Bitcoiners seek to bypass Luke Dashjr for OP_CAT soft fork

On Bitcoin Halving day, Bitcoin Core contributor Bryan Bishop volunteered to replace Luke Dashjr as the Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) editor. And while it may have started as a joke, the movement to displace Dashjr is gaining momentum.

Dashjr is a staunch member of the Bitcoin old guard. Bishop, however, is more open to exotic financial products, having worked at futures and options exchange LedgerX and Avanti Bank which tried to launch its own stablecoin, AVIT.

The part-real, part-meme of Bishop’s desire to work as Bitcoin’s BIP editor (a volunteer position that doesn’t actually exist except by historical custom and deference to Dashjr’s expertise) quickly spread. Dozens of Bitcoiners posted short, congratulatory replies. Brilliantly, few revealed whether or not they were in on the joke.

David Bailey’s Bitcoin Magazine tipped a hat; Dan Held clapped; Base58’s Lisa Neigut posted a Bitcoin-orange heart emoji, and Zack Voell applauded. Peter Todd, meanwhile, simply wrote, “Good choice” and Jonas Schnelli referenced Star Wars, saying, “May the BIP be with you!

Eric Wall, an Ordinals community leader who co-built a website making fun of Dashjr’s BIP editing process, replied, “I greet you with a picture of my cat.” (In this context, ‘cat’ refers to both the animal as well as Bitcoin Operation Code Concatenate or OP_CAT)

As Protos previously reported, Wall and his partner Udi Wertheimer are also attempting to displace Dashjr as Bitcoin’s sole BIP manager. They also advocate for the reactivation of the old Bitcoin script OP_CAT.

OP_CAT is the proposed reintroduction of a piece of code from the Satoshi era. The upgrade would take place via a soft fork and would enable previously-impossible functionality. Specifically, it would allow developers to create more powerful smart contracts on Bitcoin.

Dashjr has so far refused to assign a BIP number to the OP_CAT reactivation proposal. That refusal, plus Dashjr’s opinionated opposition to data-intensive protocols like Ordinals and BRC20s, is enough reason to start a new BIP process altogether, according to Wall and Wertheimer.

The partners have to-date promoted two NFT collections using Ordinals Inscriptions, Taproot Wizards and Quantum Cats. They have also raised millions of dollars for a company that would benefit from a Bitcoin soft fork activating OP_CAT.

Quantum Cats in particular is committed to activating OP_CAT. It has a website making fun of Dashjr’s BIP review process and a proposal for a virtual machine that would use OP_CAT to enable a variety of new Bitcoin-related computations.

Read more: Luke Dashjr calls Ordinals a spam ‘bug’ that should be ‘fixed’

Will Bitcoiners overhaul the BIP process?

The final piece of Bishop’s inside joke concerns the date of his announcement which coincided with Bitcoin’s halving. Although most people celebrated the halving’s reduction of Bitcoin’s mining reward and improvement of its stock-to-flow metric, Casey Rodarmor also launched his new fungible token protocol, Runes, on that date.

The timing to gain attention for changing Bitcoin’s BIP review process is perfect. As Bitcoin gained a new fungible token protocol in the form of Runes, it also gained a new volunteer to manage its soft fork process. Dashjr has volunteered to manage BIPs for years but perhaps new managers of the process could lead stagnant BIPs toward activation — or reinvent the BIP editing process altogether.

Whether sincere or a troll, Bishop’s announcement gained attention.

Bitcoiners advocate for experimental features like fungible tokens, virtual machines, covenants, and other features that utilize Bitcoin’s blockchain for data storage and computation. And, in the end, developers and miners are ultimately less powerful than the wishes of Bitcoin users.

For years, Bitcoin users have prioritized financial transactions and digital gold uses. Perhaps a new generation of Bitcoin users wants to emphasize the network’s timestamping, data storing, and computational capabilities.

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