Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Don't mine Bitcoin, mine Altcoins (hackcabin.com)
140 points by jhabdas on Aug 24, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 130 comments

All this crypto currency mining and speculation is a perverse form of wasting resources. While most people talk about energy conservation others keep buying hardware they don't need to burn electricity 24/7 so they can "create" made up resources to sell to other speculators online.

And let's quantify the waste of resources by storing vast buckets of useless data people put on the internet. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Google Plus. What about the PoP's the house the IP transit traffic? How about the thousands of advertisement/Spam companies that just add to the noise? Telemarketers and their like (legal and not).

Surely there is a better argument to be made here. Speculative "mining" on consumer purchased hardware is hardly near the top of global wasted resources.

Yes, pretty much everything in our current economy is extremely inefficient. In terms of waste, cryptocurrencies are peanuts.

- Facebook ad spending is a waste; do companies actually get a ROI on all the money they give to Facebook? They don't actually know! In the grand scheme of things it's a complete waste. If Facebook didn't exist, then companies wouldn't be forced to pay it money just to stay relevant; they could focus their funds on actually improving their products instead. Not to mention the enormous amount of otherwise productive human hours that Facebook is responsible for wasting every day. That's not even counting all the other social networks.

- Gambling; $240 billion per year; the money does nothing for society. The amount of money spent on gambling every year is MORE than the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies added up together. So even if you think that buying a cryptocurrency is gambling, your odds are much better (and improve as you do more research). If people stopped gambling on horses and lottery and started gambling with cryptocurrencies instead, the total market cap for cryptocurrencies would be much higher than it is now.

- Sports; the sport industry makes $75 billion per year. Yes it's entertainment. So is trading cryptocurrencies.

- Tobacco industry makes $35 billion in PROFITS per year. Doesn't add anything positive to society. I think that if you were to add up all fees (profits) ever charged for transferring cryptocurrencies, you wouldn't get anything close to $35 billion.

> In terms of waste, cryptocurrencies are peanuts.

I don't have a link for you, but just yesterday I read a headline saying bitcoin mining accounts for 5% of the UK's energy expenditure. That's not peanuts.

Now, even if that headline is wrong, here's a site that offers a Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index Chart (https://digiconomist.net/bitcoin-energy-consumption) and they say that bitcoin accounts for 0.08% of the world's electricity consumption. That seems absurdly high.

> Facebook ad spending is a waste; do companies actually get a ROI on all the money they give to Facebook?

Yes they do, and yes they know. Facebook is very effective at reaching qualified leads, it's not "likes" or "engagement" what advertisers are buying.

Maybe for a small subset of the total advertising spend, but for the big players, they can't always be sure which part of their revenue can be attributed to Facebook and which part can be attributed to other sources or which part can be attributed to their sheer scale (everyone knows about Coca Cola, but that won't stop the company from spending big on advertising). Companies like Procter and Gamble started scaling back their Facebook ad spend; they had no idea what their FB ROI was until they actually started scaling back and they realized that it was essentially $0.

If they can't measure their ROI, big or small the players, it's their fault, not Facebook. It's not that hard to deploy direct marketing campaigns and monitor conversions. It's actually the ABC of online marketing.

I don't think that lead generation ad spending on facebook represents a small subset of the total advertising spend on there. Sure, there are always going to be monolithic companies that market poorly on facebook, but from my experience this is not the norm, and a lot of companies and startups are marketing on facebook without blindly throwing money at it.

Jon, all I need to do to check if any internet ad campaign is effective is check analytics. Facebook Ads can be very effective.

Gambling pays for many social services through (heavy) taxation and government-run lotteries.

Sports promote fitness.

Cigarettes make me look cool (kidding).

"Gambling pays for many social services through (heavy) taxation and government-run lotteries."

It doesn't. That's the myth that keeps you supporting the system.

The truth is the other way around. https://medium.com/modern-money-matters/the-magic-money-tree...

That article is nonsensical.

Also which system are we referring to, there are an infinite number.

So your argument is because it's not the "top of globally wasted resources", we should ignore the waste? It's a large enough industry that GPU stock and prices are hugely affected by it, and its much more conventionally wasteful than the services you're trying to compare it to. Plus if the goal of cryptocurrency is to become more mainstream, this is a super important argument to make against it in its current form.

> So your argument is because it's not the "top of globally wasted resources", we should ignore the waste?

Sometimes this argumentation is totally valid. For example, it's utterly stupid reasoning when one uses less water at home "to save fresh water and environment", because households use half of the fresh water used by industry, and agriculture uses twice as much as the two combined. Whatever inconvenience the person trying to save the environment this way puts themselves into, the effect is capped at about 10% of total fresh water consumption. It's an effort applied in the wrong place.

