What Is A Fork?

UniqArt
2 min readJun 30, 2022

We aren’t talking about the fork you pick your noodles with, but this one is pretty amazing too.

Blockchain is a type of decentralized, public software that anybody may contribute to that powers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Because they are essentially made up of blocks of data that can be traced back to the first transaction on the network, they are known as blockchains. Additionally, as they are open source, their communities are responsible for maintaining and expanding the underlying code.

A fork occurs every time a community modifies the blockchain’s protocol or a whole set of guidelines. When this happens, the chain divides, creating a second blockchain traveling in a different direction but with the same history as the original.

Why are forks important?

Much as how modifications to internet protocols enable web browsing to improve over time, most digital currencies have different development teams in charge of network changes and enhancements. So a fork can sometimes bring new features or increase the security of a cryptocurrency.

However, a fork can also be used by the creators of a new cryptocurrency to produce entirely new coins and ecosystems.

There are two types of forks, soft fork, and hard fork:

Soft Fork: Consider a soft fork as a blockchain’s version of an upgrade. It becomes the new set of criteria for a currency as long as all users accept it. Soft forks can introduce new features or functions, often at the programming level. The adjustments work with the pre-fork blocks because the final product is a single blockchain.

Hard Fork: A hard fork occurs when significant code changes render the new version incompatible with prior blocks. In this scenario, the blockchain divides into two: the original blockchain and a new one that adheres to the new set of rules. As a result, a brand-new cryptocurrency is created, which is where many well-known coins originate. Through a hard fork, the original Bitcoin blockchain gave rise to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold.

(written by Catherine S Thomas)

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