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Gavin Andresen: Bitcoin Core Is Not Listening to Its Customers

by: Kyle Torpey

Gavin Andresen: Bitcoin Core Is Not Listening to Its Customers

In a recent interview with Let’s Talk Bitcoin, Bitcoin Foundation Chief Scientist Gavin Andresen explained his issues with Bitcoin Core and why he has decided to help the Bitcoin Classic project. 

Bitcoin Classic is an implementation of an alternative Bitcoin protocol that would cause a hard fork with a 75 percent activation threshold in order to increase the block size limit from 1 megabyte to 2 megabytes.

During the interview, Andresen said Bitcoin Core developers are not listening to miners and the entities that are creating many of the transactions on the Bitcoin network. He also discussed his future plans as a developer in the Bitcoin ecosystem.

The Market Will Decide What’s Best

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has routinely referred to the Bitcoin Classic vs. Bitcoin Core debate as an election, and Andresen appeared to agree with this sentiment during the interview. In terms of the possibility of Bitcoin Classic taking over as the reference implementation of the Bitcoin protocol, Andresen noted:

“The market will decide. That’s kind of where the rubber meets the road with Bitcoin is what software people decide to run.”

Although it’s practically impossible to operate Bitcoin as a direct democracy (and may not be a good idea), support for changes to the consensus rules are often measured via miner support. Miners can broadcast their support for a particular change via a coinbase transaction.

Is Bitcoin Core Listening to Its Customers?

When asked about his main disagreement with the rest of the Bitcoin Core development team (which Andresen is still technically part of), the Bitcoin Classic developer talked about Core’s unwillingness to listen to its users. He stated:

“The root of my issue with [Bitcoin] Core is I just think that they’re not listening to their customers. I don’t think that they’ve been listening to the miners, and I don’t think that they’ve been listening to the people that do the bulk of the transactions on the network.”

The idea that Bitcoin Core is not listening to miners seems somewhat debunked based on the recent Bitcoin Roundtable meeting in Hong Kong, though it should be noted this took place after Andresen’s interview on Let’s Talk Bitcoin was recorded. As a result of the meeting, representatives of roughly 80 percent of the network hashrate were able to come to consensus with a handful of Bitcoin Core contributors on a future hard fork to increase the block size limit. It should be noted that it is unclear whether the agreement from the Bitcoin Roundtable will also reach consensus among the rest of the Bitcoin Core development team.

The level of communication between Bitcoin Core and some of the main creators of Bitcoin transactions, such as Coinbase and Blockchain.info, remains unclear, although Blockstream President Adam Back has publicly invited Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong to the upcoming Satoshi Roundtable, which will have a few Bitcoin Core contributors in attendance.

Companies Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands

With support from Coinbase and Blockchain.info’s Peter Smith, Bitcoin Classic could be an example of these companies taking matters into their own hands. Andresen hinted at the unrest among some Bitcoin companies during his interview:

“We’ve long said that if companies aren’t happy with what Core is doing, then they should either get developers involved in Core or they should start their own projects. And I think companies haven’t been happy with the direction Core is going and haven’t been happy with the priorities that Core has set -- as expressed by, kind of, the code that they’re producing.”

Andresen mentioned that exchanges and wallet providers are some of the loudest proponents of larger blocks due to the way the issue is negatively affecting their companies right now. Indeed, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has been a major supporter of Bitcoin Classic on Twitter and Medium.

Andresen Ready to Contribute to All Bitcoin Projects

When it comes to Gavin Andresen’s own plans for the future, it appears he’s ready to help any Bitcoin project, including Bitcoin Core. He explained:

“I’m happy to contribute to lots of different projects. I think my contributions will wax and wane based on whether I’m researching some interesting new area of computer science that catches my eye or am I done researching and I decide that I actually want to write some code people might actually decide to use.”

Kyle Torpey is a freelance journalist who has been following Bitcoin since 2011. His work has been featured on VICE Motherboard, Business Insider, RT’s Keiser Report, and many other media outlets. You can follow@kyletorpey on Twitter.

Photo Web Summit / Flickr(CC)

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