What is a CIP?

CIP stands for Community Improvement Proposal. A CIP is a design document providing information to the Genesis community, or describing a new feature for Genesis or its processes or environment. The CIP should provide a concise technical specification of the feature and a rationale for the feature. The CIP author is responsible for building consensus within the community and documenting dissenting opinions.

CIP Rationale

We intend CIPs to be the primary mechanisms for proposing new features, for collecting community technical input on an issue, and for documenting the design decisions that have gone into Genesis. Because the CIPs are maintained as text files in a versioned repository, their revision history is the historical record of the feature proposal.

For improvement implementers, CIPs are a convenient way to track the progress of their implementation. Ideally each implementation maintainer would list the CIPs that they have implemented. This will give end users a convenient way to know the current status of a given implementation or library.

CIP Types

There are four types of CIP:

  • A Standards Track CIP describes any change that affects most or all Genesis implementations, such as—a change to the network protocol, a change in block or transaction validity rules, proposed application standards/conventions, or any change or addition that affects the interoperability of applications using Genesis. Standards Track CIPs consist of three parts—a design document, an implementation, and (if warranted) an update to the formal specification. Furthermore, Standards Track CIPs can be broken down into the following categories:
    • Core: improvements requiring a consensus fork (e.g. CIP-5, CIP-101), as well as changes that are not necessarily consensus critical but may be relevant to “core dev” discussions (for example, [CIP-90], and the miner/node strategy changes 2, 3, and 4 of CIP-86).
    • Networking: includes improvements around devp2p (CIP-8) and [Light Genesis Subprotocol], as well as proposed improvements to network protocol specifications of whisper and swarm.
    • Interface: includes improvements around client API/RPC specifications and standards, and also certain language-level standards like method names (CIP-6) and contract ABIs. The label “interface” aligns with the interfaces repo and discussion should primarily occur in that repository before a CIP is submitted to the CIPs repository.
    • ERC: application-level standards and conventions, including contract standards such as token standards (ERC-20), name registries (ERC-137), URI schemes, library/package formats, and wallet formats.
  • A Meta CIP describes a process surrounding Genesis or proposes a change to (or an event in) a process. Process CIPs are like Standards Track CIPs but apply to areas other than the Genesis protocol itself. They may propose an implementation, but not to Genesis’s codebase; they often require community consensus; unlike Informational CIPs, they are more than recommendations, and users are typically not free to ignore them. Examples include procedures, guidelines, changes to the decision-making process, and changes to the tools or environment used in Genesis development. Any meta-CIP is also considered a Process CIP.

  • An Informational CIP describes an Genesis design issue, or provides general guidelines or information to the Genesis community, but does not propose a new feature. Informational CIPs do not necessarily represent Genesis community consensus or a recommendation, so users and implementers are free to ignore Informational CIPs or follow their advice.

It is highly recommended that a single CIP contain a single key proposal or new idea. The more focused the CIP, the more successful it tends to be. A change to one world doesn’t require a CIP; a change that affects multiple worlds, or defines a standard for multiple apps to use, does.

A CIP must meet certain minimum criteria. It must be a clear and complete description of the proposed enhancement. The enhancement must represent a net improvement. The proposed implementation, if applicable, must be solid and must not complicate the protocol unduly.

CIP Work Flow

Shepherding a CIP

Parties involved in the process are you, the champion or CIP author, the CIP editors, and the Genesis Core Developers.

Before you begin writing a formal CIP, you should vet your idea. Ask the Genesis community first if an idea is original to avoid wasting time on something that will be rejected based on prior research. It is thus recommended to open a discussion thread on the Genesis forum to do this, but you can also use one of the Genesis Gitter chat rooms, the Genesis subreddit or the Issues section of this repository.

