[bitcoin-dev] Bitcoin Core and hard forks

Ross Nicoll jrn at jrn.me.uk
Wed Jul 22 17:18:45 UTC 2015

So, if consensus shouldn't really be between the developers (which is 
fine), should we empower users to control consensus? I've been working 
on a fork framework anyway, which can support reasonably arbitrary 
consensus changes (currently against block height, but moving towards 
block time). Theoretically it could be modified to load consensus 
parameters (which block size would have to be added to) from disk at 
startup, rather than having them hard-coded.

Is that considered desirable? Will raise as a PR if so. If not, where do 
we draw a line between developer and user consensus?


On 22/07/2015 17:52, Pieter Wuille via bitcoin-dev wrote:
> Hello all,
> I'd like to talk a bit about my view on the relation between the 
> Bitcoin Core project, and the consensus rules of Bitcoin.
> I believe it is the responsibility of the maintainers/developers of 
> Bitcoin Core to create software which helps guarantee the security and 
> operation of the Bitcoin network.
> In addition to normal software maintenance, bug fixes and performance 
> improvements, this includes DoS protection mechanism deemed necessary 
> to keep the network operational. Sometimes, such (per-node 
> configurable) policies have had economic impact, for example the dust 
> rule.
> This also includes participating in discussions about consensus 
> changes, but not the responsibility to decide on them - only to 
> implement them when agreed upon. It would be irresponsible and 
> dangerous to the network and thus the users of the software to risk 
> forks, or to take a leading role in pushing dramatic changes. Bitcoin 
> Core developers obviously have the ability to make any changes to the 
> codebase or its releases, but it is still up to the community to 
> choose to run that code.
> Some people have called the prospect of limited block space and the 
> development of a fee market a change in policy compared to the past. I 
> respectfully disagree with that. Bitcoin Core is not running the 
> Bitcoin economy, and its developers have no authority to set its 
> rules. Change in economics is always happening, and should be 
> expected. Worse, intervening in consensus changes would make the 
> ecosystem more dependent on the group taking that decision, not less.
> So to point out what I consider obvious: if Bitcoin requires central 
> control over its rules by a group of developers, it is completely 
> uninteresting to me. Consensus changes should be done using consensus, 
> and the default in case of controversy is no change.
> ===
> My personal opinion is that we - as a community - should indeed let a 
> fee market develop, and rather sooner than later, and that "kicking 
> the can down the road" is an incredibly dangerous precedent: if we are 
> willing to go through the risk of a hard fork because of a fear of 
> change of economics, then I believe that community is not ready to 
> deal with change at all. And some change is inevitable, at any block 
> size. Again, this does not mean the block size needs to be fixed 
> forever, but its intent should be growing with the evolution of 
> technology, not a panic reaction because a fear of change.
> But I am not in any position to force this view. I only hope that 
> people don't think a fear of economic change is reason to give up 
> consensus.
> -- 
> Pieter
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> bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org
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