A guest post by a blockchain evangelist on the BLOC8 team about the ongoing ICON TX Challenge.
The blockchain ecosystem is awash with scams and bad actors. ICO exit scams, hackers, pump and dump schemes and shilling by heavy bag holders etc. If you are ever given advice about crypto ensure you know the context of the advice. Ask how many coins they hold and the evidence to back up their claims.
I’m British and the wrong side of 40 (not a 15 year old kid). I learnt much of the basics of blockchain from fellow, dual nationality British and Greek, blockchain evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos.
As a nation Brits have a very strong sense of fair play but that’s not to say we don’t have our fair share of scammers. It sickens me to be told by a P-Rep candidate that I should play the game and join the scammers. The same P-Rep candidate and Telegram group moderator also wrote to me to say I should rejoin their groups under an alias. Absolutely no way, if I’m not welcome as BLOC8 I’m not welcome at all.
Swiss registered blockchain project ICON announced on the 4th May, via their Medium blog, the ICON TX Challenge. ICON offered 1 million ICX tokens to developers using their blockchain. The date for the challenge was set to run from 3rd June to 31st July. The 1 million tokens were to be distributed as follows:
- 100,000 for up to 250 teams following approval of a suitable SCORE (Smart contract on the ICON blockchain) including referral bonuses.
- 600,000 tokens for 60 million transactions to be processed via their chain.
- 300,000 tokens split equally between six teams based on the merit of their website / DApp.
With 60% of the tokens being made available for processing transactions it was obvious that ICON set the challenge primarily to stress test their network in a “real world” environment. They were also hoping to attract more developers as ICON is not known to have broad appeal to developers. Rules of the Challenge were quite clear that each team of developers could only apply once. This is to ensure tokens are allocated fairly amongst many developers rather than just a few. Each team would be allowed to process up to 20,000 transactions per day and receive 200 ICX tokens per day (reimbursed weekly) as a reward.
I expected developers from around the world to be racing to enter the challenge before the maximum of 250 entrants was reached. How wrong was I. A month after ICON’s announcement and as the challenge started just 12 teams had signed up. I tried to contact Ricky Dodds via Twitter and Reddit to ask why next to nobody was interested in the challenge. I drew a blank as he doesn’t accept contact from the crypto community so I asked ICON, via an email, to get Dodds to contact me. My email was sent to ICON 3rd June and on the 9th June Dodds (@doddric on Telegram) sent me an email with the subject “Reaching out”. My email reply to him is shown below.
A perfectly civil and simple request for ICON to adhere to the rules of their challenge. ICON only respond to their known shillers, fanboys and heavy bag holders so I wasn’t too surprised that Dodds never replied to the email. I continued to watch as more and more fake teams were added to the challenge. Rewards for processing transactions are processed on a weekly basis with the first payment made to BLOC8 on the 11th June. As tokens are transferred via the blockchain I could see that all the fake teams had also received tokens. Probably 100,000 tokens in the first week to fake teams. I contacted ICON over and over again but little or no response.
As nothing was being done by ICON I reached out to well respected community member, and P-Rep candidate, Spl3en via Telegram on the 17th June. He had also noticed that fake teams were processing transactions as part of the ICON TX Challenge. Independently we had both worked out that more than half the teams in the challenge weren’t entitled to tokens. He was in contact with Daeki Lee of ICON and I also contacted him via Telegram. On the 18th June, the day the token rewards were due to be distributed for week 2 all teams received an email to say they would be paid a day late. Finally I thought ICON had seen sense and were removing the fake teams before they distributed tokens to the legitimate teams.
I was wrong again, on the 19th June ICON distributed around 150,000 tokens to the fake teams, so now about 250,000 tokens in all. Below is a tiny extract from my chat with Spl3en, which was published online without my permission.
After this image was published online Spl3en beat a hasty track over to the forum where it had been posted. No doubt shillers, fan boys and heavy bag holders sent him to the forum as he hadn’t posted anything for 10 months. He tries to argue his Telegram chat was taken out of context but he deleted the chat session in an attempt to remove the “context”. Fortunately I had already archived the full chat log and it’s available online here. It’s clear from the image what Spl3en thought but as a P-Rep candidate he made a vain attempt to backtrack. Meanwhile I am getting abuse from the shillers, fan boys and heavy bag holders that I’m calling out ICON because I didn’t win the competition or ICON didn’t approve our application. The challenge is still ongoing and BLOC8 has received the maximum available tokens to date from ICON as evidenced by the ICON TX Challenge dashboard.
