The cryptocurrency world is once again alight with internal drama. Not only has Bitcoin come to a scaling consensus, only to discover that it wasn’t really a consensus and that a chain split might be coming, but Monero has had its share of action too, with its lead developer/spokesperson causing a stir over a stunt where he promised a major announcement only to reveal it was all a joke, causing the price to spike and then subsequently crash. Now some in a divided community are calling for him to be fired. Similarly, with 56 companies and over 80% of the mining hashpower of Bitcoin moving to a solution against the wishes of Core, it would seem there are attempts in both coins to fire their developers.
But how would such a sacking practically work? As it turns out, with most coins it’s not so easy.
Community support/opposition can be difficult to gauge
Say a developer or development decision is controversial. How do we know that the community, as a whole, objects? We can conduct polls, watch social media activity, etc., however that can be easily gamed through a determined effort, as we’ve seen with concentrated troll campaigns in Bitcoin. The best method available is to reach out to a hashpower majority of miners and the heads of the largest businesses in the ecosystem, but even then many users may remain dissatisfied and cause problems, like with the upcoming user-activated soft fork conflict. There simply is no convenient way of knowing for sure what the network wants.
The cost of a chain split is too high
The surefire way to diverge from a development team is to fork the network by miners running a different implementation of the code. In a perfect world, all miners switch to a new implementation and the coin continues on, with new, better developers at the helm. In reality, finding a new a competent development team on short notice without proper funding can prove challenging, and even if majority consensus has been reached to switch directions, not all may agree with the alternative implementation of the code, or have faith in the new team. As a result, the odds increase of a contentious hard fork splitting the chain into two separate coins. That very prospect is usually enough to keep the community from attempting an insurrection until circumstances get really, really bad.
Dash’s decentralized governance holds developers accountable
A governance model similar to Dash’s decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) approach significantly streamlines the whole process. First, developers have a real-time metric of how they’re doing in the form of budget votes. If they have to petition the network every few months for funding, and their vote margins begin to diminish, that provides a great indicator that they’re doing something wrong. Second, the network can be directly polled regarding governance questions, finding out for sure where the clear economic majority stands. Third, if the situation escalates further, the development team can have their funding cut off and transferred to a new team. With the written-in-stone will and funding of the network behind one vision for the coin, attempts to split the chain will likely prove futile.
That’s how you fire a development team, or at least hold them accountable, with Dash. If more coins implemented a similar governance model, we wouldn’t be running into as many problems.