Question about Bitcoin governance

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Question about Bitcoin governance
After slowly doing research on the crypto space, something I keep coming across is criticism about Bitcoins governance: how decisions get made, what updates get pursued, etc. 

Can someone help me define this problem, explain how Bitcoin governance works, and what the critiques are? Are they are valid or not, etc?

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good question. to the best of my knowledge it is mostly a question of proposals first being vetted from a group of core developers- like peter wuille, adam polestra and others- and then voted on by groups. but I am not sure who else votes, besides miners and I am not sure how the voting takes place. All upgrades are backwards compatible. so even if you run the earliest form of the bitcoin client, your software will work. otherwise it is a hard fork.- that is how I understand it

It is a process which maintains a set of verification rules (Most of these rules were inherited from Satoshi Nakamoto). At a high level, this long set of verification rules covers syntax, data structures, resource usage limits, sanity checks, time locking, reconciliation with the memory pool and main branch, the coinbase reward and fee calculation, and block header verification. Amending these rules without tradeoffs is no easy feat. This is where we get in major conflicts can occur and yes they do!

Every rule change begins with research. For example, SegWit began with research into fixing transaction malleability. Transaction malleability had become a serious issue because it prevented the Lightning Network from deploying on Bitcoin. Industry and independent researchers collaborated on what eventually became SegWit.

When a researcher has discovered a solution to a problem, they share their proposed changes with other protocol developers. This sharing could be in the form of an email to the bitcoin-dev mailing list, a formal white paper, and/or a Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP).

A proposal is implemented in the node software by the researcher(s) who proposed it, or by other protocol developers who are interested in it. If a researcher can not implement a proposal, or the proposal does not attract favorable peer review, then it will linger at this stage until it is either abandoned or revised. Critics have pointed out occasional disconnects between what researchers want to research, user expectations, and what is good for the network’s properties.

@Ahmad Saeed

Thanks for the reply. A few more questions… How many core developers really work on Bitcoin at any given time? Are there ways to advance the project if there is a strong disagreement between the developers? Like what is their consensus mechanism haha? Doesn’t a lack of clear governance structure around decision making give too much power to the developers and miners?

@Ben Roy

Any number of developers can work on bitcoin simultaneously. You can check their github repository for their contributors. Also here is a list (IDK if it is updated).
There are hundreds of conflicts inside the dev circles and yes we have seen ways to resolve them and advance with the project. ( You can read more about soft forks and Hard forks)
There is a wide range of views regarding what the purpose of Bitcoin’s governance should be. What outcomes should governance optimize for? I personally tend to go towards the idea of trustlessness.

The ability to use Bitcoin without trusting anything but the open-source software you run

In this world of decentralization there can never be any clear governance rules to follow and I feel that this is the beauty of it. But yes sometimes these rules do tend to benefit some minorities ( Maybe devs, miners…).

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