How Do You Know It's Decentralised?

Ché Köhler
4 min readDec 22, 2021

It's a word that gets thrown around an awful lot, and no one knows what it means; I feel like it's been bastardised and generalised to mean nothing essentially. The term decentralisation is nothing more than a marketing term to gain attention, like blockchain.

You could have a bar and call it the long island blockchain company and that you sell decentralised beverages, and it would mean as much to your product as it would many of these so-called chain projects and tokens.

Decentralisation is NOT priced into these various protocols because they've never needed to prove it, nor has it been tested. The entire point of decentralisation was to trust no one and verify things yourself, yet how many people are actually doing that?

If you're not running a node, you know nothing.

I run a bitcoin node, connect my wallet to it and use my node to verify the rules of the chain and my transactions. I use my node to establish my own lightning channels, and I keep it up to date. I do run Bitcoin core, so I am trusting their software, but I don't need to run Bitcoin core, and I can run any other compatible instance.

Setting up a node was fairly easy, and today, you can even buy a ready-made node, so what is your excuse not to use one? If you're holding more than $1000 of bitcoin, why wouldn't you have a node and a hardware wallet?

I know what's going on with the chain I choose to use; I verify my transactions myself and have a full view of everything happening on-chain, both past and present.

I don't have to be rich or be connected to run a node; all I need is an internet connection so that anyone can run a node.

Is there ANY chain that can make this claim? Not really, and the ones that can run on retail devices are getting bigger and more bloated to a point where a basic laptop cannot be a node.

Once this happens, you transition to server farms and cloud providers, essentially centralising the protocol. A government or rival chain could force that company to shut down support for that chain.

Yes, this is a theory, but the attack vector is there, and no one seems to be bothered since they're too busy LARPing about how decentralised their shitcoin is and why it's so special.

How do you know it's decentralised if you don't run a node? Where are you getting this information from? If you're not running a node, does your opinion matter?

I would claim to say no, you're talking out of your arse.

But decentralisation is a spectrum.

Some things are more decentralised than others, it sounds like a plausible thing to say, but I would have to disagree with those who think so; I believe there is a meaningful cut-off for decentralisation. That meaningful cut-off is the influence both internal parties and external parties have over the system.

If governments only need to pressure a few companies or threaten a few individuals with jail time to shut down your chain, guess what? You're not decentralised.

If a select few can make consensus changes without those disagreeing with it remaining compatible, then you're not decentralised.

Distributed and insignificant

You can bullshit all you want, but you cannot escape the reality of certain physical constraints. If the requirements of your chain outpace the average joe's access to hardware, then your service is not decentralised.

If the average joe doesn't care to participate in your network to support decentralisation, then it's not decentralised.

Sure it's distributed among a set of insiders, or you're paying several service providers to host it in different places, but that doesn't make it incorruptible; this is merely technology kabuki theatre.

There is nothing wrong with not being decentralised; plenty of things work better centralised, which is why I don't understand why people and projects have such a hard-on for a label that isn't helpful and that they didn't earn the title in any meaningful day.

If your project or chain is insignificant, it doesn't make it decentralised.

Congratulations on making something no one cares enough to attack; that doesn't make it decentralised or resistant to anything. It just makes the project unattractive to attack because the return is a waste of time.

The amount of arrogance I see in people who will lap up any narrative for a few tokens or own a few tokens and are willing to lie about the efficacy of their investment is deplorable. It's total fiat thinking with a new name; all you want is for the fiat system to continue but with a different name and where you're on top.

It reminds me a lot of that scene in the matrix where Cypher says I know this steak isn't real, but man, ignorance is bliss.

That's what you're doing when you're shilling your unregistered SPACs that are actually securities.

Please don't say I didn't try to warn you.



Ché Köhler

Co-founder of nichemarket, a South African Business Directory and digital marketing agency — ⚡️