[Bitcoin-development] Concerns Regarding Threats by a Developer to Remove Commit Access from Other Developers

Wladimir J. van der Laan laanwj at gmail.com
Thu Jun 18 11:14:09 UTC 2015

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On Thu, Jun 18, 2015 at 12:00:17PM +0200, Mike Hearn wrote:

> Core is in the weird position where there's no decision making ability at
> all, because anyone who shows up and shouts enough can generate
> 'controversy', then Wladimir sees there is disagreement and won't touch the
> issue in question. So it just runs and runs and *anyone* with commit access
> can then block any change.

Bitcoin Core is completely different from your average open source project in one aspect: where it concerns consensus.

Like in any open source project there is lots of decision making ability for code changes. I'd say look at the changelog for e.g. 0.11 https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/blob/0.11/doc/release-notes.md#0110-change-log, or follow pull requests for a while, to see how many decisions about changes are made from day to day. No, I'm not sitting on my hands, and so is none of the other contributors that you'd like to get rid of.

Consensus changes are *much* more difficult, on the other hand. Even relatively straightforward softforks come with a long discussion process (see BIP62, BIP66). A hardfork is hard to do at the best of times (everyone needs to upgrade their software!), and simply not possible if almost the entire technical community disagrees with you.

Bitcoin is supposed to be a robust, global, decentralized network beyond anyone's control. It makes *no sense* to try to run it as a dictatorship. This would create a handy central position where power can be applied, pushing through changes to the behavior of the system, either by force or other ways of motivation. I refuse to take part in that.

Hence, anything that is controversial needs to be considered really carefully. If I suddenly start making changes to the consensus code without full agreement, by all means take away my commit privileges.

(a major reason for the ongoing libconsensus work is to separate "Bitcoin Core, the node software" and "The Bitcoin Consensus" along clear lines, to avoid this kind of nasty confusion)

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