Late last week, a post on Chinese Bitcoin community website 8btc gained a lot of attention in certain English-language Bitcoin circles, particularly the subreddit /r/btc. The post stated that Chinese Bitcoin miners should band together and push for a hard-forking change to the Bitcoin protocol via a switch in software from Bitcoin Core to Bitcoin Classic.
There has been some confusion in the days after the original “Terminator Plan” was posted on 8btc, as some in the Bitcoin community appear to believe this is a genuine plan agreed upon by Bitcoin miners in China. Bitcoin Magazine has reached out to two Bitcoin mining pools in China, and both have distanced themselves from the plan.
The Numbers Don’t Add Up
When looking over the Terminator Plan, one of the obvious issues with the letter is that the numbers simply don’t add up. The plan would supposedly involve greater than 75 percent of the hashrate coming together to support Bitcoin Classic, but roughly 20 percent of the network (represented by BTCC and BitFury) have made their support for Bitcoin Core rather clear over the past few months. This means that nearly every other Bitcoin mining pool or miner ‒ even those outside of China ‒ would have to be involved in the Terminator Plan for it to be real.
“Of course the math doesn’t add up because the plan isn’t real,” said BTCC COO Samson Mow. “Towards the bottom of the 8btc post it does say, ‘This is a suggestion to mining pools.’ Just because something is posted in Chinese on a Chinese forum it doesn’t mean it’s true or that you’re going to get an accurate understanding via Google Translate,” he continued.
At least one media outlet even questioned whether BTCC’s level of support for Bitcoin Core may be on the decline but Mow was quick to dismiss this theory via Twitter:
“As long as BTCC is operating Bitcoin exchanges and a Bitcoin mining pool, it’s not possible that we’d support a plan to compromise Bitcoin’s security or to hijack the development of the protocol,” Mow explained. “Plus, the basis of the Terminator Plan is to replace Core with Classic. That’s just plain ridiculous.”
HaoBTC Still Supports Bitcoin Core, but Not Unconditionally
In addition to Mow, Bitcoin Magazine also reached out to Eric Mu, who runs marketing and strategy for HaoBTC. Mu was perplexed by the reaction to the 8btc post from the English-speaking Bitcoin community, partially due to the fact that the author of the post was anonymous.
“As far as I know, the company never discussed the Terminator Plan, publicly or privately,” Mu said when asked if HaoBTC has discussed this plan in the past. “When I first read the article, my impression was that author was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the views he expressed echoed a sentiment that has been around for some time.”
Mu then clarified HaoBTC’s stance on the block size debate:
“HaoBTC's official stance has been consistent and was clearly expressed in the Hong Kong Consensus. Our support of Core over its alternatives is based on our commitment to the [Hong Kong] Consensus and dedication to building a governance model based on open dialogue between the industry and the development community, thus it is not unconditional.”
Although parts of the Bitcoin community would like to see the mining community have a bigger role in protocol development decisions, Mu revealed some of the reasons miners are hesitant to take a stand. “Some are wary of the current Core developers all quitting in the Mike Hearn fashion, which might lead to a disastrous outcome; some simply don't want the rest of the world to perceive Bitcoin as being controlled by the Chinese, a narrative that has gained currency in the media as demonstrated by the recent New York Times article,” explained Mu.
Antpool Doesn’t Dismiss the Rumors
One of the oddest aspects of this story is that Bitmain CEO Jihan Wu has been unwilling to dismiss the rumors surrounding the Terminator Plan. When asked about the issue on Twitter, Wu repeatedly responded by saying there is no censorship on Chinese forums and ideas are allowed to be discussed freely ‒ an obvious slight at the /r/Bitcoin subreddit where moderation is sometimes perceived to be heavy.
HaoBTC has also sent out their own tweet regarding the Terminator Plan without offering any clarification (at the time of publication of this article):
In terms of how Jihan Wu and HaoBTC are handling the situation, Mow responded, “They’re being coy about it. However, you really can’t expect us to dismiss every single rumor that r/btc speculates themselves into a frenzy over. Then we’d never get any work done.”
The moderators of the /r/Bitcoin subreddit received some flack on social media for initially removing the 8btc post and claiming it was FUD due to editorialized titles, but it appears that they got things right on this occasion.