When “being decentralized” isn’t quite what it seems


This can’t be for real right?

Seems it is, I got curious to see if this was a once-off mistake or not, but it seems this user has been talking about how decentralized XRP is for a while. I found a bunch of other references to the main Ripple website spewing this nonsense!


Why is this a more “fair” comparison?

Well, in the image on the Ripple website, they’re showing how many people would be needed to collaborate to perform a 51% attack. They’re then showing how much Ripple themselves control.

A list of Bitcoin nodes 20181017

How many does XRP have?

In the default list, Ripple currently has 10 of the 21 nodes (Previously more, but, they’ve shut down some of their own). This is basically the “mining” though due to the way that block creation works in XRP. You have a default list of “approved” nodes, and you must implicitly define any additional nodes. This is called the “UNL” (Unique Node List), and up until June 2018, this list was 100% Ripple Labs controlled servers (Read it back to me as “100% Centralized”):


1/ Nobody is ‘trusted’ in Bitcoin (Nor should you trust anybody for any cryptocurrency / blockchain)

The default list is obtained through a DNS Seed where you don’t know of any valid nodes. Any publicly accessible node that’s serving up the blockchain will be added to that list after a while.

2/ You must manually add additional nodes to your UNL

Because must “trust” people you connect to, you can’t be manually adding any random node. You see on the list of Ripple Validators, there’s a large number that are not in agreement:


3/ Ripple controls the UNL

Where can you find the default UNL?

4/ Validators make the blocks

So what we can see above is that only 15% agree of the nodes in the full UNL agree what the “correct” chain is. Those in the default UNL that Ripple controls will not only give you a copy of the chain, but also decide on “what transactions have occurred”.

5/ There are 21 “approved” nodes with XRP

21… A paltry 21 nodes that are approved that have the “correct” version of the blockchain.

In conclusion

Ripple still “owns” the XRP network, hands down. Sure they’ve been making efforts to bring on more 3rd parties, but their entire model is total centralization, from the creation of those tokens through to who is a validator node, through to controlling the list of default “approved” nodes that your software connects to.

DigiByte, distribution of the last 1000 blocks mined



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Josiah Spackman

Josiah Spackman


I write interesting things about cryptocurrency, especially DigiByte