There currently is an ongoing discussion about "Is there an anti-ABC mob" on twitter and reddit. I think the more important question is not if, but why many in the community concerned with the way Bitcoin ABC is operating. This article is aiming to be an updated collection of valid arguments and critical observations regarding the behaviour of Bitcoin ABC in the last months.
The goal is to help ABC better understand where the critizism is coming from and hopefully finding a way to come back together and compromise.
The IFP in the current form has been almost universally rejected by the community and the miners. The code in question cannot even activate anymore because the ntimeout of May 15th has passed for more than a month now. There is absolutely no reason to keep it in the code yet 3 new versions have been released that all include it. Removing the code would be a very easy gesture to aim for unity for the community.
ABC has not explained why the code is still there. It should be in their best interest to remove it for community goodwill and better funding chances. The fact that they keep it in is an indicator that they want to reactivate the implementation at some point.
Here is a recent thread that demonstrates that Amaury has no understanding of the consequences of his actions during the IFP introduction and the results of not removing the IFP:
If the divide was about the IFP, it would have died down now that the IFP did not pass. Yet it hasn't. Unfortunately, by the time this is self evident, I expect we'll have lost a ton of value again, unfortunately.
He understands that this was not just about funding development using coinbase rewards yet he completely fails to recognize the damage his own choices and ABC's choices have done. He and ABC were the ones who:
brought the IFP code into production releases with no way to vote against the IFP
Made up criteria for the whitelist that ruled out other major players in the community (source)
Implemented the IFP in a way that to only allows ABC to decide who gets on the whitelist (ABC rejects all addresses except the ones hard coded in its own source code)
ignored glaringly obvious game theory / kickback problems before making such a major change (https://read.cash/@noise/the-ifp-and-unhealthy-incentives-a382fb01)
added an unknown legal entity with no accountability concept to the whitelist (how does the money get spent, control mechanisms for the miner fund)
did not push for transparency before implementing the miner's plan (who does the miner fund adress belong to? how to check for kickbacks? what do the recipients do with the money?)
gave the coin owners and the community no control or input over where the money should go
intended no funding for BCHN or BU or other projects except BCHD and Electron Cash (who didn't even require more than $100k in funding)
Yet he claims that:
Goodwill assumes that somehow we did something wrong by putting something to vote. We did not, and the only people who will disagree with this are the people who want their scream to speak louder than actual verifiable stake in the system.
Screaming loudly is considered bad form but it doesn't make the shouted argument wrong. ABC did many things wrong and the fact that Amaury doesn't recognize and acknoledge that is why we are still having division.
As a side note, I find it very dishonest from him to pretend that ABC merely put a random miner request to a vote that they had nothing to do with. They openly admitted to being involved at least in the 5% revision of the IFP and it is very inplausible that the miners just got the original idea without any discussions with ABC. Clearly Amaury and ABC had a strong conflict of interest that should have given him pause for consideration.
His original implementation demonstrates that he was willing to accept an unpolished, critically flawed and thus damaging proposal into the project against the better judgement of almost the entire community.
When you ask for community funding, you should be willing to disclose how you spend it to that community. While ABC recently started doing transparency reports (thank you!), they omit information that is very vital: to which people would the proposed $3.3 million funding go and in what proportion. How many people do they intend to hire? What is the legal entity behind Bitcoin ABC? How is the ownership and governance of said legal entity?
In this comment thread they refuse to answer how many of the 8 people mentioned in that report are working in Bitcoin ABC full time and what legal entity is behind it. George claims that answering this question would compromise a team member's privacy. Even after reflecting on this for a longer period of time, I cannot understand how this claim can possibly be true.
This point is an opinion of mine and I am not sure how much support it has in the community. For the sake of the argument, the amount of support it has should not matter anyways.
May's transparency report lists the amount of salaries for the month as around 70546.17 + 120.78 BCH. Assuming a price of $220 per BCH (source) that comes out at $97117.77. Using these assumptions and the information that 8 people work for Bitcoin ABC, the average salary spending per employee at Bitcoin ABC is $12,140 per month or ~$145k per year.
In reality it could be higher because ABC is not willing to disclose how many of the 8 only work on the project part time (the Full Time Equivalent number would give that indication). These salaries may be totally justified depending on the degrees, profiles and countries of the employees, but we have no way of reviewing that because we only know 4 of 8 names (Georg Donnelly, Amaury Séchet, Antony Zegers and Jason B. Cox) and nothing about the salary split. When asking the community (or a VC) to invest $3.3 million in your team, there should be much more transparency about your salary structure.
Finally I would like to point out that many successful open source and crypto projects can operate just fine without directly paying salaries in that magnitude to its contributors (corporate sponsoring, ethusiasts who develop in their spare time).
In a reddit post from April, Amaury Séchet of Bitcoin ABC has stated that he does not see the need for a governance mechanism for BCH:
If you think that BCH needs to experiment governance mechanism by making decision via X or Y, then what you want is not BCH. It is tezos, maybe, or something else. BCH is about digictal cash. It already has a roadmap. This is BCH.
I think this argument is flawed because you will always have decisions arise that you didn't put on any roadmap a few years back. Also how do you decide on the original roadmap in the fist place if not using debate, compromise and social consensus.
In the same post, he states
It is okay to disagree with the roadmap. If you think another plan is better, then the best is to execute on that other plan on its own coin.
The IFP was not on the agreed upon roadmap, yet ABC included it without searching for new social consensus, almost resulting in a split. By Amaury's own logic, he should have executed that plan on his own new coin.
Also the example used in the article is very telling:
they then end up wandering 40 years in the desert and almost all of them die in terrible conditions. Because they spent all their time debating where they need to go and how and why instead of actually takeing the steps required to go there.
Right now, we are wandering in the desert. This will continue for as long as we don't get our shit together and execute on the roadmap.
I feel like this comparison is a admission of his own ability to find compromise. Yes, debate takes time and finding consensus by compromising is not easy. But there is a lot of value in consensus:
more people to work on the agreed goals
less risk of splits
less time wasted on implementing features like the IFP that don't find community consensus later
less time wasted defending a roadmap the community feels little involvement in
less stress for everyone involved
Successful leaders try to listen to valid arguments, they unite and try to find compromise within their ecosystem. There is a reason why people prefer living in a democracy over living in a dictatorship.
I don't want to leave this article as a wall of complaints without suggesting a contructive path forward that would - in my opinion - bring us back together and help BCH grow.
Bitcoin ABC should remove the IFP code
Amaury Séchet should reflect on the way he introduced the IFP, take responsibilty (even if the original proposal really came just from the miners) and apologize if he (hopefully) sees that he has had are part in the damage it caused. An apology from the miner(s) who presumably pushed for an immediate implementation of this unfinished concept would also be helpful
We should all embrace that a decentralized development model of multiple node implementations holds value compared to trying to go alone
The community should brainstorm for mechanisms of finding BCH ecosystem concensus (e.g. a voting mechanism by coin holdings)
All node projects should hold a public meeting together for discussing which of the proposed mechanisms to implement and publish a joint statement that they accept that this will be the social concensus method for proposing and accepting new features going forward
It would be a great catalyst if we would test drive the new consensus method by finding a common color for our coin as discussed in this thread with George Donnelly
Additionally addressing the transparency issues mentioned above, might further help Bitcoin ABC with its funding challenges.