BCH begins developer purge, but can’t solve viability problem

BCH has removed the unpopular “mining tax” from the code of its May 2020 protocol upgrade. However, the bitter acrimony over the plan continues, threatening to split the community at a time when BCH is facing multiple challenges. One developer discovered he’d been removed from the Bitcoincashorg organization without notice, and threats of further purges are coming from both sides.

Code change removes mining tax… and developers

“Freetrader”, a developer and one of the original founders of Bitcoin ABC, had requested to merge two commits to the code repository “bitcoincashorg” on GitHub to remove the tax, which is known officially as the Infrastructure Funding Proposal (IFP). A few days later, however, someone else in the group removed Freetrader from its list of contributors.

In the GitHub comments, Freetrader appeared surprised by the move and said he hadn’t been notified or given reasons:

“I noticed I was removed from bitcoincashorg organization on github on March 3 by some administrator of the org.

It was not correlated to any action of mine (my last GH action prior to raising this PR was on Feb 22). The time of receipt of the automated notification email from Github is 3 Mar 2020 18:12:50 UTC.

Can someone explain to me why I was removed from this repository which is nominally the location of the common Bitcoin Cash specification? @Mengerian @deadalnix @jasonbcox who removed me from the Bitcoin Cash org, and why?”

Freetrader had previously objected to the IFP/mining tax, which would have redirected a percentage of mining block rewards to a fund for BCH protocol and other infrastructure development. He said the funding portion of the proposed upgrade had been added without consensus, and after a “feature freeze” deadline that locked in key changes to the protocol.

Freetrader had, days prior, issued a pull request and released a version of Bitcoin ABC called “Bitcoin Cash Node“, which was identical to the Bitcoin ABC code only with the lines pertaining to funding removed.

Bitcoin ABC co-developer Antony Zegers (aka “Mengerian”) expressed displeasure at the arguments surrounding the IFP, commenting, “None of you reviewed or helped out writing any of the specs for the last few upgrades, and now you come out with the pitchforks when it’s done in a way you don’t like.” Responders took umbrage at the accusation, saying they had reviewed code and also suggested alternative funding plans.

Zegers acknowledged that some had helped review the code, and admitted the funding portion should have been included before the feature freeze. However the chaotic, public and often personal manner in which BCH’s funding issues have been debated indicate it’ll be hard to find a consensus solution any time soon.

BCH (literally) can’t afford another split, while BSV has already solved the problem

Both factions in the BCH funding debate have grumbled in forums and on social media that proponents or opponents of the mining tax/IFP concept should be removed from their positions of influence, or from the community altogether.

It’s uncertain how BCH will move forward from here—compromise alternatives often end up pleasing no-one, and the issue has caused mistrust that could lead to either a chain split or prominent members leaving the community, should the opposing side prevail.

At the heart of the issue, as in most cases, is money. Developers need to be paid, and miners need to profit—these are the basic economic incentives that drive technology like Bitcoin, which must prove its viability while simultaneously supporting those building it.

Bitcoin (BSV), which represents Satoshi Nakamoto’s original vision for Bitcoin with massive on-chain scalability, understood these incentives. Backed by more reliable investment capital for development, its team has released a finalized version of the protocol with unlimited scaling—giving miners potential access to far greater profits than the 10-minute block reward offers. Its “set in stone” protocol also means there can’t be any more of the ideological splits that have haunted Bitcoin and damaged its reputation over the years.

This essentially means BCH is arguing over problems BSV has already solved, and taken steps to avoid in the future. Opinions and personalities no longer matter to the protocol itself—developers are instead working on utilizing it and have turned their energy and focus on building the application layer out.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated.

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