Forks and reorgs on a blockchain do not signal doom and gloom

Forks, reorgs on blockchain do not signal doom and gloom

On April 18, there was some interesting activity on the Bitcoin SV (BSV) blockchain. Two miners were actively mining competing chains, resulting in two chain reorganizations (reorg). As there are a number of people who have way too much time and too little sense, someone was just waiting for a reason to attack BSV and used the opportunity to grab a piece of the limelight. One BSV basher, Nikita Zhavoronkov, took to Twitter to call out the event, only to show that he has no real knowledge of cryptocurrency mining, reorgs and forks. Steve Shadders has prepared an in-depth piece on the subject and posted it on in an effort to enlighten the individual, as well as anyone else who needs to improve their edification. 

Shadders points out that, contrary to what the tweet tried to portray, the reorg of three blocks was actually included in the reorg of six blocks, “so from an outsider’s point of view it was like part of the chain switched to a longer branch then switched back to the original branch once it became longer.” He provided an easy-to-understand analogy, stating, “Imagine a race where someone takes the lead then falls back into second place again.”

As pointed out by Bitmex, nothing bad happened because of the action. It stated on Twitter, “Based on the current most work [BSV] chain, all the TXIDs (except coinbase transactions) from the fork made it the main chain. Therefore no double spends appear to have occurred.”

A reorg is a normal part of the Nakamoto consensus. Shadders provides an explanation of a reorg, indicating, “A re-org is an event, and an orphan block (or chain) is the consequence of that event. In a 2014 report noted that on the BTC blockchain orphans occurred 1-3 time a day.”

The issue of reorgs is not a concern to users—they won’t affect the blockchain’s stability or the crypto’s usability. However, it has already been proven that reorgs don’t result in lost blocks or in double-spends. Shadders explains, “We can demonstrate the first is false and the second is so unlikely as to be not worth worrying about.”

Shadders is empathetic to Zhavornokov and understands that the issue may stem from a lack of understanding and not necessarily from an attempt to bash BSV. He adds, “For someone that saw both chains (the headers for both are broadcast so anyone can request the blocks), there was at most a two block height difference. If you could see your transaction is in both forks of the chain then it wouldn’t matter if the reorg was 100 blocks long. In the absence of another hidden chain you know your transaction is confirmed regardless of who wins.”

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