The EOS Arbitrator Problem: A Crypto Governance Breakdown Explained

“They have to figure their own shit out.”

Those were the harsh words of one of EOS’ top “block producers” the network participants in charge of maintaining the blockchain on Monday as the world’s fifth largest cryptocurrency attracted public ridicule for its current state of confusion.

As told to CoinDesk by Kevin Rose, co-founder and head of strategy at EOS New York, the statement could reflect the broader snags the software has faced since release, but this comment was focused specifically on the EOS Core Arbitration Forum (ECAF).

So far, it seems many both inside and outside the EOS community aren’t clear what ECAF, the main body tasked with resolving disputes between token holders on the network, is and what control it has over transactions.

That’s largely because ECAF’s role and duties were discussed back and forth over months of forum discussions, but clear methods and processes don’t seem to have been decided on. It’s become apparent over the past few days that this mess of information now needs to be organized and clearly communicated to the community.

Stepping back, all this turbulence began on June 17, just three days after the network’s launch, when the network’s top block producers unanimously intervened to stop seven addresses from making transactions. That decision was retroactively endorsed by an ECAF order (the arbitrator had initially refused to rule on the issue).

Then on June 22, an order made the rounds that ECAF wanted to freeze 27 more accounts, to which “the logic and reasoning … will be posted at a later date.” On June 24, another order was seemingly issued, demanding that tokens be revoked from some addresses.

That order, however, turned out to be a fake.

With all the mayhem, EOS New York made a big decision. Until it can be reasonably certain about their authenticity, the block producer wrote on Sunday, it will ignore ECAF decisions or decisions that appear to be ECAF decisions.

“We cannot with confidence execute any statement claiming to be an ECAF opinion,” the organization said, adding:

“We will resume normal processing once communications can be established on-chain such that they can be audited by both EOS New York and the community.”

Adding to that, Rose pointed to what he called a “rampant misunderstanding about what arbitration is” on the EOS network. According to him, ECAF needs improved processes, more transparency and ultimately, competition.

Roshan Abraham of EOS Authority, another top block producer, agreed that ECAF’s processes are flawed. Meanwhile, EOS Telegram chats are abuzz with complaints, speculation and unanswered questions about the arbitrator.

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