Once the idea has been vetted, your next responsibility will be to present (by means of a CIP) the idea to the reviewers and all interested parties, invite editors, developers, and the community to give feedback on the aforementioned channels. You should try and gauge whether the interest in your CIP is commensurate with both the work involved in implementing it and how many parties will have to conform to it. For example, the work required for implementing a Core CIP will be much greater than for an ERC and the CIP will need sufficient interest from the Genesis client teams. Negative community feedback will be taken into consideration and may prevent your CIP from moving past the Draft stage.

Core CIPs

For Core CIPs, given that they require client implementations to be considered Final (see “CIPs Process” below), you will need to either provide an implementation for clients or convince clients to implement your CIP.

The best way to get client implementers to review your CIP is to present it on an AllCoreDevs call. You can request to do so by posting a comment linking your CIP on an AllCoreDevs agenda GitHub Issue.

The AllCoreDevs call serve as a way for client implementers to do three things. First, to discuss the technical merits of CIPs. Second, to gauge what other clients will be implementing. Third, to coordinate CIP implementation for network upgrades.

These calls generally result in a “rough consensus” around what CIPs should be implemented. This “rough consensus” rests on the assumptions that CIPs are not contentious enough to cause a network split and that they are technically sound.

:warning: The CIPs process and AllCoreDevs call were not designed to address contentious non-technical issues, but, due to the lack of other ways to address these, often end up entangled in them. This puts the burden on client implementers to try and gauge community sentiment, which hinders the technical coordination function of CIPs and AllCoreDevs calls. If you are shepherding a CIP, you can make the process of building community consensus easier by making sure that the Genesis forum thread for your CIP includes or links to as much of the community discussion as possible and that various stakeholders are well-represented.

In short, your role as the champion is to write the CIP using the style and format described below, shepherd the discussions in the appropriate forums, and build community consensus around the idea.

CIP Process

The following is the standardization process for all CIPs in all tracks:

CIP Status Diagram

Idea - An idea that is pre-draft. This is not tracked within the CIP Repository.

Draft - The first formally tracked stage of a CIP in development. A CIP is merged by a CIP Editor into the CIP repository when properly formatted.

Review - A CIP Author marks a CIP as ready for and requesting Peer Review.

Last Call - This is the final review window for a CIP before moving to FINAL. A CIP editor will assign Last Call status and set a review end date (review-period-end), typically 14 days later.

If this period results in necessary normative changes it will revert the CIP to REVIEW.

Final - This CIP represents the final standard. A Final CIP exists in a state of finality and should only be updated to correct errata and add non-normative clarifications.

Stagnant - Any CIP in DRAFT or REVIEW if inactive for a period of 6 months or greater is moved to STAGNANT. A CIP may be resurrected from this state by Authors or CIP Editors through moving it back to DRAFT.

CIP Authors are notified of any algorithmic change to the status of their CIP

Withdrawn - The CIP Author(s) have withdrawn the proposed CIP. This state has finality and can no longer be resurrected using this CIP number. If the idea is pursued at later date it is considered a new proposal.

Living - A special status for CIPs that are designed to be continually updated and not reach a state of finality. This includes most notably CIP-1. Any changes to these CIPs will move between REVIEW and LIVING states.

What belongs in a successful CIP?

Each CIP should have the following parts:

  • Preamble - RFC 822 style headers containing metadata about the CIP, including the CIP number, a short descriptive title (limited to a maximum of 44 characters), and the author details. See below for details.
  • Abstract - A short (~200 word) description of the technical issue being addressed.
  • Motivation (*optional) - A motivation section is critical for CIPs that want to change the Genesis protocol. It should clearly explain why the existing protocol specification is inadequate to address the problem that the CIP solves. CIP submissions without sufficient motivation may be rejected outright.
  • Specification - The technical specification should describe the syntax and semantics of any new feature. The specification should be detailed enough to allow competing, interoperable implementations for any of the current Genesis platforms.
  • Rationale - The rationale fleshes out the specification by describing what motivated the design and why particular design decisions were made. It should describe alternate designs that were considered and related work, e.g. how the feature is supported in other languages. The rationale may also provide evidence of consensus within the community, and should discuss important objections or concerns raised during discussion.
  • Backwards Compatibility - All CIPs that introduce backwards incompatibilities must include a section describing these incompatibilities and their severity. The CIP must explain how the author proposes to deal with these incompatibilities. CIP submissions without a sufficient backwards compatibility treatise may be rejected outright.
  • Test Cases - Test cases for an implementation are mandatory for CIPs that are affecting consensus changes. Tests should either be inlined in the CIP as data (such as input/expected output pairs, or included in ../assets/cip-###/<filename>.
  • Reference Implementation - An optional section that contains a reference/example implementation that people can use to assist in understanding or implementing this specification.
  • Security Considerations - All CIPs must contain a section that discusses the security implications/considerations relevant to the proposed change. Include information that might be important for security discussions, surfaces risks and can be used throughout the life-cycle of the proposal. E.g. include security-relevant design decisions, concerns, important discussions, implementation-specific guidance and pitfalls, an outline of threats and risks and how they are being addressed. CIP submissions missing the “Security Considerations” section will be rejected. A CIP cannot proceed to status “Final” without a Security Considerations discussion deemed sufficient by the reviewers.
  • Copyright Waiver - All CIPs must be in the public domain. See the bottom of this CIP for an example copyright waiver.

CIP Formats and Templates

CIPs should be written in markdown format. There is a template to follow.

CIP Header Preamble

Each CIP must begin with an RFC 822 style header preamble, preceded and followed by three hyphens (---). This header is also termed “front matter” by Jekyll. The headers must appear in the following order. Headers marked with “*” are optional and are described below. All other headers are required.

` cip:` CIP number (this is determined by the CIP editor)

` title:` CIP title

` author:` a list of the author’s or authors’ name(s) and/or username(s), or name(s) and email(s). Details are below.

` * discussions-to:` a url pointing to the official discussion thread

` status:` Draft, Review, Last Call, Final, Stagnant, Withdrawn, Living

* review-period-end: date review period ends

` type:` Standards Track, Meta, or Informational

` * category:` Core, Networking, Interface, or ERC (fill out for Standards Track CIPs only)

` created:` date created on

` * updated:` comma separated list of dates

` * requires:` CIP number(s)

` * replaces:` CIP number(s)

` * superseded-by:` CIP number(s)

` * resolution:` a url pointing to the resolution of this CIP

Headers that permit lists must separate elements with commas.

Headers requiring dates will always do so in the format of ISO 8601 (yyyy-mm-dd).

author header

The author header lists the names, email addresses or usernames of the authors/owners of the CIP. Those who prefer anonymity may use a username only, or a first name and a username. The format of the author header value must be:

Random J. User <address@dom.ain>


Random J. User (@username)

if the email address or GitHub username is included, and

Random J. User

if the email address is not given.

It is not possible to use both an email and a GitHub username at the same time. If important to include both, one could include their name twice, once with the GitHub username, and once with the email.

At least one author must use a GitHub username, in order to get notified on change requests and have the capability to approve or reject them.

resolution header

The resolution header is required for Standards Track CIPs only. It contains a URL that should point to an email message or other web resource where the pronouncement about the CIP is made.

discussions-to header

While a CIP is a draft, a discussions-to header will indicate the mailing list or URL where the CIP is being discussed. As mentioned above, an example of a place to discuss your CIP is Genesis Discord (this is suitable for CIPs that may be contentious or have a strong governance aspect).

