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

Edmund Edgar ed at realitykeys.com
Mon Mar 6 10:29:35 UTC 2017

On 6 March 2017 at 18:18, David Vorick via bitcoin-dev
<bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:
> 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.

I don't think they work for that, at least not for new features,
because miners will presumably just head the whole thing off by
orphaning the whole class of non-standard transactions that are the
subject of the fork. In the SegWit case, they'd just orphan anything
that looks like a SegWit transaction, valid or not. That way they
don't need to worry about ending up on the wrong side of the upgrade,
because no transaction affected by the proposed rule change will ever
get into the longest chain. Rational node operators (particularly
exchanges) will likely also adopt their stricter rule change, since
they know any chain that breaks it will end up being orphaned, so you
don't want to act on a payment that you see confirmed in it. So then
you're back where you started, except that your soft-fork is now a
de-facto hard-fork, because you have to undo the new, stricter rule
that the miners introduced to head off your shenannigans.

Where they're interesting is where you can do something meaningful by
forcing some transactions through on a once-off basis. For example, if
the Chinese government identified an address belonging to Uighur
separatists and leaned on Chinese miners to prevent anything from that
address confirming, it might be interesting for users to say, "If
these utxos are not spent by block X, your block is invalid".

They might also be interesting for feature upgrades in a world where
mining is radically decentralized and upgrades are fighting against
inertia rather than opposition, but sadly that's not the world we
currently live in.

Edmund Edgar
Founder, Social Minds Inc (KK)
Twitter: @edmundedgar
Linked In: edmundedgar
Skype: edmundedgar

Reality Keys
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