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

Mark Friedenbach mark at friedenbach.org
Thu Jun 18 15:03:01 UTC 2015

On Thu, Jun 18, 2015 at 6:31 AM, Mike Hearn <mike at plan99.net> wrote:

> The first issue is how are decisions made in Bitcoin Core? I struggle to
> explain this to others because I don't understand it myself. Is it a vote
> of people with commit access? Is it a 100% agreement of "core developers"
> and if so, who are these people? Is it "whoever reverts the change last"?
> Could I write down in a document a precise description of how decisions are
> made? No, and that's been a fairly frustrating problem for a long time.

There is a quote from United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart to
describe his threshold test for obscenity which is relevant here: "I know
it when I see it."

It is hard certainly, and perhaps even impossible to write down a system of
rules that is used to resolve every dispute among core developers. But that
doesn't mean it isn't obvious to all the participants what is going on. If
a contentious change is proposed, and if after sufficient debate there are
still members of the technical community with reasoned, comprehensible
objections who are not merely being obstinate in the views -- a neutral
observer would agree that their concerns have not been met -- then there is
a lack of consensus.

If there was some sort of formal process however, the system wouldn't work.
Rules can be gamed, and if you add rules to a process then that process can
be gamed. Instead we all have a reasonable understanding of what "technical
consensus" is, and we all know it when we see it. Where we do not see it,
we do not proceed.
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