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Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Claps Back at Bitcoin Maxis Who Mock Proof of Stake

Proof of stake has its critics, and Vitalik Buterin has some "spicy" answers for them.

3 min read
Vitalik Buterin is the co-founder of Ethereum. Image: Flickr

Vitalik Buterin is taking to Twitter to defend Ethereum’s move to proof of stake.

The Ethereum co-founder took a shot at Swan Bitcoin’s marketing associate Nick Payton, who argued Thursday that any cryptocurrency that powers a proof of stake blockchain—which uses validators with pledged, or “staked,” assets to verify transactions—is a security.

“The fact that you can vote on something to change its properties is proof that it’s a security,” Payton said. The insult hits at a sore spot for a crypto industry that has for years battled with the Securities and Exchange Commission—and one that is particularly touchy for Ethereum investors, since the matter of whether or not ETH should be considered a security remains an open question.

Early Friday morning, Buterin called Payton’s assertion a “bare-faced lie.”

“It's amazing how some [proof-of-work] proponents just keep repeating the unmitigated bare-faced lie that [proof-of-stake] includes voting on protocol parameters (it doesn't, just like [proof-of-work] doesn't) and this so often just goes unchallenged,” he said, adding, “Nodes reject invalid blocks, in [proof-of-stake] and in [proof-of-work]. It's not hard.”

Proof of work, which involves the participation of “miners” who devote large amounts of computing power to solve complex, mathematical problems, is currently how both Bitcoin and Ethereum validate transactions and secure their networks. Ethereum, however, is in the process of transitioning to proof of stake through a long-awaited update now known as “the Merge.”

In his defense of proof of stake, Buterin took his retort one step further with a tongue-in-cheek “grammar” correction for the editor.

“In English when talking about things like proof of stake, we don't say “It's a security," we say "it's secure." I know these suffixes are hard though, so I forgive the error,” Buterin said.

While Bankless founder Ryan Sean Adams called the retort “the spiciest Vitalik tweet I’ve ever read,” this is far from the first time Buterin’s gotten into arguments with anti-Ethereum Bitcoiners online.

Earlier this month Buterin responded to Bitcoin maximalist Jimmy Song, who argued that proof of stake “does not provide decentralized consensus” because it does not, in Song’s view, solve The Byzantine Generals Problem. Song was referring to the problem of achieving consensus without some centralization through a trusted single party. Consensus in crypto is achieved when multiple entities are all able to agree on the same data without the intervention of a central authority—this enables blockchain transactions.

But for Vitalik, Song’s argument hinges on a “technicality.”

“If there's a long-established tradition of people debating A vs B based on deep arguments touching on math, economics and moral philosophy, and you come along saying “B is dumb because of a one-line technicality involving definitions,” you're probably wrong,” Buterin said.

Editor's note: This article was updated to reflect Nick Payton's current title at Swan Bitcoin.

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