[bitcoin-dev] Bitcoin Core and hard forks

Jeff Garzik jgarzik at gmail.com
Wed Jul 22 17:33:18 UTC 2015

On Wed, Jul 22, 2015 at 9:52 AM, Pieter Wuille via bitcoin-dev <
bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:

> 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.
This completely ignores *reality*, what users have experienced for the past
~6 years.

"Change in economics is always happening" does not begin to approach the
scale of the change.

For the entirety of bitcoin's history, absent long blocks and traffic
bursts, fee pressure has been largely absent.

Moving to a new economic policy where fee pressure is consistently present
is radically different from what users, markets, and software have
experienced and *lived.*

Analysis such as [1][2] and more shows that users will hit a "painful"
"wall" and market disruption will occur - eventually settling to a new
equilibrium after a period of chaos - when blocks are consistently full.

[1] http://hashingit.com/analysis/34-bitcoin-traffic-bulletin
[2] http://gavinandresen.ninja/why-increasing-the-max-block-size-is-urgent

First, users & market are forced through this period of chaos by "let a fee
market develop" as the whole market changes to a radically different
economic policy, once the network has never seen before.

Next, when blocks are consistently full, the past consensus was that block
size limit will be increased eventually.  What happens at that point?

Answer - Users & market are forced through a second period of chaos and
disruption as the fee market is rebooted *again* by changing the block size

The average user hears a lot of noise on both sides of the block size
debate, and really has no idea that the new "let a fee market develop"
Bitcoin Core policy is going to *raise fees* on them.

It is clear that
- "let the fee market develop, Right Now" has not been thought through
- Users are not prepared for a brand new economic policy
- Users are unaware that a brand new economic policy will be foisted upon

> 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.


All that has to do be done to change bitcoin to a new economic policy - not
seen in the entire 6 year history of bitcoin - is to stonewall work on
block size.

Closing size increase PRs and failing to participate in planning for a
block size increase accomplishes your stated goal of changing bitcoin to a
new economic policy.

"no [code] change"... changes bitcoin to a brand new economic policy,
picking economic winners & losers.  Some businesses will be priced out of
bitcoin, etc.

Stonewalling size increase changes is just as much as a Ben Bernanke/FOMC
move as increasing the hard limit by hard fork.

> 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.

Actually you are.

When size increase progress gets frozen out of Bitcoin Core, that just
*increases* the chances that progress must be made through a contentious
hard fork.

Further, it increases the market disruption users will experience, as
described above.

Think about the users.  Please.
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