What is Antioch?

On account of the chain split and associated errors caused by a bug in the version of Substrate we were using for the runtime of the Babylon network, we have determined that the Babylon testnet is not recoverable.

As a result we will be launching a new network (hopefully by the end of next week) with an upgraded Substrate version and various minor improvements.

Unlike most releases, the changes for Antioch will be very minor from the perspective of regular testnet participants, however, in just over a month we will be releasing the Sumer testnet, which will offer some more exciting changes for the testnet platform.

Migration of Babylon State

The main thing to be aware of for our testnet users is that we plan to migrate most of the data from Babylon directly over to Antioch.

This will include:

  • Memberships
  • Forum content
  • Proposal history
  • Balances

Balances will be migrated as of the time of the fork (block #2,528,244) while everything else will be taken from as late as possible before the new chain is launched.

If your balance at height #2,608,346 differs from what you have on the new chain, DM @bwhm or @blrhc in our Discord server and we will make up the difference!

What happened to Babylon?


  1. The runtime upgrade extrinsic (transaction) was done with sudo.setCode, and included in block #2528244 with hash 0x02819d141da567a67f1fa0b3e447ea6b64f3a0a4f8fa042049b2721294874c4e
    • Before the transaction was made, the Polkadot telemetry apparently showed some discrepancies between the nodes.
    • It is unclear whether this had any impact on what transpired.
  2. Two blocks with height #2528244 was produced. (see image below)
    • All the logs we have seen thus far first saw the one with hash 0x0281...4c4e, but some then had a "reorg" to 0xbb81...0e19.
    • All of these saw a new reorg back to 0x0281...4c4e, meaning all nodes were still on the same chain in terms of accepted blocks.
  3. However, not all nodes executed the aforementioned sudo.setCode extrinsic.
    • The RPC nodes that Pioneer connects to by default, all appear to have executed the upgrade, thus changing the runtime specVersion from 9 (before the upgrade) to 11 (after executing). Note that "skipping" 10 is not the issue.
    • A majority of the Validators on the other hand did not execute the code, and were/are still reporting to be running specVersion 9.
  4. Despite having different consensus rules, both chains accepted the incoming blocks and finalized the new blocks
  5. After what appeared (at the time) to have been a successful upgrade, a post was made in proposal 212 that the runtime had been upgraded.
    • After submitting the proposalsDiscussion.addPost transaction, pioneer (on specVersion 11) returned an error saying "bad signature". The transaction was submitted again, this time successfully.
    • It appears that the first transaction was accepted by the nodes on specVersion 9, but not for those on 11.
  6. At block #2528265, the chain on specVersion 9 included said proposalsDiscussion.addPost and the chain split was now a true fork. (see image below)
The two versions of blocks #2528244
The two versions of blocks #2528265


As soon as the chains was following two different sets of consensus rules, a split was of course imminent, and this exact transaction was just the spark igniting the fire. In fact, we are still not sure why it wasn't immediate.

However, the most interesting aspect is the fact that the prevailing chain:

  • included the sudo.setCode upgrade transaction
  • which produced a system.ExtrinsicSuccess event
  • without actually executing the code

New nodes trying to sync up will all execute the code, move to specVersion 11, and will not accept the block prevailing block #2528265. Furthermore, from what we have seen, all nodes that stop and restart will crash at the end of the era.

This made it infeasible to keep the testnet running, even though it appears that most (if not all) nodes that "stayed" on 9 are not experiencing any issues.


We believe the cause is related to a known bug on an older version of substrate, loosely described in this issue. Babylon was running on a "commit" of substrate where this was not yet fixed, by the tiny margin of only two weeks...

We have been trying to confirm that this is in fact the exact and only cause of the chain split, but we've been unable to do so. The upgrade "worked" for a minority of the nodes, and had been successfully changed on our staging testnet.

Because of this, we are not only pulling in this particular fix, but have chosen to move to a much newer version of substrate for the release of Antioch.


All forward looking statements, estimates and commitments found in this blog post should be understood to be highly uncertain, not binding and for which no guarantees of accuracy or reliability can be provided. To the fullest extent permitted by law, in no event shall Joystream, Jsgenesis or our affiliates, or any of our directors, employees, contractors,  service providers or agents have any liability whatsoever to any person  for any direct or indirect loss, liability, cost, claim, expense or  damage of any kind, whether in contract or in tort, including negligence, or otherwise, arising out of or related to the use of all or  part of this post, or any links to third party websites.