Around two years ago, a pseudo-anonymous individual – or a group sharing the same account – managed to briefly gain control of what big blockers thought was their freedom land. A place established after Theymos, the current top moderator of r/bitcoin, begun banning discussions on bitcoin’s scalability.
“At the end of the day, ‘controlling the message’ is paramount,” btcdrak had told Roger Ver – who back then wasn’t vocal on the scalability debate – in an email.
The trolls, who at other times he calls Members of the Public – and perhaps in a dehumanizing attempt abbreviates them to mops – will “go mental at my appointment,” he tells the moderators after announcing his appointment. It’s not about neutering, he also says.
Revolt they did as soon as he publicly announced he had become moderator. Like Theymos, he told those that had left r/bitcoin to leave again. Even if it is 90% of us? – one asked. “Correct,” was his reply.
Leave they did. Abandon ship, was the call on what probably was the darkest hour for those who walk the roadmap of Satoshi Nakamoto.
Subscribers numbers begun to dwindle very quickly, with btcdrak aiding it in a spree of banning. Then, the top moderator of r/btc announced they had removed btcdrak as moderator. Suspicion remained high, but then, in full transparency, they revealed the logs, so gaining the confidence of a community.
The castle stood. And in that darkest hour, it became the brightest, now looking back with hindsight. For it probably was there where the war was won.
So securing their freedom, they began holding up Nakamoto’s ambition. With the whitepaper on one hand and the words of Hayek on the other, they argued for a peer-to-peer, free market based, cash-like, digital currency.
They began promoting Bitcoin Unlimited, a decentralized method to decide what the blocksize should be, but Gavin Andresen had been working on a last ditch attempt called Bitcoin Classisc which proposed an increase of the blocksize to just 2MB.
An attempt that failed in February 2016 when miners and some Bitcoin Core developers, the majority of whom were from Blockstream, signed the Hong Kong agreement following a closed door meeting with no reporters present.
That binded miners to run only Bitcoin Core, with segwit to be merged first, then a hardfork increase to 2MB to be activated later. But as soon as segwit was merged, Gavin Andresen made, probably, the biggest mistake of his life.
Around May the 2nd 2016 he publicly announced Craig Steven Wright is Satoshi after visiting him in private and claiming he was shown cryptographic proof to the effect. That “proof” was quickly rebutted.
Andresen had been fooled. Giving metaphorical ammunition to small blockers who quickly removed his commit access. But if anyone thought he was a head, they were soon shown to be mistaken.
The grassroots flocked to Bitcoin Unlimited, a client created by ordinary bitcoiners who were convinced of Nakamoto’s roadmap, and thus gave towards it whatever help, in code or in word.
It reached, at times, the majority of miners’ support, but there was a stalemate because everyone quickly discovered there was another social attack vector. There was nothing binding exchanges to list the upgraded coin or the non upgraded coin as BTC.
And the worst of it was that some prominent exchanges could list, what was then known as BTU, as BTC, while other prominent exchanges list BTC as BTU. Thus the same coin could have been named something completely different in different exchanges.
It may be primarily because of a situation where no one knows what chain/coin BTC refers to that miners backed out, aided by a campaign, seemingly supported by Blockstream employees, towards a soft-fork flag-day upgrade knows as UASF.
Segwit was running out of time, with a deadline limit implemented by Bitcoin Core developers for its activation. They seemingly therefore came up with a fairly smart idea of forcing its activation by sort of threatening to chain-split even with no miners.
Something which, in effect, claimed primacy of easily faked nodes over impossible to fake proof of work. In reply, a flag-day hardfork was proposed by Jihan Wu, the biggest bitcoin miner, which would only activate if the flag-day soft-fork activates.
But, perhaps aware that the Hong Kong agreement worked the first time, a likewise closed door meeting without reporters that became known as the New York agreement was held.
They came up with the segwit2x proposal, which like the HK agreement was to activate segwit first then increase the blocksize some three months later.
But no one believed the latter part during the summer time. They knew exactly what would happen and they were proven right as we now know.
As soon as segwit activates, Blockstream would start a campaign against a base size increase, as it, or at least its employees, very much did. And they would in effect actively fight it as if their entire business depends on it, which they did do and successfully.
The benefit of decentralization, however, is the variety and diversity of views, opinions, attempts and approaches. A coder known as Freetrader had thought of, and had begun working on, a chain-split fork as a potential solution back in 2016.
At times he was even impatient to go ahead with it, but it wasn’t until it became clear with the New York agreement (HK 2.0) that any hope of scaling bitcoin on-chain had been lost, that the grassroots begun looking at forking off.
And it is here where Amaury Sechét gets the title for the most impactful man of the year. He had been working on the User Activated Hard-Fork (UAHF) proposed by Bitmain’s Jihan Wu, but Bitmain had signed the HK 2.0 agreement.
They, and almost all prominent businesses and miners, were in favor of activating segwit, then waiting for the 2x part which was meant to go through in November, yet as we now know was cancelled due to huge opposition by Blockstream.
For anyone who followed the debate, however, it was obvious the 2x part wouldn’t go through. So when Sechét announced the UAHF chain-split fork was to go ahead regardless, and it was to do so before segwit’s 4x on-chain scaling difficulty was implemented, they flocked to it.
Bitcoin was to chain-split fork for the first time. Coinbase didn’t seem happy, nor Bitmain. I can’t tell them what to do, Jihan Wu said at the time. Public support was far too great.
The bitcoin world was shocked when, on July 22nd, they all became aware bitcoin was to fork. Haipo Yang of ViaBTC stood with the grassroots and gave wight to the movement by listing, what is now known as BCH, futures.
Demand was so considerable, it reached a high of $900, to the amazement of many who thought the closed door HK 2.0 “compromise” meant the fork had been called off.
The entire crypto space watched as an historic event occurred on August the 1st, when money gave way to hope and ambition, with miners spending some $2 million to generate that first chain-split block.
It is the miracle of this miraculous year. A boom the likes of which we have never seen followed. For bitcoin proved itself to be inherently decentralized, uncontrollable, and very much the people’s money.
All who held bitcoin prior to August 1st were given an equal amount. Some sold it, probably the vast majority didn’t, but what they did with it is of their choice. A choice made out of free will, of no coercion, no imposition.
They were freed, if they wanted that freedom, and at the very least they were given a plan B. Something which took great effort, and perhaps might have not even been achieved in a different time line, but now, the people’s money roars again.
Long may it do so. For if Nakamoto is wrong, we can at least say we tried the only solution proposed to our generation. The experiment, thus, lives on.