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The goal of Ethereum is to be decentralized, but (cmiiw) at the end of the day it's a collection of code maintained by the Ethereum Foundation. I know they update it and constantly add new, great features all the time, but who has the decision-making power here? list of hard forks, and list of EIPs.

Is it considered decentralized/community-based simply because it's open-sourced code that anybody can contribute to?

Basically, who accepts the pull requests at end of day, and how do they decide what to accept.

Bonus: how does Ethereum's responses to ^ contrast with that of Bitcoin?

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All truly decentralized projects are considered "decentralized" because no individual (or small group of individuals) has absolute control over the protocol.

The Ethereum foundation could be considered relatively 'centralized' in that users typically trust the foundation's decisions for the protocol. Yes, anyone can make contributions to the source code, but at the end of the day the foundation is making pull request decisions.

Even so, we typically consider Ethereum decentralized because any user (or group of users) can determine that they no longer agree with the foundation's development direction. In this case, a separate group of users can continue development on their version of Ethereum. This is what happened to create the ETH/ETC split. The main point here is that Ethereum is decentralized because individual users have final say about which version of the protocol to follow.

I'm not sure that you can really quantify ETH vs. BTC. The two protocols handle their development process in the same way (a few core development teams work on a few implementations). Debate around Bitcoin has created several strong "factions" that subscribe to different fundamental values for the currency. This inherently leads to the development of similar-but-different implementations. So far, we haven't seen these kinds of frequent fundamental splits in the Ethereum space (except ETC). Does this make either one more or less centralized? I don't know.

  • Thanks, one thing I'm wondering is why HFs in BTC keep producing new currencies, while in ETH's case this has only happened once? – user61871 Nov 5 '17 at 4:13
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    @user61871 hard forks only produce a "new" currency if users decide that both chains have value. In the case of Ethereum, forks are typically used as protocol updates and users have decided that only one version has value (all siding with the "main" chain from the foundation). ETC is an exception because some users sided with ETC while others sided with ETH, creating two tokens with "value" to the users. – K. Fichter Nov 5 '17 at 4:29

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