We All Love Etherscan – The Daily Gwei #46

All of you currently reading this piece are obviously aware of what Etherscan is and what it does – you probably think it’s one of the most invaluable tools in the Ethereum ecosystem – I do too! But I’ve been asking myself a question over the last few weeks – is the Ethereum community too reliant on Etherscan?

I think the answer is probably yes. We all use Etherscan as a “source of truth” when looking at things like our recent or historical transactions, our token balances, how much ETH we spent on gas for a transaction and much more. Hell, whenever Etherscan goes offline all of Ethereum twitter has a collective meltdown because we feel like we’re running blind. What use is a decentralized blockchain if everyone just relies on one centralized website to feed them the data from it? Though I do want to note that as far as I know, Etherscan has never done anything purposefully malicious or deceitful so this piece is just a thought experiment.

You might be wondering, why don’t we just create a decentralized block explorer? Well we already have that and it’s called a full or archive node – okay, okay, I’ll be serious. If we’re talking about a decentralized front-end then sure, that could be spun up on something like IPFS. Though I think the real issue here is the maintenance of it as Etherscan doesn’t only index and display the data from the Ethereum blockchain, they also organize and maintain it so that it is highly available. I can’t even begin to imagine how much back-end infrastructure they have put together to do all of this as well.

Ideally, most end-users will never have to actually visit Etherscan as any apps they interact with should display the relevant information for them. Though this also opens up yet another issue because then those apps become the source of truth for users and could potentially lie to them (or even worse – scam them). In saying this, it’s good that users currently have multiple layers of redundancy that they can check to make sure that the information they are seeing is correct.

Maybe this whole thing isn’t a big issue but I felt like bringing it to your attention as it’s something I am concerned about over the long-term. There are of course alternative block explorers you can use but from my experience none of these come close to what Etherscan offers and that’s exactly why Etherscan is so dominant.

Have a great weekend everyone,
Anthony Sassano

All information presented above is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as investment advice.

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