Saving water or such is a mentality and you might not be able to measure it through a simple people * saving/person. If everyone's wasteful there'd be way less incentive to nudge industries into changing. Where would the change be coming from?

More philosophically speaking, if there's an equation of life with all the variables and we apply it here by taking all the "saved effort thanks to not promoting water consciousness in regular households" and dumping it into whichever area we'd think is ideally efficient, it wouldn't be _too_ surprising if holistically, the result comes out less favorable of this approach vs just telling regular folks to save water. For example, consider that it might take tenfold the effort to convince an agricultural company CEO to change approach; if ninefold the effort doesn't reach the activation energy to convince such person then you're better off telling nine people to stop the waste.

In general, I have the feeling that many decisions can wrongly be made to look stupid if we recalculate it using the select few variables we care about.

> If everyone's wasteful there'd be way less incentive to nudge industries into changing.

Ah yes, "let's show them not to be wasteful". Ever heard of the activities of making industries not to use child labour or improve working conditions of factory workers? If they didn't work, why do you think this one would?

> Where would the change be coming from?

Certainly not from social movements. They rarely have enough power to make a single company change, much less a whole industry.

Saving water can still be a false mentality. For example, my wife's hometown has poor water infrastructure. On vacation days everyone is home and nobody saves since the source is plenty. By noon the infrastructure is overloaded and gives out until evening. If people were more frugal everyone could have water all day.

I could be completely wrong (I don't fully immerse myself in cryptocurrency) but isn't mining coins way more heavily intensive on a CPU and overall power consumption than simply passively storing a lot of personal data?

I remember a couple of friends wanting to buy some powerful machines to mine bitcoins a few years ago, and they had to actually calculate their electricity bill to make sure they weren't losing money. That's quite a ways from storing Instagram pics.

The argument is not about individual intensity, but about absolute numbers. Millions of people on facebook/google/twitter compared to few crypto miners.

I would hesitate to use the word "few."

Imagine the power consumption in a place like this: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/qkvxk3/chinas-big...

Instagram et all provides humans with a great deal of value compared to bitcoin though. Rather than hashing random things they allow communication and entertainment.

Don't project your preferences on others.

The energy spent to facilitate these services are incidental to the work being performed; the total energy spent is a function of the task being accomplished. "Proof of work", on the other hand, is wasteful by design, which is obvious when you consider that "the work" itself is not useful, all that's useful is the assumption that the cost of wasting energy is too great to be worth it for a malicious actor. That isn't to say that POW cryptocurrencies themselves are useless, but they are certainly wasteful. An aversion to waste is literally the security mechanism.

Why isn't the current argument valuable unto it self? We don't need to equate it to anything in order to measure it's worth (or lack there of). It's a valid statement that can be discussed. If you want to do the same for other data, go for it, but in another conversation.

I wish more people would talk about this. It seems like a completely ignored aspect of cryptocurrency. It's not even just the electricity but the raw materials that go into all these GPUs that are being bought up (to the point of real scarcity and crazy price hikes), and tossed away when a more performant chip comes out. Like you say, it is seriously perverse.

> It seems like a completely ignored aspect of cryptocurrency.

I don't think it's ignored at all. It's covered in Bitcoin's FAQ because it comes up pretty often. Also some folks have tried to create coins that use something other than a PoW. Some have created coins whose PoW has independent utility (XPM: cunningham chains of primes).

> raw materials that go into all these GPUs

Well, thank goodness the GPUs have independent utility. If you want to be concerned about waste, the ASICs are generally much less useful after difficulty increases than GPUs.

> seriously perverse.

shrug people every day "waste" global resources on things that I think are totally worthless. You might see bitcoin and friends as similarly worthless but if absolutely nothing else it does seem like it has real utility for making remittances more affordable.

Last time I looked at the like profit "mining" ETH (a couple of people at work go on about it endlessly so I thought I'd check the maths) with my current hardware (a pretty decent single GPU and a couple of reasonable CPUs) and the price I pay for electricity I could net about $100 in a few months. That just isn't worth the potential hassle (setup, monitoring, keeping mining clients up-to-date, leaving the main desktop machine on full blast 24/7 heating up the room in summer for a start, and the profit calculation didn't include anything regarding extra wear-and-tear) to me.

You can talk about it all you want. I don't think anyone has begun to come up with a realistic solution. You can't make it against the law to mine, so what else is there?

