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Nile: decentralized, commission-free, local-economy focused Amazon alternative (github.com)
342 points by marcocastignoli 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 201 comments

OpenBazaar[0] already is this idea.

I just checked the github post and one of the committers to openbazaar-go has left a nice lengthy comment explaining why/how[1].

Hopefully the people interested in Nile just put their support behind OpenBazaar instead.

[0]: https://openbazaar.org/

[1] https://github.com/open-source-ideas/open-source-ideas/issue...

I work on OpenBazaar and want to add that we've built it to support people creating custom front end clients for their own particular use case and are not compelled at all to use the reference client.

So they can use the OpenBazaar backend but still have the local focus they want by making a new front end.

We've been working on decentralized ecommerce for a long time and I would love for a fresh group of developers to take a look at it and give us their thoughts. It's all MIT licensed open source.

I think it would be really good to finally take a solid stance on creating a path to deal with payments made outside the platform.

It seems like it could just be generalized and tied into the reputation system[0]. Basically just let users claim they've paid and let buyers claim they've received payment through whatever outside-platform method.

[0]: https://www.openbazaar.org/blog/decentralized-reputation-in-...

How does a distributed market (like OpenBazaar) deal with trust? Is every transaction put into escrow?

The idea of a open, distributed market, is great. But the reality of scammers, cheaters, etc. is a big hurdle to over come. One of the great things about Amazon is the customer service, I don't really worry about not getting a product, or if I need to return an item to Amazon I am also confident that it won't be an issue. This seems really hard to accomplish in a distributed system with lots of small "shops".

There are two types of payments in OpenBazaar: direct and moderated.

Direct is when buyers completely trust vendors. There's no escrow and no safety net at all.

Moderated is when both parties agree to a third party moderator and the funds go into a two of three multisig account. Two parties need to agree to release the funds. Normally it's the buyer and seller but if they can't agree then they open a dispute with the moderator, who resolves the dispute and sends the funds to rhe winning party (or slipts them).

Moderators get a small percentage payout when disputes are settled. It's an open marketplace for offering moderator services.

The moderator doesn't have complete control of the funds (two parties are needed) and they aren't even aware of the transaction until a dispute was opened, so it has some advantages over traditional centralized escrow services.

What’s the current status of proof-of-burn for reputation?

Not used. I was in the very early versions of OpenBazaar.

Just wanted to say thanks. I think you guys are doing important work.

OpenBazaar is tied to cryptocurrency, which makes it a non-starter.

I get the desire to avoid cryptocurrency in general but as a technology it is a good fit (quite possibly the only fit, I'm not sure what other decentralized payment systems are out there) for what they want to achieve.

There has been discussion on whether they accept other forms of payment[0] (probably lots and lots of times), and supposedly they'll take PRs. Maybe someone should write an external payment API that really just acts like a dummy "blockchain" and works off of human verifications (along with some sort of trust score).

That, or someone could theoretically create a blockchain that did nothing but validate payments on other platforms (I have no idea how it would work but it seems possible), so a payment on the imaginary blockchain would equal a confirmed payment on some payment platform with sufficient API support.

[EDIT]- found another thread[1]

[0]: https://www.reddit.com/r/OpenBazaar/comments/2lddjy/besides_...

[1]: https://www.reddit.com/r/OpenBazaar/comments/531vui/openbaza...

Or you could rip all of this BS out and just integrate with existing, non-decentralized payment processors, and avoid alienating all non-technical users in the process.

So the thing is Bitcoin isn't bullshit. The technology and the papers are solid -- it's the application and the resulting hypetrain and what it spawned that you're railing against (from what I can tell, please let me know if I'm wrong).

Bitcoin does not have 0 use cases, it has ~1 that's extremely rare in practice, so much so that it's usually not worth using bitcoin. But it does have a usecase. Something something spherical cows.

Most payment processors are highly mutable by US politics.

In what way?

Julian Assange is one good example. The recent Iranian attempt to withdraw 350 million from a German bank is another.

Most cryptocurrency is easier to use than a credit card. You scan a QR code and click "confirm" to pay. So that "non-technical" criticism is a red herring.

I disagree with this. The process for 99% of people to use a credit card is "reach in your wallet, hand a card over or type in the number". The process for 99% of people to use crypto is "read on wikipedia on what cryptocurrency is, ask someone how to use it, get a lengthy lecture about how distributed currency is the future", and then they're still not anywhere close to using crypto.

I find crypto currency identical in difficulty as using foreign currency.

Once you convert Fiat to crypto, its easier to spend than using a debit/credit card.

Getting it from Fiat to crypto is the hard part. After that you literally scan a QR code or type in an email.

Its my preferred way of paying because I always have my phone but I dont always keep my wallet in my pocket. I dont need to add my address and birth date. I just send money.

