Forking Hell: There are a Lot of Hard Forks Coming to Bitcoin

There’s rarely a dull moment in the cryptocurrency space but recent months have been about as dramatic as they come. The forking saga that began in August of this year with Bitcoin Cash attempting to keep a version of Bitcoin without second layer scaling solution Segwit has continued and this month reached unprecedented levels of bewilderment, surprise, and intrigue. On November 8, the main supporters of a controversial second hard fork that was scheduled for later in the month declared that they had called off their plan. They had sought to fork the Bitcoin blockchain to increase the block size from 1MB to 2MB. However, they announced that a lack of support had caused them to abandon the project.

As with any big news in cryptocurrency, the calling off of Segwit2x, as the proposal had come to be referred to as, led to a lot of volatility in the markets. Firstly, the price of Bitcoin soared to all-time highs before topping out and starting to decline. Many alt-coins had a brief pump as money started to flood out of Bitcoin’s market cap. However, the biggest gainer from the chaos that ensued was undoubtedly Bitcoin Cash. From it’s price point of between $600 and $650 at the news of the Segwit2x fork being called off, it had surged to an alt-time high of over $2,300 on the early hours of Sunday morning. It has since settled to just over $1,000 at the time of writing.

Some are claiming it as a massive success story for Bitcoin Cash. However, it’s hard to tell how high the market cap of the original chain would be if the scaling debate had long been solved through consensus. It’s therefore impossible to tell how much money would have entered or left various markets in the months since the BCH fork had it not taken place at all.

Many seem keen to have a pop at stealing Bitcoin’s thunder by way of hard fork. Thanks to the decentralised, open source nature of the network, literally anyone can use the code and create their own version of Bitcoin. Whether it retains any value following the fork is another matter. There are now planned forks for Bitcoin Diamond that’s due to occur at block number 495,866, Bitcoin Silver with plans for greater decentralisation via a new PoW algorithm at some point in December, Bitcoin Unlimited claiming to be “a voice to all stakeholders in the Bitcoin ecosystem”, and Super Bitcoin who are planning on adding smart contracts to their fork of the chain from early 2018. It’s unclear how successful these projects will be, and whether they are even intended to be anything more than a quick money grab from developers hoping to cash in on the Bitcoin brand name.

It appears that software engineer and crypto analyst Jimmy Song was correct with his thesis that 2018 would be the year of the hard fork. Although, just how fractured Bitcoin will become remains to be seen. Will one coin snatch the community’s approval from the currently dominant BTC chain? Or, will the new offshoots dwindle into insignificance with less hype around each one as forks become the norm, and efforts receive little community attention? For now, we have to wait and see.


Image: PixaBay

Subscribe to our newsletter

It has been a while since someone tweeted something odd about Bitcoin Unlimited. Roger Ver came up with a statement that will get people riled up once again. In his opinion, Bitcoin Unlimited is production ready, as it produces over 40% of network blocks. While that statistic is true, no one in their right mind would call BU production ready right now. It caused quite a backlash on social media as well.

Bitcoin Unlimited is clearly dominating the page. More BU-signaling blocks are found on the network compared to any other solution. These facts cannot be disputed, even though there are always some asterisks to be drawn. Miners earn more money from mining BU as opposing SegWit keeps high transaction fees in place. Additionally, some people just like Unlimited over Core, which is somewhat understandable.

What is not understandable, however, is the tweet above by Roger Ver. While it is clear he sees a lot of merit in Bitcoin Unlimited, calling it “production ready” seems a bit of stretch. Several bugs have been found in the BU code so far. One issue forced hundreds of nodes offline. It is evident this branch of development needs more peer reviews and proper testing for future releases. Then again, that is up to the developers and the community to decide in the end.

Bitcoin Unlimited is Far From Production Ready

One thing Ver handily keeps overlooking is how Unlimited will never gain economic consensus at this rate. While it is true the miners favor BU over SegWit, 8MB blocks, and BIP 100, they are not eh ones dictating the law either. Service providers, exchanges, and other companies want little or nothing to do with Unlimited. That fact will not change anytime soon, unless Unlimited comes up with a bold plan to win them over. So far, that has not happened.

