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Question: Bitcoin fork proposal by respected Bitcoin lead dev Gavin Andresen, to increase the block size from 1MB to 20MB.
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Author Topic: Bitcoin 20MB Fork  (Read 154220 times)
Gavin Andresen
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February 17, 2015, 06:50:50 PM
 #1621

This is where my conversation with Gavin fell apart.  He was not able to acknowledge the concept of a too-high limit.  His reasoning was that since the limit was only one-sided (blocks with size above it are prevented) that it couldn't be too high.

Huh what?

I am not proposing infinitely sized blocks, so I obviously acknowledge the concept of a too-high limit as being plausible.

If you want to continue the conversation, please be very explicit about what problem you think needs solving, and how whatever solution you're proposing solves that problem.

We might agree or disagree on both of those points, but we won't have a productive conversation if you can't say what problem you are trying to solve.

To summarize my position: I see one big problem that need solving:

Supporting lots (millions, eventually billions) of people transacting in Bitcoin.
  Ideally at as low a cost as possible, as secure as possible, and in the most decentralized and censorship-resistant way possible.

It is hard to get consensus on HOW to solve that problem, because no solution is obviously lowest cost, most secure, and most decentralized all at the same time, and different people assign different weights to the importance of those three things.

My bias is to "get big fast" -- I think the only way Bitcoin thrives is for lots of people to use it and to be happy using it. If it is a tiny little niche thing then it is much easier for politicians or banks to smother it, paint it as "criminal money", etc. They probably can't kill it, but they sure could make life miserable enough to slow down adoption by a decade or three.

"Get big fast" has been the strategy for a few years now, ever since the project became too famous to fly under the radar of regulators or the mainstream press.

The simplest path to "get big fast" is allowing the chain to grow. All the other solutions take longer or compromise decentralization (e.g. off-chain transactions require one or more semi-trusted entities to validate those off-chain transactions). I'm listening very carefully to anybody who argues that a bigger chain will compromise security, and those concerns are why I am NOT proposing an infinite maximum block size.

There is rough consensus that the max block size must increase. I don't think there is consensus yet on exactly HOW or WHEN.

How often do you get the chance to work on a potentially world-changing project?
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February 17, 2015, 06:51:57 PM
 #1622

I wish I knew were to look for an alternative discussion thread on this topic.  This one is too long and flamey, imo.  I read the original blogposts, but I haven't seen any blogposts since.

The discussion is over. There will be no hard-fork. This thread serves only to create the illusion that the matter is unresolved.

I see.  I had that feeling (not that there would be no hard-fork, but a feeling that it was already decided one way or another).  Where did the actual discussion take place?  Where did Gavin relent?
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February 17, 2015, 07:01:13 PM
 #1623

So there are 2 other options: impose a hard limit by protocol rules or change the rules to alter financial incentives somehow so it's not profitable for miners to generate big blocks.

FWIW, there is already a financial incentive that makes it unprofitable for miners to generate big blocks.

Bigger blocks have a longer relay time, hence a higher chance of becoming orphaned blocks.  If someone else's block reaches more nodes than yours in a race, it costs you the fees and the block subsidy.

I'm not entirely sure that we still need a block size limit.  Getting a 'spam block' these days would seem to require someone, or some combination, to have invested adequate resources in hashing to get a block, but still not value the fees or block subsidy.  That's a very plausible scenario during bootstrap (or for an altcoin), but the hashing resources required to get Bitcoin blocks are huge, and I don't think trolls will invest that much money just for lulz.

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February 17, 2015, 07:02:36 PM
 #1624

I wish I knew were to look for an alternative discussion thread on this topic.  This one is too long and flamey, imo.  I read the original blogposts, but I haven't seen any blogposts since.

The discussion is over. There will be no hard-fork. This thread serves only to create the illusion that the matter is unresolved.

I see.  I had that feeling (not that there would be no hard-fork, but a feeling that it was already decided one way or another).  Where did the actual discussion take place?  Where did Gavin relent?

It took place in #bitcoin-assets, and he relented here.

Marriage is a permanent bond (or should be) between a man and a woman. Scripture reveals a man has the freedom to have this marriage bond with more than one woman, if he so desires. But, anything beyond this is a perversion. -- Darwin Fish
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February 17, 2015, 07:11:36 PM
 #1625

My bias is to "get big fast" -- I think the only way Bitcoin thrives is for lots of people to use it and to be happy using it. If it is a tiny little niche thing then it is much easier for politicians or banks to smother it, paint it as "criminal money", etc. They probably can't kill it, but they sure could make life miserable enough to slow down adoption by a decade or three.

I completely support this strategy, and it has nothing to do with treating Bitcoin as an impatient short term speculative investment, as profit is secondary to some of the real goals and principles of this project.

Getting "Big fast" will not only protect us from more countries making bitcoin completely illegal(4-5 at the moment- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_Bitcoin_by_country ), but also protect us from competing alts, protect us from competing corporate interests, and help shield more journalists/whistleblowers/political dissidents/ect from  being attacked by states.

