(Re)Introducing Edgeware, Substrate's most chaotic governance experiment and second oldest mainnet

(Re)Introducing Edgeware, Substrate’s most chaotic governance experiment and second oldest mainnet.

Edgeware is a collectively (and chaotically) governed Substrate solochain pushing the limits (and often patience) of its many contributors, voters and holders.

It is the second oldest mainnet chain in the Substrate ecosystem - younger than Kusama, but older than Polkadot with over 13M blocks finalised.

It is owned, operated and secured by contributors who work together to steward the entire economic, organisational and cultural resources of the project through open, meritocratic and democratic processes that are all executed on-chain.

No ICO or fundraising event

The project was bootstrapped using a lockdrop, where holders of ETH could lock their tokens for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months in return for receiving EDG.

It was also possible for smart contracts holding ETH to signal on behalf of their holdings, enabling Binance, Coinbase and Aragon to receive distributions on behalf of their users.

The total ETH locked in the process finalised at 1,199,728 ETH, with signaled funds (from smart contracts) at 4,346,544 ETH with over 4000 different Edgeware addresses created in the lockdrop process, from over 10,000 transactions.

Binance finally distributed the tokens to Edgeware addresses in March 2022, creating a massive long-tail of EDG holders, though a listing has been harder to complete owing to the decentralised nature of the network.

Wide and fair distribution

With over 90% of the token distributed to the public in the lockdrop, the door was opened to a community of holders who could mediate the decision making powers of the founding team.

The resulting distribution created conditions for a deadlock between large holders and the launch team, with parties disagreeing principally not on what to fund, but on how to fund, leading to the eventual departure of the team to another Substrate network.

This has ensured things move more slowly than with a more centralised project but over the long term enables the primary value proposition of network protocols: credible neutrality.

Originally positioned as a platform for incubating governance experiments, in the end the broad distribution has ensured Edgeware has itself become the primary experiment.

So what has Edgeware’s community funded?

Anyone can put forward a proposal to the community and as a result can be used for practically anything that benefits the development, utility and awareness of Edgeware - either directly or indirectly, the argument is there to be made.

So far the network has advanced funding to nearly 100 individuals, entities and projects via treasury proposals, covering almost every aspect of Substrate network development with most passing via simplemajority referendums.

If you’d like to learn more about how to put forward a proposal check out the Edgeware proposal process.

So is Edgeware a DAO?

In its simplest form, Substrate is a powerful tool for developing simple and sovereign, full stack organisations.

Edgeware builds on this primary advantage - with a focus on advancing governance, funding, tools and services that support the scaling of creative contribution and collaboration across any domain imaginable.

The remaining question is simply one of developing consistent value accrual mechanisms and talent development pathway that can sustainably fund contributors over the long term without resorting to short term financial games.

Facilitating financial, organisational and cultural sovereignity

Most DAOs (decentralised autonomous organisations) coordinate using tokens issued by an underlying layer 1 blockchain such as Ethereum, a pattern that has continued into Substrate, with the emergence of generic smart contract chains targeting the growth of many applications and tokens, something in direct contradiction to Polkadot’s founding ‘app chain’ philosophy.

From a sovereignity perspective, this strategic approach (re)introduces the Web3 equivalent of Web2’s platform risk, since these organisations are reliant on systems whose core incentives they don’t directly control.

If you don’t control the base layer your sovereignty is limited by definition - JZ BZ, Decred

With relay and parachain architecture made possible through Substrate, scalability no longer relies on one chain doing everything, rather a sharded approach ensures each chain can specialise and complexity then emerges from the connection and recombination of ideas between organisations.

With the arrival of Gov2, the next generation of DotSama’s governance, we believe that Edgeware, Kabocha and a radically simpler and more decentralised contribution and value accrual focused approach will be best placed to shape and define the future of DotSama.

So what is Edgeware’s ‘use case’?

Edgeware is an incubator - a starting point into a wild new frontier of on-chain governance, a place for curious creators, developers and thinkers to learn about decentralised technologies, new organisational paradigms and to challenge their existing thinking.

Ultimately you can only learn while doing, you cannot understand an emerging system from the outside in, only by playing a part in its metamorphosis.

