Where there’s smoke there’s fire. There’s been no official word from Core devs, but there have been undeniable signs brewing. An increase in Segwit1x (BTC) blocksize means a hard fork. The one thing that Core have often stated is a “dangerous” thing to do. For years, the community was told that hard forks were dangerous, and this was the reason Segwit was done as a ‘soft fork.’
Evidence: Peter Todd explaining why hard forks are dangerous in this piece titled: Soft forks are safer than hard forks.
Evidence 2: Core aligned Paul Sztorc wrote in detail how “a hard fork breaks Bitcoin’s contract, risks users funds, and puts developers in danger.”
There are countless many other sources with similar content, and Google is your friend if you feel the itch to do some digging. But of course, there were many on the big blocker camp that could see through the double speak and would question the rhetoric.
But is Core now about to do the unthinkable and do two things which they were not only particularly against, but also caused a major divide in the eco-system over? Some signs are pointing to yes.
Firstly, bitcoin.org and bitcointalk forum co-founder/owner “Cobra” has recently had a major turn in sentiment. Tweeting such things as:
But also recently putting pen to paper on a Medium blog post titled, “Thoughts on Bitcoin as a settlement layer,” where he states:
It’s well known that block chains have terrible scaling attributes. You basically have two choices if you want to scale to millions of users; 1) you push everyone on to secondary or tertiary layers and have the base layer have a smaller block size and high transaction fees which allows you to have a decentralized and censorship resistant network at the base layer, or 2) you do *everything* on chain and have massive centralization and trust in miners, with very few people running full nodes.
Many people in the Bitcoin community advocate for the first choice, they say Bitcoin should remain as decentralized as possible at the base layer and “coffee transactions” should happen on the other layers. The Bitcoin Cash community goes to the other extreme and talk about things like 1GB block sizes. I’ve always preferred the first choice, but lately I’ve been starting to lose faith in it.
Almost reassuringly, Cobra concludes with, “We never have these discussions because everyone is so focused on attacking the Bitcoin Cash people for how stupid it is to have huge blocks, and how this will lead to centralization, but we don’t ever talk about how ‘layer 1 as a settlement layer’ will also lead to centralization in its own way.”
But do notice the very closing comment: “Transaction fees should always remain low enough such that ordinary users can use and access the block chain for medium to large purchases.” Notice, he never says “small” purchases. We will get back to that in a moment.
The thing with Cobra is that he still insists that Satoshi Nakamoto’s whitepaper should be re-written to accommodate the Blockstream narrative.
Re-writing someone else’s academic paper is so unethical, it is immorality of the highest order in academia. This sort of speech, should be shut down immediately. I believe the tweet was calculated. I also believe the tweet was designed to measure the social response.
Cobra and Theymos are integral to the censorship and BTC narrative. Not only do they control the two biggest forums for Bitcoin, they also hold the most visited site. This is where the information war is won.
Never forget that Theymos famously once stated: “In particular, posts about anything especially emotionally-charged will be deleted unless they introduce some very substantial new ideas about the subject. This includes the max block size debate (any side) and /r/Bitcoin moderation.”
That was the beginning of the censorship campaign. That was also two years ago now. The blocksize was never allowed to be mentioned again. In particular, if you even suggested raising the blocksize, your post would get deleted, and some would get banned. If you were really unlucky, you’d get “shadowbanned” (only you can see anything you post).
Across Twitter and across forums now however, there’s been a change in tone. Various users, suggesting that a blocksize increase may be needed to save Bitcoin from $72 average fees as witnessed in block #500322, are now making their voices heard. The fact that campaigns suggesting these things in such circles is one thing, but the fact that these are actually being “allowed” and “discussed” is an altogether different thing. It is a significant departure of policy.
Heavily censored forum r/bitcoin has suddenly opened channels of discussion of the blocksize recently. The one thing they vowed to never discuss. In fact, a recent discussion on the forum suggested a mild blocksize increase, to keep the fees at $10-$20, the most upvoted comment—which was neither deleted nor censored—said, “I think the world is not black or white. It’s not 1MB decentralized or 1GB centralized.”
What’s happening now is that talk of blocksize is being permitted again. Talk of raising the blocksize is being permitted (even from notable Core members). This will be allowed in order to gain traction until there appears to be sufficient support. At which point CEO of Blockstream Adam Back may come out and tell the world something to the effect of “it appears that there is overwhelming support for a hard fork to increase the blockweight on Segwit (BTC)… although I may not agree that this is the best way forward, I will not however, stand against a consensus ruling.” Sure enough BTC will get the hard fork. In fact it is absolutely necessary for its own survival. $100 fees are not in any way, shape, or form, sustainable.
So what’s the problem? There is none. It’s great news that Core sentiment is changing… It’s great that they now see hard forks, and blocksize increases as important steps to upgrades, scaling, and maintaining the survivability of BTC. It’s what big blockers have been trying to argue for years. The issue with this dilemma is that it could have all been avoided. If instead of being reactive, had they been a little more proactive and foreseen these troubles that many of us and, most notably, Mike Hearn, saw, Bitcoin may not have needed to split in the first place.
If the BTC hard fork does happen, it throws into question everything concerning the leadership and the credibility of Core, who by their own failure to see the chaos of $50 fees, are being forced to eat their own words.
There’s a consistent theme from the echo chamber however. Every voice requests a “mild” blocksize increase… one that would enable “medium to large” purchases as Cobra stated, and one that would keep fees between $10 and $20. This mild blocksize increase is exactly what Segwit2x would have provided… yet Core were passionately against any such thing. How times have changed – just a little over a month onwards. But the moderate fees are crucial to Blockstream’s business model.
In the interview below, CEO of Blockstream, Adam Back told Laura Shin, and the world, outright why this is the case. Blockstream’s business models must ensure Bitcoin has moderate fees. Not high enough to scare moderate users, but also not low enough to make the below business incentive, void.
The above quote was so outlandish, that some Core aligned fans questioned its authenticity:
Like Cobra, I’m also changing my tune. I wish BTC the best. My frustration will always come from the damage their firm stance has caused, in dividing the community unnecessarily. Bitcoin Cash will continue the big blocker roadmap. We have two competing ideologies. Off-chain every day transaction with a store of value base layer, versus, a frictionless, instant, simple one chain that does the job efficiently. One truth that is now undeniable, is that the main chain cannot be forever restricted to a static variable. Not for big blockers, and apparently not for small blockers either.