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Satoshi Roundtable Thoughts (gavinandresen.ninja)
115 points by sethbannon on Mar 7, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 110 comments



There is a revolution going on in Bitcoin land. Very similar to how dictatorship gets overthrown in the real world. In the real world, dictators fight with censorship and violent force. In Bitcoin land these are social media censorship and DDoS attacks. The main Bitcoin forum on Reddit is censored heavy handed. No criticism allowed, mentions of alternative software or forums get deleted right away. People who run alternative implementations of Bitcoin get DDoSed so heavy, that sometimes whole districts of cities get cut off from the internet. But this is the internet. people manage to jump over the fence pretty fast...

http://imgur.com/xNjN0kH

...and find ways to get together and discuss their opinions without censorship:

https://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/48zggz/a_behind...

https://www.reddit.com/r/btc/


> The main Bitcoin forum on Reddit is censored heavy handed. No criticism allowed, mentions of alternative software or forums get deleted right away.

This is simply not true. The only rule on the /r/bitcoin Reddit is not to promote these network fork attempts. This is not just alternative software, it is software that follows DIFFERENT rules from the main bitcoin software and would follow a different ledger history if a fork happened.

In fact talking about this topic, criticisms of developers and the like is practically all you see there, for the last 8 months!

You are not explaining the origin of the "please don't promote network forks" rule. ("Bitcoin XT", now "Bitcoin Classic").

The people pushing the need to fork would bombard the Reddit forum for many months, very likely with sockpuppets. They were extremely hostile and aggressive, down voting anyone who would disagree with them. Readers would notice their posts would instantly be scored negative only seconds after a post. This pro-fork group would harass the developers with personal attacks and threats, forcing some developers to leave due to the harm it was having on their mental health.

Only after this went on for a very long time did the moderators finally try to get things under control. The pro-fork crowd yelled “censorship”. But this is not censorship, it is long needed moderation.

> People who run alternative implementations of Bitcoin get DDoSed so heavy, that sometimes whole districts of cities get cut off from the internet.

The majority of the fork software run on freebie Amazon AWS servers:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/499bai/51_of_bitco...

Where do you get this claim that "whole districts of cities" are being cut off the internet?


> This is simply not true. The only rule on the /r/bitcoin Reddit is not to promote these network fork attempts.

A meaningful discussion cannot be had if you are only allowed to speak negatively of a subject.

> The majority of the fork software run on freebie Amazon AWS servers

> Where do you get this claim that "whole districts of cities" are being cut off the internet?

You do realise that some people do still run full Bitcoin nodes on their home computers, yes? Home Internet connections are more susceptible to DDoS attacks. The poster is most likely referring to a specific case where someone's Internet connection was cut off due to the attacks. I can't remember who it was, but I've certainly heard of it before.


> A meaningful discussion cannot be had if you are only allowed to speak negatively of a subject.

I agree censorship of ideas or opinions is a bad thing, but if what he says is true, that the sub was being essentially rendered unusable by sockpuppeting, trolling, organized downvoting (which is also censorship, BTW) or other abuse, then what option is there but to clean it up? This is not a specific /r/bitcoin point, it's something that dates back to Usenet times, and applies to every forum since.

I don't know who is telling the (most) truth here, I have no idea, because I don't read that group and don't really follow Bitcoin (or even Reddit), but I do think it's fairly absurd that Bitcoin (a supposedly democratic, decentralized technology that nobody owns) has always had what are essentially a handful of very powerful 'official' channels and representatives, with enormous influence, and AIUI major forums, including /r/bitcoin and BitcoinTalk, are actually owned by one single person (perhaps the parent of your post).

But nobody in Bitcoinland seemed to care that much about such "dictatorships" before.


It doesn't look good when you ban a mode of thought entirely

I've no skin in this game, and I don't fully understand the technical problems and solutions for bitcoin. I also don't understand the challenges facing moderators of reddit.

It does seem strange to me, however, that people are calling for consensus on an issue where 1) most discussion occurs online, and 2) for which there exists no balanced forum that allows all points of view to be heard.

Perhaps the community should solve this problem first. Or get the right people in a room together again and hire someone like Dale Carnegie who's good at helping people work together to lead a session. If they haven't tried that, they haven't tried everything.


The actual technical discussion takes place on the mailing list. No points of view have been banned from there as far as I know.


The dev-mailing list is very censored, I can verify this based on my personal experience. Many of my posts strengthening on-chain scaling points have been deleted from the dev-mailing list.


> The only rule on the /r/bitcoin Reddit is not to promote these network fork attempts.

Not really. Any criticism of bitcoin or even worst, any bad news, about bitcoin are censored in /r/bitcoin

For instance, when back in 2014 MtGox failed, some days before a user from /r/bitcoin posted a lengthly article that discussed the MtGox resolution citing the problems MtGox was facing, that they had lost a big part of their bitcoins and that they were going to close doors. This came directly from an internal document and he was actually showing it.

That post was of course censored in some minutes and only the people from other forums saw it before the MtGox demise.

Like this case, there are many others. /r/bitcoin is indeed heavily censored and there is this almost cult like mind hive thinking inside it that makes it impossible to get any idea about bitcoin reality from it.


