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In this episode of “Bitcoin, Explained,” hosts Aaron van Wirdum and Sjors Provoost discuss a recent blog post by Jameson Lopp titled, “Has Bitcoin Ever Hard Forked?”
Hard forks are generally defined as Bitcoin protocol upgrades that remove or loosen rules, making these types of upgrades backwards-incompatible. Van Wirdum and Provoost explain, however, that in his blog post, Lopp argues that this definition isn’t very precise and suggests that the term should only apply if the rule change was actually utilized. In addition, hard forks can be categorized into explicit hard forks, where the rule change was an intentional hard fork, and implicit hard forks, where the rule change wasn’t originally intended to be a hard fork at all but turned out to be one anyway.
In the second half of the podcast, van Wirdum and Provoost break down the seven hard forks in Bitcoin’s history that Lopp was able to find and discuss, five of which were never utilized (and should therefore arguably not be considered hard forks at all), one of them was explicit and another one was implicit.
To end the episode, van Wirdum and Provoost briefly discuss the “hard fork wish list” of future hard fork(s) that need(s) to happen in order to fix a time value bug, and what kind of philosophy around deploying hard forks might make sense for Bitcoin in regards to adding additional aspects to a necessary change in the code.