Dash is presently in discussions surrounding a potential branding update, and as logos and colors hit a highly emotional spot in people’s minds, the debate has been vigorous. Watching it all unfold has taught me a lot about Dash and consensus, however, as I’ve seen the whole process go down in a way much different than we’ve noticed in the Bitcoin community, where there’s no way of obtaining an absolute vote to solve an issue.

Those who vote remain calm, at peace with either result

One thing I noticed among masternodes has been an odd sense of measured calm, even relating to a highly emotional and potentially controversial issue. Debate tends to include a higher degree of questions and information gathering than pure community discussions, and conclusions tend to indicate which way a particular masternode will vote, and why. Additionally, I’ve noticed an implied acknowledgement that their opinion alone doesn’t matter, with a “let’s see how the vote goes” attitude. Contrasting masternode debate with that of the general public, I’ve often noticed a night-and-day difference in the sense of responsibility and prudence.

Those without votes resort to “Bitcoin consensus methods”

Among the rest of the community, however, the approach is quite different. You have the usual spattering of opinions similar to those of masternodes, however you also see a few who are not content to have the same voice as the rest. Public discussion becomes dominated by a few loud voices who overwhelm the debate in frequency, intensity, and sometimes hostility of their opinion. This is very similar to what we’ve seen in the Bitcoin community where, without a working consensus mechanism, the only way to attempt to determine opinion is to sample the noise levels. While the approach by masternodes seems to be more or less equal no matter how many nodes each individual may control, community influencers vary radically in their approach, intensity, and impact.

A vote brings definite closure

No matter the different arguments and influences surrounding an issue that affects the network, eventually a masternode vote happens. After that, the issue is settled. There is little point debating further when a clear majority of the network’s backers have spoken, and indicated that they will throw financial backing, both in voting for projects and with allocating their masternodes, behind a certain result. That brings definite closure to the debate.

Of course, that isn’t to say that simply having a concrete network vote brings harmony to a disunited community. In some cases it can result in a split. For example, a couple years ago a group of folks dissatisfied with various actions of Dash’s Core team and the masternodes who supported them submitted a few proposals, which were then rejected. This group of people then exited the community and joined similar projects such as PIVX and Smartcash. While their differences with the community could not be solved, this fact was made very clear by a network vote, and resulted in a relatively painless exit.

A real consensus vote would have ended Bitcoin’s drama years ago

The Bitcoin community has more or less fallen into agreement over the years, with those supporting the Core team’s vision sticking to the legacy chain and off-chain scaling solutions, and the “originalists” and businesses siding with the Bitcoin Cash chain. The process for arriving at this ultimate conclusion, however, has been long and full of pain, conflict, and destruction. Had Bitcoin had an absolute consensus system similar to Dash, this ultimate conclusion would have been reached years ago at a minimum, and a community split would have potentially been avoided altogether.