Also, to clarify, I'm not a fan of alt coins(at the moment) only Bitcoin I believe is useful. Between coinbase Email, Shift card, and the usual on-chain txns, Ive basically made the change to Bitcoin lifestyle.

I find it more difficult to use Canadian dollars than US dollars in the United states, to the point that I have never used Canadian dollars in my daily life, and I would speculate that 99% of people would have the same experience.

> I find crypto currency identical in difficulty as using foreign currency.

The vast majority of people would find it burdensome to convert their money to another currency, and then use that on a normal basis. Of course if you ignore the hardest part, it's "easy".

He never said easy, he said as hard, which is true.

The problem is always wherever the other party supports your payment methods. You can literally pay by holding a smart watch over a supporting terminal. the same with online shops and Google wallet, Amazon pay or whatever

There are so many options at this point that I never get why anyone makes this about crypto currency. Most of these options are older and more widespread than Bitcoin as well.

> Most cryptocurrency is easier to use than a credit card.

It is until it isn't.

- Got screwed by a vendor and want to issue a chargeback? Nope. Can't do it.

- Sent to the wrong address because of a typo? Sorry for your loss!

- Got your wallet emptied by a malicious program running on your computer? Sorry for your loss.

- Too many people using the crypto, resulting in confirmations taking forever and/or costing a ton? Too bad, so sad!

- Fiat price of crypto swung widly before / after transaction resulting in your purchase costing far more / less than expected? Should have hodl'd buster!

- Want to convert all that BTC into fifthly dirty fiat? Better find an exchange that actually pays out in USD and not tether. Also better hope that said exchange actually has the money and isn't insolvent.


That's like saying driving a car is simpler than walking because you don't have to put on shoes.

You've either missed the obvious or willfully ignored the fact that to use crytpo, you must first have it. This is what makes it untenable for the majority of people.

Do you know why OpenBazaar chose to support cryptocurrency?

There's a lot of information already here [1], but I might add it'd be easier to create a Bitcoin wallet for each user than to open a PayPal or Stripe account for each.

[1] https://openbazaar.org/features/

Im pretty sick of websites asking for my home address, phone number, and (most importantly) my email address.

This is easily one of my favorite parts about Bitcoin. Scan the address and you are done.

This is an orthogonal concern. The only one of those necessary for US CC processing is Zip code, and only some of the time, which the CC processor will tell you when and you could handle as call-and-response. The other stuff can also be dropped from most CC-processing stores, they just don't want to because they like having that information just incase they need to ship something, or definitely in case they get marketing ideas to send you.

Or, build in integrated `crypto <--> $$` exchange.

There's no point in doing that, because if you can do that you can do $$ <--> $$

It can't be that hard to change it to use whatever payment processor the seller wants, shouldn't it?

Well, it's probably require a fork. Cryptocurrency is already tightly integrated with OpenBazaar. This also removes all of the platform's credibility in my eyes.

Why does it remove all of the platform’s credibility in your eyes?

Because it shows that they're more interested in riding the crypto hype wave than in solving real problems.

OpenBazaar is over four years old now. It didn't emerge out of blockchain hype.

Cryptocurrency means it can be completely peer to peer and not reliant on any payment processing platforms, and with multisig is allows for powerful escrow as well.

Hype has certainly peaked recently but that doens't mean they weren't a part of it. Blockchain has been hype for a long time.

I understand the "benefits" of cryptocurrency. They're all outweighed by people wanting their money to have a stable value so they can realistically budget their real life expenses. In the bubble cryptocurrency nuts live in where they don't have to worry about real world problems like carefully budgeting their paychecks, it might work, but software like OpenBazaar crashes right into reality.

Do you think there’s any chance that within 5 years there will be a somewhat widely accessible cryptotoken whose value is decently stable in the short and medium term, so that platforms like OpenBazaar would become at least viable for early adopter types and their friends?

I can't predict something like that on that kind of timescale. Within the next year, no.

I’m just asking because you seem to insist that OpenBazaar is an inevitable failure and a useless waste of time, while I can imagine it being quite successful within a few years.

they're more interested in riding the crypto hype wave than in solving real problems

On what basis do you make that accusation? And how does supporting cryptocurrency preclude them from solving "real problems", whatever that means?

Because cryptocurrency is clearly the wrong solution to this problem. If they actually wanted to make a decentralized marketplace non-technical people can use they would not have used cryptocurrency.

cryptocurrency is clearly the wrong solution to this problem

Why is it the "wrong" solution to making a decentralized marketplace? What's the "right" solution?

I've spoken about that in other branches of this thread. This tree is getting too deep, just read my other comments.

Can you indicate which comment you're referring to?

The one where he says "Let MasterCard/VISA/US Gov control the digital economy."

Let MasterCard/VISA/US Gov control the digital economy.

