“Forkcoins," or “Initial Fork Offerings” — alternative coins that “split off” from Bitcoin — are all the rage right now.
The latest trend in the cryptocurrency world was kicked off last summer with the launch of Bitcoin Cash. The Bitcoin offshoot is a top 3 cryptocurrency by market cap according to websites like Coinmarketcap. Perhaps even more importantly, it is now offered by some of the world’s biggest Bitcoin exchanges and wallet providers, including Coinbase, Bitstamp and Blockchain. The second Bitcoin offshoot, Bitcoin Gold, also claimed a top 10 cryptocurrency spot seemingly out of nothing. Perhaps unsurprisingly, therefore, a series of new forkcoins has been announced over the past couple of weeks, ranging from Bitcoin Diamond to Lightning Bitcoin to United Bitcoin and many more.
Since this week, anyone can easily create their own forkcoin with the click of a few buttons. Forkgen lets users tweak Bitcoin’s parameters and other properties to fork into a unique Bitcoin offshoot by simply filling them in on a user-friendly website.
The service is created by a pseudonymous developer who simply goes by the name “One,” who is assisted by "Two," Forkgen’s "social media intern.”
Two told Bitcoin Magazine that the service intends to democratize the creation of Bitcoin forks.
“Even leading developers have shown it is too hard to create forks of the Bitcoin blockchain without making critical errors,” Two said, referring to the recent failed SegWit2x launch. “Forkgen creates a level playing field where anyone can easily create working forks. Then it reduces to a much simpler problem of marketing your new altcoin. More people are good at that part.”
Introducing Bitcoin Magazine Cash
To test the service, Bitcoin Magazine decided to create our own Initial Fork Offering.
Right now, Forkgen lets users pick a name and three-letter-ticker for their forkcoin, as well as a block weight limit and a block height for the fork to take place. Additionally, Forkgen users can choose whether they want to implement replay protection to ensure no one accidentally loses their forkcoin. Further, they can opt for a mining difficulty reset to make new coins easier to mine at first. Forkgen users can also pick the letters and numbers to start the coin addresses and private keys with — and they can decide how much they want to tilt the Bitcoin logo to distinguish it from the original, like Bitcoin Cash did.
Given these tools, we designed our forkcoin: “Bitcoin Magazine Cash,” with the ticker “BMG.” We opted for strong replay protection and a difficulty reset, to make the coin as usable as possible. The Bitcoin Magazine Cash protocol will have a block weight limit of 20120501, an ode to Bitcoin Magazine’s launch date (May 2012), which is also five times bigger than Bitcoin’s limit. Addresses will start with a B or an M, and private keys with an i. Finally, the logo will be tilted 45 degrees counterclockwise, for no particular reason.
Bitcoin Magazine Cash forked away from Bitcoin at block 500400: a couple of hours before publication of this article. Anyone who held Bitcoin private keys at 12 PM UTC on December 21, 2017, has now been awarded their free BMG. It should be possible to claim these coins with the Bitcoin Magazine Cash software and your Bitcoin private keys — though we don’t actually recommend this (for reasons explained below).
As of yet, it unclear whether any exchanges will support the fork, but Two suggests that all of them really must:
“Exchanges should be obligated to split and distribute all arbitrary fork coins despite the systems expense and security risk. Who are they to decide what makes one fork more legitimate than any other?"
Interactive Performance Art
Although the service should work, on its website Forkgen describes itself as “interactive performance art.”
A play on Coingen, a now-defunct altcoin generator, Forkgen emphasizes how easy it is to create Bitcoin forks, that — like the thousands of altcoins out there — in the end are of questionable relevance. Where Coingen was created during the first big altcoin boom of 2013 and 2014 that birthed Bitcoin codebase forks such as Dogecoin, Vertcoin and Viacoin, the recent trend of forkcoins is really the same thing, the Forkgen project seems to suggest.
Two ardently denied Forkgen is something akin to joke.
“This is VERY SERIOUS. Read the FAQ,” he said. “Forkgen is the embodiment of Satoshi’s True Vision™ where if big blocks are good for scaling then many chains are even better.”
Instructions and Disclaimers
Binaries for Bitcoin Magazine Cash (BMG) can be downloaded here for Windows, Mac and Linux. However, Bitcoin Magazine cannot in any way guarantee the authenticity of these binaries that were provided by Forkgen — nor does Forkgen. Download and run the software at your own risk; and keep in mind that exposing private keys that hold value to untrusted software is a particularly bad idea.
Additionally, keep in mind that Bitcoin Magazine merely created this software as an experiment; we have no intention of actually maintaining it, nor will we support Bitcoin Magazine Cash in any other way.
Want to create your own Bitcoin fork? With the coupon code "GreatLeaderCraig", Bitcoin Magazine readers get 50 off for the next 6 days. (Make sure to double check that this discount is really subtracted before making the payment; the Forkgen website was having some issues at the time of writing this article.)
Finally, Bitcoin Magazine does not endorse using this service: We cannot guarantee the authenticity of Forkgen or its software in any way.