Token curated registries are an exciting crypto-economic building block.
By Aron van Ammers
They promise to leverage the wisdom of the crowd in curating lists of things, any type of things, through economic incentives. They are, however, still mostly theoretical. Little experimentation and formal research has been carried out into different forms and configurations of TCRs.
In this project, as part of Outlier Ventures’ Research Programme with the Imperial Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering and in collaboration with Ocean Protocol and MusicMap, a group of six students from Imperial College took on the task of building a TCR Simulator that allows for experimentation in an isolated framework to learn what works and what doesn’t. We have been impressed with their results, which included a working product with smart contracts deployed on Ethereum-compatible blockchains, field testing with a small group of users and a proposal for a new TCR mechanism. If you want to have a look at their work, you can use a live version of the TCR simulator and run the code yourself.
This project is a great example of our aim at Outlier Ventures to advance best practices in cutting edge technology through applied research.
In a series of four blogs, Matthew, Emma, Hailey, Ece, Yoon and Noel give a candid look into how they executed the project and the results they produced.
With the basic design of the front end done, now we have to implement actual functionality – we have to make it alive!
We sat down and had a chat, finally deciding we should set up a web API in the backend to create and deploy TCRs, and call user actions from the front end.
But when the deadline approached, we realized it’s actually more direct for admins to deploy from the frontend, since all the factory contracts (e.g. RegistryFactory) are already deployed, and provide methods to deploy contracts with custom parameters. By doing that, we can also take advantage of MetaMask to make the process smoother.
This week we decided to connect everything together, the Smart Contract Factory, the Front End and the Ganache Server, such that the admin users are able to create a new TCR and deploy it to the ganache, and players are able to submit new songs
to the corresponding TCR.
Connecting the front end and the ganache is very similar to what we did before the change of our simulator. We kept the TCR Connection class and also the constructor function that initialises a Web3 instance with the contract address and ABI.
Learning how to call the contract’s functions on the Registry.sol of the forked tcr repository was not as easy as we expected, as we were very new to the Web3 interface, we did not understand the owner’s manual completely, which led to lots of confusion when we wanted to call the functions correctly. We were particularly confused about calling the commitVote function, because it is not on the Registry.sol, we were unable to call it with merely the ABI of the Registry.sol, also, according to the owner’s manual, it told us to call the voting function before calling commitVote, which made us more confused as there is not a function named voting on the Registry.sol. Then, there was this “magical moment” when we read about the Web3 documentation again, we realised we have misunderstood the voting function mentioned on the manual, the voting function is actually not a function, but a global variable on the Registry.sol which could be accessed by calling it as a function using web3 in the front end.
We changed the front end to the back end bit a lot in the last minute.
Our New TCR Mechanism
During this week, we thought of a new TCR mechanism as follows:
Instead of having a Challenge button under the Pending List, we thought of a mechanism where the Challenge button would be under the Accepted List. In other words, every song that is inputted by the player will go under Pending List and the maintainer will vote for every song added to see whether the song should be accepted. From here, in order to lessen the work of the maintainer, we would like to set a maximum bound of the number of items that can currently be on the pending list as well as a time frame someone can challenge a specific song. If there are too many items on the pending list, it will overwhelm the maintainers of the registry, and therefore may lead to poor decision making. In addition, we thought that a time frame would be necessary for the challenge, as it would be meaningless if someone challenges an item a few seconds after the maintainers approved the song. (With our new mechanism, the challenge button will appear on the Accepted List, rather than the Pending List. Therefore, we will no longer need the expiry time for the song to move automatically from the Pending List to the Accepted List as the maintainer will have to vote on every song that is submitted.)
Under this idea, to incentivise the contributors, we thought that having a reward system for the contributors would be beneficial. For contributors who contribute good songs (i.e. their songs are on the TCR Registry), they will be rewarded with some “points” which will later be equivalent to a certain amount of actual tokens. We thought this would enhance the quality of the TCR. Adding on, to limit the “spammers” from continuously contributing poor songs, we thought of having a fining system. The maintainers will view the items and if they deem inappropriate and it happens repetitively, that contributor will be fined for their actions and their fines will be added to the token pool that will be distributed amongst the maintainers once they reject their request.
We hope to be able to deploy a fully functional TCR where users are able to do more than just submitting songs – they should also be able to challenge listees, vote on challenges, receive rewards, etc. If time allows, we’d also like to start implementing our new TCR mechanism that we have thought about as mentioned above.
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