Over the past two years, a number of Bitcoin Improvement Proposals have been put forth by various members of the Bitcoin community. These proposals call for the block size to be increased from anywhere between 1 MB and 32 MB. Each of these proposals have received their fair share of opposition, some more than others. Some of the proposals so far include
- BIP 100 proposed by Jeff Garzik, a Bitcoin Core developer suggests an increase in the range between existing 1MB to 32MB depending upon the miners’ vote.
- BIP 101 is also known as Bitcoin XT proposed by Gavin Andresen and Mike Hearn. The proposal suggested the block size be increased from existing 1 MB to 8 MB, followed by addition increase of 8 MB every two years.
- BIP 102 proposed doubling of the current block size from 1 MB to 2 MB. Jeff Garzik was behind this proposal as well.
- BIP 103 was proposed by Pieter Wuille. It suggests for the block size to be incrementally increased by 17.7 percent every year for the next 47 years. All these proposals were either shot down or not taken seriously until few developers came together to introduce Bitcoin Classic. Bitcoin Classic proposes the block size to be increased by 1 MB. It has gained a lot of traction since then, with many bitcoin companies and industry leaders supporting it.
Any proposal to implement changes in the Bitcoin network is usually introduced by the Bitcoin Core developer community. But the fate of these proposal lies in the hands of the whole community, or at least a significant portion of the community. The proposals cannot be implemented without the consensus of miners.
It is hard to satisfy all members of the community as they all have their own interests to serve. For any successful proposal, the developer or a group of developers introducing it should think through various subjective aspects. Some of those subjective aspects are clearly mentioned by Elliot Olds in one of his recent blog.
It Takes More than a Developer to Introduce the Right BIP
Bitcoin Core developers may be good at developing the technological part of the digital currency. However. some of the decisions to be made when it comes to real world feasibility and adoption can’t be completely understood by using technology. For example, factors like the appropriate cost of setting up a full node, the social aspects of the digital currency and how the digital currency is used and so on. For the Bitcoin community to grow and for more people to start using bitcoin while ensuring the longevity of Bitcoin network, the digital currency needs more than the developers.
The success and failure of Bitcoin as a currency depends upon how well it addresses the concerns various people might have. Developing the right roadmap for Bitcoin development and maintenance requires additional expertise in economics, human psychology and ethics. In the absence of such expertise, developers and any untrained individuals may create a biased roadmap. Such roadmaps or proposals are met with opposition ( e.g. proposals to increase block size) by those who might have a different view of things. This will continue to be a challenge in a decentralized democratic system. The best way to avoid such scenario is by requesting inputs from all the stakeholders and then framing a proposal that addresses concerns of all stakeholders. It will avoid debates and help reach consensus sooner.