Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  • I am not tackling the conscious intent of any of the mentioned people — I cannot possibly know it. The effects of an action are the same regardless of conscious or unconscious intent and biases.
  • This is feedback from the trenches of truly independent contribution to a system that has the publicly expressed intent to be/become completely decentralized.
  • There is a paradox: You can be biased when bringing criticism while being one of the directly involved parties. You can also be unbiased, especially if you have experience on both sides. Regardless if you have a bias or not, people will still accuse you of bias and obstinately view everything you say as coming from a biased view. Similarly, people are inclined to give more credibility to external people “coming to the rescue”. At the same time, the directly involved parties are the ones who intrinsically have all the information and are the best representatives of their positions. They are the only ones who have standing in a conflict. One cannot fully vouch for anyone else than oneself. One has a duty to fight against any wrongdoing that one finds because you will not be the only one.
  • abuse — To use improperly or excessively; misuse. To hurt or injure by maltreatment; ill-use. An unjust or wrongful practice. (https://www.wordnik.com/words/abuse)
  1. Ethereum is a decentralized technology that has nothing that imposes brute force legitimacy in its protocol.
  2. Ethereum is also a community that uses, supports, and develops the technology.
  3. Legitimacy can be accrued by (from Vitalik’s article https://vitalik.ca/general/2021/03/23/legitimacy.html):
  4. brute force: someone convinces everyone that they are powerful enough to impose their will and resisting them will be very hard. This drives most people to submit because each person expects that everyone else will be too scared to resist as well.
  5. continuity: if something was legitimate at time T, it is by default legitimate at time T+1.
  6. fairness: something can become legitimate because it satisfies an intuitive notion of fairness. See also: my post on credible neutrality, though note that this is not the only kind of fairness.
  7. process: if a process is legitimate, the outputs of that process gain legitimacy (eg. laws passed by democracies are sometimes described in this way).
  8. performance: if the outputs of a process lead to results that satisfy people, then that process can gain legitimacy (eg. successful dictatorships are sometimes described in this way).
  9. participation: if people participate in choosing an outcome, they are more likely to consider it legitimate. This is similar to fairness, but not quite: it rests on a psychological desire to be consistent with your previous actions.
  10. to this list, I would add existence: an elected person may have more legitimacy if representing (by existence in circumscription) more people than another elected who was voted by more people but with a smaller circumscription. And this is further dissected into: existence as an entity in a set, existence in space (area/volume of the circumscription), existence in time (elected period)
  11. also my addition: origin: if a person or entity owes its existence to another, the second entity has more origin legitimacy than the first.
  12. also my addition: clarity: definition and transparency give legitimation. E.g. a transparent process for a public service is more legitimate than a private process. Hard to understand legalese takes away from the legitimacy of a law.

Leverage Points in a Decentralized Structure

Moderators’ Legitimacy

  • delegation, through legitimacy by performance. They have demonstrated performance in guiding, informing, and curating information for the Ethereum community and they have been appointed through a non-public process.
  • fairness — demonstrated fairness in handling contentious cases
  • moderators of /r/ethereum (https://www.reddit.com/r/ethereum/about/moderators/, 13 at this time) are volunteers doing moderation in their spare time. This can be daunting, thankless, boring, and repetitive. More, it can involve interacting with irrational, rude, obtuse, and insufferable posters. Any wrongful action taken against a poster can originate from subconscious rather than conscious bias.
  • if the submission of a poster is wrongly removed, depending on time zone, it can cost the poster the majority of upvotes and views that the post could have had. By removing a post, you communicate that the other person did something illicit. If there is no penalty for wronging a poster, then the poster is the only one who is penalized. The moderator may think this one-sided loss is fair and normal. Normalization brings repetition.
  • an apology with an exact explanation of why the wrong happened
  • say what measures will be taken to avoid it happening again
  • say what measures will be taken as a penalty for the moderator and/or compensation for the poster

Continous Voting — Important Source of Legitimacy

  • continuity: each vote is added to the tally of the specific option. No other change is operated.
  • process: all Reddit has the same process, adopted by the platform users when they join.
  • fairness: all votes have the same weight.
  • clarity: users are well-acquainted with the voting mechanism.
  • existence: the subreddit is selecting for users interested in the subject (existence in a set). Furthermore, because the voting is continuous, it covers the existence in time starting with the post creation, for all foreseeable future
  • partially on participation: not all people with existence in the /r/ethereum set are participating

My Experience of Bringing Constructive Criticism to Ethereum Gatekeepers

Why I consider I have Standing

Provables

Non-provables

Abuses by the Watchmen

Abuse 1: by Standards and Research Editors/Publishers

How

  • EIP editor acting in a different capacity than reasonably expected
  • some editors were inactive, cannot determine who is actually performing this duty reliably
  • no process for how to get the attention of an editor for review and merge, without out-of-platform direct contact
  • no process to rate the priority level of a draft
  • double standards applied to drafts without the reason being transparent
  • tens of drafts, especially those made by contributors external to the Ethereum core team were being left unprocessed for many months

