One begets two, two begets three, and three can create millions of things. Just like biological evolution and market prosperity, forks in a decentralized ecosystem are inevitable. The crucial consensus divergences can only be resolved through forks in order to retain the opportunity of development and successes to a larger extent.
However, decentralized cryptocurrencies have not yet to adapted to forks. During the forks between PoW and PoS, BTC and ETH, ETH and ETC, BTC and BCH, BCH and BSV, the conflicts became more and more intensified and the harm caused among the involved parties also became more severe.
The experiences gained from trying to fork in a rational and harmonious manner has become the key to the healthy evolution of decentralized cryptocurrencies and this is something Satoshi Nakamoto did not anticipate, let alone produce a solution to.
Another endogenous flaw of the Nakamoto framework is that it lacks a public governance mechanism in this decentralized model. This is the fundamental cause of the Bitcoin scaling debate and other disagreements in the past. It is also the reason BCH faces another fork now.
Currently, the divergences in the BCH community are:
• ABC insists that 8% of the coinbase is used for the Infrastructure Funding Plan (IFP). This has been included in the ABC 0.22 node version upgrade on November 15. These funds will be transferred to the address where ABC holds the private key; the management and distribution plan of the funds is not clear yet.
• The opponents believe that the IFP will lead to the centralization of the BCH ecosystem which deviates from the nature of a decentralized cryptocurrency. Therefore, they firmly oppose the upgrade plan of ABC. BCHN has been developed and released BCHN 22.0 node version without the IFP.
Based on the current opinions and behaviors of both parties, it is difficult to reach a compromise and a fork seems inevitable.
In this case, accepting the reality of the imminent fork and realizing the first ever rational and harmonious fork in cryptocurrency history is the most sensible way forward. This is beneficial to all parties in the BCH ecosystem:
1. ABC’s IFP exploration is beneficial. The inefficiency of public governance is a key issue that has restricted the development of BCH for a long time. The first step to resolve the governance problem is to have a public governance fund. In any case, ABC included the IFP and took the first step in forming the public fund.
2. The version without IFP ensures the direction of decentralization. The biggest risk of the IFP is causing the centralization of the BCH ecosystem. Once the governance fund management is centralized, the ecological centralization trend will be difficult to reverse. Therefore, the decentralized BCH ecosystem must be protected before ABC has successfully tested the decentralized governance fund management method.
3. No one will get hurt if no one is attacking each other. The fork itself does not cause harm and thus no cash of anyone will decrease. The resulting mining revenue also will not decrease. In the fork between BTC and BCH, the total currency price and miners’ income have increased significantly. In its history, the damage each fork produces comes from mutual attacks between two parties. This includes language attacks, hash rate attacks, public opinion smearing and mutual smashing on currency price and others. This was fully demonstrated in the BSV fork. Without these attacks, no one would really be hurt. At most a little sad.
4. Show the world the evolution of BCH. Reproduction, mutation, and survival of the fittest are the laws of natural evolution. From the moment BCH forked from BTC, it has started its natural evolution. The realization of a rational and harmonious fork will be an important milestone which indicates that the natural evolution of BCH has embarked on a rational path.
Therefore, I call on all parties in the BCH ecosystem to calmly accept the consensus divergences and be prepared for a harmonious and rational fork:
1. Give up on “never forking”. The “never forking” dogma was an important weapon used by Bitcoin Core in 2017 to sway public opinion that destroyed the New York Consensus. In 2018, CSW tried to use this to become the leader of the BCH community but failed after being debunked and later forked out BSV instead. Now, we need to explicitly abandon this seemingly loyal dogma which is simply used by a few people to hinder evolution. The result of manipulating this dogma has repeatedly brought damage.
1. 放弃绝不分叉。“绝不分叉”教条是2017年Bitcoin Core绑架民意摧毁纽约共识的重要武器。2018年CSW试图借此上位为BCH社区领袖，被识破后失败，转而分叉出BSV。现在，我们需要明确放弃这个看似忠诚，实际上容易被少数人利用、阻碍进化、屡次被打脸的教条。
2. Both parties to discuss on the naming together. The substantive contradiction of the fork lies in the naming of the two branches. The smooth realization on the naming of the two branches is the key to the harmonious fork. It is recommended that both parties attempt to consider aspects from characteristics, direction, and community support. Then negotiate rationally and reach a consensus on the naming as soon as possible. The following problems will then be solved easily.
3. Exchanges need to be prepared. After the naming has reached consensus, the community from both parties should coordinate with major exchanges, wallets, blockchain explorers and other facilities. They should prepare for the fork,naming and issue notices to users. Encourage exchanges to list the future trading of the two branches to form the market prices.
4. The hash rate remains neutral. It is recommended that all SHA256 algorithm mining pools, mining farms, miners maintain a neutral hash rate during the fork, and only to decide on self-interested mining strategies based on relative price formed by the exchanges. Both chains are the source of wealth for miners, please do not attack the other chain. There is also no need to be loyal to any chain. Protecting the normal operation of the two chains is the rational behavior of the mining industry.
5. To add replay protection. Both parties should protect the interests of the users and maintain the security of other facilities such as exchanges and others by incorporating replay protection in the code. Exchanges and wallets should be ready to help users to separate, store and trade the two currencies.
6. To maintain mutual respect. The two parties should respect each other, understand the rationality of the existence of the other branch, seek common ground while reserving differences and leaving the right and wrong for the market to decide. Each can express and debate on their own or other party’s judgement and logic freely but please do not attack others’ motive, character, or even private life etc. These can only bring more harm to each other.
7. Prevent instigation. Identify and prevent malicious instigation from some of the Core supporters, BSV supporters, market short sellers and some people who hate BCH due to their losses in BCH investment. What they wanted the most is to see the BCH community hurt each other because of the differences and forks. Some Core supporters did this during the BSV fork and will do this again together.
8. Discuss the governance plan. The ABC’s IFP governance plan is still not mature yet. A bad governance plan will make this fork meaningless. Under the premise of accepting the fork, we should discuss and improve upon the governance plan with ABC. Let BCH make an important step forward in governance. I began to study the governance issue of the Nakamoto framework since 2016 and conducted the experiment in BCH. Overall, it is successful, and I am willing to share the related experiences and some of the lessons I learned from it.
9. Code sharing. After the fork, the underlying program and application developers from both parties can develop collaboratively and share code together. The underlying code can be shared and adopted between both parties. Upper layers applications can be realized respectively in both ecosystems. They can even jointly support the development of cross-chain functions and applications.
10. It is recommended to hold both currencies in the short term. Before and after the fork, there may be market price fluctuations. It is recommended that the majority of the BCH holders, especially the giant whales to adopt the strategy of holding coins of both side in short term. They can gradually adjust their investment strategies when the market stabilizes.
In fact, since the market is currently on an upward trend as a whole, if the naming issue can be resolved and the above points be realized, the BCH fork will cause not only no losses, but will also create more opportunities and gain more market attention.
I hope that all parties can calm down from the previous debates, tolerate each other, think rationally, and solve problems together. A rational and harmonious fork will then be completed and accelerate the evolution of decentralised cryptocurrencies.
（The author Prof. Liu Changyong is responsible for the viewpoints of this paper. Rymd and Su translate it into English from Chinese, and Cindy revised the translation.）