Moreover, generating 40% of network blocks is still a minority. Until BU reaches at least 51% of all blocks, one cannot call it production ready by any means. Even then, the source code needs to be free of bugs, which seems highly unlikely. A lot of puzzle pieces need to fall in place before Bitcoin Unlimited will be taken seriously by the majority of the community. While that may sound harsh, it is the undeniable truth at this point in time.

That being said, there is nothing wrong with voicing opinions on a specific topic. Bitcoin Unlimited being production ready is an idyllic thought that isn’t based on any solid facts, unfortunately. The solution is gaining support from miners, but that is about all that is happening. In the end, these discussions only delay bitcoin scaling more than anything else. It is certainly possible neither SegWit nor Unlimited will ever activate. However, that will end up hurting bitcoin more than anything.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

It appears as if the BitClub mining pool has had a change of heart recently. Albeit the company mined a Bitcoin Unlimited block before, it was a slightly different type. To be more specific, it was a block that did not properly signal BU alone. That has changed as of now, with at least three BU-only blocks being mined by the pool in rather quick succession.

BitClub Supports Bitcoin Unlimited Now?

It is rather surprising to see BitClub still support Bitcoin Unlimited right now. When the pool mined its first BU-esque block, many people felt they were not committed to doing so. After all, the block signaling both BU and SegWit, which is rather strange. However, things have come to change, as the latest BitClub blocks only signal BU support. A total of three blocks has been identified so far, although it is possible more will follow.

It is worth noting all of these blocks have their acceptance depth reduced to 999. In doing so, BitClub is now officially supporting Bitcoin Unlimited blocks on the network. It is an interesting decision, especially when considering community support for BU is dwindling as of right now. Mining pools alone will not get BU activated by any means. If the rest of the community doesn’t support it there is very little use for BU in its current state.

Over the past few days, it appears BitClub was mining purely SegWit blocks as well. It is unclear what is going on with this pool right now and where their allegiance lies. It is possible the pool is experimenting with both solutions, though. Another option is how they may enable mining for both solutions and let the miners decide on their own. Only time will tell what will happen to BitClub moving forward.

The way things stand right now, Bitcoin Unlimited has 35.8% miner support. SegWit only has 29.2% support. Based on these current numbers neither of these concepts will activate on the network, though. Then again, one never knows what may happen over the coming weeks. Rest assured the discussions between SegWit and BU supporters are far from over. Scaling bitcoin will remain a topic of substantial debate.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

There has been multiple issues with Bitcoin Unlimited clients so far. The latest issue revolves around reading the SegWit blockchain after switching clients. Any Core user switching to BU and reading the same blockchain index will encounter a client crash. Apparently, this is due to the data not being supported by the BU client. For some reason, this is causing quite a bit of controversy on Reddit.

It is not entirely surprising to learn BU clients can’t read SegWit blocks. It is equally possible an older Core client will not read that blockchain either. Fixing this problem is not easy, unless the BU developers want to support SegWit transactions. That seems increasingly unlikely at this stage, though, especially since this issue is only causing a problem on the testnet right now.

This can cause some problems for people running a network node, though. Anyone switching from Core to BU will suffer from a “corrupted” blockchain. Having to download the entire chain once again will turn off quite a few users in the process. Some form of compatibility patch will need to be issued at some point, unless another “valid” solution presents itself. Having a client crash is not professional by any means, even though it is understandable why this happens.

More Bad News For Bitcoin Unlimited Users

Interestingly enough, the same issue does not apply to using the Bitcoin Core client. Any SegWit client receiving a 2MB block will automatically reject it. However, the client does not crash, which makes the Core client more resilient to such changes. It is evident something will need to change for the BU client. Moreover, this is another indication as to how the BU developers are not as “professional” compared to their Core counterparts. The mounting number of BU coding issues cannot be ignored.

Luckily, issues like these can be fixed while the clients are still on the testnet. If this scenario would play out on the main net, things would be far more troublesome. Then again, one Reddit user points out how the BU development repository seems rather quiet. Unless more people step up their efforts to build this client in a more professional manner, more issues like these may arise moving forward.

