Who governs Ethereum? Galaxy report reveals all

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A Galaxy Digital report reveals Ethereum’s decentralized governance avoids direct on-chain voting, detailing key stakeholder roles and transparency challenges.

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Who governs Ethereum? Galaxy report reveals all

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Galaxy Digital has released a report showing that Ethereum’s decentralized governance is steered by off-chain voting rather than on-chain Ether holder voting.

Christine Kim, Vice President of Galaxy Digital’s research team, released the report on June 3. It reveals multiple stakeholders who hold the keys to Ethereum’s governance.

According to the report, the groups collaborating on the off-chain processes include client teams, validator node operators, the Ethereum Foundation (EF), and decentralized application (DApp) developers.

Cointelegraph contacted Galaxy Digital for comment but had received no response by publication.

Client teams and validator node operators

According to the report, client teams are central to decision-making, proposals, discussion, and implementation of changes through Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs).

“Client teams build and maintain the software needed to run and connect to the Ethereum network.” 

Validator node operators were also highlighted by the report as they have “the agency to implement or reject code changes” made to the Ethereum network — essentially voting by choosing which software version to run.

Although the EF’s direct influence has waned over time, it still supports the development efforts on Ethereum as its “earliest and most prominent […] nonprofit organization.” 

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DApp devs, forums and communities

Kim’s report also revealed that DApp developers influence certain features and upgrades based on user needs.

“DApp developers are the primary users of Ethereum, interacting with the Ethereum codebase to deploy smart contract code.”

According to the report, off-chain governance discussions are also carried out across forums, facilitating stakeholder consensus-building.

“Governance discussions occur in several forums: Ethereum All Core Developers (ACD) calls, ETHMagicians, Ethresear.ch, Discord, and GitHub.”

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Off-chain or on-chain?

The report also emphasizes the reasoning behind Ethereum’s preference for off-chain governance over on-chain voting due to the risk of large Ether (ETH) holders exerting heavier influence.

“No decisions are voted on by ETH holders through on-chain proposals or decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).”

The off-chain approach prevents centralization and maintains nuanced decision-making despite being “difficult to audit and objectively evaluate.”

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