This is the exact same reason why Jacob Applebaum wants everyday users to use TOR and host their own relay and the reason why I will be selling as many legal goods on OpenBazaar when it leaves Beta. We need to protect nonviolent voluntary transactions using the network that may be considered unfavorable or illegal in certain oppressive countries around the world.

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February 17, 2015, 07:13:48 PM
 #1626

I'm still holding hope for a better proposal that isn't too complex.
A dynamic proposal that allows the "anti-spam" limit to increase and decrease may allow us to continue to search for other solutions while we have the backstop in place so we don't hit a crisis may be a good idea.

This is where my conversation with Gavin fell apart.  He was not able to acknowledge the concept of a too-high limit.  His reasoning was that since the limit was only one-sided (blocks with size above it are prevented) that it couldn't be too high.

You, I and others, can see the fallacy of this in a moment, but he seems willing to ignore it.  I have good confidence in his programming.  I like the way he codes, it is tight and clean.  He is a great software engineer, and he has tested the software so that it works with large blocks.
As a protocol engineer he may be able to improve.  He has set himself up as the curator of ideas, and decides which have merit and which do not.  He was wise enough to revise this aspect of his proposal for the protocol once already, so he can hear some criticisms and respond.
This is why I hold some hope for him yet and have not given up on him.

When I've heard Gavin speak in public I immediately guess that at some point(s) in the guy's career his engineer's cube was right next to an incompletely insulated meeting room.  He caught snippets of the business people's conversations, and picked up some buzz words, but little more.  Where some engineers who find ourselves in such distracting situations laugh at the absurdity of much of the nonsense, other's reactions are different for whatever underlying set of reasons.  Gavin seems of the latter group to me.  And in being hoisted into his present position he seeks to emulate the behaviors and thought processes he imagines on the other side of the wall.

I would say that this is a tough break for Bitcoin, but the story is still in play.  When the final chapter is written it may end up the case that the existence, place, and time of Mr. Andresen in Bitcoin's history was key to it's success and/or it's failure.


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February 17, 2015, 07:19:42 PM
 #1627

My bias is to "get big fast" -- I think the only way Bitcoin thrives is for lots of people to use it and to be happy using it. If it is a tiny little niche thing then it is much easier for politicians or banks to smother it, paint it as "criminal money", etc. They probably can't kill it, but they sure could make life miserable enough to slow down adoption by a decade or three.

Bitcoin isn't for everybody.

V. The fork is needed because otherwise some people won't be able to use Bitcoin.

Bitcoin isn't for everybody. Creating something useful that everyone can use is an exercise in trying to create something that's useful but worthless. Such a thing may exist, in the sense perpetuum mobile may exist. As far as the science of physics goes, they do not.

Should blocks ever become full, older coinbases will be prioritized over newer coinbases, and larger mining fees and transactions prioritized over smaller mining fees and smaller transactions. This means that someone who wishes to pay for very little with Bitcoin will be forced to use something else, so to speak is forced to "give his seat" to someone richer. This is exactly the point and the intent of Bitcoin : to force the poor to yield to the rich, unversally, as a matter of course.

You may not like this, but that is entirely an emotional problem of yours, which you're welcome to resolve any way you can : stop being poor, take a lot of pills, whatever. You may try to solve it by attempting to make it impossible for the rich to construct tools that they will then use to force you to yield to them, but this will necessarily not work : being rich means by definition they have more resources than you, and whatever you devise they can make a counter.

If you are more practically inclined, and having understood, accepted and come to terms with your fundamental human inferiority as it flows from your poverty, some solutions to your predicament of "I wish to buy myself a basket" have already been discussed :

Quote
For the reasons noted and for many other reasons I am pretty much satisfied that Bitcoin is not nor will it ever be a direct means of payment for retail anything. You may end up paying for a month's worth of coffee vouchers at your favourite coffee shop via Bitcoin (so shop scrip built on top of Bitcoin), you may end up settling your accounts monthly at the restaurant in Bitcoin (so store credit built on top of Bitcoin), you will probably cash into whatever local currency from Bitcoin (be it Unified Standard Dubaloos or Universally Simplified Dosidoes or whatever else) but all that is entirely different a story.

Run along now, back to playing in the mud with the other naked kids in your village. Bitcoin's just not for your kind.



There is rough consensus that the max block size must increase. I don't think there is consensus yet on exactly HOW or WHEN.

Good for you, too bad you're irrelevant.

XIV. We all agree.

Good for you, too bad you're irrelevant. Bitcoin is about money and about power, not about opinion and social media. You can agree until you are blue in the face, that's not what makes a difference. Your public humiliation on this score - in case your shepherd be dumb enough to actually take the field and be humiliatedii - should be instructive for you.

Take notice on the why and the how you don't matter, understand why "MP doesn't cater to my idiocy which makes me want to support anything else" doesn't actually do anything, break through the shell of your own idiocy and start actually developing as a human being already. Going by your infantile behaviour this is clearly the first time you had the chance, but going by the messy state of the world around you it might actually be your last, too. Try and make the best of the very little you have at your disposal.

