Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I think the current Bitcoin situation is really showing that rapid, organized hard forks when problems occur is an extremely good thing. Bitcoin is currently frozen in time, since there are two major competing clients, and neither dare make any incompatible changes for fear of creating a fork, and right now neither has a majority.

A decentralized cryptocurrency is a lovely ideal, but in the dirty real world, Ethereum and its ilk will win out.




The problem is not with forking to develop the protocol. Certainly, that is a good thing, and BitCoin's inability to do so is a serious issue.

The problem is forking to undo a specific transaction. That should never happen. The fact that so many people over-invested in a risky experimental project that they felt they had to sabotage the protocol to protect themselves reflects very poorly on the community.


Technically, no transactions were undone, but the fork agreed to new rules set in the future. The users of the new version also had a choice if they wanted to support the fork or not, the majority went with the fork.

This is a screenshot of the choice everyone was asked when starting up their wallet: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d7/Et...

Ability for a community to set and agree to new rules is healthy for a blockchain and it makes it more likely that Ethereum can evolve and successfully hardfork to Proof of Stake (PoS) mining in the future.


Nice whitewashing. While you are technically correct that no transactions were undone, in practice a theft was (largely) reverted. You are also misrepresenting "users' choice" with regards to supporting the fork. If you make a transaction and everyone moves onto a different chain in order to effectively cancel your transaction, that's censorship of transactions. Censorship was a good choice in this case, but let's not pretend it's something it wasn't.


> If you make a transaction and everyone moves onto a different chain in order to effectively cancel your transaction, that's censorship of transactions.

If you don't like what NYT says, and you cancel your subscription and subscribe to WSJ (and let's just say that millions of people do the same thing, possibly due to some event), have you effectively censored NYT then?

The fact is, censorship has a meaning, and the way you're using the language, abuses that. We didn't censor Ubuntu when because of their unity decision lots of people moved to Linux Mint or to other distros.

We didn't censor Digg when it lost a huge traffic to Reddit after the v3 changes.

Uber wasn't censored when after the controversial immigration changes by Trump, people started to delete uber app and ride Lyft.

Censorship is when an organization forces your speech from all effective expression.

Will ETC be invoking censorship when they hard fork to eliminate the upcoming Ice Age baked into the Ethereum protocol?


Your analogies about choice do not really play here. This is about telling someone "we didn't cancel your transaction, everyone just decided to move onto a chain where it doesn't exist". (Also, you are correct that I was abusing the term 'censorship'.)


Your analogy breaks down because we don't trade newspapers as currency, we consume them for information.


And until 2016 nobody used the phrase 'censorship of transactions'.


It's not censorship - it's called consensus.

Look back to the screenshot in my post. Censorship is when you conceal information. The screenshot clearly specifies a yes/no choice without leaning to any choice. (it specifies you can use any chains you want, both buttons are blue).

If only the bitcoin core developers were as brave as that to put something like this in their client and let the community reach consensus! "Hi, we are over capacity. Do you want bigger blocks? Yes / No". Instead, we see any post that doesn't fit their narrative deleted. Now that's censorship.


New rules... to effectively undo one specific transaction.

Fine: it wasn't wiped from the block chain. That's irrelevant; that argument is nonsense.


>The problem is forking to undo a specific transaction. That should never happen.

Ethereum already had plans to from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake as a consensus algorithm (in Q3).

The attacker stole over 10 million ETH

How would you feel using a system whose transactions are audited in majority by a thief?


I'd be concerned. But the community already accomplished that by recklessly creating the situation in the first place, from which there was no truly good outcome.


I understand and my knowledge of cryptocurrencies is very limited, but from what I understood, there was no "bug" in Ethereum itself; there was a loophole in the DAO contract script that someone exploited. To my uneducated-about-cryptocurrencies mind, hard-forking based on that sets a terrible precedent, and shows that users of the currency are willing to have that happen again if a similar situation arises, giving me absolutely zero trust in the system.


Here is the thing: Ethereum contracts are unstoppable and uncensorable until a core developer loses money


And the majority of miners decide to go with the new fork.

Everyone who wants someone to blame, keeps forgetting to place blame on the miners who facilitated this decision.


I at least partially agree with you, and it's definitely a grey area. If Ethereum hadn't been so young at the time, the fork may not have happened.


I haven't kept track of this very much, and am curious: why might the fork not have happened if Ethereum was older? Assuming the undesirable transaction happened relatively close the the point of forking, only a small number of descendent transactions would need to be reverted, right?


No transactions were reverted. The rules were changed so the account with the "stolen" ETH could be drained to an address without the owner's approval.

But for this to happen, a hard fork was needed and if enough of the miners would have rejected that, it wouldn't have happened.

In part, this is exactly what happened. The hard fork was done but a group of miners used code without the new rules, therefore creating a separate blockchain.

Ethereum is the Ethereum blockchain where the DAO hacker was drained, Ethereum Classic is the Ethereum blockchain were their account wasn't drained (lots of turmoil followed on the ETC chain but that's a different issue).


>A decentralized cryptocurrency is a lovely ideal, but in the dirty real world, Ethereum and its ilk will win out.

So basically you're saying centralized, institutionally backed and controlled currencies are better, or at least you're saying that hard forks are ok. Ok great. We have the dollar for that. Why even bother with cryptos.


We have the dollar for that. Why even bother with cryptos.

Network-based trust decentralization, even with limitations on its effectiveness, does provide somewhat provable insurance against state actors. Currently, state actors and state actor based monopolies are the biggest barriers to financial service innovation and essentially seek a continued global monopoly on financial systems access and financial systems derived intelligence feeds, largely self-justified with 'four horsemen of the internet apocalypse'[0] FUD[1].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Horsemen_of_the_Infocalyp...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear,_uncertainty_and_doubt


People don't realize that bitcoin is small-scale. If a powerful government had an interest in overtly or aggressively disrupting it, it'd be dead overnight, on both technical (51% attacks) and practical grounds ("rubber hose cryptanalysis"; large portion of mining power is China-based, where they already have a massive network censorship appliance).

The blockchain is not an effective "insurance against state actors" on the macro scale.


Bitcoin is doing very well for those wanted an uncensored decentralised currency. If you want to make many transactions for small amounts at a time, you want to use something else.

I think of it like physical gold, but with more utility - you don't use it for day to day transactions, but as a store of value it is very good.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: