1. What is Taproot in the context of the next change to Bitcoin?
Taproot is a consensus change soft fork. Click here for more information on what Taproot does.
2. Is Taproot itself controversial?
No. There aren’t any credible parties that have come out against Taproot. Its use is entirely optional. It has been well reviewed. There are no known controversial aspects about Taproot itself.
3. What are the benefits of Taproot?
Taproot provides increased privacy and scaling to Bitcoin. Click here for more details.
4. Is Taproot already in Bitcoin Core?
Yes. The code for Taproot is in the latest Bitcoin Core client but it has not yet been activated.
5. What does Taproot activation and enforcement require?
Activation of Taproot requires an activation mechanism that determines when and under what conditions to enforce its rules. As a soft fork, Taproot requires that miners enforce its rules. It is also essential that users ensure that these rules are followed by miners. It is essential that the entire network begin enforcement at the same time so as to avoid any consensus errors which would lead to a split in the blockchain.
6. How do activations work in Bitcoin?
There are multiple ways to activate a soft fork. Here we break them down into two types: one where the activation is guaranteed and ones where it is not.
BIP8, Lot=True: Guaranteed Activation
BIP8 with Lot=true activates a soft fork when one of two conditions is met. The first condition is whether a given threshold of mined blocks within one difficulty period of 2016 blocks, say 90%, signals in favor of activation. If this happens the soft-fork activates at the start of the following difficulty adjustment period.
If that first condition isn’t met by the Lot=true blockheight then all nodes reject any blocks that do not signal readiness. As a result, 100% of blocks accepted after the Lot=True blockheight must signal in favor of activation. This guarantees that the threshold is met and that Taproot activates in the following difficulty adjustment period.
BIP8, Lot=False or BIP 9: Not guaranteed
Under BIP8 with Lot=false or BIP9 if the miners do not reach the threshold by the timeout blockheight or system time then the soft fork is not activated.
7. Why not have core release a client with BIP8, Lot=True?
If core developers built in this guaranteed activation method, some people would use this to characterize Bitcoin’s core developers as forcing the decision to activate Taproot on to the miners and users of Bitcoin. This would lend credence to arguments that developers control Bitcoin. This runs counter to Bitcoin’s ethos of decentralization — no individual or group controls the network. Thus we cannot expect core developers to make this choice. And indeed, they haven’t. This is good.
8. Then should we settle for another activation method?
No. The other activation methods DO NOT LET USERS HAVE A SAY ON ACTIVATION. These methods could lead to Taproot not being activated even if users want it. This too runs counter to Bitcoin’s ethos of user driven, decentralized upgrades.
9. What can we do then?
The developers can’t give us what we need without compromising Bitcoin’s decentralization. Therefore it’s up to users. If enough users run a BIP8, Lot=True client separate from Bitcoin core, they can enforce the activation of taproot. This is exactly what was done for the last soft fork of Bitcoin. The activation of segwit occurred because users ran a client which enforced segwit’s rules. This led to sufficient miner signalling prior to the lot=true blockheight. It did not require that core developers force the hands of either miners or users. User activation works. We should do it again.
10. Is it really that simple?
Almost. Users have developed, reviewed and tested a BIP8, Lot=True client and users can download it here. Users who don’t want Taproot to activate can simply not run this client. If you want to enforce mandatory activation you can run it. This approach ensures that if enough users want Taproot to activate they can make it happen. Again, even when taproot activates, nobody is forced to use it.
11. Does it have to be this difficult?
Yes. Bitcoin is the world’s most decentralized and valuable consensus system. It is the most valuable because it is the most decentralized and this is what decentralization looks like. If it were easy, there would be lots of things like Bitcoin. But we must stay on the path of decentralization even when it is hard, and especially when it is hard, because choosing the easy path that is not decentralized would destroy Bitcoin’s most important property.
12. How can I participate?
There is a very detailed and excellent article about this client and the one that will soon be released by Bitcoin Core here on Bitcoin Magazine’s website.
13. When should I run this?
First, make sure you understand what you’re doing if you run this client. You will be requiring that by November 2022, miners must signal to activate Taproot or you will reject their blocks. If you run this client, nobody but you knows you are running it. A big part of the success of this is telling people you’re running and supporting it. You can even tell everyone you know you support this before actually running it. Make sure to stay informed about what is happening. We will keep this site updated if anything arises that requires taking action. But the main idea is that this client’s existence, with enough support, will ensure that miners signal in sufficient quantity to activate Taproot at the earliest possible time, which is this November.
14. Why now?
Bitcoin Core is also about to release a client with activation parameters called Speedy Trial. It will activate Taproot (in November) if enough miners signal by August 11th. The existence and support of the lot=true client available on this site lets miners know that while they are being invited to coordinate in the activation of Taproot, they are not being given a veto over it. We believe this is going to make their decision to signal an easier one than it would be if they thought they had a veto and could potentially use it to bargain for something or to just block Taproot’s activation.