[bitcoin-dev] Moving towards user activated soft fork activation

David Vorick david.vorick at gmail.com
Mon Mar 6 09:18:38 UTC 2017

On Mar 5, 2017 6:48 PM, "Eric Voskuil" <eric at voskuil.org> wrote:

Independent of one's opinion on the merits of one fork or another, the
state of centralization in Bitcoin is an area of great concern. If "we" can
sit down with 75% of the economy and/or 90% of the hash power (which of
course has been done) and negotiate a change to any rule, Bitcoin is a
purely political money.

If "we" can do this, so can "they".


There is no doubt that politics play a big role in all of this. Also no
doubt that broader decentralization would be superior. But miner activated
soft forks and user activated soft forks do not need discussions with
centralized parties to move forward. It is merely two different methods for
pushing a soft fork through the network.

The key is that it's a soft fork. Old nodes continue to work as always,
whether the soft fork deploys or not.

User activated soft forks, or perhaps more accurately called 'economically
forced soft forks' are a tool to use if the miners are in clear opposition
to the broader economy. They only work if the broader economy actually
fully supports the soft fork, which is much more difficult to measure than
miner support. And miners with deeper pockets may be able to resist for
some time, effectively performing a rewardless 51% attack and maintaining a
split network for some time. The miners would lose lots of money, but old
nodes would feel all the burn of a hard fork, followed by a sudden deep
reorg when the network finally 'heals'.

I guess in some sense you'd be playing chicken with the miners. If the
split is not instantly successful there would be a lot of damage to old
nodes, even if the majority of new nodes had upgraded. (but there would
also be a lot of damage to the miners).

On Mar 5, 2017 9:31 PM, "Nick ODell" <nickodell at gmail.com> wrote:

>I also think that the UASF is a good idea. Hashrate follows coin price. If
the UASF has the higher coin price, the other chain will be annihilated. If
the UASF has a lower coin price, the user activated chain can still exist
(though their coins can be trivially stolen on the majority chain).

I don't think that's true. Say there are two forks of Blahcoin. Alice
thinks there's a 55% chance that Fork A will succeed. Bob thinks there's a
55% chance that Fork B will succeed. Alice trades all of her Fork B coins
for all of Bob's Fork A coins. Now, Bob and Alice both have a stake in one
fork or the other succeeding. Alice starts spending more time around Fork A
users; Bob starts spending his time with Fork B users.

This is not relevant to a UASF. The existing nodes on the network have a
single formal definition for longest chain. If the UASF is successful, the
old nodes will follow the new soft fork and there will be only one chain.
Spirit of Bitcoin or not, the UASF is successful and there is no coin split
or network fork.
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