Decrypt’s Art, Fashion, and Entertainment Hub.
Imagine if life came with a set of instructions. Wouldn’t it be handy? Wake up when the alarm sounds. If you miss it you’ll be late for work. Players that are late for work forfeit work_day tokens, which translate to dollar_tokens. Dollar_tokens increase a player’s prestige. The player with the highest prestige wins.
Of course, you can’t win life. You just die at the end, like everybody else. But on Ethereum, one man thinks turning crowdfunding into a rules-based game could help Ethereum developers win a little more often.
Moloch (distinct from Moloch Coin) is Ethereum’s new, experimental crowdfunding service named after the Canaanite God of child sacrifice. A sequel to the hacked, dead and defunct DAO, Moloch was built by SpankChain CEO Ameen Soleimani to raise funds for down-on-their-luck Ethereum devs. But in practice it's a collection of complicated, codified instructions—a rulebook for real-world fundraising as written by the Monopoly Man.
How does Moloch work? First, would-be members apply for “voting share” tokens, which cost $5,000-worth of ETH. Existing members have a grace period of seven days to process these requests. Putative members make their case by pitching “membership proposals.” If accepted, they receive the number of voting share tokens they have applied for. Each voting share token can be used to vote on the next member, and each also corresponds with money in Moloch’s “Guild Bank,” where the $5,000 down payments are stored. If there’s $100 million overall, and 100 members, each voting share is worth $1 million. To claim their rightful shares, players must exchange their voting share tokens for “loot tokens,” which releases the funds. This step is irreversible.
More game-like rules materialise. What if members don’t like a proposal? They can “ragequit”—like they do in video games—taking their money with them. The same applies if a single member with an outsize sum—51% or more—of voting shares attempts to rig a vote in favor of themselves; everybody else can ragequit and leave the would-be usurper with nothing. The possibility of a ragequit “disincentivizes disagreement,” creating virtual harmony.
Soleimani largely anticipates that the game-like system, which rolls out in February, will prove too complicated. That’s why he named it after Moloch, whom Allen Ginsberg portrayed as the “god of coordination failures.” “We must summon Moloch...to defeat Moloch,” Soleimani wrote.
All told, Ethereum itself has been an experiment in “coordination failure.” Its developers have devised rules for their vision of a virtual life that, like Monopoly, must be scrutinised and fully understood by those who want to play. And when you struggle to figure out Ethereum’s inscrutable rulebook, with its Gas, ERC20 tokens, Proof-of-Stake, literally Byzantine software upgrades, and, now Moloch, with its Guild Banks and loot tokens—well, you may as well ragequit.