Do we have an agreement?

Tuesday 01 March 2016

Don’t look now, but a recent meeting established what looks like consensus on the block size issue.

It’s been so long that a solution seems impossible. The wider bitcoin community is bored and frustrated with recurring news that another piece of software has been released and promptly rejected by the majority of the network. We’ve had XT, we’ve had Classic, we’ve had endless BIPs and patches and arguments and censorship and recriminations and vocal flouncing out of the room to work for T3 and…

Read also: 20 MB blocks: an unfortunate compromise 
Read also: Do I hear 8 MB blocks? Sold! 
Read also: Bitcoin Classic aims to fix block size. Again. 
Read also: What is Segregated Witness? 
Read also: What if block size is insoluble? 

Hands

Are we nearly there, or is this 'too little, too late'?

It’s just possible - just - that the wait might finally be over. In such situations you should never say never, because the bitcoin community seems to have a bottomless capacity for hamstringing itself, but a deal appears to have been agreed

The agreement was reached after discussions that made Cameron’s attempt to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU look like a minibreak in Brussels. Here are the salient points, which were thrashed out on February 21st at a meeting of key bitcoin business and development representatives.

  • A SegWit softfork will be released in the next couple of months - scheduled for April 2016. This will buy some time and hopefully put an end to the growing delays for bitcoin transactions, as competition for block space means either a longer wait or higher fees.
  • A hardfork, based on the SegWit release, will expand block size to no more than 4 MB total, with non-witness data around 2 MB. This is scheduled for July 2016.
  • Assuming there is adequate network support, the hardfork trigger will likely happen a year later, around July 2017.

The press release was signed by miners who represent almost 80 percent of network hashrate.

Notable dissenters include Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, who claims it is ‘too little, too late’ and that Classic allows the block size increase that is needed right now, rather than prioritising the unnecessarily complicated Segregated Witness ahead of such a rise - which, in any case, would not happen until July 2017.

TL;DR? It really does look like we’re getting somewhere, but don’t hold your breath because we’re not there yet.


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