Bitcoin Cash: The Conflict Within
EDIT: Since writing the article the ABC node has announced they will ditch Grasberg to implement the same DAA as BCHN and the other node software, however they will also implement the IFP via soft-fork. My points throughout the article remain.
If you don't browse Bitcoin Cash social media, you might be oblivious to the ongoing disputes regarding changes to the Bitcoin Cash protocol which began in January 2020. It all started with the Infrastructure Funding Plan proposed by a group of miners and would be implemented by Bitcoin ABC. This resulted in the creation of a new full node implementation called BCHN for those who opposed the IFP to rally behind. The IFP was eventually abandoned by the miners who were to activate it, due to opposition against it. However it soon became clear the BCHN full node served another purpose as a protest movement against ABC, due to a growing resentment and dislike for its leader Amaury Séchet.
Fast forward a few months and it should come as no surprise that the same two parties, ABC and BCHN, are at war over their preferred upgrade of the Difficulty Adjustment Algorithm (DAA). 4 weeks ago it was proposed by Jonathan Toomim, and supported by BCHN, that Bitcoin Cash should upgrade the DAA with his version of the ASERT algorithm called ASERTi3-2d. 2 weeks ago Bitcoin ABC announced they would be proceeding with their own version of ASERT, which they call Grasberg, that includes a drift correction mechanism. No other Nodes have put forward a proposal on the matter but they have now indicated they will follow BCHN. The drift correction is the only difference between the two proposals, they are otherwise practically identical, but neither party has shown willingness to make a compromise in order to remain in consensus when the scheduled network upgrade occurs on November 15.
The Bitcoin Whitepaper states that 1 CPU = 1 vote, therefore if consensus is not reached among node implementations the Bitcoin Cash miners will vote with their hash rate to determine which node implementation retains the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) branding and ticker symbol. If the losing party decides to continue extending their blockchain, then the chain split will be confirmed and a new cryptocurrency birthed that is practically identical to the other. It is unclear what percentage of the total hash rate now mines with BCHN, but previously it was accepted that the vast majority of miners use Bitcoin ABC.
It's quite frankly insane that both these groups appear willing to split the Bitcoin Cash blockchain over an issue so trivial as this, putting all the value people have built and invested in at risk, in an attempt to massage their own egos. It would be pale in comparison to the split between BTC and BCH, where the Bitcoin Core small blocker group was intentionally preventing Bitcoin from scaling for global adoption and big blockers wanted to remove their artificial restrictions. This is not something worth splitting over and a better outcome would be to leave the DAA as is to avoid a split, but that's assuming the dispute is over the technical issues and not a power struggle between the nodes themselves.
Everyone has lived with the current DAA for 3 years now and while it has enabled oscillations in difficulty and hash rate on BCH this is not something which has had a significant affect on the end-user experience. It has affected the profit margin of constant miners by ~6% (according to Jtoomim) and caused periods of longer than usual confirmation times which impacts those depositing BCH to cryptocurrency exchanges who require excessive confirmations. The vast majority of BCH users in the real world, who aren't price speculators but actual users and believers in the tech, generally rely on 0-confirmations for their transactions. I do in both a personal and businesses capacity. That doesn't mean these issues shouldn't be addressed and they can be through other means. For example through the implementation of Avalanche on Bitcoin Cash which has been discussed by protocol devs as on the roadmap. Avalanche will make 0-confirmation transactions 100% secure for both businesses and exchanges to accept in addition to numerous other benefits; a far more lucrative feature than "fixing the DAA". As we appear to be on the cusp of the next bull market, the rising BCH price in relation to BTC will make the switch mining less feasible than it has been during the bear market lows.
My biggest gripe with this continuous infighting is that by engaging in such behaviour participants are actively undermining everything myself and other productive people do to add value to Bitcoin Cash. People have spent years of their lives investing their time, money and energy into making BCH better and spreading awareness about the technology. They have built businesses on top of BCH, they have onboarded countless users, companies and investors to it. All that work could be wiped away in an instant and will be for nothing because a bunch of Reddit nerds have no regard for the world outside of their bubble and how their actions affect end-users of the technology. When you see that possibility on the horizon, it can make you feel less motivated to work on BCH or promote it to more people. I have felt this way and I know many others who have. Some people decided to leave the project entirely.
