Bitcoin was scheduled to undergo a hard fork sometime in early November 2017, with the event resulting in two separate cryptocurrencies, one being the original bitcoin and the other commonly referred to as SegWit2X. Eventually, the fork was called off due to shrinking support and the critics.
The Venn Diagram of Hard Forks and Block Size
On August 1, 2017, bitcoin was subject to the first major hard fork since its introduction in 2009. The forked cryptocurrency came to be known as Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and attempted to improve the original bitcoin by increasing the block size limit. The introduction of BCH quite arguably gave rise to the long saga that is the “block size debate,” and forever split the bitcoin community into two isolated fragments.
Part of the same community that called for an increased block size during the Bitcoin Cash fork also supported November’s SegWit2X fork. However, the other side of the fence launched a full-on smear campaign against the proposed cryptocurrency and its creators, finally resulting in its eventual cancellation.
Bitcoin purists believe that the only way a change should be proposed in a cryptocurrency is through a User Activated Soft Fork (UASF), the same method employed during the implementation of the Blockchain Improvement Proposal 148 (BIP-148) and later, Segregated Witness in August 2017.
Miners or individuals running full nodes on the network are responsible for strengthening the security of the Bitcoin blockchain. Nodes are assigned the responsibility of blocking out any mined block that fails to comply with the ruleset of the network. Therefore, if a change needs to occur in the way Bitcoin works, nodes are in a more advantageous position to implement such an update.
Miner support for SegWit2X, otherwise known as the New York Agreement segwit activation, was overwhelming in the weeks running up to the fork. Several bitcoin mining pools, including some of the largest in the world, signaled support for the proposed cryptocurrency and pledged to direct their hashing power towards the fork once successful. Despite all of that, the fork failed to come to fruition, largely due to improper planning and weak execution.
To begin with, bitcoin miners that signaled support for the hard fork did little other than pledging future support to the proposed cryptocurrency. They did not lock up their mining reward or put any stake on the table in favor of SegWit2X. The only support they did express was in the form of a bit 4 signal, that is, the flipping of the version field’s binary bit.
In the grand scheme of things, where the cryptocurrency market is overrun by an immature community obsessed by Lamborghini memes and price speculation, it is easy to see just how easily the SegWit2X fork was pushed out into obscurity.
Regardless of whether the proposed cryptocurrency was beneficial or not, it is a telling tale of how much control a hivemind can have when it comes to bitcoin.