Responses to the litecoin blocksize proposal shed light on bitcoin's deadlock

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Steve Sokolowski
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Responses to the litecoin blocksize proposal shed light on bitcoin's deadlock

Postby Steve Sokolowski » Fri Dec 25, 2015 12:17 pm

One week ago, I posted a call to action on the litecoin blocksize. Since bitcoin is deadlocked, and transaction fees are beginning to rise significantly, transactions may begin to spill over to litecoin. Though the litecoin chain is unlikely to become saturated anytime soon, there is a greater chance of fixing the issue now than there would be if the community waits until a crisis occurs. At the time, I said that Chris was going to contact members of the litecoin community to start a discussion about how to improve the network. Since then, Chris received replies from a number of exchange owners and mining pool operators.

Here's a summary of what we found. While this post mainly serves to update people on the status of the proposal, the similar responses are also insightful into how bitcoin came to be deadlocked.

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1. Cryptocurrency is still an industry of many unserious people

The most surprising finding, and the most significant, was how poor the customer service was at so many businesses. Many of the companies contacted didn't even bother to reply to the request - for example, every contact we've ever tried to make with NiceHash goes into a black hole. In other cases, Chris wasn't able to find the E-Mail addresses or ticket systems for some pools. Most interestingly, there were a few businesses who don't even bother to be transparent at all - even the name of the owner isn't provided anywhere, let alone a contact form.

We found that though there are people talking about mining conglomerates and big business having a huge impact on bitcoin (and litecoin), there is little evidence of that being true. It's difficult to call a business "serious" if it doesn't post any contact information whatsoever, and any businessman knows that customers don't remain with companies that fail to reply to their inquiries. Many of the companies involved in the cryptocurrency business are going to be forced into bankruptcy as soon as more entrepreneurs who offer better service show up.

Overall, we found that about half of the businesses did not provide any contact information or ignored our tickets. This issue is a significant problem because people who aren't checking their messages won't upgrade, because they won't even be aware that there is a choice. It also has implications on why there are so few bitcoin-xt nodes in the network. Most likely, many of the people running nodes either can't be contacted, or ignore all support tickets informing them of the ongoing blocksize debate.


2. Of those who did reply, a majority were in support

Most of the exchanges we contacted were in support of expanding the litecoin blocksize. Bittrex, for example, approved of the idea and asked how they could help. Several pools were also in favor of making litecoin more capable. All of this group was also interested in discussing a solution, which stands in stark contrast to the bitcoin community. That suggests that theymos has poisoned the debate and caused the sides to be unwilling to compromise.


3. The debate is over whether any solution should be accepted at all, not over which solution to implement

The responses to the litecoin blocksize request mirrored the responses that are being posted in the bitcoin blocksize debate. Nobody replied with a suggestion of a different solution. Instead, every person contacted who did reply either agreed with the proposal, or disagreed for a number of reasons. This similarity to the bitcoin debate suggests that any alternative solution to that debate, like BIP100 or 2-4-8, will fail to gain support.

It turns out that the real difference in this debate is between those who believe the networks should never be upgraded, and those who want to upgrade them in some manner. We found that the actual solution is not important to most people.


4. The need for strong leadership is apparent

Several responses disagreed with the suggestion on the grounds that they would only support a blocksize increase if Charles Lee proposed one. Despite Lee's owning few litecoins and having taken a job at a bitcoin company, many people still look to Lee for guidance.

This supports my belief that the greatest mistake in the history of bitcoin was when Andersen resigned as developer of the Bitcoin Core client to take on a more administrative role. There are plenty of accountants and managers in the world, but open source projects need strong technical leadership to survive and progress.

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The results of these contacts were encouraging. Many people were interested in taking immediate action. Of those who were not interested, even the largest pools didn't categorically declare opposition to any fork increasing blocksize. But a group of people wanted Charles Lee to agree first before making any changes.

Since Lee does not support BIP101, it is clear that further progress will not be made unless I release a "litecoin-xt" client myself and begin mining blocks with it. The replies are encouraging enough that I believe uptake would be much higher than is currently present on the bitcoin network. The work of creating a new client itself could be done during the holiday week.

