I have a feeling I’ll be writing a lot about this topic in general for the foreseeable future, but the philosophical and existential crisis currently facing the Bitcoin space over what constitutes “spam” is starting to take its toll. massive second-order consequences. in all the different Bitcoin communities.
I want to focus specifically on the reaction to this debate which has spilled over into what can be charitably interpreted as a debate with Core developers, but which in reality has in most cases taken the form of what can only be called harassment. This can be a very nuanced and subtle aspect of how Bitcoin works, because the relationship between the “clients” who actually use Bitcoin and the developers who work to maintain, improve and optimize the protocol and the tools built on it is not not clear. cut the separation of categories. Many people who use Bitcoin are developers, and many developers are Bitcoin users. There is no hard line between the two, and someone who is one or the other can, over time, become both. Likewise, people in both categories could stop doing this and simply become only developers or only users. This is the first thing to understand: the boundary between users and developers is completely arbitrary, with constant overlap and the possibility that this overlap will increase or decrease at any time.
That said, what about users who are not developers? What is their relationship to the people who actually write and maintain the software? There is no clear, black or white answer, but I can tell you what the relationship is not: an employer/employee relationship.
The developers do not work for us. Complete stop. They are not our employees. We don’t pay their bills, we don’t fund their work, they have no contractual or legal obligations to us. We are not product managers, we do not provide them with a project roadmap and dictate to them what parts they work on, how they work on them, in what order, or what those parts should even be or how they should work.
Disabuse yourself of any notion that this ecosystem in any way works like that. It’s not. Developers freely choose to devote their time to an open source protocol on their own terms. They decide how much time to spend, what to spend it on, and how they actually implement what they have chosen to work on. Complete stop. They have complete and unlimited autonomy in all areas as to how they interact with Bitcoin as a project.
Now flip that over to look at the users. Bitcoin users have no obligation to adopt any change or tool produced by the developers. There is no requirement for users to change the software they run or adopt a new tool that developers build on top of Bitcoin. Having a Netflix subscription doesn’t force you to watch a single piece of content that they produce, it doesn’t force you to consume a specific volume of content. You can watch as much or as little as you want, you can even cancel your subscription if you want. Netflix literally has no control over how you interact with it except through the power of voluntary persuasion alone.
This is how Bitcoin works. Harassing developers on GitHub won’t change anything. This won’t magically transform your relationship with developers into an employee/employer relationship. Not only will crying on GitHub do nothing to create or provoke this power dynamic that many Bitcoiners seem to want to bring into existence, but it doesn’t bring anything productive. I say this as someone who has personally debated many issues with developers over the years, and who has repeatedly claimed that developers were wrong about an issue or course of action that they felt was most appropriate .
GitHub is not the place to debate the existential purpose or reason for Bitcoin’s existence. It is a place for close debate and criticism on the concept and implementation, for the express purpose of improving any technical proposal made. Whether this leads to the integration of a proposal into Bitcoin or the rejection of Bitcoin, should depend entirely on the outcome of a purely rational and logical discussion.
Even if you have a truly rational argument or contribution, are you actually going to stay and contribute or participate in the development process consistently? Or are you just doing a review or contribution on a specific issue to remove it? Yes? Even with a rational argument in hand, GitHub is not the appropriate place for these discussions. We have Twitter, we have Reddit, we have Spaces, we have many other places to debate and work towards consensus on certain things. without actively introducing nonsense and philosophical debates about semantics into the development process.
And I reiterate that I am a person who has spent an enormous amount of time in this space explaining why a specific direction of development is or is not a good idea, backing up those arguments with actual reasoning and logical justification. I will probably never contribute meaningfully and consistently to the development of Bitcoin, I therefore do not try to inject my arguments, opinions and ideas directly into this development process itself.
I make these arguments to the broader community, or when presenting them to developers, on other forums or mediums besides GitHub or platforms whose specific purpose and function is to developers to coordinate the development process. If my arguments are really valid, they will convince users. They will convince developers outside of the group of places like GitHub. Eventually, a valid argument will develop and create consensus around it to the point that it presents a meaningful public signal that developers can choose, if they wish, to incorporate into their own reasoning around Bitcoin and what ‘they choose to devote their time and effort. do to improve it.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you look at these issues and dynamics from a developer perspective or a user perspective: you have no power or influence except the power of persuasion.
If developers produce something that the overwhelming majority of users don’t want or find no value in, they can simply ignore it. If developers find that an overwhelming majority of users are demanding something completely irrational in terms of incentive alignment, technical realities, or anything like that, they can simply ignore them.
Bitcoin is a self-regulating system. Bad tools produced by developers will not be adopted. Users demanding inconsistent or harmful things can’t force developers to build it for them, but they can step in and build it themselves if they want. Really I want this thing. No one works for anyone else here in this dynamic, it is a completely voluntary process regulated by market forces. So either step up and try to be persuasive, do it yourself or cry harder. You can’t force someone to do something they don’t want to do.
You can find the fork button at the top right corner here.