Gavin Andresen’s Worst of All Possible Worlds

Posted in: Archive
July 31, 2015 11:28 AM UTC

In a recent e-mail to the Bitcoin core development mailing list, Gavin Andresen described the “worst of all possible worlds” for Bitcoin as being “no plan for how to scale up.” Andresen appears to believe still that scaling is Bitcoin‘s only obstacle at the moment, regardless of how that must be achieved. If a fork to Bitcoin-XT is required, it seems that Andresen and others are willing to go along with that.

Scaling seems to be on the minds of many core developers. Developers aside from Andresen, however, don’t feel that the problem is as urgent as it’s made to seem. Recently on Reddit, Core Developer Luke-Jr said:

I would consider a delay for my free transactions to indicate that I need to investigate the cause. It could be a new spam attack nobody is successfully filtering (most likely today); or it could be a sudden up-tick of adoption indicating that it’s finally time to start seriously thinking about lifting the block size limit. In the latter case, I wouldn’t consider it a crisis situation until the delay becomes multiple days – but by reacting promptly when the delay begins, we can potentially take care of the size limit before any actual problems occur. […] Basically, as long as free transactions can get mined in the very next block, there’s no reason to even be thinking about messing with the block size.

This would be considered the “other” camp to be in, that Luke-Jr represents. It becomes clear that both developers want the same thing by different means. Gavin Andresen believes that scaling will be necessary to continue guaranteeing free transactions, while Luke-Jr says the network currently supports them just fine.

Also read: Gavin Andresen Suspects Ponzis in Bitcoin Cloud Mining

Andresen has written extensively on the subject, saying in a May post:

It is easy to suffer from “analysis paralysis,” and I think the Core Bitcoin project has been suffering from analysis paralysis over the block size issue for at least three years now.

The core developer is one of the last people to have communicated with Satoshi Nakamoto. He has by and by found himself in a debate over the future implementation of blocks in Bitcoin, with an entire camp of people opposed to a raise in the default limit, and a whole different set of people vehemently in favor of doing as much.

Mainstream media outlets have taken advantage of the situation and called it a “war” that might destroy Bitcoin, displaying a characteristic misunderstanding for how the protocol works. The decentralized nature of Bitcoin essentially guarantees that one chain or another will win out. The one thing that could be held for certain would be that the currency would continue. The question would be how large of a majority would choose one or the other chain.

If an overwhelming super-majority picked the XT chain, then it would become the dominant chain. If it solves the needs of the most people, it’s just as likely to happen as the other chain becoming dominant. Those who advocate for larger blocks don’t believe that the new blocks will immediately be the maximum size. They are also relying on the fact that disk space will get cheaper as time goes on, thereby nullifying reasons not to mine larger blocks.

Image from Shutterstock.

Last modified: May 21, 2020 11:03 AM UTC

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P. H. Madore @bitillionaire

P. H. Madore has written for CCN since 2014. Please send breaking news tips or requests for investigation to He lives in Maine, USA. A single father of four young children, he does not discourage financial donations, provided they do not come with strings attached.

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