Bitcoin Independence Day

August 1, 2018

One year ago today, the User Activated Soft Fork (UASF) went live as thousands of individual nodes began enforcing a 100% signalling rate for Segregated Witness.

The effort was the community’s response to the refusal of miners to activate Segregated Witness, a much-needed upgrade and capacity increase for the Bitcoin network. Individual users began running patched versions of the Bitcoin Core software that would reject all blocks not signaling for SegWit after August 1, 2017.

The result was that SegWit activated on August 23, 2017.

The corporate-controlled SegWit2x project was an attempt to hard-fork the network to a larger base block size in exchange for activating SegWit. The effort was kicked off in the closed-door New York Agreement and was also cancelled by insiders. Ironically, nodes that continued to run the software halted due to a code error.

The UASF episode illustrates the difficulty of changing Bitcoin without widespread consensus among its users. If a less-important parameter like the block size cannot be forcibly changed, then we can be hopeful that the much more important properties of Bitcoin will remain intact.

Bitcoin is important because it provides an ultra-hard sound money alternative to central bank fiat paper, and it allows a global user base to transact without economic censorship. The monetary policy and censorship-resistance of Bitcoin are what make it interesting. Without these properties, Bitcoin becomes nearly useless.

Let’s celebrate Bitcoin’s independence as it continues to change the world.