But in the case that this new software does cause litecoin to fork someday, someone would need to be the person in charge of maintaining this new majority client, and that person can't be me. The reality of the world is that we need to earn money, and the reason it's called open source is because there is no profit to be made in open source software. Working on such software takes away time that could be used to earn money with this pool. It doesn't make sense for me to code a "litecoin-xt" client if nobody is willing to be the person in charge if it succeeds.

Chris is going to try again to contact Lee and see if his opposition is fixed or if there is some way to obtain his support, which would be the ideal scenario. On the other front, he is also going to continue talking with litecoin community members in an attempt to identify someone who would be willing to lead the effort in the event that the remaining E-Mails receive positive responses. I continue to believe that litecoin has the opportunity to make a statement and become a direct competitor to bitcoin, if enough people are willing to get behind an effort to make litecoin capable before the crisis occurs.
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coinaday
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Re: Responses to the litecoin blocksize proposal shed light on bitcoin's deadlock

Postby coinaday » Fri Dec 25, 2015 10:20 pm

Kudos to you for attempting to reach out and rally the community. I'm skeptical that LTC will be the one to make this change but it's worth the attempt.

As you said:

It turns out that the real difference in this debate is between those who believe the networks should never be upgraded, and those who want to upgrade them in some manner.


It's going to come down to the communities involved with each individual coin. Bitcoin is currently looking like a case study of how to not end up with an upgrade.

2016 is going to be very interesting.

Edit: As far as money in open source software, granted, it is very difficult, but it is not impossible. Two common models are donation-supported (Mediawiki) and consulting/support revenue (xfs). I totally understand not wanting to take on maintaining LitecoinXT, but I do think it's conceivable for it to be worthwhile monetarily, in particular if an entity could afford to work for it now and get its return in the future as LTC steals BTC's lunch more and more effectively.
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Re: Responses to the litecoin blocksize proposal shed light on bitcoin's deadlock

Postby Steve Sokolowski » Sat Dec 26, 2015 9:26 am

coinaday wrote:Kudos to you for attempting to reach out and rally the community. I'm skeptical that LTC will be the one to make this change but it's worth the attempt.

As you said:

It turns out that the real difference in this debate is between those who believe the networks should never be upgraded, and those who want to upgrade them in some manner.


It's going to come down to the communities involved with each individual coin. Bitcoin is currently looking like a case study of how to not end up with an upgrade.

2016 is going to be very interesting.

Edit: As far as money in open source software, granted, it is very difficult, but it is not impossible. Two common models are donation-supported (Mediawiki) and consulting/support revenue (xfs). I totally understand not wanting to take on maintaining LitecoinXT, but I do think it's conceivable for it to be worthwhile monetarily, in particular if an entity could afford to work for it now and get its return in the future as LTC steals BTC's lunch more and more effectively.


I received more responses today. The conclusion I've drawn doesn't agree with what you've said here. The pools and exchanges all say either "yes," or "let's see what Lee has to say."

The replies from this morning make those positive responses now total a majority of hashpower. Therefore, the litecoin blocksize depends on Lee. Given this research, if he blesses an upgrade, the issue is almost certainly settled and the network will upgrade in short order.

Far from what you said about the situation being hopeless, we found that all we have to do is to get Lee to agree and we will finally have the capable network many people have wanted.
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Re: Responses to the litecoin blocksize proposal shed light on bitcoin's deadlock

Postby TheOneLaw » Sun Dec 27, 2015 1:19 am

Steve Sokolowski wrote:
coinaday wrote:Kudos to you for attempting to reach out and rally the community. I'm skeptical that LTC will be the one to make this change but it's worth the attempt.

As you said:

It turns out that the real difference in this debate is between those who believe the networks should never be upgraded, and those who want to upgrade them in some manner.

...<snip>...


I received more responses today. The conclusion I've drawn doesn't agree with what you've said here. The pools and exchanges all say either "yes," or "let's see what Lee has to say."