Marriage is a permanent bond (or should be) between a man and a woman. Scripture reveals a man has the freedom to have this marriage bond with more than one woman, if he so desires. But, anything beyond this is a perversion. -- Darwin Fish
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February 17, 2015, 07:22:56 PM
Last edit: February 17, 2015, 07:36:50 PM by inBitweTrust
 #1628

I would say that this is a tough break for Bitcoin, but the story is still in play.  When the final chapter is written it may end up the case that the existence, place, and time of Mr. Andresen in Bitcoin's history was key to it's success and/or it's failure.

While he has been a valuable asset to our community, I am not aware that he is involved in any mining thus he has ultimately no say in whether this fork goes through or not. There seems to be this misunderstanding or mythology being proposed that he is foisting this upon the community when a majority (as can be demonstrated from this poll ) agree with him and many others have been suggesting thus, including Satoshi himself from years ago.

If anything I think the developers (Including Gavin) are being too patient and we should set some predefined schedules of a few more testing phases and than come to a more detailed consensus within the next couple months based upon how exactly this hard fork is going to be implemented because it will likely happen despite the chagrin you may have from the outcome.

We should set a deadline where others have an opportunity to submit their detailed suggested proposals and tests as Gavin has done with the scalability roadmap, than have another deadline where we can discuss and study the proposals, than go through with it.

P.s... I understand that users and full nodes will vote upon which fork they choose, but you may as well be considered an alt if you don't have the hashing power backing your chain because any remnant chain that doesn't perform their own fork to at least adjust difficulty manually will immediately be dead in the water overnight.

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February 17, 2015, 07:26:45 PM
 #1629

This is where my conversation with Gavin fell apart.  He was not able to acknowledge the concept of a too-high limit.  His reasoning was that since the limit was only one-sided (blocks with size above it are prevented) that it couldn't be too high.

Huh what?

I am not proposing infinitely sized blocks, so I obviously acknowledge the concept of a too-high limit as being plausible.

If you want to continue the conversation, please be very explicit about what problem you think needs solving, and how whatever solution you're proposing solves that problem.

We might agree or disagree on both of those points, but we won't have a productive conversation if you can't say what problem you are trying to solve.

To summarize my position: I see one big problem that need solving:

Supporting lots (millions, eventually billions) of people transacting in Bitcoin.
  Ideally at as low a cost as possible, as secure as possible, and in the most decentralized and censorship-resistant way possible.

It is hard to get consensus on HOW to solve that problem, because no solution is obviously lowest cost, most secure, and most decentralized all at the same time, and different people assign different weights to the importance of those three things.

My bias is to "get big fast" -- I think the only way Bitcoin thrives is for lots of people to use it and to be happy using it. If it is a tiny little niche thing then it is much easier for politicians or banks to smother it, paint it as "criminal money", etc. They probably can't kill it, but they sure could make life miserable enough to slow down adoption by a decade or three.

"Get big fast" has been the strategy for a few years now, ever since the project became too famous to fly under the radar of regulators or the mainstream press.

The simplest path to "get big fast" is allowing the chain to grow. All the other solutions take longer or compromise decentralization (e.g. off-chain transactions require one or more semi-trusted entities to validate those off-chain transactions). I'm listening very carefully to anybody who argues that a bigger chain will compromise security, and those concerns are why I am NOT proposing an infinite maximum block size.

There is rough consensus that the max block size must increase. I don't think there is consensus yet on exactly HOW or WHEN.

Totally agree, the idea that we can keep a 1mb block size is ridiculous and we all know it, some people want a 10$ transaction fee and a 1mb block but this isn't good for Bitcoin or the community. We need Bitcoin to not be an "Do you remember" tech advancement and it to evolve with the times and not get gridlocked. We are quickly hitting the block cap and if we don't increase it soon Bitcoin won't be the best way to transfer money, may it be large fees to get in the next block or long confirmation times.

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February 17, 2015, 07:28:20 PM
 #1630

I would say that this is a tough break for Bitcoin, but the story is still in play.  When the final chapter is written it may end up the case that the existence, place, and time of Mr. Andresen in Bitcoin's history was key to it's success and/or it's failure.

While he has been a valuable asset to our community, I am not aware that he is involved in any mining thus he has ultimately no say in whether this fork goes through or not.

"The miners decide if a hard fork happens" is a fallacy that has already been covered in this thread.

VII. The minersi decide.

No, they do not. The miners make some minor decisions in Bitcoin, but major decisions such as block forks are not at their disposition alone, and this for excellent reasons you'll readily understand if you stop and think about it.

There are two specific methods to control miners on this matter, which will make the scamcoin Gavin is trying to replace everyone's Bitcoin with only replace some people's Bitcoin. The first and most obvious is that irrespective of what miners mine, each single full node will reject illegal blocks. This is a fact. If all the miners out there suddenly quit Bitcon and go mine Keiser's Aurora scamcoin instead, from the perspective of the Bitcoin network hash rate simply dropped and that's all. There's absolutely no difference between Keiser's scamcoin and Gavin's scam coin as far as the network is concerned : while one's a scammer that I humiliatingly defeated in the past whereas the other a scammer that I humiliatingly defeat in the future, this makes no difference for Bitcoin. As far as anyone will be able to perceive, miners simply left.