As an exception, discussions-to cannot point to GitHub pull requests.

type header

The type header specifies the type of CIP: Core, Governance, Standards, or GameDev.

created header

The created header records the date that the CIP was assigned a number. Both headers should be in yyyy-mm-dd format, e.g. 2001-08-14.

updated header

The updated header records the date(s) when the CIP was updated with “substantial” changes. This header is only valid for CIPs of Draft and Active status.

requires header

CIPs may have a requires header, indicating the CIP numbers that this CIP depends on.

superseded-by and replaces headers

CIPs may also have a superseded-by header indicating that a CIP has been rendered obsolete by a later document; the value is the number of the CIP that replaces the current document. The newer CIP must have a replaces header containing the number of the CIP that it rendered obsolete.

Linking to other CIPs

References to other CIPs should follow the format CIP-N where N is the CIP number you are referring to. Each CIP that is referenced in a CIP MUST be accompanied by a relative markdown link the first time it is referenced, and MAY be accompanied by a link on subsequent references. The link MUST always be done via relative paths so that the links work in this GitHub repository, forks of this repository, the main CIPs site, mirrors of the main CIP site, etc. For example, you would link to this CIP with [CIP-1](/CIPS/cip-1).

Auxiliary Files

Images, diagrams and auxiliary files should be included in a subdirectory of the assets folder for that CIP as follows: assets/cip-N (where N is to be replaced with the CIP number). When linking to an image in the CIP, use relative links such as ../assets/cip-1/image.png.

Transferring CIP Ownership

It occasionally becomes necessary to transfer ownership of CIPs to a new champion. In general, we’d like to retain the original author as a co-author of the transferred CIP, but that’s really up to the original author. A good reason to transfer ownership is because the original author no longer has the time or interest in updating it or following through with the CIP process, or has fallen off the face of the ‘net (i.e. is unreachable or isn’t responding to email). A bad reason to transfer ownership is because you don’t agree with the direction of the CIP. We try to build consensus around a CIP, but if that’s not possible, you can always submit a competing CIP.

If you are interested in assuming ownership of a CIP, send a message asking to take over, addressed to both the original author and the CIP editor. If the original author doesn’t respond to the email in a timely manner, the CIP editor will make a unilateral decision (it’s not like such decisions can’t be reversed :)).

CIP Editors

The current CIP editors are

  • Paul Barclay (@barclander)
  • Jen Dalby (@injenuity)
  • Matt Quirk (@mquirk)
  • Josh Morton (@jmorton)
  • Chris Lovell (@chrislovell)
  • Brian Artiaco (@bartiaco)

CIP Editor Responsibilities

For each new CIP that comes in, an editor does the following:

  • Read the CIP to check if it is ready: sound and complete. The ideas must make technical sense, even if they don’t seem likely to get to final status.
  • The title should accurately describe the content.
  • Check the CIP for language (spelling, grammar, sentence structure, etc.), markup (GitHub flavored Markdown), code style

If the CIP isn’t ready, the editor will send it back to the author for revision, with specific instructions.

Once the CIP is ready for the repository, the CIP editor will:

  • Assign a CIP number (generally the PR number or, if preferred by the author, the Issue # if there was discussion in the Issues section of this repository about this CIP)

  • Merge the corresponding pull request

  • Send a message back to the CIP author with the next step.

Many CIPs are written and maintained by developers with write access to the Genesis codebase. The CIP editors monitor CIP changes, and correct any structure, grammar, spelling, or markup mistakes we see.

The editors don’t pass judgment on CIPs. We merely do the administrative & editorial part.

Style Guide

When referring to a CIP by number, it should be written in the hyphenated form CIP-X where X is the CIP’s assigned number.


This document was derived heavily from [Ethereum’s EIP-1], which was derived from Bitcoin’s BIP-0001 written by Amir Taaki which in turn was derived from Python’s PEP-0001. In many places text was simply copied and modified. Although the PEP-0001 text was written by Barry Warsaw, Jeremy Hylton, and David Goodger, they are not responsible for its use in the Community Improvement Process, and should not be bothered with technical questions specific to Genesis or the CIP. Please direct all comments to the CIP editors.


Copyright and related rights waived via CC0.