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What Is The Bitcoin Block Size Limit? – Bitcoin Magazine – Bitcoin News, Articles and Expert Insights

the bitcoin block size limit is a parameter in the bitcoin protocol that limits the size of bitcoin blocks and thus the number of transactions that can be confirmed on the network approximately every 10 minutes. Although bitcoin was released without this parameter, satoshi nakamoto added a 1 megabyte block size limit when he was still the main developer of the project. this translated to around three to seven transactions per second, depending on the size of the transactions.

further reading: who created bitcoin?

Reading: Bitcoin block size

In 2017, the bitcoin block size limit was replaced with a block weight limit of 4 million “unit weights”. this changed the way data is “counted” in blocks: some data weighs more than other data. Perhaps most importantly, it also represented an effective increase in the block size limit: bitcoin blocks now have a theoretical maximum size of 4 megabytes and a more realistic maximum size of 2 megabytes. the exact size depends on the types of transactions included.

why is the block size limit controversial?

The block size limit is controversial because there is disagreement over whether or not such a limit “should be” part of the bitcoin protocol, and if it should be, how big it should be.

satoshi nakamoto never publicly specified why he added a block size limit to the bitcoin protocol. It has been speculated that he intended it as an anti-spam measure, to prevent an attacker from overloading the bitcoin network with artificially large bitcoin blocks filled with fake transactions. Some have also speculated that he intended it to be a temporary measure, but it is unclear how temporary or under what conditions he foresaw the block size limit being increased or lifted. the code itself that enforces the block size limit was certainly not temporary.

further reading: can bitcoin scale?

A couple of years after satoshi nakamoto left the project, developers and users began to disagree on the timing and necessity of the block size limit. As the bitcoin user base grew, some believed it was time to increase or remove the block size limit altogether, specifically before bitcoin blocks started to fill up with transactions. others came to believe that the block size limit represents a vital security parameter of the protocol and believed that it should not be lifted, or at least, it should be lifted more conservatively. however, others think that the 1 megabyte set by satoshi nakamoto was actually too large and advocated lowering the block size limit

.adding more complications, since bitcoin is decentralized, no particular group or person is in charge of decisions such as increasing or decreasing the block size. disagreements over how, by whom, or if such decisions should be made have probably generated at least as much controversy as the block size limit itself, but this aspect of the debate is beyond the scope of this article. .

further reading: what is bitcoin?

why shouldn’t bitcoin blocks be too small?

See also: New Bitcoin ETF allows you to easily short the cryptocurrency | Fortune

note: almost anything about bitcoin’s block size limit and the risks of it being too big or too small is questioned, but here are some of the more general arguments.

If bitcoin blocks are too small, the bitcoin network cannot process many transactions. Generally speaking, proponents of increasing the block size limit (“big blockers”) argue that this can have two negative consequences.

not enough space?

first of all, smaller bitcoin blocks would mean that there is not enough space to include everyone’s transactions in these blocks, and the transaction fee “bidding war” to confirm transactions would make most people will stop using bitcoin. instead, it could lead to a future where only bank-like institutions transact with each other, while regular users have accounts with these institutions. this, in turn, would open the door to fractional reserve banking, transaction censorship, and more problems with traditional finance that many bitcoiners hoped to escape.

deterrent to adoption

Secondly, and this is probably what many “big blockers” consider to be a more pressing concern, users would simply give up bitcoin altogether because the blocks are too small. perhaps users would switch to a competing cryptocurrency or forgo this type of technology altogether.

why bitcoin blocks shouldn’t be too big?

See also: New Bitcoin ETF allows you to easily short the cryptocurrency | Fortune

note: almost anything about bitcoin’s block size limit and the risks of it being too big or too small is questioned, but here are some of the more general arguments.