Honestly if you are paying any attention what-so-ever to bitcoin and using /r/btc or /r/bitcoin as your primary or sole source of information then you deserve every bad thing that happens to you.

When two-bit-idiot or whoever it was posted that doom and gloom document regarding MtGox in 2014 you would have had to been completely out of the loop not to have seen it re-linked on twitter or any of a dozen other outlets. My memory of the Gox timeline has grown fuzzy over time, but from what I recall, everybody with half a cluestick knew for at least a few days prior to this release that Gox was circling the drain and god have mercy on anyone with funds left sitting in their wallets. They hadn't been processing fiat withdrawals at all for weeks, at the very best you could withdraw in Yen with a two or three week delay. This should have been everybody's signal that shit was hitting the fan. A few weeks later they started getting spotty about processing BTC withdrawls, and it wasn't until after this that the bankruptcy planning doc got "leaked".


Well, the all point is that /r/bitcoin is an heavily censored forum of discussion where only pro bitcoin (and now, only pro bitcoin core) posts are accepted, unlike what the OP was trying to dismiss.


> The people pushing the need to fork would bombard the Reddit forum for many months, very likely with sockpuppets.

Or, maybe, a lot of people read the white paper, and took significant issue with command-and-control style Bitcoin development.

Everything needed to understand the roots of the debate can be found here: https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf

> The proof-of-work also solves the problem of determining representation in majority decision making. If the majority were based on one-IP-address-one-vote, it could be subverted by anyone able to allocate many IPs. Proof-of-work is essentially one-CPU-one-vote. The majority decision is represented by the longest chain, which has the greatest proof-of-work effort invested in it.


> Or, maybe, a lot of people read the white paper, and took significant issue with command-and-control style Bitcoin development.

Bitcoin development is anything but command and control. Please stop repeating nonsense.


Nonsense?

If development isn't already centralized, then by definition, it cannot be "taken over" by anyone.


> > The main Bitcoin forum on Reddit is censored heavy handed. No criticism allowed, mentions of alternative software or forums get deleted right away.

> This is simply not true.

So anyone trying to discuss alternative software won't have their posts deleted?

> The only rule on the /r/bitcoin Reddit is not to promote these network fork attempts.

In other words, heavy handed censorship. Thanks for clarifying.


Because the people promoting alternative forks were using scripts and bots to censor the original bitcoin developers, criticism on the forks, and other discussion not promotion...


There is a long, long tradition, going back as far as the end of 2013 of censorship of any criticism or even any bad news about bitcoin in /r/bitcoin

Funny thing though is that /r/buttcoin that was made as a criticism of bitcoin in general is actually much more open and censor free than /r/bitcoin to the point that you can actually read some technical pro bitcoin articles there without any censoring or even down voting.


/r/bitcoin is also censoring mentions of Ethereum - it's main rival right now.

https://twitter.com/DiginomicsNews/status/705258811192438784


That is true, because /r/bitcoin is about bitcoin.

If you want to promote Ethereum, you can do so on /r/ethereum/.

I am sure promoting dog ownership over cats is frowned upon by /r/cats readers, too.


I participate in a subreddit focused on one particular modded mincraft launcher and set of modpacks (r/ftb, for the Feed The Beast launcher). Posts about modded minecraft in general are welcomed; /r/ftb is the largest modded minecraft subreddit, and there's a lot of overlap in terms of contents, users, mod authors, etc.

Similarly, I've never seen anyone upset about people discussing non-Javascript languages in /r/javascript; there's specific subreddits for some popular variants and libraries (like /r/coffeescript and /r/react), but nobody cares. The rules do say posts should be at least indirectly related to javascript, but a post talking about a better language would be seen as easily related enough.

/r/bitcoins rules do not follow the norms for Reddit communities, as far as I've seen.


As a counter-example, there are lots of tightly-modded subs that I follow that benefit from strong moderation of off-topic posts. Such subs include /r/personalfinance, and /r/askhistorians.


> I am sure promoting dog ownership over cats is frowned upon by /r/cats readers, too

You are wrong, nobody on /r/cats have gotten their comment removed or been banned for talking about dogs or any other pet on /r/cats.


/r/bitcoin has never been a venue for discussing alternative cryptocurrencies. Due to reddit's lack of a concept of sub-subreddits or the ability to have a subreddit's front page filter out a certain tag, the only way to remove floods of people discussing off-topic subjects is to say "sorry, please discuss that in another subreddit".


As a non Bitcoin user it does seem very strange that /r/bitcoin would take a position not to allow discussion over a particular issue relevant to the community. And not just any issue but the biggest issue that is critical to its future direction.


You can discuss it all you want. You can't promote it just as you can't promote Litecoin or any other different protocol and ledger.

Basically the only thing you see on /r/bitcoin for the last 10 months is discussion on this issue, constantly.

Yeah, people who say "Developer Joe blow is a fraud, download the superior Bitcoin classic" get their posts removed. That's moderation. (And it is moderation that actually didn't happen for many months before things got so out of control.)


> You can't promote it just as you can't promote Litecoin or any other different protocol and ledger.

