Exclusive: MyCrypto CEO Weighs in on Rising Toxicity in Ethereum Community

Journalist:
P. H. Madore @bitillionaire
March 3, 2019

CCN spoke to the CEO of MyCrypto, Taylor Monahan, about the recent departure of Ethereum community leader Afri Schoedon. Schoedon played a crucial role in the development of Parity wallet but has now sworn off Ethereum development after a meme made him the subject of targeted harassment.

Taylor Monahan | Source: MyCrypto

Polkadot is an Ethereum scaling solution. Schoedon trolled the Ethereum community when he tweeted that Polkadot already does what Ethereum 2.0 wants to do. The backlash was swift, severe, and a bit ridiculous. Schoedon wound up quitting all work on Ethereum, though he’s kept his job at Parity, according to BreakerMag. Monahan says that Schoedon’s specialty, from way back, was helping people understand Ethereum.

“He’s been around since the very, very early days. I actually came into contact with him 2015 on the Ethereum StackExchange, where he was a master at answering all the questions. From there, his involvement on the community side and on the education side has only grown.”

“I’m not sure when, but at some point he became the release manager for Parity, which means that he manages all the releases. He writes the notes for the releases. He works closely with all the node operators, like the exchanges and ourselves, to ensure that we’re up to date. If we have any issues, we have a point of contact through him.”

‘Wait, People Are Blowing Up About This?’

Monahan says she was at EthDenver, one of the larger Ethereum conferences, when the news broke that Schoedon had quit Ethereum development.

“I missed the escalation of the drama. But someone at EthDenver was like, ‘What do you think of this Afri situation?’ They said he had tweeted something and they showed it to me. I had already seen it and was like ‘wait, people are blowing up about this?'”

Monahan somewhat agrees with the sentiment of the original tweet by Schoedon.

This single tweet made Afri Schoedon the subject of targeted harassment. | Source: Twitter

“The thing is, if you’ve been involved in Ethereum since the pre-sale days, or even like 2015-6, the timeline originally was the Serenity hard fork, and 2018/2019, was supposed to be the move to proof-of-stake. Now, obviously, as anyone who deals with developers knows, developers are terrible at timelines.”

She points out that Schoedon never stood out as a leader and was never considered a leader, but when he acted in a way that people didn’t like, they got up in arms about his de facto leadership role.

“I don’t think he ever stood up and said, ‘I’m a leader.’ And I don’t think people ever considered him a leader. But when shit hit the fan, they were like, ‘Leaders shouldn’t do this!’”

About That MyEtherWallet Twitter Handle Controversy

Why is it that so many crypto controversies seem to originate on Twitter? | Source: Shutterstock

Monahan says that the toxicity in the community is really shameful. Monahan was an example in the open letter from Ethereum people to the community. People took offense when she split MyCrypto away from MyEtherWallet. She explained to CCN that, at the time, she felt she had no choice but to found a new company.

Perhaps her only mistake was taking the MyEtherWallet Twitter handle with her, which infuriated some community members. She tells us that an offensive comment – “would bang though” – was the top-rated comment on a Reddit thread about her when she discovered it.

“It happened for a variety of mostly business reasons. In 2017, the original founder just sort of disappeared. I was paying people out of my own pocket. Talked to a lot of lawyers trying to resolve the situation, and the lawyers said one option was to start a new company. […]”

“I didn’t even have a personal Twitter. I assumed that the co-founder wouldn’t care, so I made a poor choice, and I thought that the people were following @MyEtherWallet would want to continue following the people that were building MyEtherWallet. It turns out that they don’t give a f*ck about me or my team – they want to follow whatever MyEtherWallet is, and so that really upset people.”

She says she understands why people were upset. They reacted by calling her a slew of insults.

Growing Community Probably Means Growing Toxicity

The conversation then veers to the subject of how to fix the situation. Monahan says there are probably no good answers for this. As the community grows, there’s bound to be more trolls and negative personalities entering it. It’s not a small town vibe anymore.

“If we get so caught up in hurting each other and breaking each other down and fighting within our own little chains, it’s not going to help cryptocurrency as a whole progress. […] One of the reasons I was originally attracted to Ethereum was because I never found a place in Bitcoin. I thought it was very dramatic and political. And Ethereum was the exact opposite.”

“It was very welcoming. Very developer focused. It was focused on building things, and being optimistic, and idealistic. Obviously,

as Ethereum has grown, the original community feeling gets lost and the toxicity does become a bigger part. The toxicity, the politics, all of those things.”

Crypto Communities Need to Keep Their Eyes on the Prize

In the end, communities crack – even revolutionary ones. | Source: Shutterstock

As to solutions? They’re unlikely. Censorship is clearly not an option. While censorship has been used in various Bitcoin forums to steer discussions around the scaling debate, overall, cryptonaughts are against such old-world tools for dealing with “problems.”

“In terms of solutions, I think it’s hard. How do you make people be nice on the internet? Most people would answer that you can’t. It doesn’t work like that. But I think everyone needs to be more mindful of what we’re trying to accomplish and focus on the big picture. Us versus the world, versus centralized banks. Us versus the government. Rather than half of Ethereum versus half of Ethereum or Roger Ver versus everyone.”

In the end, communities crack. Ethereum may not be done with its forks. It’s unknown what will become of all the Ethereum miners when the smart contract godfather goes proof-of-stake. As for politicking and dramatic engagement, it’s probably not over with. We still have tweets like the following on a ridiculous and regular basis:

Last modified (UTC): March 3, 2019 14:16

P. H. Madore @bitillionaire

P. H. Madore has written for CCN since 2014. Please send breaking news tips or requests for investigation to bitillionaire+phm@gmail.com. He lives in Maine, USA. A single father of four young children, he does not discourage financial donations, provided they do not come with strings attached.