AliXswap | The Nice Inscription Renumbering Debate: The Code & The Tradition

The Nice Inscription Renumbering Debate: The Code & The Tradition

AliXswap | The Nice Inscription Renumbering Debate: The Code & The Tradition

Lately we regularly wax eloquent concerning the “early days of Bitcoin” and the good visionaries who participated within the discussions on protocol improvement. Nevertheless we regularly overlook that the cypherpunks of olde have been human too — that early oversights & unresolved disagreements resulted in cumbersome idiosyncrasies that outline our sacred blockchain in the present day.

If you happen to weren’t round in 2009 and need to get a style of what it was like again then, come be part of the dialogue in Ordinals land. We’re speedrunning Bitcoin Consensus.

What’s the debate about?

Ordinal Idea describes methods to serialize & observe satoshis. These satoshis, when serialized, are referred to as “ordinals”. We are able to affiliate chunks of knowledge that we name “inscriptions” to those ordinals, thus making a type of NFT on Bitcoin. It’s a easy idea, however the implementation of the shopper that runs ordinals is sort of complicated. Ordinals started as a ardour mission however exploded into recognition in a matter of some weeks. Due to the rise in hype and complexity of the shopper, lots of “bugs” within the shopper implementation have been found. Because of the arcane nature of how the implementation really works, lots of these bugs & idiosyncrasies grew to become the topic of market hypothesis.

Essentially the most notable of those idiosyncrasies has arguably develop into a characteristic, not a bug. On the OG Ordinals explorer website,, Inscriptions have been displayed with a quantity each time they have been “inscribed”. These numbers have been a enjoyable and straightforward method to observe what number of Inscriptions there have been and instantly grew to become a spotlight for collectors.

A couple of weeks in the past, the creator of Ordinals printed a weblog put up about how these Inscription numbers have created undesirable penalties and the way sustaining these numbers hamstrings additional protocol improvement. Just lately, I tweeted my opinion on the matter and it kicked off the primary main debate in Ordinals land.

Narrowly, it is a dialogue over sustaining or altering the present numbering of Inscriptions. Extra broadly, this is without doubt one of the first actual neighborhood discussions over how protocol selections are made. Broader nonetheless, it is a query of “what’s the protocol, how can we outline an ‘Inscription’”.

💡 Necessary Clarifications

  • Ordinal — a serialized satoshi
  • Ordinal quantity — the quantity given to an ordinal
  • Inscription ID — the ID given to an Inscription, derived from the transaction it’s created in
  • Inscription quantity — the quantity given to an Inscription primarily based upon its order of recognizance by the ord shopper ← that is what the controversy is over
  • This can be a quickly growing subject. I don’t handle the refactor inscription parsing or sequence numbering PRs on this piece.

How did we get right here?

On January 20, 2023, Casey Rodarmor introduced that his ord shopper was “prepared for mainnet”. Casey had been incubating Ordinal Idea for years and workshopping the shopper with pals. Ord additionally enabled inscribing, figuring out, and studying Inscriptions. Casey & the gang would spend their time casually coding and discussing Bitcoin heresies reminiscent of “artwork on different blockchains is definitely sort of cool”.

When Ordinals & Inscriptions went viral in early February, this as soon as private mission spawned a whole vibrant ecosystem in a single day. As hype grew we noticed the genesis of two narratives: a story of the Code and a story of the Tradition. At occasions they’re interlinked however they is also totally distinct, very like lots of Bitcoin in the present day.

The Code

The ord shopper existed totally on Casey’s private github repo all through the previous spring. Lots of of points piled up as all the NFT userbase piled right into a handful of discord servers. Casey’s code and Bitcoin itself have been stress examined.

A pair weeks into the frenzy, it grew to become clear that some inscriptions weren’t being acknowledged by ord. These inscriptions largely needed to do with edge instances in both how Bitcoin works and the way the ord shopper parsed by means of inscriptions. That led to some “missed inscriptions” that went into Bitcoin blocks however weren’t displayed on the frontend, due to this fact they didn’t obtain an Inscription quantity. It wasn’t very clear what number of have been lacking or what we even thought of these inscriptions… …have been they really “inscriptions”? This subject was mentioned little or no as a result of there was a brand new sort of Bitcoin tradition forming, one which introduced with it a cacophony that drowned out a lot additional technical dialogue. In the interim, many of the guidelines of the protocol needed to be intuited from how ord labored.

The Tradition

The whole thing of curiosity in Ordinals got here from exterior Bitcoin — from NFT collectors & degenerates alike. These are largely nontechnical people, but additionally extremely motivated to leap by means of no matter hoops wanted as a way to purchase a jpeg (syncing a full Bitcoin node, operating ord in command line). These newly christened bitcoiners instantly started gathering, buying and selling and speculating on the new new digital property.

