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The Future of Payments and Open Source Support (pocoo.org)
156 points by kenny_r on Nov 2, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 75 comments



I think what strikes me as the large-scale problem here is that some people are baffled by the concept that not wanting money might be a rational decision. As a completely different example of the same decision being rational, let's remember when Tarsnap wasn't accepting Canadian customers (despite a presumably sizable potential market) because dealing with Canadian sales tax law was too much overhead. Even if the path to accepting money legally is clear and well-documented, it still might not be worth it.

Not to mention I've heard stories of developers whose motivation to work on open-source projects has gone _down_ since getting paid, since it makes it seem like work instead of a hobby.

There is a worldview that seems to me to be prevalent in the cryptocurrency community (I don't know which direction causation runs, but there's certainly a bit of correlation) that everyone wants micropayments and microtips -- cf. the tip bots on Reddit. It's not uncommon to see the tipbots get downvoted, and the tippers to be completely confused why someone might think it unwanted or off-topic. http://www.reddit.com/r/dogecoin/comments/234ds8/tipping_in_...


Tarsnap wasn't accepting Canadian customers (despite a presumably sizable potential market)

FWIW, Canadians are about 2% of Tarsnap's customer base by revenue. This is a bit less than proportional by population, but not much; the USA is about 40% of Tarsnap's revenue, but that includes several large startups (like Stripe) and Canada is distinctly lacking in similar.

The extra 2% is probably worth doing the sales tax paperwork for... but only barely.


> Not to mention I've heard stories of developers whose motivation to work on open-source projects has gone _down_ since getting paid, since it makes it seem like work instead of a hobby.

I am having trouble finding a good link, but I believe this effect is well documented in several areas – where compensating someone for an activity winds up with them being less likely to do it.


Dan Ariely talks quite well about the subject of social norms vs financial norms and how just assuming you can move an activity from one to the other is very ignorant.

http://danariely.com/the-books/excerpted-from-chapter-4-%E2%...

If some "pay for open source work" scheme got github level popular it would completely destroy open source for a long time. Right now there is more work being done than the community could pay for. But at the same time, it's handy to use bribes to get some necessary but boring stuff done.


TLDR; there are two problems with tip4commit:

1. The obvious, that they are collecting funds on behalf of other people's work and then keeping them when the funds go 'unclaimed'

2. Even if you do want to claim it, they don't make it easy, and for someone in a complicated tax country (like the author, Austria) there is almost no way he could accept the money without incurring some kind of risk. So basically when they are keeping money that goes unclaimed it's very problematic because they don't make the money easy to claim in the first place. Obvious incentives issues.

Point 2 is what this article is about.


I'm not sure it is. I'm not a huge fan of tip4commit either, I agree that it's opt-out model is bogus, but the fact that it uses Bitcoin seems irrelevant.

The author seems to believe he cannot accept tips, because of tax and regulation, but he doesn't point out what specifically would cause problems here. Obviously people make and accept tips using euros all the time, this is not illegal, so why it would be different using Bitcoin isn't obvious. You can declare tips as income, no problem.

The real cause of his discomfort is revealed later in the post:

Personally I believe that Bitcoin is a terrible currency ... If you have a completely broken piece of country then I can imagine that you are suspicious of regulation and this sort of thing, but for me regulation is what keeps my world running and working.

Also,

Bitcoin for me feels like a cult. The vocal people in the community seem like they don't actually care about Bitcoin, but they want to see it succeed so that their "investment" makes a profit

So he has a generalised feeling that Bitcoin is bad because it's popular and has vocal fans, and that regulation is good yet also complicated, so anything which seems simple must be unregulated and therefore bad.

I do not consider myself particularly libertarian, though I do use and work on Bitcoin. Regardless, this doesn't seem like a great set of arguments. Rather, the author has decided that because a lot of Bitcoin users don't seem to like government, and he likes government, he should not like Bitcoin.


> author seems to believe he cannot accept tips, because of tax and regulation, but he doesn't point out what specifically would cause problems here.

JFTR: "accepting tips" for software is something that is not at all straightforward. The way bountysource and others get around that is through invoices once a large enough amount has accumulated. I have no idea how that works in other countries. Gratipay/bountysource solve this problem, no bitcoin service I have seen does.

> Rather, the author has decided that because a lot of Bitcoin users don't seem to like government, and he likes government, he should not like Bitcoin.

I think you misunderstand something there: I am pointing out why Bitcoin is something that does not solve problems for me and I doubt I am the only one. The premise of tip4commit is that it helps Open Source projects. It's not just not helping me, it's making my life more complicated. In fact, right now, pretty much anything that has bitcoin involved makes it harder for me.


Could you explain why accepting tips is so complicated? What specific law means you cannot do it?

