Voting Bitcoin: Can Traditional Democracy Fix the Block Size?
Every day it seems the crypto-community may be getting closer towards consensus with the block size conversation. Other times, it feels as we take a few steps back because of infighting within the community. Newly formed solutions have come into the discussion such as segregated witness, soft forks, hard forks, and other ideas that could […]
Every day it seems the crypto-community may be getting closer towards consensus with the block size conversation. Other times, it feels as we take a few steps back because of infighting within the community. Newly formed solutions have come into the discussion such as segregated witness, soft forks, hard forks, and other ideas that could move the debate forward. So how do we come to a decision among varying opinions? Could the solution be voting?
One Side Creates a Plan, the Other Disagrees
Recently representatives from the Bitcoin industry such as infrastructure manufacturers, mining pools, and developers gathered in Hong Kong to hash out an agreement concerning the heated topic: the Bitcoin block size debate. In a Medium post released February 21st, a group called the Bitcoin Roundtable has settled with a plan. The newly formed group has come to the conclusion that they are for the soft fork segregated witness implementation and an eventual hard fork to “around 2MB.” They clarify that the bump up in block size should not exceed 4MB, and these changes can only take effect with support from the community.
Despite the announcement, not everyone agrees with this closed-door meeting. The Co-founder of Blockstream Mark Friedenbach says the meeting was a worthless attempt. “I’m glad that your meaningless closed-door meeting made you feel better,” he stated on reddit.
Andreas Antonopoulos seemed more optimistic in his Twitter post calling it “a move in the right direction.”
— Andreas (@aantonop) February 21, 2016
CEO of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong, also disagreed with the outcome of the recent gathering and detailed his opinion in a Medium post. Armstrong believes the roadmap is “too little, too late,” and feels there are better options on the table.
One commentator on the /r/BTC subreddit was pretty upset about the announcement, to which Shapeshift.io founder Erik Voorhees replied. “Lots of people are on both sides of this argument, and many are undecided or change opinions occasionally,” Voorhees stated.
One of the members of the Roundtable, Bitcoin Core developer Luke Dashjr, noted on the subreddit /r/bitcoin that the agreement meant nothing without the backing of the community. “We cannot force the community to accept anything,” he said. “We will uphold the part we agreed to, but once that is done, it remains up to the Bitcoin community to decide whether to deploy it or not.”
Some people believe the block size change could be achieved on with a voting platform added to the code, or that consensus will be reached by miners and nodes adopting an implementation like Bitcoin Classic. In that case, a vast majority of the miners, nodes, and infrastructure businesses like wallet companies must choose to use that particular code modification or stick with Core.
Voting & Consensus Lessons from Atlcoins
One idea that has come up in the consensus discussion is a voting process using the cryptocurrency’s code and the community’s opinions to come to a conclusion. The altcoin Dash has built a system that seems to have overcome the hurdle of differing opinions with its decentralized governance protocol based on Masternodes. The cryptocurrency formerly known as Darkcoin has increased its block size from 1mb to 2mb within 24 hours. The Masternode system is a hard-coded framework, which enables Dash holders with 1,000 or more of the digital currency to vote on particular issues. The privacy-centric tokens governance model is used to fund developers in the future, marketing projects, and code changes. Founder and lead developer of Dash, Evan Duffield, was thrilled with the consensus verdict stating:
With pundits in a panic proclaiming the death of bitcoin and other decentralized cryptocurrencies not backed by a bank or government from a single blog post by a former bitcoin developer who has joined a bank blockchain development consortium, we thought it would be instrumental to show how the superior consensus mechanism in the world’s fastest cryptocurrency can be achieved in a single day through Dash’s decentralized governance protocol where one literally votes with one’s coins.
Another altcoin that is using a voting process with its community is Counterparty (XCP). The core development team created a Devparty contest to deploy new features to the cryptocurreny’s infrastructure. Five new integrations were voted upon, and the developers of the concepts competed for a prize of 9,500 XCP. They had a panel of Counterparty members and other affiliates review the community voting process.
“The community voting group was comprised of last unique 750 active addresses, counted up until block 386200, with each address getting three Devparty tokens,” Counterparty explained. “After a period of 1 week, the community voting ended.”
The process was monitored on the Blockscan scoreboard, and the integration winners were:
- CounterTools wins first place
- SoGParty on the second place
- XCP Wallet and XCP DEX shared third place
Prediction Markets May Be a Solution
Prediction markets—inherently offend the people who make decisions, by being better at decision making. They thus face a constant uphill battle.
— Paul Sztorc, Hivemind
Other concepts have been discussed such as blockchain-based prediction markets. Startups like Hivemind and Augur could help guide the consensus process. Prediction markets are superior to stakeholders voting on forks, Paul Sztorc of Hivemind explained in an interview with Bitcoin.com a few weeks ago. “Plutocracy allows the same rich guys to influence every decision, regardless of their specific expertise; also, no skin in the game. Prediction markets are ‘rule of the experts.’ Much better!”
One thing is for sure, finding consensus with an open source decentralized network isn’t the easiest decision for the growing Bitcoin network. Progress seems to have come about over the course of the past year, however, with many new ideas springing up. As of now some are adopting the Bitcoin Classic while others develop contrasting resolutions at the roundtable. But taking into account the other possible solutions such as voting demonstrated by various altcoin communities, the final decision can certainly change at any time as Voorhees points out.
Bitcoin.com will continuously keep our readers informed of any updates, voting processes, and new agreements that come about.
What do you think about a voting system or prediction market helping find consensus? Let us know in the comments below!
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