Pitchforks are for hay not hate: maintaining positive non-violent debate for the Ethereum community

community

#1

This statement is a collaborative effort for people working in the space to voice their concerns on integrity. Both contributors and community need to work towards healthier discussion practices and protect each other from threats and violence.

Entities around open source decentralized projects, hackerspaces, and associations are born every day to promote development and to grow awareness by educating people about the value of software that is transparent, protective of freedom and aids peer-to-peer coordination. In order to succeed, these communities depend upon the invaluable work of their contributors, wider enthusiasts and stakeholders.

Unfortunately, time and time again we have witnessed ecosystem members engage in toxic

behavior that discourages open discussion such as doxxing, violent threats, or brigading against people they disagree with. In an instance just last week, one of our longest standing contributors, and the catalyzer of the Görli Testnet, Afri, received a wave of verbal violence from some Redditors, forced into the center of a storm on r/ethtrader which, triggered by a couple of tweets issued by him, turned menacing, dark and deeply toxic. Under stress from this backlash and to protect himself and his family from threats coming from unknown internet users, he made the decision to leave his position as a core Ethereum developer.

While we acknowledge that the intention of Afri’s tweets was to be provocative, these were opinions made in a personal capacity. And while complaints were valid and many of those were made respectfully, others within the wider Ethereum community resorted to impugning Afri’s reputation by asserting his involvement in wild conspiracies, demanding his immediate resignation, and most disturbing of all, issuing personal threats.

It is hugely upsetting and chills free speech when any contributor, whether a developer, community builder or otherwise, is attacked, intimidated and is deliberately made to feel unsafe.

This is far from the first time similar acts have been perpetrated. To give a few examples, Lane Rettig’s thoughtful post on increasing diversity in the space sparked unnecessary ad hominem comments.Taylor Monahan, who has been an utterly invaluable contributor to the space, tirelessly spearheading initiatives to raising awareness about security and usability, was also targeted following the birth of MyCrypto and then again, for expressing positive remarks about non-Ethereum technologies.

Of course, Ethereum is not the only online crypto community being damaged by such behaviour. Jameson Lopp’s very real world ordeal caused by an anonymous person deliberately mis-identifying Jameson as an active shooter thereby drawing armed police to his home is yet another awful example of the intimidation that can be wrought in the midst of very heated debates. As Jameson wrote, “had a few variables been different that day, I could easily be dead.”

We reiterate that the community aims to welcome constructive feedback on all decisions as best we can, given the global, digital environment of our project. Many ecosystem members have voiced valid concerns regarding influential players’ perceived or potential conflicts of interest, a more formalized recognition of how backlash can form when someone speaks provocatively in a widely used social media platform, and information for strong contributors who might be vulnerable to burnout. We also believe these concerns are valid, though designing a solution that the community can rally around will take time and lots of input. We call on the Fellowship of Ethereum Magicians to continue discussing these (and other) valid concerns in their forums and at the Paris meeting in March. Nonetheless, we cannot tolerate destructive behavior even if there are areas we can improve as a community.

We, the undersigned, contributors and workers behind scores of projects, and those seeking to build better systems, feel that these actions have gone far beyond acceptable standards of debate: whatever the circumstance, threats against a person’s well-being can never be justified and we categorically reject such toxicity in digital communities.

We also believe the Ethereum community values freedom, free speech, and privacy, but above all, it values basic respect for all human beings and seeks to promote and build systems which in turn promote and incentivize those very values.

It should also be said that the Ethereum network is built, maintained and scaled by HUMANS. Though we are a global community, no single individual can be expected to be on call 24/7. Although many contributors represent projects funded by a vast array of people around the world, those contributors are entitled to express personal opinions through any medium they choose.

We must preserve the mental and emotional health of those humans – especially as they labor through their nights, weekends, often without pay in order to manifest the mission and vision of Ethereum. So we support Afri in this respect and will stand by and protect any others that are being intimidated, at any given time.

Finally, Ethereum governance as a whole is a very pressing issue, which we as a community have yet to resolve. Those issues include how to hold the decisions and actions of core devs/contributors to wider scrutiny, and also ensuring that our community’s current power structures don’t sideline stakeholders with legitimate concerns.

