How Bitcoin Moves Forward08 Feb 2016
The scaling debate that has been gripping the Bitcoin community for the past half year has taken an interesting turn in 2016. Until recently, there have been two distinct camps - one proposing a significant change to the consensus-enforced block size limit to allow for more on-blockchain transactions and the other opposing such a change, suggesting instead that scaling be obtained by adding more flexible systems on top of the blockchain. At this point, however, the entire Bitcoin community seems to have unified around a single vision - roughly 2MB of transactions per block, whether via Segregated Witness or via a hard fork, is something that can be both technically supported and which adds more headroom before second-layer technologies must be in place. Additionally, it seems that the vast majority of the community agrees that segregated witness should be implemented in the near future and that hard forks will be a necessity at some point.
With the apparent agreement in the community, it is incredibly disheartening that there is still so much strife, creating a toxic environment in which developers are not able to work, companies are worried about their future ability to easily move Bitcoins, and investors are losing confidence. The way I see it, this broad unification of visions across all parts of the community places the burden of selecting the most technically-sound way to achieve that vision squarely on the development community.
Sadly, because of the way the debate has evolved, what were once technical discussions have become public PR wars. Only recently has any talk of how a hard fork should work taken place in a technical forum, and there has never been any discussion of what a hard fork should look like in the context of segregated witness. For those who are interested, I’ve started such a discussion with a concrete proposal which you can find on the bitcoin-dev list.
With this in mind, I’d like to call on the Bitcoin development community to work together to debate, in a civil manner and in a technical forum, the best way to implement the consensus the community appears to have achieved. I ask the greater Bitcoin community to provide feedback to the technical community through every step of the process and the technical community to enable this through its continued efforts to improve communication. Most importantly, I ask that every individual and organization in the Bitcoin community take a step back and take pride in all the progress we’ve made in forming a nearly unified vision of the short-term future and give the development community the space it needs to reset and have technical discussions over the coming month.