With the current proposals for fixing Bitcoin’s bloated blockchain and transaction problems, a theme has been reoccurring enough that I find it impossible to ignore. Users and Miners may not want the same thing at all, and that is troubling. This begs the question, who is more important? Miners? Or Users and Nodes?
Miners vs Users
This is far from the first time this question has come up, but it seems particularly poignant with the looming July deadline that Miners have set to activate SegWit2x. The implications of this action could be extremely damaging to the chain and could also split users and reduce the overall value of Bitcoin.
It feels like a User versus Miner problem because many users have gotten together to try and have a User Activated Soft Fork (UASF) to implement BIT148 -which would be the activation of SegWit without a block size increase-, and there is almost a race between the two to activate before the other. Neither need to ask the other party’s position on the matter, and that may be what is causing this riff.
The Case for Users and Nodes over Miners
I realize this may be a somewhat contentious issue, and I recognize that miners are necessary for the integrity of the network. However, Users and Nodes are just as important for Blockchain integrity. Both are sorely needed, and it is a shame that they cannot seem to play nice right now.
That being said, here is why I am rooting for the UASF and believe that it is the safer way to go in the current Bitcoin climate. There are many reasons, but the main one is that Bitcoin is and always was meant for the user, not the miner.
The first line of Satoshi Nakamoto’s White Paper abstract read as follows: “A purely peer to peer electronic cash…” From its inception, Bitcoin was supposed to be about users, with miners playing the role of transaction processing. In fact, full nodes and users were expected to play the part of miners themselves rather than the mining faction fracturing off into their own realm.
Again, I realize things have changed. Difficulty of solving Blocks has increased by insane amounts. I will also be the first to tell you that I dislike the deification of Satoshi Nakamoto, but that I do believe in the original spirit of Bitcoin.
The current state of heavily centralized mining pools and exchanges is too similar to fiat banking and financial institutions. What is even more worrying for me in the regard is that miners have gotten together to decide the fate of a currency that was intended to be self determined by the community of users. SegWit2x feels like the cryptocurrency equivalent the Bretton Woods conference.
Large centralized groups deciding the fate of an entire economy with little regard or input from the very communities that transact, trade, and give the currency in that economy value? That does not sound like Bitcoin. That sounds like fiat banks, monopolies, and governments with callous disregard for its citizens.
I agree that something in Bitcoin has to give to alleviate us from high transaction fees and slow confirmation times, but it should never come at the cost of the coin’s ideals. Bitcoin was supposed to free the market and the world from the tyranny of centralized power and distribute it to users.
Make no mistake, I am not saying that miners or mining pools are evil or anything to that effect. I understand that they have vested interests they wish to protect. But it just feels like miners protecting miners’ interests leaves users out of luck and out in the cold.
Regardless of who wins this “race,” UASF or SegWit2x, these next few months will be incredibly interesting for Bitcoin.
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