Ethereum is far from perfect. Like any other chain, we are experimenting with technologies never seen before. Navigating the frontier of discovery throws up the greatest turbulence. So as we build stronger systems for all of us to benefit, let’s also work together to ensure that we build better protocols for expressing community concerns and governing ourselves. To this end please join the conversation this March in Paris.

Signatures (sorted alphabetically)

Adam Kolar (Solidified)

Adrian Manning (Sigma Prime - Lighthouse eth 2.0)

Aidan Hyman (ChainSafe Systems- Lodestar eth 2.0 )

Alex Boerger (ETHBerlin - DoD)

Alex Van de Sande (Ethereum Foundation)

Andreas Wallendahl (ConsenSyS, kauri)

Andrew (@cyber_hokie, AO.capital, EthHub Contributor)

Anthony Lusardi (ETC Cooperative)

Arjun Bhuptani (Connext)

Arlyn Culwick (the Blocknet)

Artem Kharlamov (@crypto_eli5)

Auryn Macmillan (Colony)

Ben Edgington (PegaSys)

Billy Rennekamp (Clovers.network, Cosmos, Gnosis, ENSNifty, Memelordz)

Boris Mann

Bryant Eisenbach (fubuloubu)

Caspar Schwa (DoD - ETHBerlin - brainbot)

Chelsea Palmer (Carpe Lunam Events)

Chris Fenos (ChainSafe Systems- Lodestar eth 2.0)

Chris Hutchinson (Status)

Coogan Brennan (ConsenSys Academy)

Corey Petty (Status, Hashing It Out, The Bitcoin Podcast Network)

Daud Zulfacar (license.rocks - Berlin Blockchain Week)

Dave Appleton (HelloGold, Akomba Labs)

David Ansermino (ChainSafe)

Dean Eigenmann (ENS & ZK Labs)

Devon Krantz (Linum Labs)

Diederik Loerakker (Eth 2.0 contrib.)

Dustin Brickwood (ChainSafe - Lodestar eth 2.0)

E.G. Galano (@egalano Infura)

Elias Haase (B9lab - DoD)

Elissa Shevinsky (ETH Secure group, Soho Token Labs)

Elizabeth Binks (ChainSafe)

exiledsurfer (DoD)

Fábio Hildebrand (Solidified)

Fanny Lakoubay (Snark.art)

Fauve Altman (State of the DApps - BerChain)

Franziska Heintel (Brainbot - DoD)

Gary Bernstein (CoTrader.com)

Gonçalo Sá (@GNSPS)

Gregory Markou (ChainSafe)

Guto Martino (Dezentral - DoD)

Helena Flack (Quantstamp - ETHBerlin- DoD)

Harry Denley

Holger Drewes (EthereumJS)

Hudson Jameson (Ethereum Foundation)

Igor Mandrigin (Status)

Jacek Sieka (Status)

Jack Gane (Authio)

James Beck (ConsenSys)

James Hancock (a Nobody in Berlin)

James Moreau (@jrmoreau)

James Quinn (Independent Ethereum Developer)

Jamie Pitts (Eth. Foundation, Eth. Magicians, Eth. Financial Tools)

Jason Civalleri (UNH Law Adjunct Professor)

Jérôme de Tychey (Asseth - ConsenSys)

John Light (Aragon One)

Josef Jelacic (Ethereum Foundation, Institute of Cryptoanarchy)

Joshua Mir (Parity Tech)

Josh Stark (L4, ETHGlobal)

Kirill Pimenov (Parity Tech)

Kris Jones (Canada - just a social researcher that wants to see blockchain succeed and maintain healthy feedback mechanisms)

Laura Giron (ConsenSys Design @lauragirons)

Leo Arias (Zeppelin)

Levi Morris (Lambdeth)

ligi (EF - WallETH - DoD)

Lili Feyerabend (radi.cards - DoD)

Luke Anderson (Sigma Prime - Lighthouse eth 2.0)

Maciej Hirsz (Parity Tech)

María Paula Fernández (Golem- ETHBerlin - DoD)

Martin Holst Swende (EF)

Martin Lundfall (Dapphub)

Martin Quensel (Centrifuge)

Matej Nemcek (Progressbar, @yangwao, independent Ethereum developer)

