BitcoinZH Introduction: A passionate plea that outlines the main arguments for block size increase, again from the technically-focussed Bikeji forum.

###[The key choices facing Bitcoin] A Request to All BTC Holders to Support Expansion to 2MB Author: ltc1btc mining pool founder, Jiang Zhou Er Declared Interests: Bitcoin / Litecoin mining, currency holder

The choices facing bitcoin miners, Chinese text from Bikeji

Without risk of exaggeration, the key choices facing Bitcoin are:

  • The Blockstream company has recruited a number of Bitcoin Core developers
  • The Blockstream company has developed a sidechain for small transactions - Lightning Network
  • If the block size is expanded, small transactions will be possible on the main blockchain, and the added value of Lightning Network will be reduced, even eliminated.
  • The Core developers recruited by Blockstream have a long record of opposing any block expansion proposal - even to 2MB.
  • Satoshi disciple, Gavin Andressen and another Core developer, Jeff Garzik, are unable to convince the others, and thus formed the Bitcoin Classic dev group to drive forward expansion to a 2MB block, but the situation currently does not look favorable.

The choices facing bitcoin miners, Chinese comment image

@P2PBUCKS The outcome of today’s meeting in Beijing is: 1MB, Gavin and Jeff’s Bitcoin Classic proposal did not gain Chinese support. Future: Bitcoin will become a ‘decentralized value network’, fees will increase, mining requirements will increase, the size of a full node will increase, large corporations will use Lightning Network-style solutions for transaction clearing.

The choices facing bitcoin miners, Chinese comment image

@BITCOIN SAUCE Foreceast: Stalemate for a while. Classic supporters aren’t willing to undergo a hard fork, will compromise in the end. Waiting for SegWit and LN. In future, there will be no further block expansion. The Blockstream company has completely won. Bitcoin thus transforms into low-level payment clearing, low-cost transactions move to LN and Sidechains.

If Gavin’s final efforts are unsuccessful, Bitcoin may be locked at a 1MB level by the Core developers for a very long time, possibly forever. It will become a kind of clearing house just like there are now between banks.

If you and I aren’t prepared to spend a few yuan on fees, even a few hundred yuan, then we won’t be able to use the main Bitcoin blockchain. Bitcoin will be on the road to failure.

Below, I will refute one by one the arguments of the 1MB block supporters:

1MB Supporters: Block expansion will lead to a reduction in the number of full nodes, reducing the security of the Bitcoin network.

Response: Full nodes that run on static IPs and provide block data to other nodes, those that have no rights and can only contribute data, number 6000 globally.

The main role of full nodes is to quickly broadcast new blocks to the network. But it’s not necessarily true that, because there are fewer full nodes, new blocks won’t be broadcast to the entire network. At worst it’ll be a bit slower, and you can’t say that Bitcoin just wouldn’t be secure as a result.

Nodes have no destructive capacity, any false information broadcast will be rejected by other nodes. The only harm a node can do is to act as a leech: only downloading and never uploading data, just like many of the nodes currently on the network. But this can only postpone, never prevent, a block being broadcast to the entire network.

This is just like when downloading the Bitcoin client - if there are 6000 nodes it might be a bit quicker than if there are 3000, but it’s not to say that at a certain point it just doesn’t work, at worst it will be slightly slow to begin with then people will exchange more data to speed it up. It’s also not the case that, as with torrent files, the data would be corrupted or put out of sequence, both Core and Classic guarantee block data accuracy.

Although the number of full nodes has dropped a bit recently, the quality in terms of available bandwidth for uploads is only growing, following the development of Bitcoin and companies in the industry (mining pools, trading platforms, wallets, payments, apps, merchants) which are also growing.

The number of high-quality full nodes is ever-increasing. This has led a number of early node-adopters to notice their efforts are no longer required. If there are so many nodes on the network, it doesn’t make a difference if I’m there or not.

And so the false impression of diminishing nodes can appear.

1MB Supporters: Block expansion will lead to a reduction in the number of full nodes, leading to network centralization.

