Combined summary - [Meta] On consensus changes in bitcoin 2024
The ongoing debate on how to manage and possibly change Bitcoin consensus rules has highlighted the community's struggle with selecting appropriate mechanisms for such changes.
One viewpoint is the belief in the ossification of Bitcoin, where any alteration is viewed skeptically as the existing rules are considered satisfactory and further modifications could disrupt the system. This perspective can stem from negative past experiences with changes, or simply a general misunderstanding of the technology by those who are not technically inclined.
Another approach relies on trusted leaders within the Bitcoin community, where protocol changes are only contemplated if endorsed by these recognized figures. This notion parallels the ossification perspective, treating Bitcoin as a system that should only be altered by those deemed wise enough to understand its intricacies and potential consequences.
Alternatively, the concept of rough consensus has been proposed, inspired by the IETF's model. However, applying this to Bitcoin presents challenges due to the absence of designated chairs responsible for guiding discussions and declaring when consensus has been reached. The lack of such a structured process makes it difficult to incorporate minority views and reach a balanced understanding among all participants.
The present situation, going into 2024, indicates an inability to achieve consensus due to the absence of both trusted leaders and a formalized mechanism for facilitating agreement. This predicament hinders developers from uniting to address technical objections to proposed changes. Some believe that the release of signaling or activation clients for consensus changes might be perceived as an attack on Bitcoin, but others argue that it could be essential for gauging consensus. Such clients would effectively allow economic nodes to act as their own chairs in determining whether consensus has been achieved.
The proposal put forth suggests that the Bitcoin Core project should take initiative by releasing a specialized client that supports validation of various proposed changes, equipped with configuration options for signaling bits and lock-in timeframes. Although the finer details of these activation clients fall outside the author's expertise, the recommendation aims at enabling economic nodes to signal their stance on changes, thus facilitating a decentralized consensus-finding process. This direction is seen as crucial for Bitcoin's continued development and success in the forthcoming years.