Tensions have considerably increased in the bitcoin community over the past few weeks with most public discussion platforms consumed by a two years old debate on how to increase bitcoin’s capacity so that it can meet current demand.
The considerable increase in tensions began after Antpool switched to Bitcoin Unlimited, which was followed by probable Bitcoin Core supporters exploiting a bug in Bitcoin Unlimited. Extension blocks were then announced, followed by Gregory Maxwell, Blockstream’s CTO and the main proponent of small blocks, calling an algorithmic optimization as an attack.
Then, an alleged troll army was exposed, which seemingly quickly went to work towards smearing Jihan Wu, Bitmain’s co-founder, by bringing up all sorts of allegations, including falsehoods, in an apparently organized and intense political campaign.
They targeted others, including Emin Gün Sirer, a Cornell Professor, who has publicly stated that there are around 21 individuals running a troll army allegedly organized by Blockstream. Specifically, Alex Bergeron, Blockstream Communications, aka brg444. A former marketing specialist with expertise in social media management who some speculate runs the troll/shill army.
Bitcoin’s politics then branched off to litecoin where segwit’s hashrate share was reduced with litecoin developers saying they will now merge a flag-day fork, otherwise known as UASF. A first of its kind, if it does come to pass, which probably will split litecoin into two, but perhaps three, chains and coins.
Following these events, many are now wondering whether the blocksize debate has not become something very different. Maybe a proxy business war between Bitmain and Bitfury? Perhaps a proxy war between Silicon Valley and Banks? Perhaps both, on top of what might be Blockstream’s attempt to take control over the currency by monetarily controlling developers while, allegedly, controlling public spaces through troll armies.
None of it is clear, but what is becoming obvious is that this debate won’t be resolved any time soon – with both sides appearing matched – as the community is clearly very split, with opinions now seemingly entrenched.
That means bitcoin has now become an emotional thing where reality is often disregarded as fees considerably increase while almost half of bitcoin’s transactions do not confirm in an hour, as opposed to competitors, both within and outside this space, which usually confirm instantly or in seconds.
That may also mean the currency is successfully co-opted, for a stalemate or stagnation might be the actual goal. It’s payment network has successfully been attacked and degraded, to the point where independent studies now declare it is very inefficient.
Moreover, the very existence of a troll army suggests the currency is under attack. Their toxicity has driven away many developers and resources. The environment they have created goes against all principles, including those declared in the cypherpunk’s manifesto.
If bitcoin can withstand this, it will come out much stronger, but, its chances of doing so appear slim. The bitcoin industry appears disorganized, minding their own self-interest instead of considering the commons too. Those who spoke out have one by one been picked by the troll army. Instead of speaking in unison, they continue repeating the same mistakes.
That may be because some have moved on. Coinbase, for example, has hedged with eth. They might, therefore, not really care about what happens to bitcoin. Other businesses, like Circle, have left bitcoin entirely, moving to eth. As has the Brave Browser, leaving bitcoin with no interesting project.
As such, rather than voice, many are using exit, making a resolution to this never ending disagreement that much more difficult.