The Bitcoin Core community was on fire yesterday as BitPay directed their merchants to use the segwit2x btc1 client, rather than the Bitcoin Core client, without stating it may lead to a chain-split.
Fraud, cried Peter Todd. “What BitPay just did is fraud. They need to take down their “segwit” upgrade post immediately,” Todd publicly said.
Fraud is a complex legal area, but its general definition is: “A false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury.”
BitPay stated: “The Bitcoin network is heading toward an activation of the new Segwit consensus rules on August 20th, 2017. If you are using BitPay’s Bitcore Bitcoin development platform for your own Bitcoin project or service, you’ll need to take some steps to get ready.”
With one of the steps being “go to the btc1 release page and download” their node software. Btc1 is the segwit2x client which has Jeff Garzik as lead developer.
It was created after a business wide agreement was reached in New York during May 2017 that included almost all miners, an agreement that largely reflects the Hong Kong agreement which Todd himself signed in 2016.
The “consensus” agreement aimed to breach the divide between the small blockers and big blockers by implementing segregated witnesses (segwit) – which has now locked-in and will activate in days – as well as by hardfork increasing the base size to 2MB sometime in November.
Many big blockers are against segwit because they argue it artificially limits on-chain capacity, so they have forked off to Bitcoin Cash. Small blockers are strongly against the 2MB hardfork because they want to limit on-chain capacity at this stage so that most transactions happen through less secure second layers.
However, BitPay’s statement indicates that businesses and the mining industry plans to move ahead with segwit2x on the Bitcoin Core chain. Potentially opening another round of “campaigning” as those that remain on the Bitcoin Core chain continue to be very divided.
The main reason may be the significant backlogs and high fees we have recently seen on the Bitcoin Core chain, with transaction fees rising to $3.
But Bitcoin Core is expected to resist any base block-size increase with their first action being the removal of Jeff Garzik from the bitcoin repository.
Garzik stated the removal showed a culture of reprisal after providing a number of other examples where individuals or projects were removed or de-listed.
The current Bitcoin Core maintainer, Wladimir Van Der Laan, has made no public statement. Nor is it clear how such decision was reached. Gregory Maxwell, Blockstream’s CTO, stated:
“Someone came into the channel and asked why he was there. Everyone elses response was surprise, so Wladimir went and cleaned up the list. There were no objections.”
Jeff Garzik was one of the first Bitcoin Core developers, bringing his two decades long Linux experience to the project. He was, and remains, largely very respected, with his coding competence not really in doubt.
He clearly differs in vision with Blockstream employees specifically. A former Blockstream employee, Matt Corallo, as well as Maxwell, were the first to elaborate on the decision. As we said earlier, we are not aware of any statement by the maintainer.
That may indicate Blockstream employees have considerable, if not decisive, influence over Bitcoin Core. But one of their investors has decided to publicly criticize them. Nick Sullivan, of Airbnb, said:
“Blockstream’s terrible community management created 3 years of tech stagnation that gave rise to alts and resulted in a fork.”
In further apparent reprisal action, Theymos – a pseudonymous nickname who some claim is named Michael Marquardt but no evidence has been provided – has requested the removal of BitPay from bitcoin.org, a website which he controls.
“BitPay is fraudulently passing off btc1 as Bitcoin software to which people are required to upgrade. This is highly unethical and a violation of the bitcoin.org hard fork policy. Therefore, this pull request removes from bitcoin.org any references to BitPay and their software/services Copay and Bitcore,” Theymos said.
They have not yet merged it, with the request seemingly a warning combined with a reminder of their level of influence. Influence which was gained by Theymos being given control of r/bitcoin and bitcoin.org by others in the very early days, perhaps around 2011, for unclear reasons.
As both platforms are meant to be public, with bitcoin.org being open source, the action tends to receive a much more emotional response than if he owed either outright.
But, on a practical level, he can do on either platform what he pleases with Theymos instituting a policy of censorship and banning which, with the removal of Garzik after Gavin Andresen – the first bitcoin lead maintainer after Nakamoto – seemingly now extends to the Bitcoin Core repository itself.
So the scalability “debate” and divisions continue on bitcoin as the currency moves toward November when the final showdown might unravel.