Some members of the community thought ICON was going to run a DEX but ICON were actually just writing the software for a DEX. They were hoping that someone would pick up the code and run with it but so far nobody has shown an interest in it. Could the ICON project handle another embarrassment? It’s not really important who created the fake teams for the challenge but just be aware that some legitimate teams struggled to get approved whereas over 100 trash sites were approved by ICON. It’s the shoddy way it was handled by ICON that’s the issue. As a blockchain evangelist I am simply exposing ICON for disrespecting legitimate teams and the community as a whole. Legitimate teams were “robbed” of the 250,000 tokens that ICON gave to teams that were not eligible to be in the challenge as notified to them by Spl3en, myself and others.
It’s not important what you think about awarding developers rewards for merely stress testing the network. It’s not important if you think that the legitimate teams got well rewarded or not. The issue is ICON set a challenge for the crypto community and ICON messed up BIG TIME. @Alexyos88 on Twitter included a screenshot of another post in the forum and added:
“The Tx challenge has become a bad joke – thanks to the dilettante executives from ICON.”
The forum post was asking Daeki Lee who created the 100+ fake teams?
- ICON management as they were embarrassed as only 12 teams joined the challenge and they wouldn’t get the “real world” stress test that they were looking for.
- Members of the ICON team thought it would be good for ICON or they wished to make a significant personal gain from the challenge.
- External scammers that ICON should have known would try to game the system.
Any answer was very embarrassing for ICON. The full chat log of our discussions with Daeki Lee are available here as I also archived that before he deleted it. At this point I believe ICON went into overdrive and hastily arranged the Telegram AMA session. Having been called out Min was angry whereas he should have been apologetic. Min, Dodds and Lee were all part of the AMA.
On Monday 24th June ICON disqualified 93% of the teams that they had sent a warning to. This disqualified 81 teams but there were still several dozen more fake teams in the challenge. ICON maintains an online Google spreadsheet for teams to monitor approval, rejection or disqualification from the challenge. It is currently here and we have an offline archived copy in case it is taken down by ICON. The additional fake teams can be identified by following the blockchain transactions of this wallet.
On Tuesday 25th June I alerted Binance and the crypto community via Twitter and Telegram that the wallet needed to be locked down and I even went as far as asking for all ICX wallets to be locked down until the scammer(s) can be traced. I believe one or a few individuals now have over 300,000 ICX from the 600,000 TX part of the challenge. If you check that wallet you will see that ICON paid the fake teams associated with it 19,800 ICX on pay day 3 (25th June).
So even though ICON had disqualified them they still went ahead and handed over ICX for the previous weeks scam tx.
Remember this is pay day 3, more than three weeks into the challenge and ICON were notified by me 16 days earlier of the fake teams. Why on earth would ICON continue to pay fake teams after BLOC8 had already gone public with the issue? Look back at Spl3en’s chat comment “But I wouldn’t be surprised at all if most of the traffic is originated from them, directly or indirectly, and not from external developpers”. Note the word indirectly. To process 140,000 tx per week each team needs to spend around 224 ICX, and be reimbursed 1400 ICX. If you are running over 100 fake teams you need to spend over 22,400 ICX and receive at least 140,000 ICX “reward” from ICON.
If ICON agreed with an external individual / group to indirectly process tx for them during the challenge they would be “honour” bound to keep handing over the ICX “rewards”. Based on the analysis I have done I am calling for Daeki Lee to stand down with immediate affect and a full apology from ICON for the shambles of a challenge.
In conclusion, don’t simply believe anything you hear from ICON and their devoted team of shillers and P-Reps. Do your own research as they might not be working in your best interests. A few days after the AMA Min tweeted #ChangeIsComing and then immediately blocked well known community member, BittBurger. Please feel free to add your comments here but make them factual. I don’t eat babies for breakfast or have two heads despite what the ICON “team” will tell you. Comments confirm 216,000 went from ICON TX challenge wallet to 2 wallet holders and can be verified on the ICON blockchain. The ICON TX Challenge has proved very challenging so far for ICON.