It's OK to oppose features just because the Core developed them

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Steve Sokolowski
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It's OK to oppose features just because the Core developed them

Postby Steve Sokolowski » Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:51 am

Note: this post was removed from some subreddits, such as /r/btc, on the grounds that it mentions the real name of theymos (Michael Marquadt), a public figure who is well known throughout the industry and externally. On the grounds of journalistic integrity, I do not intend to comply with such a policy and will no longer be contributing to those forums that removed it. Please continue to visit here in the future to read my latest thoughts.

An issue that came to my attention recently was the idea of bringing Segregated Witness to Litecoin on January 28, as a sort of "trial period" for later Bitcoin deployment. This puts us in a bind, because while we don't want to cause unnecessary trouble, I have concerns about the spillover consequences of mining Litecoin blocks with Segregated Witness.

One day last week, someone asked me what Trump would have to do to consider voting for him when the next cycle starts ramping up in 2 years. I thought about it for a second and replied that there is nothing Trump could do to earn my vote. Even if he managed to make everyone rich and solve the entire nation's problems all at once, I will never vote for him, listen to any of his speeches, or even watch his inauguration.

Why not? There are, of course, some disagreements between him and me that are a matter of policy. For example, it's not an accident that we started our business in January 2014 - it was the first time that health coverage for business owners with preexisting conditions became available. Repeal of the Affordable Care Act places the business in jeopardy. However, there are legitimate arguments as to why this particular healthcare system is flawed and how other systems may be better for other people. As with any policy, some people win and some people lose, and that's what debate is for.

On the other hand, there exists behavior that is so far beyond the pale of basic respect and decency that no other actions can make up for it. As human beings, everyone feels pain and experiences happiness, and there exists a minimal requirement of how people should be treated in a civilized society. Trump's statements that judges cannot be impartial because they are Mexican, that he thought it fine to grab women by the genitals without their consent, and that people who risk their lives gathering intelligence are not even worthy of consideration are fundamental disqualifications for holding any position of authority. Incompetence is excusable, but ignoring basic decency is not.

With the recent mania surrounding cryptocurrencies, many people have logged into forums for the first time and have asked the basic question of "what is the blocksize debate?" The common answer is something to the effect that there are two groups of people - one of whom who prefers small blocks with off-chain scaling and one group that wants to make blocks big. While partially true, this short description no longer describes the larger problem. In early 2015, the debate initially concerned whether blocks should be small or large, but the current uproar is about a much larger issue: that of who should be in charge of Bitcoin's development.

A more accurate answer to "what is the blocksize debate?" is that there are two groups of people who have a fundamental disagreement about whether the Core is open enough to participate in debate and has the moral character necessary to continue in their roles. Even in the first months after theymos split the community in August 2015, I think that the controversy was largely viewed as a philosophical one about the merits of chain capacity. There was a period of time, however, where the debate changed from technical arguments to questions of leadership.

If I had to point at a specific turning point, I would suggest it happened when Peter Todd used Craig Wright's antics as a screen to oust Gavin Andresen from the list of Core committers, after which several other Core members issued several especially vile tweets (even by Bitcoin standards) against Andresen, Mike Hearn, and other supporters of Bitcoin Classic. In essence, Craig Wright may not have succeeded in proving that he is Satoshi Nakamoto, but he unintentionally escalated the existing rift into something much more.

While Peter Todd, Gregory Maxwell, and Michael Marquadt (theymos) may be of superior character to Donald Trump, they and others, like Trump, have demonstrated through their actions that they are fundamentally unfit for leadership positions. Actions like the commit access scandal, the abusive tweets, lying, personal attacks, and the millions of dollars in missing "forum donations" demonstrate that these people do not possess the level of ethics necessary for even the most basic of jobs, let along being leaders in a billion-dollar industry. As with Trump, incompetence can be resolved through experience, while a lack of basic human decency is disqualifying.

Imagine if tomorrow you heard that the Core had decided to adopt Bitcoin Unlimited's proposal, but that everything else would remain the same, including the censorship, the committers, and the behavior of those in charge. Would that be acceptable? As with Trump, some Core developers have so disgraced themselves that there is absolutely nothing that they will ever be able to do to earn my support.