And how is this a decentralized marketplace?

what exactly are you trying to buy where any of those parties would care? I personally don’t care for another silk road. Anything else I buy I’m completely fine with any of those companies and my gov knowing

A Wikileaks tshirt...?

Why take the risk, when we can handle it ourselves?

disregarding contraband, lots of people distrust the non-transparent bidding system on centralised platforms

Something that the local people are actually using.

Can you be more specific? Are you referring to cash?

Exactly. Or credit/debit cards.

How do you propose cash transactions be carried out over the internet?

How do credit/debit cards satisfy the proposition of a decentralized marketplace?

"How do credit/debit cards satisfy the proposition of a decentralized marketplace?"

They're something that most people are actually using, allowing the marketplace to actually conduct commerce and exist.

Does a cryptocurrency-based market not conduct commerce and exist right now?

And again, how do credit/debit cards—which are centralized systems—satisfy the proposition of a decentralized market?

Not for most people, no.

"And again, how do credit/debit cards—which are centralized systems—satisfy the proposition of a decentralized market?"

They allow the market to actually exist, by using something that the people are actually using.

They allow the market to actually exist

But a decentralized market does exist with cryptocurrencies.

And credit/debit cards aren’t decentralized.

"And credit/debit cards aren’t decentralized."

Doesn't matter. That's what the majority of people are using; so if you want the marketplace to actually be able to serve people, and get them to actually buy stuff, you need to support them.

What the majority of people are currently using is irrelevant. The whole topic of this thread is creating decentralized markets, and you're saying the fact that these payment processors are centralized doesn't matter. That doesn't make any sense.

It sounds like a good compromise would be to allow people to check out with a credit card/paypal and have an instant conversion to BTC behind the scenes, maybe with a 2% fee or something.

"What the majority of people are currently using is irrelevant. "

Not if you actually want your marketplace to be able to, you know, sell stuff to people.

I see you conveniently ignored the rest of my comment.

Perhaps the idea of a decentralized marketplace is a bad idea? What benefit does this actually give me in my everyday life where I don’t need to buy toilet paper anonymously?

Perhaps the idea of a decentralized marketplace is a bad idea?

Clearly not for the people using it right now.

What benefit does this actually give me in my everyday life where I don’t need to buy toilet paper anonymously?

Are you asking why someone would want to transact anonymously?

For most things, most people don't care.

Craigslist does fine [grasping for a number] 95% of the time.

they just don't

its not difficult to understand that if you make this system with existing currencies it is centralised by default since the payment processors can and will enforce restrictions. then why make it decentralised?

During the height of dot.com mania would you have written off all web projects?

People did. I remember reading those kinds of comments.

Do I have to remind you what happened between peak dot com hype and the modern web?


Sure. I expect that in cryptocurrency when the current bubble pops.

It's likely that the most interesting things in cryptocurrency will be introduced during the crypto-recession. Right now there is too much noise.

or maybe you are resistant to change and fail to see the value of decentralised money ?

Or maybe it's nowhere near there yet, and they want to help solve the problem they see now.

We would absolutely welcome attempts to integrate other forms of payment into OpenBazaar. Our escrow system currently relies on multisig but that's the only significant impediment to adoption.

why a non-starter can you explain? cryptocurrency is very good for these use cases

We are better off with two platforms poaching ideas from each other.

As long as it stays two or three this is a good thing. If it turns into twelve I’ll be right there beside you with a torch and a pitchfork. Until then I’m sticking with popcorn.

OpenBazaar isn't the only decentralized marketplace out there, but it is the only one with any significant adoption.

It took four years to get there so rebuilding from scratch seems unwise when it's open source and you could add you own improvements or just fork it.

OpenBazaar isn't well-suited for local transactions. It could be, I would love that, but currently I can only select _my entire country_ as a delivery area. That's insane. Brazil is huge and I can only deliver to my neighborhood.

You can use an address and not just the whole country.

But yes, OpenBazaar currently isn't built for local communities. A feature we want to add eventually.

The software piece of this is not the hard part. The social piece is.

Admirable goal, but good luck getting wide enough adoption to achieve viability.

This explains just about everything. Can’t remember all the times I’ve read some pompous HN comment “pah, I could build it” and then thought, “well, you’d be just 0.01% of the way there.”

Nothing kills this delusion more than spending a year building something that you can’t seem to successfully market... multiple times. Then you realize there’s almost zero value in the technical part, and you can only chuckle at HN comments arguing about Python vs Node as if that’s the crux of a new business.

> you can only chuckle at HN comments arguing about Python vs Node as if that’s the crux of a new business

I definitely relate to this. I use Go a fair amount, and any conversation about Go on /r/programming invites a whole bunch of "every product built on a language without generics is doomed to fail". While generics would be a nice feature to my mind, I like Go for the tooling and the ecosystem, which are still an insignificant contribution to the success of a commercial product, but still many times more significant than the type system (and I'm a fan of type systems too).

