Bitcoin Classic – more of the same?

The block size debate takes a new turn, possibly a 360º one, to end up back where it started. Yesterday Bitcoin Classic was launched as a hard fork. Developed by a team that includes the original Bitcoin Core maintainer Gavin Andresen (one of the proponents of the now-irrelevant Bitcoin XT) and Bloq CEO Jeff Garzik (who had also proposed the apparently popular Segregated Witness idea as an alternative to a block size increase), Bitcoin Classic updates the current and standard Bitcoin Core protocol with a 2MB block size limit (vs 1MB).

Since this involves a hard fork (transactions that are accepted in the new version would be rejected by the old version, resulting in two different chains), tension is high and opinions are divided. On the one hand, you have those that believe that a bigger block size is urgently needed, and a hard fork will not be that disruptive. On the other, you have those who fear the uncertainty a hard fork will unleash, who would like to find a less abrupt change or who don’t think the block size should be increased at all.

The public approval has been notable, with many of the large bitcoin companies (such as Coinbase, itBit, Xapo, OKCoin…) expressing support. Just over the past two days, the number of nodes running Classic jumped from under 500 to over 700, while about 4,100 are still on Core.

via coin.dance
via coin.dance

Yet it is worth remembering that Bitcoin XT attracted almost 900 nodes soon after launch in August of last year, before fizzling out. And today a group called The Bitcoin Roundtable published their rejection of the new protocol. This group allegedly represents 90% of bitcoin’s hash power, although that figure has been questioned as some of the signers work for firms who have publicly backed Classic. Confusing.

For the software to officially “activate” and become the main bitcoin protocol, a certain volume requirement has to be met. Of the last 1000 mined blocks, at least 751 (or, to put it another way, just over 75%) of them need to have been processed with Bitcoin Classic.

According to coin.dance, of the last 1000 blocks mined today, none used Bitcoin Classic.

via coin.dance
via coin.dance

So, this may all end with another shrug of the shoulders as the debate continues unresolved. Or, the need for a consensus-based change may become more pressing with the public pressure and scrutiny. It would be great to get this resolved, as it will set the tone for bitcoin development going forward. Not just on the transaction limit issue. On the governance issue, which is almost even more important.

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