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Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum, reignited the old controversy over Bitcoin block sizes in a recent blog post. Revisiting the crucial debate that divided the Bitcoin community between 2015 and 2017, Buterin presented his unique perspective as a participant and thought leader in the crypto space.

In the post titled “Some thoughts on the Bitcoin block size war”, Buterin analyzes the contrasting narratives of the books ‘The Blocksize War’ by Jonathan Bier and “Hijacking Bitcoin” by Roger Ver and Steve Patterson.

These books represent pro-small-bloc and pro-big-bloc viewpoints, respectively. In this sense, they offer a point of view on the ideological and technical divisions that characterized the debate.

A key quote that Buterin highlighted is that if the block size were much larger, it would take a large data center to operate a node. Therefore, it would not be possible to do it anonymously. Furthermore, Buterin portrayed small block advocates as deeply invested in Bitcoin’s governance model.

On the other hand, the big block narrative paints a picture of a group committed to Bitcoin’s utility as “digital money.”

Buterin conveyed his arguments, emphasizing that large blocks were essential to keeping transaction fees low. With this, there would be greater adoption and usefulness of Bitcoin for everyday transactions.

Bitcoin needs bigger blocks

Reflecting on his own position, Buterin revealed a nuanced stance. Initially sympathetic to large blocks due to practical concerns about high fees undermining Bitcoin’s utility, he has expressed frustration with the extremes of both camps.

“In my opinion, the big blocks were right on the core issue that blocks needed to be bigger, and that it was best to accomplish this with a simple, clean hard fork as Satoshi described. But the small blocs made far fewer embarrassing technical gaffes and had fewer positions that led to absurd results if taken to their logical conclusions,” he said.

Buterin advocates a balanced approach, emphasizing “average predictability” in transaction costs and node operational requirements. He highlighted Ethereum strategies as an example, where gradual increases in block capacity came with fee adjustments. The goal is to manage growth and scalability effectively.

Buterin lamented the omission of significant technological advances like ZK-SNARKs from the speech, pointing out their potential to solve scalability and privacy challenges without the need for divisive compromises. He suggested that the adoption of new technologies could defuse political tensions by providing solutions that align with the interests of various groups.

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