November 12, 2017
Dear friends, colleagues, and citizens of the Internet:
We’re a young community and eager to win the future – not just disrupt some old
irritating players in finance, but actually win the future. And as the Chief Executive
Officer of this young movement, I carry a special burden of not repeating the grave
mistakes and mismanagement of our predecessor and spawnpoint.
It was first observed by resilience expert Vinay Gupta, that while Bitcoin has an
enormous technical resilience, it has – had – no more resilience against social
bickering and bitter infighting than any other randomly chosen sucking project. As
events have played out between 2015 and 2017, we know just how correct Mr. Gupta
was, while everybody else was feeling invincible.
In short, to succeed, we need the social dispute resolution mechanism Mr. Gupta
called for. At the same time, this cannot be a mechanism that allows an adversary to
slow us down, or even allow ourselves to slow us down, for we have seen what
happens then all too closely, and at far too high a cost. But we also tend to be people
who don’t take no for an answer, and we need to factor that in.
So what happens when two of us do not agree?
What is the outcome when we want different things?
Different organizations have different ways of resolving this. They usually involve
telling people what they cannot do, must do, and may do. All of this is slowing a
movement and lowering morale and energy. It just about sucks donkey balls.
It further complicates things that we’re not a very well defined organization. If
anything, we’re a dis-organization. Bitcoin Cash is a meta-organization composed of
many different development teams. The Bitcoin Cash organization has no titles other
than those which we make up for fun in the spur of the moment, or to make fun of the
organizations of the old world that care for titles.
It follows that we cannot resolve disputes by decree, for there are no titles in the
Bitcoin Cash organization that mean anything at all, other than jerking around the
meaning and supposed fancy-sounding importance of corporate titles themselves.
And as Chief Executive Officer of this disorganization with made-up titles, where
every document is as official as people pretend it to be, I further emphasize that we
cannot resolve social disputes by voting, for two reasons: first, there is no boundary
on the electorate that determines who gets to vote, which creates winning by trickery
rather than by argument, and second, we don’t want to vote anyway.
Voting is a process that creates losers by definition.
People who feel like losers are unhappy people, who disengage from the project.
And so we would be back to bickering, infighting, and general morass.
Our Dispute Resolution: We circumvent the need for one
Instead, I propose we use the swarm methodology for dispute resolution, which is
optimized for our kind of disorganization. It simply means that nobody gets to say
what anybody else gets to do or not do, and carries immense power.
We have been conditioned in the corporate world to think that power over feature X
for ourselves also means power over feature X for other people. But when we break
free from this idea, we have a much better dispute resolution than any voting or
decree ruling, based on these simple four principles:
Everybody is free to take any initiative for the Bitcoin Cash project.
Everybody is also free to follow any initiative taken by any other person.
Everybody is free to take no action at all.
However, nobody may tell anybody else what to do, what initiative to take, not
take, follow, or not follow.
You will observe that this results in a dispute resolution mechanism based on genuine
leadership – the military tactical principle of “the person who takes an initiative,
tends to get the initiative”. It uses genuine trust – not in terms of counterparty risk,
but in genuine leadership, in terms of the important freedom to follow. It means we
don’t berate others for doing what we don’t like, but either choose to ignore it, or do
something we like instead, which others are free to follow in turn.
(In a way, this is just condensing the Internet’s Golden Rule: “If you see something
you don’t like, write something else that you do like.”)
In the lack of formal dispute mechanisms, I propose we use this as our dispute
mechanism. We’re free to take initiatives and to follow those of others as we like.
And yes, just for the record, this also means that all decision-making is fully
As to what takes technical effect on the network, we already have a dispute resolution
mechanism for that – the Nakamoto Consensus. This allows us to not worry so much
about what takes effect, how, and when, but allows us to just execute with the loosest
of coordination between development teams, within development teams, or
individually. We can apply a complete mental zen and trust that the Bitcoin Cash
network will continue to operate as the sum of our thoughts and efforts, as we
innovate independently and follow the innovations of others as we find them useful.
