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Namecoin (wikipedia.org)
150 points by rfreytag on March 16, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 51 comments

At the risk of hijacking yet another cryptocurrency thread, this is an opportunity to note how valuable I believe HN to be when it highlights primary sources.

Secondary sources - whether it's lazy journalism, blog-jacking, or Wikipedia, engages us here in a discussion already framed through another person's or group of people's editorial eyes. Is there no better overview of Namecoin than its Wikipedia page?


This is where it started: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1790.0

satoshi's comment on the matter, posted 4 days before he left the forum.

"I think it would be possible for BitDNS to be a completely separate network and separate block chain, yet share CPU power with Bitcoin. The only overlap is to make it so miners can search for proof-of-work for both networks simultaneously.

The networks wouldn't need any coordination. Miners would subscribe to both networks in parallel. They would scan SHA such that if they get a hit, they potentially solve both at once. A solution may be for just one of the networks if one network has a lower difficulty.

I think an external miner could call getwork on both programs and combine the work. Maybe call Bitcoin, get work from it, hand it to BitDNS getwork to combine into a combined work.

Instead of fragmentation, networks share and augment each other's total CPU power. This would solve the problem that if there are multiple networks, they are a danger to each other if the available CPU power gangs up on one. Instead, all networks in the world would share combined CPU power, increasing the total strength. It would make it easier for small networks to get started by tapping into a ready base of miners."

"@dtvan: all 3 excellent points. 1) IP records don't need to be in the chain, just do registrar function not DNS. And CA problem solved, neat. 2) Pick one TLD, .web +1. 3) Expiration and significant renewal costs, very important."

JacobAldridge asked whether there is a better overview of Namecoin than it's Wikipedia page. Having read the Wikipedia page and the Namecoin homepage you linked, I can confidently say that the former is a much more detailed and informative overview.

strangely enough there are a million people who know about this project and 1-2 actually participate. it's a wiki and opensource project, so everyone in the world is free to contribute. same with bitcoin. roughly 5 active developers at the moment, working mostly in their spare time.

Look at the list of contributors at the end of the release notes of the upcoming 0.9.0 release of the bitcoin reference client[1]. Or look at the activity of other projects, e.g. the bitcoinj google group[2]. There's a lot more than 5 people working on bitcoin.

[1] https://bitcoin.org/bin/0.9.0/test/README.txt

[2] https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!forum/bitcoinj

the number of people contributing is extremely small compared to the people who know about it/make money of it/are enthusiastic about it/could contribute. There is not a deep bench of developers. Many open issues which don't get solved because the 3-4 main devs (laanjw, sipa, gavin) are to busy. look at coinbase: they get rich of it, take 1% fees and add nothing back whatsoever.

> I think it would be possible for BitDNS to be a completely separate network and separate block chain, yet share CPU power with Bitcoin

Pardon my very beginner questions, does anyone know how this technically works and can explain it in more detail (or point to a good resource)?

My understanding was new information either needed to be implemented directly into the Bitcoin block chain, or a completely new one had to be created.

How could you still share CPU resources but have two different networks?

Would this mean a 51% attack against one would have no affect on the other?

The keyword you want is 'merged mining'.

I can't think of a better starting point than Wikipedia if we want to achieve an uninfluenced discussion. It's almost guaranteed to be less biased than the primary source.


a nice application using namecoin is https://www.onename.io it uses the u/ namespace.

Primary sources are not immune from bias

> discussion already framed through another person's or group of people's editorial eyes.

Are you suggesting that primary sources are free of bias and editorializing? I should introduce you to my uncle, then you can tell people how you met the world's greatest fisherman.

Not suggesting that at all, since the value in many primary sources is their bias, opinions, or editorializing.

