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Bitcoin Cash: Craig Wright’s BSV Suffers Multi-Block Reorg, Wins ‘Drama per Second’ Battle

Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:11 PM
P. H. Madore
Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:11 PM

Whether “under attack” or otherwise, Bitcoin Cash SV (BSV), which at present has more than 4,000 unconfirmed transactions, has been experiencing a great deal of turbulence since last week’s hard fork.

More importantly: around block 557301, multiple sources identified a block reorganization within the BSV blockchain.

For those unfamiliar with how the Bitcoin blockchain works, this means that the Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash or Bitcoin Cash SV clients people derive their information from essentially see a longer chain than the one they were previously working on, which usually means to integrate the new blocks, but instead of being able to do that, the client is by design forced to note that something is different about the previous blocks in the chain. This is probably still confusing. Let’s see if we can make an analogy.

A shipment of plates comes into a warehouse. Let’s assume this warehouse is always getting exactly the same amount of plates as before, plus one. The shipment is never unloaded. All the plates that come in go back out, but they are first unloaded and inspected – scanned for accuracy and lack of tampering. Now one day the load comes in, one new plate is in the load, but one or more of the old plates are no longer there or have been replaced with “fake” (alternative) versions of the plates.

In case that still doesn’t get it through, the way the Bitcoin Wikipedia explains it is this:

“The term ‘blockchain reorganization’ is used to refer to the situation where a client discovers a new difficultywise-longest well-formed blockchain which excludes one or more blocks that the client previously thought were part of the difficultywise-longest well-formed blockchain. These excluded blocks become orphans.

“Chain reorganization is a client-local phenomenon; the entire bitcoin network doesn’t ‘reorganize’ simultaneously.”

This is when a reorganization happens, depending on the rules of consensus in the network and the specific rules being followed by that client or, from our analogy, “warehouse.” The warehouse just takes note of the change in cargo and carries on its business of checking loads as they come in and go. It’s obligated to accept the load with the most unbroken plates.

But rampant chain re-organization and lack of consensus can lead to uncertainty and severe network turbulence. Transactions relayed by a node which is using a wrong copy of the blockchain can get “stuck,” just as blocks which are not a part of the official history recorded in the “difficultywise-longest well-formed blockchain” can entirely cease to exist.

The user experience can look like this: you send a transaction, and once it receives a couple confirmations, you close your wallet. The person or service you sent to reports they never received it, and regular block explorers don’t show the transaction as ever having happened — that is to say, the coins are back where they started. As you use cryptos more, you’ll see this on smaller, alternative chains a lot more than you’ll ever see it in top-10 cryptos like Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash.

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