Resyncing the entire bitcoin blockchain may not be a big deal for some people, though. Others see it as a major hurdle hindering Bitcoin Unlimited adoption. Solving this issue is a trivial issue, by the look of things. Right now, there is no bitcoin client capable of supporting both SegWit and Bitcoin Unlimited. It is doubtful such a project will ever exist, though.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

It is evident the Bitcoin Unlimited debacle continues to dominate the discussion landscape. Some people who initially saw merit in BU are losing hope, though. Charlie Shrem announced on Twitter he lost confidence in the Bitcoin unlimited code and its developers. A very strong statement that does not bode well for DU by any means.

On paper, the ideas presented by Bitcoin Unlimited still have merit. Larger network blocks are still a viable solution to make the bitcoin network scale better. The way developers achieve that goal may leave something to be desired, though. The BU developers are not building a positive track record in this regard.

As Charlie Shrem points out, BU has dealt with multiple vulnerabilities causing issues. The two latest issues revolved around Bitcoin unlimited nodes. While patches have been issued to solve these problems, the issues should not be there, to begin with. These vulnerabilities pose a significant risk, especially when they remain within the BU code for over a year.

Charlie Shrem Has An Honest Opinion About BU

Speaking of the BU nodes, things have become more problematic as time progresses. The first exploit saw several hundred nodes being taken offline with relative ease. The latest BU vulnerability revolved around nodes as well. It is evident there is a lot of work to be done in this regard. Moreover, the latest problem was addressed by releasing closed-source binaries, which is never the right way to go about things.

Charlie Shrem feels Bitcoin Unlimited is nowhere near production ready at this stage. Forking bitcoin based on this code will cause an ecosystem-wide catastrophe. Solid ideas need to be backed by solid code, yet that is not the case at this time. In fact, Shrem feels upgrading to SegWit makes more sense, looking at things from a coding perspective. Revisiting the topic of larger blocks can still be done at a later stage.

It is good to see supporters keep a level head when it comes to all of these BU issues. Respected an idea and branch of development is one thing. However, that does not mean one should turn a blind eye to the issues that arise. Bitcoin Unlimited has a lot of problems and facing right now would not be the best course of action. Instead, it would only spell the end of BU as we know it.


The Bitcoin scalability debate has been going on for over a year now. The community has so far been unable to come to a consensus regarding the future roadmap of the cryptocurrency. These scalability delays have started to impact the usage of Bitcoin, due to increasing transaction times, flooded mempool and growing miner fee. There is a sense of urgency currently prevailing in the cryptocurrency community, a portion of which blames the Bitcoin Core development team for inaction.

Alternatives hard-fork options to improve the Bitcoin network has been proposed multiple times. While most of these proposals were shot down, Bitcoin Unlimited has started challenging the crypto-developer and user community. The Bitcoin Unlimited fork was introduced by Roger Ver better known as the Jesus of Bitcoin.

The Bitcoin Unlimited hard fork intends to increase the block size from existing 1 MB, and it has received significant support from the members of the community. Many cryptocurrency businesses, especially mining pools and data centers have already started adopting Bitcoin Unlimited. According to recent reports, some of the exchanges are considering the possibility of including Bitcoin Unlimited as an alternative asset.

On the other hand, some believe that the implementation of Bitcoin hard fork will further increase the chances of network centralization. They believe that the block size increase over a hard fork is not a good idea as it may benefit larger pools.

The top mining pools in the Bitcoin community are presently controlled by the Chinese and any changes to the Bitcoin network may result in the complete centralization of the cryptocurrency among these Chinese Pools. It has also given rise to few allegations which suggest that the government of China is actively pushing for the adoption of Bitcoin Unlimited.

The chances of Bitcoin Unlimited hard fork being implemented is very high at the moment. The hard fork will result in two cryptocurrencies, BTC and BTU (Bitcoin Unlimited), recreating a scenario similar to the one faced by Ethereum last year. The hard fork that followed the DAO fiasco resulted in the creation of Ethereum and Ethereum Classic. Based on the adoption patterns, Ethereum has continued to thrive, unlike Ethereum Classic.

To prevent attacks following the hard fork, the community is contemplating a change in the PoW algorithm. It is still unclear as to how the whole scalability solution will work, but there will be a lot of challenges in-store that needs to be resolved over time to restore Bitcoin’s glory.