I like the idea of namecoin -- uncensorability is pretty cool from a technological standpoint -- however the other flaws of bitcoin make me wary of basing any sort of serious DNS replacement on it. Given that there's no plans to increase the number of namecoins in circulation, and that creating a domain by its very definition destroys namecoins, that 50nmc cost to buy a domain becomes increasingly expensive over time as people buy namecoins, peoples' wallets get lost, fraud occurs, etc. I'd be more interested if they did something like dogecoin and reated some sort of inflationary method to counteract this, so that we don't end up with the same mess DNS is in, only with slightly different bad actors.

There are a whole host of problems introduced by price-fixing which go way beyond running out of supply. We definitely need DNS on a blockchain, but Namecoin won't do it.

Namecoin is not controlled by anyone in particular. If it grows in demand and people want the inflationary feature (or anything else), it will be implemented by the network.

no, money supply is fixed. changing money supply like doge did is possible, but risks destroying the network.

Money supply is fixed but prices for database record insertion/update could be changed painlessly.

If the money supply is fixed, then people will have a harder time acquiring namecoin after all the namecoin is generated. People will have to buy it, and since it's a scarce resource, it may become extremely expensive. Especially if namecoin exploded in popularity.

I suppose if it becomes expensive then the namecoin admins could lower the cost of database inserts/updates. But it seems like that would prompt the price per namecoin to rise accordingly, because the value of namecoin is a single database insert or update.

It's only 0.01 NMC to buy a domain (plus a 0.005 transaction fee). The easy solution to the fixed-supply issue is that this registration fee could change by blockchain consensus if NMC started to become too scarce.

That said, I actually think the BitShares Domains model is a better fit for name registration: treat each domain like real estate, putting it up to the highest bidder (which makes squatting expensive). However, BTS Domains is probably a year away at least.

In either case, the most significant bit is browser/OS adoption. At the moment, not a single browser (even Firefox) supports .bit domains, except through plugins.

> the BitShares Domains model <snip> highest bidder

Is this like rent? It may make squatting expensive but it would also make non-commercial websites impractical.

I hope it fails.

My understanding is that BTS domains are owned for life (like .bit domains, which must be renewed, but at no cost), but it is up for auction for a fixed window of time after the first bid starts.

However, at the moment it's purely in the planning stages.

I'm confused as to why this is suddenly at the top of HN? Were people not aware of one of the original "alt" cryptocurrencies?

silicon valley found out about it. several tweets of major figures last week.

"On October 15, 2013, a major flaw in the namecoin protocol was revealed by the Kraken exchange COO, Michael Grønager. The exploit allowed any user to freely steal any domain from any other user.[34] A temporary fix was deployed which prevents fraudulent name transactions from affecting the name database without requiring miner intervention, and a long-term fix which rejects blocks containing such transactions is scheduled for block 150,000 if a majority of miners upgrade.[35]"

Well, I'm sure stoked that we're building the future infrastructure of the Net on something that we're pretty sure doesn't have a ginormous security hole anymore...

If you don't know about Namecoin here are too additional ressources you might want to check out: "OkTurtles + DNSChain" (working Namecoin + DNS implementation): http://okturtles.com/ and "Providing better confidentiality and authentication on the Internet using Namecoin and MinimaLT" : https://github.com/FredericJacobs/safeweb/blob/master/paper....

There are currently 1-2 developers working on Namecoin (mostly Khan, another core developer died recently). Namecoin itself has quite a few issues. The design is only the beginning.

My brain cells hurt today. I got excited about cheap domain names. Went to link; and saw $135 for a domain name? Then went to a link; and saw a we are sorry letter-- too many requests. In all reality, why can the founders of these sites explain what they are doing better? Use 1. this is what. 2. I am up to. 3. today is Sunday. Use short choppy sentences. Just get to the point. By the time I really understood Bitcoin, they were too expensive to mine. Maybe that's the catch?

Can you elaborate on the issues you allude to? The "criticism" section on wikipedia is pretty thin.

well, at the moment there is not much reason to use the system. if you register a ".bit" then you have to get your users to install complicated software and in the end what you are getting is very similar to ".com". There are major benefits, which are not explored yet. rolling out a world wide nameservice is not trivial. at the moment it's not even used by the underground. onename.io is the first application I have seen.