“The Network is Mother, the Network is Father.”
As a final thought on this, a key part of our identity is that Bitcoin Cash was created
in response to several years of mismanagement of the Bitcoin Legacy network, and
by tearing out those pieces of mismanagement from the network and code. This
means we will never re-implement those same mistakes, specifically:
1. making transactions reversible, double-spendable, or cancellable (RBF), even
as a remotely optional feature;
2. creating an economically illiterate “fee market”, which was a misnomer from
3. deliberately starving the network of transaction capacity; or
4. deliberately break the signature chain (Segwit or something like it).
Of course, people in the disorganization will have their Freedom of Initiative to
suggest such features anyway. Everybody else will have their Freedom of Following
to completely ignore such initiatives – assuming good faith, not giving negatives
attention, all in acting with dignity; more on this later – and point at this document or
some similar resource in a helpful tone to explain why we won’t be repeating the
mistakes of the mismanagement of the past.
Our Goals and Values
As a movement, we need a loose set of goals and values that define us. While we may
not agree with all of these to one hundred percent, I have interpreted these general
principles as the general direction of the movement, and I am writing them here for
easy access for newcomers to our community as well as for ourselves.
OUR PRIME DIRECTIVE:
WE CREATE LIBERTY THROUGH PROFIT MOTIVE.
As developers, ambassadors, evangelists, and Chief Executive Officers of Bitcoin
Cash, we are part of this movement for our own reasons, all different.
Decentralization. Sound money. Censorship resistant transactions. The nonaggression
principle. Reduction of counterparty risk. Libertarian principles. Sound
money. Fast transactions. Liberty from the State. Liking the cool name. Aversion to
the concept of bank holidays. Hodling Bitcoin Legacy at the time of the fork, and just
wanting to stay a modest multimillionaire. Sound money. There are many reasons
we’re in this together, and all of them are valid.
Bitcoin Cash creates liberty, a level of liberty never possible before.
But – here’s the key – other people are not going to be joining Bitcoin Cash for our
reasons. They’re going to be joining Bitcoin Cash for their reasons, or they’re not
going to be joining at all.
And their reasons aren’t going to be “decentralization”, “censorship resistance”,
“non-aggression money”, or any other nice theoretical construct. Their three reasons
for joining Bitcoin Cash, in 99.999% of cases, are going to be profit, profit, and more
profit, in that order.
This applies to merchants in the first world, it applies to migrant workers sending
funds home, and it applies to the poorest billion people just trying to get out of the
slums. We can provide liberty to all of them, and many more, by means of profit
This means we need to act like we’re offering a financial service that’s competing in
a free market. Our competitors have their own weird reasons for preferring centralbank
money, like bribes, lavish dinners, and the Spanish Inquisition, just as we have
our reasons for preferring our offer. From the perspective of the potential new user of
Bitcoin Cash, we simply must have a better offering.
This better offering can be faster, cheaper, more reliable, or more flexible, but in the
end, it must translate into more profit for the would-be new user. It’s important for
people from the United States here to realize that the banking services the average
American is used to are considered a laughingstock when it comes to financial
services: in the rest of the first world, banks offer free instant transfers between
private accounts using mobile phones, and charge 15 cents for instant transfers to
merchant accounts using mobile phones. This is what we’re competing against, and
this is what we need to beat by at least an order of magnitude for people to justify the
cost of switching to our offer.
(There is a psychological effect here to our network’s transaction fees: they should
ideally be less than 1/20 of a USD cent / Eurocent / Swiss centime. That way, those
fees will show up as “0.00” on people’s statements, even in lesser currencies like the
Danish Kamelåså, and be perceived as free. We should also consider Satoshi’s
original vision of some transactions always being actually free.)
One of our advantages can be that banking regulations force these instant transfers
only to exist within countries at present – international transfers generally take a day
or more, or would require using the credit card system, which charges a few percent.
