Thanks again for your response @rin9s. You put forward some excellent arguments. I’ll first respond to a few of them and then elaborate a bit more on my viewpoint.
Relying on ITN statistics because it is what we have, but looking at mainnet performance afterwards, I think is a very healthy way to use the information we have. I hope that most delegators use the data like that
I’ll rephrase what I meant with ‘core group’. I don’t believe there is such a well defined group. I do believe that people are staking for various reasons and I expect there to be a spectrum between ‘doing what’s best for the network’ and ‘doing what’s best for myself’. The ‘doing what’s best for the network’ stake will be attracted to pools run by people they trust, or share values with or simply like. Doing what’s best for myself stake will be attracted to pools with the highest RoS, either long term or short term. Objectively, I think the truth is in the middle, because stake which is blindly and always attracted to RoS will never prevent a sybil attack and such an attack will hurt them too ofcourse.
My expectation then is that the majority of the stake will be self-serving, maybe even on the extreme end. And those people are helped by simplified stake selection, because they don’t care about who the stake pool operators are or what they believe in. The start screen with 500+ pools can be confusing and/or daunting. I believe we should not force them to do their due diligence as that can push investment away. Greedy money provides incentive to be cost-effective in the form of stake mobility which I think is a good thing to have.
Having said this, I absolutely agree with the statement ‘Optimizing ROS shouldn’t be that hard to do’, so let’s try to make it as simple as possible!
Then to my original proposal, there are two aspects to it:
1: Simplified pool selection optional or mandatory
I wasn’t sure about this in the first place, but now see that this should not be mandatory. However, I think the most important reason is that it will greatly reduce resillience to sybil attacks. An attacker that starts k/2 pools with minimum margin and cost will automatically attract all new stake and that is ofcourse very bad. The only way left then to respond as a community is to also create new pools with minimum margin and cost with higher pledge while in the current situation those delegators that do their due diligence will simply select another pool.
So on the level of ‘should we want it’, I see the value of diversity in stake pools given that the incentives model partly relies on it for security. Now if we can either change that or accept the increased risk mentioned above, then I don’t fully see the value of this diversity. It’s an economic game, the incentives are economic. You compared stake pools to political parties and investment shops earlier, but those two groups have a lot more relevant dimensions to differentiate themselves. I would compare stake pools much more to utility companies like telco’s or power suppliers. So if we could, I would prefer to push those groups to be part of the ‘plumbing’ of the network. This will also open up time and resources for those that want to bring Cardano further to spend on things like dApps, pushing for adoption and working on CIPs where I believe those resources and efforts a much better spent.
2: Simplified pool selection in the wallet or the protocol
Ok, so with simplified pool selection not being mandatory, it becomes a convenience feature. And I would argue that the convenience features should not be implemented in the protocol layer, contrary to what I said earlier:
Such a convenience feature constitutes complexity and therefore risk and the direct users of the protocol are arguably adept parties that can absorb that complexity (e.g. wallet developers, exchanges).
So all said and done, I think it should be a convenience feature in the wallet(s). Whether that be an extension as you mention or native I don’t have a strong opinion about that currently.
*As an aside, because I think it no longer is central to this discussion: I am still very interested how automated stake selection will lead to centralization. It’s been mentioned twice and I still not understand it.