Ref: Twitter | Liberty Blitzkrieg | Image: NewsBTC

The bitcoin network has seen multiple spam attacks over the last year. All of these activities drive up the bitcoin transaction price for no good reason. It appears another smaller spam attack took place on the network earlier today. One particular address was sending out a lot of transactions a thigh fees in quick succession.

It is not uncommon for bitcoin payout services to send a bunch of transactions in quick succession. Having transactions broadcasted on an individual basis is not the most convenient solution, though. The “sendmany” feature is designed to make sure spam attacks like these do not occur often. For some reason, this particular address has been broadcasting transactions at a fee of 2,000+ Satoshi per byte. Moreover, the address owner did so for hours on end.

Another Bitcoin Spam Attack?

There are two viable scenarios for such an unusual behavior. On the one hand, it is possible this bitcoin payout service is configured badly. To be more specific, it is possible this service is not using the “sendmany” feature by default. That would be a rather silly oversight, though. Paying high transaction fees every single time is not in the best interest of a company. Bleeding money left, right, and center is not the best course of action.

The second explanation hints at a more nefarious plan. It is possible someone is deliberately spamming the network with high fee transactions. This will push up the average TX fee on the network, forcing others to pay more. Miners will collect these higher fees and make more money. This type of behavior would fit Bitcoin Unlimited‘s agenda just fine, that much is certain. After all, they blame Bitcoin Core for high transaction fees.

When the bitcoin mempool is nearly empty, though, transaction fees return to normal. When that happens, Bitcoin Unlimited supporters must come up with a new plan. Executing a deliberate spam attack is one way to achieve their goal. Such type of behavior is a clear attack on the network, though. It is also an example of how some BU supporters don’t have the best interests of bitcoin at heart right now.

For the time being, it is unclear what is happening exactly. It appears the attack has relented over the past few hours, though. The most logical explanation is how a BU supporter is propping up TX fees. They need to make it appear as if there is a crisis to gain support for BU. Deliberately creating a crisis is taking things one step too far. We can only hope this will not become the new trend in the bitcoin ecosystem moving forward.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

There has been a lot of debate whether or not Bitcoin Unlimited can become a success. A lot of people feel this will not be the case, whereas the /r/btc community will gladly tell you otherwise. Soupernerd, a former /r/btc moderator, stated how BU has been “knocked out of the running” to become a bitcoin fork. A very unusual statement that will raise a lot of questions, that much is certain.

Whether one agrees with Bitcoin Unlimited or not, the project offers a different perspective on scaling bitcoin. While Segregated Witness is a valid solution as well, an alternative view is never a bad thing. However, when one of their former moderators loses confidence in the project, things are not evolving in the right direction.

Soupernerd Loses Confidence in Bitcoin Unlimited

Soupernerd, a former /r/btc moderator, has always been supporting of Bitcoin Unlimited so far. However,  something has changed over the past few days, albeit no one knows what exactly. For some reason, he seems far less optimistic about BU’s chance of success. In fact, his latest tweet goes to show he feels BU has no longer any chance to fork bitcoin whatsoever. A very strange sentiment, that much is certain.

Some people on Reddit are kind of surprised by this statement. After all, a long-term supporter of Bitcoin Unlimited turning on the project is unexpected. There is a rumor of how Soupernerd’s account has been sold to a third party, although that has not been confirmed at this time. Then again, there have been some incidents which reduce BU’s chance of success. The most recent issue revolves around the node bug, which put the entire project in a negative spotlight.

At the same time, it is evident the Bitcoin Unlimited developers have some issues they need to overcome. Properly testing tools before deploying them on the main net would be a great start. The seeming lack of experience, although that can be overcome by putting more hours into coding. Soupernerd feels it is time to “rethink anti-core bias”. On the topic of funding, he is confident Bitcoin Core has the best cards as well, for the time being.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

Everyone who pays attention to bitcoin will have heard about the BU node bug by now. Several hundred Bitcoin Unlimited nodes were shut down due to a vulnerability in client’s code. Interestingly enough, someone had reported the bug on Reddit, yet that post was censored immediately by the moderators. A very strange development that ultimately resulted in a lot of panic among node owners. The bigger question is why someone censors such valuable information in the first place.

