Polkadot vs Kusama: What’s The Difference?

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Polkadot and Kusama are similar blockchain networks that share their core technology and operational mechanisms. However, both networks have very different priorities. 

Polkadot is the more conservative of the two, prioritizing stability and dependability. Kusama, on the other hand, is wild and fast and is an excellent platform for early-stage deployment and bold experimentation. 

What Is Polkadot? 

Polkadot is a highly versatile blockchain network that allows developers to create and launch dApps (decentralized applications) on a quick, versatile, and highly scalable blockchain network. Polkadot was founded by Gavin Wood, who was also a part of the original Ethereum developer team. Wood’s company, Parity Technology, is the primary developer team behind the network, while its native DOT token is one of the top cryptocurrencies in the market. 

Polkadot offers dApp development and token launching resources and functionalities. Developers can use the blockchain network to launch various projects encompassing DeFi, yield farming protocols, NFTs and NFT apps, and crypto games. Polkadot uses a sharded, multichain network that allows developers on the network to launch custom blockchains. 

Polkadot has attracted several developer teams that have used the blockchain network to launch their decentralized platforms. Polkadot’s current architecture has 100 parachains, with over 200 developer teams actively working and over 550 projects using Polkadot’s technology. 

What Is Kusama? 

Kusama is often referred to as “Polkadot’s wild cousin” and with good reason. It acts as a testing ground for numerous projects in their early stages, allowing them to experiment to an endless degree. Like Polkadot, Kusama has also been founded by Gavin Wood, with both projects complementing one another rather than competing with each other. 

The primary idea behind Kusama was to create a programming sandbox for Polkadot apps. Developers could use Kusama to experiment with programming tools, platform architecture, and dApp structures. Because of this, many confuse Kusama to be a testnet. However, it is much more; Kusama is a standalone blockchain framework built using the Substrate Programming Kit. 

Polkadot’s Operational Mechanism 

Polkadot does not host custom dApps on its primary chain. Instead, it uses a sharded multichain architecture that allows developers to build and deploy their own blockchains on Polkadot. These blockchains run parallel to the main chain, called the Relay Chain. This feature allows Polkadot to act as a Layer-0 metachain rather than a Layer-1 blockchain. 

Layer-1 networks on Polkadot have significantly greater independence and can interact with one another thanks to their use of similar infrastructure. Furthermore, the developer team on Polkadot can implement code updates without having to fork blockchains. This gives developer teams on Polkadot a high degree of flexibility. 

Polkadot uses a variation of the Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism called the Nominated Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism. In this, validators approve transactions, and nominators select validator nodes, backing them with DOT tokens. This helps prevent the concentration of power, with nominators giving authority to validator nodes, adding an additional layer of security to Polkadot Parachains. 

Kusama’s Operational Mechanism 

Kusama’s operational mechanism is slightly different from that of Polkadot. Polkadot is much more enterprise-focused than Kusama, but developers can launch projects faster and experiment to a greater degree on the latter. Kusama makes it easy for developers to alter parachains even after they have been deployed. There is also no need to fork the parachain to create a new network when using Kusama. 

Instead, developers can alter the base code of the parachain and see what works best for the project. While Polkadot offers similar features, it is far less flexible thanks to its on-chain governance. 

Polkadot’s Canary Network 

Kusama was initially envisaged as Polkadot’s canary network. It allows developers to release programs and software to a limited number of users in a relatively isolated environment, ensuring other users are not adversely impacted. However, as mentioned earlier, Kusama is more than a testnet, sitting somewhere between a testnet and a mainnet. 

Most projects maintain parachains on Polkadot and Kusama. They will test and experiment on new technologies on Kusama before deploying them on Polkadot. However, some projects also focus on just one of these networks, opting to stay exclusively on Polkadot or Kusama. 

Kusama can be the perfect environment for projects with ambitious ideas, experiments, and innovations in governance, monetary policy, DAOs, and incentives. Future updates on Polkadot will also be deployed on Kusama before they are released on the Polkadot network. 

The Road Ahead 

Polkadot and Kusama will continue to exist as independent, standalone networks, each with a dedicated community, governance, and use cases. However, they will continue to maintain an interconnected relationship, with teams deploying applications on both networks.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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