Bitcoin Core Lead Hosts Step Back, Encourages Devolution

Bitcoin Core’s main host, Wladimir van der Laan, has decided to take “even more” of a “background role” to further decentralize the project, according to a new blog post.

Bitcoin Core is the key software underlying the Bitcoin network. Although van der Laan’s work is generally “mandatory” in nature, ensuring the smooth running of the project code, some in the community regard him as a leader of all kinds. As van der Laan puts it, it has become a kind of “central bottleneck.”

His announcement comes after he found himself in the midst of debates on Thursday. Some Bitcoin users did not like his decision to remove the white paper from bitcoincore.org, following legal threats from Craig Wright. But van der Laan claims that this decision to withdraw from Core is one he has been thinking about for a while.

“I’ll start by delegating my own tasks, and reducing my involvement. I do not intend to stop contributing to Bitcoin, or even to the Bitcoin Core project, but I would like to remove myself from the critical path and take (even more) a background role, ”he wrote.

He believes this move will help decentralize the project, a digital currency that is supposed to have no leads. “One thing is clear: this is a serious project now, and we need to start taking devolution seriously,” wrote van der Laan.

Its decision is part of a much larger effort to further decentralize the project. For example, 2020 saw a wave of Bitcoin companies giving grants to developers working on the basic protocol full-time.

OKCoin Exchange, for example, funds Marco Falke, who is the most active supporter of van der Laan in terms of commitments – code changes that have been successfully added to the project. The popular Coinbase exchange now supports two developers as well, after receiving many requests to do so from the community. Several other companies have joined them to give out grants over the past year.

John Newbery, a Bitcoin Core contributor, also launched a not-for-profit Brink for mentoring and funding more developers, in an effort to get even more contributors involved, especially from diverse backgrounds.

Indeed, van der Laan states in his post that he is no longer the most active Bitcoin Core maintainer, as several others have joined ranks over the years.

It also outlines other ideas for devolving the project. For example, Bitcoincore.org is one of the leading websites where users can download new versions of the Bitcoin Core code. But it is privately owned and centralized. He suggests moving it to an organization.

“Bitcoin is quite different in some of these requirements from others [free and open-source software] projects, so we’ll have to develop some tools as we go, ”wrote van der Laan. “We could also definitely use some help here.”

He has asked other developers to step up to take his place as the leader of the weekly Bitcoin Core development meeting, where developers discuss weighing the next steps.

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