Abuse 2: by the Same

How

  • “I think this reflects a misunderstanding of the EIP process” in a case, where I specifically wanted to improve the parts of the EIP process that were not performant
  • “EIPs do not have assigned editors. You may think they should, but that’s not currently the case, and your proposed change seems to assume it is.” — with no data or arguments regarding performance
  • the process for electing EIP editors is not transparent
  • see Abuse 1
  • see above

Abuse 3: by Amalgamation of Abuses 1 and 2

How

  • the entire Magicians discussion stemmed from an unclear tweet, from a person with performance legitimacy in Ethereum.
  • a person with greater legitimacy challenged a volunteer by dismissing the volunteer’s fairness and therefore, legitimacy to criticism. When the volunteer pressed forward for a detailed analysis, the person invoked a lack of time, so no clear resolution on the topic at hand was achieved. An unclear resolution between two individuals of mismatching legitimacy results in the person with higher legitimacy being perceived as winning the argument. But an argument won on an irrational premise leads to an increased chance for further moral and intellectual corruption of the winning party and of the audience.

Abuse 4: by Grant Dispensers

How

  • unclear grant process and timelines
  • lack of transparency — how many grant applications are processed? who are they originators? who decides and under what criteria? what does “community support” mean exactly?
  • grant amounts were initially public, now they are not.
  • no official feedback process, therefore no public statistics to analyze.
  • grant teams and core teams in Ethereum have direct communication and are under the same organization; there is an asymmetry of information between them and the individual contributor, who can end up with months of unpaid work going down the drain, on projects that want to be built in-house, by the Ethereum Foundation core members.
  • lack of transparency on grant amounts and performance comparisons leads to information asymmetry; historically, bigger grants have been awarded to people who knew Ethereum Foundation people personally, than outsiders. We have no way to analyze if those amounts were fair.
  • the Ethereum community was not invited to vote on grants
  • if a grant process that could take less than 1 week goes on > 2.5 months there is an obvious lack of efficiency and individual contributors cannot afford to plan ahead

Abuse 5: by Conference Organisers

I know ppl like pipeline in fact
but not everyone is on twitter constantly (I just saw this now)
and with blockchain week, it’s even worse, even less people with eyes on twitter since a good chunk of the community is in Berlin
I was one of the ppl who reviewed your application for devcon, I think it deserved to be there

How

  • no public voting process
  • the entire list of applications is not public, to be able to judge if interesting presentations have been left out (it can also act as a repository of projects to pay attention to)
  • lack of feedback on application rejection (multiple complaints on my Twitter timeline)
  • unprovable: the undocumented process of appeal, some projects have been able to appeal and receive a workshop/presentation spot because they knew some of the organizers.
  • stemmed from lack of transparency on the process (see above)
  • instead of being events for the whole world, Ethereum conferences were restricted to mostly the same power groups. I proposed digital meetings and was refused by event organizers. (this was before COVID19)

Abuse 6: by News Disseminators

How

Abuse 7: by /r/ethereum Moderators

How

  • the reasons for post removal do not include quotes or descriptions from the removed material — it is not clear how to fix your post if you want to
  • no process for how the rules of the subreddit can be updated
  • no process for what happens if a moderator wrongs a contributor
  • no process for appeals
  • no process for how and by whom are new moderators appointed
  • performance for each mod — how many posts do they moderate, from that, how many appeals they receive, etc.
  • the above results in the content contributors and voters have no direct say, through continuous voting, regarding the administrative and unpublic processes
  • no intent of righting the wrongdoing initially, with a degree of resistance after I pointed out what should happen
  • moderators acted as if a contributor has less legitimacy than a moderator because wrongdoings by moderators against contributors are deemed as acceptable. But wrongdoings of contributors are unacceptable (banned). Realistically, content producers have legitimacy by origin, through their content.
  • a wrongfully removed post is obstruction of legitimacy by participation

Conclusions on Such Abuses

When is the lack of response from an editor abuse of power?

Obstructing participation by cancelation

A look back

The Effects of Gatekeeping

  • The first interpreted (and functional) language for the EVM (taylor)
  • The first decentralized type system with type checking and typed database on EVM (dType)
  • The first arbitrary-precision library on EVM (tally)
  • An optimized EVM bytecode interpreter in EVM
  • The easiest IDE for dApps to learn and run on mobiles (Marks Factory)
  • The first chat engine that treats conversations as Ethereum shards with EVM support (ark)

Final Words

Required Study

Poll and Actionable Stuff

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Building bricks for the World Computer #ethereum #Pipeline #dType #EIP1900 https://github.com/loredanacirstea, https://www.youtube.com/c/LoredanaCirstea

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Loredana Cirstea

Loredana Cirstea

Building bricks for the World Computer #ethereum #Pipeline #dType #EIP1900 https://github.com/loredanacirstea, https://www.youtube.com/c/LoredanaCirstea

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