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Opinion: Are Bitcoiners Losing Faith?

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:57 PM
Andrew Quentson
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:57 PM

“I have zero trust left for Jihan Wu and Bitmain. I do not believe they have the best interests of the Bitcoin community in mind. They continue to collect substantial fees from everyone, yet try to deflect blame on others who get none of those fees whatsoever.”

So charged  Eric Lombrozo, a bitcoin developer, in a statement that amounts to nothing less but the president scolding the supreme court, breaching long standing constitutional norms, which is usually followed by a crisis.

On the other hand, Jeff Garzik, another bitcoin developer, has made a personal statement  asking the bitcoin community to support segwit+2MB, a proposal that is viewed as just segwit for big blockers, and data center nodes for small blockers.

Jihan Wu and other miners, for their own part, haven’t minced their words towards some developers or proposals. While Blockstream’s “contractor,” Luke DashJr, who believes in absolute monarchy, calls for the firing of miners.

All of this would have been very interesting back in 2015, maybe even in 2016, but now much of it is far too boring as everyone has seen this movie already, and has seen it many times. So no one is paying attention anymore to anything they say. Time to act was long ago, time to try and achieve results through voice was long before that. Now, it appears to be time to exit or put up.

And exit they are. Both of bitcoin’s public places are covered in ethereum news. The less than two years old network has achieved many firsts, with many wondering whether it will achieve another first, whether it will overtake bitcoin’s market cap.

Bitcoin Community – image source reddit.

The atmosphere is depressing in all of bitcoin’s spaces and, for those of us who cheered with many of them in 2013, it is sad. Yet, it was all predictable and they were warned long ago that capacity had to be increased because the whole point of bitcoin is to move value from A to B.

But, few of those who cheered in 2013 remain in bitcoin. Many of them left during spring last year. Most of the rest followed this spring, joining a community that continues that 2013 cheering, ethereum.

Bitcoin – actually good new meme – image source reddit.

You know bitcoin is in trouble when someone unironically says “this is actually good for bitcoin.” It isn’t. Save for an unfixable protocol bug that makes the network nonoperational, one can’t really see anything worse for bitcoin than a community failure.

Because, on a social, rather than technical, level, bitcoin has failed – objectively speaking. It failed the moment Michael Marquardt, the top moderator of r/bitcoin, who gained such moderatorship in unclear circumstances, began using censorship and banning, after advocating for years anarcho-capitalism and NAP.

A policy that had long been used on IRC where much bitcoin development discussion takes place, causing some developers to leave. Developers who, in turn, created an oasis of innovation outside of bitcoin, while bitcoin stagnated.

Bitcoin, Myspace? – image source reddit.

In that sort of atmosphere, which was largely hidden due to mainly occurring on IRC in a conversation format filled with plenty of noise, it was only a matter of time until bitcoin became a relic as unarguably it has at a protocol level.

The solution was fairly easy, on the surface, but with bitcoin being the very first, launched in a manner whereby no one really thought it would work, influential positions were gained not necessarily on merit, but on first come first served basis.

Thus, bitcoin’s first seen rule became highest fee with its transactions – that previously could be said are as good as instant due to the practical difficulty of double spending – becoming as good as next day or next week. Even for the privileged few, it takes 10 minutes in a digital age where everything is instant.

Thus, people and businesses left to that digital currency which continues to keep bitcoin’s promise of as good as free and as good as instant. A currency which received some more real actual good news from China, where OKCoin and Huobi are to list it for trading from tomorrow.

That sparked this latest round of depression for those who remain in bitcoin as OKCoin explicitly stated:

“We implore BTC Core developers and relevant Miners to work together and resolve any outstanding technical issues, activate Segwit, and solve BTC’s scaling issues. Our industry and the history of technology offers us many warnings, whether it’s the IE browser or the Nokia mobile phone. No matter how dominant, how much market share you have, if you do not adopt the latest technology and fail to constantly improve on the core user value proposition, time will pass you by.”

Many would argue it already has, not least because some bitcoin developers and miners have already tried to work together and have failed, with one bitcoiner putting it fairly succinctly:

Bitcoin miners and developers – image source reddit.

Maybe bitcoin is, but not the bitcoin dream. That has re-branded now to ethereum, where most developers work for the richest blockchain company, the Ethereum Foundation, which holds the vast majority of its assets in eth.

That means a social attack on that network would be far more costly, not least because it is backed by many household brands, including Toyota, Samsung, JP Morgan, Microsoft, Intel, BP and far too many others.

Can Eth Settle Bitcoin’s Scalability Debate?

After years of debate, ethereum might also provide the conclusive evidence to settle it. That network now boasts of having three times more nodes than bitcoin, making it the most decentralized public blockchain.

That too is a first, among a long line of them. It shows, to whoever cares about objectivity, that an increased utility increases the number of nodes. A fairly self evident fact because higher utility means a higher level of users, means a higher amount of people/businesses who want to or need to run a node.

Just to show it further, bitcoin’s node numbers have stagnated to around 7,000, because despite an increased price, it has not attracted more businesses, more projects, more innovation, more people who are incentivized to run a node.

But, some bitcoin developers have long moved from facts to theology, so such data points are most probably non-indicative for a number of petty reasons that completely ignore practical reality.

That said, this is not necessarily an obituary for the phoenix. It gives me no pleasure to daily read depressing comments in bitcoin’s public places. I would be far happier to see bitcoin move and fairly compete with eth.

Which means miners, developers and businesses need to make a decision – either fork or don’t fork. But that’s what I said a year ago. No one listened then, doubt anyone will listen now. So I’m off to get some sugar and cheer up at the ethereum land.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely that of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to CCN.com.

Featured image from Shutterstock.