Bitcoin Core Lead Maintainer is stepping down and selling decentralization

According to a new blog post, Bitcoin Core's senior supervisor, Wladimir van der Laan, has decided to take on "even more" of a "background role" in order to further decentralize the project.

Bitcoin Core is the key software for the Bitcoin network. While van der Laan's job is largely a "janitor" and making sure the project's code runs smoothly, some members of the community see him as a kind of leader. As van der Laan puts it, it has become a kind of "centralized bottleneck".

His announcement comes after he found himself in the middle of a controversy on Thursday. Some Bitcoin users disliked his decision to check the bitcoincore.org whitepaper after Craig Wright issued legal threats. But van der Laan claims this decision to retire from Core is one he has been thinking about for a while.

“I will first delegate my own tasks and reduce my involvement. I have no intention of stopping contributing to Bitcoin or even the Bitcoin Core project, but I want to move away from the critical path and take on a background role (even more), ”he wrote.

He believes this move will help decentralize the project, a digital currency that is not supposed to have executives. "One thing is clear: this is a serious project now and we have to take decentralization seriously," wrote van der Laan.

His decision is part of a much bigger effort to further decentralize the project. For example, in 2020 there was a wave of Bitcoin companies granting grants to developers working full-time on the underlying protocol.

For example, Exchange OKCoin is funding Marco Falke, who is the most active maintainer behind van der Laan in terms of commits – code changes that were successfully added to the project. The popular Coinbase exchange now also supports two developers after receiving many requests from the community. Several other companies have joined them over the past year to provide grants.

Bitcoin Core Contributor John Newbery started Brink to mentor and fund more developers to bring in even more contributors, especially those from diverse backgrounds.

Indeed, van der Laan notes in his post that he is no longer the most active Bitcoin Core maintainer as several other ranks have joined over the years.

He also outlines other ideas for decentralizing the project. For example, Bitcoincore.org is one of the main websites where users can download new versions of the Bitcoin Core code. But it's privately owned and centralized. He suggests moving it to an organization.

"Bitcoin differs significantly from other projects (free and open source software) in some requirements. Therefore, we have to develop some tools over time," wrote van der Laan. "We could definitely use some help here too."

He has asked other developers to take his place as the head of the weekly Bitcoin Core development meeting where developers discuss next steps.

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