As everyone in the Bitcoin space knows, there is a massive scaling debate going on. One side wants to increase the block size via segwit, while the other side wants to increase via hard fork. I have strong opinions on the topic but I won’t discuss them here. The point of the matter is we are seeing the politicization of protocol level changes. The critiques of these changes are slowly moving towards critiques based on who is submitting the BIP — not what it actually contains. This is the worst thing that can happen in a meritocracy.
Avoiding politicization of technical changes in the future
I like what Tom Elvis Judor did when he submitted his MimbleWimble white paper to the technical community. He submitted it under a pseudonym, over TOR, onto a public IRC channel. No ego involved — only an extremely promising paper. Tom (and Satoshi) both understood that it is only a matter of time before who they are impedes technical progress of their system.
I propose we move to a pseudonymous BIP system where it is required for the author submit the BIP under a pseudonym. For instance, the format could be something like this:
BIP content down here
The hash “6f3…9cd0” is just my github username, christewart, concatenated with some entropy, in this case these bytes: 639c28f610edcaf265b47b0679986d10af3360072b56f9b0b085ffbb4d4f440b
and then hashed with RIPEMD160. I checked this morning that protonmail can support RIPEMD160 hashes as email addresses. Unfortunately it appears it cannot support SHA256 hashes.
There is inconvenience added here. You need to make a new email address, you need to make a new github account to submit the BIP. I think it is worth the cost — but am interested in what others think about this. I don't think people submitting patches to a BIP should be required to submit under a pseudonym — only the primary author. This means only one person has to create the pseudonym. From a quick look at the BIPs list it looks like the most BIPs submitted by one person is ~10. This means they would have had to create 10 pseudonyms over 8 years — I think this is reasonable.
What does this give us?
This gives us a way to avoid politicization of BIPs. This means a BIP can be proposed and examined based on it’s technical merits. This levels the playing field — making the BIP process even more meritocratic than it already is.
If you want to claim credit for your BIP after it is accepted, you can reveal the preimage of the author hash to prove that you were the original author of the BIP. I would need to reveal my github username and “639c28f610edcaf265b47b0679986d10af3360072b56f9b0b085ffbb4d4f440b”
Politicization of bitcoin is only going to grow in the future. We need to make sure we maintain principled money instead devolving to a system where our money is based on a democratic vote — or the votes of a select few elites. We need to vet claims by “authority figures” whether it is Jihan Wu, Adam Back, Roger Ver, or Greg Maxwell. I assure you they are human — and prone to mistakes — just like the rest of us. This seems like a simple way to level the playing field.