The block size debate has had its ups and downs the past few months and really heated up again in December. After the Scaling Workshop event in Hong Kong, many people thought that consensus was getting closer. A new plan called the Segregated Witness concept intrigued a lot of people, and it seemed the community liked the idea. However, things have changed since the conference, and infighting had commenced once again.
A couple of weeks after the Hong Kong gathering, Gregory Maxwell drafted a roadmap of what was planned for the code over the next 12 months. After this was written, a pull request called “Capacity Increases” was initiated, asking developers affiliated with Bitcoin core to go over the plan and sign their names to the growing list of participants. Over 30+ developers signed the document in less than 24 hours, and more had followed after. Peter Todd, who typically has a very individual opinion concerning the topic signed the statement.
A few days later, as time pressed on, CEO of Coinbase Brian Armstrong said his company would be testing some new code. He explained via Twitter, “Coinbase is now running BitcoinXT (BIP101) in production as an experiment, blog post with more details coming soon.” This announcement immediately caused some heated debate within the Bitcoin community. Bitcoin.org showed its attitude towards the decision by prompting a request to remove Coinbase from the recommended wallet list held on the website. They believed that the company initiated a very hostile move by suggesting to test the XT code and BIP101. So Coinbase was removed from Bitcoin.org, which is run by volunteers including Theymos, who leads the /r/bitcoin domain.
Many community members were displeased by Bitcoin.org’s move to ban Coinbase from its website, including Erik Voorhees and Andreas M. Antonopoulos. Other members of the Bitcoin community took Bitcoin.org’s side and said the site could do whatever it wanted, as it was a privately run organization. As time passed, the debate was refueled by new discussions concerning the scaling of the code, and the comparison of the two groups on both sides of the fence.
https://t.co/YMHGeg9YN0 admins are abusing their power (again). Another single point of failure demonstration. Boo!
— Andreas (@aantonop) December 28, 2015
— Brian Armstrong (@brian_armstrong) December 27, 2015
On January 2nd, 2016, Brian Armstrong addressed the public through a blog post written on Medium called “Scaling Bitcoin: The Great Block Size Debate,” where he described why they decided to start initiating tests.
He also asked, “Why so angry?” Armstrong continued, “The first thing that happened is that some people didn’t like this.” The Coinbase CEO went on to explain that the process taking place within the Bitcoin ecosystem was like an election with many votes to consider. Armstrong said, “What’s happening right now is an election in the bitcoin space, and like all elections (the U.S. presidential race being one prime example) things can get a bit heated even if they are overall a good thing.” He believed that everyone needed to participate in the discussion and consider the topic to be very much like an electoral process. He also addressed the censorship that has taken place on the subreddit /r/bitcoin and Bitcoin.org. Armstrong ended the opinion piece stating:
‘Btw, to the trolls censoring the debate on the /r/bitcoin sub-reddit and bitcoin.org, you are not helping your cause. I suggest people change their links to /r/btc and bitcoin.com instead to browse censorship free until those organizations have ousted the bad actors.” ~ Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase
Additionally two people in the Bitcoin community, Travis Kriplean and Mike Toomim, started a website called Bitcoin.consider.it to help the community focus on choices concerning the scaling discussions. The domain enables readers to view the different proposals in regards to the code changes and block size. Consider.it allows people to also share their opinions concerning the topic and choices presented. The website creators state, “contribute your opinions, add your reasons for your positions, and when necessary create new proposals and descriptions.”
It seems the discussions and debates will continue to progress forward. More engineers, industry leaders, and community members are voicing their opinions daily. The topic has caused many to draw lines in the sand and posit what they feel is the best direction for the protocols code. The conversation is clearly not over and consensus has not yet been met but forward movements in this game of chess are being made. Bitcoin.com is following this story and will keep our readers informed of any upcoming developments.
What do you think about what’s happening with the Block Size Debate? Let us know in the comments below!
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