Last week marked my fourth year of moderating /r/Bitcoin . A lot has changed in the last year, but also, a lot has stayed the same. So I figured I'd provide my thoughts on our current situation and a few important events that have transpired recently.
Coinbase and the mod reshuffle
The more perceptive reader might notice something has changed in the moderator team on /r/Bitcoin - I'm claiming to have been moderating for four years, but the page only accounts for seven months. This mod reshuffle has been due to the alleged discussion between Coinbase and Reddit CEOs about removal of Theymos from the /r/Bitcoin mod team. Our top mod reshuffled the team to ensure BashCo would be the first in line in case Thaymos gets removed, as Reddit has some unfortunate issues when it comes to managing moderators. While not an ideal situation from my perspective, I could get behind BashCo being the top moderator if worse came to worse.
So, why was Coinbase allegedly discussing removal of Theymos? That was most likely spurred by the Theymos thread to label Coinbase as an altcoin service for their support of BIP 101 (the 8MB hardfork), effectively banning it from /r/Bitcoin and bitcointalk, two of the more prominent places to discuss Bitcoin.
My stance on this situation is that companies should be free to make their stance on the hard fork known without fear of being punished for it. Consensus on the hard fork comes from discussion, not from silencing dissident opinion. An opinion of one moderator should not dictate the discussion of the entire forum.
I would love to talk with Coinbase and Reddit CEOs about what issues they might have with our subreddit and how they would like to resolve them.
There is no denying it, Bitcoin blocks are practically filled by now. Some measure has to be taken in order to fix this problem soon, and here have been many proposed solutions:
Decreasing the block size to 300kB with a scaling schedule that would go over 1MB around 2024.
Even user-activated soft forks have been proposed.
Unfortunately, the scaling / forking debate has become more heated recently due to a bug in Bitcoin Unlimited (BU) that crashed a lot of nodes. Following that, a lot of hostilities in the community have sprung up (along with terms like "North Corea"), and a number of exchanges released a statement with their take on the situation. Bitcoin Unlimited is forming a Confederation with a president and getting some criticism for it.
All in all, with the rising tensions in the community, I feel like we're headed towards a contentious hard fork and a network split. We will have an Ethereum / Ethereum Classic situation on our hand. While that doesn't bode well for our current situation, it looks like Ethereum has more than recovered since its DAO incident, so there is some hope in long-term recovery...
My stance on the hard fork situation is pretty much the same as it was last year. Bitcoin needs a scaling solution, and it pretty much needs it last year. The block size needs to be increased, or perhaps even abolished one day. That being said, SegWit is also not a bad idea. It by no means should be the only solution, but it would work as a complementary approach.
As for the BU crash and the subsequent fallout, well, people make mistakes. It's unfortunate, but inevitable. Smaller teams are understandably more susceptible to unexpected crashes since there are fewer eyes on the repo and fewer people on at the same time to look out for new exploits 24/7. If any solution becomes the dominant Bitcoin implementation, it will have more scrutiny put on it. If it forks the network and remains its own blockchain, well, that's a different story entirely. It's hard for a small team to maintain a large financial system like Bitcoin.
Too little and too much moderation
A big divide in the Reddit Bitcoin communities is the issue of moderation. /r/Bitcoin moderation is generally seen as heavy-handed for obvious reasons, so a few communities have sprung up that are focused on much lighter moderation - /r/bitcoin_uncensored/ and /r/BTC being the most prominent.
It was interesting to hear some thoughts from /u/jratcliff63367 , a former /r/Bitcoin mod, when he announced his resignation from the /r/BTC moderation team. It seems that neither side of the /r/Bitcoin - /r/BTC split is sunshine and rainbows.
I could take time iterating over the various problems with both subreddits and communities, but that wouldn't be productive. It seems like there is room for a new subreddit that would attempt to move away from the politics and take lessons from the existing communities on what to avoid, but that is neither here nor there at the moment.
My stance on the situation is that some moderation is needed, but moderation should not be shaping the discussion of potential forks. Oh how I miss /r/Bitcoin from early 2015, before the community grew more divided...
The /r/Bitcoin moderation situation hasn't changed much for me in the last year. Unfortunately, the Bitcoin community has grown more divided over the years, which makes the pressing issue behind the Bitcoin block debate even less civil. I hope that by this time next year something good will come of this and we'll be able to put some of our differences behind us, but I'm not holding my breath. It feels like we're heading for crossroads that will further drive a wedge between us...