Fork is a very common expression for the software developers, but it’s becoming popular in the investor’s vocabulary too. It is used to refer to a change in the algorithm of a system, creating a new version. If is a little change in the system, it is just updated, better known as soft fork. However, if the update changes how the system works, it is called hard fork.
As most part of cryptocurrencies are open source and decentralized projects, your algorithms is published on internet. The source code of bitcoin can be easily accessed in Github, a website that offer a service of code versioning. On the same way, others cryptocurrencies also have published your source code at websites like this.
A political view of the forks
Maybe a fork seems to be just a simple thing, but a lot of controversial episodes has happened in the crypto market because of the forks. Most recently it happened in the bitcoin cash generation the bitcoin abc. With this, forks has meaning conflicts on the cryptocurrency community, because it usually involves interest conflicts.
Many times the changes in the algorithm are implementations over a specific political vision in the cryptocurrency community. Launching a new version of the cryptocurrency, it may be that not everyone agrees with the changes. While one group adopt the new version of the asset, another group can prefer still using the old version. As they are decentralized, everyone are free to choose the version that will use, or even use both. However, is possible that all the community adopt the new version and the old be completed forgotten.
A new dynamic for organizations
The forks has show a democratic way to disagree with a specific position in the group. As cryptocurrencies depends of users running softwares to mine the blockchain, those are increasing your decision power in projects more and more. In some cases as Decred, the cryptocurrency encourages even more the power of decentralized decision. On that way, each miner becomes a “shareholder” of the cryptocurrency and the reward of the minning process can be compared to the dividends. This new dynamic of organization has proposed new ways to drive projects and, in many cases, have been successful.