Will the Bitcoin Consensus Roundtable Put a Lid on Bitcoin Classic?

After the last week’s bitcoin roundtable, where some of the most prominent figures of the industry have gathered to discuss possible solutions to the drawn out block size dispute, some thought the resulting letter was making an offer the developers wouldn’t refuse.

As a reminder, last week, representatives for several mining pools collectively holding at least 70% of the whole bitcoin network’s hash power gathered with representatives of two major bitcoin exchanges. Their discussion resulted in agreeing they would not support any “contentious hard-forks”, including Bitcoin Classic.

The call for consensus, as they have called it, included five items listed hereunder:

“1. We see the need for a modest block size increase in order to move the Bitcoin project forward, but we would like to do it with minimal risk, taking the safest and most balanced route possible. SegWit is almost ready and we support its deployment as a step in scaling.
2. We think any contentious hard-fork contains additional risks and potentially may result in two incompatible blockchain versions, if improperly implemented. To avoid potential losses for all bitcoin users, we need to minimize the risks. It is our firm belief that a contentious hard-fork right now would be extremely detrimental to the bitcoin ecosystem.
3. In the next 3 weeks, we need the Bitcoin Core developers to work with us and clarify the roadmap with respect to a future hard-fork which includes an increase of the block size. Currently we are in discussions to determine the next best steps. We are as a matter of principle against unduly rushed or controversial hard-forks irrespective of the team proposing and we will not run such code on production systems nor mine any block from that hard-fork. We urge everyone to act rationally and hold off on making any decision to run a contentious hard-fork (Classic/XT or any other).
4. We must ensure that future changes to code relating to consensus rules are done in a safe and balanced way. We also believe that hard-forks should only be activated if they have widespread consensus and long enough deployment timelines. The deployment of hard-forks without widespread consensus is dangerous and has the potential to cause trust and monetary losses.
5. We strongly encourage all bitcoin contributors to come together and resolve their differences to collaborate on the scaling roadmap. Divisions in the bitcoin community can only be mended if the developers and contributors can take the first step and cooperate with each other.”

Athwart the fact that, following the roundtable’s conclusions, any hard-fork should be initiated by Bitcoin Core, and no more or less generally acknowledged solution is on the table, Bitcoin Classic continues its expansion. According to the statistics from coins.dance, during the week following the roundtable, Bitcoin Classic nodes have gained nearly 3%.

Here and below data and charts by bitcoin.dance site

Here and below data and charts by bitcoin.dance site

16.41% of all nodes run under Bitcoin Classic protocol against 13.71% a week ago.

Coin+Dance+_+Bitcoin+Nodes+Summary+-+Google+Chrome+2016-02-15+13.56.06

However, only a tiny fraction of last week’s overall mined blocks was made using Bitcoin Classic Protocol.

Coin+Dance+_+Bitcoin+Nodes+Summary+-+Google+Chrome+2016-02-15+13.56.37

In the aftermath of the letter’s publication, some of the its signees have clarified their positions in this regard. The clarification they provided may still complicate the matters for some, and eludicate them for others.

Some of the signees, like Alex Petrov, CIO of BitFury, or Samson Mow, executive director at BTCC, pointed out that generally they do not mind hard-forking in general. However, they apparently needed further clarification and discussions in Bitcoin Classic’s regard so that they could eventually support it. However, soft-fork solutions are worth trying before introducing irreversible changes, they think. This obviously implies Bitcoin Core’s SegWit solution.

Alex Petrov of BitFury commented to Bitcoin Magazine:

“BitFury was ready to support the Bitcoin Classic initiative – but this doesn’t mean we planned to immediately start mining in favor of Bitcoin Classic or run Bitcoin Classic nodes. We do believe a hard fork block size limit increase must happen, but we ultimately want to avoid too much confrontation among miners, or a split within the community. This is not helping to move the Bitcoin project forward in any way. Rather, we should have a constructive conversation, start talking, get the perspectives from both sides of the debate. That way everyone can get a deeper understanding of potential issues, and we will be able to find solutions.”

“We don’t want to raise any aggression or conflicts with either the Bitcoin Core or Bitcoin Classic development teams. Quite the opposite: We would like to build a communication bridge between them. We are just searching for the most optimal and efficient decision – between all voices and with the least risk. We already set the date for next meeting in the end of February, and we would like to discuss the issue with the Bitcoin Classic team to hear their perspective as well. Right now it seems more logical to roll-out Segregated Witness first, and prepare for a hard fork after that. But the Roundtable Group is comprised of many companies and people with differing views, and as initiators we don’t want to make any decisions ourselves,” he added.

Samson Mow of BTCC said:

“Bitcoin Classic often overstates their support, or misconstrues support for 2 megabytes or a hard fork as support for Bitcoin Classic.Some companies not on the signatory list have given a commitment to not run Bitcoin Classic until we see if Bitcoin Core can adapt. They support the Bitcoin Roundtable, but they would have preferred a more strongly worded request to Core, and so have refrained from signing. That was the compromise we reached.”

Speaking about possible solutions and the objective of the last week’s “call for consensus”, Marco Krohn, CFO at one of the undersigned companies, Genesis Mining, said:

“Segregated Witness is a great idea, and almost everyone supports it. However, it’s only a one-time capacity increase. There were several official and unofficial attempts to convince the Bitcoin Core development team to add a 2 megabyte block size limit increase hard fork to the roadmap, and be more specific about its implementation – but to no avail so far. The letter is an attempt to calm the situation, and to continue the constructive conversation with the Bitcoin Core development team. We are optimistic to find a solution which better addresses the needs of the businesses, miners and the rest of the community.”

However, all the spokespersons stressed that they expressed only their own opinions. However, most of their utterances intend to outline the general line of consensus reached at the roundtable, which, by the way, was initiated by BitFury.