Are You Running a Bitcoin Node?: Survey

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“Are you running the numbers?”

Bitcoin Core developer Andrew Chow is trying to find out in a new survey.

Sponsored by a grant from MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative, Chow created the survey to “get responses from people who are not current users” on why they are not running a Bitcoin Core full node, the wallet software that concurrently transacts Bitcoin records history and connects users with other peers on the network.

Bitcoin full nodes are like servers. So unless you are running your own nodes to send transactions to a wider network, you are relying on someone else’s.

In addition, a full node gives users complete control over which coded rules to follow, as well as the ability to independently review a wide variety of network data. The popular Bitcoin memes “One Knot, One Voice” and “Do the Numbers” show that these principles of self-verifiability and freedom of choice are core principles for the most ardent followers of Bitcoin.

In short, doing a full knot is the ultimate exercise in financial self-determination in the bitcoin space.

That’s why Chow started the survey, which runs through March 2nd, to give developers an “idea of ​​the biggest barriers facing people who might want to run a node but aren’t currently”. The inspiration came from talking to fellow developers about removing a little-known wallet feature for Bitcoin Core.

“A few months ago, some other Bitcoin Core developers and I were discussing the removal of a feature called zapwallettxes. The main question we had was whether anyone actually used it. This basically led to the general feeling of wanting to know how users are actually using Bitcoin Core, ”he told CoinDesk in a direct message.

Bitcoin Core usage survey

The first questions of the survey set the basics: where are you from, how did you find the survey, are you running a full Bitcoin Core node?

If the respondent replies that they are running a node, the survey then asks if they are using the Bitcoin Core wallet and if they ever did. When you run a node, the survey continues to tell you about the specifics of your use: how often you update, what other software / hardware you are using, why you run a node, etc.

If you don’t run a node, the survey asks you what wallet you use when you own Bitcoin and what obstacles have kept you from running a node, be it technical complexity or otherwise.

How many bitcoin nodes are there?

Measuring the total number of active nodes on the Bitcoin network is difficult because some nodes may be open to connect to another node (a “listening node”) while others choose to keep their connections closed and private ( a “knot”). non-hearing knot ”)

However, one of the more accurate metrics comes from prolific Bitcoin developer Luke Dash Jr., whose data is estimated to have around 83,000 Bitcoin Core nodes currently active (and just over 1,100 of the other few Bitcoin software versions).

This is a far cry from the 200,000 Bitcoin nodes that were running back at the peak of the 2017 market cycle, according to the same data, but still more than the roughly 40,000 that were operational after the historic March 2020 sell-off.

Active Bitcoin nodes since 2017 (Shuai Hao / CoinDesk Research)

Source: Luke Dashjr

Better than expected

So far, the survey has recorded 600 responses, more than Chow and his colleagues forecast for the early stages of the survey, which will take about five more weeks.

Chow said he plans to release the data he has collected once it has been fully analyzed, adding that “there are no plans to act on the results”. Bitcoin’s evolution is ultimately distributed so it is impractical to coordinate certain changes for the variety of users in the survey.

“Instead [the answers] will help us if there is a question about user behavior. There may be direct changes as a result of the survey, but this depends on the results. The survey is more of an overarching “What are our users doing?” rather than trying to figure out a certain feature or detail that we should be doing. “