Since its inception and launch last summer, Bitcoin Cash has maintained the attention of everyone in the cryptocurrency community. For better or worse, the Bitcoin hard fork has assumed a major role as the leading dissenter to the Bitcoin protocol.
While most individuals currently involved in cryptocurrency have some knowledge of the sentiments and events associated with Bitcoin Cash (BCH), most are unaware of the historical antecedents of the August 1 hard fork. Prior to the Bitcoin Cash campaign, there was another potential fork of Bitcoin known as Bitcoin XT. Like BCH, Bitcoin XT sought to solve scalability issues through larger blocks and realize Satoshi’s vision by presenting an open and non-censored community.
Bitcoin XT was the evolution of the June 2015 BIP 101 presented by Gavin Andresen, the former lead Bitcoin Core developer, that provided a solution to the scalability problem through a block size increase to 8MB and a function to automatically double the block size indefinitely every other year. In August 2015, after incorporating solutions proposed by Mike Hearn, the Bitcoin XT code base was created. Bitcoin XT implemented a modified version of BIP 101, which instead called for a block size increase to just 2MB, and which would activate when 75% of mined blocks supported XT.
On the surface level, both forks are similar in that both addressed speed and cost issues by immediately and frequently increasing the size of the transaction blocks. Beyond that, both coins sought to “decentralize” the discussion taking place in regards to Bitcoin by moving activity away from Bitcointalk and /r/Bitcoin, which are both run by the same operating team and have had controversial positions in moderating discussions.
Bitcoin XT saw its maximum level of support when Theymos, the admin of Bitcointalk and /r/Bitcoin, was under heavy criticism for practices and statements made. The pinnacle of this was an announcement that reinforced his position in deleting dissenting discussion and urged everyone who disagreed with the practices in place to leave the community outright. BCH saw a lot of support from individuals who similarly sought a more free, open community for discourse and discussion.
Beyond this, however, the two forks vary significantly. This is most evident from the leadership of the respective campaigns. While XT was led by major contributors to the Bitcoin code base in Hearn and Andresen, BCH is headed by individuals of questionable integrity: the evangelist Roger Ver, Bitmain CEO Jihan Wu, and self-proclaimed “Satoshi” Craig Wright.
Additionally, the launch of these forks followed completely different schedules. XT’s launch was predicated on supermajority support of at least 75% of all miners, while Bitcoin Cash was slated to fork on August 1 regardless of its overall support.
It is on these differences in organization and implementation that much of the legitimate criticism of BCH is based. Bitcoin XT wouldn’t launch unless the community supported it, as the supporters of XT were legitimately attempting to create a more virtuous, pure Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash, on the other hand, was seen by many as a ploy by Jihan Wu to maintain superior mining algorithms which were eliminated by SegWit, and by Roger Ver to maximize his net worth through malicious market making and manipulation.
Although Bitcoin XT never saw the support of even 25% of the overall mining power, the method in which it was to be implemented represented a just approach, beneficial to all. BCH, on the other hand, has sparked an arguably malicious trend of constant, often needless, forks of Bitcoin as well as other cryptocurrencies.