• Polkadot researchers have proposed reducing the unbonding period for staked DOT tokens from 28 days to just 2 days, aiming to enhance user experience while maintaining network security.
  • However, the proposal has sparked concerns about potential centralization risks within the community.

Enhancing User Experience While Addressing Centralization Concerns

Polkadot, a leading blockchain network, is considering a substantial change to its staked DOT token unbonding process. Researchers from the Web3 Foundation have proposed this modification, aiming to shorten the unbonding period dramatically. While this move could significantly enhance the user experience, it has also sparked debates about potential centralization risks.

The Proposal

On June 19, Alistair Stewart, head of research at the Web3 Foundation, and Jonas Gehrlein, another researcher at the foundation, submitted their proposal to the Polkadot Fellowship committee. The core idea is to introduce a flexible unbonding mechanism for Polkadot’s native DOT token and its canary network, Kusama’s KSM token.

The proposal seeks to reduce the minimum unbonding period from 28 days to just 2 days. According to the proposal’s GitHub document:

“New requests are executed with a minimum of 2 days, when the queue is comparatively empty, to the conventional 28 days, if the sum of requests (in terms of stake) exceeds some threshold.”

This means that unbonding durations will vary based on the queue’s status, but they will not exceed the current 28-day maximum. Thus, the process of unbonding staked tokens could become much faster, enhancing user experience while maintaining network security.

Enhancing User Experience

If approved, this proposal promises to streamline the unbonding process without compromising Polkadot’s ability to penalize malicious validators. This change would only affect staking locks, leaving governance locks untouched. The researchers proposed piloting the model on Kusama before implementing it on Polkadot to ensure its effectiveness and security.

“Our aim is to improve the user experience by providing a more flexible and quicker unbonding process. This change would allow stakeholders to access their funds more rapidly, thus enhancing overall user satisfaction,” Gehrlein emphasized.

Despite the potential benefits, some concerns persist within the Polkadot community, particularly regarding centralization risks. Lurpis Wang, co-founder of the Polkadot-based Liquid Staking protocol Bifrost, argued that reducing the unbonding time might not address centralization issues linked with the liquid staking protocol.

Gregus Jakub, co-founder of Hydration, echoed these concerns. He pointed out that the current set of validators is already quite centralized, with significant stakes controlled by a few entities. Jakub stated, “Liquid staking didn’t proliferate on Polkadot more than anywhere else. I would argue that the current set is centralized already a lot but without any involvement of LST providers.”

In response to these concerns, Gehrlein reassured that the proposal aims to enhance user experience without undermining liquid staking providers. The primary objective is to make staking more user-friendly while maintaining network security and decentralization principles.

The proposal is currently open for community feedback, and stakeholders are encouraged to share their thoughts and concerns. The next steps involve a thorough review of community input and further discussions within the Polkadot Fellowship committee. If the proposal gains sufficient support, it will be piloted on Kusama before a potential rollout on the Polkadot network.

This proposed change comes at a crucial time for Polkadot as the network evolves to improve usability and security. The feedback from the community will play a pivotal role in shaping the final outcome of this proposal. Balancing user convenience with network security will be essential as this proposal moves forward.