On consensus changes in bitcoin 2024

On consensus changes in bitcoin 2024

Original Postby ProofOfKeags

Posted on: January 4, 2024 00:48 UTC

The discussion surrounding the activation of Bitcoin upgrades addresses the controversy over miner-activated soft forks (MASFs) and their rightful role in consensus changes.

It is noted that miners, by nature of their position, have always had a hand in facilitating amendments to Bitcoin's protocol. However, the past block size debate highlighted concerns about hard forks' potential to coerce older nodes out of consensus and impose substantial ongoing resource costs. Consequently, some individuals oppose MASFs entirely, failing to recognize miners' ability to enact progressive soft forks through transaction censorship. This stance is criticized as being harmful to Bitcoin's evolution, suggesting that, under certain circumstances, the community should coordinate to reject harmful changes while still allowing for smooth consensus upgrades via mechanisms like BIP8/9.

Regarding readiness for soft-fork deployment, the discourse has shifted from the method of implementation, exemplified by the Taproot activation, to establishing what consensus means for determining if an upgrade should be activated. Soft forks vary in impact; non-invasive ones grant new opt-in capabilities without affecting existing users, while others could change fundamental aspects of the Bitcoin economy. The only legitimate basis to oppose a soft fork is if it alters how existing users' coins function contrary to their expectations. Establishing the safety of existing coin use is crucial, and this can generally be rigorously analyzed. Moreover, the utility of a change doesn't need proof at this stage; safety does. Review interest typically indicates utility, though reviews are not equally influential.

Lastly, the process of achieving consensus might benefit from an approach that starts with the intended activation date and works backward, setting a target year for a soft fork with the specifics yet to be determined. This strategy relies on a form of brinksmanship, which could prompt more proactive engagement among developers and reviewers. A collective agreement to employ this tactic could potentially accelerate development and cooperation. The urgency stems from the recognition that Bitcoin's success isn't guaranteed, and active efforts are needed for its continued relevance and evolution.