As ICONists throughout the world start to stake their ICX as part of the Pre-Voting process, many may be wondering: "What's that i_Score number mean?"
ICON's model is called "Delegated Proof of Contribution." At its basic level, this means rewards are allocated to ICONists based on their contribution to the network. I_Score was developed as a way to objectively measure this contribution.
That means P-Reps, who create and validate blocks, tend to receive an i_Score higher than most, since they're helping operate and build the network. But staking – and voting – are also a form of contribution, which is why ICONists who take the time are eligible to receive an i_Score.
Some may be wondering: "Why can't I just receive ICX? Isn't that easier?" However, due to important complexities in ICON's reward system - including the mechanism for distributing rewards - an i_Score actually makes a bit more sense. If you're interested in doing a deeper dive on the tokenomics of ICON, I'd recommend this article.
When it comes to staking, the key variable for determining your i_Score – aside from whether you are voting or not – is the amount of ICX you're staking. That's why someone who stakes 1,000 ICX will receive a higher i_Score (which can be redeemed for more ICX) than someone who stakes 100 ICX.
How often is my i_Score generated?
Let's use the very start of the Pre-Voting period to help describe how this process works.
Pre-Voting started at 05:00 UTC time on August 26th, 2019. At every block being produced on this day, you are generating an i_Score, since you've staked (and voted) while that block was generated. If you temporarily remove your vote, you won't receive a reward for the blocks generated during the time period you've stopped voting.
After the conclusion of this 24-hr period, 43,120 blocks will be produced. At 05:00 UTC on August 27th, the network will begin to calculate the total amount of rewards you received for all those blocks generated during the preceding 24 hours (August 26th). This process will last for the duration of this 24-hr period, and the calculated reward will be distributed at the very end of this 24 hours (theoretically, at around 04:59 on the 28th).
Then you'll have your i_Score. As long as you continue to stake (and vote), this process will repeat itself every 24 hours, providing you with an updated i_Score every day.
What do I do with it?
An i_Score can be exchanged via the ICON Public Treasury for ICX at a rate of 1000 i_Score for 1 ICX.
So if you're i_Score is 10,000, you're entitled to receive 10 ICX.
If you don't exchange it every day, it's not a big deal–your i_Score will simply accumulate over time and can be exchanged in a lump sum. However, the only downside to this more passive approach is that you won't be able to re-stake the ICX you've earned.
To maximize your returns, it's best to exchange your i_Score and stake your newly-earned ICX as often as possible.
From the perspective of some individuals, this is a bit of a pain. However, requiring this step serves an added benefit. By requiring ICONists to manually re-stake their new ICX, it will require them to consider if they'd like to use it to vote for those P-Reps they're already supporting, or perhaps vote for someone new. By adding in this layer of vigilance, ICONists will be in better position to monitor their votes and ensure their P-Reps are performing as they should, especially when it comes to network productivity.