What is the Splitprotection BIP?

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The upcoming UASF activation date of August 1st has quite a few people concerned. A chain split is still a very like outcome of this soft fork. However, a new proposal has been drafted to prevent the blockchain from splitting into two. The splitprotection soft fork requires a lower activation threshold and an immediate mandatory signaling lock-in. The bigger question is whether or not this new proposal will be implemented before August 1st.

THE SPLITPROTECTION PROPOSAL IS A GOOD SOLUTION

No one in their right mind wants to see the Bitcoin blockchain split into two on August 1st. While supporters of the BIP148 activation claim that will not be the case, the possibility should not be ignored by any means. Creating two different kinds of Bitcoin is in no one’s best interest right now. To prevent such a split from happening, a new proposal has been sent out to the Bitcoin developer community last night.

This concept, known as the splitprotection BIP, is a soft fork. As the name suggests, this code will prevent the Bitcoin blockchain from splitting into two before the user-activated soft fork activates on the network. This solution can be used by all Bitcoin miners to prevent this hypothetical chain split. On paper, miners have nothing to lose by embracing this solution, as it will not affect them in a negative manner by any means.

It is worth noting the splitprotection soft fork uses BIP8 instead of BIP9. This is a deliberate choice to reduce the activation threshold and introduce an immediate mandatory signaling lock-in. As a result, the majority of miners can activate mandatory SegWit signaling and prevent the chain split at the same time. It will help the Bitcoin network advance toward a proper scaling solution and remove any lingering concerns people may still have regarding BIP148.

Even though a lot of people dismiss the possibility of the UASF activation causing an extended chain split, some Bitcoin developers see it as a major threat. That is only normal, as the last thing anyone wants is to see two competing Bitcoin chains. That scenario has worked out somewhat well for Ethereum and Ethereum Classic, but Bitcoin should never go through similar issues if it can be prevented.

The splitprotection BIP is an elegant solution that will prevent this from happening. It does require the majority of miners to coordinate activation of the existing SegWit deployment. However, the 95% hashpower threshold is no longer required before BIP148 activates. Instead, the BIP focuses on rapid miner activation of SegWit mandatory signaling ahead of August 1st. The new activation threshold sits at 65%, which may still be well out of reach.

Another benefit of this new BIP is how miners can openly signal their intention to run BIP148 as a way to prevent a chain split.  This added feature should result in clear lines being drawn between groups supporting different solutions. Some people will certainly appreciate this aspect, even though it is only a small part of what this BIP aims to achieve in the end. Once Segregated Witness is officially locked in, this BIP will cease to be active on the network.

All things considered, the splitprotection proposal offers some interesting chances which will be beneficial to the Bitcoin network. Preventing a chain split is always a solid idea, as the Bitcoin value would take a serious beating if the split would occur. Moreover, lowering the activation threshold for SegWit to 65% is a major change as well, even though it may be a trivial matter in the end. There is no real reason not to support this BIP, although only time will tell how things will play out.

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