What is Fork in Blockchain?
Talking about cryptocurrencies at this point is something since it has become a very common topic of conversation both in more expert sectors in this field of online investments and outside of them, having suffered a very relevant popularization in recent years. It is a fact that has led to the fact that transactions for the purchase and sale of different virtual currencies have multiplied exponentially during the past 2017, reaching points that until now were difficult to even dream of.
Therefore, the interest in everything related to cryptocurrencies is much greater now than it was a few years ago, but not only when it comes to investments. cryptocurrencies have a technology behind them that increases their attractiveness, with concepts and terminology that are now more necessary than ever to know.
It is common among newcomers to the world of cryptocurrencies to wonder what a fork is or what forks are, for example, frequently used in specialized forums or blogs and require prior knowledge to understand the general context being treated.
What is a Fork?
In general terms, a fork is a change in the original code of a cryptocurrency or a cryptocurrency platform intended to modify written code to create variations in the system.
As all these platforms are based on free software, it can be done without major impediments as long as the necessary resources are available.
The original code undergoes alterations through this method. It creates a different product that, in the opinion of the new creator, has the necessary improvements to be better than the one from which it started, at least in theory. All of this has led to the emergence of many other cryptocurrencies and platforms in recent times since really anyone with knowledge in the field could begin to implement their modifications quickly and efficiently.
However, modifying certain software code, and even more so about cryptocurrencies, cannot be done lightly since all the implications should be considered. To be able to speak appropriately of forks, it is necessary to consider and distinguish between the two that exist and that are the options a developer or group of developers has to choose when they are about to modify a code: we are talking about the Hard Fork and the Soft Fork.
The Hard Forks
Performing a hard fork is, generally speaking, abandoning the plan established in the first place to create a new project based on the original without taking into account the opinion or preferences of the platform as a whole.
Let us imagine a blockchain network on which a cryptocurrency is based, which is, in turn, based on independent nodes or capsules that guarantee its operation. One part of the platform wants the system to be updated – the nodes – to make way for a better (or different, at least) system, but they are not the vast majority.
When this happens, the so-called Hard Fork occurs, which involves going ahead with that update or change without integrating it with platform the original, giving rise to two different varieties, both based on the same thing but incompatible with each other due to their particular characteristics. It is neither bad nor good, but it only provides another perspective on what existed and gives rise, for example, to a new cryptocurrency based on a previous one.
It is a case that we can contemplate between two of the most popular platforms of the moment: Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) or between Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC).
Both Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum Classic are hard forks of the originals since they are not compatible with them. However, they are based on the same platform. They have similar characteristics but they are also different.
The soft forks
A soft fork already anticipates with its name that the changes that are going to be carried out will not be as drastic as in the previous case. It is also more difficult to achieve since, to carry out a soft fork, it is necessary to support the vast majority of the nodes that make up the network. It means that there has to be a very large majority totally in agreement with the update or the changes that are to be implemented to make this effective.
If this ideal scenario is reached, the only thing that would be necessary is for all the network nodes to be updated simultaneously, thus beginning to support the changes immediately and not seeing their use interrupted due to incompatibilities, as occurs on the hard forks.
In exchange for not enriching the platform with new versions that give rise to new plural scenarios, with a Soft Fork a better and more consistent network is created for the future, implementing updates that allow solving relevant problems.
In short, everything that motivates and serves as the engine of change about forks lies in the consensus and in the ability to have a certain change succeed or not in a certain platform. Cryptocurrency forks are very common in this ever-changing landscape of cryptocurrencies.
The controversy of the Forks
One of the biggest controversies around the forks lies in their uselessness of some of these forks. Being free software, almost anyone with the necessary knowledge could carry it out, but it needs some support to be effective. However, if he succeeds, he could create a hard fork any coin and create a new one. Normally, the new currency is given to those with the old one in a 1:1 ratio.
For example, when the Bitcoin hard fork occurred and Bitcoin Cash was created, everyone who held Bitcoin at the fork received Bitcoin Cash. You could say they got "free money."
Thus, currently, there are many discussions about the true purpose of many forks that follow each other such as Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Diamond, or Bitcoin Cash. Are they really useful, or are the creators just looking for those free coins?
Remember that if you want to get your coins in proportion in any fork, you must ensure which exchanges and wallets support said fork. Then, if you want to sell them, make sure which exchange accepts the trade.