Egalitarian Society or Benevolent Dictatorship: The State of Cryptocurrency Governance

  • Sarah AzouviEmail author
  • Mary Maller
  • Sarah Meiklejohn
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10958)


In this paper we initiate a quantitative study of the decentralization of the governance structures of Bitcoin and Ethereum. In particular, we scraped the open-source repositories associated with their respective codebases and improvement proposals to find the number of people contributing to the code itself and to the overall discussion. We then present different metrics to quantify decentralization, both in each of the cryptocurrencies and, for comparison, in two popular open-source programming languages: Clojure and Rust. We find that for both cryptocurrencies and programming languages, there is usually a handful of people that accounts for most of the discussion. We also look into the effect of forks in Bitcoin and Ethereum, and find that there is little intersection between the communities of the original currencies and those of the forks.



All authors are supported in part by EPSRC Grant EP/N028104/1. Mary Maller is supported by a scholarship from Microsoft Research. The authors would like to thank Sebastian Meiser and Tristan Caulfield for helpful discussions.

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Copyright information

© International Financial Cryptography Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University College LondonLondonUK

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