The Bitcoin Network is different from Bitcoin Core.
Bitcoin Core is an implementation of the Bitcoin network rules.
Other implementations of the Bitcoin network:
Anyone who downloads and runs a node from these projects, is running a node on the Bitcoin Network.
What is the Bitcoin Network?
How do we determine what rules make up the Bitcoin network?
We can see rules of the network are documented here. The interesting sentence here is this:
This is all based on a fairly literal reading of the source code.Bitcoin Wiki
Does the code determine the rules? No! People do. The code reflects what people want.
How do we determine what people want? We can determine what people want, through consensus.
We have a formal process for finding consensus. When we achieve consensus, we are able to change the rules of the Bitcoin network.
Changing the Bitcoin Network
There is a formal process called “BIP”, which stands for Bitcoin Improvement Process.
Through this process anyone can submit a proposed change to the network.
This article details the steps needed to make a change final for soft forks:
In order for a BIP to become accepted and labeled as Final, each of the following conditions must be met:
- Follows the correct format as specified by BIP-1
- Includes code implementations of the proposed changes to the protocol
- Has 95% support from the last 2,016 miners (~14 days worth of mining with 10 min blocks)
A hard fork requires a completely different set of standards. Reading BIP 02, it states:
A hard-fork BIP requires adoption from the entire Bitcoin economy, particularly including those selling desirable goods and services in exchange for bitcoin payments, as well as Bitcoin holders who wish to spend or would spend their bitcoins (including selling for other currencies) differently in the event of such a hard-fork. Adoption must be expressed by de facto usage of the hard-fork in practice (ie, not merely expressing public support, although that is a good step to establish agreement before adoption of the BIP). This economic adoption cannot be established merely by a super-majority, except by literally forcing the minority to accept the hard-fork (whether this is viable or not is outside the scope of this document).Luke Dashjr
Essentially it states that all hard-forks must be unanimously accepted by the network, and everyone who supports the network. Because this is so difficult, it has never been done.
Why is it more important to get unanimous adoption for hard-forks? Hard-forks break the network protocol, and create two blockchains through adoption. There is no backwards compatibility.
Soft-forks keep backward compatibility, allowing old nodes on the network to keep mining. Additionally, the same blockchain is being mined on,
Now you should understand the difference between the Bitcoin Network and Bitcoin Core, how to propose changes to the network,