Accountability on Avalanche (Part 2): Builders and Ava Labs

Chef Goose
5 min readAug 12, 2022
The road to success is always under construction.

Written by Chef Goose

This is part 2 of a series of articles. It was initially meant as a single article, but became too long. The previous article was Accountability on Avalanche (Part 1): Community and Detectives. The following article will be: What Goose Learned the Hard Way.

In the previous article, I discussed how the community is at the center of accountability. If the community doesn’t take it seriously, no matter what anyone else does or thinks, there will be nobody held accountable.

Now, assuming that the community does take it seriously, is that enough to create a healthy ecosystem? There are other influential actors in the ecosystem — What should we expect from them?

The objective of this article is to understand the roles that builders have toward the community, and the ones Ava Labs has both the community and builders. Should they speak up more? Should they more often talk up projects? Do they even have a role? If so, what is it?

I’ve taken care to avoid mentioning any projects or people, as the objective of this article is not to put the spotlight anyone.

This article addresses the following points:

  • Not everyone is a builder
  • Why aren’t builders saying anything?
  • Why isn’t Ava Labs retweeting my project?

Not everyone is a builder

Builders is a very loosely used term in the crypto community. I’ve seen it used to designate developers, artists, marketers, even community managers at times. I won’t pretend to have the absolute answer as to who fits under the “builders” title, but I think the best way to define it is as anyone who brings content to the ecosystem.

Ava Labs, basically, is the organisation behind the Avalanche blockchain. They are a team of a few dozen people with skills that range from engineering, to business, to marketing, and more. Their general role is to develop and maintain the Avalanche blockchain, both structurally and business-wise.

Why aren’t builders saying anything?

Notice how, when there is debate regarding the ethics of a particular project, most builders will stay clear of the discussion. They will seldom join in on supporting accusations of misconduct against another builder.

At first, it would frustrate me. I sometimes knew - for a fact - that many builders agreed with what I said on a particular subject, yet none would say anything, leaving the public discussion to be one-sided. I felt like they didn’t care about ethical issues on Avalanche, or couldn’t be bothered to voice their opinion to help the ecosystem become cleaner.

But, as I began talking to builders about it, I realized that it’s not that they don’t care — it’s that this web3 environment is new to them as well, and they feel like they are walking on eggshells. Projects are constantly cooperating, be it through whitelist giveaways, marketing sprints, or many other types of collabs. One of the primary goals of these builders is to provide value for their holders, and if they are vocal in these situations, they risk alienating partners and, in the process, hindering their holders. The Avalanche ecosystem is relatively small, and most builders have worked together, plan to work together, or anticipate working together eventually. Sometimes, they will work with someone who they have reservations about, because it can bring value to holders.

We shouldn’t expect builders to be a source of policing. Some may more vocal than others, but it shouldn’t be an expectation. Builders have spent months, sometimes years building up their projects. Few projects actually manage to become successful — Most people end up losing money on what they build — so they are understandably hesitant to voice strong opinions, in fear of alienating either the community or potential/current partners.

Where they have power in contributing to accountability is:

  • Setting an example in their communications by being transparent and proactive, not reactive, in their handling to issues
  • While they won’t necessarily publicly voice their opinions on some issues, they should encourage proper ethics/discourage unethical behaviour by partnering with actors who have shown themselves to act reliably. This, however, is easier said than done.

In short, their role is not to be the strong voice who calls out others. Their role is to set an example by how they act and who they work with. I’ll allow myself to name one project in this article — Wonderland. The impact of the community learning of Sifu’s background on Dani’s credibility was significant — Because he chose to work with someone who had shown himself as unreliable. He did not use his platform to promote honest actors and builders.

Good builders are essential to the continuation of the Avalanche ecosystem. And they have massive influence over what happens — But their influence is different. We shouldn’t expect them to approach topics the same as regular community members.

Why isn’t Ava Labs retweeting my project?

Ava labs created Avalanche. Surely they need to moderate it, right?

No.

Their role is to provide a platform through which we can build, trade and engage. Their role is not to decide who can and can’t use it, or to encourage the community to ostracize certain people or projects. That would go against the idea of decentralization.

I’ve listened in on and participated in countless discussions on why Ava Labs isn’t promoting XYZ project. I can’t hammer this down enough — That’s not their role. It poses more of a risk to them than a benefit, as once they’ve promoted it, they are somewhat tied to it if something happens (ie. rug). It’ll happen that people like Emin, Kevin, or others talk about a project they like. But that’ll more likely be coming from Emin/Kevin the Avalanche user, not Emin/Kevin the Ava Labs employee. It’s a difficult distinction to make, but an important one.

Where Ava labs employees can improve is by clarifying what their defined role is — What are Ava Labs’ expectations toward them. In talking to the community about Ava labs, one of the most common comments I get is something along of the lines of, “What do they even do?”, “What does a head of NFT or DeFi do all day?”. And they aren’t asking demeaningly — people genuinely don’t know what those positions entail. And when people don’t know, they speculate. And speculation leads to faulty conclusions.

There are only a few Ava Labs employees whose role it is to be informed on the state of the ecosystem — People like Luigi (Head of DeFi) need to be aware of what the DeFi trends are, what the main and upcoming projects are, and he needs to be able to advise projects in the space by using his knowledge and experience, so that DeFi projects on Avalanche are likelier to stand out. The same can be said of Dominic (Head of NFTs).

Next article: What Goose Learned the Hard Way

For more from Chef Goose, follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/0xChefGoose

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Chef Goose

I mainly post on Twitter — Medium is just for my long-form content. https://twitter.com/0xChefGoose