About the 'cash' denomination, Bitcoin Unlimited and democracy in a multi-implementation development context
In recent days a decision of Bitcoin Unlimited (BU) sparked a heated debate: BUIP087 passed the community voting, with 14 votes for and 7 votes against. With a bare majority votum BU decided to implement the "cash" denomination.
As suggested by Ken Shishido, the organizer of Tokyo's Bitcoin Cash meetup, Jonald Fyookball from Electron Cash and Andrew Clifford, Secretary of Bitcoin Unlimited, "cash" will be used as a standard for one hundred Satoshi (one millionth Bitcoin Cash or about 0.14 cent). The "cash" unit will given the ISO code XCH, and it will become an option or a standard in the client developed by BU.
After the results were in, a little wave of complaints set in. "Cash" is a stupid name for a monetary unit, it was said, "bits" is much better. BU was sockpuppeted, the rumors said, into deciding something which will confuse the ecosystem at best and bring animosity and infighting into the community at worst. "Cash", some people said, is a denomination which aims to separate Bitcoin Cash from the term Bitcoin, a trojan horse; and the democratic elections of BU are a socialistic venture, aiming for dethroning the capitalistic principles which govern Bitcoin Cash, by mandating how people shall call Bitcoin instead of letting the free market find a denomination people volontarily start to use ...
Stop. Let's not go this road. The Bitcoin Cash community has another opportunity to fight with itself: To stop another hostile takeover. To clamp down on organized and artificial dissent. To waste time with needless discussions about Cash or Bits. None of this is needed. But it is another chance to strengthen the mental and social environment Bitcoin Cash need to grow.
I agree with the protest against the "cash" denomination. I think it is stupid to call a subunit of digital cash simply "cash". It's equivalent dislogical as to call a branch of a pine a "tree" or call a subunit of the "Canadian Dollar" one "Canadian". I don't like it at all. I did vote against it, and I don't think I will ever use it. I'd prefer to call this unit "bit", "bitcent" or to simply stay with the etablished denominations Bitcoins, Satoshis or MilliBitcoins.
But, heck, Bitcoin Unlimited voted for it, with 14 to 7 votes. This is the barest voting I remember in BU, but it is still valid. So I accept it. I welcome that those, who want to use the denomination "cash", will soon be able to use it with BU, while I will be happy to be free to not use it. Maybe I am wrong, and "cash" will make a great denomination. Who knows? We will see.
Implementing the "cash" denomination is not a protocol change, like the increase of the blocksize limit to 32mb or the reactivation of old OP_Codes. It is also no change of the whole system, like enforcing a fee market to push users to second layer channels. It is simply a graphical option in the interface. It doesn't change anything. A few win, nobody loses. No need to fight about it. It should not be controversial at all.
Saying that Bitcoin Unlimited pushes down an unwanted change of the system by democratic or socialistic election is even more wrong. Bitcoin Unlimited decided to implement the "cash" denomination with a democratic election, yes, but it is in no way binding for anybody else. If BitcoinABC decides to call a millionth Bitcoin Cash a "bit", and if XT decides to call it a "bitcent", and BitPrim calls it a "butt", nobody will prevent it. Bitcoin Unlimited is one of several Bitcoin Cash implementations, and what they do is in no way binding for the others. This is the beauty of having a decentralized development environment.
For example, in preparation of today‘s hard fork, BU‘s developer Andrew Stone proposed OP_Group, a brillant method to create consensus relevant token on the Bitcoin Cash chain. It eventually would have been a game changer in using token on the Bitcoin Cash blockchain, which is why this proposal passed the vote with a strong majority. I voted for it, too. However, in discussion with the other teams, BU could not persuade them to integrate OP_Group in the upcoming hard fork. This was bitter, because we, the BU community, wanted OP_Group to happen. But our democracy ends at the borders of the BU client, and the only thing we can do is to accept this.
BitcoinABC, BitcoinXT and BitPrim, which build the majority of other clients, have no democratic model as Bitcoin Unlimited. Other than in modern politics, there is no reason to be sad about this. Bitcoin Cash is no democracy, and open source software development is usually not, too, and this is good.
Democracy can be sockpuppeted, especially when it happens in the digital space with people often only known by a pseudonym. Who can guarantee that BUIP087 – which decided to implement the "cash"-denomination – was not enforced by three people giving 14 votes with different sockpuppets? Nobody.
It is good that the roadmap of Bitcoin Cash is not decided by a voting of Bitcoin Unlimited. It is good that we have experts, like from ABC, XT and Bitprim, which think deeply about proposals, sit together, discuss them and decide. But it is also good that Bitcoin Unlimited adds a democratic, community-driven moment in the process of decision-making.
Many people, who did complain about the outcome of the vote about BUIP087, could have changed this with a very little act: Becoming a member and voting against it. If only three or four people would have voted against, it would not have passed. I invite everybody, who wants to help decide the future of Bitcoin Cash, to become a member of Bitcoin Unlimited and participate in the votes.
In the list of members you do not only find developers and community-members of Bitcoin Unlimited. You also find prominent developers of other Bitcoin Cash implementations and representatives from prominent Bitcoin Cash supporting companies. This is not a problem, but a strength: Bitcoin Unlimited becomes a representation of a democratic vote of the Bitcoin Cash community. And this includes also developers of other implementations and representatives from business.
If you want to become a member of Bitcoin Unlimited, I have some advices how in the next part. You can buy it if you want to join Bitcoin Unlimited, or if you simply want to say thank you for the article.
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