Plenty of people talk about, issue is people are so locked into their profit motives that they reject dissenting statements like a hot poker to the skin.

Except those are all good things, more demand in this space will drive more competition and force manufacturers to push the energy saving capabilities of chips further in order to stay competitive. Raw materials can be recycled, we're not dealing with finite resources here.

Then again it could all just be a bubble, in which case yes there will be a lot of waste but the market will correct itself. The problem is cryptocurrency has real value, it takes real computing power to process and once it's processed it's very secure (therein lies the value) so I don't think cryptocurrency is going away

You need to slow down, big fella. By this same argument, all data processing by Google, Facebook, Amazon, and the like are all wasted resources. Burning CPU time on AI research is wasted resources. Using Excel is wasted resources.

Bitcoin is a transaction processing platform, the success of which is unfortunately limited by severe volatility issues. Many of these altcoins are designed to process arbitrary data, control ownership/identity, etc. Yes, there are plenty of pump and dump schemes, but you're talking out of your ass if you're trying to generally equate the usage of CPU time with "wasting energy."

I have a conspiracy theory that cryptocurrencies have been created by security agencies to conduct massively parallel calculations (mainly to break crypto) with costs offloaded onto the private sector.

Putting on the tinfoil: cryptocurrecies are a defacto bounty for hash algorithms, bitcoin is excellent proof that sha2 and ripemd160 arent broken

BitCoin is md5.

repeating double sha256 would be a rather inefficient way of going about this

Do you consider gold and silver to be similarly perverse?

"All this crypto currency mining and speculation is a perverse form of wasting resources"

It is not a waste because we extract economic & social worth from cryptocurrencies. Same thing with cars: they waste 97% of their fuel energy but we tolerate them because they provide obvious economic advantages. Also see: http://blog.zorinaq.com/bitcoin-mining-is-not-wasteful/

I was under the impression that making use of the otherwise 'wasted' compute cycles was the purpose of Ethereum - to allow people to throw 'useful' problems into the fray as people mine?

Or am I completely off here?

You're partially right. But "wasted" compute cycles refers to time that your CPU sits idle. I think the argument here is about energy usage. So sitting idle is not the same as running other people's computations.

the solution is self-regulating: if bitcoin ceases being profitable to mine, people will stop mining as much it and electricity usage will also fall

Or conversely big players will pony up for larger operations to exploit marginal inefficiencies and other economies of scale, which is what seems to be happening.

Additionally you're assuming the only motive behind mining bitcoin is the value of bitcoin, effectively ignoring realities like, e.g., that entities use it to avoid capital flight regulations.

That's not self-regulating; environmental harms of increased electricity usage and elements usage in hardware is an externality that isn't always captured by the market.

We need a 100% pre-mined coin.

There are a few of those. I think the first and most established is Ripple.

Those exist

Question: Are the resource demands of the entire world banking system a perverse use of resources? If bitcoin supplants a large chunk of that system but in doing so uses less resources overall...?

The second question is based on faulty assumptions. Bitcoin uses orders of magnitude more energy per transaction.

But virtually all mining is done near cheap renewable power.

People talk a lot about how much energy it uses, yet to see attempt at quantifying co2 emissions, they are likely quite low.

In a country with an electricity grid and 60% coal-based electricity generation.

Couldn't that cheap renewable electricity be transmitted and used elsewhere if the miners weren't using it?

The disparity in energy use is so large that even if Bitcoin mining emitted only 1% of the CO2 per kWh that normal energy users do, it would still be far ahead.

Does it? How many employees does bitcoin have?...

Yes, it does. The figures are out there. Bitcoin is absolutely tiny on the scale of global finance, so the denominator is extremely small. Not having employees doesn't save it.

> energy per transaction

The lightning network may address this specific concern. I.e. bitcoin may become primarily a settlement mechanism for a much less resource hungry payment handling protocol/layer.

Humans are involved in banking transactions too, don't discount the carbon footprint of the collective of bankers and bank tellers.

Those people won't go away if we eliminated the whole banking system, but their carbon footprint will not have been wasted on the tracking and transfer of assets!

A single bitcoin transaction uses about as much energy as the average American uses in 10 hours. As long as those bankers are doing at least a couple of transactions per day, they still come out ahead.

"They get more done" =/= "They do more things" =/= "They are more efficient"

There is downward pressure on the transaction volume of bitcoin for bitcoin users, because each individual transaction costs so much. This is not exactly an advantage of Bitcoin, I'll admit, but there are some people who will consider Bitcoin a success if ultimately it is only used for larger settlements between payment companies (they would prefer to see Bitcoin is not involved in micro-transactions, they would raise the tx fees to make this use case impracticable.)

