Erik Voorhees Believes that Bitcoin Core Developers can end Civil War

Erik Voorhees, a Bitcoin Entrepreneur and CEO of Shapeshift.io has a reddit post that calls of Core Developers to end the Civil war by meeting  two demands.

Move 1) Core clearly commits to a hard fork block size increase, by adding it to its formal roadmap. The specific plan should probably be the 2-4-8 plan, as proposed initially by Adam Back, and which achieved widespread consensus after the scaling conferences. The time to add it to the roadmap is now, and the time to execute the HF should then, within reason, be up to Core’s stewardship. This needn’t interfere with, and is certainly not a replacement for, the much beloved SegWit.

Move 2) Core formally, publicly, and clearly denounces the censorship that has plagued community discussion, and should apologize for not having done so earlier. Core is not responsible for the censorship, but stood silently by as it happened, allowing widespread mistrust to grow out of control.

Sadly this post in misguided in several ways;

Adam Back proposed a hard fork to scale Bitcoin over a period of several years, called the 2-4-8.  While there is no doubt that Back’s proposal was sincere, the reality is that any hard fork of Bitcoin as we have argued in the past will ultimately fail, and the results could be catastrophic.  At this stage no credible roadmap  should propose hard forking of Bitcoin short of an emergency flaw with the protocol.  The reason is simple, Bitcoin is practically un-forkable, there is no way at this size of the network to coordinate a full network upgrade across the globe without experiencing serious problems that in the end will undermine the stability of the coin.  Either Bitcoin is a global decentralized consensus-network in which case a hard fork would be contentious and un-workable or Bitcoin is a semi-centralized coin whose entire network can be coordinated by reddit and a few round tables in china.  The reality is that Bitcoin is the former and as such an attempted hard fork will probably result in severe disruptions to the ecosystem.  Finally, any developer who plans on forking Bitcoin would really be a full time politician as almost 99% of their time would be spent convincing the network to fork, as opposed to actual development.

On the 2nd request, asking Core developers to formally denounce something they have no control over can be construed as a backhanded smear tactic. Like asking a man who has never hit his wife, to formally denounce ever beating her.  Greg Maxwell lead developer for Bitcoin Core responded as follows:

 

On the topic of “denouncement”, I think this note is regrettable: It is both unprofessional and a crass move of disrespect towards fellow human beings.

I called out Theymos on the moderation policy and counciled against it. Yet the poster here claims there was only silence; this is flat out untrue.

At the same time, when moderation was temporarily discontinued before aggressive moderation was first instituted the flooding attacks on the /r/bitcoin were so bad that you could flip three pages before seeing something that wasn’t an (often untrue) advertisement for Bitcoin XT along with a myriad violent insults and conspiracy theories. That same embarrassing non-professionalism and near zero SNR now plague the alternative subforum today.

How loud can I continue to oppose when the “uncensored” alternative is both uselessly bad and, yet, also “censored” itself? I still think the aggressive moderation is a bad move, but would we be better served by turning /r/bitcoin into/r/btc? Absolutely not: And even to someone who believed that the /r/btc way was better: it already exists. Probably the most essential element of free speech online– where the ability to speak at all is nearly a physically inalienable right– is being able to have your own space, where attacks can’t bury your words in tripe. In that sense the constant bragading attacks on /r/bitcoin and against the Bitcoin Core project’s own communication tools are some of the worst kind of censorship possible online.

Against this backdrop; people from the bigger-blocks-at-any-cost community run with smears and insults against myself and the longstanding developers of the Bitcoin software and protocol the network uses today. Though that community mostly acts through pseudonymous throwaway accounts, some of the attacks are by well known names. Does the poster here denounce it? No, not that I’ve observed. Do they denounce the threats against my lives of myself, my family and other Bitcoin developers? Do they denounce the lies being spread to attack my reputation and others who have supported Bitcoin so many years? Do they denounce the flooding of the Bitcoin Core communications channels and github by sock accounts? No, seemingly not.

Of course, there are an effective infinitude of things going on in the world that any reasonable person finds reprehensible. Waging a campaign of disagreement with most of those things has no effect beyond wasting time that could instead be used to inform or make the world a better place. So, I don’t expect the poster to have denounced all the vicious and sometimes unlawful attacks performed in the name of his interests. But I do find it ironic that he criticizes others on the basis of a higher standard than he seems to hold himself to.

Emotionally, the argument that Bitcoin Core has an affirmative responsibility to denounce a social networking forum choosing a foolish moderation policy makes the lack of his own opposition to all the vile attacks against us conspicuous by omission. Was it the intent to suggest a degree of implicit support for the parallel attacks that he hasn’t denounced? I doubt it, but I can’t deny feeling a little bit that way. But if I really expected it done, I would have asked in private; not via an unprofessional public list of demands.

Much of what drives the Bitcoin “civil war” is due to a mis-characterized perception of what Bitcoin is.  Bitcoin is not a standard open source software project,  Bitcoin is a decentralized consensus system, a global political system composed of voluntary participants.  Developers do not manage bitcoin, instead they provide code which the network is free to adopt or not.

This “civil war” is really an attempt for some to try and wrest back control of a system that has evolved past any group of developers, communities, or companies.  It is interesting to note that today Bitcoin trading occurs all over the globe in every language, yet the epicenter of discussion is two message boards which at any time have a combined 500-800 active users.  This shows how out of touch most in the Bitcoin ecosystem are.

 

*edit* Corrected Mr. Voorhees name.