Governance has become a key topic of interest in the Bitcoin community over the past few months, and Mastering Bitcoin Author Andreas Antonopoulos was asked about progress in this area during a recent interview on The Tatiana Show. In his response on the issue of governance, Antonopoulos noted:
“We’re seeing quite amazing developments in the area of governance — both in terms of the human and social aspects of governance.”
Blockchain Capital Managing Partner Brock Pierce recently explained that developers, miners, and economic participants are all involved in the process of deciding Bitcoin’s consensus rules. During Antonopoulos’s recent interview, he discussed three recent developments in how those rules could be decided.
Bitcoin Core Has Improved Their Communication
The first development in Bitcoin governance discussed by Andreas Antonopoulos on The Tatiana Show was the improved communication from the developers behind Bitcoin Core, which is the reference implementation of the Bitcoin protocol. Antonopoulos stated, “The [Bitcoin] Core development team have massively improved their communications in both tone and content.”
The author of Mastering Bitcoin then pointed to specific examples of Bitcoin Core’s improvements in communicating their views to the wider Bitcoin community such as their Slack, new website, FAQs on new technical developments, and official announcements via blog posts. Antonopoulos added:
“[This] shows that Core developers are understanding the importance of communicating with a broad diversity of users and stakeholders in the Bitcoin space and not just having the technical engineering discussion.”
One of the issues some Bitcoin Core contributors have noted in recent months is their lack of interaction with the wider Bitcoin community. This inaction from a communications perspective allowed other members of the ecosystem to control the conversation related to changes in Bitcoin’s consensus rules.
Segregated Witness’s Options for Technical Governance
Antonopoulos also touched on technical improvements to the Bitcoin protocol that could have an impact on governance. Segregated Witness and VersionBits are two technical developments that could make soft forks of Bitcoin less problematic in the future. Antonopoulos explained:
“Segregated Witness is opening the door . . . to some technical governance tools for multiple, parallel soft forks and improvements in Bitcoin that can be competitively tested on the network . . . That’s going to accelerate development and innovation a lot.”
Another technical innovation that could affect Bitcoin governance in the future is sidechains. With sidechains, new blockchains with completely different consensus rules can be tested without leaving the bitcoin currency network. As of today, it’s difficult to test new features or changes to the consensus rules because every bitcoin user must use the same blockchain.
Dash’s Governance Model May Not Scale to Bitcoin Level
The Tatiana Show Co-Host Josh Scigala of Vaultoro also mentioned Dash’s governance model during the interview. The success of the altcoin’s governance model was widely reported in Bitcoin media outlets after the cryptocurrency’s users were able to reach consensus on a block size limit increase in less than 24 hours.
Andreas Antonopoulos seemed skeptical of Dash’s governance model as a possible option for Bitcoin during the interview. He explained:
“Dash has some interesting ideas, but I think it’s important to keep in mind that what can be done on a fairly small scale with non-contentious issues, as is happening in Dash, doesn’t necessarily also work on a much bigger scale on a massively bigger network with a lot more money at stake and a very different structure.”
Governance will likely remain a key topic of discussion in the Bitcoin community for quite some time. The block size limit debate is just one of many contentious issues that could pop up as time goes by.