The second and perhaps not as obvious has nevertheless been discussed at length on multiple occasions on #bitcoin-assets. Consider this terse explanation from March. 2013.

Quote
mircea_popescu: whoever has enough money to matter is likely to pick one chain for whatever reason
mircea_popescu: since fork means btc can be spent independently on either chain
mircea_popescu: he will sell his btc on one and perhaps buy on the other.
mircea_popescu: as a result prices will rapidly diverge, panicking the mass of users, and the fork is economically resolved.

The situation here is aggravated by the fact that the fork proposed is not simply nondeterministic behaviourii, and so the holdings on the two chains aren't notionally equivalent. Instead, all the holdings on the Bitcoin chain are accepted as valid on both Bitcoin and Gavincoin, but holdings on Gavincoin are rejected by Bitcoin. Consequently, everyone involved with the fork is writing options to everyone in Bitcoin, free of charge. That they have no ready way to finance these should be obvious, and consequently the grim prospects of the Gavin side of the fork should be just as obvious. At least, to people who understand economy to any degree.

To summarize, the miners will mine the chain that makes them the most money. Do you think you can provide more support than MP? The guy is a billionaire.

Marriage is a permanent bond (or should be) between a man and a woman. Scripture reveals a man has the freedom to have this marriage bond with more than one woman, if he so desires. But, anything beyond this is a perversion. -- Darwin Fish
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February 17, 2015, 07:44:02 PM
 #1631

My bias is to "get big fast" -- I think the only way Bitcoin thrives is for lots of people to use it and to be happy using it. If it is a tiny little niche thing then it is much easier for politicians or banks to smother it, paint it as "criminal money", etc. They probably can't kill it, but they sure could make life miserable enough to slow down adoption by a decade or three.

Bitcoin isn't for everybody.

It is.  And it will continue to be when everyone has left you behind.  I love how you think you'll still have some kind of financial ecosystem that's going to consist of you, your fellow MP fanboys and literally no one else.


V. The fork is needed because otherwise some people won't be able to use Bitcoin.

Bitcoin isn't for everybody. Creating something useful that everyone can use is an exercise in trying to create something that's useful but worthless. Such a thing may exist, in the sense perpetuum mobile may exist. As far as the science of physics goes, they do not.

Should blocks ever become full, older coinbases will be prioritized over newer coinbases, and larger mining fees and transactions prioritized over smaller mining fees and smaller transactions. This means that someone who wishes to pay for very little with Bitcoin will be forced to use something else, so to speak is forced to "give his seat" to someone richer. This is exactly the point and the intent of Bitcoin : to force the poor to yield to the rich, unversally, as a matter of course.

You may not like this, but that is entirely an emotional problem of yours, which you're welcome to resolve any way you can : stop being poor, take a lot of pills, whatever. You may try to solve it by attempting to make it impossible for the rich to construct tools that they will then use to force you to yield to them, but this will necessarily not work : being rich means by definition they have more resources than you, and whatever you devise they can make a counter.

If you are more practically inclined, and having understood, accepted and come to terms with your fundamental human inferiority as it flows from your poverty, some solutions to your predicament of "I wish to buy myself a basket" have already been discussed :

Quote
For the reasons noted and for many other reasons I am pretty much satisfied that Bitcoin is not nor will it ever be a direct means of payment for retail anything. You may end up paying for a month's worth of coffee vouchers at your favourite coffee shop via Bitcoin (so shop scrip built on top of Bitcoin), you may end up settling your accounts monthly at the restaurant in Bitcoin (so store credit built on top of Bitcoin), you will probably cash into whatever local currency from Bitcoin (be it Unified Standard Dubaloos or Universally Simplified Dosidoes or whatever else) but all that is entirely different a story.

Run along now, back to playing in the mud with the other naked kids in your village. Bitcoin's just not for your kind.



There is rough consensus that the max block size must increase. I don't think there is consensus yet on exactly HOW or WHEN.

Good for you, too bad you're irrelevant.

XIV. We all agree.

Good for you, too bad you're irrelevant. Bitcoin is about money and about power, not about opinion and social media. You can agree until you are blue in the face, that's not what makes a difference. Your public humiliation on this score - in case your shepherd be dumb enough to actually take the field and be humiliatedii - should be instructive for you.

Take notice on the why and the how you don't matter, understand why "MP doesn't cater to my idiocy which makes me want to support anything else" doesn't actually do anything, break through the shell of your own idiocy and start actually developing as a human being already. Going by your infantile behaviour this is clearly the first time you had the chance, but going by the messy state of the world around you it might actually be your last, too. Try and make the best of the very little you have at your disposal.

