I discussed ECC’s blog post with Alan Fairless yesterday, and I’ll summarize here the feedback I provided.
I welcome these changes. They represent a significant improvement, by reducing - but not entirely eliminating - the disincentive that BOSL posed for current and future members of the Zcash ecosystem. Importantly, existing ecosystem partners can now add support for Orchard without facing the prospect of relicensing their entire project and grappling with license compatibility questions.
However, I still fear that BOSL will continue to present a cognitive and legal hurdle for future ecosystem members, especially large corporations, whose adoption and support of Zcash (whether that be by listing ZEC, adding it as a payment option, or including support for ZEC in tools, software and services such as point-of-sale software, custody services and risk management products) are essential if it is to ever achieve the level of adoption that we hope it will.
This is a great question, and helps a crystallise a growing concern of mine regarding how we make major decisions that have far-reaching consequences.
Decisions like these normally follow a process along these lines:
Identify the problem, and assess its impact.
a. “What’s the problem? Is it really a problem?”
Brainstorm potential solutions, and do an initial assessment of their impact.
a. “Any ideas?”
Create a shortlist of options, and do a deeper dive into the consequences and risks of each one.
a. “So, if we do x, that will reduce the impact of the problem by this much but it will also…”
Decide what, if any, solution should be implemented, taking into account the net impact of the positive and negative consequences, and the risks incurred.
a. “Let’s do x.” or
b. conclude that “The best thing is to do nothing because the negative consequences and/or risks outweigh the positive consequences.”
In my opinion, the Zcash community should be involved at all four stages, so that a diversity of opinions and ideas can be heard, and there’s an opportunity for a clear consensus to emerge. Involving the community in the process builds trust (both in the organisations involved, and in the suitability of the end result) and supports decentralisation.
However, in this instance, ECC jumped straight to 4b., anchoring themselves to a specific solution, and presenting it as a fait accompli.
Contrast with ZF’s approach to expanding ZCAP:
Problem hypothesis: “ZCAP is not sufficiently independent and representative of the Zcash community.”
a. Is this really a problem? Yes.
b. What’s the impact? We risk missing out on valid and important opinions and input on decisions that are presented to ZCAP. Some community members feel disenfranchised and/or marginalised, and confidence in ZCAP as a decision-making body is compromised as a result.
Openly solicit Ideas for Expanding ZCAP from the community.
Assess the ideas put forward.
a. You can also see this process happening live as we assess @aquietinvestor’s idea of adding active members of the Zcash Community on Telegram who joined prior to March 2021.
Adopt suitable solutions.
a. @decentralistdan’s idea of adding grant recipients
b. @elenita’s idea of adding anyone who has submitted a successfully merged community PR
If we truly want to give the Zcash community a genuine voice in how Zcash is governed, we must involve them in the decision-making process.
Making decisions behind closed doors and presenting them as faits accomplis is not the way we should be doing things. It centralises power, shuts down open discussion, disenfranchises the community, fosters division and conflict, and generally makes for worse decisions (as evidenced by the fact that these changes are being made to the BOSL licensing regime at the eleventh hour).