Let me put this another way. If your friends give you money for your birthday, do you give it back to them and tell them you can't accept their gift because of tax and regulation? I doubt it! You may well declare the gifts on your tax return if it's big enough to bother with, but if Austria makes it hard to accept cash gifts of small amounts then something is seriously wrong with Austrian law and this is not something to be defended.


1) In many countries, unlike USA, a majority of people don't ever handle a "tax return" or "file taxes" - if your income consists of standard salaries or student stipends or social security/etc, then the employer is required to handle everything and you can generally ignore the issue unless you start doing business or selling real estate or whatever. For a normal person, the cost of starting to file taxes (and investigating how it needs to be done) it's orders of magnitude larger than any reasonable amount of tips - generally, hiring an accountant would be cheaper&safer than doing it yourself and any non-standard income less than the accountant fee is not worth the hassle.

2) Those tips are strictly different from personal gifts - they're payment (voluntary, but still) for stuff you did, so tax wise, they would be considered equivalent to commercial export of software. Taxes on international commerce are tricky (e.g., determining if value added tax applies in this case, etc), most jurisdictions have some simplified paperwork, guides and assistance for small business with the expectation that they're domestic, not international.

3) If you're asking "which specific law prohibits" - it's entirely opposite, it's not like there are specific laws for each taxable thing - the general law mandates that any and all income is declarable and taxable, and then there are specific laws to make exceptions for things such as birthday gifts from relatives or tips for waiters.


Generic endorsement of this comment, coming from someone who has an international business and has occasionally had to decline tips, for these (and other [+]) reasons.

I once had a gentleman attempt to put a rather small sum of money in my hand. Call it $50. He meant it as a nice gesture, because he had been consuming my professional output for years, and it had helped his business. He could not have known, but causing me to have US-source income would have potentially exposed me to several thousand dollars in additional tax liability during that year. (Long story.) There exist ways around it, but at the very least I would have had to loop my accountant in on the incident, so we could discuss whether I have to worry about the $50 "donation."

My accountant's rate is $10. Per minute.

All of this was going through my head when I attempted to gracefully decline.

[+] Totally separate from tax/compliance, I have social reasons why I prefer to not get tipped for things. Social expectations are a weird thing, but regardless of their intrinsic weirdness they appear to be real, and as a result I try to hew to them unless I have a really strong reason to not to. One feature of social classes in the US is that the one I aspire to be in does not accept tips. Tips are something which flow from the relatively well-off to the relatively poorly-off, and even in those relationships where I'm relatively poorly-off, lumping myself in with waiters and massage therapists doesn't sound advantageous when I hope to have a professional image closer to that of a doctor, lawyer, or investment advisor.

For related reasons, I remain very concerned that many OSS developers appear to think that they should have to throw hundreds of hours of professional labor into projects used by for-profit companies so that they can be allowed to participate in Internet busking on a scale which would be sneered at by actual buskers.


> Could you explain why accepting tips is so complicated? What specific law means you cannot do it?

If tips come in individually and in small numbers and you need to track the rate of exchange, origin and everything the money I lose money actively by needing to track it. There is no point in accepting small amounts.

The reason actual tips work in Austria is because they are tax except within a regulatory framework. That however does not apply to software developers.

> Let me put this another way. If your friends give you money for your birthday, do you give it back to them and tell them you can't accept their gift because of tax and regulation?

Actual gifts are a different tax code (they are tax free). I can however not just pretend that any of my income is the same. This is not a "but if i read the law like this" thing.

> but if Austria makes it hard to accept cash gifts of small amounts then something is seriously wrong with Austrian law and this is not something to be defended.

From what I have heard it's not in any way easier in other countries and it does not have to be because that was never the problem. The whole point of bountysource and other systems is to accumulate money and to simplify the whole process. It makes everything easier, even if taxes would not be concerned. It's what makes the whole tipping thing save and easy through a middleman.


> Could you explain why accepting tips is so complicated? What specific law means you cannot do it?

I can't speak for the OP and the GP, but I can shed some light on this for which problems I could run into in germany:

* I own a company (GmbH, limited liability). Bookkeeping rules are fairly strict, I can't accept random money from random people without having an entry in a ledger. It's possible, but if it's single digits then it's probably more work than it's worth. I'd also have to figure out how to legally accept money from the US or whatever country this money comes from.

* I could accept the money as private person. Then I'd still have to keep books and add that to my private income. That probably would also be more work than the attached payoff.

* Not keeping books or declaring the donations may draw the scrutiny of the tax authorities. If you're accepting a lot of small cash gifts you might also run afoul of money laundering regulations.

> Let me put this another way. If your friends give you money for your birthday, do you give it back to them and tell them you can't accept their gift because of tax and regulation?

Gifts from friends and family are specifically exempt from income tax regulations, so you're attacking a strawman here.


