Decentralizing Ethereum project management

Lane Rettig
Ethereum Cat Herders
3 min readJan 21, 2019

We take the idea of decentralization very seriously in Ethereum. The decentralization of Ethereum governance is just as important as the decentralization of nodes and transactions, and we believe it is an area that can and should be improved as the Ethereum project and ecosystem continue to grow and mature.

Historically, Ethereum project management was a simple affair: a few years ago there were only 3–4 core developers working on the platform at any given time and project management was as simple as getting everyone into a meeting once in a while.

Fast forward to 2019 and things look entirely different. There are now at least ten teams working on independent implementations (including both Ethereum 1.x and Ethereum 2.0). Coordination calls among these teams have grown sometimes to include as many as 50 people.

Early on, all of the stakeholders participating in Ethereum governance were affiliated with the Ethereum Foundation. For this reason, the fortnightly all core devs calls have historically been streamed on the Foundation’s YouTube channel. Over time, however, the number of stakeholders has grown to include many who are not affiliated with the Foundation. Following a series of conversations held around DevCon IV in Prague in the autumn, we’ve decided to put our money where our mouth is and take steps to further decentralize the all core devs governance mechanism. To that end we’re excited to make three important announcements about Ethereum project management going forward:

  1. With the help of our friends at Gitcoin, we successfully funded note-taking for the past two all core devs calls, #52 and #53, as an experiment. We’ve subsequently established an ongoing grant to fund project management. We believe in starting small, so for now our target is 250 DAI per month. The fund will be used to pay for small tasks such as taking meeting notes, editing those notes, etc. Use of the funds will be 100% transparent and auditable. If this experiment is successful we hope to increase the funding amount over time. You can subscribe to the grant to contribute on an ongoing basis here, or make a one-off donation to this multisig (Hudson, Afri, and Lane are the current keyholders). We could seek funding from the Foundation, but we are taking this initiative upon ourselves privately and we feel that it’s critical that we establish multiple funding streams in order for the ecosystem to be as antifragile as possible. The Ethereum Foundation will not be around forever, and other stakeholders should also have a means to contribute directly to Ethereum governance mechanisms like all core devs and upgrade coordination.
  2. Afri Schoedon has graciously offered to help lead Ethereum’s upgrade coordination for the Ethereum 1.x workstream. While Afri is a core developer at Parity, he’s taking on this work on his own time. We’re excited to have Afri on board both because of his deep expertise with Ethereum and project management, and also because he brings a fresh perspective to the table.
  3. We’ve organized an enthusiastic group of experienced project managers who are excited to help out with Ethereum project management on an ongoing basis. This group is known as the Ethereum Cat Herders, and its initial goal is to facilitate inter-team communication and to speed up the upgrade preparation process so that we can perform network upgrades more often, leading to a more consistent stream of improvements to the protocol. We hope that this group will play a significant ongoing role in Ethereum governance alongside other grassroots initiatives such as the Fellowship of Ethereum Magicians and #EIP0. Expect to hear more from the group soon. Let us know if you are interested in contributing! You can communicate with the Herders here.

❤️, Hudson, Afri, Lane, and the rest of the Cat Herders

Special thanks to Jamie Pitts, Casey Detrio, Afri Schoedon, Hudson Jameson, and the rest of the Cat Herders for reviewing and providing feedback on this post: Anna Vladi, Chris Hobcroft, Charles St. Louis, Joseph Delong, Brett Robertson, Hugo Sanchez, William Schwab.