Interesting...the simplicity of the language appeals to me. If the tooling and ecosysstem is as great as you say it is I'm in ;-)

To add, we mostly use pre generics Java at work. The product was built around 2003-2005 and is very successful inside company. It is also most reliable among dozen on or so other enterprise project in our group. So this obsession with Generics or other language feature is by people who are less interested in product and its success.

You just explained why time to market is so important, which really does justify discussions about languages that focus on developer productivity.

Sadly developer productivity is a problem to have, only if you have a legit business case, which most startups don't have.

Truth is, Python or Node or Go doesn't matter. Your customer won't care if it takes some input and output something they expected. Technology is cheap.

Startups absolutely have time to market and cost of developer time. Using a language that can get you there in 1 month instead of 1 year is very important and has nothing to do with the cost of technology.

There's very little to no correlation between "difficulty to get adoption/sales" and "time to market". This very article is about displacing Amazon (founded in 1994) in the ecommerce space and the very top comment is about OpenBazaar (started in 2016). You can develop your business in golang or rust or f#, but if the business idea is irrelevant or unviable then your developer economic productivity is exactly zero.

OpenBazaar started in 2014.

I don't think either language I mentioned there could offer you 12 productivity against the rest. Yeah, people have preference, for sure, but if you can build something in a month time using Node, someone else could probably clone it with Python/PHP in a month time as well.

Whether you can sell your startups or not, is a completely different matter

yet there would be nothing to market without the technical part so how can it have zero value ?

maybe your marketing has zero value because you're doing it wrong

How valuable is air?

It's worthless to everyone except a drowning man, to whom it's priceless.

Supply and demand are highly dependent on context. A strong technology base in a business is usually only required after you're starting to see scaling problems.

don't know about you but air is essential for my wellbeing and I live entirely on land

And if someone were to create an air company that sells air to the average consumer, how successful do you think it would be?

These guys sold out in 2 weeks.

“Canadian start-up sells bottled air to China, says sales booming”


It happened with water. Who would have thought 15 years ago how much bottled water is sold today?

There’s a difference: I don’t always have nice cold water to hand in a carryable form; I pay for the convenience of getting that. I always have air in exactly the form I want it.

Thaaaat's probably not true... You just don't know enough about the air you're breathing!

Marketing will take care of that. Half-kidding.

If you have good marketing/sales but terrible tech, you can still be incredibly successful. It's much harder to go the other way around.

And that's a darn shame. As a result we have markets saturated with snake oil while the good stuff (medicine) rots away in obscurity.

This is the game we've invented and which rules we usually play by. This area is waiting to be peacefully disrupted.

social is difficult to get but amazon success is not built on very high value... lots of weird products, lots of weird sellers ..

I think it's not absurd to picture a different market

As others have pointed out in this thread, the software part is more or less already built. It's called OpenBazaar.

And you're right that adoption is the hardest part. OpenBazaar has had about 55k people using it since last November when the 2.0 version launched.

Nice name :) Greetings from Cairo.

My team is working on an hyperlocal e-commerce system that connects small stores with people in their neighborhoods. Delivery is limited to walking or bike distance performed by the vendors themselves.

Cairo is full of small vendors in every street. Most of people living in high rises. You can get everything delivered already.

At the first stage we will just save vendors from taking orders via the phone by hand by allowing them to receive orders on their phone. The next step is to create credit system that eliminate the wastes of vendors or customers when they don't have exact change.

Hi! I posted a desire for something like this on the thread already! I just want to say I'm interested. I think it would be cool if people could share their stuff or sell their stuff to maybe a select group of people like family or extended family. The deal is it needs fulltext search and the ability to have privacy. This sort of thing would be great for situations like "I want to make ice cream. Should I buy an icecream maker for $99? Lets look at what my family has.. Oh great, Beth still has hers I'll message her to see if I can borrow it"

Yeah. Right now I think people rely on WhatsApp groups for things like these.

Would this gave the option for one organization in a city to do the work for small stores? I can imagine stores might not have the resources to host a part of this, but maybe the municipality, a co-op, or a large company that wants to support the local economy could host it. This comes to mind because my employer wouldn't have a need for this since we make enterprise software, but we profess to support the local economy via hosting a farmer's market, using local food when possible in our cafeteria, encouraging local bookstores for reimbursable education materials, and even sponsoring the local public radio. We would have way more resources to host an instance than a corner shop that sells yarn.

There are businesses built on top of local economies, e.g. Atalanda in Germany: https://atalanda.com/ (I'm not affiliated, but I know people who work there.)

They partner up with local businesses for the goods and bike courier services for the delivery.

