A compendium of information on why (Segwit)2x failed.
I’ve decided a follow-up to my original post would be fitting now that the 2X hard-fork initiative is behind us. I didn’t intend for it to be a “Part 1” of something bigger so these two posts aren’t structured as such. Please go read that first. I wanted to also address the precedents that have been set by the two major forks (and Airdrops) of 2017 and what this probably means for the future direction of the Bitcoin protocol we all love so much, but like the original post this became way too long (mostly due to screenshots). I intend on following up with another article on those subjects at some point, this post will cover 2X. My posts attempt to serve as a bridge between an entry-level and mid-level understanding of Bitcoin and the political thicket that drives it, so I’m going to try and keep this in that range. If you “don’t understand what’s going on with all of these forks” but you own Bitcoin, or kind of know how Bitcoin works, this article is for you.
What is 2X? Where did it come from? Why did it fail?
I want to preface this by stating that I don’t hate Barry Silbert for creating 2X. I think it’s possible he may have genuinely tried to help and simply couldn’t anticipate the chaos that happened in response. That being said, he used his only strike here, so let it be a learning experience for him and an example for anyone in the future who thinks they can do the same. Richard Heart put it into good context, and also goes on to talk about the failure of Bitcoin Cash, but that alt-coin isn’t worth my time in this article.
I’d like to consider my time writing everything below well spent, not wasted, but Rodolfo’s point still stands: 2X was DOA. Let’s get up to speed.
First, it doesn’t deserve to be called SegWit2x. I’ll be calling it what it is: 2X.
Second, any future hijacking of any future upgrade proposal with an attached +2X at the end (or beginning, middle, or nulled out of the name entirely) is just another rehashing of the same attack. The attack is made to look amorphous, and it’s backed (and sometimes lead) by people who don’t know they are pawns. 2X is 2X no matter what it’s attached to, no matter who’s leading it, no matter who’s coding it. Here’s why 2X failed this time.
- 2X Roots: The New York Agreement
- 2X Reception: The Community’s Response
- 2X Reneging: The Fallout
- 2X Retraction: The Cancellation
The New York Agreement
Let’s begin with 2X’s origin in order to understand why it fell off.
This isn’t a history of the scaling debate, just know that ‘big-blocks’ have been touted by a small group for some time as a solution to the ‘scaling problem’. All of their attempts have failed and for good reason, 2X was no exception. While the majority of the community was endorsing the pending activation of SegWit, miners were blocking it, so a 3rd party came in and packaged SegWit with ‘big-blocks’, calling it a ‘compromise’. Bitmain had been exploiting an advantage (ASICBoost) in the mining process awarded to those who controlled significant hashpower, which SegWit indirectly prevented. This meant millions of dollars lost for Bitmain if SegWit was activated in it’s current soft-fork (backwards compatible) form, so Bitmain was blocking the upgrade. They publicly control two of the major mining pools, and some speculate the top four (over 50%). Miners can leave, but they’re motivated by profit and Bitmain provides a steady source of income. The users were getting fed up with SegWit being blocked so some of them decided they were going to activate SegWit without the centralized miners ‘approval’ via a UASF. A small group and some businesses began very vocally demanding an increase in block size despite SegWit being a block increase. There were many discussions on the topic prior to this point, here’s an hour long panel from 2015. Here’s the panel from Consensus 2017, and here’s a segment from that panel:
That was Stephen Pair (CEO of BitPay) at Consensus 2017 on May 22nd, talking about how Bitcoin doesn’t work for his company anymore, and that they have no choice but to use a fork of Bitcoin. What didn’t happen at Consensus was nobody told Stephen that his business model is faulty, his company’s software was inefficient, oh…and that Bitcoin never “worked” for his company. What exactly is it about the block size that hinders your company’s ability to process $20,000 transactions? He put this out 4 days before the panel, in an effort to dismiss how he might be bought by Bitmain. Here’s Stephen one year before that clip, praising the developers for not giving in to the block size push:
On May 23rd, the Digital Currency Group (CEO is Barry Silbert, who’s not affiliated with any of the the development process up until that point) stepped in and announced what became known as “The New York Agreement”. The implication of the agreement was that all of the companies listed came together and decided to move forward with a ‘combined’ scaling solution: SegWit + a 2X increase in block size. Truth is, a handful of other business leaders were just presented with the agreement already put together by the DCG (see Reddit screenshots below) and told to sign if they want to avoid a fork. Few actually wanted 2X, they just didn’t want a fork, and none actually represented the voices or their customers. We also haven’t seen any companies that signed speak out and say they actually took part in the process of writing this agreement, it was all done behind closed doors by Barry and __??__.
