Again: Bigger Blocks Mean More Decentralization

Again: Bigger Blocks Mean More Decentralization

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By Bitcoin.com CEO, Roger Ver

(Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in August of 2015 and was immediately censored from /r/Bitcoin and several other places. The version below has been updated to recommend support for Bitcoin Unlimited.)

Recently there has been an uproar in the Bitcoin community over a potential increase of the Bitcoin block size. There are many people I respect deeply on both sides of this issue, but unfortunately we’ve seen some members of the community resorting to outright censorship in order to stop the debate. Censorship is never the answer. The reason myself and many others became interested in Bitcoin was because of its ability to resist financial censorship. Let’s not inflict upon ourselves the very thing that Bitcoin was designed to help prevent.

Currently, many people seem to be under the false impression that bigger blocks mean fewer full nodes on the Bitcoin network, leading to more centralization, and a higher likelihood of governments being able to subvert, censor, or otherwise control Bitcoin. If this were true, I would certainly oppose any increase to the block size, but I think this is clearly wrong for several reasons.

Bitcoin, the honey badger of money
Bitcoin, the honey badger of money
  1. Currently a very modest internet connection, available in most of the world, can easily support blocks more than one hundred times what is in use today.
  2. A $100 USD hard drive would take the better part of a century worth of full blocks to fill up at the current block size limit.

Clearly, bandwidth and storage are not limiting factors to increasing the block size. Moore’s law will continue to make these factors even less of an issue in the future.

Currently, there are about 6,000 full nodes running on the bitcoin network, with a rough estimate of 6,000,000 Bitcoin users. That means about 0.1% of Bitcoin users bother to run a full node.

I think it is a fair assumption that most of these 6,000 people, myself among them, are running full nodes simply because they are interested in Bitcoin, and it is likely that this percentage will not change more than an order of magnitude into the future.

building-blocks

The current version of Bitcoin Unlimited can easily increase the block size limit to 8MB. An 8x block size increase means there would be room for eight times as many Bitcoin users, so that would mean up to at least 48M users from the current estimated 6M. 0.1% of 48M would be potentially 48,000 full nodes. Even if the participation rate of people running full nodes drops by half, we still have 24,000 full nodes or more than four times the current amount.

In short, I think it should be clear to everyone that bigger blocks will likely mean more full nodes around the world, and therefore more decentralization, not less. This will make Bitcoin even more difficult to control, censor, or be stopped by anyone, including governments. If you want Bitcoin to become an even bigger Honey Badger of money, we need to increase the block size, not limit it. If you want to show your support for bigger blocks today, you can do so by running a full node with the software from xtnodes.com

Let me know why you think raising the block size is a good or bad idea in the comment section below. I’ll do my best to participate in the discussion as well.


Images Courtesy of Reddit, Shutterstock

 

  • AJ Jole

    Very well put, Mr. Ver. It blows me away how many people in the Bitcoin community seem intent on stagnating the progress of this wonderful invention. I, personally, am for the block size being increased.

    • Chris

      Block size increaese is not the only way forward. SegWit is much more needed and gives many more benefits besides block size increase. Unfortunately BU’s narrative always implies blocking SegWit and if you block SegWit you are against Bitcoins future. Have you ever heard Roger be vocal about people should adopt SegWit as soon as possible?

    • AJ Jole

      Tbh, I have no horse in the race. I see a lot of opinions about segwit and BU, but until the consensus is made by miners, the debate doesn’t really seem to be going anywhere. I see valid points on both sides. I’m just a broke bitcoiner that wants to see advancement happen, regardless of how it happens. My statement about people seeming intent on stagnating was really about the lack of adoption of either option by miners… What percentage of the network supports segwit? What percentage is supporting BU? How quickly is either option catching on? And what happens if neither reach the consensus level of adoption?

  • Comte de Monte-Crypto

    if i am not that wrong the Wu guy from china proposed the block size increasing because of the reward to keep up with it 8 years he said he can manage to make money …but all that is not crystal clear …and the reward for miners was not there to be forever and miners in my opinion seem to have to much power on the decisions …in fact they are having a serious problem right now with some of them (miners) who dont respect the hong kong ”deal” and some go to implant Segwit how will you manage all that in the middle run… me i went for alts coins to avoid all that crap and it is getting anoying to hear all those propositions with only one selfish interest profits, and no one seems to really care about one thing the users us down the pyramid who put the money in and want the best out of bitcoin and all crypto… and after all i personnaly think bitcoin is hasbeen last year tech and will end up in a museum with elvis but bitcoin was first step and dont you think all that is just a waste of time and energy … and quantum computing is at the door and how it would affect crypto… your opinion on that thanks 4 reading and all comments are welcome

    • Tobias J

      I don’t understand this “there is a problem in bitcoin so I am leaving” attitude. Is it just about wealth preservation?

      Leaving the development of Core because of a cabal, sure. Dismissing bitcoin because of some technical issue that is slow to resolve seems like an emotional response rather than a rationale decision. That said, if the average transaction fee keeps rising through 2017 and the status quo continues I can see bitcoin become a bit of joke, especially since so many are already keen to criticise it.

      • Comte de Monte-Crypto

        i did not totaly leave i am still active in many aspect of crypto daily trade eth monero dash etc …and i have to deal bitcoin every time i have to cash in send my bitcoin to my platform wich is connected to my bank account and switch bitcoin for dollars and most of the time with bitcoin pending for around 1.5 to 4.5 hours sometimes more… i do not beleive bitcoin to be decentralized 90% of bitcoin activitys in china… miners have to much power on the decision about the destiny of bitcoin and many others aspects lightning segwit the attitude of bitcoiners in general i came to the conclusion of puting my energy in alts where i went for not as QUITTER or deserter like you seem to put me in the position of but i went for the alternative more as a freeman freethinker and as a visionnary man who understand instead of being stubborn and acting like a child who dont wanna grow …so i keep on writing post and stimulated the debate that is the way i made my decision not like you interpreted it and it is to bad cause many people react like you do, and do not seem to understand and of course i wont pass all my life to explain and justified but 4 you i made an exception… so i let no one put me down for my understanding of the vision i have and that’s about it…ok thanks 4 reading all comments are welcome…

    • sjs

      A vast improvement. To be concerned about the potential impact of quantum computing is akin to suggesting that living is a waste of time because nuclear war COULD wipe out the human race. The result of viable quantum computing are multi vectored and cannot possibly be ascertained although the effects are certain to be profound. If you prefer alt-coins to bitcoin do you really think they would not be affected by quantum computing. Live and let live and get rich if you can.

      • Comte de Monte-Crypto

        Thanks for you question dear sjs and yes in fact i think quantum will affect crypto and i talk about it a lot with the person i have to thanks for reading and all comments are welcome…
        P.S-:” Richessnes is more a inner quality then a number in a bank account but thanks anyway…”

  • Richard Toddar

    So we hard fork bitcoin every time it needs to scale? Layer 2 solutions enable many more options and the effect of block size increases are multiplied at the L2 layer. Segwit enables on-chain scaling by nearly doubling what can fit into 1MB, plus fixes malleability which opens up the floodgates of development by enabling exponential off-chain scaling through Lightning Network, pegged sidechains, soft fork versioning, schnorr signatures, and Merkelized Abstract Syntax Trees (not to mention improvements in anonymity and fungibility). All of this without splitting the network into two factions like Ethereum.

    • AJ Jole

      The network already seems to be split into factions: segwit supporters, BU supporters, and everybody else…

      • Richard Toddar

        Ideologically but not technically. Bitcoin is still one and I’d prefer to keep it that way.
        I give BU credit for not locking blocksizes into a hard coded number, but it’s still short sighted (linear growth) and riskier than segwit.

  • yus

    In all this, we should ask ourselves a honest question; Are we for the progress of bitcoin or solely for the personal gains in it? Satoshi wrote Assange to shed some plans as a sacrifice for the progress of the community. Even he himself made the biggest sacrifices for us to have something we call symbol of our freedom today; he made himself anonymous rather than basking in vain glory of world reference. Even if he’s still around, we haven’t been told that he’s touched all coins attributed to him yet. But today’s miners…we keep watching anyway.

  • Chris

    Bigger blocks are not the only way to attract more users. SegWit/Lightning will do the same and more!

    You silently ignore CPU power need to establish a full node. Today, syncing takes ~5 days on a good Workstation. Moore’s law cannot keep up with BUs block size increase.

    • Kalon Gerber

      What is the block size increase of BU?

  • I think in 2017 is about time to scale the network with one of the solutions proposed by the community,

    Lightning vers segwit fight 😉

  • spiroseliot

    bigger blocks means more centralisation of bitcoin. Especially BU give a huge power decision to miners and breaks the consensus rules of bitcoin.

  • Ricardo

    The best faucets, apps and more you can find here > http://infinitebitcoins.blogspot.com.br/

  • On Dumb Economic Choices, Consensus, Forks and Possible Bitcoin Split https://freedomnode.com/blog/54/on-dumb-economic-choices-consensus-forks-and-possible-bitcoin-split

  • spiroseliot

    BU breaks the most important thing to bitcoin ecosystem that miners is to serve the network and not to rule.
    If miners want to get such a huge power over the other parts of bitcoin network then we must get rid of them.
    is not so difficult to do. And let them continue with their own altcoin.

  • Swayzesghost

    Only if they promise not to raise it any higher than 8mb! what other power would they gain besides controlling the block limit? surely their investors are not just trying to help make bitcoin “more decentralized”. I’m not sure I care which way this goes, but I find it fascinating that one side is campaigning to control the block size and saying it will reduce the ability for people to control it.

  • J T

    “Censorship is never the answer” That’s weird because I’m banned completely from r/btc, and I’m certainly not the only one.