Introducing the Law of Chains

The OP Stack was built to be the most forkable, modular scaling infrastructure out there. When we introduced it, we explained that it was our bet on the ingenuity of the entire Ethereum community. We released it as an open source public good - one that could be a key lever for scaling Ethereum while preserving the open, neutral characteristic of its blockspace.

Almost a year later, our bet on permissionless innovation is paying off in spades: it feels like every other day, somebody is giving the OP Stack a new superpower, or using it to launch a new chain.

Today, we are proud to introduce the Law of Chains v0: the next step towards the Superchain future. The Law of Chains lays the foundation for defining an MVP of the Superchain.

Boundless blockspace for Ethereum was a critical step on the path to mass adoption. But proliferation begets fragmentation, and permissionless deployment introduces new challenges.

Today, each new OP Stack chain navigates its own frontier without a straightforward way to share standards and improvements.

Meanwhile, users and builders face an overwhelming challenge: individually evaluating numerous different chains on the basis of security, quality, and neutrality.

To realize the Superchain, we need to move from OP Stack chains as independent and disparate blockspace, to a unified collective of chains that uphold a shared commitment to open, decentralized blockspace. We need a world where problems only have to be solved once, improvements benefit everyone, and users aren’t overwhelmed.

The Law of Chains creates guiding principles for Optimism Governance and the Superchain. Optimism Governance moves from governing a single chain, to governing a standard shared by many chains, thus defining the properties that are required to be a part of the Superchain while prioritizing the protection of users as they traverse and transact with it.

First, the Law of Chains enumerates various categories of stakeholders across the ecosystem. Then, it defines the protections and expectations that should apply to those participants, and the values that should be upheld when making decisions which affect them. It's not a definitive voting process or procedural playbook for Optimism Governance, but an enduring neutrality framework to be upheld amid evolving specifics.

As an MIT-licensed public good, it is your right to use the OP Stack however you see fit. The Law of Chains will only apply to OP Chains that opt-in to become part of the Superchain, providing a value proposition for those who want to play the positive sum game.

We believe the Law of Chains will enable the Superchain to:

  • Ensure blockspace remains homogeneous, neutral and open: A commitment to the Law of Chains is a commitment to the protection of a chain’s users, developers, and other stakeholders. Chains large and small, if part of the Superchain, can credibly demonstrate the homogenous, neutral and open properties of their blockspace, backed by Optimism Governance.

  • Benefit from constant improvement: Shared upgrades mean that chains can always get the best tech, without having to worry about maintenance themselves.

  • Enable better, more available infrastructure: Because all chains in the Superchain are credibly committed to a standard, they can work together to ensure the availability and affordability of key services like indexing and sequencing.

V0 of the Law of Chains is now open for community feedback. Fundamentally, the Law of Chains is a social contract (not a legal one), so active community discussion is of the utmost importance. Please read more and join the conversation here in the forum–your feedback is both requested and welcome.

We’d like to express our sincere gratitude to Jesse Pollak, Rowan Stone, and the rest of the Base and Coinbase teams for their contributions to this initial draft, alongside Andrew Huang, Tyson Battistella, Jason Rosenthal, Scott Kominers, Eddy Lazzarin, and David Hoffman for the invaluable feedback and conversations throughout the drafting process.

After iterating on this draft with the community, we hope to formally introduce it, alongside the first version of a governance process for new chains to join the Superchain, in the next Season of governance.

And, as always,
Stay Optimistic! ✨🔴

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