The other thing is that Bitcoin Cash has plenty of enemies, both inside and outside of crypto, and they all want to suppress our technology which has the best shot of being P2P electronic cash for the world. It is no secret that forums like r/btc are full of enemy operatives who LARP as BCH supporters, some play both sides of a debate and there are others who are more open about their intentions like Greg Maxwell. The main goal for these operatives is to to divide and conquer us, by pitting different factions against each other it leaves us more vulnerable to outside attacks and distracts us from the big picture goals like global adoption. If all the people writing countless articles against the IFP and the Grasberg DAA spent that energy on onboarding new people to BCH, it is my belief that BCH would have a much higher value and be more widely adopted than it is today. This is where our priorities should lie, building useful tools or services that we can share with people outside Reddit to expose them to Bitcoin Cash.
Some of you may believe I'm an "ABC shill" just because I have no interest in encouraging or promoting counterproductive or self-destructive behaviour exhibited primarily by BCHN in recent times. So here is a bunch of things I dislike about both ABC and BCHN, there is plenty of room for improvement on both sides.
Poor communication, where they do not publish documentation to support or explain their intent. Rarely refutes arguments made by their opposition
Has not handled themselves in a professional manner when dealing with other parties in the ecosystem
Seemingly incapable of admitting wrongdoing
Enforces collectivism rather than individualism, whereby they presume to speak for the majority.
Ignores proof of work where 1 CPU = 1 vote, instead engages in social engineering and smear campaigns against their opposition online
Seems to serve no other purpose than to oppose ABC
These are issues I have with the two nodes, but does not mean I hold a grudge against any of the members or supporters of these full node teams. I like people on both sides and believe the best thing for Bitcoin Cash is to put these disputes behind us and refocus efforts on working toward our shared primary goals.
As I see it, these disputes can be easily resolved in a number of ways. The easiest thing to do right now would be to do absolutely nothing, do not implement anything at this planned hard fork. However we can't be certain a new dispute wont arise again at a future hard fork. Perhaps the benefits of a 6 month hard fork schedule are outweighed by all the drama and disputes it causes, maybe we should reserve these upgrades for major things like Avalanche or things which the node teams agree upon in advance. I personally think the best option here would be for ABC to remove the Grasberg Drift Mechanism from their DAA, that way they would be in consensus with BCHN and it's happy days - split averted!
Ultimately for anything to work it relies upon either ABC or BCHN making a compromise. This can be hard for certain people, particularly when there is hostility between the two parties, but it must be done in order to move forward. When I think of compromise, I recall a situation of my own from 2017. I gave some university "friends" 5 BTC investment, worth $35,000 Australian dollars at the time, for their startup in exchange for 5 BTC at a later date plus a whole bunch of their ETH token. Long story short but they did not follow through on their end of the deal and wanted to give me back $35,000 instead of 5 BTC, because they sold the BTC for fiat after I gave it to them. The problem was that 5 BTC was now worth over $100,000, so I lawyered up and was ready to destroy them in court. In the end I settled with them outside of court for 3.5 BTC because I decided I did not want to waste any more money on lawyers. It turned out for the best, because I deposited those BTC straight into Bitmex and turned it into nearly 10 BTC total after a few days. It is a similar situation on BCH here today, we can find common ground through compromise and then move forward to reap the rewards.
In the event of a split I plan to remain on Bitcoin Cash (BCH). That doesn't mean I will have the same respect for you because you contributed toward a split, potentially causing major setbacks for everybody, but I am choosing Bitcoin Cash (BCH) because it is in my personal best interest to do so. I have heavily invested myself in the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) brand and I have no interest in starting all over again from scratch. From a technical perspective both blockchains will be practically the same, but the one with an established brand will have far better odds at success.