Tuur Demeester's Ethereum claims


#1

Tuur Deemester posted a long tweetstorm yesterday pointing out his perceived flaws of Ethereum. He touched on a number of topics including scaling, culture, timelines, and fundraising. Here, we’ll attempt to debate the merits of each non-subjective claim. A few developers and myself have added a response to each claim.

To participate in the discussion, read through the claim’s responses and click “Reply” on the specific Discourse post for the claim you’d like to respond to.

You can see the replies for each claim in-line:


#2

Claim: ETH’s architecture and culture is opposite that of Bitcoin, and yet claims to offer the same solutions: decentralization, immutability, SoV, asset issuance, smart contracts. ETH is considered a crypto ‘blue chip’, thus colors perception of uninformed newcomers.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078682803368280064

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Flagged

Summarized arguments: This claim is too subjective and would not able to be validated through TruStory. “Architecture” and “culture” are vague terms and aren’t specific enough to compare across crypto projects unless they are specified on how they are being measured. The statement about “blue chip” just seems like a random zinger with no substance. Unlike Tuur, one community member does a great job of actually explaining why Bitcoin’s decentralization, immutability, SoV, monetary policy and smart contracts are better or worse than Ethereum.


#3

Claim: Despite strong optimism that on-chain scaling of Ethereum was around the corner (just another engineering job), this promise hasn’t been delivered on to date.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078682807340277760

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Confirmed (with caveat)

Summarized arguments: There are 2 parts to this claim:

  1. There has been “strong optimism” that scaling of Ethereum was “around the corner”, and

  2. the scaling solutions haven’t been delivered on time.

@pedrouid points out that the first claim is subjective because the optimism clause concerns itself more with “author’s perceived optimism level”; than objective facts. @cyber_hokie gives great evidence for Ethereum scaling solutions not being delivered on time. The best version of this claim would be that “Ethereum on-chain scaling hasn’t been delivered on time”; without the clause about optimism.


#4

Claim: Recently, a team of reputable developers decided to peer review a widely anticipated Casper / sharding white paper, concluding that it does not live up to its own claims.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078682808707633153

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Confirmed (with caveat)

Summarized arguments: This is True. We had a Discourse discussion on this earlier. Casper CBC, one of the proposed Ethereum scaling solutions, was peer-reviewed by Muneeb and others at Blockstack. They found that CBC Casper is not Byzantine fault-tolerant because it attempts to prove correctness without considering liveness. The caveat to this claim is that the paper never explicitly makes this claim, but the protocol being Byzantine-fault tolerant is an intrinsic assumption of the scaling solution. We’ll have more details when a more fleshed-out version of the CBC paper is released.


#5

Claim: On the 2nd layer front, devs are now trying to scale Ethereum via scale via state channels (ETH’s version of Lightning), but it is unclear whether main-chain issued ERC20 type tokens will be portable to this environment.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078682809772982274

Arguments/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Rejected

Summarized arguments: You can use main-chain issued ERC20 tokens on other networks such as Raiden, Loom, and Connext.

@DZack23 adds that Tuur’s claim wasn’t just about lack of current state channel projects live on mainnet that support ERC20 tokens (which is false) but also “if there ever will be any in the future…” which is also false.

“It would probably be hard to find a state channel project that doesn’t offer support for ERC20 tokens which makes sense, since by definition if a “state channel” could only support ETH payments, it wouldn’t be a state channel at all, but a payment channel… as someone who has done development work with state channels and follows the space pretty closely, I can say that ERC20 tokens are an easy case to handle, and one with no uncertain or “unclear” difficulties.”


#6

Claim: Bitcoin’s Lightning Network is now live, and is growing at rapid clip.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078682811756883968

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: In progress

Summarized arguments: There are two claims in this argument:

  1. that the Bitcoin Lightning Network is live and
  2. the Bitcoin Lightning Network is growing.

@bhaumik argues that while the Bitcoin Lightning Network is live, it’s still a beta software. "Growing at a rapid clip" is subjective as @sassal stated: “The lightning networks growth can only be considered “rapid” if you compare it against itself. Other services, such as MakerDAO and Compound, grew considerably more.”


#7

Claim: In 2017, more Ethereum scaling buzz was created, this time the panacea was “Plasma”. However, upon closer examination it was the recycling of some stale ideas, and the project went nowhere.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078682812725846016

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Rejected

Summarized arguments: @pedrouid argues that Plasma “already has thousands of team working full-time on it,” and “there are so many different implementations of Plasma including Plasma Cash and Plasma Debt” despite only being introduced a year ago.