All I'm saying is, don't look at Bitcoin handling an average of 7 transactions per second and say "that's less efficient" because your average Bitcoin transaction is currently trending toward being significantly more complicated than your average credit card transaction.

(And even after the recent improvements and pricing hype, I'm not actually betting on Bitcoin myself.)

The BTC system, by design, is unsuitable for trustless person-to-person transactions in the form of Point-of-Sale. Every merchant who operates Bitcoin is trained to know that the transaction is not over until it's mined and in a block, and it's really much safer to wait at least a few blocks.

So if you're selling coffee, maybe you don't worry about it because absolutely nobody is waiting 30 minutes for their cup of coffee, and if someone defrauds you more than twice you'll surely remember their face. By then you're still only out ~$10, and the cost of each attack is high, and likelihood of success is non-zero but fairly low. So you can eat the loss for the cup of coffee, sure, but this is definitely not a great sales pitch for Point-of-Sale system at BestBuy or basically anywhere else.

Ethereum, on the other hand, mines a block on average every 14 seconds. You could realistically be safe and use that in a Point-of-Sale system. (And I'm not the expert, there may be even better systems than Ethereum. But don't say Visa... :-)

The magnitude of the difference is so huge that I don't think it matters how complicated a bitcoin transaction is. It's something like a factor of 10,000 at the moment.

And I think either way, my statement that the question is based on faulty assumptions is correct. If bitcoin supplants a large portion of the financial system then the energy use will be ridiculous. If bitcoin's energy use is kept low by limiting it to large settlements between payment companies, then it won't supplant a large portion of the financial system.

I don't think that's a given. You're assuming that interest in mining will continue to grow at the same exponentially increasing rate forever, but that would most likely require the price to continue rising forever too. I don't think either of those scenarios sounds at all realistic. The bubble will eventually burst, but the blockchain will continue on.

Bitcoin price can drop to $1000 tomorrow and many miners will lose interest on the following day, but the difficulty is what governs how much work is required to put a block onto the end of the chain; not the number of transactions. When the difficulty drops, (yeah it will bring some miners back). In this way, it is extremely beneficial that the price drops for the viability of the network. And sure, that is scary for speculators who may or may not understand it, but this isn't a frozen banana stand, it is a brand new monetary system. There is tons of risk involved for stakeholders.

As solutions are implemented that make it easier to include more transactions in a single block, or to safely defer publishing the transactions into a block at all until some later date when there is less friction (SegWit does this?) the number of transactions that Bitcoin may process per second will rise, but the difficulty/hashrate are not a factor in this calculation.

The price of bitcoin is what has driven the interest in mining, and the explosion of difficulty is what follows from that based on how the protocol is designed to work. These variables are not in any way dependent on transaction volume by number or complexity of transactions, though.

You can absolutely increase or decrease the throughput of transactions handled by the network without necessarily having any dependent effect on energy usage, hashrate, or difficulty. (We could have a fine blockchain with only 5-10 people doing the mining, and it would almost certainly be able to handle just as many transactions, but there are quite a lot more people interested than that.)

Bitcoin can never and will never be a fraction of the efficiency of the modern world banking system, and it can never and will never be able to handle the number of transactions. While you could argue that updates and changes over the years might be able to mould Bitcoin into an efficient transaction network, at that point it would not be Bitcoin anymore.

VISA is capable of handling 56,000 transactions per second [1] while Bitcoin is capable of handing a measly 2.5 [2]. Bitcoin would need to scale by 224,000% to match VISA, and VISA is one of my different global networks. I don't know how much energy VISA uses but as of today, the bitcoin network is estimated to be using 16TWh [3], that's the same as all of Jordan or Lebanon or 5.2% of the energy consumption of the United Kingdom [4].

Assuming no energy consumption improvements, to scale to VISA levels Bitcoin would need to consume 224,000% more energy. That's 35,840TWh, which is nearly twice as much energy as the entire planet uses (21,776TWh)!!!

So, if Bitcoin is able to become 90% more efficient, it would only require as much energy as nearly two European Unions. If Bitcoin is able to become 99% more efficient, it would only require as much energy more energy than the entire United Kingdom. If Bitcoin is able to become 99.9% more efficient, it would only require as much energy as Qatar. I can keep going but I won't. I might have made a mistake and been a factor out, but even then it doesn't even matter, that's how ridiculous the numbers are.

I don't know about you but I find it rather unlikely that Bitcoin will every be a viable replacement for the world banking system. Maybe in a universe where Nuclear fusion is easy and ASICs never wear out, and the cost of cooling them is free but unfortunately for Bitcoin we don't live in that universe.