That's malarkey. Not a day goes by that Lightning Network isn't heavily promoted.

Lightning, for the uninitiated, is the "scaling solution" that's going to "fix" Bitcoin by completely turning the original protocol into a settlement layer for an entirely new, incomplete, untested, and full-of-holes payments network.

This complete rewrite of the Bitcoin protocol is being foisted on the community take-it-or-leave-it, but we can't discuss increasing the base protocol to even a modest 2MB, because "that would be promoting a different protocol and ledger."

I hope that non-redditors can appreciate the profound, biting irony in the situation for the BS it actually is.

https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf


I completely agree with this moderation. I am ashamed at the spin coinbase is putting on this making the core team sound like they have no communication skills. Shame on them.


>The only rule on the /r/bitcoin Reddit is not to promote these network fork attempts. This is not just alternative software, it is software that follows DIFFERENT rules from the main bitcoin software and would follow a different ledger history if a fork happened.

It's a rule that prevents anyone but developers to effect a change in the max block size value.

I'm permanently banned from /r/bitcoin, despite:

* despite not promoting any alternate client

* not being a sockpuppet

* not being trollish

* having a very popular posts

This was simply because I argued Bitcoin would be better off with a higher max block size value.


>very likely with sockpuppets

How easily people look to conspiracy theories.


"very likely"

The science is settled.

How interesting that a group of people capable of wielding DDoS doesn't know how to counter-sockpuppet.

Could it be that they are simply vastly outnumbered?


You cannot even mention an altcoin without being shadowbanned. It happened to me. Mentioning an altcoin isn't the same as promoting it. You might want to point out that some users are flocking to Ethereum because of the fees.


Reddit mods can't shadowban people.


The r/Bitcoin moderators are running a bot that has a list of accounts whose comments or posts it automatically removes. It's essentially being shadowbanned from that subreddit alone, and the users in question are not notified of that. Want to test? Make a new account and make a comment against Bitcoin Core or pro-blocksize increase, and see what happens within a few minutes.

The mods of r/Bitcoin have also personally tried to get me banned from reddit through untrue accusations to the reddit admins (they tried to get me globally banned for "doxing" theymos, notice the timestamps: http://i.imgur.com/THhruNm.png when I called him by his first name, which he himself publicizes on his LinkedIn page as associated with his handle "theymos"). Obviously the ban had no merit so it did not stand up to admin scrutiny.


That's called a ban, not a shadowban.


There are two separate issues here:

- A bot that automatically removes users' posts and comments without actually banning them or telling them the items are being removed (this is a subreddit-specific "shadowban", though it's not a built-in feature of reddit it has the same effect)

- Moderators that eagerly attempt to ban all dissent, not only from their subreddit but from all of reddit

They are both wrong, both unforgivable, and both forms of censorship. Just ban people you don't like from your subreddit, no need to code custom bot features or try to lie to the reddit admins to accomplish political goals.


Right. Look, I don't care. Reddit is reddit. I'm just saying, neither of those things is a shadowban.


If Satoshi Nakamoto him/herself appears and he/she promotes increasing the block size, would you change your position?


Satoshi Nakamoto did promote increasing the block size, in 2010. As you can see from the discussion, many of the same players were already freezing their positions in this debate six years ago.

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1347.msg15366#msg153...


For those unfamiliar with how crazy the shenanigans at r/bitcoin (and bitcointalk.org), the historical primary online discussion forums for Bitcoin (both run by the same individual [1]), the subreddit uses a 70+KB custom stylesheet [2] to unhide collapsed (downvoted) comments, hidden points, thread sort order set to controversial, and very heavy-handed moderation/banning to unduly influence/control conversation [3].

The community seems to have done an ok job working around this with r/btc (although conversation there is almost completely dominated by discussions on the hard fork and against Core) and the bitcoin.com forums (although again, not without some drama/controversy, and both of those forums are still run/controlled by a single person (Roger Ver)) - it seems like guaranteeing open/neutral discussions for crypto-currencies is still an unsolved problem.

Personally, while I'm following along (and running a Classic node), I've liquidated the few coins I've had to see how it shakes out. It's incontrovertible that Bitcoin has hit its current capacity limits which is especially dangerous with the upcoming halvening, and the primary development cabal has been unwilling to scale it, despite foreknowledge/certainty and increasingly urgent calls over the past 2 years. If Bitcoin becomes viable again, I'll throw my money back in the ring, but if it doesn't, well, it was an interesting experiment and spurred a lot of innovation, but also pointed out some still unsolved problems (tracking consensus/governance among stakesholders and for protocol evolution, independent development funding, figuring out how mining/nodes should be incentivized in light of pooling behavior, mining concentration pressured by electricity pricing, etc).

(It's worth noting even besides the relatively simple/bullet-proof XT/Classic block-size increasing hard-forks [4] there are some really interesting other scaling technologies like [5] Xtreme Thinblocks or [6] parallel sync that have been either ignored or outright rejected while Core chases a Blockstream (sidechain, lightning network) focused agenda that simply doesn't seem to fix the right now problem.))

