As Decision Nears, Ethereum Community Still Torn Over DAO Attack Fix

DAOVoteFor a brief moment on Friday, it seemed that the Ethereum development community was (almost) unanimous in their decision to “hardfork,” with 97% of voters in favor.

Hardforking means changing the code of Ethereum to make previous valid transactions invalid. The motive in this case would be to turn back the clock and take back some $60 million in ethers that were stolen from the DAO — distributed autonomous organization, an Ethereum investment vehicle — back in June.

But by this afternoon the breakdown had shifted to 84% in favor, 16% against, indicating that the community is moving away from consensus, and the deadline to act is only days away.

On June 17, cryptocurrency exchange operators got urgent orders to stop all trading activity on ethers, the cryptocurrency behind the blockchain platform Ethereum, and via the DAO. The reason: nearly 3.6 million of ethers had been stolen (or redirected, or had their ownership transferred) by hackers. The haul was estimated at $60 million. No money had left the DAO at that point, according to Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin. “Even if no action is taken, the attacker will not be able to withdraw any ether at least for another ~27 days (the creation window for the child DAO).” Buterin wrote in June. “This is an issue that affects the DAO specifically; Ethereum itself is perfectly safe.”

To resolve the issue, the community was split on whether or not the miners should perform a hardfork, which would roll back all of the transactions that appeared after the hack was identified, and return the funds to the token holders, and as the deadline neared, discussions heated up.

Last week, Buterin wrote on Reddit that he would “personally refrain” from enforcing a hardfork one way or another, while the community kept on voting on a blockchain-backed to gauge the overall sentiment. As it stands, the majority wind is blowing in favor of the hardfork, but can 16% of the community be simply ignored? Buterin wrote:

There is no explicit “75% threshold” requirement or similar; this is a decision that from what I am hearing both sides of the community do NOT believe should be left to the miners.

The somewhat “official” deadline to act on the DAO hack is July 16th, according to Steve Tual, founder and COO of He wrote that the child DAO, where the attacker is storing the stolen ethers, will complete its “creation phase” on July 14th.

As if things were not complicated enough, there were copycats attacks initiated onto splits that were instantiated much earlier. Long story short, the last date for a clean hard fork for 100% of the ETH to be recovered is the 16th of July.

If the Ethereum community does not reach common ground by then, a portion of the community will either be “disenfranchised” and forced to follow along, or the DAO will split into two communities, according to Ethereum developer Vlad Zamfir. “The fork with the most adoption will likely be called ‘Ethereum.’ The other will need to find a new name,” he wrote. “Each of these outcomes can come at a significant cost to community cohesion, and might impair our ability to engage the decentralized governance problems we will have in the future.”

The discussion has been heated on the DAO Slack channel as well, with users questioning whether Ethereum Foundation’s involvement in the DAO is killing of the idea of decentralization. Whatever decision is reached, it will be the first of its kind, simply because Ethereum is a first of its kind.

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