[bitcoin-dev] BIP Process and Votes

Milly Bitcoin milly at bitcoins.info
Fri Jun 26 00:42:11 UTC 2015

That description makes sense.  It also makes sense to separate out the 
hard fork from the soft fork process.   Right now some people want to 
use the soft fork procedure for a hard fork simply because there is no 
other way to do it.

I am under the impression that most users expect changes/improvements 
that would require a hard fork so I think some kind of process needs to 
be developed.  Taking the responsibility off the shoulder of the core 
maintainer also makes sense.  The hard fork issue is too much of a 
distraction for people trying to maintain the nuts and bolts of the 
underlying system.

I saw a suggestion that regularly scheduled hard forks should be 
planned.  That seems to make sense so you would have some sort of 
schedule where you would have cut off dates for hard-fork BIP 
submissions.  That way you avoid the debates over whether there should 
be hard forks to what should be contained within the hard fork (if 
needed).  It makes sense to follow the BIP process as close as 
possible.  Possibly adding another step after "Dev acceptance" to 
include input from others such as merchants/exchanges/miners/users.  It 
will only be an approximation of "decentralization" and the process 
won't be perfect but if you want to move forward then you need some way 
to do it.


On 6/25/2015 4:05 PM, Tier Nolan wrote:
> On Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 2:50 AM, Mark Friedenbach 
> <mark at friedenbach.org <mailto:mark at friedenbach.org>> wrote:
>     I'm sorry but this is absolutely not the case, Milly. The reason
>     that people get defensive is that we have a carefully constructed
>     process that does work (thank you very much!) and is well documented.
> There is no process for handling hard forks, which aren't bug fixes.
> Soft forks have a defined process of something like
> - BIP proposal + discussion
> - Proposed code
> - Dev acceptance
> - Release
> - Miner vote/acceptance
> The devs have a weak veto.  If they refuse to move forward with 
> changes, miners could perform a soft fork on their own.  They don't 
> want to do that, as it would be controversial and the devs know the 
> software better.
> The miner veto is stronger (for soft forks) but not absolute.  The 
> devs could checkpoint/blacklist a chain if miners implemented a fork 
> that wasn't acceptable (assuming the community backed them).
> When ASICs arrived, it was pointed out by some that the devs could hit 
> back if ASICs weren't made publicly available.  If they slightly 
> tweaked the hashing algorithm, then current generation of ASICs would 
> be useless.   The potential threat may have acted as a disincentive 
> for ASIC manufacturers to use the ASICs themselves.
> Moving forward with agreement between all involved is the recommended 
> and desirable approach.
> Consensus between all parties is the goal but isn't absolutely 
> required.  This escape valve is partly what makes consensus work.  If 
> you dig your heels in, then the other side can bypass you, but they 
> have an incentive to try to convince you to compromise first.  The 
> outcome is better if a middle ground can be found.
> Hard forks are different.  The "checks and balances" of weak vetoes 
> are not present.  This means that things can devolve from consensus to 
> mutual veto.  Consensus ceases to be a goal and becomes a requirement.
> This is partly a reflection of the nature of hard forks.  Everyone 
> needs to upgrade.  On the other hand, if most of the various groups 
> upgrade, then users of the legacy software would have to upgrade or 
> get left behind. If 5% of the users decided not to upgrade, should 
> they be allowed to demand that nobody else does?
> There is clearly some kind of threshold that is reasonable.
> The fundamental problem is that there isn't agreement on what the 
> block size is.  Is it equal in status to the 21 million BTC limit?
> If Satoshi had said that 1MB was part of the definition of Bitcoin, 
> then I think people would accept it to the same extent as they accept 
> the 21 million coin limit.  It might cause people to leave the coin 
> though.
> It was intended to be temporary, but people have realized that it 
> might be a good idea to keep it.  In effect both sides could argue 
> that they should be considered the status quo.
> I wonder if a coin toss would be acceptable :).  "Come to an agreement 
> or we decide by coin toss"
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