Cathedral or bazaar: what’s the right approach to blockchain governance?

Leo Zhang

By Leo Zhang

News & Commentary

In Eric Raymond's The Cathedral and the Bazaar, he describes two distinct approaches to free software development, the cathedral, and the bazaar. He summarizes the two approaches as follows:

Cathedral: the code is developed strictly by a group of developers, and the source code is only available with each release.

Bazaar: a hectic marketplace of ideas, characterizing the process pioneered by Linus Torvalds. The code is developed completely under the view of the public.

Blockchain governance, in its essence, is an extension of the problem of finding the balance between these two approaches. The top-down approach is streamlined, efficient, and organized. On the other hand, the bottom-up approach represents the true ethos of open-source software: given enough eyeballs, any bug can be squashed. At this point, there are many different thoughts and design principles on blockchain governance. They all inevitably need to answer one question: is the network still decentralized with this governance framework?

The original technologies of trust
(In The Mesh, by Natalie Smolenski)

"In addition to seeding the social practice of earning and financing through interest, the early modern period also saw a new innovation in trust technology: the joint-stock corporation, which allowed groups of people with money to invest in high risk, high return endeavors. Joint-stock corporations were a way of distributing risk and reward for violent seizures of treasure that would just as likely end in disaster as in profit."

The long game in crypto: why decentralization matters
(Spencer Bogart)

"After all, the entire point of a decentralized blockchain is to provide a hard-promise — an immutable ledger with open, non-discriminatory participation. In a sense, we bear the inefficiency of decentralization because it is the only way to enable a network with these qualities."

On Chain vs. Off chain governance: the ins and outs
(CoinJournal, by Alex T)

"Even though the new governance model seems pathbreaking and incredibly useful, several people have been skeptical about the merit and need of such a system. There are several major critiques of such a system put forward by people such as Vitalik Buterin. The most common argument is that having an onchain governance model would take the participation of governance away from miners (and subsequently users)."

Is Decred(DCR) the answer to blockchain governance?
(CryptoRecorder)

"As we have established that Decred offers solutions for easy governance, which also makes up for its original objective, it’s time to judge this coin based on its features. Decred uses Proof-of-Work and Proof-of-Stake protocols that actually represent hybrid protocols based on the original PoW and PoS traditionally used in many blockchain-based ecosystems."

Ethereum infighting spurs blockchain split concerns
(CoinDesk, by Rachel Rose O'Leary)

"At least, that was the mood at a meeting of top ethereum developers late last week where a discussion on a controversial code proposal called EIP 999 led some to speculate the scenario is now a possibility. Indeed, it's now believed the proposal, which which seeks a technical fix that would return $264 million in lost funds, is so contentious, some users may chose to defect to a new version of the code."

Nasdaq is open to becoming cryptocurrency exchange, CEO says
(CNBC, by Kate Rooney)

"On Wednesday, the company announced a collaboration with cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, founded by early bitcoin investors Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. The deal gives Gemini access to Nasdaq's surveillance technology to help make sure the platform provides a fair and 'rules-based marketplace,' for their own participants, Gemini CEO Tyler Winklevoss said in a statement."

Most cryptocurrency trading is moving to Malta, at least legally
(Bloomberg, by Lily Katz)

"Most cryptocurrency trading now happens on marketplaces based in Malta, the European island nation that’s seeking to boost its fortunes by becoming one of the world’s friendliest jurisdictions for a sector that’s caused concern among other regulators."

Token sales: Q1 2018

Technical & Updates

How secure is blockchain really?
(MIT Tech Review, by Mike Orcutt)

"Hackers can, for instance, break into 'hot wallets,' internet-connected applications for storing the private cryptographic keys that anyone who owns cryptocurrency requires in order to spend it. Wallets owned by online cryptocurrency exchanges have become prime targets."

Popular Ether wallet MEW is hijacked in DNS attack
(Bitcoin Magazine, by Amy Castor)

"An unsigned SSL certificate warned users before entering the phony site but some bypassed the warning, resulting in a loss of funds. MyEtherWallet confirmed the attack in a statement on April 24, 2018."

OKEx suspends ERC20 tokens deposit due to a new Smart Contract bug

New batchOverflow bug in multiple ERC20 Smart Contracts (CVE-2018-10299)
(ranimes)

"With that, we further run our system to scan and analyze other contracts. Our results show that more than a dozen of ERC20 contracts are also vulnerable to batchOverflow. To demonstrate, we have successfully transacted with one vulnerable contract (that is not tradable in any exchange) as our proof-of-concept exploit (Figure 3)."

Commentary on efficiency of Layer 2 solution

A one-minute attack let hackers spoof hotel master keys
(Wired, by Andy Greenberg)

First big steps toward proving the Unique Games Conjecture
(Quanta Magazine, by Erica Klarreich)

"Khot figured out that the key to solving this problem lay in understanding the complexity of another problem, in which the goal is again to color a graph, but now there are rules that tell you, whenever you color a vertex, what color you must use on each vertex connected to it."