There’s an opening for us to provide a profit motive, just as one example of a
potential front bowling pin to strike the whole corrupt banking system down. There’s
also the example of interbank transfers generally taking at least a day: the quickest
way to move money between banks is still to withdraw cash from the first bank, walk
on two feet to the second bank, stand in line, and deposit it there. That’s another
potential exploitable weakness of the old system.
As adoption grows from people wanting better profit, and the Bitcoin Cash network
grows along with adoption, everybody benefits from the radically increased level of
financial liberty, just like a herd immunity benefit from vaccination.
We create liberty through profit motive.
This brings us to our seven social principles, guiding how we interact with each other
in this disorganization:
OUR SEVEN SOCIAL PRINCIPLES:
WE ASSUME GOOD FAITH.
WE REWARD THE POSITIVE.
WE ACT WITH DIGNITY.
WE TRUST EACH OTHER TO FAIL WELL.
WE DO NOT ASK PERMISSION.
THE NETWORK IS MOTHER, THE NETWORK IS FATHER.
WE HAVE FUN, BECAUSE IT ATTRACTS MORE PEOPLE.
We assume good faith. This is a Wikipedia principle that has been a cornerstone of
building the Wikipedia community: when we see somebody acting in a way that can
be interpreted as malice, we always give them the benefit of the doubt. We assume
good faith. We assume that they were trying to do something good for the Bitcoin
Cash community, and try to help them do better.
In the case of repeated vandalism, or where it becomes obvious that bad faith is
present, we come to the second principle:
We reward the positive. Introducing a person into a social context is not much
different from training a dog or a raven; higher-level brains are remarkably similarly
wired. The key is understanding that all attention is reward. Therefore, we reward all
the positive things we see, even if just with a short acknowledgment, and completely
ignore the negative. This reinforces all positive behavior and suppresses all negative
behavior in all mammals, humans included.
The most important thing about this principle is that we don’t point out anything
negative. Ever. At all. We just ignore it (and do something completely different if we
feel we want to).
We act with dignity. We’ve all seen the trolls of Bitcoin Legacy behave like
shitslinging screeching chimpanzees in hopes of pulling people down to their level,
then beating those people with years of shitslinging experience. We are not like that,
we will not be like that. It is not who we are today, it is not who we will ever be.
We behave professionally, courteously, and like we would want somebody to behave
toward ourselves. We behave with dignity. We do not let ourselves be drawn into
five-year-old-level “my dad is bigger than yours” Twitter arguments, ever.
We trust each other to fail well. We will see each other take initiatives in the Bitcoin
Cash disorganization that we have absolutely no idea how they will help the
movement, and may even be completely counterproductive, and it’s okay. We have as
many social contexts as we have participants, and we might not understand why
somebody else is doing what they’re doing, because we’re not in their social context.
It might even be that they’re completely wrong, even in their context, and that’s okay,
What unites us is that we want Bitcoin Cash to succeed. We’re also united in that
nobody has done this before, nobody has set out to replace central banks as a
phenomenon and succeeded. This means that, by definition, we must learn by trial
and error. That also means that the only way to not make any mistakes is to not try
anything at all.
Once we come to zen with the fact quite a lot of initiatives will fail, and that it’s not
just okay, but a necessary part of the learning process to half-fail a number of times in
order to get it right enough eventually, then we will trust each other to fail well.
We do not ask permission. Nobody has a better understanding of our context than
ourselves, and therefore, every person in the Bitcoin Cash disorganization is the best
person to make decisions about their particular environment. In fact, asking
somebody else’s permission for taking an initiative or for following somebody else’s
initiative is the only thing that is strongly discouraged in this disorganization.
Everybody has the power to empower themselves to take an initiative.
Everybody has the power to follow the initiatives of others; many, one, or none.
