Ethereum Governance Survey Results

Eva Beylin
Jul 9, 2019 · 10 min read

You could hear the whispers everywhere — in the halls, at the gym, at the latest ETH hackathon: Ethereum governance?

Amidst this discourse, I developed a survey to capture the community’s perspective on technical and political decision making in Ethereum.

The intent of the survey was to derive quantitative data for more accurate sentiment analysis and to reduce the signal to noise ratio on hot topics. Hopefully the data will be interesting and can inform future governance within Ethereum.

The results have been processed.

A few notes before we dive in:

*drum roll please*

Ethereum Governance Survey Data

This post only highlights some of the results. Check out the graphs and raw data for more in-depth analysis. 🤓

Fun Data Tidbits

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Ethereum’s Vision

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When asked about understanding Ethereum’s vision, 52% say they understand it very well while 41% say they understand it somewhat well. 92% are aligned with the vision.

Ethereum: the decentralized world computer and global financial platform.

This word map isn’t surprising and frankly it’s reassuring to see consensus over vision setting. Yet despite the enthusiasm, the community could also benefit from greater vision around Ethereum’s tactical goals.

We should be asking ourselves questions like:

What is the vision for adoption? Is adoption possible without collaboration with incumbent centralized entities (eg. on ramps, exchanges), systems (eg. central banks) or regulators? Should we be thinking about adoption at all?

Where does Ethereum compete? Back-end? Middleware? User-facing apps? What are the intended products?

Ethereum Governance Activities

18% of respondents say they don’t want to participate in either technical or political governance, 51% want to participate in both.

48% say they would like to take part in governance activities quarterly or biannually, 32% would prefer biweekly participation.

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Meanwhile, the majority of respondents participate in Crypto Twitter polls but only 33% have contributed to an EIP and 21% have attended Ethereum All Core Devs Meetings. (Q22)

This suggests that the majority of respondents who actively debate protocol updates on social media are likely not contributing to protocol development itself.

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In fact, 58% of respondents have never attended an All Core Devs Meeting, despite the majority of respondents knowing where to find the links to attend the meetings live.

41% of respondents sometimes review notes/videos after the meetings, only 15% diligently review after each meeting.

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Overall, Ethereum All Core Devs are highly trusted to make technical decisions but less trusted to make political ones about Ethereum. The data also suggests there’s room to improve the transparency of decision making processes about the Ethereum protocol. (Check out Q34–42 for more sentiment analysis on the All Core Devs Meetings and the EIP process.)

Since the majority of respondents do not attend All Core Devs Meetings nor do they contribute to EIPs, perhaps more non-technical or high-level summaries would be effective to inform the rest of the community. This could help assuage any irrational alarmism that comes from lack of knowledge rather than adversarial intentions.

Shout out to Tim Beiko who has graciously been live tweetstorming All Core Devs calls, no matter how late in the night!

Creating a playlist dedicated to the All Core Devs Meetings on the Ethereum Foundation youtube channel could also be helpful to those looking for the streams, and would make it easier to binge watch past sessions. Coming soon to a Netflix near you.

For reference, here are resources where you can learn more about All Core Devs, the EIP process and Ethereum’s technical roadmap:

Perspective on the Ethereum Foundation

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On the topic of the Ethereum Foundation, respondents said they trust the organization highly but feel there could be more visible output / productivity. The data also shows a desire for greater transparency in the EF’s operations, research and grants decision making process.

However, since this survey was administered, the EF has made a number of updates that give insight and transparency into ongoing efforts:

Check out the video of Aya at Ethereal where she covers the grants decision making process and intention to spend $30M USD over the next year to fund ETH1.x developers and general “core” Ethereum support and development.

Aya also discusses commitment to long-term research, global Ethereum events, plans for regular team updates and quarterly EF blogposts about progress from research teams and internal initiatives. Lastly, Aya encourages the development of more organizations like the EF to support sustainable and open-source Ethereum projects, such as MolochDAO.

Miners & Stakers in Governance

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A hot button topic is whether miners and stakers participate in Ethereum governance. 75% of respondents say that miners currently do participate in Ethereum governance; what’s more interesting is that 77% think they should!

