You may have missed it, but over the weekend, transactions on the live EOS blockchain came to a complete – yet temporary – halt.
Coming less than 48 hours after the much-anticipated blockchain network went live, the announcement kicked off a social firestorm (not to mention a reported 5 percent drop in the value of the network’s cryptocurrency).
Some background: the EOS launch, reported last week by CoinDesk, came at the end of a topsy-turvy period illustrated by last-minute code tweaks, an elaborate election of entities tasked with creating the network’s transaction blocks, and, of course, the $4 billion EOS token sale.
So, it came as a surprise to some that the network would run into enough trouble that it triggered a failsafe network freeze. And unsurprisingly, critics of EOS were quick to pounce.
A patch to fix the issue was released and implemented less than five hours later.
However, in the fast-moving world of crypto, there was already damage done to the network’s reputation.
That’s not to say that EOS didn’t have any commentators – or outright supporters – going to bat for it during the weekend debate. From a more supportive perspective, the weekend stoppage was seen largely as a growing pain and a symptom of a network controlled by no single entity, still getting its bearings so soon after launch.
Among the notable voices offering support to the project was Zcash creator Zooko Wilcox, who wrote “kudos” in the wake of the bug response.
Asked if he was joking, he was quite clear: the answer was no. EOS’s response, in his eyes, was exemplary.
For others, the expectation of a “perfect” launch was an unrealistic one to begin with. And it’s probably safe to say that some members of the EOS community aren’t too concerned about the network stoppage, given the move to repair the bug.
An old debate made new
And while EOS blocks are moving once again, it’s clear there’s one thing not going anywhere: the debate over the degree of centralization on the network.
What’s being debated, in a broader sense, is the extent to which EOS is immune to the actions of one particular group or entity – the more centralized it is toward one of those groups, the more likely it is to face problems if that group has issues, dissolves or is attacked.
For EOS, the centralization risks are unique – and put on display thanks to the weekend issue.
EOS block producers are the only ones who can validate transactions on the blockchain. They are voted on by other users, and the votes are weighted by the number of tokens staked.
As a result, though the mainnet platform is not owned by any singular authority, these block producers act as de facto leaders able to make executive decisions on proposed changes, or in this case, fixes to the network.
Since the design inception, critics have been concerned of the centralized power of block producers and now with the latest issued upgrade, 1.0.5., they have a real case of that power in action.
In response to the criticism, EOS maintains its distribution of tokens and block producers remain far from centralized, pointing to the global distribution of block producers.
Frozen hard drive image via Shutterstock