[1] https://bitco.in/forum/threads/who-is-theymos-and-what-did-h...

[2] https://www.reddit.com/r/bitcoin/about/stylesheet

[3] https://www.reddit.com/r/btc/comments/44umxm/i_have_to_say_t...

[4] http://gavinandresen.ninja/a-guided-tour-of-the-2mb-fork

[5] https://bitco.in/forum/threads/buip010-passed-xtreme-thinblo...

[6] https://bitco.in/forum/threads/iguana-parallel-sync-full-btc...


Interesting. You're even getting down voted here without explanation. EDIT: Well you used to be grey and at the bottom. Now you're up top.


There has been an enormous and coordinated effort to disrupt the Bitcoin community, and many of the actions have been far from subtle. /r/bitcoin has been subject to spam attacks, sockpuppets, brigade voting, and a huge number of manipulations.

The moderator team tried to control it, honest people became victim to heavy handed moderation, and a lot of damage was done.

The grandparent comment really does not seem genuine. Maybe I am disillusioned, but bitcoin's news aggregate presence feels like it's being very distorted.


That sounds like a lot of conspiracy theory with zero evidence. Mind producing some actual evidence of brigading, sock puppeting, etc, preferably before theymos started banning everyone and was downvoted to -1,000 by the bitcoin community, not by whatever your paranoid head imagines.

Moreover, didn't theymos say he would ban coinbase from r/bitcoin. I suppose coinbases is a sockpuppet too right and maybe they out to destroy bitcoin because it isn't bitcoin that gives them their business.

All we get from small blockers is conspiracies and conspiracies, all the while you engage in ddosing, banning, censorship, changing of sorting orders, secret honk kong meetings, backroom deals with miners and on and on.

There is an attack going on and that is the insanity of the small blockers - a tiny minority of only 10% - crippling bitcoin by keeping network capacity limited, creating a huge backlog, unreliable transactions, and now we on HN discussing it.

Congrats - nutheads.


> /r/bitcoin has been subject to spam attacks, sockpuppets, brigade voting, and a huge number of manipulations.

How do you know it's "sock puppets" and the like, and not real people who are expressing real opinions?


The moderators of /r/bitcoin should explain why they automatically change the sort mode of specific threads to "Controversial" which effectively reverses the rank order. And why they have custom CSS which affects what comments appear hidden or not.

No other subreddit that I am aware of engages in this form of comment manipulation. I am not even a Bitcoin user but this sort of behaviour was extremely unusual.


You are wrong about the CSS. What was happening was: the brigades of pro-fork users would downvote anyone who disagreed with them.

Reddit hides posts that score -5 or lower. So, the moderators changed the CSS to show all posts (even < -5 posts) as an anti-censorship tool. The reddit.com administrators are aware of this.

As for sorting by Controversial - same concept. The pro-fork brigades would force popular posts to the bottom, now the moderators use the built-in Reddit sort tool to make those appear higher up, in threads where vote manipulation happens.

Because reddit lets anyone create an account in about 3 seconds, it is easy to game and control what gets seen and what does not. Hacker news does the right thing by not giving everyone a downvote button on the first day.


So we're supposed to believe that same side that supposedly disrupted the community through sockpuppetry is also at the mercy of DDoS attacks?

Seems like anyone capable of orchestrating DDoS, can also organize sockpuppets.


The group that is promoting the network fork is extremely good at social media.

A clue that it is not genuine, is simply that nobody cares this much about a small technical change to a protocol. Yet these constant, daily, aggressive attacks against the developers have been going on for at least 10 months now.

All anyone has to do is read the pro-fork subreddit, /r/btc, and see how toxic and hostile they seem. It does not seem genuine and I cannot imagine anyone spending so much time writing the same things over and over for nearly a year.

It reminds me of the “Putin troll army” story https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_brigades


> small technical change to a protocol

Given the fuss that Bitcoin Core itself makes about this change not being possible, it is surely not a trifling matter.

This is disingenuous, anyhow. The limit on how many transactions the Bitcoin network can handle is fundamental to growth, of course it would be a big issue.

> All anyone has to do is read the pro-fork subreddit, /r/btc, and see how toxic and hostile they seem. It does not seem genuine and I cannot imagine anyone spending so much time writing the same things over and over for nearly a year.

This is what happens when a group is cast out from the main community (in this case by moderation policy).


> small technical change to a protocol

I have no horse in this race, but isn't that understating the impact a bit?


Yes, the pro-fork group say they simply want to change the limit of megabytes per block from 1MB to 2MB. Somehow this is worth forking the network over.

This may not sound like much, but also keep in mind eight months ago it was 20MB, with an eventual jump into the GB range, that they were pushing for. Also, recently they are talking about removing any limit altogether.

This change seems small but the consequences would not be, since it limits who can run a full client and centralizes control to those who can (companies, not individuals).

There are better ways to achieve the same goal and keep the decentralization, but they are not so simple, and need to be fully tested before rolling out. One exciting thing in the pipeline, is a caching layer that sits on top of bitcoin, which allows instant, true microtransactions. In the short term there's "segwit" which also brings all sorts of other advantages.


