Ethereum Governance 'Not That Bad' Says Buterin Amid Fund Debate

Rachel Rose O'Leary
Feb 23, 2018 at 18:00 UTC  |  Updated  Feb 23, 2018 at 19:48 UTC

Ethereum's governance model isn't flawed, it's just badly communicated, the cryptocurrency's creator Vitalik Buterin said in a developer meeting Friday.

Coming amidst a heated debate over a proposal that seeks to standardize a method by which changes to the ethereum software would be considered as a way to retrieve lost funds, developers discussed how to clarify their process for accepting code changes and whether they should move to resolve perceived issues.

Since the proposal was submitted in January, hundreds of community members have come forward against the proposal - the core of which stems back to the decisions made during The DAO hack in 2016. One of coding team's veteran members even resigned from his post amidst concern about the process and the resulting backlash.

As such, Buterin's comments, made to the open-source project's top contributors, addressed what have been perceptions among users that ethereum's team of core developers hasn't been quick or authoritative enough in acting to resolve the dispute.

Buterin said:

"I actually personally think that, in general, our governance mechanism as it is de-facto is really not that bad. Probably the main flaw is not so much what the mechanism is, as how we communicate it."

According to Buterin, this is due to a lack of clarity on the process proposals such as the controversial EIP 867 undergo before they are merged with the platform's live code.

"The impression that a lot of community members got from the outside is that [EIP 867] is a lot closer to being merged, than from being actually implemented, or actually finally accepted, that anyone involved in the decision-making process actually intended to signal that it is," Buterin continued.

Instead, EIP 867's status is as an unaccepted draft, a status it has remained at for three weeks, even though the bitter commentary on its thread has escalated.

Greg Colvin, who is leading an effort to improve ethereum governance, reflected on this, arguing that the developers could do more to make the early-stage nature of the proposal understood.

"There really shouldn't be a huge debate on whether we should assign this EIP a number and call it a draft. That's a technical, editorial question. It should not be so hard and so contentious," he said.

But since it has become combative, Alex van de Sande, a developer of ethereum's mist browser, suggested that another proposal, the Immutability Enforcement Proposal (IMP), which sprung up in response to EIP 867, should be merged as well.

This proposal provides a standard for rejecting fund recovery proposals, and according to van de Sande, could demonstrate to the community "that you can have controversial standards, and one standard engaging the other, and both can be approved as a draft."

Buterin took note of the idea, saying:

"I agree that's definitely a clever way of undoing the signal."

Vitalik image via Centre for International Governance Innovation

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EthereumVitalik Buterin

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