Why I Was Wrong About Segwit And Big Blocks

My Prediction

What Happened

There were a multitude of events since January, many of which were unforeseen by nearly everyone. But let’s catalog the various events in chronological order.

  • Feb. 25 — An anonymous developer named shaolinfry proposes a user-activated soft fork on the bitcoin-devs mailing list.
  • March 12 — UASF BIP is proposed by shaolinfry on the bitcoin-devs mailing list. This proposal becomes BIP148.
  • April 21 — Litecoin roundtable agreement is made. This was the result of UASF pressure as miners weren’t signaling for Segwit before. Agreement ensures Segwit on LTC.
  • May 22 — Rumors of the New York Agreement come out. James Hilliard proposes a BIP for making the 80% threshold for Segwit Activation work. This becomes BIP91.
  • May 23 — The New York Agreement is published.
  • July 18— Segwit2x client is released, which includes BIP91.
  • July 21 — BIP91 locks in.
  • July 22 — Bitcoin Cash is announced.
  • August 1 — Bitcoin Cash hard forks off the network.
  • August 9 — Segregated Witness locks in on Bitcoin.
  • August 24 — Segregated Witness is activated

Where I Was Wrong

What I got wrong was that the deadlock between Segwit proponents and Big Blockers would continue. There really didn’t seem like a way out of the deadlock when I wrote that tweet on January 1. I did not expect, for example, creative solutions like BIP 148 or BIP 91 to emerge. I did expect something like the New York Agreement to be tried, but I did not expect it to succeed as much as it already has.

Why I Was Wrong

The deeper question is why was I wrong? When I look at the major events of the last 8 months, I can’t help but think that it’s individuals that influenced the events through their hard work.

  • Shaolinfry created the UASF and BIP148 proposals which ultimately catalyzed the other events.
  • Charlie Lee implemented UASF on Litecoin and eventually brought that community to an agreement which set the table for Bitcoin.
  • Barry Silbert got a lot of industry leaders to agree on a path for Segwit.
  • James Hilliard found a practical path to getting Segwit on the network with the 80% of miners that were supporting the New York Agreement.
  • ftrader and deadalnix created Bitcoin ABC and ultimately got enough mining power to fork off the network.

Conclusion

The last 6 months have been full of drama, crazy highs and lows and lots of interesting developments. I’m amazed at how Bitcoin continues to thrive in ways that I never expected. I’m thankful that we, as a community, get to participate in this technical and social experiment that undeniably has already changed the world.

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Jimmy Song

Jimmy Song

Bitcoin Educator, Developer and Entrepreneur. Book: https://amzn.to/2RSlnTb PGP Fingerprint: C1D7 97BE 7D10 5291 228C D70C FAA6 17E3 2679 E455