Chaincode Labs developers Alex Morcos and Suhas Daftuar, and Blockstream developer Matt Corallo — three regular Bitcoin Core contributors ― will organize a month-long Bitcoin coding class at the Chaincode Labs offices in New York starting September 12. During this “Bitcoin Hacker Residency,” they will assist and mentor about half a dozen developers, with the goal of enabling them to contribute to Bitcoin on a protocol-level or to related projects such as FIBRE or the Lightning Network.
Bitcoin’s development community, and in particular the part of it that focuses on low-level protocol improvement, consists of a relatively small group of developers. Most of them work on Bitcoin Core, and they joined the project roughly between 2011 and 2013. Since then, not many newcomers have started contributing — with Morcos and Daftuar as some notable exceptions. Along with Corallo, they believe this is likely in part because the learning curve to contribute meaningfully has become quite steep.
Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Corallo explained:
“I think there is a lot of understandable feelings of not wanting to contribute to Bitcoin Core and protocol-level development because ‘nothing in Bitcoin is new again.’ When you come into Bitcoin as a developer, you’re gonna first suggest the same 100 changes everyone else did the first year. And it doesn’t usually feel great to be constantly told your ideas are not useful — especially when you’re communicating over text, and you don’t see that people are trying to help. You just see a bunch of people who keep telling you you’re wrong.”
The hacker residency is intended for established developers, preferably with experience in Bitcoin-related projects, who are not on a protocol-level competency yet. Corallo believes the month-long coding class should allow these developers to cross the gap and be able to contribute meaningfully to Bitcoin Core or related projects, if they want to.
“There are a ton of Bitcoin developers who have never contributed to Bitcoin Core, or to low protocol development — lots of them because they feel ill-equipped to do so — for instance because the idea of going through rigorous review like we have to do sounds really daunting. So we’re looking for those people to really learn how that works, and come to think about the issues that Bitcoin Core developers focus all day on,” Corallo said.
The hacker residency will have a hands-on approach, where participating developers mostly learn by doing. The goal is to put developers in a supportive environment where they can contribute to Bitcoin Core or other Bitcoin-related projects, with people around to help them where necessary. Additionally, there will be a few talks about Bitcoin’s design elements and ways to think about Bitcoin protocol engineering.
The hacker residency should not be considered a recruitment scheme, however; the class is offered entirely on a no-strings-attached basis. Participating in the hacker residency is free, but availability is limited. Developers interested in joining can apply by sending an overview of their background as well as some ideas of Bitcoin projects they find exciting to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Aaron van Wirdum is interested in technology and how it affects social and political structures. He has been covering Bitcoin since 2013, focusing on privacy, scalability and more. Hodls BTC.