In the wake of the 3 ring circus that is Ethereum, Ethereum Classic and The DAO, one would come away with the fear that hard forks are indeed very dangerous. A week after the Ethereum Fork, they had a rude awakening when both sides realized their coins were still intertwined. Apparently, Ethereum and Ethereum Classic funds with the same keys might unintentionally be sent together. And worse still, drained with the same attack that the fork was meant to negate in the first place. This “Replay attack” has apparently drained several exchanges of their ETC funds.
With all this drama, fear and chaos, one might wonder how Dash has successfully forked so many times in its short lifespan. Why hasn’t Dash broken into two coins? Because of the unique two tiered network with Masternodes that allows Dash to “Spork” or Soft Fork. First, when an update is released, the new rules to be implemented are not enforced … yet. Instead, the network is given the time it needs to build up consensus. Once Masternode consensus reaches a threshold ( something like 80% – 90%) a lock is automatically triggered, and any blocks found that don’t follow the new rules are rejected by the Masternode Network and the next properly formed block is accepted instead. The Masternode Network is generally the first to update, so it generally behooves the miners to get with the program ASAP, or they’ll be burning a lot of energy and time for nothing once that lock kicks in.
Sporks are generally met with excitement on the Dash Network, not fear. In fact, there should be a new Spork sometime later this Summer or Fall. It will improve the current budgeting system to be far more robust and allow it to have many new variables or conditions to completing a task and being paid. The flexibility the two tiered network has given Dash has turned out to offer endless opportunities. It started as a way to securely pre-mix funds so that users could maintain privacy. Then Evan Duffield, lead developer at Dash, realized they could lock transactions, creating the ability to have instant confirmations. And most recently, Mr. Duffield realized we could use the network to create a Republic type of voting system using Dash Masternode Owners as representatives who vote on network questions, such as block size increases. Then finally, this grew into the Budgeting system, where 10% of the block reward was set aside for projects that anyone can propose and, if they garner enough yes votes, be paid for. Each of these innovations required a Hard Fork, executed with a Spork.
And Dash has not slowed down its innovative ways. In fact, Dash Evolution promises to be ground-breaking. Dash will be as easy to use as Paypal or a credit card/phone yet be instant and essentially free. Dash Evolution will be so easy to use, users will even have safeguards against losing wallet information, even when they don’t back up their information. It will have an opt-in ratings system like ebay, to build a trustworthy reputation, and eventually, an arbitration network to resolve disputes. The DAPI (or Distributed API) will allow any service provider to make powerful calls on the network for their services or applications, as if it’s a centralized server, yet trustless and decentralized. Light wallets will no longer have to rely on a centralized blockchain, but instead will be hooked up to the entire Masternode Network to receive trustless access to the blockchain. This means, even when using a light wallet, the user will be able to fully trust the trustless network for their balances, their accounting and transactions. Applications can be built to automatically fill out statements, tax forms, etc…
Dash couldn’t make such strides without it’s many hard forks, or “Sporks”. Dash has become the Master of Hard Forks, just by splitting the network into two; Masternodes and Miners; and no circus!