Block Number Matters With Cryptocurrency Hard Forks
The BLOCK NUMBER MATTERS (AKA block height) with crypto forks. A snapshot for a fork will generally happen at a block number, the date is secondary.
One can only approximate the date a certain block number will happen on.
Many people were talking about dates with Bitcoin Gold, throwing out dates like Oct. 25th, but ultimately it was a specific block (as one logically might have suspected) that mattered. In fact, those who waited until the 25th missed the fork (it happened on the 23rd). Same for Segwit2x. Same for all forks in general.
TIP: If you were in Bitcoin at the time of the snapshot, you have your coin (your Bitcoin transaction has to have been added to the blockchain, it can’t just be started). Then, sometime after the snapshot, the new coin will be able to be accessed by users (who then need to configure an existing wallet or download the official wallet of the new coin). In other words, step 1 is being in for the block, step 2 is waiting for the official word on how to claim the coins. Something to keep in mind is that you can wait to claim your coins, as long as you have access to your wallet and had Bitcoin in that wallet at the time of the snapshot, you can claim your coins from a given fork.
TIP: One simple way to keep track of what block we are at is with blockexplorer.com. A block is mined roughly every 10 minutes, but this fluctuates (which is why one can only estimate the exact time a block will occur).
The Logic Behind Block Numbers Mattering
And the above makes sense if you think about it. If a blockchain is going to split, it must split at a block (and many blocks happen each day). On-the-wall calendar dates are essentially meaningless in this respect.
Thus, although we can’t say this will always be the case for every fork, one should generally assume that holding during a specific block is what matters with cryptocurrency forks.
One can give a rough date of when a certain block will occur by treating every Bitcoin block as 10 minutes for example (it differs for other coins), but the time it takes to mine a block (which involves committing it to the blockchain) is variable. This means no one can perfectly predict the date a block will occur on.
And So It Was and So It Has Been
For a month we heard “Bitcoin Gold is October 25th, the 24th, the 26th, etc”… but it wasn’t any of that, it happened earlier than expected on the 23rd at block 491,407. It had nothing to do with the magic date 23… it was all about block 491,407.
With the Segwit2x fork, those who hold Bitcoin at block 494,784 will generally get 1 Segwit2x Bitcoin for every Bitcoin they hold.
It generally worked like this for Bitcoin Cash too!
With forks moving forward, expect the same thing.
The above isn’t the only thing to think about, it is just the lynchpin.
One must also consider where they hold a given coin. If one holds on an exchange or via a broker like Coinbase, they may have their own rules. In cases you may have to have your coins 24 hours before or keep them sometime after (as they may shut things down to take a snapshot).
Still, while there is more to consider, remembering that the BLOCK NUMBER MATTERS with crypto forks is going to save everyone a headache down the road. So, remember that.