Honest Question: As an individual what incentives are there for me to run a full node? Currently the storage/bandwidth requirements are not outrageous, but high enough that they will cost $20-$50 depending on how many connections I allow. Why would I bother?


It's possible to run a node in pruned mode, where you set the amount is space which is used by blocks. Older blocks are then pruned to stay within the space limit. You can run a node in this way for $5 a month.

If you support Bitcoin, much in the same way as people support many open source projects, this isn't a lot of money to fork out. Compared to the amount of time contributors spend writing software for free for the good of the world.


I recently had to wait several hours for a transaction to confirm, this materially effected me.

People actually using bitcoin wanted the 2MB increase months ago.


Can confirm. Try the new Bitcoin Reddit sub /r/BTC instead as the main Reddit sub is heavily censored.


Opinion is moving against the Core devs who currently control the code that nearly everyone is using to run the Bitcoin system. What the Bitcoin community is learning is that you cannot have a decentralized monetary system controlled by a centralized group of programmers with out running in to conflicts of interest. Decisions about the direction of Bitcoin's future should not be made by a few coders, and the people pulling their strings, behind closed doors. Bitcoin needs competing teams of developers. Miners and node operators need to use a variety of softwares in order to support an ecosystem of dev teams. These softwares must interoperate with one another but do not have to operate in exactly the same way. Consensus will come about when a sufficient number of dev teams decide to implement a certain feature and miners chose to run their code. The methods for voting for new features via the Bitvoin network are already established. As new features are implemented they should be developed by multiple teams in parallel so that there is less risk of catastrophic failure due to everyone running the same software with the same set of bugs. This concept runs contrary to how nearly every other software system we know works. Thus the current growing pains.

Ultimately crypto-currency will win out in some form. But please don't invest in it now. You'll only dilute the profits of those willing to take on early stage risks.


So this is #3 of the Satoshi Roundtable notes and opinions that have made it to HN, as far as I can tell (I was initially confused and thought this was a re-submission of Brian Armstrong's notes https://medium.com/@barmstrong/what-happened-at-the-satoshi-...).

As someone who has dabbled into the bitcoin and block chain area but never seriously, all of these reports and the constant reporting of the serious issues facing bitcoin with little to no consensus about what's going to be done to scale it just scares me away from touching it.

Maybe I'm just not understanding the issue in its entirety but many of the opinions just keep talking about how uncooperative everyone is, how wrong or right one group is versus another and no solutions are really being worked on that expect to be accepted. Blockchain is cool tech but bitcoin itself seems like a horribly immature place to ever put real money into.


There is near complete consensus, see:

https://medium.com/@bitcoinroundtable/bitcoin-roundtable-con...

Nearly every developer, along with the vast majority of miners, have agreed to this.

The group that did not agree (Coinbase, 2 developers, and some small miners) is extremely good at social media and has done a great job of spreading a false story of "serious scaling problems" and "developers can't reach consensus". It's simply not true.

They want to take over the bitcoin network with a fork, which will follow different rules, called "Bitcoin Classic". This is their second attempt at a takeover, the last was the failed "Bitcoin XT" fork. There is no sane reason to fork the network short of trying to take control of the protocol.

Here is the roadmap that the main Bitcoin ("core") team has put together and is working on:

https://bitcoincore.org/en/2015/12/23/capacity-increases-faq...


Your reply is demonstrating the parents issues with the discussion perfectly.

Anyone not closely following the situtation(such as myself) just sees a enormously heated up discussion (I was reminded of [1]). Every party involved is accusing the others of spreading lies,misrepresenting the situation and trying to take control over the blockchain/bitcoin/protocol.

Based on that, I have difficulties understanding and evaluating the potential technical and political challenges.

Bitcoin (and similar crypto currencies) seem to be a huge risk at the moment: Everything might collapse tomorrow (or not). The market could be split into incompatible segments(or not). One entity could become strong enough to take control of the network and enact unfavourable policies(or not).

Right now,I do not see why somenone would decide to start investing (time and money) into bitcoin while there are generally accepted, scaled up and working solutions for the underlying problem of getting money from A to B (Banks Credit cards, etc). These work fine for most people/companies and their cost and risks can be estimated fairly well in advance.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE3j_RHkqJc


"The reports of Bitcoin's problems are greatly exaggerated".

There is a small group who seem really good at spreading a message of "Bitcoin is about to collapse". They are doing this either because they control a lot of competing currency (Ethereum), or because they think it will help adoption of their Bitcoin fork.

The reality is, 95% of Bitcoiners are very happy with the team working on the protocol, and the market seems happy too (the price has gone up +68% over the last 6 months.)

But you absolutely should not take some random internet person's word for it. You'll have to invest large amounts of time reading bitcointalk, reddit and the like to make a sound decision. Luckily it's pretty fascinating reading. In time when Bitcoin's future is clearer, it will either be worth much more, or nearly nothing. But I think you can get great insight into where it is going by following it closely today.


Your 95% number is completely made up, and doesn't match what others are seeing. There are many posts in r/bitcoin that are pro-large-blocks/anti-Core with hundreds of upvotes.


Look, even without the block size issue, the infighting is a problem.


