Bitcoin Forks: Beginner’s Guide
Forks can be confusing, and, allegedly, there are quite a few of them coming in the nearest future. While not all of them (or none of them) might come to pass, you should be prepared to the possibility and know how to manage your assets effectively in case they do.
A fork is a result of an update to the specific coin’s programming. And it can either be intentional and unintentional. Both can potentially cause serious price fluctuations, and it is difficult to say which one can be more damaging. In both cases, two ledgers are created, and if an unintentional or accidental fork is a result of an unforeseen bug that is, ideally, promptly eliminated. The intentional hard fork is born out of the decision by the developer to update the programming (which results in discrepancies between the older and newer versions of the coin), and, in that case, users need to upgrade in order to continue to use the currency.
In short, forks introduce uncertainty, and that often leads to panic. They potentially devalue the currency and can downright destroy the smaller ones.
If the fork does come, the risks are very real, so be prepared to lose some of the value. If you prefer to keep your bitcoins, you should be ready for the future.
First of all, make sure you control your wallet without any intermediaries like various custodial services (Xapo or Coinbase, for example). Not all of them support forks, and if you wish to continue using them, make sure you know their stance on the issue. However, creating your own wallet is probably the best solution.
Do not rush in to invest into new coins immediately after the fork. It is better to wait for a confirmation from one of the major players to start buying and trading with them. The times after the fork are rife with scam opportunities.
Not all of the forks end up being real, but it is a lot safer to assume they are. Bitcoin Gold actually happened despite having been dismissed by large parts of the community initially. So, don’t panic every time the fork comes up in the news, but be in control of your assets and exercise caution in case they do.