Response: This is a laughable argument, it’s just like saying:

Not lowering the oil price is to protect the country from pollution

Just as outside the community, a lot of idiots cen’t distinguish Bitcoin from a Ponzi scheme or a bubble, within it there are those who can’t distinguish between ‘centralization’ and ‘concentration’.

Concentration is an unavoidable phenomenon. If you think decentralization is the same as ‘de-concentration’, then why don’t we start a new version and fairly distribute all Satoshi’s coins?

A number of core developers who still won’t accept a 2MB block, will force other users onto the Blockstream-controlled Lightning Network, which may be the worst of all centralization scenarios.

1MB Supporters: If we expand block size this time, it will set an endless precedent. And if all transactions are on the main chain, only those with super-computers will be able to run a client. The ordinary laptop user won’t be able to run a client.

Response: Firstly, this opposition is only to excessively extreme expansion proposals, such as the already refused BIP101. Of course miners won’t blindly increase until the network can’t support it, or they too would suffer (orphaned blocks would increase).

2MB is a highly secure size, for example F2Pool has said we could currently manage up to 8MB blocks.

The choices facing bitcoin miners, Chinese comment image

Now we don’t support either side.

Just say the size of block. Don’t say Core or Classic.

8MB. At the moment.

I see.

Soon 20MB will be no stress.

The current controversy is because Core won’t move to 2MB.

Why not increase to 2MB? Because within a year or two blocks will be full, and if the network can sustain it we’ll need to move to 4MB, 8MB. For these few years, since the main blockchain will be available, few people will use Blockstream’s Lightning Network.

So Blockstream won’t spare any resources in their campaign to prevent any increase in the main chain block size, even if it’s only to 2MB, even if the current 1MB isn’t enough.

Secondly, what would happen if we did put all transactions on the main chain?

Moore’s law points to the rate of increase in network power, and humans are unable to interfere with such laws.

In future, global population will increase to how much? 7bn? 70bn? Will it still be the case that each person can have up to 100 transactions per day?

It’s not possible that the Bitcoin network could ever be unable to sustain the weight of all global transactions.

At the moment, one PC can easily hold the entire world’s ID data, in future they’ll be able to hold the entire world’s transactions. And that day’s not far away.

Supposing in the distant future 2bn people use Bitcoin. The average number of transactions per person per day is 3, each one at 200 bytes.

Each day there would be 2bn * 3 * 200 bytes: 1.2TB of transaction data. At an average of 144 blocks per day, each block would be 8.3GB.

Supposing each user were to download everything within one minute. They would then require 0.138GB/S=1.11Gbs of bandwidth. Even today this isn’t a huge amount of bandwidth, and in the distant future it’ll be even less so.

Even if we ignore future technology, labs using single fiber optic have already reached 43TB.

The transaction requirements of 2bn people will be but a drop in the ocean.

1MB Supporters: If Core continues to refuse expansion, then miners will have to hard fork to Classic. Hard forks are extremely dangerous, and Bitcoin’s biggest requirement is to provide security and stability. Other needs should be meet by applications such as Lightning Network.

Response: Hard forks are not intimidating. Bitcoin has already been through several hard forks. As long as there’s widespread consensus, it’s really just a regular upgrade. Because there are currently two Core developers who are determined to oppose a 2MB block, it is indeed hard to imagine reaching that level of consensus, and it would indeed be the most risky of hard forks recorded. This causes fear in some people, leading them to be coerced by the Core developers into accepting Bitcoin as a simple clearing system.

But it’s hard to believe hundreds of millions of Bitcoin users could just be playthings to these three developers, isn’t it? To create anything, you have to take a risk. When a woman gets pregnant and gives birth, is there no risk? Where did you all come from then? Isn’t it because your mother risked her life?

Satoshi Nakamoto’s greatest creation wasn’t Bitcoin, it was what came after Bitcoin - the end of centralized authority over Bitcoin. The founder themselves stood aside. Now there is only one point of centralization, that’s centralization of access to the codebase, controlled by the Core developers. Absolute power leads to absolute corruption. If the corruption is not eliminated in its early stages and doesn’t spare those who blindly follow it, some hearts forgive and some hearts don’t forget.

