Bitcoin 'Battle'? Core Developers Apathetic as Segwit2x Fork Approaches

Alyssa Hertig
Nov 1, 2017 at 10:15 UTC
FEATURE

"The chain will fork, life will go on."

Pseudonymous Bitcoin Core contributor BTCDrak views bitcoin's upcoming Segwit2x hard fork – which has a chance of splitting bitcoin into two competing networks – with a bit of boredom.

And that blase tone seems to resonate with several of bitcoin's most active developers, even those who were vocally unhappy when the Segwit2x proposal was first unveiled in May. But just a couple weeks away from the fork itself, it appears this outrage has turned steadily into annoyed acceptance.

In short, the contributors to bitcoin's open-source code are optimistic for a simple reason: they don't think Segwit2x will succeed in its attempt to become the main bitcoin blockchain.

Against the backdrop over the past few months, in which two hard forks led bitcoin to split into new assets with different developer teams, bitcoin's long-time developers largely believe neither has come close to surpassing bitcoin by any significant metric.

And they don't expect differently from Segwit2x.

While the group behind the effort has secured the support of a number of startups and mining pools, they argue there's not much of a difference in the support as compared to previous forks. Though the next fork has yet to occur (it's expected in mid-November), they already see Segwit2x as a blip in bitcoin's history.

BTCDrak told CoinDesk:

"Miners will continue to mine bitcoin."

No more compromise

And other developers feel similarly.

Blockstream CEO Adam Back and Bitcoin Core contributor Eric Lombrozo claim they tried to be diplomatic when the proposal was first unveiled in June, arguing they wanted to work with those supporting Segwit2x to come to a scaling agreement.

Back explained that he sincerely wanted to "build on the proposal," although he advocated for a longer hard fork timeline and a specific hard fork mechanism.

Yet, both are less willing to compromise as the hard fork date inches closer.

Central to this sentiment is that, ultimately, developers think Segwit2x will fail because the way it's implemented goes against how bitcoin is intended to work – that, and because it tries to push through a change that doesn't have broad support.

As a result, developers contend that the group is using a centralized strategy to drive decision-making on a decentralized network.

"I was hopeful that the intent of this whole thing was to activate SegWit and then work together, as a community, on building consensus for further upgrades in the future," Lombrozo said. "Instead, it turned into a coup."

Back voiced similar concerns.

"It sets a very bad precedent that a small group of CEOs can get in a hotel room and make a pact that they then try to impose on bitcoin. That is no longer bitcoin."

And with that, both developers believe the proposal will die by its own hand.

Tale of two bitcoins

But before it dies – or launches – crypto investors are trading on the possibilities.

Future versions of bitcoin (should bitcoin remain whole after the fork) and a new Segwit2x bitcoin (should the hard fork create a new coin) are trading on a handful of exchanges. And it seems developers believe this sheds light on events to come.

According to Back, the price of the Segwit2x coins – trading at about 14 percent of the price of bitcoin currently – is a sign of just how successful the cryptocurrency will be.

Back continues, pointing out that this is just about the same percentage that bitcoin cash coins were trading at before it launched via a hard fork of bitcoin in August.

"Investors will sell Segwit2x [coins] in droves," Back claimed.

And he can say that because he's offered to sell his own bitcoin for the new Segwit2x coin at a series of different swap rates, starting with a 1-to-1 rate.

"When [investors] didn't buy that, I offered a 3-for-2 swap, and now I am offering a 2 -for-1 swap – a chance to double their [Segwit2x coin] holdings," he said. "None of them bought. So, clearly, they do not have commitment, nor belief in what they are saying."

Still, many Core developers believe the Segwit2x hard fork will result in another cryptocurrency.

And while many bitcoin users and investors see previous forks as a net positive (since they were effectively airdropped free money) Lombrozo hopes something else will come out of the process.

Summing up his feelings, Lombrozo displayed almost a sense of exhaustion.

He told CoinDesk:

"The whole thing is stupid, I just hope this serves as a good lesson for everyone on how not to do these things."

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which helped organize the Segwit2x proposal, and has an ownership stake in Blockstream. 

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Bitcoin CoreScalabilityHard ForksSegWit2x

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