This term held greater significance in the years leading up to 2017 and continues to provoke heated debates even today.
The primary focus of these debates revolves around the Bitcoin blockchain, with two opposing sides: “big blockers” advocating for larger blocks on the Bitcoin blockchain to accommodate more information, and “small blockers” supporting smaller blocks.
Originally, Bitcoin’s block size was limited due to database locks, allowing a maximum of 10,000 blocks. This translated to approximately 500 to 750 kilobytes in terms of serialized bytes.
In 2010, Satoshi Nakamoto set an explicit block size limit of 1 megabyte, although it was considered a no-op due to the aforementioned limitation.
In March 2013, the 1 MB limit became the effective constraint on block size for various reasons that delve into the history of Bitcoin.
Changing this limit was believed to necessitate a disruptive hard fork and was thus postponed for several years. However, as Bitcoin adoption increased and transaction volumes surged, the limit started to contribute to exorbitant mining fees.
By 2015, contentious discussions emerged regarding the possibility of increasing block sizes to alleviate transaction fees. This speculation fueled debates about preventing a temporary or permanent split in Bitcoin, leading to the emergence of alternative altcoins that aimed to explore different block sizes.
Advocates for larger block sizes argued that it would facilitate more transactions per second and lower fees for users. On the other hand, proponents of smaller blocks contended that a lower block size limit incentivizes higher transaction fees, thereby promoting a more secure network through increased miner participation.
Small blockers also posited that a one-time increase in the maximum block size would establish a precedent for future increases, which would ultimately result in impractically large blocks for accommodating the world’s future transactions on the main blockchain.
Ultimately, technological advancements like Segregated Witness and the Lightning Network were developed as solutions to address these debates without necessitating an increase in block sizes on the Bitcoin blockchain.