How does the UASF Work?

It is evident there is a lot of confusion regarding the Bitcoin user-activated soft fork. There is quite a bit of contradicting information available on the Internet right now. The goal is to have the UASF activated by August 1st, although it will take some work to get enough support. Below are the main things you need to know how the UASF works and what you can do to support it.

Support, Nodes, And Signaling

Even though the proposal is called a user-activated soft fork, it still heavily relies on miners supporting it when it activates. The number of nodes signaling for the UASF does not matter whatsoever. More nodes are always better, but the nodes alone will not determine the success of BIP148 on August 1st. A node only follows the new rules conforming to the UASF rules,

As one would expect, there are quite a lot of full nodes signaling for the UASF already. Even so, the number is still only about 20% of the total network, which is far from a majority whatsoever. Anyone who wants to support the UASF can run their full Bitcoin node capable of supporting BIP148. Users can also manually edit the Bitcoin.conf file of their current node client and add the  “uacomment=UASF-SegWit-BIP148” tag to it. Do keep in mind this latter option will only show your node supports the UASF, but it does not enforce the soft fork on the node itself.

A lot of companies and Bitcoin service providers have pledged UASF support so far. The updated list can be found on the official UASF website. The bigger question is whether or not the major exchanges will support this concept moving forward. It is possible a chain split will occur, and some exchanges will list UASF coins as a different price ticker. It remains to be seen what will happen once the UASF goes into effect, though.

Anyone willing to support the UASF should check out the proper Slack channels to get more information.

Immediate Consequences of the UASF

This is where things get a bit hairy right now. It is unclear what will happen on August 1st. It is possible the majority of Bitcoin miners will support the UASF and automatically ensure it remains the largest blockchain in existence. If that is the case, there will be no official consequences for companies and consumers whatsoever. It is worth noting that not following this main chain would make it nearly impossible to sell mined coins after August 1st, as these blocks are not accepted by the economic majority.

If that is not the case, however, the UASF chain will effectively split from the main Bitcoin network and create an altcoin, similar to Ethereum Classic. The chain split scenario would force nodes supporting BIP148 to stop running their software at once. A chain split is NOT the plan by the developers whatsoever. Should the blockchain split, BIP148 will be abandoned immediately. This scenario seems highly unlikely, but it is possible if the majority of miners decide to block this solution. Do keep in mind it is possible both the regular and BIP148 chain will co-exist indefinitely depending on how much support every chain has.

A third option would include under 51% of the total hash power following BIP148. If that is the case, all nodes supporting this solution will operate as normal, yet any other node will be out of consensus with the rest of the economy. This will also make it more difficult for miners to sell coins, which should – in theory – result in more miners supporting the UASF. All three scenarios can still come true by August 1st, and it is good to keep all of these consequences in mind.

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