with a check by a human council.

This allows human oversight before any transactions are committed to Stellar, where they’d become irreversible. It also means that ThreeFold Tokens can be licensed as utility tokens in some jurisdictions, which could be important for commercial grid adoption.


Scott, can you explain to me how it would EVER be possible for 7 nodes running the same software, looking at the same data, to come up with a different result?

About blockchain nodes (operated by people or not, is irrelevant) who run scripts to validate/execute code is very common, e.g. Ethereum, … Any modern blockchain software runs the same way, so not sure what you are referring too.

And this is exactly why we run a Human Blockchain, which means next to the validation by these scripts people can use their common sense to see if all was ok, something which is not really doable by robots (-:

Erwin, wouldn’t the real question be: why are seven nodes required if the output from some software processing some data is always the same? This is the reason that centralization/decentralization can’t so easily be decoupled from automation. Making sure that a majority of nodes are actually running the same software or at least achieving the same result is a first step, which as Kristof points out all decentralized blockchains do.

Human consensus is about ensuring that the software which was executed actually implements the intended specification. To understand why an over reliance on automation is risky, read about these Ethereum smart contracts where millions of USD in value has been stolen or is vulnerable, permanently and with no way to fix it (unless you count a fork like that which produced Ethereum classic).

It may also be helpful to understand that human governance of this kind is not unique to ThreeFold. In fact, it’s actually a major focus of later generation blockchain projects. See this article, especially the quote:

many of the current blockchain offerings do not have sufficient governance from both an economic and legal perspective to be effectively used by enterprises.

You seem to be missing the part about the human checks being required for token licensing in some areas. We all want businesses to bring their workloads on the Grid, and this governance process helps with that.

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