Every word out of your and MP's mouths is disgusting.  Your vision for Bitcoin is disgusting.  Everything about you is disgusting.  I can't wait for everyone decent to prove to you just how wrong you are about everything you've said in all the threads and blog posts about this fork.


Quote
19:16:20 gavinandresen: Ok, if y’all are interested in keeping Bitcoin an exclusive little club… then okey dokey, we have a fundamental difference of opinion on where the project should go.

Keep up the good work, Gavin.  Those of us who aren't elitist crackpots are with you all the way.



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February 17, 2015, 08:07:20 PM
 #1632

- snipped for clarity -

I fast-fingered my previous comment before noticing that you were still active in this thread.  I apologize for this (but don't retract my comments of course.)

Here is my contention and, respectfully, where I think you go wrong:

My bias is to "get big fast" -- I think the only way Bitcoin thrives is for lots of people to use it and to be happy using it. If it is a tiny little niche thing then it is much easier for politicians or banks to smother it, paint it as "criminal money", etc. They probably can't kill it, but they sure could make life miserable enough to slow down adoption by a decade or three.

The powers that be will do all of these things for one simple reason:  All of these negatives are perfectly true and then some.  There are other things which are true as well, of course, or I doubt that either you or I would be involved with it.  That does not matter.  It will be attacked for all that it is.  The negatives will be played up for PR reasons while the positives will be at the driving motives behind the attacks.  I also suggest that Bitcoin was recognized long ago as being to potentially damaging for the attacks to be left in the hands of amateurs.

I think you are simply flat wrong as an engineer, systems analyst, politician, or historian to think that somehow growth is the best strategy to thwart the attacks.  We'll have to outgrow the power of the world's entrenched powers to win on brute strength, and that will never be allowed.


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February 17, 2015, 08:42:35 PM
 #1633

Did the recent changes in Bitcoin core make it impossible to have a fork? If the core downloads headers and finds the best chain and at some moment it sees that block size is greater than 1 Mb - will it try to jump to a chain with lower cumulative difficulty?
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February 17, 2015, 08:51:33 PM
Last edit: February 17, 2015, 09:03:24 PM by DeathAndTaxes
 #1634

Did the recent changes in Bitcoin core make it impossible to have a fork? If the core downloads headers and finds the best chain and at some moment it sees that block size is greater than 1 Mb - will it try to jump to a chain with lower cumulative difficulty?

No.  A client doesn't select just the longest (most work) chain.  It selects the longest (most work) chain which is valid.   Valid means the block meets all consensus rules which all existing clients interpret as having a size less than 1MB.  Future versions of the client could support a larger block.  If/when that happens older nodes would see the first >1MB as invalid and newer clients will see it as valid.  Header first doesn't change anything.  The newer blocks will contain a new version number (most likely v4).  If a v4 compatible client providers a header which contains a version 4 element then existing clients will provide a warning that a new protocol version may exist and recommend an upgrade.   As long as all the v4 blocks remain <=1MB existing client will be able to validate but will warn (because they don't know what v4 means).

Now the new version of the client will also contain the new block size rules currently deactivated.  One way to activate them is for the new client to look at the last 1001 blocks and count how many v4 blocks exist.  If it is above some predetermined number (say 901) and the blockheight is above a certain value (to provide a minimum upgrade time) then the new rules go into effect.  Once that happens and a block >1MB is created existing clients will be unable to validate that chain but via headers they will know an incompatible higher version of the protocol has MORE hashrate and that the user is in danger of losing funds so the client will warn that.  If the % of hashrate that builds v4 blocks never exceeds the cutoff then >1MB blocks never become possible.
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February 17, 2015, 08:56:17 PM
 #1635

We might agree or disagree on both of those points, but we won't have a productive conversation if you can't say what problem you are trying to solve.

As one of the "cognitively different" I think far too literally to have deep discourse with normal human beings in realtime.  It takes a long-ish time for me to think through people's written communications to respond appropriately and productively.  And sometimes I still get it wrong.  I VERY MUCH identify with your above request, but long experience tells me it is unlikely to achieve your desired result.

In many cases the problems others are trying to solve are with the conversations themselves rather than the things the conversations are about.  A straightforward plea such as yours to state the problem is generally seen as irrelevant, and a direct answer would possibly be harmful, to actually achieving such goals.  Moreover, a direct answer in that case would require more insight into one's own motives than most normal people have.

As with most things involving normal people, it's far easier to be certain than right.  

To summarize my position: I see one big problem that need solving:

Supporting lots (millions, eventually billions) of people transacting in Bitcoin.
  Ideally at as low a cost as possible, as secure as possible, and in the most decentralized and censorship-resistant way possible.

It is hard to get consensus on HOW to solve that problem, because no solution is obviously lowest cost, most secure, and most decentralized all at the same time, and different people assign different weights to the importance of those three things.

That is an excellent statement of a goal I share and some of the values that a good solution must maximize.  I am in agreement with it.  

