I’ve decided to give my public stance on things regarding /r/Bitcoin. Today we had several posts related to Bitcoin XT releases. For those who don’t know, Bitcoin XT is a forked implementation of Bitcoin-Core released by Mike Hearn. He has released it to support larger Block sizes. His implementation works like this: XT nodes still relay 1MB blocks. However within the software, there is a built in consensus mechanism that increases the blocksize have a max size of 8MB once it detects that 3/4ths of the other relay nodes are also XT nodes – this mechanism is set to not kick in until at least January 2016.
Theymos, lead moderator of /r/bitcoin and Bitcointalk, has privately and publicly expressed his point of view to be against XT based announcements and news, that it should not be promoted heavily on /r/bitcoin or in the main sections of bitcointalk, but rather, as an alt-version. Many disagree with this stance and argue that XT is simply an alternative implementation that works on the existing BTC network and thus it deserves equal attention everywhere, including /r/bitcoin.
Here is where things get messy. If you read through the entire reply, you probably saw him mention the phrase hardfork throughout the reply. A hardfork is a condition where the old software must be upgraded in order to further function correctly. By default, XT forces Bitcoin to hardfork.
Also, taking the bottom paragraph directly:
Even though it might be messy at times, free discussion allows us to most effectively reach toward the truth. That’s why I strongly support free speech on /r/Bitcoin and bitcointalk.org. But there’s a substantial difference between discussion of a proposed Bitcoin hardfork (which is certainly allowed, and has never been censored here, even though I strongly disagree with many things posted) and promoting software that is programmed to diverge into a competing and worse network/currency.
If you didn’t click above to read, he received over one hundred downvotes from the community for his points of view. (this sub touts a size of 172K subscribers. One hundred fifteen downvotes registers as less than .07% of the subscribers).
What makes XT an Alt-Coin?
The prevailing reason against XT related posts was that some moderators considered it off topic and to be labelled an alt-coin. They considered it an alt-coin because the XTcoins would not be interchangeable across networks after a fork due to the block-increase – if a damaging action were to occur to where users wanted to move their coins back to an older reference client, they may no longer be able to convert their coins back into non-XT coins. Since by its nature, XT is designed to place users on a side of the fork opposite of the prevailing (because you are using and transacting with XTcoins, NOT BTC of the current reference client), Theymos and a few others took the stance to avoid any sort of activity (removing posts overtly related to BitcoinXT) that they felt would split up hashpower, nodes, and frankly, users. Think of promoting XT like a voting brigade – if a small number of users inflates the sheer number and falsifies the sense of urgency of the matter, won’t we be using fraudulent information? The activity or attempts to persuade users to ‘choose’ or ‘pick’ a side may be grossly overstated – though maybe they’re not.
Where I Stand
I’m fine with Bitcoin-XT announcements, because they do potentially have to do with the future of BTC consensus and I’m not okay with repeated announcements or users consistently pressing XT as an agenda. By as an agenda, I mean, spending excessive time and posts conveying users to move towards XT. I have publicly mentioned that I am against XT specifically and would rather see the bulk of the core devs decide on a BIP to implement into the next version of the Core reference software – Basically BIP 101, which is essentially XT, 8MB blocks and all. For the past few months too many coincidences are happening together – You know, back in June, we were maybe only at 1/3rd of the blocksize, and now we’re at 90% of the blocksize instantly, all of the sudden.
Let’s go ahead and take a look at a few charts:
Right now there are about 5900 nodes as I type this online and of those maybe 270 XT nodes give or take a few – this could change by the time you read this so I’ll keep updates. By the hardforking basis stated to occur near or after January 2016. The hardfork is triggered like this: Over two weeks if 750 of the last 1000 blocks set by XT miners, an upgrade message will be relayed across the network about the BigBlocks patch kicking in for two weeks, after which the software relays blocks that can be up to 8mb. If anyone such as merchants, nodes, or spv wallets that run based on the old satoshi client afterwards, their transactions may not be relayed as they are on the ‘old’ 1mb limit chain.
The principle behind the whole blocks solved and NOT the nodes running is that if a miner could solve 3/4ths of the past blocks aggregately, then the network is ready to switch over to larger blocks. The decision based on the hardfork is based on the miners who use an XT node or flavor of XT to relay the larger blocks with the “Bigblocks signature”. This activity is expected to not happen quickly, unless the miners aggregately choose XT.
Using XTnodes.com, we can see similar XT nodes being reported:
We are also seeing 0 XT blocks mined – that’s to be expected though until the larger pooling operations make a decision to mine with XT nodes – remember, to reach the 750 consecutive blocks, at least a large margin of the hashrate will need to be pointed to an XT node to begin with.
XT is Live, I’m not here to hide it, nor prevent it being mentioned when pertinent or relevant discussion on /r/Bitcoin. The leading reasons mentioned in conjunction with ‘bigger blocks’ is more scalability. The fallacy there is that Banks and other users don’t flock to BTC just because we create bigger block sizes. The demand for scalability has been exaggerated in my opinion. Do you disagree? Let’s discuss!
Disclaimer: I’m a moderator for /r/Bitcoin.