On consensus changes in bitcoin 2024

On consensus changes in bitcoin 2024

Original Postby harding

Posted on: January 11, 2024 02:28 UTC

The current discourse within the Bitcoin development community indicates that technical consensus on various subjects has been attained since the activation of taproot.

Historically, there have been opposing views on several enhancements; however, many of these have now been integrated into Bitcoin Core or are in the process of being adopted. For instance, encrypted peer connections, full Replace-by-Fee (RBF), and support for onion messages along with blinded paths have been implemented despite previous resistance. Hardware wallets have begun to incorporate miniscript, and solutions to channel jamming attacks in Lightning Network are under experimentation. Furthermore, after extensive discussion and development, v3 relay, ephemeral anchors, and cluster mempool are broadly accepted as foundations for future upgrades. Notably, despite potential financial incentives to maintain controversy, there is a general developer consensus against witness filtering.

Conversely, technical consensus has also led to the rejection of certain ideas that failed to gain traction, as seen through various Optech newsletters post-taproot activation. Proposals such as two-digest BOLT11 invoices, relay of annexes without a clear need, a quality-of-service bit for the Lightning Network, global reputation tokens, specific LN capacity-dependent feerates, perpetual subsidy, and fee accounts have not been widely accepted.

One of the reasons attributed to the lack of consensus on what soft fork to perform next is not an inability to reach agreement but rather the absence of a proposal that is sufficiently compelling. It's posited that if more attractive proposals emerge or existing ones are improved, they may draw reviewers and eventually achieve technical consensus.

The email outlines concerns regarding soft forks that lack unanimous support, which could potentially result in chain splits. Such splits can inflict economic damage by causing miners to incur losses, fracturing Bitcoin's economy, and leading to financial loss for uninformed users or those who misjudge the outcome. During a chain split, even cautious users might lose their ability to transact, rendering it an unfavorable method for implementing system upgrades. The argument concludes that if risk of chain splits is the only way to modify consensus rules, then the preference would be to cease further changes, advocating for immediate ossification of the Bitcoin protocol.