Ethereum sidechain Polygon has successfully completed a Tuesday network hardfork. This created a new Polygon blockchain, which developers hope will offer faster transactions and less frequent gas price spikes.
While the software upgrade was hailed by advocates as a technical step forward, the manner in which the fork was pushed through the Polygon community and ratified left others questioning the network’s organizational structure and commitment to decentralization.
In December, Polygon’s Governance Team—the network’s core leadership—set forth an initial proposal to implement a hard fork. Hard forks are events where a supermajority of a blockchain’s validators (typically, and in the case of Polygon, 67%) agree to upgrade to new software, essentially creating a new blockchain in the process.
Hard forks can be used to make major changes to one or several mechanisms that underpin a network. In this case, Polygon’s leadership advocated using a hard fork to reduce the sprint length of on-chain transactions—a move that would both lower transaction times and reduce the frequency of chain reorganizations, or “reorgs”—messy and Sometimes, it is risky events where multiple validators disagree about the network’s transaction history.
Polygon’s leadership also proposed using the opportunity of a fork to double the blockchain’s “BaseFeeChangeDenominator,” an adjustment intended to reduce volatile spikes in gas fees that have Previous plagued The network.
The proposal by Polygon’s Governance Team provoked a heated debate among the network’s community, with some pressing for further details about the necessity of suggested changes, and others chiding Polygon’s leadership for not prioritizing other, more needed adjustments—ones that wouldn’t require a move as severe as a hard fork.
Polygon’s top brass then put the matter to a vote. However, not all had the chance to vote. Only the network’s 100 validators—participants who run Polygon’s nodes—were invited to participate in a poll, determining whether the network should undergo a hard fork exactly as proposed, or not.
Only 15 validators were able to cast their votes. 13 of them signed on to Polygon’s plan, called 87 percent in favor. Sources familiar with the matter said that 13 of them signed up to Polygon’s plan, which was called 87 percent in favour. Decrypt that a number of Polygon validators haven’t even registered with the forum where Polygon tallies such polls, and may not have been aware such a vote was taking place.
It would appear that 13 votes decided the fate and future for Polygon. A few weeks later Polygon was officially launched. Announced It is the same intention as when it was first proposed that the hard fork be used.
Following the announcement, some criticized Polygon’s governing process as undemocratic and overly centralized.
It was difficult to fork the entire Polygon network.
Only 15 people voted on the fork.
— KEMOSABE (@KEMOS4BE) January 14, 2023
Curiously though—and perhaps more concerning—Polygon never stated outright that its leadership would abide by the results of the poll, or that the poll’s results directly led to the hard fork proposal’s adoption. Polygon’s leadership appeared to interpret the December hard fork poll as an early feedback mechanism rather than an official vote. The fact that 67% must update their software to complete the hardfork could effectively be considered a vote for support.
Polygon was told Decrypt Late Tuesday night, 99 out of 100 validators had updated their clients. The hard fork was put into effect. But by that point, resisting Polygon’s push for a fork would have likely created a far messier and more volatile scenario for all involved, in which multiple versions of the network would have co-existed simultaneously.
Polygon’s leadership has in the past emphasized its commitment to decentralization; the network’s Governance Team was purportedly created to “gradually increase the decentralization of Polygon’s products.”
However, the group has also likened itself to a cadre of “benevolent dictators.”
Max Koopsen, Decrypt’s Max Koopsen, provided additional reporting.