Some groups have been leveraging the big-block push for some time leading up to this by downplaying and ridiculing the SegWit upgrade, and offering their own solutions like Bitcoin ‘Unlimited’ which had an unlimited block size. This leveraging, coupled with the miners already blocking SegWit for monetary reasons gave the appearance of a heavily divided community. ‘Unlimited’ ultimately failed like it’s predecessors ‘Classic’ and ‘XT’, pushed by the same group and they ended up divided between 2X and later ‘Cash’. Bitcoin ‘Cash’ successfully forked but most knew it was designed to fail and a scam, so the 2X proponents (really just some CEOs and ‘Cash’ supporters who wanted to divide us) kept pushing 2X. Were there some people stuck in between? Yes, but they were far and few.
The Community’s Response
Initial reception of the NYA from the community wasn’t positive.
Opposition was across the board and built from the ground up over time until it became an undeniable failure that ended with the whole thing being called off. You can check out that NYA link and read all the comments if you wish, and I recommend it, please go read other peoples opinions. Like all big announcements, it was subsequently submitted to Reddit and full of opposition as well. Go read it all yourself, here’s some (ok it’s a lot) highlights:
If it wasn’t clear from the beginning that 2X was a widely contested proposal, what else happened that led to it’s inevitable demise?
For starters, there was no code. There was no client you could download and run that would support this proposal. That changed when Jeff Garzik stepped in and spawned ‘btc1’. You can check out btc1 here, but you won’t find much activity because almost all of the work and decision making process was done in private, which is the exact opposite of consensus. All the ‘work’ that Jeff Garzik put into copying Bitcoin can be found there. I’ll admit that statement is considered a bit biased for a marginal part of the community, but it is a copy. It’s goal was to become The Bitcoin and it didn’t successfully achieve what it set out to do, but how did this come to be? I’d like to keep it simple and just say the community decided on a coin and that was it but it really wasn’t. So why did the community decide this way? Was it UASF/Dragon hats and Twitter tags?
Okay, so it’s a little bit more complicated than that, but the fact of the matter is some people like to ‘wear their heart on their sleeve’, Emin…
…They want to let everybody know who they support and that they think their view is ‘the right one’. They could be wrong, but this isn’t a unique act specific to certain types of groups, this is a desire across the political spectrum. As such, when the ‘sleeve-hearting’ is visibly in favor of one view across all outlets you can reasonably assume it has influence on the economic support, if it’s not directly part of it. (It was, proof below.)
The reality is, the majority of the community, including the companies, were against 2X, and I’ll provide many of the signs prior to the fork that made me confident of that fact, starting with the Twitter hashtags. A small percentage of the entire Bitcoin community actively uses Twitter to communicate, most just lurk. An even smaller percentage of us used NO2X tags, so I started making a list for both NO2X and Pro-2X supporters (just those who have used the tag). Twitter only let’s you search for up to 108 people at a single time, and it will show you the ones with the most common connections based off of some algorithm they use, so you won’t find accurate totals just by searching if they exceed 108. The rest of these list members came from seeing them in the wild and redoing the search every now and then. Keep in mind, if I saw comments that were Pro2X but then the persons history shows them supporting Bitcoin ‘Cash’, they weren’t included:
You could also just look at the differences between their Slack communities. Here’s a comparison between both of their largest channels: 7,705 vs. 413
If it’s any consolation, although this one can easily be argued because I don’t have any tangible data: #bitcoin is the 3rd largest IRC channel on Freenode at the moment and is moderated by and frequented primarily by Core supporters. There is no 2X IRC channel. There’s an #Ethereum channel, there’s a #Monero channel, there’s a #Litecoin channel, there’s a #ZCash channel, there’s a #Dash channel…#Dogecoin, #Gridcoin, #Filecoin, #IOTA, #Namecoin, #Vertcoin, #Siacoin, #Rubycoin, [X]coin, [Y]coin, [Z]coin, #BitcoinXT, #BitcoinChat (bitcoin.com, ‘Cash’, r/btc), but no 2X:
