Recently Bitcoin proponents who support Segregated Witness (Segwit) have been fervently discussing BIP 148, a User-Activated Soft Fork (UASF). On March 24 the mining operation Bitfury mined a block with a BIP 148 (=UASF-Segwit) tag, signaling the organization’s support for the proposal.
User-Activated Soft Fork Discussed Amongst Segwit Supporters
As the block size debate continues, many are moving in different directions to come up with a solution for Bitcoin’s future scaling. A few weeks ago a pseudonym named “Shaolin Fry” introduced the idea of a Segwit UASF, which would attempt to activate Segwit before reaching a 95 percent threshold of consensus between miners. In essence, the proposal is a mandatory activation of Segwit deployment, which would take place between October 1 and November 15, 2017.
The idea has gained some traction with those that would like to see it explored and reviewed by other developers. BIP 148, authored by Shaolin Fry, is currently on Github and is available for community and developer review. The anonymous creator of BIP 148 explains the rationale behind UASF, otherwise known as “Flag Day”, detailing that P2SH was introduced in a similar fashion.
“Historically, the P2SH soft fork (BIP16) was activated using a predetermined flag day where nodes began enforcing the new rules,” explains Fry’s UASF proposal. “P2SH was successfully activated with relatively few issues. By orphaning non-signalling blocks during the last month of the BIP9 bit 1 “Segwit” deployment, this BIP can cause the existing “Segwit” deployment to activate without needing to release a new deployment.”
Bitfury Mines a Block With a UASF Segwit Tag
On March 24, Bitcoin and blockchain infrastructure provider Bitfury mined a block containing a UASF Segwit tag, showing support for the BIP 148 proposal. Block 458793 and a couple of other blocks recorded by the blockchain included the UASF mandatory deployment of the Segwit tag.
Bitcoin community members from both sides of the debate discussed the tagged UASF blocks mined by Bitfury across social media. Supporters of UASF asked for technical guidance from developers concerning the proposal as there haven’t been any signs of engineers reviewing the idea thus far. Furthermore, some thought the tag by Bitfury was merely a political statement as one Redditor states:
“Should we just ignore these flags for now?” asks Reddit user Jerguismi. “It doesn’t cost a miner a penny to put whatever flag there, so it can be used to troll, etc. There isn’t widely available UASF version of Bitcoin client available, so signaling that flag doesn’t make much sense — except as a political statement, which doesn’t mean a lot IMO. Bitfury wouldn’t actually do the UASF currently because there is no sign that services generally are running the UASF fork (because UASF client isn’t available AFAIK).”
One Contentious Fork for Another?
Those who oppose the concept and have been supporting ideas like Bitcoin Unlimited (BU) had thought the idea was hypocritical. A few BU supporters thought it was ironic that people declared a forced deployment of Segwit different than miners choosing to vote for an alternative client. One commenter who disagreed with the idea of a UASF deployed Segwit mocked the concept by stating:
We are strongly opposed to a contentious hard fork, so strongly that we are prepared to change the PoW, a user activated soft fork, and Segwit, all contentious forks, to prevent a hard fork.
October 1 is months away so it could be a while before this proposal gets any real backing from the industry and developer support. For now, to some people, the UASF discussion continues to be merely chatter on the Internet but, with Bitfury allegedly making a political statement, that could change in the near future.
Images via Reddit, Github, and Shutterstock.