As Bitcoin XT Shrinks, Hearn Calls Core & Supporters Dishonest, Aggressive

Mike Hearn, the lead developer behind the Bitcoin XT fork, has publicly called the Bitcoin Core developers and supporters dishonest and aggressive, and described the bitcoin industry as intimidated.

Hearn today wrote on the Bitcoin Reddit page the following:

This fight has become exceptionally nasty and most people, even those with businesses that depend on growth, are keeping their heads down rather than get caught in the crossfire.

Additionally, as you may have seen, some of supporters of Bitcoin Core (and its developers) aren’t above saying things that just aren’t true. That sort of behaviour scares the crap out of most people who would rather say nothing than be on the receiving end of character assassination attacks.

It’s easily possible for a sufficiently aggressive minority to end up taking over Bitcoin through social means, regardless of the technology it has.

His statement comes as he and Gavin Andresen, the heir to Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto, lose the Bitcoin block size fight. The number of total XT nodes has shrunk to 580 or around 9.7% of all the nodes. For the fork to become the consensus, it needs at least 75 percent of Bitcoin miners to adopt it. That looks like it may never happen as XT hasn’t recovered since its initial rise and fall in nodes.

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The Bitcoin XT group, led by Hearn and Andresen, who is also the Bitcoin Foundation’s Chief Scientist, are trying to scale the network and initially increase the block size to 8 MB. On August 15th, 2015, the group made available the full release of the Bitcoin XT, a patch on the Blockchain based on Andresen’s BIP101 proposal.

However, their hard fork of Bitcoin caused a firestorm with the remaining Bitcoin Core developers and many other members of the Bitcoin community opposing and condemning it as an attempt to centralize Bitcoin.

Although many large Bitcoin players backed Andresen’s proposal, the opposition appears to have won the social media war on platforms like Twitter and Reddit.

Large Chinese miners like DiscusFish/F2Pool and BTCChina quickly turned on Bitcoin XT after the launch and threw their support behind a more conservative competing proposal from Bitcoin Core member Jeff Garzik – BIP100.

Garzik’s proposal appears currently to have the most support with 60% of miners voting for it over the last month, compared to less than 1% support for Andesen’s BIP101.

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Hearn lashed out at the critics of Bitcoin XT for what he believes are dishonest, aggressive actions:

The aggression I was talking about are things like:

  • Repeatedly making statements that are not true. Look at how often Adam Back has said Gavin didn’t “follow the BIP process” with BIP 101 for example. It is factually false.
  • Claiming that releasing patches to an open source program is an “attack on the network”.
  • Claiming I don’t care about decentralisation, want to be a dictator, hate privacy and other attempts at character assassination.
  • Telling people that if there’s a hard fork that isn’t personally blessed by the Bitcoin Core maintainers, the value of Bitcoin will fall to zero.
  • Suggesting class action lawsuits
  • Censoring major discussion forums
  • Threatening to erase useful products from the Bitcoin website if the developers change to a competing node product

None of these tactics are anything to do with technology, they’re all social, and they’re all very aggressive.

Andresen and Garzik are in the original top echelon of Bitcoin core developers, along with Pieter Wuille, Nils Schneider and Wladimir J. van der Laan. An updated list of Bitcoin Core contributing developers is on Bitcoin.org.

Mike Hearn is a former Google engineer, the author of bitcoinJ – the first Bitcoin implementation in Java, and also a Bitcoin Core contributor.

Even if BIP100 wins the day, Andresen and Hearn may be able to argue that it wass jump started by their primary effort to increase the Bitcoin block size.