I imagine it would be hosted (and funded and administrated) by the local business association, with tech support coming from a global foundation (same one developing the product).

I am not sure whether the name "Nile" was picked because of the "Amazon" river or because Nile is a symbol of being the only major river flowing from south to north.

The former would be mundane, the later a great metaphor.

Found your claim astonishing, so googled it.

Looks like this is not true, at least the Ob river (3,650 km) and the Yenisei river (3,438 km) are major rivers flowing from South to North (Both top 10 rivers).

So not sure where you did get that piece about the Nile from.

It's a common misunderstanding. I've heard this "fun fact" mentioned in grade school.

When I was in grade school, my science teacher told the class rivers couldn't flow north because, on a globe, north is up.

Somehow pointing out the Nile wasn't conclusive evidence against it.

Public education in America!

Ooooh is this a subthread for ranting about public education in a America? Cause I come from a family of teachers and I have WORDS!

In a little school district in Texas, we can't use the word "adaptation" in our cellular biology section.

Recent history textbooks use strange language around black slaves that seems to imply they were "workers," rather than, you know, slaves.

Eh. I'll stop. I gave up on teaching ages ago, but my mom still gets drummed up in front of the principal at least monthly for some bullshit. Most recently because the students have a shared box of basic supplies at their little desk pods (scissors and markers), and some mom demanded her son be allowed to use his own supplies because she didn't want him using the "Communist supplies." Verbatim quote. She thought it would teach him the values of communism. Obviously my mom told her to fuck off in no uncertain terms, so stern meeting with the principal for July...

I still remember that in Elementary school in Kentucky the teachers "accidentally" showed an Elementary-focused science series that included a video on plate tectonics and they had to apologize to the class and parents for showing such an "advanced and controversial topic". That left a lasting impression to this curious kid about how such simple science topics could even be so controversial, when the teachers looked pained at every follow up question I had days later. (As someone with a terrible anti-authoritarian streak at that age, this show of weakness in the teachers didn't help.)

In middle school in South Carolina, a public, accredited, full-time teacher saw me reading Harry Potter, walked up, and said "You know that book was written by Satan, right?"

Written by Satan. Not, like, "that book has satanic values" or "was written by a satanist" or "has evil themes," it was literally written by satan.

It's no wonder I was such a shithead little anarcho-atheist growing up.

How can GEDs from these schools possibly be recognized in the rest of the country?

Dude, Texas schools are considered some of the best in the nation. It's horrible in nearly the whole country.

But she doesn’t mind him going to the communist public school?

Hold on a second there, we don't teach basic functional logical deduction skills in our public school system, so let's not have extraordinary expectations of our students' parents ;)

But yea usually interactions with parents are a nightmare. It's become even worse now that special needs children are lumped into regular classes, so special needs parents will be asking questions my teacher family is literally untrained to handle.

I'm gonna steal Communist Supplies, that's brilliant.

You shouldn’t need to steal them. I imagine they will be distributed according to your need.

As someone else just mentioned it seems to be not true, I heard that long, long ago, and I never questioned that again. Perhaps I really heard that when I was in grade school because I cannot even remember the moment I learnt that “fact”

FWIW, the Nile is the longest river that flows northward, but there are quite a few others and some are very long. See https://www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/infopage/riversno.htm for a list.

> FWIW, the Nile is the longest river that flows northward

I know you're correcting them, I just find that fact hilarious. The Nile is the longest river that is not named Amazon as well, or any other category that doesn't include the Amazon

Maybe it's an acronym for "Nile Is Like Ebay".

¿Por qué no los dos? :-p

Hi. What you're describing is a public market much like those that were in Andalus and also in use by the Greeks and for the reasons mentioned on the GitHub page this is what led to the prosperity of those societies. I have a unique set of skills when it comes to Strategy, process and narrative. Soft skills basically. I would love to get involved or at least have a chat with the founders of how I may be able to help. If the founders are reading this, please tell me how I can get on touch.

Does this need to be decentralized? Decentralized does not necessary mean fair. How a decentralized platform could sove the problems OP mentioned; paying taxes (by using a decentralized platform, really??) and profitable for economics?

It is too naive to think decentralization simply can solve any social problems.

'Democracy' does not necessary mean fair either. (Even in places where it isn't just a label.)

Decentralization solves problems created by centralization. It replaces them with the problems created by decentralization. We're fairly certain now that centralization creates social problems. Decentralization eliminates big dictators in favor of petty dictators.

Hey there, I have the same vision. I drafted a blog post on Friday (just published it) discussing the first phase that I plan set in motion.

I would like to partner up with you on this.

Reference: https://russell.ballestrini.net/all-local-heros-need-a-gig-s...

