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Gavin Andresen is Not Giving Up on Bitcoin Classic

During a recent AMA on Chinese Bitcoin community website 8btc, Bitcoin Foundation Chief Scientist Gavin Andresen confirmed that he’s not giving up on Bitcoin Classic and the project intends to proceed with their development plans. Andresen also reiterated his past statements regarding his plans to contribute to lots of projects (Bitcoin Classic, Bitcoin Core, Bitcoin Unlimited, etc.).


The former lead maintainer of Bitcoin Core explained that Bitcoin Classic has plans to attract new developers to the project — and to the Bitcoin ecosystem as a whole. Andresen will continue to push for an increase in the block size limit, and he believes that Bitcoin Core will eventually lose its position as the reference implementation of the Bitcoin protocol. He stated:

“I think you might be surprised at what most people are running a year or three from now. Perhaps it will be a future version of Bitcoin Core, but I think there is a very good chance another project will be more successful.”

Support for Bitcoin Classic stood at roughly 5 percent of the network hashrate at the time this article was written.

Attracting New Developers to Bitcoin Classic

In terms of what Bitcoin Classic is doing right now, Gavin Andresen claimed the project will attempt to attract more developers. Andresen referred to this move as a “priority”. Supporters of Bitcoin Classic would like to create a better, friendlier development environment than what’s available with Bitcoin Core. Andresen added, “You can expect to see some results in the next month or two.”

Andresen also described how the Bitcoin Classic development process will be upgraded to allow for quicker decisions on pull requests:

“The development process for Classic will be a little bit different, with a ‘develop’ branch where code will be pulled more quickly and then either fixed or reverted based on how testing goes. The goal is to create a more developer-friendly process, with pull requests either accepted or rejected fairly quickly.”

Although Bitcoin Core works on a system of social consensus among contributors to the project, Bitcoin Classic is more flexible with its development process. While soft forks enabled by Bitcoin Core generally require a signal of support from 95 percent of the network hashrate before activating, Bitcoin Classic intends to increase the block size limit via a hard fork activated by 75 percent support of the network hashrate.

Still Pushing for a Block Size Limit Increase

Although there will likely be an increase in the block size limit enabled by Bitcoin Core eventually, Gavin Andresen is not willing to wait for this to happen. Andresen noted, “It will happen sooner or later — almost everybody agrees it must happen. I am still working to make it happen sooner, because the longer it takes, the worse for Bitcoin.”

Andresen is not the only one who would like to see a block size limit increase happen as soon as possible. The Bitcoin Foundation Chief Scientist pointed out that some exchanges are thinking about taking matters into their own hands when it comes to turning this proposed protocol change into a reality:

“[I]f a centralized mining pool does become too big and does something bad, the simplest solution is for businesses or people to get together and create or fund a competitor. Some of the big Bitcoin exchanges have been seriously considering doing exactly that to support raising the block size limit, and that is exactly the way the system is supposed to work — if you don’t like what the miners are doing, then compete with them!”

Gavin Andresen is of the opinion that the effective block size limit increase enabled by Segregated Witness (SegWit) will be too little too late. He believes increases in transaction volume will outpace the gains in block space availability made by SegWit

In terms of what he will do if Bitcoin Classic does not activate an increase in the block size limit by the deadline outlined in the BIP 109 proposal, Andresen added, “If BIP 109 does not happen, I will still be pushing to get a good on-chain solution to happen as soon as possible.”

Upcoming Block Reward Halving May Cause Crisis

One of the reasons Gavin Andresen (and many other larger block size limit supporters) would like to see an increase of the block size limit sooner rather than later is related to the upcoming block reward halving causing a possible crisis for Bitcoin. Andresen explained this possible scenario when asked about what problems miners could face as a result of the halving:

“There is a small risk that the halving will make a good fraction of the miners stop mining, because they will get about half of the bitcoins they got before the halving. And that might mean blocks take longer to create, which means less space for transactions, which might mean people get frustrated and leave Bitcoin. Which could drop the price even more, causing more miners to stop mining, more frustration, and so on.”

This issue was also brought up at a recent meeting between supporters of an increased block size limit and representatives from the Chinese Bitcoin industry. During his AMA, Andresen noted, “Miners tell me they have already planned ahead for the halving and this [crisis] will not happen, which is why I think it is a small risk and I don’t think the halving will be a big problem for most miners.”

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