Ethereum Co-Founder Vitalik Buterin Slams Proof-of-Stake Critics Claiming Voters Change Protocol

Updated by Kyle Baird
In Brief
  • Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin calls out claims about voting to change Ethereum's software as lies.
  • His comments come as three bitcoiners take aim at Ethereum's status as a security.
  • Changes to Ethereum's software are governed by Ethereum Improvement Proposals.
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Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin lashed out at PoW proponents claiming Ethereum is proof-of-stake because of voters changing the protocol.

Buterin challenged a claim by Bitcoiner Nick Payton on Twitter that changes to the Ethereum protocol parameters are determined by voting, something Buterin claims is untrue for both proof-of-stake and proof-of-work blockchains. He also criticized Payton’s grammar in calling the protocol a “security” rather than “secure.” Payton responded sarcastically, asking Buterin how often the protocol will change and how the merge is progressing.

MicroStrategy CEO and bitcoin bull Michael Saylor recently said that Ethereum is “obviously” a security. The crux of Saylor’s thesis is the changeability regarding the platform’s upcoming merge. Saylor argues that any change to a currency’s value or issuance pattern means that the coin or token passes the Howey Test and must adhere to securities laws.

Indeed, Buterin himself admitted in a 2014 blog post, announcing the initial token sale of Ethereum, that other consensus strategies could be selected in the future that reduced the issuance rate. Saylor also argues that an initial token sale challenges the notion of decentralization. He said that bitcoin is different because no one wants to change the network’s software.

Changes now handled by Ethereum Improvement Protocols

Significant blockchain software changes affecting the protocol’s rules are called “forks.” The last major change in Ethereum software occurred when a decentralized application called The DAO lost $3.6 million in Ether, its native asset. The Ethereum community voted to move funds from the DAO’s smart contract to another contract, allowing victims to recover their money. Some voted against the fork and formed Ethereum Classic. Since then, the community decided not to intervene lest the decentralization of the protocol comes into question.

Changes to the Ethereum protocol nowadays are governed by Ethereum Improvement Proposals, standards describing new features or processes. A set of guidelines governs them. They are usually drafted by developers responsible for collating and documenting dissenting opinions. Should there be enough dissenting opinions and the lack of a clear benefit to the broader community, proposals are usually scrapped.

Buterin’s work on proof-of-stake began in 2014 in collaboration with Vlad Zamfir.

Bitcoin author attacks PoS

Payton is not the only one who criticized proof-of-stake. Author of four bitcoin books Jimmy Song weighed in, implying that proof-of-stake does not provide decentralized consensus in a tweet criticized both by Buterin and Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson.

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