I think the text of the linked summary refutes the consensus (at least from the reports of the Roundtable participants' show of hands).

Jihan Wu (CEO of Ant Miner, Antpool, formerly #1 and currently #2 mining pool [1]) has been pretty vocal about his unhappiness with the HK meeting on his Twitter account: https://twitter.com/jihanwu and posted a very lengthy essay on 8btc. Partial translation here: https://www.reddit.com/r/btc/comments/495866/the_rbtc_china_...

F2Pool (also a HK signer, currently the #1 mining pool) now offers Classic voting for miners, as does Slushpool (they've published their voting results which also clearly doesn't show a consensus among miners: https://slushpool.com/stats/#voting-results )

Here is Classic's roadmap, just since you posted Core's: https://github.com/bitcoinclassic/documentation/blob/master/...

I think both sides have been pretty politically adroit in their own domains, but to pretend that there aren't two sides, or to conclude which side has more support, or to even talk about takeovers, considering both sides have different visions for the evolution of the protocol (on-chain vs off-chain scaling may be the most succinct summary) makes me raise an eyebrow.

[1] https://blockchain.info/pools


This is false. There is not "near consensus". There was heavy pressure at the event to reach some conclusion -- some who agreed have since expressed other viewpoints. A number of miners who signed that document went on to experiment with Classic (the alternative client). Also, that group wasn't fully representive.

Looking at users, the majority are very unhappy with how Core has operated over the past year.

Additionally, running Classic isn't "taking over the network", it is a way to get a change into the protocol without Core's approval. The next software upgrade after that could very easily come from Core. Of course, it also sends a strong message that Core needs to listen to others more, and that can't unilaterally mold Bitcoin to their own personal vision.


> They want to take over the bitcoin network with a fork, which will follow different rules

A simple and clear understanding of which group is trying to distort Bitcoin from its mission can be had by simply reading this informative white paper:

https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf

I would encourage everyone following this discussion to start by reading the foundation document, and then comparing the design and goals of the system envisioned by its creators and adopted by early-adopters, with the vision being propounded here.

I would furthermore ask everyone who has read the paper, to decide for themselves what it means for Bitcoin that "consensus" can be "reached" by putting all the key players in one room and signing a document.


Thanks for this. For those of us not following closely, that paper explains the issue clearly.

From my reading, the protocol is supposed to adjust the difficulty of the block chain proof of work to provide a certain number of blocks per hour?


Yes, that is correct.


From what I understand from reading many of your comments (riprowan, seems like you understand what you are talking about):

  - Some people don't want to increase the block size
  - The original whitepaper says that this is supposed to increase
  - People who advocate for this have some big players trying to hinder their discussion
I don't know if I am getting this right. But does that sound about what is happening here?


point 1 is obviously true

To point 2 - the original white paper doesn't even mention "block size limit" because originally Bitcoin did not have a block size limit. "Honest miners" are assumed by the author to always include all profitable transactions (ie. where the fee > marginal cost to include it in a block).

The limit was added after an attack in the earliest days of Bitcoin. That attack vector is simple: a miner who mines a block includes bogus transactions to himself in order to inflate the block to gigantic proportions. Other miners, who have to validate its contents, choke on the block. Meanwhile the attacker is free to keep mining, and / or the network stops processing transactions.

The original attack, and why it's no longer relevant, is described in this blog:

http://gavinandresen.ninja/One-Dollar-Lulz

In short, the attack vector which prompted the creation of a block-size-limit consensus rule is no longer a concern, as it has been addressed in two ways:

(1) This attack surfaced in the earliest days of Bitcoin, when it cost nothing to mine and miners risked nothing if they mined a block and threw it away by attacking the network. Today, industrial miners risk $10K with every block they would lose if they tried the original attack - which by the way

(2) is preventable without even having a consensus rule, for example by running Bitcoin Unlimited, a version of Bitcoin which attempts to re-create "original" Bitcoin by allowing each miner to set his own "anti-attack" limit, instead of requiring the network to agree to share the same limit.

It is clear from the various online records that the limit was intended a non-economic anti-attack threshold, to be removed if it ever became an issue.


I wish you wrote a blog post about this, I'd like to see what perspective you would bring to the table.

A lot of this makes little sense to someone from the "outside" like me, but you are able to explain it in a good way.

Thanks for the help!


Please read the article that this whole thread is about--you know, the link at the top of this page that we're discussing. Gavin says that 75% of the people at roundtable 3 voted in disagreement with the document you linked.


But still, the thing is that regardless of who is right there is a bias in the most comments, including yours. This is the conflict that is bad it itself


Why shouldn't I believe the narrative that Blockstream is attempting to control Bitcoin by limiting transaction count growth?


rsi_oww is one of the few users posting facts and his comments are grey...


Wow. At first I believed the other posts that there was no consensus. And reading about the moderation of promoting alternate coins on /r/bitcoin does make it sound too heavy handed. But just reading this comment and seeing that someone does feel there is a large majority consensus is a really different point of view.

I'm just dropping this note to give an outsider's perspective. I have no stake here and no interest in betting on something like this. I hope it does get sorted out and the concept of secure digital, decentralized money lives on in some form or another. Good luck.

