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Token-Curated Registries: a powerful cryptosystem you can build on Ethereum

Token-Curated Registries 1.0

This blog post is also available in paper format.

Token-curated registries are increasingly common cryptosystems apparently applicable to solving problems in a number of domains. In this document we will provide a more formal but less-than-mathematical view of token-curated registries.

This document is versioned 1.0 because the cryptosystem and incentive game described here can almost certainly be improved. Hopefully this document can be used as a starting point for conversations around how to improve token-curated registries. Many token-curated registries being deployed today bear family resemblance but employ substantively different mechanics. We believe there is a “right” way to do token-curated registries and that wholesale reuse of a canonical implementation should be possible.

The utility of token-curated registries

The product or output of a token-curated registry is a list. Humans have a penchant for list-making and lists appear commonly: shopping lists, lists of “good” colleges, lists of America’s most wanted criminals, and many more. Most lists can be abstractly classified as either whitelists or blacklists, and in both cases the contents of a list uniformly satisfy some criteria (things I need to cook, colleges whose graduates on average exit debt within 10 years, individuals with FBI bounties over $100,000).

Useful lists are curated. Often by a single individual in the case of a grocery list, and perhaps by a committee in the case of a top-colleges list. A top-colleges list which may be appended by anybody quickly becomes an all-colleges list and ceases to be useful, since any college president obviously would desire for their college to appear on such a list.

A token-curated registry uses an intrinsic token to assign curation rights proportional to the relative token weight of entities holding the token. So long as there are parties which would desire to be curated into a giv...

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