Blockchains should not be democracies
Haseeb Qureshi
3.4K40

This ignorance will not stand!

You missed a top 50 blockchain project with a focus on governance: Decred. It is almost hilarious how people miss this project, or purposefully leave it out of their analysis. Fred Ehrsam, Vlad Zamfir, and Vitalik Buterin also failed to mention Decred. The projects you mention (Tezos, DFINITY or Cosmos) all have a focus on governance, but in contrast to Decred, none of them have functioning public blockchain yet. Decred is already live for 2+ years.

Decred’s innovative hybrid PoW/PoS blockchain:

  1. Allows stakeholders to vote on proposed changes to the consensus rules. If stakeholders vote in support of a change, the chain will fork and the new features activate automatically.
  2. Provides a mechanism for stakeholders to keep check of nonconforming PoW miners. Stakeholders can vote a block invalid even if it conforms to the consensus rules of the network. This allows stakeholders to discourage unfavorable mining behavior such as mining empty blocks.
  3. Gives incentives to DCR holders to participate in the voting process by rewarding each successful vote with a share from the block reward.

What’s more, the Decred project is also developing off-chain governance tools such as a censorship-resistant proposal system. All their software is open source, and they actually encourage other projects to use their tools.

DFINITLY read more about Decred, a truly autonomous digital currency!

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While I’m at it, I would also like to challenge you to rethink your assumptions regarding “one-coin one-vote” mechanisms.

You could argue it forces voters to have more skin in the game, and perhaps large coinholders should have more more say in protocol governance

Yes, of course they should! What is important, is that you design a system in which voters have a direct incentive to make decisions that are beneficial for the network as a whole. Furthermore, it is important to make voting optional. Not everyone is interested in participating in the decision making process.

On the other hand, you could make the same argument that large corporations should have more influence over government legislation — they have more at stake financially than the average citizen, so shouldn’t corporations have more legislative control?

They already have more control. Through lobbying, large corporations have far more influence than individuals could ever have. Their legislative control happens behind the scenes, but it is happening nonetheless. It would be better to make the decision making process transparent and accessible to everyone.

Plutocracy explicitly privileges the financially powerful and lets them exploit those with fewer resources.

Like you said yourself: “Blockchains are different. If you don’t like your blockchain’s choices, you can sell your coins and migrate to a different blockchain.” What is important, is that you design a system in which voters have a direct incentive to make decisions that are beneficial for the network as a whole. Furthermore, you could dilute the influence that PoS voters have by giving a larger share of the block reward to PoW miners. This eliminates the first-mover advantage and requires early adopters to stay active.

Let’s sidestep the plutocracy question and pretend that “one-coin one-vote” is an effective proxy for democracy.

Plutocracy can be a decent system if incentives are aligned. However, it should NEVER be considered as a proxy for democracy.

I’ll grant that democracy is a fantastic system for governing a nation. But blockchains are not nations

Democracy is NOT a fantastic system. As the famous saying goes: democracy is the worst system of governance, except for all those others we have tried.

We need to look at new models of governance, especially in the context of blockchains. Decred is a fascinating project. Check it out!

Decred is an autonomous digital currency.