21 / 100

One of the most contentious subjects among members of the crypto community is blockchain forking. This is natural, as the first fork resulted from a disagreement between community members collectively programming the Bitcoin blockchain.

Since this first instance of forking, there have been numerous blockchain forks. Some have come with an avalanche of benefits, while others have been downplayed and forgotten due to lacklustre results.
If you’re interested in how a blockchain fork might affect you and your crypto, join us as we investigate whether blockchain forking is a bad or good thing.

What Is a Fork?

In simple terms, a blockchain fork is nothing more than an update. Numerous developers work on the decentralised blockchain to carry out this update by changing the base source of the blockchain.
Commonly speaking, these forks are not carried out on the whim of a single developer who thinks they can add something to the chain. Instead, forks are often discussed among core developers, allow external input, and are usually published before implementation to alert users of upcoming updates.

However, there are two types of forks that can be implemented on a blockchain. The choice depends on the agreement between developers and the community over what needs to be carried out on the chain.

Types of Forks

A soft fork is the most common and desirable as it consists of simple updates that do not cause any fundamental changes to the source code of a blockchain. Instead, they comprise smaller patches like bug fixes, security updates, and operational or feature enhancements.

The defining characteristic of a soft fork is that all updates forming part of the fork are compatible with the blockchain in its current form, that is, before the fork is implemented. This means that all nodes and users of the chain will be able to continue using the chain with little to no difference or interference.

A hard fork is the complete inverse. While a hard fork carries the same base upgrades a soft fork does to improve a blockchain, the enhancements introduced by a hard fork change the source code of a blockchain so that the chain begins using a different base protocol.

This occurs because the implemented updates are incompatible with the blockchain in its current form and, therefore, require protocol changes to function. As such, users of the chain must adapt and change how they interact with the chain to continue working on it and verifying transactions.

A hard fork splits a blockchain in two, leaving the existing chain running normally while creating an entirely new chain that operates concurrently. This new chain often issues a new type of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin Cash, which resulted from a hard fork in the Bitcoin blockchain in 2017.
These types of forks occur when coin developers cannot agree on the best course of action for the chain. One group implements the changes and creates a fork, producing a blockchain they will then take over and manage. At the same time, the opposing group continues the maintenance and development of the original.

The Good and Bad of Forking

There is much debate among the crypto community over the benefits and cons of blockchain forking. With crypto being used more regularly as a form of payment for everyday items and online entertainment like casino apps for mobile reviewed, forks have a significant impact on users if they go wrong.

The case for forking has valid points; it helps create innovation in the community, encourages developers to try new ideas and experiment with different protocols, and enhances the features of crypto beyond its current state.

Alongside this innovation, forking introduces more stability to coins and helps implement more stringent security features—something everybody who owns a cryptocurrency benefits from.

However, many of these benefits come from soft forks and only a few from hard options.
With benefits come some negatives associated with forking, particularly hard forks. The first and foremost of these cons is that when a new fork is created and a coin is issued, members who hold currency on the original chain commonly have the same value as whatever new coin is created.

Doing this introduces more coins into the market and can significantly devalue a coin—particularly if the hard fork comes from a publicly advertised and heated dispute among developers. This type of forking can also create uncertainty among users as they must quickly establish what protocol is now being utilised. Exchanges also suffer as they must identify which coin to offer support to.

In saying that, some hard forks have paid off for developers (such as the fork that created Bitcoin Cash), leading to more significant investment in crypto and a surge in sales as users worldwide tried to access the new coin. In turn, this has led to the industry’s international growth, with some countries attempting to pass new bills surrounding adopting its use and regulation.

Conclusion

Blockchain forking is a necessary yet unpredictable occurrence in the crypto industry. Constant improvements and security patches are required, while additional features and experimentations keep the community moving forward rapidly.

However, a blockchain fork’s actual effects and outcomes cannot be predicted or analysed before implementation. Consequently, any fork, particularly hard forks, can have a disastrous impact on a coin and lead to its death (as was the case with Tenebrix).

Alternatively, a fork may work better than anyone could have estimated (such as with Litecoin) and create a new currency that quickly rises to the top coins in the industry. For this reason, forking is neither good nor bad; it can yield both terrible and spectacular results and, therefore, must be approached with high caution and care.

Subscribe

Don’t Miss the Latest News!