Where will our governance go?

Yesterday Dan Larimer added his voice to those of a growing group of EOS members that are not happy with the EOS governance and arbitration system laid down in the Constitution and in the ECAF rules.

Dan proposed to eliminate ECAF as the mandatory arbitration institution. And to limit the Constitution to allow for the block producers to dissolve discussions on the contractual intent only. The BPs would made their decisions in this respect with a certain majority. I believe two thirds had to support the decision in order for it to be taken. If the community doesn’t like the BPs’ decisions, they can vote them out.

Most articles of the Constitution will in Dan’s view have to go: Among them the article that forbids vote buying. As well as the article that makes inactive accounts lapse after three years of inactivity. Etc.

Dreams some fostered about a onchain new world might have come to an abrupt end yesterday. Many others were thrilled to see the arbitrators go and get back, at least in their view, their autonomy. Away with all the legal stuff. In comes the community!

We, the BPs, keep, more or less focused on our core business: maintaining a technically viable blockchain. But in Dan's view we will also have to dissolve disputes regarding the intent of the Ricardian Contracts (which are, of course, just contracts). Whereas before, outside of exceptional circumstances, the disputes were to be settled by professional arbitrators.

Will Dan’s proposal be good or bad if chosen by the community?

The good bit is of course that it provides predictability to the the blockchain. It brings back focus to the BPs' technical role. The contracts and their compliance need (in theory) only a basic test: did they work as intended? No more vague discussions about morality and ethics. The responsibility to act ethically (or not!) falls back to the members and the dApp developers that interact directly with the users. And indeed, a lot of legal stuff goes away.

The bad bit is that we, the BPs, will have to make decisions on what that “intent” of the contract is. Most lawsuits are about intent and divergence on opinion on what exactly the parties did intent. The bad bit is not that we will have to make those decisions (though it is not an exciting task we look out for) but that we might become liable for mistakes. Most jurisdictions allow for arbitration to replace the offchain courts and judges and arbitrators alike are seldom liable. We, however, are no judges nor are we arbitrators so the liability limitations don’t work for us. Any small mistake, how understandably it might be, can result in liability. So, if the community would chose to abolish arbitration we would need full indemnification by the community if we are to judge intent.

Jetse Sprey
EOS Amsterdam

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