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Protecting free thought in decentralized protocols

Protecting free thought in decentralized protocols

December 18, 2023


  • There are no changes on our side.
  • If you’re a user, change the gateway URL per these instructions (it will take two minutes).
  • There has been no decision to fork Arweave. We are simply exploring our options.

What the heck is happening?

In his recent post on X, Arweave’s Founder, Sam Williams, made several claims about Irys:

  • Irys may stop uploading your data to Arweave at any time.
  • Irys is dropping the Arweave dataset.
  • Irys is resetting the Arweave token supply.
  • These actions are motivated purely by greed.

Let me be unequivocally clear: every one of these claims is blatantly false.

So, what is changing?

From our side, absolutely nothing.

That said, as per Sam’s post to X, is removing Irys’ bundlers from the trusted set on the main Arweave gateways, which will lead to delays in data retrieval of up to 20 minutes for newly uploaded content. Fortunately, Irys has its own gateway that you can use to easily restore your application’s tip-top performance.

You can do this in two minutes by following these instructions.

Back to business as usual.

So, why the FUD?

Because it has come to Sam’s attention that we are merely exploring the idea of forking Arweave.

Again, let me be clear:

  • We are not saying we will do this.
  • We are not saying we will not do this.
  • We are simply exploring the idea.

This idea is so premature that it hasn’t even been discussed with our community, developers, or investors.

Why are we considering an Arweave fork?

Now that we’re on the same page, let’s explore the train of thought that led us to explore the idea of forking Arweave.

At Irys, our sole focus is on enriching the world’s data with provenance. We outline this idea in detail in this post.

While permanence is a critical component of strong provenance, there are use cases where aspects of provenance are applicable. Areas such as data availability or temporary storage of data are things we are constantly asked about. These types of features don’t make sense on Arweave; they are outside of its designed purpose. As a result, it doesn’t make sense to try to fork Arweave in that direction, “fair” or otherwise.

We are still so early and in the exploratory phase that we have not even accomplished 0.0000000001% (I’m probably missing several 0’s) of what we are setting out to do. It is premature to think we have already arrived at a finalized design.

Beyond forking, we have and will continue to explore options that may or may not include improving existing Arweave infrastructure which – after the last 24 hours – now would need to account for governance and centralization risk.

An attack on free thought

Again, we were just exploring the idea of forking Arweave.

And unfortunately, we are being aggressively persecuted for doing so.

Sam announced his plans to disable the optimistic cache for Irys data and is now both publicly attacking Irys and privately contacting Irys users, encouraging them to switch to less performant infrastructure.

You can find a more in-depth technical analysis of how Sam is hurting the Arweave ecosystem and its users by getting an overview of bundling services here.

This is a shocking and disheartening display of centralization and platform risk being executed by the founder of an open-source protocol against one of the major contributors to the ecosystem. Sam is playing zero sum games on Arweave with the intention to hurt Irys rather than focusing his limited and valuable time to improve the protocol for all users. This is not the way to build a healthy and vibrant decentralized ecosystem.

This is not just an attack on Irys, but an attack on the principles of open source, permissionless technology, and decentralization. And a cautionary tale.

Sam is someone I have personally learned a lot from and respected tremendously. He has always been a supporter (and investor) of ours, and I’ve looked up to him as a leader not just of Arweave but in crypto at large. And while he probably thinks he is taking what he deems to be the right next steps, we find them to be egregious, heavy-handed, and disproportionate.

Our issues right now are with Sam’s threats and actions, not the Arweave ecosystem, which we continue to support and call our home.

Community is the way

Although CT loves the spiciest takes, we hate to break it to you: we’re not rugging anyone 😃

We have not changed our position in continuing to build out and support tech for both the Arweave ecosystem and the data community at large. We will continue to support the Arweave dataset, and we will not stop uploading your data to Arweave.

We are builders. We are focused on onboarding and enriching the world’s data. We believe there are improvements to be made that will enable this. And, we intend to pursue all viable paths of exploration that might lead to this.

Whatever path we choose in the future (be it Arweave infrastructure support, open source tooling, or even building something new) rest assured that our community’s input will be at its center. We’re excited to build alongside you.

If there are questions or feedback, please share them with us on Twitter, Discord, or Telegram. We will try and get back to you as soon as we can.


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