Among Bitcoin Developers, Debate Is Raging Over Whether to Censor Ordinals BRC-20s
A heated debate has erupted among blockchain developers regarding the staggering amount of BRC-20 tokens minted via the Ordinals protocol, which caused congestion on the Bitcoin network and led to skyrocketing transaction fees. The issue is being discussed on the bitcoin-dev mailing list, where opinions are divided on how to handle the sudden surge in token mints. Some developers believe that more drastic measures should be taken to curb this on-chain frenzy, while others argue that Bitcoin should maintain its status quo, and let the market decide.
The surge in fees has compelled some African Bitcoin users to look for alternative payment options such as stablecoins. Meanwhile, cryptocurrency exchange Binance has announced plans to integrate the “layer 2” scaling solution for Bitcoin, known as the Lightning Network. This situation has created an existential conflict for the purists who believe that the blockchain was designed to be a peer-to-peer payments network, free from censorship.
The Ordinals protocol allows users to inscribe data onto the smallest units in Bitcoin, known as satoshis or “sats”, creating unique non-fungible tokens (NFTs). In March, a Twitter user called Domo used Ordinals to inscribe snippets of code to enable the minting of a vast number of fungible tokens, some with total supply in the quadrillions, many of them practically useless. Sherief, who initiated the discussion, labeled BRC-20s as spam and recommended mitigating token mints by drafting and implementing a Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) or making changes to Bitcoin Core, the primary software for connecting to the Bitcoin network.
Over 14,300 BRC-20 tokens have already been minted, with a total market cap approaching $1 billion. Domo’s test token, ORDI, created for no practical use other than to illustrate how BRC-20 minting works, is leading the pack and trading at $7.90, with a market cap of $161 million, according to CoinGecko. This recent flurry of activity prompted several developers, including Sherief, to brainstorm ways to curtail the minting mayhem.
Longtime Bitcoin developer Luke Dashjr created an Ordinals spam patch filter in February called Ordisrespector that detects Ordinals transactions and rejects them. Dashjr called for a change in Bitcoin Core that would filter out these controversial transactions, which he also referred to as spam. However, no change will be made to the Bitcoin protocol or Bitcoin Core for now, so the minting appears set to continue. Veteran Bitcoin Core developer Peter Todd pointed out that many people will continue to run nodes that do not attempt to block inscriptions as miners are making millions of dollars from these inscription transactions.