Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIP)

Definition

The Bitcoin Protocol is an open source code, i.e. it can be accessed and contributed to by anyone who joins the Bitcoin Network. Hence developers around the world have been suggesting improvements in the Bitcoin code for better functioning of the Bitcoin Network. Also documents for general guidelines or working of the Bitcoin Network are also published to the Bitcoin community.

These documents or proposals which suggest improvements in the Bitcoin protocol or which circulate general guidelines and rules to the Bitcoin community, are known as Bitcoin Improvement Proposals(BIPs).

Example: Change to the network protocol, a change in block or transaction validity rules, or any change or addition that affects the interoperability of applications using bitcoin.
Some BIPs are even improvements suggested in an earlier BIP also.

The First BIP

The first ever BIP (BIP 0001) was submitted by the Bitcoin Developer Amir Taaki on August 19, 2011. This BIP described the BIP process itself. It was heavily based on the process of improving Python.

Types of BIP

There are three types of BIPs.

  • Standard BIP
  • Informational BIP
  • Process BIP

Standard BIP

Describes any change that affects most or all bitcoin implementations.

Example: Change to the network protocol, a change in block or transaction validity rules, or any change or addition that affects the interoperability of applications using bitcoin.

Information BIP

This BIP is not for introducing a new feature to the Bitcoin network. Rather this describes a bitcoin design issue or provides general guidelines or information to the bitcoin community.

Process BIP

  • Describes a bitcoin process or proposes a change to (or an event in) a process.
  • Process BIPs are like standard BIPs but apply to areas other than the bitcoin protocol itself.  
  • They might propose an implementation, but not to bitcoin’s codebase.
  • They often require community consensus.
  • Examples include procedures, guidelines, changes to the decision-making process, and changes to the tools or environment used in bitcoin development.

Adoption and Rejection of BIPs

Any BIP must attain the Bitcoin Community Consensus in order to be implemented in the network. Let us quickly understand the steps involved in this.

  1. An author or a group of authors submit a draft BIP. This is post finalization of a draft by having an internal discussion among the authors in the Bitcoin development mailing list, Internet Relay Chats (IRC) channels or other mediums.
  2. The Bitcoin community gives feedback for acceptance or further modifications which are incorporated by the authors in the BIP.
  3. If the Proposal finally attains a Community Consensus it will be finally implemented in the Bitcoin network.

Please Note: BIPs are recorded in a versioned repository on GitHub BIPs.

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