Opponents of an increase in the block size limit (“small blockers”) argue that, broadly speaking, there are three risks if the blocks are too large, each of which has several “secondary risks” , as well as nuances.

higher cost of bitcoin nodes

The first of these risks is that larger blocks increase the cost of operating a bitcoin node. increase this cost in four ways:

  • increases the storage cost of the blockchain, as the blockchain would grow faster.
  • increases bandwidth costs to download (and upload) all transactions and blocks.
  • increases the cpu costs required to validate all transactions and blocks.
  • the larger the total blockchain, the longer it takes to start a new node on the blockchain. network: has to download and validate all past transactions and blocks.

If the cost of operating a bitcoin node becomes too high and users have to (or choose) to use thin clients instead, they can no longer verify that the transactions they receive are valid. they could, for example, receive a transaction from an attacker who created coins out of thin air; Without knowing the full history of the bitcoin blockchain, there is no way to tell the difference. in that case, users would only find out that their coins are fake once they try to spend them later. even if users validate that the block containing the transaction was sufficiently mined (which is common), the miners could be colluding with the attacker.

further reading: what is bitcoin mining?

perhaps an even greater risk could arise if, over time, so few users choose to run bitcoin nodes that fraudulent coins are noticed too late or not at all. in that case, the bitcoin protocol itself is subject to changes imposed by the miners. miners could go so far as to increase the coin supply or spend coins that don’t belong to them. only a healthy ecosystem with a significant portion of users validating their own transactions prevents this.

In the bitcoin white paper, satoshi nakamoto acknowledged the problems mentioned above and suggested that thin clients could be made secure through a technical solution called “fraud proofing”. Unfortunately, however, he didn’t detail what exactly these fraud tests would look like, and so far no one has been able to find out. (In fact, some of today’s bitcoin developers don’t think proof of fraud is feasible.)

mining centralization

The second risk of larger blocks is that they could lead to the centralization of mining. every time a miner finds a new block, he sends it out to the rest of the network, and under normal circumstances larger blocks take longer to reach all other miners. however, while the block is finding its way, the miner who found it can immediately start mining on top of the new block, giving them a head start on finding the next block. larger miners (or pools) find more blocks than smaller miners, so they get more of a head start. this means that smaller miners will be less profitable and will eventually be outcompeted, leading to a more centralized mining ecosystem. if mining becomes too centralized, some miners could end up in a position where they can attack the network.

That said, this is probably the most complex and nuanced argument against smaller blocks. For one thing, even big miners have an incentive against creating blocks that are too big: while they may benefit from a head start, too much delay can hurt them, as a competing block can find its way through the block. network faster and other miners will mine on that block instead. There are also technical solutions to speed up block transmission, as well as technical solutions to limit the damage of centralized mining itself, but these solutions come with their own advantages and disadvantages.

lower block subsidies could lead to lower network security

The third and final risk of large blocks is that they could discourage users from adding fees to their transactions. as long as block space is limited, users must outbid each other to get their transactions included in blocks, and as bitcoin’s block subsidy declines, this will need to become a larger part of the block reward to support the bitcoin security model. without a block size limit, this incentive is removed. (While individual miners can still choose to only include fees with a minimum fee, other miners would still have an incentive to include transactions below that threshold, lowering the fee incentive after all.)

Attentive readers will have noticed that this last argument in particular works both ways. while “big blockers” see high fees as a problem as it would make bitcoin less attractive, “small blockers” see high fees as a positive as it would benefit bitcoin’s security.

will bitcoin core developers ever increase the block size limit?

bitcoin core is the predominant, though not the only, implementation of bitcoin currently used on the bitcoin network. therefore, many “big blockers” have been looking to the core developers of bitcoin to implement a surge.

Bitcoin’s core developers did indeed increase the block size limit, via an upgrade to the segregated token (segwit) protocol. by replacing it with a block weight limit, blocks now have a theoretical limit of 4 megabytes and a more realistic limit of 2 megabytes. Cleverly, it was a backwards-compatible soft fork protocol upgrade, which meant users could opt out of the switch without splitting the network. however, precisely because it was a soft fork and not a hard fork as many “big blockers” preferred, they sometimes did not “count” this increase as a block size limit increase at all.

