Charlie Lee: “People Don’t Realize What Segwit Is”

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Charlie Lee:

Litecoin seems to be on the path towards adopting Segwit, the proposed soft fork (and malleability solution) by the Bitcoin core development team. But there seems to be confusion among users about what exactly the soft fork is.

Also Read: Litecoin Faces a (Soft) Fork in the Road

Since Litecoin is based on the Bitcoin codebase, it also has the choice to adopt Segwit, and founder Charlie Lee believes this will be the case. With Segwit, he tells, the Litecoin community could add new technologies like confidential transactions and certain secure signature algorithms, as well as the off-chain Lightning Network. But, he’s noticed one trend in the discussion about Segwit. Apparently, some people don’t really get it.

“People don’t realize what Segwit is,” Mr. Lee tells “The most common negatives about Segwit is that Litecoin does not have a scaling problem. People don’t realize that the main reason for Segwit is to fix the transaction malleability problem. A scaling bump is just a side benefit of it.”

Not a Vote

Another source of misunderstanding is the role of miners, which is generally to process transactions and secure a cryptocurrency, in Segwit. 

In a recent AMA on 8BTC, Mr. Lee answered questions from Chinese-speaking Bitcoiners. Readers continually referenced a “vote” which would signal or show support Segwit. He took the opportunity to amend their understanding.

“Miners are not asked to vote,” Mr. Lee explained. “They are asked to signal for when they are ready to support a new feature. Signaling is a way to coordinate between the miners. The users decide whether or not to accept this new feature.”

He compares the scenario to the Byzantine General’s problem. “The commander wants the generals to attack,” he shared in the AMA. “If the general is ready to attack, he raises his flag to signal that he’s ready. Once 75% of the generals have their flags up, they start the attack. And the other 25% will see that and quickly get ready to attack also. The generals (or miners in this case) are just signaling that they are ready. It’s the commander (or users of Litecoin) that really decides whether or not to attack. And in this example, each general can decide not to signal and effectively block the attack.”

If the majority of the generals decide to not signal, the commander has a few options. “He can get new generals or he can just tell the signaling generals to go ahead and attack,” says Mr. Lee, who serves as Coinbase’s Director of Engineering. “This makes the battle a bit more risky, but it may have to be done.”

In this example, the developers do not act as the commander. The users do. “So as developers, we need to see if the economic majority of Litecoin users want Segwit,” he says. “From what I am seeing today, the support is overwhelmingly in favor. So if it comes to that, we will have to decide what drastic measures to take to add Segwit to the protocol. But we are not close to that point yet.”

Mr. Lee believes there is a “general confusion” that Segwit signaling represents a vote per se. “It’s more of a signal that Litecoin miners are ready to support new things added to the protocol. In the end it’s the users or the economic nodes that decide if Litecoin should upgrade it’s protocol.”

Signaling for Segwit in Litecoin ends January 2018.

“Segwit is a Great Feature”

“Segwit is a great feature that fixes many different problems including transaction malleability,” Coinbase’s Director of Engineering told “And it can be done with a soft fork. It’s basically a win, win, win solution and practically a no-brainer.” In a way, Litecoin is acting as an in-production laboratory for Bitcoin, as Mr. Lee explains.

“Bitcoin users who are unsure about Segwit can see it in action on a live network transacting real value,” he says “That could help boost confidence and help get Segwit adopted on Bitcoin also.”

What are your thoughts about Litecoin’s decision to soft fork Segwit? Will this be good or a bad thing for the cryptocurrency?

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter

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