I think that there is sharp divergence of opinions in the community regarding the relationship between censorship-resistance and scaling to millions or billions of transactors.  Some seem to assume that absolute censorship-resistance and untraceability are necessary to future growth.  Others seem to assume that they would hinder future growth.  Some seem to assume that absolute censorship-resistance and untraceability are more important than future growth, and others that they are unimportant relative to future growth.  

Some seem to think that Bitcoin has ever had any kind of absolute censorship-resistance and untraceability, but this is a misapprehension.  It is 'cash-like' in that if you are very very careful you can acquire and spend it without someone knowing who you are.  That is IMO about the greatest degree of censorship-resistance and untraceability that realistically will not result in aggressive prevention of scaling the network by various law enforcement concerns.  

I would suggest an attempt to clarify the relationship, but any attempt to do so via open discussion and debate would as some say  "generate more heat than light."  It might be worth it, but bring hot dogs, marshmallows, and an asbestos suit if you plan to light that fire.

My bias is to "get big fast" -- I think the only way Bitcoin thrives is for lots of people to use it and to be happy using it. If it is a tiny little niche thing then it is much easier for politicians or banks to smother it, paint it as "criminal money", etc. They probably can't kill it, but they sure could make life miserable enough to slow down adoption by a decade or three.

They most assuredly can kill it, for all practical purposes.  They can make it illegal to be a Bitcoin-accepting merchant, prosecute unlicensed money transmitters dealing in Bitcoin and deny licenses to any money transmitters who plan to start.  That would be an effectively fatal blow.  Network effects and immediate mass dumping by the 'get-rich-quick' speculators would do the rest.  We could be back to that ten-thousand-bitcoin pizza within a few months if the IMF and a few nations signatory to global anti-money-laundering treaties  decide to ban it.  

As you point out, our most effective strategy is to get big enough, fast enough, to disincentivize the delivery of that fatal blow.  Bitcoin needs to be a system that makes significant contribution to the economy - or at least one whose extinction would cost elected creatures substantial numbers of votes - before it can be seen as 'too big to fail.'

The simplest path to "get big fast" is allowing the chain to grow. All the other solutions take longer or compromise decentralization (e.g. off-chain transactions require one or more semi-trusted entities to validate those off-chain transactions). I'm listening very carefully to anybody who argues that a bigger chain will compromise security, and those concerns are why I am NOT proposing an infinite maximum block size.

Allowing larger block sizes is necessary.

In the future, there will be need for more than 1MB of tx per block.  When that happens, our choices are two: have a larger block size, or fail.  As blocks grow larger, the costs in bandwidth of running a full node become higher so there will be fewer full nodes.  That's bad for security, but unrelated to the block size limit as such.

Blocks will become larger, no matter which limit is in place above them, at the rate transactions grow.  The bandwidth costs of running a full node scale with the number of transactions, not with the limit on the number of transactions.  So full nodes will drop out as actual transactions scale up, not as the limit is raised.  The security question relevant to the higher block size limit then is whether it is better for security to fail or succeed when more than 1MB of tx per block are needed.  I say it is better for security to succeed.

Visa seems to get along fine with a peak tx volume that's about 12 times their average tx volume.  That seems like a reasonable margin to me, both for peak traffic and for sudden growth within a retargeting period, while remaining low enough to limit any DoS attack that could be executed via large block size.  So I would suggest a block size limit set once every 2016 blocks at the same time as difficulty retargeting, at 12 times the average for the previous 2016 blocks.  

My main concern with the proposal this conversation started with (20MB and %40/year) is that adoption of a new technology, if and when it happens, is not that gradual.  This is another reason I advocate a plan capable of growing by up to a factor of 12 in successive 2-week periods; if this happens, the timing will surprise all of us and the speed with which the change happens and the size to which it grows will surprise almost all of us.

That scenario is also why I think that just scaling up the blocks is not adequate.  Bigger blocks would get us through a crisis, but security depends on every user having a manageable set of data that allows them to independently verify transaction validity, and a block chain that grows linearly relative to a userbase that grows exponentially does not make a manageable set of data.  So, IMO, the most important scalability/security job after block size is not side chains - it is blockchain pruning.

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February 17, 2015, 08:58:43 PM
 #1636

This is where my conversation with Gavin fell apart.  He was not able to acknowledge the concept of a too-high limit.  His reasoning was that since the limit was only one-sided (blocks with size above it are prevented) that it couldn't be too high.

Huh what?

I am not proposing infinitely sized blocks, so I obviously acknowledge the concept of a too-high limit as being plausible.

If you want to continue the conversation, please be very explicit about what problem you think needs solving, and how whatever solution you're proposing solves that problem.

We might agree or disagree on both of those points, but we won't have a productive conversation if you can't say what problem you are trying to solve.

To summarize my position: I see one big problem that need solving:

Supporting lots (millions, eventually billions) of people transacting in Bitcoin.
  Ideally at as low a cost as possible, as secure as possible, and in the most decentralized and censorship-resistant way possible.

It is hard to get consensus on HOW to solve that problem, because no solution is obviously lowest cost, most secure, and most decentralized all at the same time, and different people assign different weights to the importance of those three things.

