Polygon Case Study: Fostering Security and Decentralization with Mutli-Threshold Smart Contract Upgrades

Polygon is one of the most established and ambitious projects in web3, leading development for a wide range of scaling solutions and zero-knowledge innovations that crypto-native and institutional projects can build on, including chains like Polygon PoS, Polygon zkEVM, and (the still in-development) Polygon Miden, as well as a ZK-focused chain development kit, Polygon CDK.

Now, Polygon Labs is a leading contributor to the AggLayer, a protocol to unify chain fragmentation and scale the web3 experience to the size of the internet. Given the rapid growth and complexity of the network— both in terms of technology and use cases—robust system smart contracts governance is critical. 


Security is the highest priority for infrastructure builders, especially when it comes to upgrading system smart contracts. But for the chains, protocols, and tools we build to be resilient, it is also important to continue progressing towards greater decentralization. 

Polygon made strides in addressing this persistent and industry-wide challenge by introducing the Polygon Protocol Council. Thirteen members were selected by the community for value-alignment and network resilience, as well as technical, security, and governance expertise. This council oversees various contracts across Polygon network infrastructure, ensuring efficient and safe oversight.

Given the scope and significance of its network infrastructure, Polygon needs specialized governance processes and tools to ensure security, transparency, and continued meaningful progress towards decentralization. 

Pain Points:

  • Efficient execution of both emergency and regular upgrades while maintaining robust checks and balances.
  • Managing upgrades for different contract types, such as bridge and token contracts.
  • Disjointed user experience across various SAFE contracts for Protocol Council members. 
  • Ensuring transparent and accountable governance decision-making.
  • Existing solutions not accounting for multiple consensus paths. 
  • Adapting the governance process based on community feedback and network growth. 


To tackle these challenges, Polygon designed the following governance process for smart contract system upgrades: 

At the core of this design are two paths:

  • Majority Consensus: For scheduled, regular upgrades.
  • Super Majority Consensus: For resolving critical vulnerabilities via an emergency upgrade.

Each path has a different consensus threshold and timelock:

  • Majority Consensus: 10-day timelock, requiring Majority consensus (7 out of 13 council members).
  • Super Majority Consensus: No timelock, requiring Super Majority consensus (10 out of 13 council members).

Regular upgrades have a 10-day timelock to give the community time to voice their concerns or exit the system. Emergency upgrades are rare circumstances that require immediate response and containment. By implementing both a Majority and Super Majority consensus paths, Polygon can prioritize security while continuing to make significant progress towards greater transparency and decentralization. 


  • Unified user experience: Protocol Council members can initiate and approve all upgrades from the same governance contract and interface. 
  • Enhanced security: The system ensures rapid response to emergencies while maintaining robust security protocols.
  • Increased transparency: Regular and emergency upgrades are easy to track, and clearly communicated through transparency reports.
  • User protection: Regular upgrades require a timelock delay of 10 days to ensure the ability for the community to exit the system before any change takes place, while emergency upgrades are limited in scope and rare.
  • Adaptability: The flexible governance framework supports the growing Polygon landscape, accommodating future changes seamlessly.

Under the Hood

Polygon’s governance is built with Aragon OSx, a next generation modular governance framework. Aragon OSx isolates governance logic into plugins, making it safer and easier to customize and evolve governance contracts. 

In order to build Polygon’s unique governance process, the Aragon Custom Builds team customized the standard multisig plugin by adding different consensus thresholds and transparency functionality to the multisig. 

Here’s how it works: 

First, a Protocol Council member needs to create a proposal. When creating the proposal, they can choose to initiate either the Majority or Super Majority consensus path:

Majority Consensus

  1. A Majority consensus (7/13) needs to approve the proposal; 
  2. Once approved, a member starts the 10-day delay period for a community vote and pins a Transparency Report to the proposal metadata via IPFS; 
  3. Once the delay period expires and community vote concludes, the members need to confirm the proposal once again with majority consensus (7/13); 
  4. Any address can execute the proposal onchain. 

Super Majority Consensus

  1. A Super Majority consensus (10/13) needs to approve the proposal; 
  2. Once the approval is reached the proposal is automatically and immediately executed; 
  3. A member can pin the transparency report at any stage in the process. 

The two distinct processes, supplemented by transparency requirements, are unified into a single multisig. This setup makes the process more efficient, straightforward, and easy to track for the community. 

Key Features:

  • Different timelocks: Two separate processes in the same multisig trigger different timelocks.
  • Immediate execution for Super Majority proposals: Proposals with Super Majority consensus are executed automatically and immediately, ensuring quick responses to critical issues.
  • Unified process: A single Aragon OSx multisig streamlines the process, enhancing security, efficiency, and responsiveness for the Protocol Council.
  • Increased transparency: Transparency reports are pinned to the proposal metadata during the governance process. 
  • Adaptable governance: The Super Majority Multisig plugin can be changed for a new plugin via the existing governance process, ensuring the governance process can evolve with the network’s growth.

With this custom solution, Polygon is taking even more meaningful steps towards secure and decentralized governance of its network infrastructure. And it can evolve over time. 

Aragon OSx plugins are open source. The smart contract framework enables any Aragon OSx DAO to safely and easily install governance plugins built by others. This includes plugins ideated and designed by industry leaders such as Polygon. The Super Majority Multisig is the culmination of extensive research, community consultation, and collaboration. It can now be easily implemented by any other project in the industry grappling with similar challenges. If you’re building critical infrastructure, and need to balance security and decentralization, reach out to the Aragon Custom Builds team to explore how it could fit your needs.  


Aragon has been building onchain governance infrastructure for over 7 years, with its tech securing billions of assets. Govern your protocol onchain with Aragon OSx: the secure and modular DAO framework with customization built in. Or, launch a DAO in 10 minutes or less without writing any code on the Aragon App.

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