Tom Zander
Jan 11, 2017

Last week I've been at the Satoshi Roundtable III, which was very effective in bringing about 100 Bitcoin interesting people together in a way that makes it very easy to productive to just sit down on one of the many sofas (or even on the beach) and talk with a number of people that share your interests.

To link to someone that is a much better writer than I am, Rick Falkvinge wrote "Overall, my assessment is that bitcoin is lacking project management".

I fully agree on that, in Bitcoin we now have different groups creating their own solutions and then trying to push them to the rest of the world, typically without actually listening to criticism, and then being surprised when the world rejects it.

I re-read a novel last month (Moving Mars) that was a science fiction where some 20 large families live on Mars as separate settlements. They started to create a new, global, government. To my surprise the process to get there was as step 1 to decide on a way to make decisions. And only after that create a constitution.

If we want to have any hope of so many smart people making progress again, we need to stop trying to skip step 1. We need to allow people to talk to each other and start the conversation on how to address the concern Rick formulated on his blog.

In Bitcoin we used to have a solution for that, the bitcoin-dev mailinglist. This has been a failed experiment with many examples of lost opportunities and even a group like Bitcoin Unlimited just refusing to use it because it is not neutral. The secondary effect is that this same group has refused to make BIPs (Bitcoin Improvement Proposal) because of the place where they are proposed and discussed is that same list they won't join.

This week I reached out to the Bitcoin Unlimited team on their slack in order to get their input on starting a new mailinglist under new management that can accomplish the goal of cross-team communication. We had some good ideas, one of them was to call it the 'post-1MB planning' list.

Specifically, what am I thinking about?
If anyone has any changes they want to make to the protocol as that affects all implementations this should have a neutral (not affiliated to any specific implementation) place where this can be discussed.

  • In Bitcoin we currently are having problems with the blocksize-limit of 1MB. This is a difficult topic because the parameter is part of the protocol. A "Consensus rule". What is interesting is that there currently is no bitcoin-wide document how the consensus rules are actually supposed to be changed to support Bitcoin Classic or Unlimited. This needs to change.

  • There is no place where people that develop a wallet or other bitcoin infrastructure can talk about consensus changes, and get familiar with what others propose.

  • Classic recently published its long term (5 year) plan. It would be great to be able to talk about this on a place where multiple implementations can work together so we can all makes sure we work in the same direction and avoid nasty surprises when other groups went a different (maybe better) direction!

With the modern web I've seen people suggest websites like forums to discuss this. The problem with a forum or site is that it excludes people that are not able to reach it, and it opens the risk that the operator of the site may go offline with all the history and the content.

Traditionally the best way to do this has been email lists. Thousands of projects use it successfully. I would like to suggest the best way forward is doing that again. But I'm open to better suggestions if they don't introduce any problems.

This is a question to all the software developers and organisations that want to be involved in the way that Bitcoin evolves over time, what are your requirements and what can you offer for such a platform of coordination to move Bitcoin forward?