What is a Fork?
A fork is a process that appears in blockchain technology, and it is commonly associated with the technology behind cryptocurrencies. The term indicates that there have been certain changes in the crypto protocol. When developers or a community want to update the protocol, they need to “fork it” to implement the agreed changes. From a blockchain point of view, “fork” shows that the blockchain will start to move on two potential paths after changes in protocol or basic rules are implemented.
A blockchain is formed as a set of blocks linked to the previous and the following block, similar to a long train or chain. When a fork takes place, the chain splits and creates another blockchain with the same history as the original chain but follows a new path.
The community or developers may want to perform a fork to cope with certain risks, add functionality due to a significant hacking activity, dispute with the community, etc. The basic types of forks are a hard fork and a soft fork.
Examples of forks from popular blockchain networks and cryptocurrencies are the Ethereum Classic split from Ethereum in 2016 and the Bitcoin Cash fork in November 2018.