Edgeware blockchain launch gets hijacked by rival fork

Tim Copeland


The launch of the Edgeware blockchain was appropriated by a rival chain on Sunday in what is known as a “successful zero-day fork.” Currently, the alternative version is 8,300 blocks ahead, making it the stronger blockchain.

Edgeware is a novel proof-of-stake blockchain built around airdrops—where cryptocurrencies are distributed to others for free. The idea is, if you lock up your ether (have it frozen for a period of time in a smart contract), you get to receive the airdrops. You can also use a bunch of ether to “signal” your intention to receive airdrops, which doesn’t involve having them locked up, but you can still earn ether as a result.

The blockchain project achieved notoriety when Nick Johnson, lead developer of the Ethereum Name Service, secretly used a bunch of funds, 122,000 ether ($24 million) locked up in one of The DAO’s (Ethereum’s $250 million disaster) smart contracts to signal the service. He later revealed that he did so to criticize the project for giving too much power to the person who deploys a smart contract.

Despite the warning, it launched on Sunday. But things did not go well.

Vitalik Buterin speaks out on privacy, DeFi and Ethereum 2.0

An alternative version of the Edgeware blockchain, called Straightedge—that uses the same code base with a few specific changes—was launched at exactly the same point in time, known as a “zero-day fork.” It immediately became the leading project.

According to the Polkadot block explorer, just a few hours after they both went live, Straightedge had seen 7,000 blocks finalized, while Edgeware was at a grand total of zero.

Since then, Edgeware has managed to get up and running but is still lagging behind the rival project, at 17,400 blocks to its 25,700 blocks. And typically, in blockchain lingo, the longest chain is known as the “definitive” blockchain. However, at just two days in, the race is far from over.

The reasoning behind the fork

Straightedge was created by Sunny Aggarwal, a researcher at Tendermint—which builds blockchain platform Cosmos—for two main reasons.

To start with, it removes the ability to “signal” airdrops, the issue that Johnson used to highlight the network’s flaws. “Allowing contract deployers to signal on behalf of contracts is a fundamental misunderstanding of the premise of smart contracting systems,” says the Straightedge FAQ. The point being, that smart contracts are designed to operate autonomously regardless of who set them up.

Second, it stops the Web3 Foundation—a non-profit working on Polkadot—from being able to use funds that were frozen in a smart contract bug (the November 2017 Parity multisig exploit). Similar to Johnson’s use of funds frozen in The DAO contract, this would have enabled the Web3 Foundation to have significant voting rights, and receive a proportion of the airdrops, via ether that it can’t access and doesn’t own. As such, Straightedge helps to keep the distribution of power on the network more balanced.

Where does Edgeware and Straightedge go from here? It’s likely the two projects will continue side by side, with their slight differences for now. It’s possible that, if Edgeware can pick up more validators, it will be able to overtake its rival and take first place. Until then, it remains to be seen if the airdrops will apply over both platforms, if the market will only accept one platform—or both—and what will happen to development if Edgeware never catches up.

But was Edgeware downbeat about the whole thing? Thom Ivy, chief of staff at Commonwealth Labs—which builds Edgeware—said, in the Straightedge Telegram channel, “Congrats to everyone here!”

Fighting words.