Bitcoin and crypocurrancys are horrible inventions if you care about the planet, if you think a massive decentralised network where value is created from ever increasing difficulty proof of work could be more efficient than VISA you are frankly deluded. Granted, this is someone who does not own any Bitcoins, so maybe I just haven't drunk the kool aid.


1. https://usa.visa.com/dam/VCOM/download/corporate/media/visa-...

2. https://blockchain.info/charts/transactions-per-second

3. https://digiconomist.net/bitcoin-energy-consumption

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_electrici...

> Bitcoin would need to scale by 224,000% to match VISA

> Bitcoin would need to consume 224,000% more energy

That's not how it works.

Doubling the quantity of Bitcoin transferred over the network does not double the network's energy use.

payment channels?

>if you think a massive decentralised network where value is created from ever increasing difficulty proof of work could be more efficient than VISA you are frankly deluded

nobody ever thought that. seems to a strawman to me.

With the current state of Bitcoin, you are absolutely right, but at the moment there are some developments that will improve this situation, mainly lighting network [0] which will help Bitcoin to scale in the number of transactions per second, granted, this is an off-chain transaction but it might be the right way to do it.


0. https://lightning.network/

As someone who finds Bitcoin interesting I hope it succeeds.

How much did that 2008 bailout cost in terms of resources ? .... right.

Actual resources? Much less than you think. By and large the bailout was done by transferring liability to central banks. Much of the "money" involved was purely virtual, credit or credit guarantees of one form or another.

The TARP was actually profitable: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/bailout-high...

Profitable to the US maybe .. but bless inflation exporting that took that burden and placed it on every thing (countries, assets,etc..) that are pegged to the USD.

Word! Everyone one hacker news should learn about inflation export/import. Sorry not yet in English: https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Importierte_Inflation

I'd rather let the market figure it out than have people like you tell me what is a waste of resources and what isn't.

Make up your own mind but Minergate has a rep for stealing your hash and lower hash speeds than if you do its yourself




If you "do it yourself" what would the net profit be including the cost of hardware and electricity?

That question is as impossible to answer as "if I started an apple orchard how profitable would that be".

Why? Assume that the value of these altcoins do not change, and see how many you can mine given a certain amount of time. The value of altcoins could very well go down, but for the sake of demonstration you could still calculate a very rough estimate, no?

> Assume that the value of these altcoins do not change, and see how many you can mine given a certain amount of time. The value of altcoins could very well go down, but for the sake of demonstration you could still calculate a very rough estimate, no?

And likewise if you assume values for the cost of apple seeds land, see how many apples you can grow given a certain amount of time - and the value of apples could very well go down - but for the sake of demonstration you can also calculate a very rough estimate of apple orchard profitability, no?

> Assume that the value of these altcoins do not change

Assume a perfectly spherical cow, emitting milk equally in all directions...

One problem is that the cost of electricity varies enormously. In some times and places it can cost many times the average. In others it can be literally free.


Unless you have free/ very cheap power, is likely not worth your time.

I guess this is great for contemporary squatters: steal electricity from the grid, get paid for the electricity used to heat your squat, by mining and selling bitcoin...

Is there any better alternative that offers similar simplicity?


An unfortunate side effect of the recent ICO boom, specifically the many "altcoins" built on ethereum, is a conflation of terms between "altcoin" and "smart contract," and therefore also what it means to "mine" a coin.

Yes, these ethereum "altcoins" are just as tradeable as any other crypto coin. However, it would be more accurate to refer to them as "smart contracts," because you cannot "mine" them in the traditional sense of redirecting CPU cycles.

Let's define "mining" an altcoin as receiving that altcoin in exchange for services. For example, you can "mine" BTC or ETH by providing the service of compute cycles. Then how do you "mine" an altcoin that is really an ethereum smart contract? The service could literally be anything, depending on the contract. It could mean anything from leasing disk space, to freelance programming.

If you have a generic mining rig setup, you can probably redirect it to mine ETH, BTC, or any CPU based proof-of-work coin. But your CPU can't freelance for people. It can't lease disk space. It can't fulfill any arbitrary ethereum contract.

There needs to be a distinction between the term "altcoin" and "smart contract," because even though you can trade them both on exchanges, the process for receiving the coin in exchange for services can vary widely. It's misleading to refer to "mining BTC" and "mining <insert smart contract here>" as interchangeable ideas.

First of all, past increases in price shouldn't be used to calculate mining profitability. If you want to speculate on the price, just buy directly on an exchange.