However, note the important difference here between asking permission and just
asking around to coordinate efforts in general. There’s a world of difference between
“may I have permission to try this, please?” and “Hey, I’m thinking of trying this,
does anybody see any negative potential impact I didn’t think of?”.
The network is mother, the network is father. Overarching everything we do is the
security of the Bitcoin Cash network. Nobody is capable of destroying the network or
even harming it to a measurable degree. This is zen, this is mother, this is father. We
don’t worry about this. The Nakamoto Consensus and the profit motive will make
sure that the network keeps working, regardless of what initiatives we take to
improve its liberty through profit motive.
We have fun, because it attracts more people. Most IT companies talk about “we
have fun”, and they usually mean that in the context of “you are expected to love
working 60 hours per week in this open office”, which is usually slightly more fun
than spending 60 hours straight in a dentist’s chair.
We mean something different, since we’re working with volunteers.
Volunteers have this habit of seeking out things that, well, seem fun to be part of.
They typically judge this by observing whether other people doing something seem to
be having fun doing it.
In contrast, potential newcomers will walk an extra mile around people who are not
having fun, because those potential newcomers don’t want to also not be having fun.
Therefore, there is also a success component to having fun when working with
Bitcoin Cash, as we’re working with a volunteer crew (and especially when that
volunteer crew is mostly very financially independent and could go drive Maseratis
as a new hobby instead).
For normal IT companies, “having fun” means something like “we bought an old
pinball game and put it in the basement”.
For us, it means “we are making an active effort to have fun doing this, because if we
have fun, we will attract more people who also want to have fun with us”.
So having fun is not just having fun and slacking off at work. It is actually a
requirement for success, as we need to attract more people to Bitcoin Cash over time,
and they are much more likely to join us if we make an effort to enjoy ourselves.
Some of us will become informal leaders in the Bitcoin Cash community, whether we
want to or not. When we do, it is of particular importance that we behave as role
models. To assist in this, we have three development principles, where development
refers to developing good people, and not to writing code.
OUR THREE DEVELOPMENT PRINCIPLES:
MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO.
WE PRAISE IN PUBLIC.
PEOPLE SKILLS COME BEFORE TECH SKILLS.
Above all, we need to defend two things in all our actions –
We need to defend the organization’s focus. We’re going to create liberty through
profit motive. Everything we do must be aimed at that.
We need to defend the organization’s energy. It is incredibly easy to get drained of
energy if you start feeling negative vibes. There is a need for a constantly reinforced
we-can-do-this sentiment, and it is us who are informal leaders who must help
In this, we have three guiding principles:
Monkey see, monkey do. People will do as we do, not as we say. They will copy
everything, including the things we don’t want them to copy. In all organizations,
people will copy its leaders, formal as well as informal leaders. Therefore, it can be
better to hide under the covers on a day when we’re feeling grumpy, than letting the
world see us in a grumpy mood and copy that behavior. It can be better to leave a
party before people see us in a way we don’t want them to copy.
This also means that we lead by inspiring and suggesting, and never by commanding.
We lead by standing up and saying “I’m going to do X, and anybody who wants is
free to join”. These are the freedoms of initiative and freedoms to follow, again.
We praise in public. Attention is reward. Public attention is good reward.
Unexpected public attention is great reward. In this way, we advance role models –
we nudge everybody else in the room a little bit toward the person who was called
out for doing a really good job.
In particular, this goes for other people who spontaneously call out other people for
doing a good job. That’s good leadership and good camaraderie, and we recognize it
as such and give it a thumbs-up in public. This way, we foster a positive culture
everywhere in our community.
People skills come before tech skills. If somebody is a great coder or a great
cryptographer but spreads bad attitude all around them, they are a net negative
contributor. Working together is a social activity. Creating liberty is solving a social
problem by technical means, not the other way around. Therefore, being a positive
influence in working together is far more important than being a top 1% coder or
Thanks for reading. I hope this has been helpful. Now let’s go create liberty through
Chief Executive Officer, Y. T.