Web3 is not decentralized.
While I think this is so obvious that it doesn’t even need an article to explain it, I was forced to because all of a sudden the big tech giants like Reddit, Twitter, and Discord decided to go all-in on NFTs (non-essentials). homogenized tokens) to achieve “decentralization”.
Especially Reddit pissed me off. Around May 2020, Reddit launched a “community token” system on /r/FortniteBR and /r/CryptoCurrency, two subreddits I never visited. According to a now-deleted tweet from one Reddit developer, they plan to convert Reddit points into these community tokens. Reddit’s overall plan is the same that the big three tech companies are all advocating for (Twitter seems to have added the NFT tag to uploaded images, and Discord shelved their plans after a public outcry), so I’m going to talk a little bit more about what they’re talking about statement on the matter.
In a nutshell, Web 1.0 is a great frontier for decentralization, and Web 2.0 is a walled garden with many flaws, and I agree.And now Reddit has joined the “Web3” bandwagon, claiming that it hopes to return the voting rights of the website to users by distributing an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency. And I will debunk these claims in this article.
Decentralization of the Web
Now, let’s take a look back at history and take a “website time machine” back to the 1980s, when the Internet was born.At the time, the Internet could be roughly divided into two camps: the university/military ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), and the other dial-up modems.
ARPANET, the granddaddy of the modern Internet, was designed with network redundancy and routing flexibility in mind.In this way, even if an important city or strategic data center is destroyed, as long as there is a path from point A to point B (even through a wireless microwave connection), electronic information can be transmitted. But this kind of network has some drawbacks, mainly that various file sharing services (such as Gopher, FTP and later HTTP) still need to rely on the host server. If California, USA, is nuclear-armed and/or invaded, you will not be able to access any of Stanford’s files. But at the same time, the development of protocols such as email, IRC, and especially Usenet ensured the transmission of messages between servers on the Internet, establishing a single source of truth throughout the network.
In addition to professional ARPANETs, there are also technical hackers and professional companies that have created electronic bulletin board systems. Often, however, administrators of these systems create a program on their computer that other computer users can communicate with via modem. A one-to-one connection over the telephone network is required between the two computers. This naturally raises a problem: If you want to communicate with another computer, you need to disconnect your current connection and dial another number. Server-to-server transfers are usually only used to download and re-upload important information, resulting in many information silos, as is the case with Web 2.0 today.
In order to solve this problem, we have designed several solutions, one of which is UUCP (Unix-to-Unix copy, the copy protocol between UNIX). The public UNIX server is connected to a series of servers, so you can simply log in to the public server and manually route messages to specific servers or users. An early email address was: www-beaver!teltone!dataio!holley. Later, when the Internet became widespread, and any server was free to connect to other servers, this method was naturally abandoned. Another method that is more popular with amateur BBS operators is FidoNet. This protocol enables message and data synchronization between BBSs without incurring the cost of long-distance calls through dedicated root exchanges within the same region.
All of these early data exchange standards together made up the Internet before central services were provided remotely.Over time, BBSs were replaced by Internet Service Providers, where you only needed to dial a local number to access global Internet services such as email, Usenet, World Wide Web, etc. Some of these service providers grew and became mainstream at the time, such as AOL offering unique content, graphical interfaces, and walled gardens, while Geocities (formerly Beverly Hills Internet) quickly ditched everything but the web hosting component. But in the end, walled gardens fell flat and were replaced by open standards that didn’t rely on ISPs, who today are struggling to maintain and improve broadband infrastructure and no longer offer any of their own services.
Case A Case Study: Usenet (a distributed Internet exchange system)
We can think of Usenet as an early version of Reddit because it was a network of various “newsgroups”. While a common use of Usenet is to provide news over the Internet, it is also used for many different online communities, such as hobbies or various popular topics. Today, the use of Usenet has deviated from its original purpose, and has even become a place to download pirated movies and software. Still, you can browse Usenet discussions via Google Groups, or read the news via Eternal September.
Simply put, you can send a message to a newsgroup server like an email, and then it can be viewed by users all over the world. You can reply to other messages in the thread, or email the author of the post directly. Comments expand into a tree view, very similar to Reddit’s commenting system. Newsgroup servers may choose to host certain newsgroups and periodically synchronize with the rest of the network to stay up-to-date. Usenet messaging is also very similar to today’s FidoNet system. In my opinion, this was a very beautifully designed system at the time.
