- People think “decentralization” means “I can run this on my own computer, nobody can stop me, I own everything”. But this isn’t a super useful definition. Nobody cares about it.
- Decentralization in practice is mostly be about:
- “can I actually do the thing I want to do”
- “how much permission do I need to do what I want to do?”
- “who can veto the thing after I’ve done it?”
Polymarket vs Manifold
- Even though Polymarket is crypto and thus “decentralized”, it’s only on Manifold that you can actually ask any question you want
Strangemood vs Steam
- Even though Strangemood is on crypto and you can upload anything hypothetically, the thing you actually want to do is not “list games” but “sell games”
- So the platform that puts the power of “selling games” into the hands of the game maker, is the more “decentralized” one.
Mastodon vs Twitter
- Similar example. On Twitter, you can basically say anything and get it seen by really cool people. That’s the thing users want, not some ability to self-host their client.
Central platforms are held in check by their community
The biggest reason people cite for wanting to move off of central platforms is that central platforms can censor or take down content; they have theoretic veto power over
But: in general, note that this veto power is rarely abused (and the times it is abused, it gets intense media scrutiny). Central platforms live and die by the community behind them
Decentralizing is about relative power between platform and users
Think about what powers you’re granting onto your users. That’s what true decentralization is. Maximize user power instead of minimizing platform control.