After much debate and weighing of options by developers and the Ethereum community, the Ethereum network successfully completed its first hard fork on on July 20. The fork effectively reinstated The DAO code back to the point before an attack was launched on June 18 to drain approximately 12 million ether into a child DAO.
However, even after the hard fork was successfully completed, reactions from experts and the community remain divided. Some entrepreneurs, startups, and developers including Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong believe the Ethereum hard fork proves the feasibility and practicality of hard forks, while others are concerned that the hard fork contradicts the concept of decentralization which the Ethereum network, community, and foundation claim to stand for.
“Ethereum’s website has long loudly advertised (even louder than Bitcoin materials): ‘Ethereum is a decentralized platform for applications that run exactly as programmed without any chance of fraud, censorship or third-party interference.’; and all that goes out the window when a service using the system suffers a highly predictable fault from a well known class of vulnerabilities?” stated Bitcoin Core developer Greg Maxwell (nullc).
“It’s also going to create wasted effort for users of Bitcoin to differentiate themselves from the not very decenteralized hf-ethereum,” he added.
While a convincing percentage of the miners on the Ethereum network is supporting the forked chain, experts and the community believe that the completion of the hard fork was disrespectful to the reputation of cryptocurrency and decentralized blockchain-based networks.
Overwhelming criticism from both the Ethereum and Bitcoin community immediately led to the creation of Ethereum Classic, a separate project that is maintaining the original chain of the Ethereum network to provide an alternative for users that opposed fork.
“The main goal of the project is to ensure survival of the original Ethereum blockchain,” a section of the Ethereum Classic proposal states. “We will strive to provide alternative for people who strongly disagree with DAO bailout and the direction Ethereum Foundation is taking their project.”
For anyone holding ETH who is interested in maintaining or trading coins on both chains, this is still possible. Bitsquare is currently trading in both in classic ether (ETC) and has been doing so since the fork occured.
“All the major exchanges announced that they will assign their users both ETH and ETC after the fork,” claims the Ethereum Classic github.
Upon the completion of the hard fork, Ethereum co-founder and developer Vitalik Buterin announced that nearly 85 percent of the miners were mining on the fork, which means that 85 percent of the network were supporting the hard fork. However, the other 15 percent strongly opposed the hard fork because of the precedent it will set for the future.
When Buterin was asked about the post-Ethereum hard fork landscape during an interview with Wall Street Journal’s MoneyBeat, he commented, “I totally get both sides.” He further explained that he personally supported the fork because the Ethereum network is still in its development stage.
“I don’t think the way things are done right now are precedent setting,” he added.