However, the biggest problem with Usenet is the lack of good governance. Most newsgroups on Usenet were unmoderated, which was fine at the time, but then all sorts of shoddy information broke the rules. Due to the inherently decentralized nature of Usenet, tools to trace back and delete messages are very limited. While it was theoretically possible for a system moderator to send a cancellation message, which would then be done automatically by tools like Cancelbot, this was controversial at the time, as some believed it violated free speech. Another option is a moderated newsgroup, where messages are first sent to the newsgroup administrator and then published after approval.
The proliferation of large binaries caused ISPs to shut down services, and there was too much spam to deal with, which ultimately led to the basic demise of Usenet. At the same time, moderated message boards and blogs have sprung up on the Internet, but these sites are eventually eliminated by social media such as 4chan, Reddit or Facebook.
Case Study: IRC
The full name of IRC is Internet Relay Chat (Internet Relay Chat), an instant messaging protocol designed in the late 1980s.Initially, the goal of the protocol was for every user to have access to the same network, but soon after, the fragmentation of the community led to the emergence of multiple competing networks, such as FreeNode (now Libera Chat), EFnet, and IRCnet. Individual smaller networks, such as tilde.chat, still exist today.
IRC is a distributed system where multiple servers in the same IRC network can synchronize and host the same channel and forward messages between servers. You only need to connect to the server closest to you, and the backend will choose the appropriate server to forward the message. You can connect to any client, and IRC is a simple and open protocol compared to today’s complex and/or proprietary protocols. Also, it’s very easy to attach bots as needed (bots that save messages for later viewing, since IRC doesn’t provide message history), since these are just specially programmed clients.
IRC (usually) can only send text messages, and doesn’t have user registration, message rollback, or the robust mechanisms of other chat apps like MSN, Slack, Matrix, or Discord. In 2003, with the emergence of a new generation of applications, IRC began to decline, although it is still commonly used in the open source technology community and the backend of services such as Twitch.tv chat.
Case Study: IPFS
The full name of IPFS is Interplanetary File System, which is a centralized protocol. It solves the problem of having a single source of truth for documents and files by allowing anyone to host a copy of the file to provide network redundancy.
The way IPFS works is a bit unwieldy, essentially using the hash of a file as its permanent address. There are many ways to solve this problem. For example, IPNS combined with DNSLink can provide a static address for DNS entries, which can be used to refer to any file on IPFS.
This case study is brief as there is not much to explore. IPFS is for hosting files. Neocities supports this protocol.Surprisingly, most NFT products are hosted on it. The only real problem is that the file is lost when all the hosts hosting it go away, but that’s not a problem that can actually be solved. IPFS itself is fine.
The concept of “decentralization” in Web3
Above, we spent a lot of space discussing various protocols 20 to 40 years ago. Let’s take a look at the current situation.The booming crypto space has a concept: DAO (decentralized autonomous organization). Ethereum.org describes it as “an internet-native enterprise collectively owned and managed by its members”. On the surface, DAOs are a bit like worker cooperatives.
As a cryptocurrency, Ethereum’s main role is to execute code on the Ethereum Virtual Machine. Frankly, it’s a weird architecture (stack-based, 1024, 256-bit words deep, which is weird) whose state can be shared between every ethereum miner globally, whose inputs and outputs are tokens, including There are two types of homogenized tokens (ether, etc.) and non-fungible tokens.
By storing hard rules on the blockchain through smart contracts, it is possible to require voting on all investments in a project. Voting here (as well as code, funding, and everything else) is completely transparent, and the smart contracts that make up the DAO are immutable.
I’m not going to discuss the advantages of smart contracts and their pitfalls in this article (including the biggest DAO, The DAO, which was hacked and wiped out of funds due to a code bug, requiring a hard fork of the Ethereum network to save investors), I Thought it would be more interesting to discuss practical applications.
Case Study: Decentraland
Next, let’s talk about an example Decentraland. This is a DAO with the goal of creating virtual worlds (Metaverses).
Decentraland allows users to vote on various policies and variables within the ecosystem, such as the addition of new wearables, grants allocated to certain projects, marketplace fees, content servers, and more. In addition, there is a Security Advisory Board, which has the power to drop existing contracts in favor of fixing erroneous contracts.
