Editor’s Note: This is a letter to the community written and signed by many of the Bitcoin developers, including the most prolific contributors to (at least) three separate implementations of the Bitcoin system. Signers of this letter represent about 90% of the commits in the last year or two to Bitcoin Core, according to Greg Maxwell.
As active contributors to Bitcoin, we share this letter to communicate our plan of action related to technical consensus and Bitcoin scalability.
Bitcoin is many things to many people. However, the development and maintenance of Bitcoin is a human endeavor. Satoshi sought review and cooperation, and the subsequent work by Bitcoin’s developers has made the system more secure and orders of magnitude faster. The Bitcoin developer community is dedicated to the future of Bitcoin, looks after the health of the network, strives for the highest standards of performance, and works to keep Bitcoin secure on behalf of everyone.
We’re committed to Bitcoin and responsive to the needs of the community. For the past five years, we’ve written code and managed over 50 Bitcoin releases and reviewed more than 45 formal proposals to improve Bitcoin’s performance, security, and scalability. Technical discussions, while heated at times, are always focused on improving Bitcoin.
Much work has already been done in this area, from substantial improvements in CPU bottlenecks, memory usage, network efficiency, and initial block download times, to algorithmic scaling in general. However, a number of key challenges still remain, each with many significant considerations and tradeoffs to evaluate. We have worked on Bitcoin scaling for years while safeguarding the network’s core features of decentralization, security, and permissionless innovation. We’re committed to ensuring the largest possible number of users benefit from Bitcoin, without eroding these fundamental values.
There will be controversy from time to time, but Bitcoin is a security-critical system with billions of dollars of users’ assets that a mistake could compromise. To mitigate potential existential risks, it behooves us all to take the time to evaluate proposals that have been put forward and agree on the best solutions via the consensus-building process.
In the upcoming months, two open workshops will bring the community together to explore these issues. The first Scaling Bitcoin workshop will be in Montreal on September 12-13. The second workshop is planned for December 6-7 and will be hosted in Hong Kong to be more inclusive of Bitcoin’s global user base.
We ask the community to not prejudge and instead work collaboratively to reach the best outcome through the existing process and the supporting workshops. It’s great to already see broad excitement for the event and the high concentration of technical participants attending.
We’re confident that by working together we can agree on the best course of action. We believe this is the way forward and reinforces the existing review process that has served the Bitcoin development community (and Bitcoin in general) well to date.
We welcome your participation as we continue our efforts to bring Bitcoin into the future.
Wladimir J. van der Laan
R E Broadley
If you’d like to express your support of this letter, please sign the petition on Change.org.
Photo Kim Piper Werker / Flickr (CC)