The reality is, everyone saw through the antics many of the fake 2X proponents were using, like being “anti-NO2X”, but then going and supporting Bitcoin ‘Cash’ . In fact most 2X support (barring the CEOs advocating it) on social media were by ‘Cash’ proponents. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: There is a systemic attempt to divide the Bitcoin community. Not everyone has the same end goal, and it’s all loosely/poorly organized, but it’s real. Some want another coin (like Ethereum) to take it’s place, while others are just sitting on piles of Bitcoin and would love the opportunity to dump the newly forked coins. The screenshot below shows a promoted (paid for advertisement) by a Bitcoin ‘Cash’ supporter, talking down about NO2X and promoting the 2X split, lying in the process. Then Tuur Demeester’s reply to “every major exchange”, along with a reply from BitMEX:
Roger Ver’s exploitation of 2X to divide the community in effort prop up Bitcoin ‘Cash’. Endorsed by the main developer of 2X, knowing Roger’s scam:
This is Roger’s presentation where he was literally on stage promoting Bitcoin ‘Cash’ one week prior. Why would he support 2X on his site?:
Why is Roger Ver actively supporting the 2X agenda if he already has Bitcoin ‘Cash’? Well, this is something everyone else asked themselves too, and…
…The reality is, no matter how much you lie and spread misinformation, the community at large has yet to be blindsided by it. It’s unfortunate for those who are lured in (my posts aims to help prevent that), but there are simply too many of us paying attention and calling you out for it. This article (by The Pirate Who Can’t Be Named) written specifically in response to Erik Vorhees’ behavior, is a perfect example of this. If you haven’t read that article yet, please go bookmark it for later. In the meantime, here’s just one example from Erik:
The reality is, the software that’s been running for 9 years now is continually changing but has been consistently supported by majority of the leading developers and community. Almost none of the developers were in support of 2X either, and the community was able to recognize the importance of this. For a long list of developer responses please go see my prior post, or refer to this Reddit thread, or this Twitter thread. I just don’t think these charts could be any more clear:
The reality is, all of this was reflected in the futures markets. Futures markets in this context are pretty simple: If you have 1 Bitcoin you can lock it up on an exchange before a chain split and receive the two 2 coins (BT1/BT2) you would normally get after the split. The only catch is, they don’t actually exist until the split occurs, which is why the exchange locks up your Bitcoin first. You’re trading fake tokens with a semi-legally binding contract. Bitfinex was the first exchange to set a market up and the price discovery phase took less than a day, followed by a steady decline. At the time of the screenshot below, the price for a 2X (BT2) token on Bitfinex was $1,060, while Bitcoin was cruising at $7,315 and BT1 tokens were $6,483. 2X tokens were priced at 0.14 the price of a Bitcoin and dropping. The results were of course dismissed as “manipulated”, “not an accurate representation of the community”, etc… The 2nd futures market set up was by the exchange OKEx. Same results. They even made a Twitter poll that ended up directly correlated (off by 1%) with their futures market prices at the time. You tell me what the market was thinking:
Says something about the accuracy of Twitter polls (at least in the Bitcoin community), doesn’t it? We’ll get back to that in a moment…
The reality is, multiple anti-Sybil (anti-voting multiple times) polls were done to determine community support despite the futures market making it clear, and they were all dismissed by 2X supporters as being manipulated or simply just not an accurate representation of the community.The following is Luke Dashjr’s poll that requires you to log into Coinbase before you can vote. Since Coinbase is heavily regulated with KYC (know your customer) laws, you can only have 1 account per person, and in turn only vote once. These results speak for themselves:
The following was a non-traditional Twitter poll that required people to comment on the tweet with a Yes or No:
Everyone who commented can have their Twitter feed analyzed. Everyone who objects to Twitter polls being gamed can go and look through every single profile that voted ‘No’ and grouping them into ‘probably fake’ / ‘not sure’ / ‘probably real’. You can easily take the No’s only in the ‘probably real’ group and still compare that to all of the Yes votes. Keep in mind how generous that suggestion is and how it completely ignores the fact that there are likely an equal amount of, if not more, fake/paid for twitter accounts for the 2X movement. In hindsight it’s reasonable to assume that there were, given what we’ve seen in the past:
Let’s take a look at a hypothetical:
You’re the CEO of a company in the Bitcoin space. You have customers to serve (or they leave) and liabilities for mistakes because there’s money on the line. You’re not the average Joe reading this article just now and learning what’s going on, you’ve been directly following all of it this whole time. What do you do? Also, did you already sign the NYA? How big is your ego? Do you really think you have as much pull as you think you do?