It's a bit misleading to only show coins that have appreciated in value.

It's odd the article doesn't mention the different mining algorithms. It's definitely not profitable to CPU or GPU mine any SHA256 coins, given ASICs are ~10,000 times more power efficient. Yet he suggests CPU and GPU mining, then says he's considering buying Antminers?

Just the fact that the author suggests Minergate as a good option speaks volumes about his understanding of the crypto market.

I don't know about altcoins but I doubt learning about new ones and setting them up is worth your time.

The electricity mining Bitcoins costs with a normal CPU/GPU though is definitely more then you're going to make. (Even if your PC is on anyway, just the added cycles.)

EDIT: This is a good place to remind everyone that most people in the original gold rush lost money, their health and years of their lifes for nothing.

Bitcoin is far past the point of being profitable with CPU or GPU, but there are many coins out there that are more than profitable for most americans (it has to mainly do with electricity cost in your area how much it will be profitable)

can you provide any examples? i'm very skeptical because generally any coins that are viable with GPU mining are very quickly made not so by an influx of miners...

Ethereum is still more than worth it for me. At my electricity rates (which are a hair above the national average), it costs me very roughly $1 a day (I calculated actual usage numbers a bit ago for various algorithms but I don't have them on hand) to run an old R9 390 I had laying around (and the 390 is a VERY power hungry card).

Hashing Ethereum, i'm making around $2 USD per day from that card. Hashing ZCash I'm making about $1.70 USD a day from that card. (both without any real optimizations). Also that's pre-power-consumption-cost, so the "profit" is $1/day and $0.70/day respectively.

There are others which cut it even closer, but there are other people who live in areas with cheaper power that make even those worth it.

It's not the cash-cow it was in it's hayday where people were making $5-10 per card in some cases, but for me it's still a nice $200 a month in profit in my bank account from just older equipment I had laying around and about $100 in parts and stuff to run it in my garage. Accounting for the several hours I put into setting it up makes the money less worth it, but it was fun for me to do so I'm happy with it.

Have you done the sums compared to if you just put $200 into BTC and watched the price increase?

I have, and depending on how you do it I could either be ahead or behind.

If I would have "invested" only the $120 that I've spent on equipment so far, i'd be significantly worse off than I am with mining. (Remember, I started this process with a handful of older/unused GPUs, so the only stuff I bought was an extra PSU, some risers, and a few odds and ends here and there).

If I factor in the selling of the unused GPUs that I had laying around that I'm using for mining, I'd still be at a bit less than I am now (assuming I got the "market rate" and sold them at a good time). Realistically I wouldn't have sold them, since I didn't already and had some of them for a few years. They would have just collected dust in my closet like they were.

If I "pretend" that I invested as much as I'm spending in electricity each month into bitcoin and sold it off in a manner similar to how I get paid mining (in other words, "buy in" a few $ per day, selling all of that back at the end of the month), i'd be slightly better off, but that's only because bitcoin went from $2700 to like $4000 in a few freakin days!

In theory you can invest that 200 and make 400 next month, what's stopping you; 6 months down the line you're in theory making 6400 per month (3200 gross profit) and have paid off your equipment?

In theory, but if the most profitable coins take a downturn, I could be left with a bill and a lot of very hot GPUs that would sell for a fraction of the price I bought them for.

I'm okay with my lower gains for less/no risk.

> o the "profit" is $1/day and $0.70/day respectively

> it's still a nice $200 a month

Even if you can do both concurrently, that doesn't add up (1.7*31 = 52.7, not $200).

That's only my one card, i've got a handful of other cards that I'm mining with (most fulltime in my garage, one in my main desktop PC that mines only at night when the AC won't need to cool it).

My whole "setup" makes me about $200 in profit a month right now (down from roughly $500 in Ethereum's hayday)

Most modern altcoins are designed to not be able to be mined with ASIC miners, so GPUs are the only efficient way of mining them. ETH is an example of one.

the problem with mining is the high initial cost outlay for hardware , which becomes obsolete rather quickly

How much 'real' transaction goes on through these alt coins?

Bitcoin enabled trade accross borders without going through banks, and with the possibility of evading normal money launderng proceedures.

Ethereum offered fascinating new applications like DAO, providing new ways of trading in funds and structuring companies.

Possibly there would be space for a zero knowledge alt-coin in dark pools and for mediating illegal tranasctions. But I don't think there is a market leader yet.

The huge majority of these alt coins are bucket shops. Surely that should effect the way we talk about them.

There are a lot of bucketshops these days. American gambling laws make it better to pretend to be legitimate. I wish America would just legalize online gambling.