Matt Condon (XLNT)

Maurelian (ConsenSys Diligence)

Mick Ayzenberg (Security Innovation)

Michael Yankelev (Linum Labs)
Simona Pop (Bounties Network)

Maya Byskov (Centrifuge - Berlin Blockchain Week)

Mehdi Zerouali (Sigma Prime - Lighthouse eth 2.0)

Mudit Gupta (Polymath)

Nathalia Scherer (DAOstack)

Nick Johnson (Ethereum Name Service)

Nick Munoz-McDonald (Melon Technical Council)

Nicolas Liochon (ConsenSys - PegaSys)

Niran Babalola (Panvala)

Oliver Nordbjerg (@ONordbjerg)
Paul Hauner (Sigma Prime)

Paul Vienhage - (Authio)

Pet3rpan (MetaCartel)

Philip Stehlik (Centrifuge - DoD)

Piper Merriam (Snake Charmer)

Preston Van Loon (Prysmatic Labs - Prysm eth 2.0)

Priom Chowdhury (ChainSafe - Lodestar eth 2.0)

Raul Romanutti (Parity Tech - DoD)

Rex Hygate (SecurEth)

Rhys Lindmark (MIT DCI, Grey Mirror)

Robert Bent (Ethereum Foundation)

Robert Habermeier (Parity Tech)

Ryan Noble (Linum Labs)

Scott Lewis (Concourse Open Community)

Scott Moore (Gitcoin)

Shiv Malik (Streamr)

Stina Gustafsson (DoD)

Stu Peters (Chainsafe)

Terence Tsao (Prysmatic Labs - Prysm eth 2.0)

Tim Beiko - (PegaSys)

Tim Daubenschütz (Independent Ethereum Developer)

Tomasz Kolinko (Eveem)

Will Villanueva (R&D)

Yalda Mousavinia (Autark - Space Decentral)

Yaniv Fe

Ziggy Zeidan (POA Network)


ETHMagicians Council of Prague - Integrity ring - Community Code of Conduct
#2

Sorry I did not post here before Reddit, overnight someone leaked it to 4chan and tried to raise hell and divide more. This is mostly the forum we choose for focused discussions, and where the original post was going to be featured, but, you know what happens…
Feel free to request signature if you subscribe.

And look @lrettig the mess we made while you were out!


#3

Thanks for stepping up! I look forward to some constructive outcomes, to help manage the issues of toxic behavior on the various outlets used by the Ethereum community.


#4

I’ve had some time to think about this.

As I see it, the issue boils down to two choices:

  1. Leave the problematic communication channel

  2. Work within the limits of that channel as best we can

I think that

  1. Leave the problematic communication channel

is not an option, at least not for the larger and more public channels. Discussion and dissemination will continue unabated.

This leaves

  1. Work within the limits of that channel as best we can

I think the key here is a planned strategy and purpose, and more engagement from core members of the ecosystem.


#5

I see people spilling over into many different channels attempting engagement.

The CoreDevs PM meeting Github Issue queue. The EthCatHerders Gitter, the Eth/Governance Gitter. Currently, trying to talk about ProgPow. And without directing that energy, people get frustrated.

But they also haven’t bothered to learn about open source software norms, or do much else but talk.

And Ethereum has resisted documenting its informal governance model.

I can’t actually join it (I can up / downvote, but it’s unclear how to get approved for commenting or topic posting). So there are limited new members joining as far as I can tell. I personally will continue to ignore that channel. I know there are a lot of early Ethereum community members that have fond memories of the space, but I only have bad experiences to point to.

So when you say:

I say – I’m choosing to post and communicate in this forum, in the EIP process hosted on Github, and following open source norms: do work if you want to get engaged.

Why the heck should I engage with toxic channels?

And, I’m pretty sure we’re going to have to prep to batten down the hatches on this forum. The muting on Github Issues is already intense.


#6

Hey Boris, could you please detail more the muting issue on GH? i would like to present that during the ring on integrity


#7

See https://github.com/ethereum/pm/issues/66 for example of lots of comments muted.

Mainly mining back and forth stuff.


#8

Thank you, Maria Paula. I’d sign too if I could. The shared values of our community are its greatest strength, and to see a member as kind and valuable as Afri driven out literally brings tears to my eyes.