Further reading: what are bitcoin forks?

See also: Why Is Bitcoin So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)

In fact, the core developers of bitcoin have not implemented an increase in the block size limit via a hard fork, which is a backward-incompatible protocol upgrade. this would require the consensus of all bitcoin users or possibly split the bitcoin network in two: a version of bitcoin with the current block weight limit and a version of bitcoin with the increased block weight/size limit. users of the version of bitcoin with the current block weight limit probably wouldn’t even consider the forked version of bitcoin to be “bitcoin” at all; they may refer to it as “bitcoin core currency” or something like that.

Perhaps more importantly, the current group of top bitcoin contributors seem to have no desire to dictate the rules of the bitcoin protocol, nor do they want to break up the network. therefore, it is unlikely that they will implement a hard fork (for block size limit or otherwise) without a broad consensus among the bitcoin user base for such a protocol update. given the controversial nature of the block size/weight parameter, such a consensus is unlikely to form any time soon, but it could happen in the future.

alternative solutions

There are some workarounds to increase bitcoin’s block size limit, such as extension blocks, as well as solutions that could achieve something similar, such as “big block” sidechains. however, it’s also unclear if any of these solutions will see the light of day anytime soon; the current focus seems to be more on “layer two” scaling solutions like lightning network.

further reading: what is lightning network?

Is bitcoin block size limit discussion censored?

The short answer is no.

As for a slightly longer answer…

During the heated debate over the block size limit, one of the most popular bitcoin discussion platforms on the internet, the bitcoin-focused subreddit r/bitcoin, imposed heavy-handed moderation. this moderation was intended to prevent forum users from promoting consensus-breaking software before the larger user base had reached a consensus on the best way forward.

At the time, it was not obvious to everyone that the use of such software could lead to a split (a non-backward compatible hard fork) of the network, and was often advertised as not being possible. arguing for a block size limit increase and/or a hard fork without directly promoting consensus-breaking software was always allowed.

Whether this constituted a form of “censorship” may be in the eye of the beholder, but what is certain is that anyone who disagreed with this policy was free to start or contribute to competing bitcoin subreddits , and this is exactly what happened. the r/btc subreddit in particular became a popular discussion platform for those who favored a hard fork to increase the block size limit.

Furthermore, reddit is only a relatively small part of the internet and an even smaller part of the entire world. while there are a few other platforms that have been accused of similar censorship (such as the bitcointalk forum and the bitcoin development mailing list), it’s hard to deny that the debate took place loud and clear on social media, news sites , conferences, chat groups and much more. Anyone interested in hearing about the different arguments had every opportunity to find out, and even those who didn’t care had a hard time escaping the consequences of the debate.

In the end, those who were in favor of a block size limit increase fork couldn’t convince enough people of their case, and it seems some of them have channeled their frustration at this disappointment into anger at a subreddit in particular and its moderators.

(or maybe, as of this writing, bitcoin magazine is just part of a larger cover-up conspiracy. creepy!)

what is bitcoin cash? what is bitcoin sv?

When it became clear that bitcoin would increase its block size limit (among other things) via the segwit soft fork protocol upgrade, some “big blockers” decided to go ahead with a size limit increase hard fork of block, even knowing that it would be a minority and would be divided into its own network to become a new cryptocurrency. this new network and the resulting cryptocurrency is called bitcoin cash.

Since bitcoin cash split from bitcoin, it has implemented several more fork updates, some of which, in turn, led to more network splits and new cryptocurrencies. The most notable of these is Bitcoin SV, loosely centered on Craig Wright, one of the men who (almost certainly fraudulently) claims to have been behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. has an even larger block size limit than bitcoin cash.

See also: Why China Is Cracking Down on Bitcoin Mining | Time

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