On Parity deprioritizing work on their Ethereum Client

Yesterday, crypto Twitter erupted in discussion around the following Gitter message by Joshua Mir from the Parity team:

@3esmit Unfortunately there’s a catch-22 here - we really do want our Ethereum client to be as good as it can be, but there’s simply less people in the community willing to (and capable of) working on it (rust is much, much, less popular than go, and if you haven’t noticed, people in the Ethereum space have had declining opinions toward Parity, the company, for a while now) - the less people who work on it, the less people are willing to use it (and vice versa). We can’t fix this issue just by putting more internal resources on parity-ethereum because there’s little/no incentive to do so, other than maintaining goodwill, honestly. It is not Parity’s flagship project, that’s Polkadot, and unfortunately there are no resources for us to make drastic changes like “fixing/replacing warp” (which is unreliable only because parity is unpopular and since it’s unincentivized, everyone runs with selfish options like --no-periodic-snapshots which makes it even more unreliable). :man_shrugging: I honestly can’t address your concerns in any other way.

Most concerns expressed on Twitter were about Parity deprioritizing work on their Ethereum client, while they have received a $5M grant from the EF to work on Ethereum.

However, Peter Mauric rightfully responded on Twitter that maintaining the Ethereum client falls outside of the scope of work for which Parity received a $5M grant:

  • The completion of eWasm compatibility work
  • Shipping a light wallet for mainnet
  • The successful completion of Phase 0 and Phase 1 of sharding

More interestingly, he pointed out that:

Until recently, all our work on the different Parity Ethereum sub-projects had been entirely self-financed… Public blockchains have up to this point depended primarily on free work. In the long run, we hope to help these communities find a sustainable model for supporting developers and researchers on an ongoing basis.

To which Nick Johnson responded:

Not just clients either - infrastructure projects like ENS are in the same boat.

This is the problem the Ethereum community is facing today. There’s no sustainable funding model for the work that needs to be done and it’s becoming increasingly more profitable to compete than to cooperate.

Instead of getting mad when people stop cooperating with us, we need to ask ourselves: Why are they choosing to compete instead of cooperate? What can we do to change the incentives so that cooperating becomes more rewarding than competing?

In a blog article published on February 7, we wrote:

The teams behind Polkadot and Cosmos are great members of the Ethereum community, just like the teams behind Prysmatic Labs and Connext. They’ve built systems to address the clear need for scalable blockchain systems that developers across our ecosystem are begging for.
But because we lacked an economic system to incentivize them to cooperate and build on Ethereum, they’ve funded their work by launching separate blockchains with their own tokens instead. Systems with overlapping visions but separate tokens will ultimately divide our community. If we allow poorly defined property rights to lead us astray, we will make less progress as separate communities than we would make together as one.

Panvala’s mission is to make cooperating with Ethereum more rewarding that competing. We aim to do that through using tokens that will serve as property rights for cooperation.

Here’s how that works, as explained by @niran in a Twitter thread published in May 2019.

New Layer 1 teams don’t choose to compete because they’re bad people who don’t like us. They compete because it’s more rewarding, and that’s something we can change…If you’re building a hub for independent blockchains to swap tokens, cool! If you want a blockchain where each shard can have its own protocol instead of Ethereum’s, that’s great! We should make sure you can get rewarded for building it using ETH. That’s what Panvala does.

We designed Panvala to give the whole Ethereum community an incentive to raise funds to support these rewards. Panvala runs on its own token, but not its own blockchain. It’s designed to support the community we already have, not to create a new one and compete.

Just like land ownership gives people an incentive to build buildings and holding ether gives people an incentive to make Ethereum more useful, Panvala tokens give people an incentive to raise funds and distribute grants well to attract more patrons. Instead of running like a normal nonprofit where only the staff gets rewarded for increasing donations, in Panvala, any token holder can benefit from recruiting more patrons.

Property rights for land gave us our bustling cities and the buildings that fill them. Property rights for ideas gave us the Industrial Revolution and the continued progress that put supercomputers in our pockets. With Panvala, we now have property rights for cooperation.

We’ve seen how blockchain technology can coordinate miners to cooperate to maintain a ledger. Now it’s time to use this technology to coordinate this community to cooperate, rather than sitting back and watching us splinter into new factions as each new blockchain launches.

What are your thoughts on Parity deprioritizing work on their Ethereum client? How do you think we can make it more rewarding to cooperate than to compete with Ethereum?