A scaling agreement has been reached for Bitcoin by a large group of industry players, while elements of the community remain opposed.
This week at the Consensus 2017 conference, a group of 56 companies representing more than 83% of the mining network’s hashing power signed a compromise agreement for Bitcoin’s scaling moving forward. The signers agree to both activate Segregated Witness (SegWit) and increase the block capacity from 1MB to 2MB by hard fork six months from now. This move is meant to appease both SegWit supporters and “big-blockers” wishing to increase on-chain capacity with a simple block size increase.
The scaling agreement was brokered by Barry Silbert, CEO of the Digital Currency Group, which announced the deal:
ANNOUNCEMENT: Bitcoin Scaling Agreement at Consensus 2017https://t.co/8q11diUg5m
— DigitalCurrencyGroup (@DCGco) May 23, 2017
Agreement not universal, and the community remains divided
This compromise, however, does not sit well with all members of the greater Bitcoin community. Members of Bitcoin Core and Blockstream, as well as their supporters, are not satisfied, and insist on a pure SegWit implementation without a 2MB hard fork. As Blockstream contractor and Bitcoin Core member Luke Dashjr mentioned via Twitter, many pure SegWit supporters will attempt to force implementation by using BIP 148, or User-Activated Soft Fork (UASF):
— Luke Dashjr (@LukeDashjr) May 23, 2017
Nodes running UASF would essentially reject blocks from miners not signalling for SegWit support starting August 1st, potentially splitting the chain. Blockstream CSO Samson Mow points out how even a total mining majority could still result in a chain split due to UASF:
You can still have a contentious hard-fork even with 80% of hashrate plus BitPay and big block businesses on board if you ignore users.
— Samson Mow (@Excellion) May 23, 2017
While the ongoing contention in the community is multifaceted, elements of discord can be traced to a disagreement between following the Bitcoin business community’s wishes and trusting the Core developers’ recommendations. This cultural split between the technically-minded and the economically-minded represents digital currency’s juxtaposition of its “digital” and “currency” elements, as evidenced, of course, by Twitter rumblings:
We are seeing the removal of #Bitcoin cypherpunk roots and the insertion of an industrial oligopoly to control all Bitcoin development.
— Henry UASF Brade (@Technom4ge) May 23, 2017
Dash’s streamlined consensus mechanism
Unlike Bitcoin, Dash has a streamlined mechanism for determining community consensus regarding important network decisions. Dash’s masternode stakeholders help run the network, and vote on budget proposals paid for by the treasury, which constitutes 10% of the block reward of newly minted coins and transaction fees. Through this integrated voting mechanism, masternodes can approve the Dash Core team’s funding proposals, or deny them if necessary. Proposals can also constitute simple polls to gauge community support for developmental changes. Last year, when Bitcoin’s block size debate began to heat up, Dash founder Evan Duffield polled the masternodes to see if the community supported a similar block size increase should it become necessary. The overwhelming majority’s answer, polled 2,129 to 18, was yes.