EDIT: My memory is bad, and used the wrong date. The lawsuit become public knowledge on the 6th of December, and I was served on the 8th.
On December 3rd of 2018, by mutual decision, I stopped being a maintainer for Bitcoin ABC. This happened primarily due to differences in work styles between Amaury Séchet and myself. Despite this, I still believe Amaury is the best person to lead the technical direction of the Bitcoin Cash protocol.
On December 8th, 2018, I was served paperwork for a lawsuit against myself and several other corporations and individuals. The primary purpose of this lawsuit seems to be to waste time and money.
On March 20th of 2019, Antony Zegers resigned from Bitcoin Unlimited in protest of how some other BU members have been responding to the lawsuit against myself and other individuals. It’s terrible that there are BU members who rejoice in the misfortune of others. While I appreciate Antony’s consideration, that alone would not motivate me to leave Bitcoin Unlimited.
On March 25th of 2019, Amaury Séchet also resigned from Bitcoin Unlimited. Amaury’s reasons include the lack of response to the lawsuit, but also a number of other points. Some of those reasons have been ongoing, and some are related to the recent BSV/BCH split. Again, reasons, which considered by themselves, would not motivate me to resign.
Also on March 25th, Tomislav Dugandzic resigned from Bitcoin Unlimited for similar reasons to both of Amaury and Antony.
On May 7th of 2018, I became a member of Bitcoin Unlimited following the near-split due to OP_GROUP. Despite being a maintainer of Bitcoin ABC, Bitcoin Unlimited was interesting to me because (unlike ABC) it was both a software project and a social group. I wanted to have some input on future conferences. I also wanted to help with project management, but it was clear there was no process to be involved directly with the current management. I chose to stay a member of Bitcoin Unlimited to potentially help out with future events.
On March 27th of 2019, Peter Rizun decided to publish an article called why you should resign from Bitcoin Unlimited. Peter enumerated reasons that he believes are legitimate for leaving Bitcoin Unlimited. He ends his essay with:
Three years later, Bitcoin Unlimited stands for the same things. If these mandates resonate with you, please consider donating or becoming a member.
Indeed, BU still aspires to its Articles of Federation, but is it fulfilling them and can it fulfill them? If an organization is unable to fulfill its purpose, then its continued existence wastes time, energy, and money which could be better spent elsewhere. Staying a member of such an organization is a disservice to would-be future members. It sends social signals which create pretense, and inadvertently mislead people who are otherwise unfamiliar with the details of what has been occurring. This is especially true if there is no possible mechanism for the purpose of an organization to be actualized.
Peter’s article prompted me to go re-read the BU Articles of Federation. After reading them, I no longer believe that the BU Articles of Federation are coherent, nor that governance model can realize its stated goals. My analysis is as follows:
Bitcoin is at a crossroads that will determine whether it becomes a worldwide public good, embodying a trustless ledger and currency for all people, companies, and financial institutions worldwide.
The crossroads passed in August 2017. Bitcoin (BTC) will not be carrying that torch.
The Bitcoin Unlimited project seeks to provide a voice, in terms of code and hash power, to all stakeholders in the Bitcoin ecosystem. As a foundational principle, we assert that Bitcoin is and should be whatever its users define by the code they run and the rules they vote for with their hash power. This project seeks to remove existing practical barriers to stakeholders expressing their views in these ways.
Here Bitcoin Unlimited is founded on the idea that hashpower voting should determine the Bitcoin Protocol ruleset, and that users vote with their hashrate (I suppose most users are the trivial case of a miner with no hashrate). However, the Bitcoin whitepaper describes a mechanism for coming to consensus on the current UTXO set using hashing, but it does not describe a mechanism for doing so for the rules to the protocol itself. This is why proposals such as BIP9, BIP100, and BIP135 exist.
Additionally, I no longer see how Bitcoin Unlimited provides a voice to all stakeholders in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Some early members were grandfathered in from Bitcointalk, and the rest were only able to apply for membership due to knowing existing members. There is no requirement that you own mining equipment, Bitcoins, or any other stake in Bitcoin. Likewise, there is no assurance that having a stake will get you membership.
