While it appears that the majority of the Etrereum community has not been paying too much attention to the issue, the vocal proponents of a measure called ProgPOW have initiated a Carbonvote procedure in which any holder of Ether can participate to gauge the community support for the change.

ProgPOW is a cryptocurrency mining algorithm that would replace Ethhash that Ethereum currently relies on. The stated purpose of introducing ProgPOW is to mitigate the advantage that specialized ASIC miners have over GPU miners. While the discussion around the ProgPOW issue is interesting in its own right, the initiative may prove to be an important test for voting as a form of blockchain governance.

Several major blockchain projects such as EOS, Tron and Tezos have decided to rely on coinholder voting for deciding important governance issues. The proponents of EOS and Tron even believe that coinholders should elect the nodes that facilitate those networks’ consensus mechanisms. Skeptics argue that on-chain voting is an inefficient and risky decision-making mechanism that may even degenerate into full-scale plutocracy (see, for instance, Buterin’s and Zamfir’s critiques).  

So far, the ProgPOW vote seems to be favoring the skeptical view. At the time of writing, the total Ether that has voted is around 900,000, which is almost 1% of the total Ether supply. And the low participation is only part of the story. If the reporting by Trustnodes on the latest developments around the vote is correct, it seems that the bulk of the pro-ProgPOW vote in Ether terms has come from a small group of accounts with large Ether holdings.

If the situation remains roughly the same, it will arguably demonstrate the pitfalls of blockchain coinholder voting such as small holder apathy and the risk of outsized influence on votes by whales.

 

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