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A planned update of the Bitcoin Ordinals protocol by the UniSat BRC-20 marketplace is unsafe and is effectively a fork of the BRC-20 protocol, asserted BRC-20 standard creator Domo on Tuesday, who said that the proposed plan could also lead to bugs and will give the company too much control.
“Recognizing the serious implications and valuations involved,” the pseudonymous Bitcoin developer wrote on Twitter, “I believe rushing these updates in BRC-20 is reckless, disregards their peer indexers, and could potentially harm the broader community of BRC-20 users.”
Domo’s comments came in response to a tweet by UniSat regarding its plans for the upcoming Ordinals update.
“UniSat will follow the Ordinals Jubilee upgrade to confirm that BRC-20 is still on Ordinals without splitting into an isolated protocol,” the company said on Twitter, adding that a whitepaper is coming on January 31.
Launched in April 2023, UniSat is the company behind the Google Chrome extension and wallet of the same name, which provides solutions for managing BRC-20 tokens on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Critics of UniSat’s plans, however, claim the “isolated protocol” the company is referring to is the standard Domo introduced earlier this year.
The latest drama surrounding Ordinals came about after Domo announced the launch of the Layer 1 foundation on Monday, along with Bitcoin Ordinals aggregator BestinSlot and Bitcoin wallet developer Oyl Dymanics.
Domo launched the BRC-20 protocol for the popular Bitcoin Ordinals Inscriptions in March after original developer Casey Rodarmor introduced Ordinal Inscriptions in January. The BRC-20 protocol lets users mint meme coins on the Bitcoin network.
The Layer 1 foundation, Domo said, is a non-profit dedicated to ensuring that the BRC-20 standard remains free from “centralized corporate control,” adding that the foundation is currently maintaining an indexer that aims to ensure “the safety of all funds held within BRC20 assets.”
The Layer 1 Foundation called UniSats’ tweet misleading.
“UniSat ‘not splitting’ with Ordinals is a de facto split with the remaining BRC20 community and Domo’s BRC20 indexer,” a Layer 1 Foundation spokesperson told Decrypt. “For safety reasons, Domo had previously announced the community’s intention not to upgrade to the new version of Ordinals until there was sufficient testing and coordination; however, UniSat is suddenly moving forward with a different approach.”
In the blockchain industry, a fork refers to a divergence in the protocol, leading to the creation of a new branch of an existing blockchain, which also usually continues forward. Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV were forks of Bitcoin Core or Ethereum Classic from Ethereum or vice versa. Forks often happen when there are disagreements within the community about the project's direction or when a new feature or different version of the protocol is introduced.
The Ordinals Jubilee upgrade, Domo explained, is significant because most Ordinal updates are backward compatible while the Jubilee upgrade is not.
“[The Jubilee upgrade] changes the validity of a number of inscription types, which has effects on BRC-20 logic,” Domo told Decrypt.
One issue with launching a fork of the BRC-20 protocol, Domo said, is a lack of testing and validation of the protocol by the community.
“There is no time to safely test the update, which could lead to bugs,” Domo said. “Moreover, there is even less time to coordinate and validate the upgrade across the indexer community.”
Looking to support what he called a “non-profit, safety-first approach to the maintenance of this protocol,” Domo asked the BRC-20 community to reject the fork proposed by UniSat.
“Security and robustness of the protocol must always come first with responsible standard development,” Domo said. “Bugs in the latest ord version were found as late as today, solidifying the need for time to test, coordinate, and validate.”
“It is very dangerous to let a single corporate entity control the standard without accountability,” Domo concluded.
UniSat wallet founder Lorenzo disagreed with Domo’s assessment of the BRC-20 situation.
“The Jubilee upgrade holds significance for both Ordinals and BRC-20,” UniSat wallet founder Lorenzo told Decrypt. “For Ordinals, it serves as an upgrade to free itself from historical burdens, reducing undefined behaviors. For BRC-20, the Jubilee upgrade establishes an enhanced and robust foundation for future development.”
Lorenzo pushed back on the notion that the Jubilee upgrade will cause technical issues for BRC-20, saying issues in engineering are common.
“We believe the long-term benefits for the entire ecosystem make the Jubilee upgrade worthwhile,” he said.
Lorenzo said that UniSat initially agreed to the 0.9 freeze under the understanding that it was a temporary measure. However, concerns arose when it became apparent that the freeze might evolve into a permanent detachment from the Ordinals, threatening future compatibility.
In response, Lorenzo said UniSat chose not to follow this course of action and go its own way.
“Observing the lack of initiative from the L1F group to move beyond the 0.9 freeze, UniSat prefers addressing issues and resuming movement rather than being permanently detached,” Lorenzo said. “Despite the potential split, UniSat values maintaining BRC-20 on Ordinals to facilitate seamless interaction with other protocols on the same platform.”
According to Lorenzo, UniSat is prioritizing implementing the Jubilee upgrade successfully.
“If forking BRC20 were our objective, there were more opportune moments in the past ten months that would have been more advantageous for us,” he said.
“UniSat, as a service provider, prioritizes the ease of interaction between BRC-20 and other protocols within the shared foundation of Ordinals,” Lorenzo said, adding that he understands Domo’s reluctance to “catch up with Ordinals.”
Lorenzo said UniSat excels in creating and delivering solutions like Ordinals, adding their approach has been effective over the past year and is expected to continue being successful.
“Building tools and services on top of these protocols holds more value for us than forking any single protocol,” Lorenzo concluded. “This approach has proven effective in the past 12 months and is likely to demonstrate its value in the foreseeable future.”