Bitcoin community erupts over "Ordinals": Bitcoin-based NFTs

A black pixel-art skull resembling a calavera, on a white backgroundInscription 0, the first Ordinals NFT (attribution)
A recent project called "Ordinals" has the Bitcoin community up in arms. The project is the latest attempt to introduce NFTs to the Bitcoin blockchain, a controversial subject among a group of people with strong ideological beliefs about what Bitcoin should be. Ordinals takes advantage of a change in the blockchain codebase called SegWit that was introduced in 2017, and stores NFT data in a portion of the transaction called the "witness". Some think this is a clever hack, while others think they're abusing the design.

Following the change, Bitcoin block sizes have reached all-time highs nearing 2.5 MB. Some are not thrilled that the size of the chain is ballooning with what they view to be junk data, given the whole thing needs to be recorded forever.

Longtime Bitcoin Core developer Luke Dashjr described Ordinals as a "spam attack" and an "attack on Bitcoin's fungibility", warning they would "break" the major Bitcoin-based projects Lightning and CoinJoin. He has argued that the miners should begin filtering the transactions as spam, which brought strong reactions from some in the community who pushed back that Bitcoin should be censorship resistant. "1) Bitcoin hasn't been censorship-resistant since mining centralisation. 2) Censorship resistance is about censorship, not fighting spam/attacks," he replied. Dashjr's fellow Core developer Adam Back also seemed unimpressed with the project, tweeting about Ordinals' "sheer waste and stupidity".

Ordinals are not the first Bitcoin-based NFTs, but they are the most recent and perhaps the most popular. On February 9, an "Ordinal Punk" — a Bitcoin-based homage to Ethereum's CryptoPunks — sold for 9.5 BTC (~$218,000).