I don't particularly agree with the delivery suggestion. Basically a volunteer UberEATS style delivery with bicycles? To say this is ambitious is an understatement. Bicycles are not nearly as used as you'd think, and decentralized delivery with volunteers will probably raise the cost of delivery (effort/petrol/time) as well as no one would actually trust this. So, suggesting a local delivery service would be more ideal, but that again is a pretty lofty goal with the amount of local options. So I suspect this will end up querying a few well known delivery services if they are available in the customer's country, and give a rough estimate of that cost.

Next, expecting the stores to bear the brunt of the store power also brings into question the technical knowledge of the store management. You'd need dedicated personnel for this since most people wouldn't know any of this. And granted, people who have the relevant knowledge to host and maintain the instance wouldn't be working in a store most likely anyway.

All that being said I don't want to complain too much. I like the idea but as it has been submitted there are a lot of practical holes in it considering the "market" it would best serve (areas not already touched by long ecommerce giant fingers) not having the necessary knowledge and infrastructure. Personally I'd suggest taking a look at how other popular decentralized systems work and seeing how ecommerce would fit into that (mainly, Mastodon).

The biggest issue with Amazon currently is counterfeit products. How is this planning on addressing that?

What is the incentive for the shops to scan and upload all products with correct description picture etc. this is a huge work, and just the access to a bigger market doesn't seem to be enough. Locafox in Berlin is pretty much trying to build a similar aggregator of local shops https://www.locafox.de/ It doesn't seem to work too well which is why they diversified into selling digital cashier machines to local businesses instead.

I feel like people don't know the difference between "doesn't pay taxes" and "pays no tax" —– one is illegal, the other one is typically a success metric of accounting.

(Disclaimer: I'm not advocating things like the double Irish w/dutch sandwich, or similar methods — while more or less legal — I personally agree of course how morally questionable tax-tricks can be to society, this is just to make sure we're clear that technically, most companies are a for profit and profit-maximizing operation)

I would be interested in a kind of federated marketplace, similar in structure to Nextcloud's federation. I would be responsible for my users, but other site owners can link to mine and we can expand our search for the goods we are interested in. We can just transact in cash just like a garage sale. It might be cool to have a private version of this so a family or extended family could share their stuff to save money and get more facetime.

Amazon is successful because it brings nearly everything a consumer wants within two days' easy reach. They are able to do so because they have an excellent logistical ground game, maybe a peerless one. Without challenging them on this you are not truly competing with Amazon.

This is more like competing with instacart or similar. That's a reasonable market, but operationally is a very hard nut to crack. I don't think having volunteers on bikes is going to manage it.

Mmm...interesting idea...a bit Utopian...I'm not sure the world works that way...good luck to anyone investing their time, effort or other resources to get this going.

Much of what we take for granted in the modern world looked utopian before it was available.

Not sure in which way e.g. the telephone or lightbulb looked utopian at the time. Most inventions had similar predecessors.

Perhaps you're thinking of social inventions like the social security nets in western Europe - I'm not as good in their history.

Its great in theory practice not so much. Delivery is complicated on a logistical level, especially for larger items that bikers cannot move (e.g. things not like uberEats). You have to deal with dimensional weights, freight classes, fuel rates, concealed damaged, among other things

I see a lot of people mentioning OpenBazaar here. I remember trying it out a year or two back when they had an early release. Has the OpenBazaar community grown? I haven't found anything I was interested in buying through it. I feel like the weakest link with stuff like Nile or OpenBazaar is that there is no good search engine out there for consumers to discover new products easily.

I work on OpenBazaar. It has grown significantly over the past couple years.

I'm mobile and don't have the stats in front of me but I do know that the network has been used by more than 55k people since last November when the 2.0 version launched.

It's now built on IPFS so nodes are still accessible even when the store is offline.

OpenBazaar.com launched as a read-only way to browse the network.

A mobile version is nearing completion now.

Check out OpenBazaar.org and download the new version, we're proud of how far it has come.

Digital Town is working on a similar idea with a notable team and funding. Each city/town gets it's own domain or can use an existing one. It's a bit of a resurrection of 90's style search portals for the blockchain era.



When I went to Google that, the first autocomplete was "openbazaar drugs".

That must be based on your search history :) I get completions in the following order: search, token, tor, github, 2.0, shops, blockhain

If you make a decentralized marketplace don't be surprised when it's used for illegal goods.


Amazon pays no taxes? Got this from the introduction.

Looks like they paid no US income taxes in 2017:


I couldn't access that the article...are they saying that people who work for Amazon paid no income tax?

No, it's corporate income tax, a direct tax imposed by the federal government on corporations. The rate can be 15% to 35% but there are so many deductions available that large companies like Amazon are often able to dodge it completely. For instance, the article mentions a $917 million deduction on stock options exercised by employees, which was probably the bulk of the deductions.

Which is related to Amazon paying taxes ... exactly how?

