While browsing through lots of Ethereum and DAO related threads on multiple sites that aggregate Ethereum community I spotted lots of different arguments both pro and anti fork. I must admit that besides those backed with ideology that you cannot argue with by definition there are many arguments of both sides that speak to me.
Ultimately however I lean toward pro fork. To not left things to speculation — I’m DTH, but will not spill a tear for this minute amount of ETH invested. Getting into this business was my conscious decision and I understood risks, opportunities and responsibilities. Not crypto newbie here, I’m in crypto world since almost the beginning.
Code is lawd
For non English speakers (as myself) there is no typo above. Lawd stands for Lord (when one doesn’t want to curse). As in every community there are more or less devoted fanatics present, this pun seems to be appropriate. This subtitle’s sentence sums up some anti fork arguments that appeared recently. Among mostly ideological ones that are impossible to argue with as I already mentioned, there are also some rational ones.
Setting a precedent
While it’s rather obvious that we set precedents all the time in crypto world (cryptocurrency is a precedent by itself, a DAO idea as well) and there is no real reason to be scared by setting another one, this argument speaks to me in a way that it’s hard to discern when a precedent could be applied and what criteria would justify it.
Before this famous theft there were others that also caused considerable damage. The most prominent was the one on Gatecoin. Only some thefts exploited contract vulnerabilities. None of thefts scored a sum comparable to this in theDAO.
But the sum isn’t a justification, precedents should be fair. What factor advocates fairness of this precedent? I would say — numbers. Backed by rational premises.
TheDAO groups a fair amount of people, correct me if I’m wrong but the number oscillates around 20000. Many of these people aren’t experienced in crypto, a kind of guys that feed bumps and dumps actually. It could be seen on DAOhub, as basic questions are frequent there. They came to theDAO for different reasons I presume; can guess that two were most prominent — to be a part of crowd sourcing initiative and/or to be a part of an emerging social experiment. There are whales too, speculators — of course. But a large number out of this 20k were people unaware of actual risks and pretty valuable for crypto community as a whole.
Why such newbies could be valuable you may ask. A great deal of people , often loosely connected to crypto market, often ignorant in terms of technical matters, deeply naive, often unable to verify overly optimistic hype fueled irresponsibly by Slock.it et consortes, joined an initiative to build something very new.
One could rightly say that stupidity isn’t an excuse. However, looking from purely functional point of view these people are a capital. Very precious one in terms of crypto environment. If our community is supposed to expand we cannot be confined to nerds and speculators.
More, as marketing guys often say, a client served well will possibly bring some others, a client served badly will take away scores of potential clients for sure.
This only speaks to me as a justification to set a precedent. But there is another number worth consideration — around 150 millions in $. Roughly one tenth of Ethers in circulation, minute for global financial markets, but immensely large amount in terms of a startup company. The heist itself, being around one third of this sum is also rather big. What is important here is an impact on Ethereum ecosystem if this heist remains in circulation. Shortly, this would turn the whole ecosystem permanently unreliable. With five percent roaming around and clearly acting against the network any serious use of Ether would be impossible. But even if this heist is frozen via the soft fork together with the rest of funds and another soft fork successfully retrieves and redistributes the remaining two thirds, the situation will remain pathological and will haunt Ethereum ecosystem possibly forever. The longer this pathological situation persists the less inertia Ether will have.
Last, but not least factor that should be considered is miner’s image as perceived by this 20k crowd. Excluding people like me, experienced enough to know how it works, the general perception will be highly polarized. It can be observed when looking on comments on different portals. Scammers and saviors are words that appear interchangeably depending on current state of the affair. Crowd is never moderate. Even if it isn’t exactly true, miners are now considered responsible for decisions in terms of forks application. If the hard fork is applied they will gain a lot of trust. If the opposite — they will be considered accomplices of a criminal, and this opinion will follow them for a long time, harming the whole crypto world in the process. Nobody will care about laudable ideals they support.
The above could be enough to support my strong pro-fork stance, but there is one other factor that seems to me important.
People like religions. Strong claims, solidity I would say (pun intended). Not sure if it’s deliberate consequence of evolution in terms of a fitness function, or a side effect that will be forked in the next edition. No matter what are the reasons, one thing seems to be obvious — cryptocoins, at least for a fraction of users, became religions. With prophets, priests and organization around. Ether has a living prophet, Bitcoin’s one ascended into heavens. Among fanatic believers are also guys ready to cross many borders to help own religion flourish.
What came to my mind after the attack happened and the scheme behind disclosed was that it wasn’t for money. Nothing really novel, I know. This action was deliberately aimed at paralyzing and destroying Ethereum ecosystem, not only showing a big fuck sign. Who would resort to such measures — I bet only a deep believer in crypto ideals, ideals that can be summed up as: independent, decentralized. In eyes of the attacker Ethereum attitude could be perceived as violating these rules. Rules that more or less are obeyed in other coins communities (simplification, but fanatics simplify world, otherwise would be normal). Ethereum engaged in relations with many industrial companies, most notably with R3, which is perceived by Bitcoin community as a hostile entity, among others because Mike Hearn is there. This would be enough for many fanatics to initiate hostile actions against theDAO, but what could help in building hate was deeper centralization exerted by Ethereum over the network with help of connected companies like Slock.it. Moreover, devs unconcerned approach toward security matters helped a lot I assume.
I know that my analysis above is unsubstantiated by strong evidence, but seems to be probable. The fact that the attacker must have been aware of potential consequences and despite them decided to execute this attack gives some credence to my line of thought.
I’m often very critical, even censorious, regarding many issues in Ethereum community, Ethereum itself, Slock.it and many more. But when someone attacks what I decided to be a part of I have only two ways. Flee like a coward, or defend with all means available.
I pick the second option — fork hard and prosper.