The bitcoin scaling debate has taken yet another turn, although very few people saw this latest development coming. BitFury, one of the largest bitcoin mining pools, successfully mined a block on the network that signals for the user-activated SegWit soft fork. A rather controversial decision, although it could signal an end to the scaling debate once and for all.
BitFury Sparks A New Scaling Debate
Recently, a post appeared on Reddit explaining how the BitFury mining pool did something rather unexpected. The pool mined a block supporting the BIP 148 proposal, which effectively signals a user-activated soft fork for SegWit. As one would expect from such a move, it is evident BitFury is tired of the Bitcoin Unlimited shenanigans, which only seem to harm the network and the BTC price.
That being said, effectively signaling for mandatory activation of SegWit deployment is a rather unusual attitude. The user-activated soft fork will force SegWit to be deployed on the bitcoin main net, regardless of reaching a majority consensus. It is not a solution everyone will be happy with by any means, but the debate has escalated quite significantly these past few months. A solution is needed sooner or later, that much is certain.
Currently, it appears miners are not moving to activate either SegWit or Bitcoin Unlimited anytime soon. As long as this uneasy status quo is maintained, transaction costs will mount, putting more money into the miners’ pockets. Moreover, Bitcoin Unlimited activation would potentially result in creating multiple currencies called Bitcoin and BTU (Bitcoin Unlimited), which wouldn’t do the ecosystem much good either. A user-activated soft fork is a plausible solution, albeit still a controversial one.
While it is significant BitFury signals this BIP through its mined blocks, that does not mean SegWit will be activated all of a sudden. A user-activated soft fork still requires majority community consensus and an activation date, which is slightly easier to achieve than just relying on the mining community. There will always be some opposition from those who feel this is not a reasonable solution to end the scaling debate once and for all, although it provides an alternative worth considering.
In the end, it is important to keep in mind a decision like these needs to be taken with both the users and the miners in mind. Users are clearly in favor of Segregated Witness, regardless of how it needs to be activated. Miners are keen on stalling, with a minority actively supporting Bitcoin Unlimited due to increased payouts from specific pools. It will be interesting to keep an eye on how this situation will proceed moving forward.
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