Accident, Conflict or Consensus, what is a Fork in the blockchain? – Cryptocurrencies

Generally considered to be the result of a divergence of goals and points of view within the cryptocurrency community, forks are an integral part of the development of blockchains and cryptocurrencies. ” Fork “In French means” branch ” or “ division into several branches ” And you’ve probably seen and seen this term in our articles and other sites without knowing what a blockchain fork really is. In this article, you will find out everything about forks, why they are born, how they happen, but also their consequences.

What is a blockchain fork?

To start, remember that a blockchain is a chain of blocks linked to each other by a hash calculated by minors. As soon as minors reach calculate a new hash, a new block is added to blockchain then propagated in the network. The network validates the block created and the process repeats continuously.

It looks like a blockchain forked when it split for a while and gave birth to a secondary blockchain. Technically, forks are either derivations accidental or some consensual technological developments.

How does an accidental fork happen?

An accidental fork occurs when two minersat least – calculate a hash almost at the same time. These hash result in the creation of two blocks – instead of a default block – who spread in the network. Normally what happens next depends on what has been planned in the White Bookwhite paperof cryptocurrency.

In any case, conventionally, as soon as there is a fork, the knots only accept the blockchain with the highest number of blocks. However, since just after the fork, the primary blockchain and secondary blockchain have the same number of blocks, the conflict will only be resolved after mining the next block.

The network nodes will accept the blockchain which will find the next block first. As soon as this blockchain is confirmed, the last block on the other blockchain created by the fork is abandoned and becomes “An orphan block”. And cryptocurrency mining continues with the main blockchain.

How does an intentional fork happen?

Contrary to accidental forks, some forks are provoked by community members in order to modify the blockchain rules. A intentional fork can for example be caused:

  • To allow clans in a blockchain community that fail to agree on changes to be made on the blockchain to implement their plan, each on its side;
  • For add new features in order to improve the functioning of the network;
  • In response to a hack of the network of cryptocurrency.

There are two types of intentional fork: hard forks and the soft forks.

Hard forks

A hard fork is a intentional fork intended to permanently change the protocol cryptocurrency. It requires all network miners that they update their mining software, because the old rules of block validation and transactions are no longer considered valid.

Hard forks sometimes lead to creation of a new blockchain – and therefore of a new cryptocurrency – having the same trunk as the main blockchain, but different from it from the block on which the hard fork was made. This was the case with the Bitcoin Cash and the Ethereum Classic.

It should be noted that hard forks can be:

  • Planned, so included in the code crypto from its inception and not resulting in the creation of a new cryptocurrency;
  • Litigation, so resulting from a divergence point of view within the community;
  • Completed to create a new cryptocurrency.

Soft forks

The soft forks are modifications « sweet “Of the cryptocurrency protocol, i.e. modifications compatible with the previous protocol.

After a soft fork, the former miners can continue to mine without updating their mining software, as long as they do not violate protocol rules update. However, they will not be as good as other miners.

So that’s the main thing to know about forks. Those are accidental or induced duplicationand therefore motivated – of the blockchain of a cryptocurrency.

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