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Except nobody was "investing" (speculating) on GNU Herd. It should give a lot of people pause that Bitcoin can just suddenly split like this. What's to stop it from being split again and again?

It's not so sudden, it's been a continuous debate for years. It's likely that there will be future splits as well. The split is only successful if enough people start using it. It involves a lot of trust, but no more than one has had to have from the beginning of bitcoin.

What should give us pause about that?

The split itself is not damaging. It's like if 100 bars of your gold were suddenly 100 bars of gold and 100 bars of gold cash. The original gold marketplace is only affected as much as it is replaced by the gold cash marketplace. So it doesn't matter how many times the coin gets split in this fashion

While This analgy works only to some limited degree - gold has a value in itself, you can use it to build some jewels, an electric conductor or a door stopper among other things. A Bitcoin has no inherent value. If nobody is interested in Bitcoin (or Bitcoin cash) anymore it's just a few bits in a disk which can be overwritten.

simple. The cost of pulling it off.

Even if I had a million dollars in funding, that would buy me mining power for oh so long. All the meanwhile, If I change the rules too much no one would even attempt to join my fork.

Even If I had another million dollars to pay developers to build services on my new fork, there'd be no users and no economic activity. The fork would die.

There SHOULD be a lot of hard forks. Why? Because they're voluntary and most will fail without doing harm (they require consensus to matter). The good ones will survive on merit and act as protocol upgrades.

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