[Bitcoin-development] Revisiting the BIPS process, a proposal

Jeff Garzik jgarzik at bitpay.com
Mon Oct 21 14:30:22 UTC 2013

This summarizes some rambling on IRC about revising the BIPS process.

Right now, the BIPS process is a bit haphazard.  Previously, BIPS were
in a git repo, and the BIPS on the wiki were locked against editing.
The BIPS editor at the time started off well, but was eventually
M.I.A.  So the BIPS "home" moved de facto to where everyone was
reading them anyway, the wiki.  They were made editable, and it became
easier to Just Pick A Number And Write One.  However, this inevitably
became a bit disorganized.  Further, there was a recent incident --
easily reverted -- where someone hopped on the wiki and started
arbitrarily editing an existing standard.

BIPs need to move back to git, in my opinion.  Standards should be
hash-sealed against corruption.  Anything less would be uncivilized,
and un-bitcoin.  However, many on IRC pointed out requiring a git pull
request might be a burdensome process, and discourage some
contributors.  The following is a sketch of an improved process.

1) BIP Draft.

Modelled after IETF drafts.  Anybody may submit a BIP draft, as long
as it meets two very loose requirements:
* At least somewhat related to bitcoin.  Note, I did not say "crypto-currency".
* Formatted similarly to existing BIPs (i.e. markdown, or whatever the
community prefers)

BIP drafts may be submitted via git pull request, or by emailing an
attachment to bips.editor at bitcoin.org.  This mirrors the Linux kernel
change submission process:  git is preferred, but there is always a
non-git method for folks who cannot or do not wish to use git or

BIP drafts are stored in git://github.com/bitcoin/bips.git/drafts/ and
are not automatically assigned a BIPS number.

2) Time passes.  Software for BIP drafts is developed, tested,
published, and publicly discussed in a typical open source manner.

3) If interest and use cases remain strong, a BIP number may be
requested, and the BIP draft is moved to
git://github.com/bitcoin/bips.git main directory.

4) If there is general consensus that the BIP should be adopted, the
BIP status is changed to "accepted."

There are no specified time limits.  Sometimes consensus about a BIP
is reached in days, sometimes 12+ months or more.  It varies widely
depending on the feature's complexity and impact.

As with the IETF, it will be q

Jeff Garzik
Senior Software Engineer and open source evangelist
BitPay, Inc.      https://bitpay.com/

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