- Stick to your guns despite overwhelming community rejection because “LOL it’s just kids in their basement with hats, I’m a CEO bitch.”
- Renege on the agreement you only really signed to avoid a split.
- Let the “community” or “market” decide.
- Go completely dark. (I’m looking at you Barry)
If I owned a company, I would poll my clients/customers and publish the results. If I owned an exchange, I would offer both tokens. That being said, my philosophical opinion is that the incumbent maintains the title unless successfully superseded or overthrown, which means the original chain keeps the name and the ticker for an indefinite period of time. We can debate the definition of “successful” all day, but that doesn’t have an effect on the initial decision to support both chains while granting the title to the incumbent by default.
Let’s take a look at what actually happened:
- Companies started dropping out of the NYA.
- Not a single company joined after the initial proposal was announced.
- More companies started dropping out and denouncing 2X support.
- Groups/Organizations across the globe spoke out against 2X.
- Most exchanges announced they would let the incumbent keep the name & ticker, if not indefinitely at least until the results were clear.
- Some companies/exchanges outright rejected 2X and didn’t even award their customers 2X tokens.
- Some CEOs I mentioned above stuck to their guns or went dark until the very last minute, while others tried to swivel out of being directly responsible for the fork.
Let’s take a look at what some of the CEOs were doing:
- Barry Silbert (CEO of the DCG) went into hiding 6 weeks prior to the planned fork, probably attempting to mitigate bad PR. It’s much harder to land back on your feet after backing 2X all the way up to the day of the forks cancellation. It’s better PR to stop talking 2 months ahead of time.
- Jeff Garzik (CEO of Bloq) revealed his ICO for Metronome. A ‘cross-blockchain’ solution meant to ease the worries of those scared of blockchain forks. Funded with VC money by the DCG of course. Almost as if the 2X forking FUD he created by coding a client (btc1/2X) nobody supported with zero replay protection would benefit his new startup. Was he ready to lead Bitcoin development while diverting half his attention to his new company? Without Jeff coding btc1, who would developing 2X into the future? Who’s running the software? Why were all the 2,000 btc1 nodes started up at the same time and running on Amazon?
- Stephen Pair (CEO of BitPay) broke social media silence in favor of Bitcoin ‘Cash’. Sticking to his guns on using a fork of Bitcoin but clearly unable to make up his mind on which fork he should be using (or knew the about the cancellation ahead of time). Given the fact that he’s not selecting a chain based on the technology but by which one is more usable for his company, one would think he doesn’t have Bitcoin’s best interest in mind. Does this break his NYA agreement regarding support for 2X?:
- Mike Belshe (CEO of BitGo) posted here on Medium outright lying (possibly just ignorance) about about Bitcoin nodes and SPV clients, as a last ditch attempt to stir support for 2X. I happened to be the first to reply. You can no longer see my comment under his post for some reason. That being said, enough people had the same sentiment, go read them all. He also helped inspire me on the title of this post, and took part in this interview with Core developer Matt Corallo. You want “noise about corporate takeover” to go away Mike? Try realizing your actions directly contribute to that noise. 2X has no real nodes, they (YOU) had to spin up 2,000 of them on Amazon, your own employee is completely against your stance, and you’ve admitted this yourself:
- Erik Voorhees (CEO of ShapeShift) continued being Erik. I honestly just think he’s severely misguided and seeing it through the lens of a CEO who wants to grow his own business. My response to that is the same as Stephen Pair: Bitcoin doesn’t care about your business, and you’re best realizing that sooner than later Erik. Bitcoin never owed SatoshiDice room on the blockchain, and it doesn’t owe ShapeShift either. Learn to adapt and use the Lightning Network. Also, don’t say you’re going to stay out of the debate and then go post on Reddit about the debate.