It is widely known censorship runs rampant on Reddit, regardless of which topic one is discussing. The BTC subreddit prides itself upon being the censorship-resistant place to discuss bitcoin. Evidence suggests otherwise, as a vital post containing information related to the BU node bug was censored by a moderator. There is no valid reason to do so, especially when considering the damage caused by this bug in the first place.

It remains unclear as to who discovered the node exploit in the first place. Many people believe it to be Peter Todd, even though he claims that is not the case. Bitcoin Unlimited would like nothing more than to blame this attack on a Bitcoin Core supporter or contributor. After all, that would only fuel the political war going on right now. In the end, it is the Bitcoin Unlimited developers fault this bug was there to take advantage of. It resided within the client’s source code for over a year. Such an oversight is simply unacceptable.

Node Bug Could have Had More Severe Consequences

Other bitcoin community members are not amused by this bug either. While it is a true Bitcoin Core has not been without flaws in the past, this bug goes to show BU developers have a lot of work to do. Moreover, it goes to show their client was not tested properly before releasing it to the public. While every developer needs to go through a steep learning curve, events like these can spell disaster for the Bitcoin Unlimited branch as a whole. Thankfully, the nodes are coming back online and an updated client has been released.

Charlie Lee commented on the situation as follows:

Rest assured this statement doesn’t sit well with the Bitcoin Unlimited supporters. Then again, they only have themselves to blame. First of all, the developers fail to address this bug for over a year. Secondly, a moderator on Reddit exerts censorship when the exploit is posted to warn people. Those are two colossal mistakes that could have resulted in more dire consequences than a few nodes being kicked offline.Whether or not that means we can’t trust BU developers, is a different matter, though.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

Shenanigans between Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Unlimited supporters are far from over by the look of things. Due to some increased mining support, Unlimited is now in the lead based on the past 1,000 blocks. ViaBTC took to Twitter asking Core supporters no longer block Unlimited activation moving forward. A statement that will cause quite a bit of controversy, that much is certain.

The Bitcoin Unlimited situation has been quite controversial, to say the least. While it is true BU has more “mining support” compared to SegWit right now, this may only be a temporal change. Additionally, very few companies and service providers actively support Unlimited in its current state. This somewhat skews the public perception of which scaling solution has the best chance of activating right now. Without companies and service providers supporting Unlimited, the project will turn into an altcoin.

It is evident this will not be the last we hear about this discussion. Political shenanigans will not make bitcoin scale any quicker. In fact, they will have the opposite effect, which does not benefit anyone. There has been some talk about forking Bitcoin Unlimited off the main chain as well, although that is not in anybody’s interest. It is important to remember miners are only part of the bitcoin ecosystem. Having their support is valuable, yet it won’t make this solution succeed overnight either.

Bitcoin Unlimited Has No Economic Support

The tweet by ViaBTC goes to show how this scaling debate is a political pissing contest right now. Asking Core supporters to stop blocking BU activation makes no sense whatsoever. ViaBTC supports BU from day one, yet the entire group of Unlimited supports went through great lengths to block SegWit activation so far. Unlimited needs 51% majority consensus to activate. If the team wants to achieve that goal, they will have to start convincing companies and service providers. Until that happens, BU has a real chance to be turned into an altcoin under the BTU ticker.

It appears ViaBTC feels Bitcoin Unlimited has the majority it needs to activate on the network. If that is the case, nothing prevents these pools from creating an effective bitcoin fork. Some users are calling out the pool’s bluff on Twitter, though, as it is highly unlikely this momentum will be maintained. Variance based on the last 1,000 network blocks is never a good indicator of miner support.

Moreover, there is the concern of how BU effectively “buys” hashrate to prop up the numbers. Running a mining pool with 10% extra rewards paid out of the operator’s pocket is a desperate move. Moreover, all it does is skewing the numbers even more, making things look better than they are in reality. From an economic point of view, Bitcoin Unlimited lacks the support it needs to be taken seriously.  That situation will not change anytime soon, by the look of things.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock