Recently there has been an uproar in the Bitcoin community over a potential increase 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The current version of Bitcoin XT increases 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. A conference on this very subject is scheduled for September 2015 at: https://scalingbitcoin.org/montreal2015/
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.
Image Source: Reddit