As Inscription exercise heated up, shortly ticked in direction of Inscription #10,000. An iconic Twitter areas bore witness to crossing the historic quantity — that very same twitter areas advanced into the de facto Schelling Level for Ordinals tradition & occasions: The Ordinals Present. Casey was inundated with requests for interviews whereas the legacy Bitcoin neighborhood criticized & clutched their pearls at this new beast, slouching in direction of Bitcoin. It was an extremely overwhelming interval — the very best of occasions and the cursed of occasions.

The subject of lacking inscriptions was introduced up in a pair confused github points and discord threads. In mid-February the topic of those lacking inscriptions got here up on a podcast Casey was on. He put the difficulty up for vote to the hosts who voted to maintain the Inscription numbering as-is, after which Casey tweeted this out:

The Curse

So what ought to we do about these lacking inscriptions? Some tasks started deliberately producing these “lacking” inscriptions and created a way of urgency to resolve the difficulty. In April, Casey put out PR #2307, coining the time period “Cursed” for these lacking inscriptions. The PR proposed giving these cursed Inscriptions adverse numbers, with the plan to at some undefined level sooner or later “bless” the inscriptions by recognizing them within the ord shopper. They might then obtain numbers each time they have been acknowledged.

Diving slightly deeper, there are a number of methods an Inscription can’t be acknowledged & parsed by ord. Raph describes 4 forms of Curses:

🪄The 4 Curses (up to now)

  • Greater than 1 inscription in a transaction
  • ord solely acknowledges inscriptions within the first (reveal) enter, so inscriptions in different inputs are cursed
  • If there are uneven tags (most popularly OP_66, however could be any OP_evennumber) inside an inscription envelope the shopper considers the inscription unbound to a particular satoshi
  • Greater than 1 inscription on a sat (now referred to as “reinscription)

Whereas these are the 4 forms of clearly recognized curses, we have no idea what different curses could also be found sooner or later. Maybe these 4 are all that can ever exist (I doubt it), however that is an unknown unknown. Every of those current & future curses would require neighborhood coordination to “bless” and such coordination is difficult, usually controversial. To decide to an unknown quantity of future coordination occasions is usually dangerous protocol design particularly when it may all be addressed in the present day by not committing to preserving inscription #s.

It’s price noting that through the writing of this text we’ve found a brand new sort of cursed inscription, emphasizing the purpose I make above.

A few of us on the time, myself included, tried to carry up our issues with the strategy to sustaining Inscription numbering and the challenges it may introduce to future improvement. Ordinally, a key developer on the mission, inspired consensus on Inscription ID and depart numbering to the market:

The Consensus

Consensus in Ordinals has just about revered Casey’s hegemony & unilateral determination making. The non-public repo period, migration to a github org, selling Raph to steer maintainer, the varied PRs & updates — all of those have been celebrated & embraced by most. Updates have been pushed with little neighborhood enter and scrutiny however have largely been deemed fascinating. We even modified numbers earlier than with no neighborhood pushback when an inscription was created however not related to a sat (“unbound”) leading to an off-by-one error in inscription numbering. A serious motive why there was little neighborhood enter is as a result of only a few folks really perceive how the shopper works below the hood.

At present there are numerous forks of ord which energy the ecosystem: marketplaces, wallets, aggregators, and many others. These forks are up to date with every iteration to the reference shopper. Every shopper typically seeks to keep up parity with ord. We at OrdinalHub have opted to not fork however as an alternative rebuild all the shopper in Golang and name it “gord”. Going by means of this improvement course of has given us an intimate understanding of how the ord shopper works and the challenges in addressing present & future edge instances.

The Group nevertheless is essentially unaware of labor on github and the technical state of indexing. Only a few customers appear to know how their Inscription will get recognized & introduced on a market or of their pockets. Due to this, the Inscription quantity is their identification as a result of it’s their main reference level to the asset & ecosystem.

The Case

To summarize my case: I want to persuade the “Cultural Layer” that it’s not price it to the long run success of ordinals to design the protocol round sustaining inscription numbering. I acknowledge that these numbers are particular & cherished, however I believe it’s extra essential to prioritize the long run sustainability of ordinals. If we proceed to attempt to protect legacy numbering going forwards it complicates protocol improvement and reduces its chance of survival.

Casey not too long ago modified his thoughts about renumbering and laid out the explanations Cursed Inscriptions make improvement problematic in his weblog:

The logic required to determine & observe these cursed inscription varieties requires customized arduous coding of every sort and later reordering them again into the collection. The method of “blessing” the inscriptions creates extra floor space for neighborhood debate & potential governance disagreements. It additionally requires extra coordination amongst ord forks & indexers, in lots of instances they must implement their very own customized logic as effectively. From a technical standpoint, this is able to lead to unintuitive ordering when there exists an especially intuitive ordering: Block Top & txindex throughout the block.