My bias is to "get big fast" -- I think the only way Bitcoin thrives is for lots of people to use it and to be happy using it. If it is a tiny little niche thing then it is much easier for politicians or banks to smother it, paint it as "criminal money", etc. They probably can't kill it, but they sure could make life miserable enough to slow down adoption by a decade or three.

"Get big fast" has been the strategy for a few years now, ever since the project became too famous to fly under the radar of regulators or the mainstream press.

The simplest path to "get big fast" is allowing the chain to grow. All the other solutions take longer or compromise decentralization (e.g. off-chain transactions require one or more semi-trusted entities to validate those off-chain transactions). I'm listening very carefully to anybody who argues that a bigger chain will compromise security, and those concerns are why I am NOT proposing an infinite maximum block size.

There is rough consensus that the max block size must increase. I don't think there is consensus yet on exactly HOW or WHEN.


Thank you for this additional insight into your thinking on the matter.
My impression was that you were not proposing "no block size limit" only because that would not be likely to attract the preponderance of consensus support, and that you were instead proposing as high as you thought you could get agreement upon.  I like the goal, I hate the method.

We (you and I and whomever else agrees) share the bolded goal you articulated above.  Where we diverge may be on the value of the "get big fast" bias and maybe the ordering of the criteria in the bolded goals.  Though I would be delighted to see "big fast" happen, if it is done at the cost of security, decentralization, censorship or transaction/network cost (which is also a type of censorship), then the cost of growth is too high.

My view is that the "mass adoption" isn't a short term goal, but an eventual fait accompli.  Getting the max block size out of the way as an impediment would be greatly beneficial.  

I like JustusRanvier's thought work on the matter, but as a proposal it is pretty far from where we are today and likely unreachable with Bitcoin internally.  If miners are induced to 'tip out' to nodes somehow, it may happen external to the protocol through groups like chain.com or apicoin.

Where the current proposals fail in my humble opinion is the risk/reward.

To go from a static block size limit, to one over an order of magnitude larger and adding a dynamic limit (with exponential growth) has risks to node centralization.  It invites spam transactions which create costs to the node maintenance in perpetuity.

Bitcoin has less than 10K nodes operating, if node running could be made to be 20x more expensive (in network and verification/storage/search) there are going to be less nodes, not more.  This is a loss in security, decentralization and cost (and where it loses decentralization and cost, it also creates censorship risks).  So a too-high cost-of-risk for the growth.  There is also the risk that it may be to low of a limit.  Maybe we get some event in the world that brings people to Bitcoin in droves.  Either too-high or too-low and we get a crisis induced change and are back to where we are today.

Other advancements may mitigate this somewhat.  Fractional/shard nodes may help long term by making the cost more granular, (what have we decided to call these?), but in the short term the total node count may fall as some currently full nodes become shards.  

Where does that leave me?
I'd support lower risk proposals:
1) A static but higher max block size.  This just kicks the can down the road until we can achieve...
2) A dynamic max block size that increases or decreases based on the needs of people to use Bitcoin, not on a current best guess of what the distant future may appear to be (as good as that may be).  and ultimately...
3) No block size limit, because the economics are in place to make it unnecessary

Lots of us have had ideas on how to get to (2) but the pieces are not all in place yet.  What we really need is a strategy to get from where we are now to (2).  This is the discussion I would like to see happening, and assist with to the extent possible.  A proposal to get Bitcoin protocol through the next handful of decades, rather than the Bitcoin software through the next handful of years.  (3) may be a problems for the next generation to handle, I'd like to give them the chance to get there.

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February 17, 2015, 09:07:18 PM
 #1637

Visa seems to get along fine with a peak tx volume that's about 12 times their average tx volume.

STOP COMPARING BITCOIN TO VISA! THEY ARE NOT ANYWHERE NEAR THE SAME THING.

You use Visa. Bitcoin uses you.

IX. "Hard fork block size politics: do we want decentralized digital gold, or just another Visa? We want both. And there's no reason we can't have both."

Actually, there's a damned good reason "we" can't have both : one of them is nonsense. To grok this, tell me, whom do you know in Mali ?

No, not Bali, that island where preppy sluts go for spring break. Mali, the funny-shaped, landlocked West African nation.

Nobody ? Never even heard of anyone from there, never ate in a Mali restaurant, never bought a Mali anything over the mail, as far as you're concerned Mali could just as well not exist at all ? Well, bless you, the sentiment's exactly mutual! As far as they're concerned, the entire population of Mali couldn't give less of a fuck, and you might as well not exist.

Yet your proposal here is that we take everything of everyone : each pair of underwear, each box of notebooks left over from highschool, each car and set of car keys, each coffee mug, each old printer cartridge, each and every single item of everyone, worldwide, and dump them all into a huge warehouse in San Francisco. And then, you say, you'll give everyone receipts to keep track of their stuff. Obviously the receipts will be rather lengthy and complicated an affair, but all the inconvenience, confusion and sheer effort is worth it, you say. Because why ? "Because there's no reason we can't have both". Orly.