This article has more citations per sentence than anything I have ever seen on Wikipedia.

Citation spam is usually an attempt to prevent article deletion, especially pertinent as it's been deleted [0] and merged into bitcoin [1] in the past.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletio...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletio...

I'm working on an alternative to namecoin with the following features:

* Profitable (what? profitable cryptocurrency? what?) * Powerful disincentives for squatting * Lots of funding for the project, which means we can actually push towards critical-mass adoption

More will be available at domains.bitshares.org within ~2 weeks.

Count me as interested. I've been trying to think of a distributed solution to squatting and fraud but I've had very little luck coming up with anything workable.

I don't get why it doesn't use bitcoin's block chain. That would give it a strong existing infrastructure of users, miners etc. This way it is on its own.

The Bitcoin devs don't really want the blockchain used for non-financial transactions.

If makes sense if you think about it. The current BTC blockchain is gigabytes of data. Add text information to every transaction and you are adding even more bloat.

Do you have a source for that claim? The official Bitcoin wiki certainly talks about non-financial uses of Bitcoin, and Script obviously makes such uses possible.

Well, I remember reading something like that once, so it must be true. ;)

In all seriousness, I did some Googling and the closest I can find is this:

"One final reason is that Satoshi was opposed to putting non-Bitcoin related data into the main chain. As creator of the system, his opinion should carry a lot of weight with anyone serious about extending it."


I realize that is close to being useless, but I can't find the direct post in question by Satoshi that it is referencing. I seem to recall it not being Satoshi, however, but one of the current devs that I read a similar sentiment from.

But again, I don't have any direct links. I apologize.

it does in some sense. look up merged mining. however putting namecoin into bitcoin would have implied major changes for bitcoin (much larger blockchain for instance). because namecoin is barely used such an integration would have made not much sense.

Yes, I am aware of merged mining. While that adds some incentive for miners to mine for namecoins, it's still optional, so it won't help namecoin much unless a lot of people opt-in.

Technically, why not piggy-back namecoin on bitcoin. As far as I know there's some kind of 'comment' field in the transaction where you can put arbitrary data.

As I understand it, merged mining an altcoin is essentially free money, therefore as mining margins narrow miners will have to merge mine major alts in order to stay competitive.

in the original thread, which I linked above, this possibility was discussed. however it would have meant tying bitcoin to a project which has a lot of uncertainty and is not the core use case. miners/stakeholders have to agree with (major) changes so it's up to them making decisions. so the devs are really very much constrained to the original design. how this will play out is not quite clear. advanced features (payment protocol) are pending for quite a while. technically the integration is easy to do. the namecoin source has very few original lines of code. it is rather a question of consensus I think. Mike Hearn discussed this here: https://medium.com/p/b64cf5912aa7 "It’s not a bad idea, but it’s not practical for our needs right now because it has no users. "

the NMC network has some serious hashing power, look it up

I'm interesting in developing services on top of Namecoin / other p2p more-than-currencies (MasterCoin/Ethereum?). Please mail me (kushtech [at] yahoo (dot) com) if you want to discuss related things or join me. I'm Scala/Java/etc developer myself / entrepreneur also in past and future.

You might be interested in learning about Twister, decentralized microblogging (twitter) http://twister.net.co/

I can't believe how potentially disruptive Twister is! Haha and I love its system of mining for promoted tweets.

As I have always said, bitcoin (the invention) means the end of FB, Twitter, and all similar centralized corporate entities.

keep pumping it op

"Namecoin is a cryptocurrency which also acts as an alternative, decentralized DNS"

So, finally, a cryptocurrency which serves a purpose aside from filling up HN's article listing. Cool.

The bitcoin protocol is an extremely important advancement as it solved the double spending[1] problem and can be used for all sorts of interesting community and business applications. Especially for systems used by organizations (e.g. DNS) that need to be public, uncensored and accessible from everyone (institutions, countries and individuals).

Here are just a few ideas: http://www.convalesco.org/#31

[1] https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Double-spending

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