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Ethereum sidechain Polygon successfully completed a hard fork of the network on Tuesday, creating a new Polygon blockchain that developers hope will provide faster transactions and less frequent gas fee spikes.

While the software upgrade was hailed by advocates as a technical breakthrough, the way the fork was pushed through the Polygon community and ratified left others questioning the network’s organizational structure and commitment. in favor of decentralization.

In December, Polygon’s governance team – the network’s main leadership – presented an initial proposal to implement a hard fork. Hard forks are events where a super majority of a blockchain’s validators (typically, and in Polygon’s case, 67%) agree to move to new software, essentially creating a new blockchain in the process.

Typically, hard forks are used to make major adjustments to one or more mechanisms underpinning a network. In this case, Polygon management advocated using a hard fork to reduce the length of the on-chain transaction sprint — a move that would reduce both transaction times and the frequency of on-chain reorganizations, or “reorganizations.” ” – disordered and occasionally risky events where multiple validators disagree over the network’s transaction history.

Polygon management also offered to use the opportunity of a fork to double the blockchain’s “BaseFeeChangeDenominator”, an adjustment intended to reduce the volatile spikes in gas fees that have previously plagued the network.

The Polygon governance team’s proposal caused a heated debate among the network community, with some pressing for more details on the need for the suggested changes, and others blaming Polygon’s management for not prioritizing other more necessary tweaks, ones that wouldn’t require a move as severe as a hard fork.

Polygon’s top brass then put the matter to a vote. But not everyone had a say. Only the network’s 100 validators — the participants who run Polygon’s nodes — were asked to take part in a poll, determining whether the network should hard fork exactly as proposed, or not.

In total, only 15 validators voted. 13 of them signed the Polygon plan, called 87% in favor. A source familiar with the matter said Decrypt that a number of Polygon validators did not even register on the forum where Polygon tallies these polls, and were perhaps unaware that such a vote was taking place.

So, it seems, 13 votes determined the fate and future of Polygon. A few weeks later, Polygon announcement its intention to go all the way with the hard fork, exactly as originally proposed.

Following the announcement, some criticized Polygon’s governance process as undemocratic and overly centralized.

Curiously — and perhaps more ominously — Polygon has never stated outright that its executives would respect the poll results, or that the poll results directly led to the hard fork proposal being passed. Polygon management appeared to interpret the December hard fork poll as an early feedback mechanism rather than an official vote. Given that 67% of validators need to update their software for the hard fork to be completed, this could effectively be considered a vote of support.

polygon says Decrypt late Tuesday that 99 out of 100 validators updated their clients, implement the hard fork. But at this point, resisting Polygon’s push for a fork would likely have created a much messier and more volatile scenario for everyone involved, in which multiple versions of the network would have co-existed simultaneously.

Polygon management has in the past emphasized its commitment to decentralization; the network governance team was supposedly created to “gradually increase the decentralization of Polygon’s products”.

However, the group also assimilated to a group of “benevolent dictators”.

Decrypt Max Koupsen provided additional reporting for this story.

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