#9

I agree with the principle - if a social media channel is not productive, then avoid it. I do actually have a Reddit account, and subscribe to r/ethereum. You need at least 10 day account age, and 20 comment karma, to write anything there.

However, I do think that there is a general responsibility to provide at least some accurate and informative content. Reddit may have a bit of a rough exterior, but there are good people there, and dedicated users of Ethereum.


#10

I think this is related to the issue of channel strategy - some topics just need an outlet, and if there isn’t one, other channels will suffer.


#11

This community statement is a great thing, the context is terrible but I think it will really help raise awareness and encourage people to help with the underlying problems.

Part of the negativity is that there is not a forum where ethical concerns can be discussed, within ground rules, within the context of a community which facilitates good communication practices. The underlying issues are difficult, the emotions run strong. It requires very experienced community management.

The /r/ethereum and /r/ethtrader became places where some terrible behavior happened and misrepresentations festered, possibly this also happened on 4chan. There is a lot of need for the discussions to happen, and it will happen somewhere. But it seems as if these places did not have decent moderation in place so some very problematic behavior began to become the norms. Thankfully, on reddit there seems to be much more awareness and changes, some of which is in conjunction with @mariapaulafn’s work here, which has been great.

Even with this, I think that the problem is not solved. There needs to emerge some kind of institution to help the community deal and come to consensus on the difficult ethical, philosophical, legal, and moral issues.


#12

Short recap and trying to answer to all of you.
Firstly, @gcolvin - by expressing your position here you’re one of the undersigned. That’s why my choice was posting here, but it got hijacked overnight and I had to think fast and go for Reddit first.

@jpitts this didnt go as smoothly as it seemed. The first responses were overwhelmingly kind and well rounded, during the next two days peple started flipping the narrative, demanding me to do exhaustive search for evidence and even questioning the undersigned didnt know what they were signing, as if I could coerce 115 incredibly talented and intelligent people. If this is the case, I should dump Ethereum and deep dive into politics, cause i’m one hell of a lobbyist (sigh).
Finally asked Afri to submit all proof, wasnt enough. I still get shit messages. While I highly value what reddit gave us, actually this video by Mr Yukon, possibly one of the longest standing community members that went offline for a year explains it best: https://t.co/W2bnxFHNAH?amp=1

@boris I am still gonna give it a chance. But just for posting reliable news for people to have first hand info because the amount of fake news and twisting is insane. Still the mass downvoting makes the fake news earn legitimacy. This is what frustrated Afri the most. And when the Taylor problems hapened, they even downvoted Hudson and Alex to oblivion. There are some bad actors there spoiling what used to be just great.

As the contributors, we need fora to thrive and discuss. Not to defend ourselves constantly. Most of my week went to the latter.
Hopefully in Paris and then online, we can work on identifying best practices, solidarity, and by all means, i’d like the community to work on a CoC, prevention protocols (im really worried about the infosec community safety issues) and others.

Thanks to the three of you for the trust you’ve given me and others to allow us to discuss in this space. You’re indeed the three wise men :wink:


#13

Agreed with most. However we have done nothing for channels not becoming problematic. We need to fix that first


#14

Distributed communities on this new-fangled thing called the internet, especially with the nascent web3 additions, are emergent, and always fraught.

We must, over time and emergently, in response build the structure and tools and culture we want. Harari in his book, Sapiens, calls this culture formation in large groups: inter-subjective consensus. We can’t really specify it; it will emerge. But we can encourage it and support its growth, as individuals, by giving approbation and disapprobation to the various behaviors we observe.

I strongly support the statement in the “Pitchforks are for hay…” document. I will gladly add my signature to this statement.


#15

Thank you! I was also recommended Sapiens last week, but due to the speed at what it all escalated, didnt have time to read. this is super interesting - will try to bring up in the Paris discussion


#16

These are issues corporations have dealt with for years - many have created systems to safeguard their community discussions. The risk is creating walled gardens that determine who’s allowed to participate and who isn’t.


#17

Yes, exactly. We are trying to work on this, without building walls - lets see if we can come up with something


#18

Wow this is eye opening. Thank you for sharing :slight_smile: