ICONSENSUS is upon us.

Last month, ICON announced to great fanfare the start of the ICONSENSUS process. In a series of articles, this humble publication will explore ICONSENSUS, explaining what it is and looking at the process through which it will be achieved. 

In this article, we’ll focus on ICONSENSUS’s first milestone, the election of P-Reps. 

So, what is this ICONSENSUS thing, anyway?

Well, according to ICON, ICONSENSUS is a “journey toward mass adoption of blockchain” consisting of four key items: the election of P-Reps to decentralize the network, the election of C-Reps to support the interchain communication, ongoing DApp Booster Programs to fund and promote quality DApps, and ongoing Ecosystem Expansion Projects to incentivize activities to grow the ICON ecosystem.

In short, this is ICON building out its distributed consensus infrastructure. 

As you know, ICON is a decentralized indirect democracy that operates on the Delegated Proof of Contribution (DPoC) governance model, which improves the existing Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) model by proving not only proof of stake but also other contributions to the network such as smart contract executions. All of this is merely theoretical, however, without the delegated representatives to make it all go. ICONSENSUS is the process of making ICON’s governance model a reality.

Step one: P-Reps

The first step of ICONSENSUS is the election of 22 (at least initially) so-called “Public Representatives,” or “P-Reps.”

A P-Rep is a full node on the ICON Network. In ICON’s own words, they have the “distributed responsibility of preserving the ICON Network, producing and verifying blocks, verifying transactions, proposing and voting on network policy changes, and driving the growth of the ICON Ecosystem.”

Or put simply, P-Reps manage, govern, protect and nurture the network. They are the heart of ICON’s decentralized consensus model.

Who can become a P-Rep? And why would you want to?

In theory, just about anyone. There are no minimum requirements to register as a P-Rep but ICON has posted some minimum and recommended specs for your server, though these depend on the particulars of your rig.

A P-Rep should, however, understand the ICON ecosystem and contribute to building the network. It’s a position of great responsibility.

Of course, with great responsibility comes great rewards, at least potentially. While a P-Rep faces around US$ 30,000 a year in server costs (but potentially much less) and another US$114,000 in personnel costs to run the node (calculated at three part-timers), the representative rewards could more than compensate them. The example in the IISS Yellow Paper suggested an annual representative award of 720,000 ICX, or about US$180,000 (as of January), though we cannot stress enough that several of the variables used to get that number would need to be decided by a consensus of representatives. Until those representatives are elected and those variables decided, view that 720,000 ICX number as nothing more than sample data.

If monetary riches hold little interest for you, being an P-Rep also provides you with an opportunity to become an influencer and leader in the ICON community and gives you credit in the wider blockchain space. You also get to take part in ICONgress, an off-chain governance association in which “leading blockchain companies and global leaders collaborate to accelerate the ICON ecosystem and blockchain industry” (we’ll be talking more about this in later articles).

Registering and Voting

The P-Rep election process begins with off-chain pre-registration. This began last month and will continue until September. To preregister, simply head to this link and 1) write about yourself, 2) specify your server’s technical specifications and 3) describe your proposal to enhance the ICON network (there’s a template for that). Though pre-registration is technically unnecessary, candidates who choose to do so can receive technical and marketing assistance from the ICON Foundation and ICON community prior to the election in September. 

For those keeping score at home, six entities had pre-registered to become P-Reps at the time of writing.

The next step is on-chain registration and the election itself, scheduled for September as mentioned above. ICONists vote for candidates by delegating their stake. The first 22 candidates to have delegated to them at least 0.2% of the total ICX in circulation become P-Reps. The election ends once the 22nd P-Rep has been selected. The newly elected P-Reps will then operate ICON’s public network. The official birth of the decentralization network will be declared at the Genesis P-Rep Summit, which will be held after the election, presumably sometime in the fourth quarter of the year.

Voting is open to all ICONists. ICON strongly encourages its community to vote, and for the same reason it’s good to vote in your national election – P-Reps wield considerable power over not only block creation and verification, but also over the network’s monetary policy and other major decisions, and their election is your opportunity to have your say. As an additional bonus, ICONists who delegate their stake can receive a “Representative Delegation Reward,” the size of which will be determined by the amount of the delegated stake and the not-yet-determined representative reward rate.