Was the Ethereum merger a mistake?

“What do you think of the merger?” I recently innocently asked William “Wills” de Vogelaere, co-founder of Spankchain and probably half a dozen other protocols in the macabre underworld of Ethereum.

I was referring, of course, to the long-awaited software update that started Ethereum miners and replaced them with a cohort of environmentally friendly stakeholders on September 15.

“You mean Ethereum illusion? “de Vogelaere joined in bitterly.

Oh o! ” I thought. This could get juicy. It turned out that de Vogelaere was expressing an opinion rarely broadcast in public: that the merger was a mistake. Or, if not an error in italics, a kind of irrelevant distraction.

“It hasn’t added anything of real value other than the environmental factor,” he fulminated.

For de Vogelaere, the whole enterprise was a naive capitulation. Influential people who care about Ethereum’s huge carbon footprint, he said, only ever exploit environmentalists’ fears for their own cynical ends. “Nobody actually gives a shit if something is green as long as it works,” he said. “Companies don’t care about fucking as long as you can perceive that they care.”

Maronn ‘! Of course, it’s not hard to understand why people like de Vogelaere are in a bad mood: since the merger took place, the price of ETH has plummeted. Bitcoin advocates are ridiculing the change. Dark murmurs that Ethereum is now a “security” have raised the headaches of even the oldest Ethereum connoisseurs and even pushed some into the embrace of a long-rejected gang of Ethereum militant fanatics. (We’ll get there.)

As de Vogalaere told me, the idea that Ethereum public opinion would improve in the wake of the merger may have turned out to be nonsense. Regulators, he said, are unlikely to change their tone now that this environmental complaint has been eliminated, especially considering the newfound willingness to label it a safety.

And yes, yes, the union was a fabulous display of technical competence. Merging Ethereum in real time was the equivalent of starting a car engine as it explodes at full throttle along a highway, so we’re told. It is revolutionary from the point of view of research and development, but so was the atomic bomb.

Even so, de Vogelaere believes, the alleged technical improvements of the merger are overstated. He should have facilitated various upgrades that would have introduced greater efficiencies in the network. But de Vogelaere believes these solutions have existed for some time, however, in the form of side chains—Append us to the flagship network using different validation methods, for example Polygon. Only Ethereum’s computing environment, the “Virtual Machine,” has real value, he said, and this is not significantly affected by the move to the staking model.

He also (Good heavens!) Pointed out that those who don’t have the minimum amount to bet independently – 32 ETH, around $ 42,500, and down at the time of writing – need to bet through centralized exchanges like Coinbase. This means putting most of Ethereum into a corporate exchange with a single point of failure.

Hence, we have established that the price of Ethereum is now in shit and the regulators are on the move. But is de Vogelaere’s point of view perhaps only a minority?

Not like that! Kristy Leigh-Minehan, a longtime Ethereum miner (who might be a bit biased), isn’t rather anti-merge in the same vein of resentment as our de Vogelaere. Rather, he wonders if it happened a little too soon. “The transition to proof of participation is a fundamental part of Ethereum’s DNA and has always been intended,” he said. “It was needed and required for future optimizations and scalability features – the question everyone has to ask is: was it now The right moment?”

Minehan isn’t so sure. “I, personally, don’t think it was in the current regulatory climate,” he said. He wonders if the prospect of a new classification of ETH as a stock could risk “frightening validators, operators and entrepreneurs”. The primacy of US regulators in particular, he added, can be unnerving. Echoing de Vogelaere, he said: “There is no denying that Ethereum has taken root in the United States, this will be its greatest strength and weakness.”

At least some pedigreed Ethereum supporters remain optimistic. “It might be the case that this has some impact on regulatory decision-making,” ventured Mat Dryhurst, a left-wing podcaster and early adopter of NFTs. “But to be honest, I don’t have much of a sense that it’s too troubling on the developer side. People are excited to create more utility for the network, and the union felt like a celebration of another milestone on a long roadmap. “

But isn’t that a little overrated? “It’s not a big technological breakthrough, and I don’t think it was meant to be,” Dryhurst argued. “Rollup, zkEVM [zero-knowledge virtual machines] etc are still needed to resize. I think if anything it simply establishes credibility for this cryptocurrency corner and builds confidence that other ideas under discussion will execute. “He added that he was recently at ETH Berlin and that the energy was” as optimistic as ever “.

The cheerful old guard

There is, perhaps, a cohort that fully agrees with all of de Vogelaere and his fellows’ terrible diagnoses about fusion, and is blatantly elated about it. They are the custodians of another now defunct network which, according to them, was, like the miners, betrayed even by the vile managers of Ethereum: an old abandoned iteration of the Ethereum network called Ethereum Classic whose backers are probably the most OGs you can get in the short but melodramatic life of Ethereum politics.

Ethereum Classic was born in 2016 in the wake of a malicious hack by the first decentralized autonomous organization of the Ethereum network, or The DAO. Traditional Ethereum developers have voted overwhelmingly to “back off” hacking and make the victims intact, which some avid adversaries have seen as a deadly betrayal of the fundamental principle of Ethereum’s immutability. They clung to the old hacked network and Ethereum was split in two. They have since waited for the merger, believing that the new unemployed miners (which they actively tried to do seduce) would flock to Ethereum Classic in search of new revenue.

Incredibly, after six years of patient waiting, they were right.

“Over the past two months we have seen a significant increase in interest in Ethereum Classic,” said Bob Summerwill, executive director of ETC Cooperative, the basis behind the development of Ethereum Classic, whose ticker is ETC. “The merger was obviously a catalyst.” He added that the amount of mining power on the network has increased about tenfold and that Ethereum Classic is now the third largest proof-of-work chain by market cap and second largest by volume.

Summerwill, as with others, pointed out that fears of the U.S. capture of the net and strong new regulators may have galvanized many of these miners into ETC. “Ethereum Classic appears to benefit from providing a known and arguably safer alternative to these concerns,” he said. However, it was a bumpy start: Ethereum Classic, like many others, has recently suffered a dip and its miners are trading at a loss. “We’re still trying to find a new balance,” Summerwill said.

However, it is a somewhat surprising reversal. After years of agonizing waiting, you have to wonder if the gruff old pedants of the Ethereum Classic network – and, even, would-be Ethereum regulators – have had the last laugh.

As de Vogelaere said: “ETH may have played her fucking self.”

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