We should put this to rest, every stakeholder that contributes to decision making processes about the Ethereum protocol, participate in governance.

Ethereum as a Political System

The most interesting question asked which political system Ethereum governance should emulate. While 46% favor democracy (rule by majority, no single ruler), 32% prefer a republic (equal say through elected representatives, representative democracy).

Moreover, 7% believe a theocracy is the way to go. (Moloch our lord and savior?!) 6% prefer oligarchy and 4% favor communism.

Governance Mechanisms

As identity hasn’t been solved in Ethereum yet, it can be difficult to execute sybil-resistant governance. In the past, coinvotes, prediction markets and DAOs have been used and more recently mechanisms like quadratic voting and conviction voting/staking have been explored.

Only 35% of respondents said they’ve participated in a coinvote in the past (eg. Carbonvote, Tennagraph). Others cited lack of trust and difficulty to commit funding as reasons for lack of participation.

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In regards to prediction markets (eg. futarchy), 30% feel they’re effective governance tools, 46% are neutral.

58% of respondents joined Ethereum in A.D. (After DAO). While only 42% were building or invested in Ethereum when the The DAO hack occurred, 39% of respondents would still trust a DAO to make decisions on Ethereum governance (eg. for distributing public goods funding to Ethereum devs).

For more information about different types of Ethereum DAOs, check out this post. Most notable community DAOs today are MakerDAO, MolochDAO, Meta Cartel, HumanityDAO, DAOstack and a slew of Aragon DAOs.

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Although quadratic and conviction voting are still relatively untested, respondents feel positively about their effectiveness. More experiments please!

Controversy in Crypto

The caveat to this survey is that there were only 282 respondents and the results are likely biased to those in a specific network, who actively use social channels and care enough to share their opinions. Thus, results are not a reflection of the Ethereum community’s perspective in entirety… nevertheless there are interesting insights on controversial topics.

51% feel that a hard fork is a strong mechanism to incentivize collaborative Ethereum governance.

65% care if the Ethereum chain splits (again), but 76% care if the Ethereum community splits. This signifies that the Ethereum protocol itself is less significant than the community that builds and maintains it. We should think more about what this means in the context of adoption — perhaps multiple Ethereum chains will be ideal for different use cases, with one community to rule them all.

84% support PoS consensus for Ethereum, 40% support PoW while 37% support ProgPoW (Programmatic PoW).

32% of respondents support on-chain governance.

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On the most controversial discussion of our time: 60% said they do not support EIP 999.

At the time of the survey, EIP 1890: Commitment to Sustainable Ecosystem Funding (eg. block rewards funding) was also widely discussed, 45% of respondents support it.

Governance Challenges & Solutions

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The results of the Ethereum Governance Survey are fascinating and provide a clearer picture of the community’s grievances.

When asked about challenges in governance, respondents highlighted a few key points, although none are reflected by the majority.

To better compartmentalize the challenges, I’ve categorized them into groups: Diversity, Collaboration, Leadership, Communications and Tooling. Instead of dilly dallying around the challenges, we can be solution-focused about how the challenges can be addressed.

Here are a few things we can do to improve Ethereum governance:

Diversity

Collaboration

Leadership

Communications

Tooling


All in all, Ethereum governance has not failed.

It continues to evolve as the protocol grows and the community expands. No single data source will be able to capture the sentiment of this disparate community, so it’s important to take feedback from various tools and sub-communities.

Hopefully this survey provided some useful insight and there will be more studies in the future.

Thanks to Abbey Titcomb for feedback and notes.

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Eva Beylin

Written by

art, economics & blockchain.

Coinmonks

Coinmonks

Coinmonks is a non-profit Crypto educational publication. Follow us on Twitter @coinmonks Our other project — https://coincodecap.com

Eva Beylin

Written by

art, economics & blockchain.

Coinmonks

Coinmonks

Coinmonks is a non-profit Crypto educational publication. Follow us on Twitter @coinmonks Our other project — https://coincodecap.com

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