The key to ruling Bitcoin is control of the Reference Client. Once you are in charge of that, you have de facto control over all of Bitcoin. You can add features, remove them, centralize it, or change its essential character completely. Once you control the reference client, you can steer Bitcoin’s destiny. This power in Bitcoin is maintained through control of access to the software “repository” stored on GitHub.
GitHub is where additions and changes to Bitcoin are coordinated. Changes can only be made by people who have been granted “commit access”, meaning permission given to them by the owners to add or remove code from the source used to compile new versions of the Reference Client. It is the Reference Client that defines and enforces all the rules that make up the Bitcoin protocol which is Bitcoin.
There have been three attempts to control Bitcoin by stealing its reigns through the launch of a new reference client:
“Bitcoin-XT” was designed to increase the block size radically, introduce address blacklists and other nefarious ant-Bitcoin things, to stop what Hearn famously called, “Anarchist Jive”.
“Bitcoin Classic” was a similar attempt, to introduce centralizing policies by increasing the block size, after which, full government controls could be added by legislation targeted at companies offering access to third partites. You can read about this in “The Bitcoin Gauntlet”.
“Bitcoin Unlimited” was an attempt to put Bitcoin on a block size increase regime to pull the ladder up for new market entrants needing to run a full node, remove Bitcoin Core as the steering group for the Bitcoin protocol and remove the need for incumbents to re-write their software platforms to accommodate Segregated Witness.
All three of these attempts failed.
Now “BTC1” is the latest attempt to steal control of Bitcoin by introducing a non compliant reference client clone. It is being developed in a new repository on GitHub. The aim of this BTC1 client is to:
In order for this latest coup attempt to succeed, the majority of users running a full node need to stop the version of Bitcoin Core (or compliant variants) they are currently operating, install BTC1 and then run it instead of Bitcoin Core.
Screen grab from the GitHub page of BTC1, clearly showing BTC1 is forked from bitcoin. Calling BTC1 “Bitcoin” is not honest. Other implementations use unique names as shown above, to differentiate themselves from other projects, and BTC1, were its motives clean would do exactly the same and use a distinct name.
Once they do that, then BTC1 would be the reference client, and all changes to it going forward would have to come from their repository on GitHub. Bitcoin Core’s developers, who do not have access to that repository, would cease to be able to steer the protocol.
Even if Bitcoin Core’s developers were given commit access after BTC1 became the default, they would not be able to reverse the damage done by BTC1 and their non compliant SegWit+2M software fork. We would be on the road to an ever increasing block size forever, and a centralized Bitcoin.
BTC1 becoming the reference client would mean business preferring not to do the hard work of building on the advantages provided by Segregated Witness could do so without consequence. Having seized control of Bitcoin’s development, they can keep increasing the block size parameter by any arbitrary amount they choose, and expand the network’s capacity in that way, rather than through the intelligent and long horizon increases provided by Segregated Witness and other planned efficiencies and innovations.
This would result in a Bitcoin where there would be no incentive to write SegWit into their existing services, because Bitcoin would, on the surface, work exactly as it did in its early days. It would also have other advantages for incumbents to charge new companies for access to the Bitcoin block chain, since hosting a full copy would be prohibitively expensive in hardware and bandwidth.
Note also, how “BTC1” is not making the mistake its predecessors made, by re-naming its work to “Bitcoin-X”. They are going to attempt to claim that this clone is actually Bitcoin, which of course, it will not be; it will be a copy or fork of the true reference client, whose sole purpose is to supplant and usurp the ethical developers of Bitcoin Core. They are also hijacking the name “SegWit”, and replacing Core’s BIP141 with a bastardized version of their own.
Bearing all of this in mind, obviously you should not ever run BTC1, since it is not Bitcoin and exists only as a means of perpetrating a coup. If you have a stake in Bitcoin or are interested in the long term strength and proposition of Bitcoin, you should also not run BTC1 when it is finally released, pour encourager les autres. These coup attempts are wastes of time; thankfully the market pays no attention to them, and they have no effect on the price. No matter what anyone proposes or what software they write, if no one runs the code, it has no effect on anything. Software is not about feelings or voting. It is about how many people are running your code.
BTC1 is unethical. Its motives are not honest, and it is clearly using deception to move Bitcoin into the big block direction, by shutting out Bitcoin Core. This is a subtle form of “Bait and Switch”. What BTC1 is proposing seems reasonable on the surface; get everyone on board, reach “consensus”, heal the divisions, and move Bitcoin forward. Its all lies, of course. What they really want is to kill Bitcoin Core and make SegWit into a distraction wile the block size increases and centralized Bitcoin is born. This is an aggressive attempt, just like the last three, to steal Bitcoin.
By August 1st the UASF (User Activated Soft Fork) will have happened. Whilst personally I don’t like the idea of mobs dictating how software is written, this is an emergency created by an imbalance in Bitcoin’s incentives. A single miner has so much power that they can block the activation of SegWit, so they can continue to collect high fees. This is an intolerable hostage situation, obviously, that merits a strong emergency reaction, and that is what UASF is. Once SegWit activates, there will be no need for any more actions like UASF, and the transaction rate floodgates will open. In any case, large issues like this may become less frequent as time goes on.
Very few can keep up with BIPS and the rapid rate of development in Bitcoin: and its going to get worse. One dedicated, ethical, selfless, trusted team is needed, Bitcoin Core, to guard the reference from bad actors, Ambulance Chasers and “Caffeinds” (caffeine fiends). When the transaction rate is higher than VISA and MasterCard combined, and pennies per transaction, everyone will be back to developing business models and software, rather than trying to perpetually explain why you can’t fit two pints of bitter into a one pint glass.
Thanks to @MediumSqueeze and @AnselLindner for fact checking this post.
100 Double Espresso…because the fees are too damn high.↴