Aside from DeFi, the debate about Ethereum’s current circulating supply has been the most-discussed topic on Crypto Twitter over recent days.
After Kraken’s Pierre Rochard and a few other Bitcoiners asked if there is a consensus about how many of the second-largest cryptocurrency there are in existence, a debate ensued. Ethereum proponents cited data sources like Etherscan to get an answer while Bitcoiners noted that those numbers needed to be verified with an archival node.
There has been much support behind both sides of the debate, but prominent blockchain educator Andreas Antonopoulos says that the situation is “silly” and is no better than Peter Schiff and/or Nouriel Roubini bashing Bitcoin with baseless comments and generic assertions.
Ethereum supply debate is a “silly gotcha”: Andreas Antonopoulos
Antonopoulos made a case for his sentiment in an extensive Twitter thread published Aug. 10.
Firstly, Antonopoulos first pointed out that solely relying on block explorers like Etherscan for blockchain information is a poor idea due to the “limited view” these platforms provide at the end of the day. This applies to block explorers for Bitcoin, Ethereum, or any other blockchain, he added.
“First of all a block explorer is a very limited view of any blockchain. These are user-interface tools that abstract important details and translate them for the user’s benefit. They each have a point-of-view that is the result of their data collection and analysis methodology,” Antonopoulos explained.
This whole “what is ETH supply” thing is a silly gotcha that doesn’t make much sense if you understand how Ethereum works. It’s no better than the silly gotchas Schiff and Roubini level at bitcoin.
We can do better. Let’s look at the details…
— Andreas ☮ 🌈 ⚛ ⚖ 🌐 📡 📖 📹 🔑 🛩 (@aantonop) August 10, 2020
His point in bringing up the differing “data collection and analysis methodologies” between each block explorer is that this is especially pertinent to Ethereum.
As Antonopoulos explained, Ethereum has what is known as “burn addresses,” where coins can be sent that can never be retrieved. The blockchain also has so-called “uncle” blocks, which issue a small amount of ETH but do not properly process transactions.
Due to the relative complexity of these mechanisms compared to Bitcoin’s equivalent mechanisms, explorers may offer slightly different conclusions to the question of Ethereum’s current circulating supply:
“Therefore, your methoology for calculating ETH supply will determine your answer. The exact timing (reference point) of your question will determine your answer and it will change every 15-30 seconds. Whether you count burned ETH will determine your answer,” Antonopoulos explained.
Not over yet
Despite the rebuttal by Antonopoulos, the debate is not over yet.
What seems to be a remaining point of contention is the sentiment that users cannot easily verify the circulating supply of ETH themselves, as the code for obtaining this information may be difficult to come by while the cost of running an archival node is expensive.