Dear bitcoin community,
I’ve been cancelled of the Lightning Dev Kit communication space (Discord and I guess other things) end of last week for very unclear reasons by the group of people called the ldk code of conduct team. This casts a big open question if there is no a corporate capture underway of the Lightning Dev Kit open-source project by the spiral people. As a note, I’ve been an active and prolific contributors for some years and as old since 2018, far before many other contributors leveraging the code of conduct application for obscure and doubtful interests.
The reasons exposed are completely without ground and the ldk code of conduct team has never sent the mentioned communications to me with PGP signatures and OTS proofs, as I think a transparent and accountable open-source process is requesting. I’ve never harassed anyone in the community and this is a bag of pure calomnies from the ldk code of conduct team. I don’t know what are their underlying motivation.
As a matter of enlightenment, there has been some private drama between the spiral team and myself in october 2022, where someone there broke his plain months-long committed business words towards me in a very explicit fashion (and I think there has been some third-party witnesses in the quality of some Blockstream people). This is under resolution through the appropriate channels.
While this was a private dispute at first, this of course poisoned the relationships between myself and some of the LDK contributors employed by Spiral, where I’ve been more and more asking for accountability of the spiral team in the conduct of the janitorial roles of the project. My maintenance credentials were removed during Q1 2023 without due notice in a complete opaque fashion (while I’ve never been interested in maintenance and I’ve never used them it’s good to have a clear and transparent process when someone is removed its maintenance credentials). And since then this has been full “cancel culture” in the Lightning Dev Kit project, where some maintainers are abusing their github and discord admin rights as soon as you say something questioning their technical choices or maintenance decisions.
Everytime you’re asking a motivation of this publicly or privately they’re going to kick for touch difficult yet-necessary and constructive conversation replying they’re “not comfortable” to have such conversation happening. Personally, I do not believe when hard things have been to be discussed like the security of end-users funds or long-term sustainability of the project culture, feelings of discomfort, even coming from maintainers, are not legitimate criteria on which to lay a decision. This is breaking the peer-to-peer nature of bitcoin open-source.
I’ll advise for the time being the Bitcoin community to be very distrustful and doubtful about commitments and PR statements made by the spiral team, Steve Lee and Matt Corallo as from my appreciation they’re trying to cover up their ethical past misbehaving or do “virtue signaling” to cover their inner softness in term of personal values. I understand the spiral team is under strain from the rest of the block inc commercial units to move fast on LDK engineering and add more features to yield back value on the $$$ which have been burnt in Spiral salaries since 2019, though this doesn’t justify their behaviors.
And here I’m very sad about Matt Corallo’s attitude, who despite being hold as bitcoin dev legend and vetted with high-quality hacking skills has a decade long-reputation of “jumping” from an employer or set of colleagues to another one as soon as the tide is turning on (mike hearn, gavin andresen, blockstream, chaincode, spiral) without respect of personal loyalties or committed words and have not achieved a professional status of independence where he can hold opinions of his owns on delicate human affairs. I hope newer current and newer generations of bitcoin devs won’t follow his career example in term of personal values. From my history of inter-personal relations with Matt Corallo, it’s hard to trust him because of his employee-like mentality and corresponding incentives.
All this story, at the very last in my opinion, casts a doubt for other economic stakeholders (VC-funded lightning startups or traditional financial players) which are interested to throw more financial resources in the LDK project for the sake of their own commercial ventures. Accountability and clear rules matter when you’re making years-long investment decisions. Neither for self-motivated and talented hackers who are just willing to learn lightning fundamentals on an interesting codebase.
I know it’s hard for a lot of bitcoin open-source developers and people in the community to speak up about spiral as someone as always either a $100k grant to ask them or professional advantages of any kind and people might chill their minds to protect their own business. That said, I’m less corporate or “silicon-valley” and I prefer to stick to an open and “no-bullshit" internet culture inspired by the centuries-old US and European of civic discourse traditions.
Overall, I don’t have anger about the spiral people. They’re competent according to world class standards in the tech field, I’m just very sad and disappointed about their poor behaviors in the realm of human affairs. I stay committed to build better human standards with them in this space the day we can find a common line of understanding. Feel free to ask them their versions of the story on their social media handles.
While I’m very busy on other technical things, I’ll stay available during the coming weeks or months to answer questions of the community on cancel culture in bitcoin, the wider bitcoin FOSS culture, the state of LDK and why the respect of human values matters on this thread. I’ll respect people private life and related confidential informations, I know where is the boundary.
This changes nothing in term of my other commitments towards other bitcoin open-source projects, especially bitcoin core. While I announced my intent to cut with the LDK project due to other pure and technical serious reasons independent of LDK itself, I still have a good chunk of sensitive security information to share back with the appropriate LDK contributors and I’ll take time to so during the coming year of 2024.
Disclosure: Based on past published information, I believe Steve Lee is an investor in stacker.news though I trust the editors community to be mindful about the potential conflict of interests in term of neutral moderation, while applying the usual norms of civility.
(For the context see the #general chan on LDK Discord, apologies I have no time no figure out how to cleanly insert links with markdown).