- The Solana chain boosts strong decentralization metrics.
- Decentralization metrics were panned as superficial.
- There is an ongoing debate on the merits of open vs. closed source systems.
Decentralization is core to the transformative potential of blockchain technology. By distributing control across open networks, decentralization aims to eliminate single points of failure and democratize networks. These ideals have fueled the rise of ecosystems like Solana that bang the drum of decentralization based on measures such as its high node count and abundance of active developers.
However, Solana dev “Jordan” recently blasted these superficial measures, arguing that the concept of decentralization is voided to a large extent by the prevalence of closed-source Solana apps that operate on the blockchain.
Solana’s Closed Source Apps
Jordan’s tweet took aim at the closed-source nature of many of Solana’s most popular apps. While the dev made clear his appreciation of Solana and the community, he felt it necessary to highlight the constriction placed on decentralization by closed-sourced apps.
“No matter how decentralized the network is, there is absolutely nothing decentralized about closed-source smart contracts and wallets,” argued Jordan.
Jordan highlighted that most of Solana’s top smart contracts and wallets use closed-source code, which can be changed at any time by a few or even one person without notice. The dev stated that this burdens users to trust devs, who often operate without accountability.
“Every single one of us has experienced the consequences of placing trust in people without accountability, without verifiability, without recourse,” warned Jordan.
Jordan implored the Solana community to demand accountability from developers by asking questions about source code access, audits, governance, and decentralization plans before using apps. Jordan contends that proactive questioning and refusing to use closed-source programs would pressure devs to prioritize transparency and consider building with open-source design architecture.
Open vs. Closed Source
Although open-source code is often touted as the only design suitable for cryptocurrency protocols, closed-source architecture has advantages, making the issue ambiguous.
Closed-source software provides more quality control and dedicated technical support from a centralized provider. However, the lack of code transparency raises security risks, is typically more expensive, and offers less customization.
On the other hand, open-source software enables community collaboration and transparency, as the source code is publicly accessible. This facilitates innovation, security auditing, and cost savings. However, it can lack quality control and technical support. There is also the risk of fragmentation from many decentralized contributors.
On the Flipside
- Jordan’s intention for the critique was to improve Solana by illuminating the issue.
- Solana has over 3,400 validators, among the most decentralized networks by node count.
- The Total Value Locked on the Solana blockchain has plummeted 97% from its approximate $10 billion peak in November 2021, suggesting that users are cautious about using the chain for DeFi purposes.
Why This Matters
Closed and open-source systems offer distinct advantages and disadvantages. To argue one is better than the other does not consider the nuances faced by blockchain devs. This debate underscores that full decentralization is an iterative process that must balance the incentives and values between users, developers, and the network.
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