What is Superdelegated Proof-Of-Stake?

Blazing fast blockchain, permissioned sidechain, and staking rewards

Team POP
Team POP
September 3, 2019

⚠️ Updated November 2020 with the release of POP Masternode v0.2.3-alpha ⚠️

POP Network is a decentralized ecosystem of blockchain and artificial intelligence applications built to power the new streaming economy.

     Imagine if you mixed up DNA from   
     YouTube, bitcoin, Netflix, and bittorrent

That’s what we’re building with POP Network.

Hybrid Public/Private Blockchain

Blockchain consensus mechanisms are protocols that allow a decentralized network to maintain a synchronized state of the blockchain.

These protocols are rules which allow network participants to agree on which transactions are legitimate and get added to the blockchain. Consensus also makes it possible to confirm transactions without the need of a trusted third-party, a core tenet behind decentralization.

POP Network uses a hybrid approach to satisfy its unique requirements — Superdelegated Proof-of-Stake (SDPoS)

What is Superdelegated Proof-of-Stake?

Different mechanisms exist for different purposes with each having its own set of advantages and disadvantages. To understand the choice of SDPoS for POP Network we must first examine existing consensus protocols in context.

Consensus Mechanisms


The Proof-of-Work (POW) consensus algorithm is used in popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and litecoin.

To receive the right to add new transactions to the blockchain, participants (“miners”) must solve a computationally-intensive mathematical puzzle. For solving this problem, the miner earns a reward and gets to create the next block in the chain.

Proof-of-Work has evolved into a process which consumes lots of energy, needs large capital expenditure, and has a very long processing time.

Trying to explain meme
Trying to explain “Bitcoin mining” like…


Proof-of-Stake (POS) is a low-cost, low-energy alternative to POW built on the idea that those who hold the most tokens on the network have a vested interest in securing the network.

Users lock their tokens (“stake”) in return for a chance to produce a block. Usually, the amount of tokens staked corresponds to the probability of being selected to produce a block and earn a reward for the work.

One of the biggest complaints against POS is that it gives the network’s biggest token holders (“whales”) too much authority over the blockchain.

Delegated Proof-of-Stake

Relative to the previous consensus mechanisms, Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) provides a much faster blockchain capacity. DPOS is very popular on high-transaction blockchains powering many of the most popular decentralized applications (“dApps”).

Like Proof-of-Stake, users can stake their tokens. But with DPoS, that stake can then be delegated to a designated block producer candidate (“delegate” or “witness”). How Delegates earn the right to produce the next block depends on the blockchain design and varies greatly.

Although some might consider DPoS more centralized than POW or POS, the benefits of speed and scalability are judged to outweigh the risks of consolidating powering into too few hands.

Superdelegated Proof-of-Stake

Delegated Proof-of-Stake blockchains like Steem and EOS have demonstrated the feasibility of fast-transaction, high-capacity blockchains in decentralized applications. POP Network starts as a POS blockchain but has unique needs beyond speed.

Because POP Network aims to provide a platform for global media distribution, it is critical that harmful or illegal material not pollute the network.

Traditional platforms like YouTube and Facebook use artificial intelligence to scan content and preemptively evaluate risk before the media reaches the public.

     POP Network is integrating   
     the same AI protecting YouTube

The main difference is rather than depending on a private resource for this specialized data processing, the work is transparently performed by a rotating set of specially selected Delegates (“Superdelegates”) on a permissioned practical Byzantine Fault Tolerant (“pBFT”) sidechain along the lines of Hyperledger Sawtooth.

Mind blownSDPoS = public blockchain + permissioned sidechain

Because the task of Superdelegates has a unique level of responsibility on POP Network, their identity is public, unlike Delegates or Masternodes (…we’ll have a separate post on Masternodes and the POP Network Decentralized Content Delivery Network soon).


The power in POP Network ultimately resides with all individual POP Network Token (“POP”) holders, not a central authority. To optimally exercise that power, holders are able to delegate their power to community representatives in a stake-weighted voting system. This makes POP Network a form of liquid representative democracy with the following roles and responsibilities:

Token Holders

Fundamental demand for POP comes from individual Token Holders wishing to consume content on the network and creators staking POP to add content to the network.

Since operating a blockchain network is typically beyond the technical scope of creators and consumers, this responsibility can be delegated to elected representatives.

     HODLers hold power over Delegates   
     Delegates are servants to HODLers

Individual Token Holders are always free to delegate their authority to any representative at any moment, thus ensuring the network is always operated by effective Delegates.

HODLers run this world!


In a delegated proof-of-stake system the job of producing blocks is known by many names: block producer, delegate, witness. POP Network typically refers to the role as “Delegate” but may use the term interchangeably as needed.

Delegates’ base responsibilities are to produce valid blocks of transactions, maintain synchronized state, and keep a history of the blockchain.

The authority to do this very important job is derived from holding a significant stake of POP. Delegates may stake their own POP or tokens delegated to them by Token Holders. Since Delegates will likely have to lobby the community for stake support, it is envisioned that successful Delegates will actively incentivize Token Holders to earn and maintain their position.

Making it rain
This is what a successful Delegate looks like.

The initial structure of POP Network envisions a family of twenty-one (21) Delegates that grows to one hundred one (101) along with network size. Delegates are paid for their services through annual token inflation (9.46%). Additionally, any change to the governance structure of the network can be proposed by any Token Holder and must be approved by a two-thirds (⅔) supermajority of Delegates with a 30-day confirmation period.

Misbehaving or inefficient Delegates can be fired by Token Holders if the holders decommit their tokens from the offending Delegate and authorize an alternative Delegate.


Superdelegates are appointed by elected Delegates and have the sole responsibility of protecting the network from harmful or illegal content.

Superdelegates rushing to protect POP Network from malicious content

Enhanced by GPU processing power, Superdelegates run machine learning models to produce a risk assessment for each piece of content. This report is shared with other Superdelegates and a token reward is earned for the effort.

When the Artificial Intelligence system flags high-risk content, Superdelegates vote and decide whether the content should be added to the network or rejected.

If the content is rejected then the content creator loses the stake associated with the original submission. There are additional consequences if Superdelegates pass an item that is then flagged as high-risk by users later.

Because of the complex statistical computations needed to run an artificial intelligence grid, GPUs have emerged as an effective solution for the task. GPUs also have a solid place amongst cryptocurrency miners of popular networks, such as Ethereum (ETH) and Zcash (ZEC). This overlap of specialized technical infrastructure might entice some miners to dedicate GPU resources to POP Network.


The ultimate goal of POP Network is to create a system where individuals actively making up the p2p network share the tokenized value they build instead of that value being transferred to huge corporations.

Using a hybrid approach with Superdelegated Proof-of-Stake (public blockchain with a practical Byzantine Fault Tolerant private sidechain) gives POP Network the best of both worlds: immutability and trust from a permissionless network while maintaining the safety and specialization of a permissioned network.

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