Because pregnancy is high risk, it’s accompanied by much preparation and planning. It doesn’t lead to people just not getting pregnant. A hard fork may cause panic and even a big drop in price, but that just means within the community we need more communication to achieve a more widespread consensus. Let everyone know something is going to happen, why it’s going to happen, let Bitcoin users push ahead and flatten the obstacle. And it’s not me who thinks it’s risky, what’s risky would be letting Bitcoin become a clearing house.

Metcalfe’s law states that “the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2).”

The value of a network of 100,000 people is 10,000,000,000. The value of 10 networks of 10,000 people is 1,000,000,000.

How many users will a 1MB clearing network have?

The clearing network idea is underpinned by all different kinds of Sidechains that can’t communicate with each other - what’s the difference between those and Paypal?

Is that what our Bitcoin will be?

1MB Supporters: With just two devs, Classic will be a dictatorship in the short-term, in the medium-term lacks sufficient depth in development resources, and in the long-term has no plan for governance.

Response: As a newly-formed group, you can’t expect Classic to have the same kind of well-established development team as Core. But since Core developers Gavin and Jeff were able to create the Classic team, why can’t any of the 300 contributors to Core continue to code for Classic? They’re not private property belonging to Core are they?

When Satoshi was coding on his own, was it an unstable dictatorship?

The vision of a development is more important than its individual members. Even if Classic does nothing, it’ll still be worth a thousand Cores who want to turn Bitcoin into a clearing house.

Lao Tzu said:

“I will do nothing (of purpose), and the people will be transformed of themselves; I will be fond of keeping still, and the people will of themselves become correct. I will take no trouble about it, and the people will of themselves become rich; I will manifest no ambition, and the people will of themselves attain to the primitive simplicity.”

Ruling without action means allowing many little interventions to let nature run its course, letting the people express their talents and meet their basic needs.

Bitcoin Core don’t need to do any more complicated programming. Maintaining Core’s availability and stability is enough, let other features go on other sidechains. This is not to deprive Core of any usefulness, as all the work is transferred to those sidechains.

Bitcoin’s earliest block size was 33.5MB. The 1MB limit was just a temporary limit imposed by Satoshi to stop spam transactions corrupting big blocks.

During discussion of the issue on bitcointalk.org, Satoshi provided a detailed method to deal with expansion:

The choices facing bitcoin miners, Chinese comment image

He didn’t think this temporary cap would be used by some others as a gateway to hell.

I’m a long-term Bitcoin holder, I believe a bitcoin will one day be worth as much as a gold coin (CNY2m). I have a deep understanding of Bitcoin and I’ve been an evangelist for it on all the forums here.

So I’m very clear, refusing anything over 1MB is just one step from death’s door.

If one bitcoin is to be worth CNY2m, don’t you think it’ll be because to the future user base? A hard fork may lead to price fluctuations, it may.

But if we don’t have the CNY2m bitcoin fantasy, who’s going to stand up to miners taking 3600 coins or CNY10m a day, every day for the long-term?

In the long-term, the Bitcoin price would inevitably drop to nothing.

We’re no longer talking about Classic v Core, those are just minor details.

What we’re talking about now is together as one calling for 2MB blocks.

Only if we persist in our consensus around 2MB blocks can there be any consensus. To be able to reconcile Core and Classic, to be able to avoid any hard forks, takes the courage of the young solider before the ravine.

If a small number of people fear a hard fork, it means either 1MB forever or else an even more critical hard fork.

I believe the wheels of history will continue to turn, but I know too how perfect things can be, and plead for good faith.

I will use all the influence I have to make sure Bitcoin gets past this hell. And even if Bitcoin doesn’t make it past this hell and is capped forever at 1MB, I’ll know that although it was a beautiful dream attacked by losers, it will still shine a light over every bitcoin and every miner.

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