I get it, you're a centralist at heart, you want this globalisation thing where everyone's stuff is locked up in Fort Knox so the misfortunate indigents of Mali get to curse the day your pasty ass showed up forcing "democracy" on them. I don't particularly like this outlook, but who am I to tell you how to live your life.

Nevertheless, there's a damned good reason why you can't have both at my expense. You can't ask demand me and my friends and my business partners run complicated, expensive and ultimately pointless computer systems that are required to distinguish our transactions from Mali bound transactions, avoid double spends and all of that simply because you want the world to be a centrally-planned, single-core thing because you're too intellectually lazy and too mentally simple to accomodate the actual variety of the world in your barren skull. I get it, it'd be much simpler for you to think of "everything in Bitcoin".

This simplicity for you has actual costs in the world. If large classes of transactions among which there is no possible cross-ambiguity remain limited to their own context, there's less hassle for everyone involved. Imagine the common occurence of someone sitting in your seat on the airplane. Fortunately, the tickets carry a seat number, which can be compared, and there you go. Imagine instead the Gavinairport where Gavintickets require everyone in the whole airport get out of their planes, single file to the tickets checking office, and have their tickets checked. Every single time someone sits in someone else's seat. And what'd the TSA say to this ? I can almost see them, "there's no reason we can't have it". Of course there isn't, if nobody gives a shit about people or their legitimate interests.

There's no benefit to making everything wait on everything else if large swaths can be readily isolated that'd absolutely never meet. If my blockchain doesn't have to wait for Mali blocks to propagate, and if it doesn't have to to check against Mali doublespends of transactions nobody in Mali could ever be conceivably involved in under any circumstances, then my blockchain is easier to run, to maintain, to debug and so it can provide for the citizens of Mali exactly the only thing they actually want me to provide : a backup value.

They don't perceivably want nor do they conceivably need main chain transactions for every single quarter of cent / West African CFA franc transaction they undertake. What they clearly need and possibly even want is the ability to turn a pile of however many of these they've saved into a few Satoshi. So they can save that, so they can buy Trilema credits, so they can do the few and precious things where they actually interact with the world at large. There's absolutely no need to make every single move they take dependent on the actions of far removed parties that couldn't care less about their interests, needs or proclivities.

Yeah, yeah, you're thinking "but Bitcoin is decentralized". Sure, it's a decentralized implementation. But it is an implementation of a centralized concept. Bitcoin is universal money, and that's quite by definition central. Even if implemented in a decentralized manner, as all usable money always has to be implemented, it nevertheless is a centralized thing, by the very nature of what money has to be in order to be money. Now why marry to this an obligation that's burdensome on everyone and not really useful to anyone ?

Marriage is a permanent bond (or should be) between a man and a woman. Scripture reveals a man has the freedom to have this marriage bond with more than one woman, if he so desires. But, anything beyond this is a perversion. -- Darwin Fish
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February 17, 2015, 09:10:33 PM
 #1638

I wish I knew were to look for an alternative discussion thread on this topic.  This one is too long and flamey, imo.  I read the original blogposts, but I haven't seen any blogposts since.

The discussion is over. There will be no hard-fork. This thread serves only to create the illusion that the matter is unresolved.

I see.  I had that feeling (not that there would be no hard-fork, but a feeling that it was already decided one way or another).  Where did the actual discussion take place?  Where did Gavin relent?

It took place in #bitcoin-assets, and he relented here.

Thanks, I should have known there would be IRC logs with the actual discussions.  Cheers!
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February 17, 2015, 09:40:34 PM
 #1639


It took place in #bitcoin-assets, and he relented here.

Thanks, I should have known there would be IRC logs with the actual discussions.  Cheers!

Reading IRC logs makes my brain bleed, but I went and read it because of the extraordinary claim.  As usual for IRC, the  "discussion" amounted to abuse and posturing.  And as usual for extraordinary claims, the evidence does not support it. If you think that Gavin committed to making or not making a hard fork in that log, you have wilfully misinterpreted it.

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February 17, 2015, 09:54:26 PM
 #1640


It took place in #bitcoin-assets, and he relented here.

Thanks, I should have known there would be IRC logs with the actual discussions.  Cheers!

Reading IRC logs makes my brain bleed, but I went and read it because of the extraordinary claim.  As usual for IRC, the  "discussion" amounted to abuse and posturing.  And as usual for extraordinary claims, the evidence does not support it. If you think that Gavin committed to making or not making a hard fork in that log, you have wilfully misinterpreted it.



He relented by just joining. The fact that the great asciilifeform was able to !up him is proof of our victory. The concession is this: you need MP's permission in order to do anything in bitcoin. Gavin admitted this by showing up. Do you see MP on the forum? Nope, didn't think so. The funniest part is that Gavin waited until MP was out to lunch before showing his sorry face.

Marriage is a permanent bond (or should be) between a man and a woman. Scripture reveals a man has the freedom to have this marriage bond with more than one woman, if he so desires. But, anything beyond this is a perversion. -- Darwin Fish
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