Bitcoin Unlimited perceives itself as an important element in the Bitcoin ecosystem. We believe our founding statutes are firmly based on Satoshi’s original vision. However, we acknowledge that Bitcoin is fundamentally a decentralized system and thus we will not assert centralized ownership of the protocol. And within the Bitcoin Unlimited client, we aim to help people assert and express their own freedom of choice.
While the above sounds good, it is practically meaningless. Fundamentally, users express their freedom of choice through their act of using. There are no practical means by which a person can be permanently disenfranchised in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. We demonstrated this on in August of 2017 with the creation of Bitcoin Cash. These statements also marginalize the idea that users have the freedom to express their choice independently of an organization like Bitcoin Unlimited. I think they do have that freedom.
The guiding principle for Bitcoin Unlimited is that the evolution of the network is decided by the code people freely choose to run. Consensus is therefore an emergent property, objectively represented by the longest proof-of-work chain. This fact is an unassailable property of Bitcoin and cannot be changed by fiat.
This is at odds with Bitcoin Cash, and with following the Bitcoin Cash consensus protocol. However, the articles are correct in saying that consensus is an emergent property. When there are enough people doing and believing the same things, it can be said that those people are in consensus with one another. However, this is ultimately meaningless for making decisions outside the context of network protocols. The ideas in this paragraph marginalize individuals who choose to run out-of-consensus (as defined by the Articles of Federation) code as though they have changed Bitcoin “by fiat.” I think people should be empowered to generate as many versions of Bitcoin as possible – most of them will fail, but it ensures that something will eventually succeed.
The voices of scientists, scholars, developers, entrepreneurs, investors and users should all be heard and respected.
There is no guarantee in the member selection process that these groups have any representation in the governing body of Bitcoin Unlimited. Additionally, the users are specifically the users of Bitcoin. Now with the split between BSV/BCH/BTC, there is no guarantee that current members are users of BTC or BCH.
…A BUIP is adopted if accepted by a majority of voters (51%) with at least 50% of members voting OR a 75% super-majority of voters with at least 25% of members voting, unless otherwise indicated in this document (BUIPs that change these articles or remove officers) …
These votes are ultimately meaningless for decision-making outside the context of Bitcoin Unlimited, as the membership is not a representative sample of any larger group. Thus, the decisions have no bearing on Bitcoin (BTC) or Bitcoin Cash. Within the context of BU, there is no mechanism to ensure that a BUIP will be executed. The voting process itself is at odds with the hashpower voting of the second paragraph.
Finally, the use of voting is at odds with the appeal to consensus. Consensus occurs when a group of people are working with a common purpose. The act of working is important to consensus, and it is also important that the purpose is shared. Consensus is observed at the moment that shared action is undertaken. However, vote-taking is an attempt to convince the minority to consent to the wishes of the majority; and even change their views. Voting defined properly is coercion.
Coercion of the minority may be necessary in matters where individual action has dire consequences for a group including the individual. In the case of Bitcoin Unlimited, no actions, that are within the scope of its charter, require that an individual should put aside their own interests. The one exception may be the use of funds, but the existence of on-going unallocated treasury funds is undesirable for a social group. Commitment seeking from the membership, when shared action is going to be undertaken (e.g. holding a conference), would be preferable to a shared treasury.
Now, as a result of the resignations, some people have encouraged BCH users to apply for membership, to vote, and submit BUIPs to disempower BSV supporters. However, nothing good will come from such a political fight. It’ll waste time and energy, and in the end, the individuals who perpetrate this fight will be left with an organization whose Articles of Federation are only a pretense which confines the acceptable limits of the real work which needs to get done.
Bitcoin Unlimited’s Articles of Federation marginalize the very ideas that would enable it to succeed. Therefore, and in addition to the social divide, I think it should be disbanded. The fastest way for me to actualize this desire is to resign from Bitcoin Unlimited.
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