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Why the Segwit2X hardfork will fail
Why the Segwit2X hardfork will fail
For a hard fork in Bitcoin to succeed, there needs to be near unanimous support from the entire Bitcoin ecosystem, which generally includes the following constituent groups: node operators, users, core developers, wallets, exchanges, and miners. Right now it's very clear that there is a large contingent of users, developers, wallets, and exchanges that have not signed on to this hardfork, so unanimous support is lacking.
Even minor changes in Bitcoin (let alone critical consensus changes) have taken generally many months or years of review and testing by the best experts to ensure the code is safe and bug-free. The timeline for Segwit2X does not allow for the kind of testing and review needed.
The hard fork doesn't address the many concerns over the years that have been brought up about the negative impact of increased load, cost externalities, miner and node centralization, and potential consensus failures
The timeline for the Segwit2X hardfork is such that there is no way for all the major groups to upgrade in time. As Greg Maxwell said:
"Its time-frame is extremely absurd. Actually, absurd doesn't do it justice which is why between that and number #1 several engineers have been just responding "LOL" to the proposal. They don't set any time for design review and analysis, they don't set any time for writing a specification (they don't have one and don't appear to intend to have one), they set aside two weeks for testing-- which is less time than even minor releases of Bitcoin get (and need!) even when they were comprised of small fixes which had mostly existed for months already. They don't allot any time for alternative implementations to implement it (which is especially bad because they can provide useful design feedback). They don't set aside time for meaningful deployment by users (some of whom may have their own lengthy patching and qualification process). They don't seem to have any concern about how forced upgrades erode decentralization and privileged hosted wallets/apis/pools over running your own infrastructure. Basically every stage of the consensus rule change pipeline should take (and always has taken) more time they allotted for everything. BU+Classic BIP109 ran on testnet for months before their interoperability failure was revealed and they forked apart from each other and abandon BIP109."
Now, let's assume for a moment that 80% of the hash power runs this fork as well as some of the economic ecosystem that signed the New York agreement like Abra, Bitpay, Coinbase, Blockchain, Purse, Shapeshift, Xapo, etc. What would happen? First, a large number of users and other parts of the ecosystem might not support it. There are many economic parties that were not part of the agreement, such as wallets like Trezor, MyCellium, Armory, Bitcoin Wallet (Android), Green Address, Breadwallet, Electrum, etc. There were a lot of exchanges that weren't part of the agreement, like Kraken, Poloniex, Bitstamp, Gemini, Bithumb, Bitfinex. What if several of those mentioned major economic players decide not to support Segwit2X and don't run the Segwit2X/btc1/NY client? I believe what would happen in that scenario is the following:
Bitcoin will permanently hard fork into two chains (note, this is not the oft-discussed chain split that could happen with BIP-148). If the companies switching to the new chain insist on trying to call it "Bitcoin" instead of something else like "Bitcoin2X" then it would probably cause massive confusion in the ecosystem because everyone else still on the original chain would still call that chain "Bitcoin".
Since the vast majority of core developers don't support this proposal, I believe after some possible period of confusion, eventually everyone would converge back to calling the original chain Bitcoin since it's the chain that is supported by the Bitcoin Core "reference client" that is trusted by the majority of users today. The companies that signed the New York agreement would probably be forced to abandon trying to calling the new chain "Bitcoin" due to the confusion that would cause. They would have to call the new chain something else like "Bitcoin2X".
If there were two chains, many of the exchanges that were not party to the New York agreement, such as Kraken, Poloniex, Bitstamp, Gemini, Bithumb, Bitfinex, etc. just to name a few would probably list both coins at the least, or possibly just the original chain only. That would also put pressure on the exchanges that signed the New York agreement to still provide users access to their coins on the original chain if there was a market for the original chain coins because to do otherwise could be seen by the users as a loss of economic value that they should be entitled to. After the Ethereum hard fork, a few hosted wallet companies tried to ignore the fact that their users were entitled to coins from the original chain, but were eventually forced to concede and give their users access to the coins on the original chain.
Finally, I am speculating here, but I believe with both coins listed on various exchanges, users would by a large majority choose to buy the original coin supported by the Bitcoin Core client, NOT the coin supported by the Segwit2X/btc1/NY client. Further, they would probably sell the Segwit2X/btc1/NY coins for core coins, forcing their price of Segwit2X/btc1/NY coins down significantly. If the price of the original coin is higher and the Segwit2X/btc1/NY coin is lower, there would then be an enormous incentive for miners to abandon the new Segwit2X/btc1/NY fork and return to mining the original fork. Even if the 80% of the mining hashpower that signed the New York agreement agreed to mine on the new chain, how long would they keep that up when they see they could make more money by switching back to the original Bitcoin chain being supported by higher prices and buy orders? I posit that so long as the users financially support the original chain supported by Bitcoin Core, the vast majority of miners will act in their own self interest and abandon the new Segwit2X/btc1/NY chain because it won't be as economically feasible to mine. Eventually, given that most developers won't support the Segwit2X/btc1/NY client, the coin will lose interest and possibly die off or remain a minor altcoin.
An important point to keep in mind is that nearly every core developer has at one point in time supported the idea of a hard fork and even larger blocks. But what they haven't supported is doing it without a high degree of consensus on forking safely, without the best research, lots of testing, and a very long time horizon. If we truly want to hard fork Bitcoin, we need to do it wisely, following the very challenging but necessary process for making such critical consensus changes. And it needs to be done with an open community process, not with a New York style agreement that leaves out major parts of the ecosystem. Bitcoin core is not the enemy of hardforks, or even block size increases. But there has to be very good justification for making these changes, a high degree of consensus and buy-in from the whole ecosystem, lots of research, good code, lots of testing, and a compelling need. It's a high bar, but not impossible. While there exists methods of getting more scale with safer methods (Schnorr signatures, bi-directional payment channels, transaction cut-through, extension blocks, lightning, flex caps, drivechains, etc.) hard forks seem less compelling for the moment.
Since Armory isn't giving me any feedback as to what's going on (The little partially green circle spins forever, the Preparing Databases bar is completely empty), I opened up bitcoin core first, then opened armory. Same behavior except now I can see that I've all caught up with the blockchain. Yet Armory still says its offline and just seems stuck. I just installed Armory 0.91.2-beta and my computer's nice and online. Its downloading the blockchain right now in fact. But when I click on "send bitcoins" it tells me that Armory is in offline mode. It doesn't tell me anything about ho... I'm not that familiar with running bitcoin core on Windows, but this fixes the issue on Linux. It isn't the quickest or best solution, but if manually transferring wallet.dat isn't an option (and you can't dump the private key as another person suggested because bitcoind won't run) this may work for you: The Armory developers (goatpig, droark, and achow101) support Segregated Witness as is in its current form, and also support Bitcoin Core. The Armory developers also oppose hard forks that may attack the original chain. Should a long-lasting hard fork that does not attack the original chain exist, we would consider implementing functionality required to allow Armory users to transact on that ... I stored the small amount of bitcoin in an Armory wallet and made an offline backup and saved the password for it. Fast forward to this week when I decided to check up on my old wallet and see just how much I had saved in it. I go to re download the block chain using bitcoin core (which takes a day and a half) and then start up Armory. I's now been two and a half days of Armory "Parsing Tx ...
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