#8

Claim: Proof of Stake blockchains require subjectivity (i.e. a trusted third party) to achieve consensus.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078682817339539457

Arguments/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Confirmed

Summarized arguments: @preethi says that “weak subjectivity” is a well-known weakness of Proof-of-Stake. @cyber_hokie agreed with this and said Vitalik has provided mitigations to this issue here.


#9

Claim: Keep in mind that Proof of Stake (PoS) is not a new concept at all. Proof-of-Work actually was one of the big innovations that made Bitcoin possible, after PoS was deemed impractical because of censorship vulnerability.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078682818266492930

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Rejected

Summarized arguments: @cyber_hokie adds that “This is an overgeneralization of all PoS. PoS was abandoned by the Bitcoin community due to nothing-at-stake and chain reorg attacks.” Supporting link.


#10

Claim: Over the years, this has become a pattern in Ethereum’s culture: recycling old ideas while not properly referring to past research and having poor peer review standards. This is not how science progresses.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078682820002959361

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Rejected

Summarized arguments: TruStory contributor, @bhaumik, pulled a direct quote from Vitalik:

I try to credit people whenever I can; half my blog and ethresear.ch posts have a “special thanks” section right at the top. Sometimes we end up re-inventing stuff, and sometimes we end up hearing about stuff, forgetting it, and later re-inventing it; that’s life as an autodidact. And if you feel you’ve been unfairly not credited for something, always feel free to comment, people have done this and I’ve edited.


#11

Claim: One of my big concerns is that sophistry and marketing hype is a serious part of Ethereum’s success so far, and that overly inflated expectations have lead to an inflated market cap.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078682822402035712

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Confirmed (with caveat)

Summarized arguments: Preethi agrees that Ethereum has had a lot of hype in 2017 and that it has an inflated marketcap. But she questions how this this any different from Bitcoin? “What exactly is Bitcoin doing differently and better that justifies it a market cap of $68 billion as of this writing (which is 5x the market cap of Ethereum’s $14 billion market cap at the moment).”


#12

Claim: In order to guarantee the transition to PoS utopia of perpetual income (staking coins earns interest), a difficulty was embedded in the protocol, which supposedly would force miners to accept the transition.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078685112609443841

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Confirmed (with caveat)

Summarized arguments: The part about the difficulty adjustment is true but the rest is false according to @cyber_hokie:

  1. PoS is not being presented as a “utopia of perpetual income” and
  2. That the built-in adjustment difficulty is not a utopian free-for-all but an economic necessity: “There are devops requirements and computation resource requirements to run a validator. Downtime = loss of locked ETH, opportunity cost of locking up ETH/capital, etc.”

#13

Claim: Of course, nothing came of this, because anything in the ETH protocol can be hard-forked away. Another broken promise.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078685113385451520

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Rejected

Summarized arguments: Preethi refutes this by 1) pointing out there is no “promise” anywhere about not being able fork. @pedrouid adds that it’s more difficult to hard-fork than Tuur implies: “All permissionless public blockchains can be forked.” Furthermore, @pedrouid makes the case this is an inherent problem with all crypto projects not just Ethereum: “All blockchain communities will have broken promises because the very nature of permissionless public blockchains is that they can be forked.” @sassal adds that "the only “evidence” of something being hard-forked away is the DAO hack. @cyber_hokie says this is an oversimplification of a complex process. Nodes must agree and update or can abstain, users must switch/adopt, and market must value. The premise that Ethereum developers can simply fork things out at will and retain its users, nodes, not suffer a contentious split, and still retain its value in the market is silly.


#14

Claim: Another idea that was marketed heavily early on, was that with ETH you could program smart contract as easily as javascript applications.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078685115289608193

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Rejected

Summarized arguments: @preethi found nowhere in the documentation or website “where Solidity is porported to be as easy as JavaScript.” @cyber_hokie adds this Javascript-like ease is something that Tuur is inferring on his own, and furthermore states: “The choice to use jscript-like syntax was for ease of on-boarding, but no one claimed it was as easy to develop smart contracts as javascript applications.”