The replies from this morning make those positive responses now total a majority of hashpower. Therefore, the litecoin blocksize depends on Lee. Given this research, if he blesses an upgrade, the issue is almost certainly settled and the network will upgrade in short order.

Far from what you said about the situation being hopeless, we found that all we have to do is to get Lee to agree and we will finally have the capable network many people have wanted.

I propose a bit of a question about one of the potential outcomes of this situation.

If we reduced the probable outcomes to:
1 - Litecoin upgrades: most everyone simply says okay let's go! ...end of debate, historians footnote the moment
2 - Litecoin fails to upgrade: the status quo remains wed to BTC behaviour with the usual endless bickering etc. just being echoed ad nauseum
3 - Litecoin fails to upgrade and the temptation to fork LTC proceeds <-<-- this is the scenario I wonder about.

In such a case there would be two paths:
either a long and protracted divisive conflict arises battling over existing miners and userbase (not what I am asking about, hopefully this will not occur)
-or-
a new currency is realized, which would then rely on a new pool of miners (along with some presumed conversions from the current miner population)

Aside from the simple but inevitably daunting issues of credibility and re-establishing a user base,
what other than simply copying
then modifying the code with the new block-size model
then releasing the new code as the new basis
would be necessary to launch a new currency ?
(The devil always hides carefully in the details)

Just curious, but guessing this is neither too difficult nor as easy in practice as it appears on paper
There exist immediate opportunities and compelling reasons to ask such a question now,
and asking you here seems like a better venue than anywhere else perhaps...


just a single reference to pin to: (to keep it simple)
[ANN] Litecoin - a lite version of Bitcoin. Launched!
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coinaday
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Re: Responses to the litecoin blocksize proposal shed light on bitcoin's deadlock

Postby coinaday » Sun Dec 27, 2015 5:06 am

Steve Sokolowski wrote:
coinaday wrote:Kudos to you for attempting to reach out and rally the community. I'm skeptical that LTC will be the one to make this change but it's worth the attempt.

As you said:

It turns out that the real difference in this debate is between those who believe the networks should never be upgraded, and those who want to upgrade them in some manner.


It's going to come down to the communities involved with each individual coin. Bitcoin is currently looking like a case study of how to not end up with an upgrade.

2016 is going to be very interesting.

Edit: As far as money in open source software, granted, it is very difficult, but it is not impossible. Two common models are donation-supported (Mediawiki) and consulting/support revenue (xfs). I totally understand not wanting to take on maintaining LitecoinXT, but I do think it's conceivable for it to be worthwhile monetarily, in particular if an entity could afford to work for it now and get its return in the future as LTC steals BTC's lunch more and more effectively.


I received more responses today. The conclusion I've drawn doesn't agree with what you've said here. The pools and exchanges all say either "yes," or "let's see what Lee has to say."

The replies from this morning make those positive responses now total a majority of hashpower. Therefore, the litecoin blocksize depends on Lee. Given this research, if he blesses an upgrade, the issue is almost certainly settled and the network will upgrade in short order.

Far from what you said about the situation being hopeless, we found that all we have to do is to get Lee to agree and we will finally have the capable network many people have wanted.



I didn't say the situation was hopeless and I'm glad to hear you're getting good responses. My skepticism with LTC is largely because of the public statements Lee has made. I agree that if he does agree to the upgrade it is likely to be successful and a great example to other coins. I wish you all the best of luck.

Edit: About four hours ago at the time of this edit, https://github.com/bitcoin-dot-org/bitc ... /pull/1178 , coblee comment:

I don't agree with BIP101.


I wasn't looking for it, and this is just a brief statement in the course of a github discussion about removing coinbase from bitcoin.org for daring to run XT. But I figured it was apropos here as a very recent statement reiterating his position.

Edit 2: If he wanted to write his own block size increase to whatever parameters he would like, I'm pretty sure the LTC community would be willing to go with it. The question is whether he will endorse any option apart from just stick with Core upstream.

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