You’re behavior throughout this entire process has consistently made me rethink giving you any benefit of the doubt, and many have already given up on you entirely. That being said, your final statement is holding you on by a thread at the moment and the only thing that is keeping you afloat in my eyes is your promise to not advocate any future scaling debates ever again:
- Roger Ver (CEO of Bitcoin.com) announced his website will promote 2X even though he’s an advocate and direct contributor to the promotion of Bitcoin ‘Cash’. I called him out on it repeatedly and he blocked me. For someone who claims censorship all the time, you’d think he would allow my opinions on his tweets. Please watch this recent interview he did with Richard Heart if you want to get a feel for Roger. He truly believes he’s right, but he’s an “ends justifies the means” kind of person, and will lie and deceive to get to what he thinks is right.
- Jihan Wu (CEO of Bitmain) remained a signer of the NYA despite actively mining / advocating / directly contributing to Bitcoin ‘Cash’. At one point 50% of the miners switched to Bitcoin ‘Cash’ because of it’s chaotic EDA algorithm. Would you agree that if miners are now mining an alternative chain that is neither The Incumbent or 2X, that they’ve backed out of the NYA? How can you sign an agreement saying “My pools hashpower, which is 25% of the total network, supports the NYA”, but then hashpower goes off and does something else? How can you sign for the individual miners that use your pool? Slushpool lets the miners decide:
- Vinny Lingham (CEO of Civic) was outspoken for 2X since its inception. I mentioned him in my prior article for openly admitting 2X was never about the blocksize, but about taking power away from the developers that created it all. Since then he’s admitted his opinions on scaling shouldn’t matter after having this debate (please go watch that). I agree, he’s an entrepreneur, not a developer. He said he would back off, we gave him the benefit of the doubt, and then he continued to promote 2X. Now that it failed he’s been slowly talking more about Bitcoin ‘Cash’. Oh, and he’s an advisor to Jeff Garzik’s ICO…
- Jiang Zhuoer (CEO of BTC.Top) just straight up broke his part of the NYA agreement. You can’t even contest this:
- Craig Wright (is a fraud):
I’m going to close this section with a compilation of statements that were released by various companies and groups across the globe regarding 2X (I might’ve missed some because there were so many). My personal favorite was the response from BitMEX:
I was going to make this final segment longer. I was reserving it for details regarding the ultimate outcome of the 2X chain-split. I was going to update this post-publishing once I had enough material after the fork to make a closing statement. I knew what I generally want to touch on and had a different title that might end up being applicable in the future: The Hashpower Follows The Price (but doesn’t define Bitcoin). I was going to talk about how miners clearly don’t and shouldn’t act altruistically, or be allowed to signal their intent to support something within the protocol. How even though the hashpower will follow profitability, if a small group accumulates and controls a majority of the economic weight in a system they can have a serious impact on the price for a prolonged period of time, but not be a desirable chain for anyone but them. How if you invested in Bitcoin early enough you could be an illiquid trillionaire by now and move the entire market yourself. How theoretically someone could have stolen Satoshi’s keys, or Satoshi could be a 3-letter government agency. I was going to talk about how once you understand these implications then you’ll understand this: The market doesn’t determine Bitcoin either.
This was until the email was sent on the 2X mailing list.
Six people called off 2X.
The entire project was scrubbed after this email was sent out.
The entire project was scrubbed after six people called off 2X.
I said I wouldn’t talk about Bitcoin ‘Cash’ but I can’t help myself.
Bitcoin ‘Cash’ is not Bitcoin, the creator has said it multiple times already:
- Roger Ver is a scammer.
- Jihan Wu is power hungry.
- Craig Right is a fraud.
Despite my opposition to all the people I’ve mentioned in this article, I refuse to extend any benefit of the doubt to these 3 people in respect to Bitcoin development. Them leaving to go use/run an alt-coin was the best thing that could have ever happened to Bitcoin.
They don’t like me too much:
Also Roger, your subreddit mods behavior couldn’t make things clearer.
So much for your purported “free speech” forum:
If you’ve ever listened to their advice: You’ve been scammed.
Can’t wait for them to block me on Twitter as well.
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craig wright is a fraud