#15

Claim: The modular approach to Bitcoin seems to be much better at compartmentalizing risk, and thus reducing attack surfaces.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078687258952257537

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Confirmed (with caveat)

Summarized arguments: @lane finds this claim to be true but not an intentional part of the design. Ethereum is Turing-complete and Bitcoin is not. “ETH is a general purpose platform so the onus of safety falls on the developer, not the underlying platform/VM.” @cyber_hokie agrees that this means that Ethereum has a larger attack surface than Bitcoin but argues that this is a feature and not a bug.


#16

Claim: Another huge issue that Ethereum has is with scaling. By putting “everything on the blockchain” (which stores everything forever) and dubbing it “the world computer”, you are going to end up with a very slow and clogged up system. By now the Ethereum bloat is so bad that cheaply running an individual node is practically impossible for a lay person. ETH developers are also imploring people to not deploy more smart contract apps on its blockchain.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078687259765997569

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Confirmed (with caveat)

Summarized arguments: TruStory community members agree that Ethereum suffers from bloat but contend that Tuur is being sensationalist. @lane on the cost and technical-savviness required: “I run several Eth full nodes on AWS, and the cost ranges from $200~500 per month which puts it beyond the reach of most humans, even most who are technically savvy.” @cyber_hokie questions why running a node by a “lay person” is even necessary: “Is there any point in lay persons running full nodes if they don’t understand what it does, or how they can use it to verify in the first place? Satoshi advocated regular users use SPV light clients.” Moreover, as @lane suggests, the claim that “ETH developers are also imploring people to not deploy more smart contract apps on its blockchain” is overblown because it was a one-off tweet by Afri and is no representative of “ETH developers” in general.


#17

Claim: Despite the claims that running a node in warp mode is easy and as good as a full node, Ethereum is becoming increasingly centralized.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078687262047641600

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Confirmed (with caveat)

Summarized arguments: @lane argues that this claim is true, objectively speaking based on the number of nodes, but that there is nuance to it. It’s true because the node count has fallen from ~30,000 a few months ago to ~9,600 today but the claim is “disingenuous” because Ethereum is not centralized. This is a subjective assessment and perhaps not worth debating. Moreover, @cyber_hokie explains that Tuur is incorrect in his claim that Ethereum claims warp sync nodes being “just as good as a full node”. He says no one has ever made that claim and he is clearly mistaking warp sync nodes for “no-warp” full nodes which fully verify all blocks on sync. More details on the difference between warp nodes, full nodes, and archival nodes can be found here.


#18

Claim: Ethereum was promoted as being censorship resistant. Yet later that year, after only 6% of ETH holders had cast a vote, ETH core devs decided to endorse a hard-fork that clawed back the funds from a smart contract that held 4.5% of all ETH in circulation.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078687263935160320

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Confirmed (with caveat)

Summarized arguments: While the claim is accurate, @cyber_hokie argues that the idea of a hard-fork being so easy is totally flawed. He says “This shows a lack of insight in how forks proceed and galvanize over time. Nodes run code… it is their prerogative. Other “figures” are irrelevant and signaling tools (e.g. carbonvote) are simply for practical decision making of client dev teams, and are not concrete (client devs can after all deploy whatever code they want). If nodes do not agree they can hold out or downgrade. ETC’s mere existence proves this point. There is no such thing as a “forced” hard fork.”


#19

Claim: Other potential signs of centralization: Vitalik Buterin signing a deal with a Russian government institution, and ETH core developers experimenting with semi-closed meetings.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078687264715272192

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Rejected

Summarized arguments: The community feels this claim is overblown. @lane says that the Russian government meeting has zero bearing upon Ethereum and its governance today. @cyber_hokie adds that the meeting was “an agreement to help advise on the VEB’s own blockchain projects and research as a SME. Nothing to do with the Ethereum public blockchain or EF specifically.”… RE, the “semi-closed meeting,” @lane wrote that it was a one-off experiment and the experiment was abandoned. @sassal says that Vitalik is not a central point of failure for Ethereum and does not have any direct authority over the protocol. In fact, he explains that 8 independent development teams are building Eth2.0 with two prominent teams maintaining Eth1.0 (geth and parity).


#20

Claim: Another red flag to me is the apparent lack of relevant expertise in the ETH development community.

Source: https://twitter.com/TuurDemeester/status/1078687266439118851

Argument/Evidence: [see replies to this post, or add your own]

Status: Rejected

Summarized arguments: @preethi argues this claim is untrue because: “People like Emin Gun Sirer, Phil Daian, Greg Colvin, Nick Johnson, and others show that this claim is just a low blow.”