Hypocrisy and why Mike Hearn will not be missed by Bitcoin

The problem with Mike Hearn’s “resignation letter” is that its full of contradictions. One the one hand he suggests “Bitcoin … has always been advertised pretty accurately: as an experimental currency”, and on the other he’s proclaiming Bitcoin has failed due to things like unpredictable fees and payment backlogs – are these not just characteristics of an experimental currency?

Another complaint he makes is that Chinese miners have a majority of network power, and consequently do not want to increase the block size because it will make it harder for them to compete. This to me is either naive or wilfully misleading. If an increased block size struggled to pass through the firewall, the side of the firewall with the greatest hashing power would benefit most (the Chinese side), as the other size would end up producing more orphan nodes. Nobody wants this, including Chinese miners, because it will damage the integrity of Bitcoin and people are willing to wait and try other solutions first.

Even if a new team was built to replace Bitcoin Core, the problem of mining power being concentrated behind the Great Firewall would remain. Bitcoin has no future whilst it’s controlled by fewer than 10 people. And there’s no solution in sight for this problem: nobody even has any suggestions. For a community that has always worried about the block chain being taken over by an oppressive government, it is a rich irony.

The rich irony here, is that increasing the block size through XT would actually exacerbate the problem, and that Mike seems oblivious to this.

Ultimately, having lost in the battle of consensus, Mike Hearn has taken his ball and gone home. Bitcoin XT could not gain consensus because enough people believe in the Core team’s vision for a more graceful and innovative solution for scaling Bitcoin, rather than clunkily just bumping up a number and hoping for the best.

Yes, its fine to be sceptical of Core’s vision, but the beauty of Bitcoin is that if SegWit and LN do not deliver on their promises, consensus will soon form around an alternative. In the mean time, if transactions slow down and the network fails, consensus may form sooner. Bitcoin is not dead, people recognise it is in an experimental phase and will be prepared to be patient. One day Mike may well regret not having a little more of it himself.

There are reasonable criticisms on both sides of the block size debate, the censorship and DDOS has been concerning, but so has the wilful misinformation coming from the other side. Even in his parting shot, Mike labels SegWit as buying a few months at most, ignoring the fact that it extrapolates onto all future increases in block capacity. For perspective, XT’s proposal of a 8MB block size would effectively be an increase to 13MB under SegWit, hardly the anaemic increase Mike describes, and far more clever than any solution he has come up with.

For Mike’s early contributions to the Bitcoin experiment, we should be thankful. However given the choice between those quietly getting on with it, and those who loudly shout about their ideas and then run off crying when they don’t get their own way, I know who I’d entrust with the future of Bitcoin.

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John Hardy
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John Hardy

Software developer living in UK.
Longtime Bitcoin advocate.
Email [email protected]
Donations welcome: 1H2zNWjxkaVeeE3yX6uVqng5Qoi6gGvYTE
John Hardy
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Author: John Hardy

Software developer living in UK. Longtime Bitcoin advocate. Email [email protected] Donations welcome: 1H2zNWjxkaVeeE3yX6uVqng5Qoi6gGvYTE