What Happened on May. 18th | Revisit the 2015-2017 Bitcoin Civil War

TI Research

The latest argument about Bitcoin's non-monetary uses, such as Ordinals and the BRC-20 token, echos a famous period in Bitcoin history between 2015 and 2017, when the Bitcoin community was divided on whether to expand the blocksize to promote faster transactions and cheaper costs. Although it is unknown whether the current disagreement about BRC-20 will lead to another battle, now is a good opportunity to reflect on that period in Bitcoin history.

The Bitcoin blocksize war refers to a contentious debate within the Bitcoin community regarding the optimal size of blocks in the blockchain. In Bitcoin, blocks serve as containers that hold transactions, and larger blocks can accommodate more transactions, thus increasing the network's capacity.

Two main factions emerged between 2015 and 2017: one advocating for a conservative approach, favoring smaller block sizes to ensure network decentralization and prevent potential security risks, while the other group supported larger block sizes to improve scalability and transaction throughput.

The conflict escalated in 2017 when the Bitcoin community faced a significant backlog of transactions, causing delays and increased transaction fees. This sparked a fierce debate between supporters of small blocks, led by Bitcoin Core developers, and proponents of larger blocks, most notably Bitcoin Cash supporters. Bitcoin Cash, a hard fork of Bitcoin, was created in 2017 with an increased block size of 8MB.

The blocksize war generated intense discussions, social media campaigns, and even personal attacks within the community. Proponents of larger blocks argued that it would enable faster and cheaper transactions, attracting mainstream adoption. On the other hand, supporters of smaller blocks emphasized the importance of maintaining decentralization and preventing potential centralization risks associated with larger blocks.

Ultimately, the conflict resulted in a split in the Bitcoin community, with Bitcoin Cash emerging as an alternative cryptocurrency with larger blocks. However, Bitcoin remained the dominant cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization and adoption.

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