EDIT: Aaaand now I'm downvoted for no reason. This thread is absurd.


Your impression is spot on. Nevertheless there are still lots of people who have lots of money in it and that's part of the problem why there is so much controversy and why some people don't want to move away from their position.

If you are interested in blockchain technology you don't have to go to bitcoin. There are lots of other cryptocurrencies where you could learn about it.

Ethereum is currently the new kid on the block. Ethereum is often described as "Bitcoin 2.0". Better technology, better leadership, no toxic community, IMHO it looks like how bitcoin should look like (at least for now, who knows what it will be like in a year).

Because of that lots of money has been going to Ethereum altely, even long time hodlers of bitcoin have sold bitcoin to get some ether.


Ethereum has the same potential scaling issues as Bitcoin and has not yet defined a plan for scaling infinitely, aside from pushing for the development of technologies which move some forms of communication off the blockchain entirely. At the point where Ethereum gets to where Bitcoin is now, it's entirely possible its community could have exactly the same issue.


"Scaling infinitely" is a pretty steep requirement. I wouldn't go there yet, either implementation of the blockchain technology is useful long before the insane transactions per seconds which VISA is handling.

But yes, Ethereum has similar constraints as Bitcoin. Vitalik did some scalability blog posts on https://blog.ethereum.org/ but it's entirely possible that any blockchain technology just won't scale as we would like it to (that is, as good as a centralized approach).

OTOH, if there is a good technological solution, currently I have much more confidence that it gets implemented in Ethereum than in Bitcoin. The current infighting, bickering and actual threats and actions (e.g. DDOS at dissenting miners) is slowly but steadily destroying the Bitcoin community.


It seems very likely that building anything on top of Bitcoin will be seen in retrospect as a mistake, because the platform is controlled by a group of unpredictable individuals. You can't even predict the most likely outcome and plan accordingly.


Bitcoin does seem to lack effective leadership. This dates back to Satoshi leaving: he handed over the reins to people who didn't want them.


Why should there be One True Bitcoin implementation? What should be worked on is creating an official protocol specification, which would allow competing implementations, that miners could freely choose from. Let a thousand flowers bloom.


That would make sense, but sadly hasn't happened. Bitcoin has become defined by Satoshi's original C++ implementation.


It's not even the original that has the 1MB limit. That was added later as a temporary measure. Satoshi said that it could be increased and heavily implied it would be increased long before it acted as a limit to transaction amounts.

But I expect someone will be along shortly to "correct" my understanding.

As a neutral (I own no bitcoin), the whole thing is very dogmatic, very messy and looks like it's about control not about the limit at all. In fact many core devs were previously arguing for increasing the limit until it became clear that that position wasn't compatible with their position in core.

Outsiders see core as having been corrupted by the wishes of blockstream VC money. Pro-core see all outsiders as a conspiracy trying to wrestle control away.

In short, it's a complete mess.


Everyone needs to follow the One True Ledger, or you can't know if Bob really sent you $100 of Bitcoins that will be accepted by Joe.

There are already competing implementations like btcd written in Go. That's not the issue.

This post is from a developer who is part of a small group in the bitcoin world, who want to change the rules of the protocol. Anyone that did not follow those rule changes would see a different ledger.

That's not something that should be done in bitcoin - changes this big should be very hard to pull off, and require consensus of all parties. Most are strongly against these changes because it does not really do much, makes the network more centralized, and mainly because there are much better options to reach the same goal (that are being worked on right now).


"One True Ledger"

Oh boy.


Can anyone point me to good resources to understanding the technical side of Bitcoin?

I tried to read the white paper but it glossed over technical details (for instance, what does "signing" actually entail?). Everything else is either very hand-wavey and high level or assumes you already know how it works.

I'm interesting in understanding the spec and potentially expanding on it or being able to understand the ongoing issues with Bitcoin


The beauty in what Satoshi did was that he took several existing technologies (p2p, hashcash, public key cryptography, etc.), combined them and added only a slight twist (how the consenus is achieved).

In his white paper he only describes the twist, so you won't get a complete overview on how bitcoin works (even if you know how the stuff he's building on works).

This link has been posted to HN before and gives a pretty good overview on how bitcoin works: http://www.michaelnielsen.org/ddi/how-the-bitcoin-protocol-a... So you won't get


Here are some links that have technical details and a bit of context about cryptocurrencies:

A blog post: http://www.righto.com/2014/02/bitcoins-hard-way-using-raw-bi...

A paper: https://eprint.iacr.org/2015/261

A book: https://d28rh4a8wq0iu5.cloudfront.net/bitcointech/readings/p...

Choose your adventure ;)


This course is pretty good:

https://www.coursera.org/course/bitcointech


I found Mastering "Bitcoin: Unlocking Digital Cryptocurrencies" by Andreas M. Antonopoulos to be a good introduction.


So far as I can tell as a complete outsider...

Bitcoin developers and the bitcoin community (i.e. people trying to make bitcoin much larger) are not finding shared solutions for the future of the network.

It's impossible to know (from the outside) who is right, but both sides are very very sure that they are in the right!

