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How Backchannel Consensus Gave Litecoin Segwit

How Backchannel Consensus Gave Litecoin Segwit

Recently leaked transcripts from a conversation in late 2016 has shed new light on the different philosophies dividing the Bitcoin industry; namely, that just because one supports a certain position, doesn’t mean that – eventually – they can change positions with dignity. A very powerful Litecoin miner, Jiang Zhuo’er, vehemently opposed segregated witness (Segwit), and this disposition is shown throughout the leaked texts. However, he recently changed his mind.

The leaked Bitcoin blockchain time-stamped chatlog between Chinese miners and a Litecoin developer shed light on the dynamics at play for segwit (SW) on Litecoin.

The individuals in the chat log include: Jihan Wu, founder of Antpool (LTC+BTC mining pool) and Bitmain (mining equipment for LTC and BTC); Jiang  Zhuo’er, founder of LTC1BTC and, which are LTC + BTC mining pools; As well as Xinxi Wang, a Litecoin developer.

“One the issue of SW soft-fork, we will pay a far greater cost than you can imagine, we are in this together, so (you) developers will feel how great it is eventually,” Jiang Zhuo’er wrote last December in the private chat about his position against SW.

He adds:

“I suggest we abandon the road of no return that is the SW soft-fork and try to see the direction which minimizes both of our costs.”

Xinxi Wang, a Litecoin developer, doesn’t understand the technicals behind Zhuo’er’s reasoning. “I still don’t understand why SW must be activated with a hard fork,” he writes. “Soft fork can accomplish the same under much smaller risks.”

Zhuo’er also explains the rationale for not supporting Segwit not only on Bitcoin, but, also, Litecoin. “This is going to have a direct impact on Bitcoin’s adoption of segwit soft-fork,” he said, implying that you can’t support SW on one altcoin but not the other. “Very clear precedence. We cannot explain to the community why do we oppose a segwit soft fork on btc but support segwit soft fork on LTC.”

To be sure, in the December text chat, Zhuo’er seems to contradict himself. “Hard forking,” he writes, “ will be able to deliver technical upgrade in a cleaner, and stabler manner, and without the technical debts. If we can hard fork to segwit, we don’t need to consider a soft fork.”

But then he adds: “In some sense, SW is the result of the technical people’s obsession with cleanliness, it’s indeed good, but its not something that cannot be done without.”’

Zhuo’er elaborated his stance recently later in a Medium post.  “Had Core simply included the code for a future block size increase, or even stated clearly in their roadmap a plan to achieve bigger blocks, then we could have avoided these several years of infighting, we would still have a united community and industry, and Bitcoin would still be moving forward.” But, as of this week, Zhuo’er finally decided to back Segwit, largely thanks to a discussion he had with Litecoin founder Charlie Lee.

“I hope that BTC can also resolve community disputes and upgrade to SW + big block, just like what LTC has done,” he recently tweeted.

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