Because, rightly, corporations do not pay tax on revenue, but on profit. The reason for this is that it should not cost more in taxes to buy something from a company which has secondary suppliers, than from a vertical company.

That seems only partially correct. They avoid certain types of taxes while still paying the other ones.

The description feels like a recipe for disaster.

I love how oblivious (blissfully ignorant?) the "How will you earn money?" section is.

> The application is decentralized so we just need money for the developers, the lawyers and the advertisers, we don’t have to build and maintain a huge and expansive network infrastructure. So we’ll just earn money from advertisement, but it will not be specific for you, because we want your data to be yours, and we will accept to advertise only local products.

Just need money for developers, lawyers, and advertisers huh? Just earn money from advertisement!

A utopian marketplace that runs on ad revenue makes little sense to me. I would've liked to see the "decentralized system" part replaced with a boring "centralized system", and the boring "advertising revenue" replaced with something else.

IMO everything that is wrong about internet now is because people don't have better idea for monetizing than slapping ads on a page. Big players like goog and other ad networks made it even worse making it easy to enter, just slap adwords on your page and earn. The more users you have the more you earn, which breeds clickbait.

Someone will have to run centralized node for city, so we don’t have to build and maintain a huge and expansive network infrastructure goes out of the window also, bitcoin miners are not running nodes for free and not for advertising money from their servers. How would they make sure that ad revenue for running server is higher than cost of running server?

It is also oblivious to fact that amazon has full fleet for delivery, warehouses. Where they propose everything commision-free but then magically the money for the delivery goes directly to the cyclists involved. An algorithm calculates the best and cheapest route to deliver your goods., I also expect that running bike delivery service is much more complicated that calculating best and cheapest routes.

So I went full rage mode on this one, it is ignorant, visionary, buzzword ridden, writeup. But maybe I should judge it as just fiction writing not actual business idea.

I think you should judge it as what it is. A tiny write up of an idea where each answer needs a lot of work to be implemented fully.

I don't know if advertising is the culprit for the bad aspects of the internet, but I agree that creators/companies don't put any effort into alternative revenue streams. Not only that, but consumers have been trained to expect free content at the expense of ads. Yes, consumers are becoming more and more aware of the privacy-for-service trade they've implicitly agreed to. But I think it'll take years (if not decades) to reverse the "free content/service" mentality but also to have any other revenue stream rival "slapping on ads and calling it a day".

Subscriptions aren't the solution either, with more and more people experience subscription fatigue.

Maybe there isn't some Ultimate Monetization Method™ for internet services and content, but at the very least I'd like to see less defaulting to advertising.

Ultimate maybe not but I believe there should be just fair method for each type of content or service or business. Unfortunately users are not fair as well (sharing, multi accounts, freeloading) so yes it is in some part users fault as well.

I'm really sorry if I activated your rage mode (I can offer you a beer to calm you down [not joking]), and for my bad english. I would never expected such big feedback from the community. That said, we are brainstorming about a way to pay the costs, and I agree with you, my initial idea was pretty bad. Thanks for sharing.

> I love how oblivious (blissfully ignorant?) the "How will you earn money?" section is.

I really do love it and admire it. Often, if people starting a new project really thought through the entire tree of what they were getting into and what all the obstacles were, they might not get started - they might not have time to get started. They can figure it out later; the project will change quite a bit anyway between now and then; just get moving.

I also really love ambitious projects but I am not going to put my money/time into something like this.

So how much time/money are you going to spend on it, or is it nice project but you also don't feel like spending your money on it.

One aspect that sticks out to me is that the application is imagined as decentralized, but the income as centralized.

Pretty much every decentralized system has centralized components. You can't get away with 100% decentralization because we're not there yet. First example that comes to mind is the dat protocol (Beaker Browser) and hashbase[1], that is described as a "super peer" but is really a centralized server to keep your dat online when your local isn't running.

But yes, you're right, the income is absolutely centralized.

[1] https://hashbase.io

Is it possible that you and I may be operating under different definitions of what it means for a system to be decentralized?

To my mind, email is a 100% decentralized system that we have today. This, to my mind, suggests that we fully capable of designing, implementing, and widely deploying distributed systems. Can you help me understand where I have erred in this logic?

We are fully capable of designing them. Good luck getting consumers to use them. Particularly using decentralized at every step of the process, in a way that people use Google or Facebook as a one-stop-shop for getting everything done.

If a decentralized solution is not easy to pick up, and does not offer clear everyday benefits to users over existing centralized solutions, then it will not win with users. (Just "better privacy" is not really a good everyday benefit for the average person; compare DDG usage to Google.)

except for that whole email address thing. I need DNS for that, and current DNS requires centralized root servers.

email can use IP addresses using the "direct send" protocol. DNS servers are provided for convenience, and they're widely used, because they are much more convenient than the direct send protocol.