In the case of Segregated Witness, I do not believe that it is a good idea for Bitcoin because it introduces unnecessary complexity to resolve problems that don't need to be resolved. As I predicted earlier, SegWit and the Lightning Network are dead on arrival, as the 15% of miners who support Bitcoin Unlimited have decided.

SegWit, however, is not dead because other developers or I opposed it. Most people don't write code for block explorers and exchanges and mining pools, so they don't care about the technical analysis people like me provide. Some don't even bother to read or understand the technicals. Plus, the Core has done an excellent job of producing educational websites and videos promoting the idea to non-technical users, so they should be winning among that segment. Instead, Segregated Witness is blocked for the simple reason that the Core developed it. And that's how it should be.

It is not possible to "un-censor" the censored forums, or to convince the Core to take up the blocksize in their weekly development meetings, or to get enough miners to immediately upgrade to Bitcoin Unlimited - these people cannot be convinced to change. The only solution to the blocksize debate is a change in governance of the Bitcoin protocol. In parliamentary systems, a failure to pass a budget results in an automatic vote of no confidence and overthrows the government, on the grounds that a government that cannot spend money is unfit to accomplish anything. In software, a development team that cannot achieve the adoption of any features is a failed effort, which usually results in users switching to a new fork led by different people.

Yes, my concerns about Segregated Witness on Litecoin are "political" because adoption of the Bitcoin Core's proposals on any other network represents success for that organization. Is it a shame that it has come to this? Absolutely, it is. I accept all criticism about motivations if we and our customers decide to vote to block the feature. I really, really wish that Charlie Lee had chosen some other scaling solution, so that it would not have been tainted by its association with the Bitcoin Core.

The entire cryptocurrency industry is being jeopardized by the Bitcoin Core's ineffective and unethical leadership. Since when is it acceptable that it costs $1.35 for a six-hour confirmation time to send payouts? Why should we have to sell our salaries first and then use credit cards to pay merchants that accept bitcoins? Why should I be scheduling a day in February to convert our Coinbase payouts to ETH when a few lines of code in the BTC network could fix the problem permanently, the right way? This isn't hypothetical stuff; it's OK to be angry at the Core for what they've done. And if you're one of the speculators who is driving this frenzy up and down, ask yourself whether companies like us permanently switching value transfer to ETH and investing in X11 mining instead of SHA-256 will make you rich or not.

It's time to stop being ashamed about being labeled "political" for opposing Core features. The debate became political a year ago. The opposition is working. None of the major changes the Core has proposed are being implemented, and confidence in the Core is slowly being lost. While it is sad to say so, the best way to force a leadership change is to oppose everything the Core says or does - good or bad - until the industry sees how much money is being lost. Only then will we finally be led by people who are looking out for us.
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Re: It's OK to oppose features just because the Core developed them

Postby jacobmayes94 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 3:17 pm

I have read this and it was quite an interesting read. I will admit I am a supporter of SegWit, not core so much but segwit itself. Unlimited blocks I think would be a problem if we approached visa/mastercard TX volumes, one time increase is a Band-Aid, segwit while developed by core seems to be out of all solutions I have heavily read up on (from different sources, I am aware of the censorship) seems to be the best solution in my opinion, obviously everyones opinion will differ and that is okay.

I do think Litecoin will acheve consensus to do it, of course the core developers for BTC are not quite calling the shots with Litecoin but SegWit was a good idea that I do not see a problem with implementation.

The censorship however is not good... Hence why at betbybitcoin I write unbiased articles based on my own research. Personally if LTC had segwit and lightning type network support and BTC stayed as a store of value if no one came to consensus that's fine too, but if they want widespread adoption these 1MB blocks will not cut it.

I am more looking at it from an unbiased POV that whoever developed SegWit if they have the best solution to the problem at hand, I think it would be wise to implement that solution. I am not a fan of core, but their solution is the best I have read so far.

Interesting opinions all around though!


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