What is Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP)?

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A bitcoin improvement proposal is a standard set in the bitcoin protocol to propose possible network changes. The changes could involve how the network functions or the processes therein. 

Amir Taaki, one of the earliest Bitcoin developers, created the first BIP in 2011 August. His proposal focused on setting the standard for the BIP process. Since then, Bitcoin has had dozens of improvements coming in as BIPs. BIPs can introduce soft or hard fork events to benefit the system. 

The Process of BIPs

The first step to BIP success is the generation of a new improvement idea. The proposer must ensure that this idea can be a BIP by interacting with the bitcoin community. 

Later, the BIP undergoes a vetting process where the bitcoin community looks into this project and checks its viability. Some projects are often rejected at this stage. At this point, the author must create high-quality documentation highlighting the proposals to improve on. This proposal must follow the BIP format. 

The author now collects the feedback on their idea. Some expert bitcoin enthusiasts believe that a BIP focused on one substantial improvement can succeed rather than another with dozens of revisions. 

The author sends their proposal to the editor, assigning a BIP number after a thorough look at the project. However, the editor accepts the BIP only if it meets the minimum criteria. The author now updates their draft in the git repository. 

After acceptance of the BIP by the editor, the implementation process should begin. If not accepted, it goes in the record as one of the network’s BIPs. In the future, the BIP can also be replaced by others. 

The 3 Major Types of BIPs

There are three types of Bitcoin BIPs used today, including; 

  • Standard track

Standard track BIP includes the proposals designed to change the bitcoin protocol, block data, and transaction validation processes. They are long debated and considered very technical since they affect the blockchain deeply. These need consensus votes for any implementation to occur.

  • Informative

The informative BIPs often focus on guidelines and other design issues. It offers simple solutions to the problems, solutions which arise after thorough investigations. 

  • Process BIPs

Process BIPs focus on the functions of the bitcoin network. They also require consensus votes for large changes to occur.