And what about spam and protections against it? Very much centralized and reliant on DNS to boot.

Now you're just adding on features hoping to win a battle you've already lost. But while we're on that topic: spam can use on-server text filters, AI processing, and IP blocks...

If you choose to keep going down the rabbit hole, please learn first about how email works.

mmm. s/email/www/

Email is centralized in the exact same way Facebook, Twitter, or Netflix are centralized--probably more so. There is less CDN, etc. infrastructure built for email unless you are one of the really big players.

Emails don't need CDNs. They don't need images. They can be sent directly from one computer to the other.

There isn't a large infrastructure set up for email because it's so damn efficient that a 1990s era computer can serve as an email server for thousands of people.

Every organization can host its own email programs: servers, clients, spam filters, etc. Most businesses and companies still host their own email.

> Every organization can host its own email programs: servers, clients, spam filters, etc. Most businesses and companies still host their own email.

Do you have a source for this? Most companies I know of offload mail hosting to gsuite or Microsoft.

Didn't catch this while skimming.

Why not just charge a "Nile Fee" to keep the network running on top of each sale? Sure you pay a premium but you know you're contributing back to a supposedly fair network. If this got to the scale of Amazon, it seems like the fees from that volume (especially if fees scaled as a percentage of order size) could more than cover costs.

A friend who makes things for a living, once went on a wonderful rant about how "just", especially after "you" (can't you just...), must be one of the rudest words in English.

The gist was that just, used like this, often implies that the speaker not only knows how to accomplish the solution, but can't be bothered to do it themselves. At the same time, they don't see the difficulties in the problem, so won't value a good solution if one is made.

I thought it was a keen observation, and have since tried to think again before using "just".

It was blissfully ignorant I promise. We are brainstorming about how to pay the costs. Reading this comment ("A utopian marketplace that runs on ad revenue makes little sense to me") made me think a lot. Thanks for sharing.

Would you say they are in de-Nile?

thse projects are nice but there needs to be incentives

This is / can be filled by craigslist or facebook marketplace.

No, this is for combining a local area's retail stores' inventory into a unified shopping interface, and a courier service for seamless delivery (e.g. so you don't have to visit stores x, y, z to complete pickup of a single order with items from disparate stores). Not individuals hawking their used junk.

Stores are already doing that on craigslist and facebook, this would just be hooking up a delivery service to it and you have it. Still seems like a pretty weak idea.

I'd love to know how stores are synchronizing their entire shelf+backstock inventory to Craiglist or FB Marketplace given neither service even has an API (Craiglist allows bulk posting but that's useless if you can't bulk delete/update for availability) or even basic metadata like product quantity, UPC/EAN, etc.

Ignoring that, the services you're talking about don't even do any kind of canonicalization or grouping of products like Amazon, so if you search for "Xbox" you're going to have to click through many pages of individual listings rather than having a unified product page displaying product details and specs from the manufacturer, consumer reviews, related product variants (e.g. color), etc.

It's fine if you think the idea's weak but at least give the idea a fair shake before dismissing it.

An ironic name.

"Amazon alternative"

To what? AWS? S3?

to the river

Where are you based?


Or to put it another way, Amazon grew by taking margin from retailers and giving it back to customers. Amazon is successful not because they underpay employees or evade local sales taxes, but because the do a better job at retail than most retailers do.

If you're inviting me to take part in an exercise to return margin to the retailers from the consumers, I'll politely decline participation in this farce.

I am not sure how Amazon grew, but it is a fact that, nowadays, they are paying low wages, and that they are paying very little tax.

To be fair though the corporate tax rates in the US are relatively high. I dare say anyone company in their position would do the same. Another point to mention is that I don't think they're as profitable as the other giants Apple, Google though their revenues are humongous...I hear some big corporations sitting on stockpiles of cash are waiting for the rate to come down before re-repatriating their profits :-)

"Amazon is successful not because they underpay employees or evade local sales taxes"

What? That's a very large part of why they're successful.

They also had an advantage up until a few years ago by not collecting sales tax in most the country, so part of their margin advantage was due to that as well.

So what's your fantasy?

Irrelevant, that's what it is.

What makes you think that doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, and MBAs are "economically illiterate"?

Perhaps "yuppies" was not what you actually meant?

Since when do we include pharmacists with doctors, lawyers, and MBAs?

> Since when do we include pharmacists with doctors, lawyers, and MBAs?

Since when do we include MBAs with the others, all of which are not merely holders of notionally professional degrees, but actual practitioners of licensed, regulated professions?

This line of discussion seems unproductive. Various business professionals are pretty uncontroversially included in the term "yuppie."

This is true regardless of whether you think they hold the same prestige, cachet, etc. of lawyers and doctors and regardless of whether there should be licensing and regulation of, say, investment banking.

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