Since we have no idea the longer term forms of curses which may be found, committing to holding the Inscription numbers doubtlessly brings extra eventualities the place we’ve to create bizarre technical options & require social coordination to resolve an issue that doesn’t should exist.

Pondering long run — my private opinion is that the first use-case of Inscriptions is not going to be JPEGS & collectibles, however quite issues that make the most of Bitcoin’s information layer: rollups, state updates, information preservation & documentation, and many others. In such a case we ought to be designing the protocol not for collectibles however for numerous performance. Our descendants will look again on us and marvel what we have been pondering including this pointless complexity (after which they’ll simply return to Timechain sequencing).

All this stated, I believe there are very promising compromises & middle-ground options which cut back historic numbering adjustments whereas offering a less-encumbered approach forwards. I hope to help a few of these choices as they develop.

The Collections

Essentially the most painful friction is with collectors & collections. The outcry in opposition to renumbering has produced “Love Letter[s] to Inscription numbers”, polls, and 🧡s to numbering. Many occasions, these of us most involved with technical implementation low cost the significance of the cultural layer. The Sub1k twitter makes a powerful enchantment:

Preliminary estimation suggests renumbering would have minimal change to earlier inscription numbers, however I don’t suppose that’s a really robust level because the outcry is in opposition to any change. I do suppose there are methods to accommodate for a change in numbering for a lot of collections, by honoring “legacy” numbering or by increasing the collections (is it flawed to have ~100,092 in sub100k?). Sadly, there isn’t an answer for having a particular quantity like a birthday or a fortunate quantity.

I additionally love the numbers and I need to hold numbering inscriptions. I simply hope to persuade you that going forwards it’s not price it to the longevity of the protocol to decide to holding numbers secure. As I discussed earlier than, there are compromise proposals on the market that protect historic numbering whereas decreasing emphasis on secure numbering going forwards. I believe these could also be affordable options.


One criticism about altering Inscription numbering is its impact on metaprotocols using inscription ordering. No matter my private criticisms on design or feasibility of those metaprotocols — ought to a nascent, pre-1.0 protocol like ord, make poor design selections as a way to forestall confusion for metaprotocols constructed on high of it? I emphatically say no.

That stated, I believe there are an abundance of options these metaprotocols have at their disposal. Within the case of BRC-20 the flexibility to rebuild present token stability state could be damaged — “cursed” BRC-20 deploy/mint/switch capabilities would distort whole token balances. Nevertheless this may be addressed by coordinating block heights to replace inscription recognizance to parity with ord, “freeze” with a model of ord, and/or “snapshot” stability state. Domo, the creator of BRC-20, has proposed related concepts.

The identical strategies may very well be utilized by all different metaprotocols reminiscent of Bitmap, Satsnames, and many others. Some have pushed again on these concepts saying that “coordination is sort of tough”. To that I say no shit, that’s the reason we will’t decide to it on the base protocol degree.

Going forwards

That is actually a dialogue on protocol definition and governance.

Comparatively, that is essentially the most cautious & thought out proposal to ord since its preliminary launch in January. That is the primary weblog put up Casey has written in a 12 months and essentially the most public dialogue he has participated in since February. Whereas it could appear that selections are fast & sweeping, that is by far essentially the most we as a neighborhood have mentioned any adjustments to the ord reference implementation.

It’s an open supply protocol so the neighborhood is free to fork from ord parity. You may select to not replace or implement a shopper you disagree with. Nevertheless this is absolutely the worst end result and I’d quite do nothing than have a big neighborhood fork and I doubt ord would decide that creates such a cut up.

There have been numerous proposals for an Ordinals Enchancment Course of (”OIPS”). It’s clear the neighborhood needs to debate governance now and I welcome this dialog.

As for definitions & documentation, my view is that we must always have consensus across the following: core elements of Ordinal Idea (sat origination, monitoring, & inscription affiliation), inscription IDs, and legitimate ord envelope definition. From there we will focus on how the protocol would possibly evolve and the way the reference shopper could also be constructed. Personally, I imagine {that a} “legitimate ord envelope” ought to be as permissive as potential.

Total, I believe the neighborhood has dealt with this beautiful effectively. There have been some pointless spats but it surely’s fairly minimal in comparison with the scorched earth on the peak of the Blocksize Battle. Ordinal Idea is Casey’s love letter to Bitcoin. He & these near the mission have devoted a big quantity of their lives to this concept and all of us want to stick with it on this blissful shared delusion. I’m assured there are productive paths ahead.

I’d write far more on this, however this piece is already approach over my phrase restrict so I’ll see you on Twitter.

This can be a visitor put up by Charlie Spears. Opinions expressed are totally their very own and don’t essentially replicate these of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Journal.

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AliXswap | The Nice Inscription Renumbering Debate: The Code & The Tradition

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