The Ethereum Foundation sides with openness

Ethereum core developers’ “experiment” in holding closed-door meetings looks like it failed. We think.

The forces of openness and transparency appear to have won. Core developer meetings on Ethereum 1x, the next-gen version of the platform, will be recorded and streamed to the public after all.

On Friday, Ethereum core developers for the first time held a meeting that wasn’t open to the general public. The invite-only session was tried, apparently, at the behest of developers who sought a “safe space,” and feared twitter trolls and unwanted media scrutiny. Instead, the meetings were conducted under the Chatham House Rule, where notes were published after the fact, and are unattributed.

The closed-door proceeding rankled some, including Greg Colvin, a veteran developer, who’s known for his work on Ethereum’s Virtual Machine. Colvin boycotted Friday’s meeting, rather than simply complain about it.

“It’s beyond complaining,” he said. “I will not participate in these closed-door Chatham House Rule meetings. People say they’re afraid to speak their mind and I say ‘fine—you can read what they say later in the press, and complain that they got it wrong.’ ”  

Colvin said the old system worked perfectly well: “Everyone hears what’s happening in real time. There’s a recording, so that there’s no question later about what was actually said.”

The move to hold closed meetings had been exposed by Colvin in early November, after the fourth annual Devcon meeting. It led to a hue and cry on twitter, with a variety of crypto grandees voicing their unease. Likewise, devs complained on github. That led to Ethereum’s co-founder and CEO, Vitalik Buterin, subsequently suggesting that the whole closed-door thing was simply a proposal (which he said he objected to.)

At last Hudson Jameson, of the not-for-profit Ethereum Foundation (which plays an administrative role in the development process) retreated, following Buterin’s just-a-proposal framing.

However, though the entirety of the session will, presumably, be recorded and streamed, the tweet was worded ambiguously: Will it be live streamed?  Tweets to Jameson on this were not answered by the time we published this story. We will update accordingly.