Decentraland operates a homogenized token called MANA, which is used for all transactions within the system. Although there are no transaction fees (i.e. gas fees) for voting using Snapshot, the weight of the vote depends on the number of game tokens a user owns. In theory, old users with a lot of tokens are naturally more important than new users, and this system is very similar to proof of ownership in standard cryptocurrencies.
A common voting structure for DAOs is the quadratic voting method, but there is no evidence that Decentraland has adopted this method. This voting method is to find the square of each vote as a currency, such as 1 vote = $1, 2 votes = $4, 3 votes = $9, and so on, the purpose is to judge a person’s preference, not Simple binary yes or no. If every voter has the same number of votes, there is nothing wrong with this voting method, but if it is pegged to a currency, there are many problems.
Another problem is that the whole model of the system is to profit from an artificially scarce resource. In Decentraland, a vote for a piece of land, clothing, or something is really just a series of digital bytes that can be copied or extended completely freely. I hate NFTs for many reasons, but I especially hate the concept of artificially creating scarce resources. Long before the advent of NFTs, artificially creating scarce resources polluted the digital world through strong intellectual property laws, shackled pop culture and grassroots artists. Rather than seeing nature as a gift to the world that needs to be used responsibly while also considering sustainability, our economic system sees it as a resource that can be exploited to its limits. Overexploitation of natural resources to enhance the value of Internet products, and uncontrolled energy demand, are ultimately catastrophic, and the only thing that matters to mankind is whether the return outweighs the investment.
Clearly, Decentraland has not abandoned this philosophy. If the DAO can’t make enough profit from platform transactions to stay afloat, then the Decentraland server itself won’t be able to run. In addition, of course all votes are decided by the people who benefit the most in Decentraland, they don’t care whether the voting mechanism is fair or not, they prefer to vote for options that can bring them more wealth, so it will inevitably create an unequal and Unfair virtual society.
So, I think, Decentraland is a very interesting platform, but has an inherent hierarchy of its own, influenced by the early mainstream platforms. Essentially, Decentraland is just a website with a set of managers. The system is no different from other systems other than using a blockchain, club penguin currency or cash from a Steam wallet stored on Decentraland servers, and having a written contract enforced within the company . If Decentraland’s servers go down, anything on it will lose value, and nothing on it has value outside of this ecosystem. In short, I don’t think this is decentralization.
Case Study: Reddit Community Points
Next, let’s discuss the development trend of Web3 and social media sites.
Reddit is a centralized system similar to Usenet, which is significantly different from decentralization. Reddit hosts individual subreddits and provides management tools that support both a pro/con form and the management of subreddits. Reddit strictly forbids manipulating up/down votes, and webmasters have tools to prohibit this. Therefore, the subreddit community is entirely up to users to decide what is the best content and bring it to the front, whether it comes from casual anonymous users or active members. This is the foundation of Reddit, and it’s been working well so far.
However, with the introduction of Community Points, Reddit purports to make community members “owners of their favorite communities,” much like shareholders own equity in a company. Points are just a measure of reputation and a way to show off “wealth,” such as voting, or perks like badges, emojis, GIFs, and more. Voting is a non-binding referendum and is calculated in two ways: one person, one vote, or one vote per point. Points are not consumed when voting. Every four weeks Reddit publishes a list for each user of the points they’ve earned. Using the one-vote-per-point voting method, the points on this list will change.
Clearly, Reddit is not even remotely decentralized. As for Decentraland, there are different opinions. In Reddit’s system, you can’t even vote for new moderators. Of course, you can’t set up your own subreddit server and then host a community; or fork from the main Reddit network and create a separate subreddit yourself; or get rid of the Reddit admins. It is undeniable that Reddit is a business that needs to make a profit, but people have an illusion to buy fake Internet points.
The same is true for Twitter and Discord. Neither are decentralized unless they allow third-party clients to connect to third-party servers using the same protocol.
Web3 is not decentralized. Any system that depends on an organization is not decentralized. The goal of these systems is nothing else than to generate profits for the owners, so none of them are decentralized. So, can we stop pretending they are decentralized?
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/web3-is-a-decentralized-scam/
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