Will it be possible to withdraw staked ETH after Shanghai?


  • A few of the network’s core developers claim that the network is releasing the upgrades too quickly to avoid public criticism.
  • Most Ethereum developers aren’t willing to wait a few weeks to implement the SSZ tweak because of their bad experience before the Merge upgrade.

The crypto community’s focus is back on the Ethereum network as it continues preparation for its next update after the success of its switch to a proof-of-stake (PoS) network, known as the Merge upgrade. Through the upgrade, there was a fusion between the Ethereum mainnet and the beacon chain. The latter was previously a pos version of the network launched in 2020.

Known as the Shanghai update, this new update aims to reward Ethereum users participating in the network’s staking program. However, the network’s core developers are at loggerheads regarding the timing of the upgrade implementation. Since the launch of the beacon chain, Ethereum users have been staking their ETH to earn rewards, but they haven’t been able to withdraw their earnings.

However, the Shanghai update will enable these stakers to access their rewards, including their initial ETH deposits.

Long-term ramifications

The Shanghai upgrade could be live within the next two months based on available information. However, a few of the network’s core developers claim that the network is releasing the upgrades too quickly to avoid public criticism. They argue that the upgrades are causing technical expenses that could have huge ramifications on the network in the long term.

On Thursday, one of the core developers, Micah Zoltu, remarked,

it seems we are not concerned about the future wellbeing of this network, and we are only thinking about the public’s requests or desires.

Zoltu and 30 other core developers are concerned that neglecting a technical adjustment to the Shanghai update could lead to technical debt that would have huge consequences on the network in decades.

Zoltu and his supporting core developers argue that the implementation of the adjustment won’t exceed four weeks. However, other developers claim that the implementation time is too long as they won’t want to keep the public waiting. Technical debt is the coder’s term for future tweaks that could have been implemented before the release of a code, but the developers chose to release the code quickly and make the tweaks later.

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In this case, the technical debt is the Ethereum developers’ decision not to make staking withdrawals compatible with SSZ (simple serialize). Developers refer to this new and flexible encoding technique as the future of Ethereum encoding. For Shanghai, Ethereum is maintaining the use of the RLP (Recursive-Length Prefix) serialization encoding technique.

However, some developers opine that this encoding technique will likely be discontinued soon. Meanwhile, many of Ethereum’s core developers counter Zoltu’s arguments saying it is better to introduce the SSZ encoding method during the Cancun upgrade, the upgrade after Shanghai.

The problem with this suggestion is that any withdrawal request between Shanghai and Cancun would have been done with the RLP technique, and the withdrawal request may never receive approval due to the immutability of the Ethereum ledger. Hence, developers must move all the encodes from the RLP to the SSZ, a grueling task they could have avoided before releasing the Shanghai update.

Furthermore, the mismatch between the two withdrawal methods could be a huge problem.

Preventing history from repeating itself

During their last meeting, one of the core developers, Tomasz Stanczak, invalidated Zoltu’s worries, saying the network hasn’t decided to move from RLP. To SSZ. He further said this specific tweak requires a different thought and design process. Hence, he suggested that a better option is for the developers to take their time and be better prepared for Cancun.

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However, Zoltu counter-argued that Tomasz’s claim that the network hasn’t decided whether to switch to SSZ is false. He said it is a given that Ethereum will switch to SSZ sooner or later. Meanwhile, another core developer, Matt Nelson, explained that most Ethereum developers aren’t willing to wait a few weeks to implement the SSZ tweak due to their bad experience before the Merge upgrade.

According to him, discussions regarding the Merge upgrade took place in 2018, but the upgrade didn’t happen until 2022 due to the leadership’s desire to satisfy investors and community members. Hence, Nelson reckons that the developers don’t want history repeating itself as it prepares for Shanghai. The disagreements show the pressures and responsibilities of being one of the developers of the second most prominent blockchain.

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