A new grant project aimed at greater diversity in Bitcoin development is offering $1.2 million USD to fund programming teams working on the protocol.
Many High Profile Industry Backers
In a post titled “A Statement from Members of the Bitcoin Community,” several prominent individuals and companies in the Bitcoin space declared their support. The two signers contributing to the grant fund are mining company Bitmain and Bitcoin.com.
Many supporting signers belong to the all-important Chinese Bitcoin mining industry, who have influence over a large proportion of the Bitcoin network’s total hashing power.
The post gives the following official motives and explanations for offering the grants:
- No “Official” Bitcoin: No particular implementation of the Bitcoin protocol holds claim to being the “official” version of Bitcoin
- Multiple Implementations: Diversity of bitcoin protocol implementation along with a variety of development teams is a net gain for the bitcoin community.
- Diversity of Innovation: The presence of more developers and more development teams will lead to greater diversity of innovation and solutions to the problems we will inevitably face as a growing industry.
- Bitcoin is Leaderless: Bitcoin is a leaderless community comprised of many parts, and no team of developers has decision making authority for the entire community.
- No Censorship: Disagreement is healthy within a complex community such as ours. Yet the benefits of discussion, debate, and dissent require communication channels to remain free and open. Although we respect the right of private communities to run themselves as they see fit, the signers of this statement implore members of bitcoin to reject censorship and encourage them to support those platforms where free and open discussion is allowed to take place.
Block Size and Censorship Issues
The grant project has already stirred controversy among the Bitcoin community. There are currently divided loyalties regarding who should have the privilege of developing the client software a majority of miners and nodes on the Bitcoin network use.
Although not mentioned in the statement, any new competing Bitcoin client software is bound to address the transaction block size debate. Many seeking to develop new software are frustrated at the Bitcoin Core team’s reluctance to implement flexible block sizes or a longer-term scaling solution.
Many new client supporters also claim censorship of dissenting viewpoints in Bitcoin’s quasi-official discussion forums is further hampering a rigorous discussion of what Bitcoin and its users truly need. At the same time, Core supporters claim that anything other than the protocol as set out by Satoshi Nakamoto, and improved incrementally via the BIP process, cannot be called Bitcoin at all.
Supporting the Freedom to Choose the Best Protocol
The grant initiative, however, is taking a non-confrontational approach to the issue. Backers often use the web browser analogy, saying that if only one team may develop a protocol’s “official” client software, it will lead to stagnation and special interests grabbing power. Only by offering participants a realistic choice can we see where the network itself wishes to head.
It also does not support any specific project, philosophy or even opinion on the block size issue. Nor will any client software be able to “change” Bitcoin without a majority of network nodes running it.
Development teams need to apply to have their project recognized and become eligible for a grant. Interested parties may sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you think the grant offer is a good idea? Should Bitcoin protocol development be open to the same competition as other open-source software projects? Let’s hear your thoughts.
Images via Shutterstock.