My friends and I settle up our beer tabs or things like that with Aeon, a Monero like currency popular in my age bracket.

Thanks - here in the UK Monzo (a startup but more or less a traditional bank) is filling that niche, and I'd not hear of Aeon. I think a mobile privacy platform like that has a lot of potential but you'd need to make it very easy to buy the coins too.

Ah yes, happy to help you in any way. Thanks to the asic resistant mining algorithm we are able to generate coins fairly reliably with CPUs that are already in our desktops and inexpensive GPU arrays that we have pieced together from Newegg.

"According to a team at Bloomberg News, at one point last year the U.S. had lent, spent or guaranteed as much as $12.8 trillion to rescue the economy" http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/economy/the-true-cost-o...

HN is truly a hub for a great set of minds in the tech community but when it comes to crypto it just amazes me how myopic opinions can be.

You can mine alt-currencies on some exchanges which pay out in bitcoin. This allows you to "mine" bitcoin on unfeasible hardware.

I used zpool.ca for a while when Blake2s alts were highly profitable. I don't know what the best alt-coins are these days. It tends to fluctuate quite rapidly.

Along those lines is a service called "NiceHash". They basically sell your PC's "hashing ability" on various algorithms to buyers.

This ends up acting like you the "seller" of hashing power getting paid in bitcoin to hash whatever altcoin is most profitable at the moment.

They have an auto-switching GUI client for windows, and allow you to point basically any miner that they support the algorithm at their service and get paid in bitcoin at a roughly comparable rate to mining the actual coin.

The problem with these exchanges is you can never be sure what your actual return is going to be (this is true to an extent for all coins, but the effect is not as big for the more established coins that you mine directly).

Suppose there's altcoin called ALT which can be mined very quickly and is worth let's say $0.00001 per coin. Mining a block takes 5 minutes and the payout is 10000 ALT coins or whatever. The 10000 coins are distributed across the pool, and you determine that on your setup you should be able to mine $3 USD in terms of BTC a day on the pool. You get wind that ALT is about to get pumped hard, which means your potential earnings could reach $20 per day (or whatever).

What's the problem (ignoring exchange fees) with going "all in"?

Firstly, ALT coin may have a confirmation time of several hours or even days. You can't sell unconfirmed coins.

Secondly, the exchange has to sell these coins elsewhere (usually another exchange). Because of the low value, this other exchange may have a rule that you can only sell in batches of 1 million. So even though you've mined X amount of coins, you still have to wait for the batch to be fulfilled.

Thirdly once the batch is fulfilled, you still have to wait for it to be sold on the other exchange.

And finally, the BTC <-> ALT exchange rate may fluctuate independently of known factors.

By the time this happens, your ALT coin will almost certainly be worth a different value to what they were when you first mined them.

It could be worth more or less, but the point is you can't efficiently forecast on most alt-coins when you use exchanges like Zpool and NiceHash. This is why they usually have several values for your "earnings" - Total, Unconfirmed, Confirmed, and Sold. It's also why "profit switching" algorithms and techniques are kind of a silly idea for most alt-coins - you cannot calculate profit based on current market values.

That's the nice part of NiceHash though, you never even own the alts in any way.

You as a "seller" get paid in bitcoin per mhash/s (or whatever the unit is for that algorithm). so if you are hashing "DaggerHashimoto" at 26Mhash/s for 24 hours, you are getting paid x btc per mhash/s

The "buyers" are basically then paying NiceHash to say "I want x ghash/s of this algorithm and I want it going toward this mining pool and I'll pay you X bitcoin for it." So then NiceHash plays the part of the broker and matches that X bitcoin payment up with as many miners as is needed to reach the threshold of ghash/s and takes a little off the top as a fee.

It's not perfect, you may end up taking a sub-optimal algorithm and making less than you could have if you did it perfectly, but it works well enough that I make profit in bitcoin.

Nicehash is slightly more stable but you end up in a similar situation since the price per Mhash fluctuates in the same way. If you examine the profitability chart it's all based on historical prices:


That's usually fine for the bigger, more established alts (since the known alts use the known algos - DaggerHashimoto, Equihash etc), but not for the alts which can potentially generate the most profit in shorter periods of time. So if a coin that uses some obscure algo gets pumped for a few days it's going to skew the chart.

The real benefit of Nicehash is that it's more accessible for people who are new to crypto mining. If you work out the numbers, mining ETH (for example) directly is almost always more profitable than using Nicehash. Nicehash is just simpler and more convenient.

