Cryptocurrencies: what is a fork?

You don’t need an English-Russian dictionary to understand what a fork is. The term, which can be translated as “fork”, nevertheless, allows you to understand what a fork is: the creation of a branch on the blockchain. A fork that results in a network parallel to an already existing one.

In the world of forks, there are hard and soft forks. A hard fork is a division of the blockchain into two different entities, starting with a certain block. On the other hand, a soft fork can be defined as an important update in this network. A hard fork introduces an irreversible operation into the blockchain, unlike a soft fork. As a result of language abuse, the term “fork” is most often used to refer to hard forks. In the following sections, we will focus on the hard fork.

When is the fork used?

The fork is primarily a breakthrough tool. It is often used when there are too many disagreements between members of the community. In this case, the project usually splits into two separate chains that will develop completely independently of each other.

The second case of explanation is the use of a fork: after an attack. In this case, the fork is used to restore the network conditions before the attack. This second method is often criticized by some users who believe that the blockchain should never be changed.

In the case of Terra, the fork issue was raised around this second case. If the fork is confirmed, the blockchain will split into two parts. One of them will return to the network conditions at a certain moment (according to the decision of the users), the other will not.

By their structure and design, some blockchain chains are created in such a way as to be protected from forks.

Examples of forks

If we are looking for the most famous fork, then most likely we will have to turn to the king of all cryptocurrencies. In August 2017, the Bitcoin blockchain confirmed the fork between Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. This fork arose as a result of disagreements between community members about the size of blocks. A few months after this fork, Bitcoin Cash will undergo a new fork, as a result of which Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin SV (BSV) projects will appear.

The Ethereum blockchain has also experienced a fork, which still remains one of the most significant. After the DAO hack, the community was divided into those who wanted a rollback and those who did not want to change the blockchain. These disagreements led to the fork on July 20, 2016 and the creation of Ethereum Classic (ETC) in addition to the Ethereum Network (ETH).

In both of these examples, as in most cases, it is the original asset that retains the greatest value. Indeed, Bitcoin is now much more valuable than Bitcoin Cash. The same can be said about Ethereum, which is significantly superior to Ethereum Classic.

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