Time to fork it and move on I think.


and have two things half as great?

No, similar to Abe lincoln bringing the entire union together splitting the country into a 'north' and 'south' would have disabled the progress that was made in the 100 years after.

trying to make everyone happy is not possible and in my opinion is one of the first steps towards failure.


A simple and clear understanding of which group is trying to distort Bitcoin from its mission can be had by simply reading this informative white paper:

https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf

I would encourage everyone following this discussion to start by reading the foundation document, and then comparing the design and goals of the system envisioned by its creators and adopted by early-adopters, with the vision being propounded by "Bitcoin Core" versus its opposition teams.

I would furthermore ask everyone who has read the paper, to decide for themselves what it means for Bitcoin that "consensus" can be "reached" by putting all the key players in one room and signing a document.


    95% miner voting is a problem for some miners, who don’t 
    want to have veto power over such an important change.
    The chances of extortion either against them (“vote the
    way I want or I will DDoS you off the Internet”) or by
    them (“If you want me to vote a certain way, pay up”)
    are just too great.
One of the interesting parts of Bitcoin is how it offloads, to a certain extent, the consensus guarantees into the economic and political realm. The flip side of this however is that it opens up the network to exactly these sort of considerations to a greater extent than other distributed consensus algorithms.


What? That is exactly what it does not do! Bitcoin takes the politics and money out of consensus -- once you are running a full node you are validating the rules and the ruleset is unchanging. Being above politics is entirely the point.


The ruleset is certainly not unchangeable.

If enough miners and full nodes install a different bitcoin implementation, having combined more than 51% of the hash rate of the network, the ruleset of the new majority is valid.

That's how bitcoin reaches consensus and that's how Classic would activate (going for 75% and a grace period of a month, because otherwise you'd probably get chaos and the possibility of 2 distinct bitcoin networks).


> If enough miners and full nodes install a different bitcoin implementation, having combined more than 51% of the hash rate of the network, the ruleset of the new majority is valid.

No, that is a misunderstanding of how bitcoin works. If the miners activate a new ruleset, and if that change is not so very carefully constructed as to make the old rules a special case of the new rules (a soft-fork), then those miners fork themselves off the network no one automatically follows. The amount of hashpower on the fork has zero relevance to the validity of the blocks they are mining, from the perspective of an un-upgraded node.


Bitcoin is simply decision making by CPU power. Quote Satoshi: "Proof-of-work is essentially one-CPU-one-vote. The majority decision is represented by the longest chain, which has the greatest proof-of-work effort invested in it."

I didn't say that everyone follows automatically if there's a hard fork. But if there's a hard fork and an un-upgraded node finds itself on the losing side of the fork, it is lost.

Whoever generates the longest chain that gets accepted by the majority of the networks, wins.


Don't mistake the ten second elevator pitch description for an engineering analysis.

No version of any Bitcoin node software previously released has worked how you describe.

The consensus selection rule is more complex: It's the longest _valid_ chain that nodes follow. Chains that violate the rules are ignored, and this is an integral part of the set of incentives that make the system work.


You are correct. However the rules are determined by what the majority of miners say the rules are. If the miners decide to change those rules and they have enough others who agree with them then they can do so. And the economic incentive for everyone else is to agree with that or get left on a worthless network or a greatly decreased in value network.

The economic incentive is that if you play nice with others and follow the majority ruleset then the coin that you mine will be worth something.


> You are correct. However the rules are determined by what the majority of miners say the rules are.

This is simply factually wrong.


No one except others using the new version of the software. If the majority decided to switch, the un-upgraded nodes would be cut off.

Choosing the version to run is a political and economic decision.


Who'd had thought your unregulated currency would eventually fail.


As someone who's studied economics at the grad level, bitcoin has never made sense to me.


I don't understand why people buy baseball cards, either. But if I could send those baseball cards over the internet nearly as easily as an email, I could see it becoming a small niche currency (small as in millions of people).


The lack of product managers and an abundance of engineers is both the weakness/strength of the protocol. They have maybe 12 months of runway before everyone loses faith and sells, and by everyone, I mean me.


> They have maybe 12 months of runway before everyone loses faith and sells, and by everyone, I mean me.

They're taking so long to even decide on a solution that I'm not convinced it's going to happen without fracturing. In fact, because of how this known problem has been creeping up with piss poor direction with solving the problem, I do not believe bitcoin is mature enough to put any serious money in it. Gamble, play with it but why would anyone put any serious money into it especially now?


One reason may be that the rate of issuance of new coins is going to be cut in half in 4 months.


>They have maybe 12 months of runway before everyone loses faith and sells

Yeah, and I'm gonna stop using the internet because the http protocol isn't exactly how I want it. Grow up.


Http has "won" because it meets needs other alternative protocols didn't. After 25 years, it's beyond incumbent. (Yet it is still evolving) Bitcoin isn't there yet; there's still several ways it could fail.


Yes i did. And moved to HTTPS instead.

Not having fate our doubting the backing technology is a very legitimate reason to move your money eslewhere


HTTPS is just HTTP over SSL. It's still the same protocol, just tunneled through a transport security layer.




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