If the Bitcoin Scaling War Is Over, Why Is Everyone Still Fighting?
Peace in our time! Bitcoin will get scaling with SegWit and larger blocks. Disruptive hard and soft forks have been avoided. Confidence and relief have driven the price back into the high two thousands. Will the community now reunite and move on? Or are different interest groups merely regrouping, to fight a larger battle for Bitcoin’s soul at some later date?
But the Scaling Debate Is Over and We Made a Deal… Right?
BIP91 seemed like the answer everyone was looking for. SegWit fans get SegWit. Big blockers have the chance to double the block size in November. The main “sides” in Bitcoin’s scaling war both got a chance to declare victory.
What they really got, though, was a compromise. And if history and the U.S. Congress are any guide, compromises make nice headlines but tend to leave warring parties unsatisfied.
With over 90 percent of the network now signaling support for BIP91, any outsider would think the debate is over. Talk to anyone with a strong opinion on where Bitcoin should be in a few years’ time, though, and they’ll give you a knowing wink.
To get a feel for the divide, look at Reddit’s two main Bitcoin discussion forums — r/Bitcoin and r/BTC. Reading these pages one after the other is like getting political analysis from Huffington Post and Breitbart — it’s easy to feel like you’re experiencing two different universes.
Both accuse the other camp of deception, dirty tricks, and of conspiring with shadowy corporate investors to seize control of Bitcoin. They warn of tricks the other “side” may attempt, and assure supporters their vision will triumph in the long run. They accuse each other of damaging Bitcoin’s appeal and market cap.
UASF: Campaign Urges Followers to Keep Signaling
Camouflage hat-wearing supporters of the “UASF”/BIP148 campaign patted each other on the back when BIP91 “locked in”. SegWit2x and its “New York Agreement” only happened thanks to the pressure they exerted, many said.
— Protoblock (@protoblock) July 22, 2017
The man who started the hat campaign, Blockstream’s Samson Mow, urged supporters to keep signaling BIP 148 to make sure SegWit happens:
— Samson Mow (@Excellion) July 22, 2017
However, the number of nodes signaling BIP148 has actually increased, at a more rapid rate over the past week — and continues to rise. Why is that?
BIP91, BIP141 and activating SegWit are only half the compromise deal. The more contentious part comes in November, when SegWit2x’s built-in hard fork happens. Some, it seems, still hope to stop it.
Reddit user “ricco_di_alpaca” wrote:
“But we must stay vigilant. They will try to spin this as a mandate for a hard fork. We must be prepared to ignore it. The good news is, no one can force you to support a hard fork. So celebrate, but make sure to share the truth. They will claim victory, and claim they are in charge now, but in reality, we all know who is – you are. Don’t give that up.”
If the November hard fork is defeated, then what happened to the so-called compromise? Larger block size supporters who participated in reaching that agreement will likely feel cheated.
‘Big Blockers’ Still Chasing a Non-SegWit Future
Then there’s the determined band of “big blockers” who still want to try and stop SegWit altogether. They realize they’re probably a minority right now, but also anticipate a future where the community may shift to their cause.
nChain’s Craig Wright and Jimmy Nguyen spoke this week of a massively scaled Bitcoin, where SegWit has no place and may even be a hindrance. Why make such detailed arguments and plans if SegWit is a done deal?
The “Bitcoin Cash“/Bitcoin ABC initiative is still promising a hard fork away from SegWit Bitcoin. Exchanges and pools like ViaBTC have already hinted they’ll support it. Proponents told Bitsonline anecdotally that they’re prepared to sit on a minority chain for the short-term, if that’s what it takes.
Should the block size not increase, or SegWit fail in some other way, they’ll hope to entice the Bitcoin community back to its large-block vision.
It’ll All Be Over by Christmas, They Said
In 1914, British and German troops fighting in World War One famously called an informal truce on Christmas Day. For a brief moment, it looked like their bottom-up movement might even end the war.
It didn’t last long, though. Economic and political interests much larger than the common man were calling the shots, and sent the armies back to their trenches for nearly four more years of fighting.
If Bitcoin can’t satisfy everyone by the end of 2017, though, the sides will likely stop fighting each other directly. Like an unhappy married couple they’ll split, go their separate ways, and battle over assets and custody instead.
Is this true? Or is the Bitcoin world truly at peace now? Let’s hear your opinions.
Images via YouTube (Will PayCoin), Pixabay, BitcoinCash.org