As community developer and Kabocha technical steward @Ramsey has said,

I compare my experience to a sort of ‘ashram for founders’ who come to meditate on blockchain, sweep a few floors, and then once enlightened to start their own project, they can get funded by the treasury.

In this respect, Edgeware is discovering itself - it’s ‘use-case’ is everything that it funds, everything that its community creates, every opportunity it unlocks.

The rise of EdgSamDot

Although not immediately obvious, the three oldest Substrate chains are organically evolving from their shared codebases and genesis distributions into a curious family that each offer different pros/cons, cultures and interests.


The most valuable, the slowest moving, with the largest public profile, but the most centralised and conservative when it comes to governance and contributions.


Polkadot’s chaotic cousin has been decidedly unchaotic to date, however it still remains more decentralised and risk taking than its peer, whilst inheriting the same genesis distribution.


The least valuable but most decentralised at launch owing to 2019’s lockdrop distribution, and with a large share still held by Parity/W3F.

Adding Kabocha to the mix

With Kabocha now a community incubated parachain bonded to Kusama’s relay, we have demonstrated that public chains first incubated by contributors in Edgeware have the ability to migrate upstream.

Understanding this emerging development lifecyle we see an opportunity to develop a grass-roots incubator of fairly distributed, sustainably funded and transparently governed networks that aim to prioritise and scale contributions and direct value accrual over more generic chains and token speculation.

This can in turn create a nursery of decentralised parachain candidates that can begin their lifecycle as R&D projects in Edgeware, before progressing to para-pilots in Kabocha before onboarding as fully fledged parachains in Kusama, reaching Polkadot as they economically mature.

Keep It Simple Stupid

Our aim is to return to the original Substrate vision, which was one of multi-chain essentialism… as shown by the DOT/KSM relay chains, bridging the old insights of crypto and the exciting possibilities afforded by Substrate.

These are true app chains, single purpose projects that have clearly defined and communicated value capture mechanisms rather than the swiss army knife / EVM chains for apps that we currently see launching in the ecosystem, which all rely on a vague notion of being better at being Ethereum than Ethereum.

For us, the foundation is simple and perhaps more in keeping with the original ambitions of Bitcoin, Decred and other projects that that attempted to become sovereign non-state money.

Unlike Bitcoin, but like Decred, we have the ability to fund contributions from a borderless work force, via on-chain governance and community proposals.

With that in mind, we’re focused on introducing a design template to Kabocha (and chains we incubate beyond that) where the funding of projects via our decentralised currency, also accrues value to the chain’s treasury.

Rather than inflating a supply and directing it into a treasury – as has been done by all Substrate chains so far, we will only be minting new KAB when a proposal is approved by the community.

Therefore, we can say that every KAB minted after launch is to fund a specific job, with the network’s distribution remaining in lockstep with its intended purpose.

In addition, those requesting funds will assign NFTs to Kabocha’s ‘reserve’ that are representative of their ideas / concept or project.

We call this cultural collateral.

These NFTs will also confer access rights, permissions and future utility to those holding KAB and can be upgraded as the funded projects develop over time utilsing the magical potential of RMRK.

The narrative idea is a rework of the well known ‘Store of Value’ concept which has been the major hook for Bitcoin.

Except rather than being backed by machines / sunk electricity costs of miners, Kabocha is backed by the time, effort and insight of its contributors. Those investing in Kabocha are essentially betting on the future collective cultural value and access afforded by the assigned assets.

We think of this as a Store of Values.

We have zero interest in building another Ethereum knockoff, we want to solve the most pressing problem out there, how to create non-state money that can fund real work, by real people, in a real economy.

If we can make this work with Kabocha, then there is a clear path to using the Store of Values concept as a template to creating a whole ecosystem of sovereign public networks.

Our general thesis is that most current parachains on Kusama and Polkadot will fail owing to a lack of core focus and value capture, or be hamstrung by regulation within a few years owing to their centralised distributions and inability to function without a lead team.

So we like to think if we can quietly create an emerging network of truly decentralised public networks, then they could onramp to Kusama and then to Polkadot, gradually replacing the incumbents.

In our view it is the underappreciated potential of Substrate’s basic capabilities that holds the key to the ecosystem’s long term success in manifesting the vision of Web3