Well of course mining the coin itself will be more "profitable", NiceHash is charging about a 4% fee (closer to ~2.6% if you play their game). So on average mining ETH directly will most likely net you 4% more.

But I don't want ETH, I want BTC. And while it's not a knock against ETH (It seems like a really cool technology!), I just don't want to hold my money in it and deal with it separately than I do my BTC. And I'm more than willing to pay that 4% fee to be able to hold my BTC securely with the ecosystem I have setup to sell and convert it to USD if/when I need to.

I'm very suspicious of the prices for some of these more exotic coins. If you mine something like Golem or Pepe Cash with no name recognition, how do you find a seller? The big exchanges don't sell them and finding a buyer yourself is very time consuming. Seems like you're likely to end up with a lot of cryptocurrency you cannot find a buyer for and a lot of wasted electricity.

You look for where the markets are?

Were you speaking in hyperbole? I don't even think you can mine any of your examples but lets entertain it:

Golem has $3,000,000 in daily volume and is listed on 17 distinct exchanges (separate sources of liquidity, some of which are on the same website)

Pepecash as upwards of $40,000 in daily volume and is listed on 4 exchanges.

You are going to be making pennies to maybe a few thousand dollars daily from mining and you think there is a liquidity problem that is even applicable to your low-income class?


Volume is low, but at garden variety mining scale you can easily sell.

Hold them until the price goes up. That's where the real profit is.

You could trade it on shapeshift.io for Bitcoin and sell those.

Shapeshift still requires a buyer on the other end, though I'm not entirely in agreement with the op. Seems like most relevant coins have some real volume

I am just pointing out that you do not need to go "find a buyer yourself" like op suggested. I agree there is a lot to be suspicious about with new coins/tokens.

More profitable to trade altcoins and get in on rumors then sell when they go high, and cash out to BTC/BCC when you can. Problem with a lot of alts is they don't go anywhere. If you were lucky and say mined NEO then you're fine, but what about the other 100's of alts?

I'm not sure about the other coins, but you can't mine NEO. You have to purchase it.


Multipool mining is nothing new, so it should be known that Minergate has a shaky reputation.

My independent analysis of it is that there exists merely an optimization on your mining yield by not using Minergate, but you will have to do that calculation yourself based on your mining hardware, electricity costs and throughput, and determine if the convenience makes up for the possibilities of alleged resource theft.

Mining pools pay out directly to any designated address, and so they don't store your earned funds at all. The risk of impropriety is very low, but miner's yields are also low enough that they would still complain about minor variances in mining pools.

I never thought there would be so many irrational, dissenting opinions for a newer sector of tech. Some of the guffaws in this thread are astonishing; this is the most uninformed I have ever seen HN.

Where did the data for the growth rate table come from? I can see that the original source is a reddit post but I can't find where the reddit post got it's numbers from.


but there are many others like that site, its just historical price data.

Woof. It's frightening how quickly these crypto threads get toxic with foam mouthed, wide eyed cultists.

And yet the political threads are the ones that get censored (among so many others)...

I'm 100% ok with political threads being censored here. I'd immediately stop bothering with this site if that toxin got unleashed here.

The majority of newer coins cannot be mined since they based on PoS.

I want to mine Ethereum when they start using Proof-of-Stake, because my computer is from the 2000's. Will I be able to do it?

You can't "mine" using Proof-Of-Stake (POS). I don't know which algorithm they will choose when/if they eventually do switch to POS, but one method is that the wallets that store the most ETH have a higher chance of being selected to perform some inexpensive computation. You get paid for performing these computations.

So to answer your question, you could potentially use your old PC to host your POS wallet and earn ETH. The amount you will earn will depend on how much you currently have and how long your are connected to the network.

Money is not everything you know

Quit wasting power on this nonsense, period! As of right now, Bitcoin alone accounts for more power usage than the entirety of Iceland. All that pollution for a non-tangible currency you can't even fold up and make a paper airplane out of, or eat, or even wipe your butt with.

While I understand the argument that mining cryptocurrencies is a waste of energy, I don't understand why cryptocurrencies are any worse than keeping money in a bank. Do you keep all your money as cash? Am I missing something?

Money kept in the bank is guaranteed by your government to retain (some) value; it is backed by the economy of your country. Bitcoin is not backed by anything other than speculation on implied value

This site recommends a program called minersgate. My virus scanner when off on it. Looking online it seems to not legit.

All the cryptocurrencies are pump and dump. It's a perfect space for people who normally trade currencies because they are generally not invested in the currencies.

So I wholeheartedly support pumping and dumping tons of cryptocurrencies. It has been free money for a while now.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact