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Announcing the Kusama Network

July 16, 2019 in Kusama, Early Network
Avatarby Polkadot

Kusama is an experimental community research and development network.

Warning: this is an experimental network.


In Kusama’s mind, “R&D” stands for Risk and Danger. Introducing Polkadot’s wild cousin, its canary in the coal mine: the Kusama network.

Kusama is an early, unaudited and unrefined release of Polkadot. Kusama will serve as a proving ground, allowing teams and developers to build and deploy a parachain or try out Polkadot’s governance, staking, nomination and validation functionality in a real environment.

Kusama is a canary-net: It is an early, highly experimental version of Polkadot presenting real economic conditions. It is not economically centralised and there will be no central kill switch. Kusama will exist as long as its community maintains it and we envision it will cater to new, early, high-risk functionality and projects preparing to develop and deploy on Polkadot.

Why the bird you ask? Because Kusama is meant to be Polkadot’s canary network, warning us of issues to keep things safe for the developers downchain. Without a network like Kusama, there is no reasonable way to fully understand the potential dangers that lie ahead. We are building bleeding-edge, experimental technology, which means there are no promises about what Kusama will do or how it will work  – expect a lot of chaos (and a little fun).

Kusama’s launch is planned for this (northern hemisphere) summer. The Kusama network will be powered by its own native token, called KSM.

With KSM, you can validate, nominate validators, bond parachains, pay for interop message passing, and vote on governance referenda. Check out more in the Kusama user guide. The genesis distribution of KSM will be exactly as for DOT: if you purchased DOTs in the sale then you own an equal share of the Kusama network. The Web3 Foundation will use some of its holdings to fund a frictional faucet for those that do not currently hold DOTs. Here’s how to claim KSM.

One percent of DOT tokens at Polkadot genesis have been reserved as an  eventual incentivisation grant to Kusama’s stakeholders and community. The precise mechanics of this have not yet been finalised.

“Major network releases tend to have a preliminary staging ground to “kick the tyres” of the new technology, like we did with Olympic when launching Ethereum a few years ago. Polkadot introduces so much cutting-edge technology that we decided to dispense using fake networks with pre-designed incentivizations and simply offer a blanket reward for the token holders and let the mechanics take care of themselves. Let’s take our first step into this unknown and see what chaos awaits.”

Dr. Gavin Wood

Founder, Polkadot and the Web3 Foundation

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