Even supposing something was seriously wrong with Austrian law, it's a little presumptuous to expect everyone affected to try to fight that. Maybe they're already under careful watch by the national tax agency after getting audited because of some honest mistake the past year. Maybe they're under probation under a law you and I would call unjust, but triggering further law-enforcement attention lands them in jail regardless of whether they were justified. (This scenario happens a lot in America, incidentally.)

If someone says "I want to stay out of this", that should be their right.


Sure, of course. I haven't argued that he should be forced to accept tips against his will, that would be bizarre indeed.


http://wondermark.com/1k62/

You may have good intentions, but continually asking questions like "What specific law means you cannot do it?" (even politely) is still kind of rude. Who cares why he doesn't want tips; it's his call to make.


But the article I'm responding to doesn't just say "I don't want tips, thanks", it's a long blog post that states quite clearly the author believes nobody can accept tips this way, that Bitcoin is useless, that anyone who doesn't love paperwork must live in a broken country, etc. It's not a simple position statement, it's quite the polemic! Meanwhile, lots of people are tipping each other apparently without problems.

Given this state of affairs, it seems a reasonable question to ask. After all, that's what this web page is for - discussing the blog post.


Why would anybody bother figuring out the specifics to collect $50?

You are saying "take it and don't worry about it", but it's also not enough to take on any risk of hassle, let alone fines or whatever.


First let's get some perspective on the sums involved. One of the tip4commit spams I got after a commit informed me that my tip balance was 0.00000171 BTC. At current exchange rate this is equivalent in US dollars to $0.0005525523.

In other words, at a rate like that, it requires nearly two thousand tips just to add up to a single US dollar worth of tips.

And it gets worse. Remember that tip4commit "refunds" the tip back into the project pool if it's not claimed within 30 days. So just to get money out of this, you have to be making enough in tips, every 30 days, to overcome the cost in both time and potentially transaction fees of claiming the tips.

And then you have to do a bit more figuring to see if the money you'll get once cashed out is enough to justify the bookkeeping cost it imposes on you; after all, now that's income that you need to keep records of and figure into your taxes, which is not a zero-cost thing.

So first of all, you need to figure out the expected amount of tips, both over rolling 30-day periods and over the course of a year, which again is not a zero-cost thing, since if nothing else it involves spending time, and calculate whether they are enough to overcome the friction of getting the money out of tip4commit and then the cost of keeping records of and reporting it.

It is highly unlikely at this time that any person will be earning enough in tips from tip4commit to reach the point at which it becomes profitable even to the tune of a few units of local currency. A final data point for this: tip4commit states that it tips out at 1% of the balance of the project on each commit. Its attempt to tip me 0.00000171 BTC was for a commit on Django, which means the balance of donations for Django at that time was 0.000171 BTC, which simply cannot be enough to make it worth while for any person who contributes code to Django. And I don't rate it likely that there are a bunch of other projects with balances significantly larger, which means it is probable that there is currently no individual developer in the world for whom accepting tips from tip4commit is a profitable activity.

And that's without getting into the problems associated with the site displaying your name in tipping lists even if you never accept them, or the problems associated with displaying projects -- quite a few large open-source projects have associated non-profit foundations, and are bound by law regarding donations made for specific directed purposes. Although you can argue it's unlikely any person or organization would ever actually be punished based on tip4commit listing them, it certainly is possible that they could be called upon to prove that they are unaffiliated with tip4commit and refuse to accept the tips. Which, once again, is not zero-cost; now it potentially costs individuals and projects time and/or money for something they had no control over because tip4commit "opted" them in forcibly and continues to drag its feet on opt-out.

All in all, this is a mess. It probably should just shut down, but if it stays operating it's going to keep getting heat, and will keep deserving it, until it switches to being based only on explicit opt-in.


There are some projects that got much more donations and users that got more tips. You can check the list https://tip4commit.com/users It was a mistake to bother you with this tiny tips. Sorry

Also, if you claim your tips by specifying your bitcoin address, tips will never be refunded again.


> The author seems to believe he cannot accept tips, because of tax and regulation, but he doesn't point out what specifically would cause problems here.

I'm in the US, not Austria, but from what little I've seen of even the US's legal and tax system, doing something with money that you don't fully understand is a risk. I am glad that there are people who are willing to take that risk in the name of improving society, and pioneer the use of Bitcoin and other alternative currencies.

But nobody should be obligated to take that risk if they don't want to. I would be completely unsurprised if some emergent behavior between the US tax code and other laws meant that if you were merely aware of people accepting tips on your behalf using your name, even if you didn't ask them to, there are tax or legal obligations. I would be completely unsurprised if the law says, if you ask them to stop and they don't, you're _obligated_ to initiate legal process to make them stop. I don't think the law says that, but it's certainly way less crazy than lots of funny corners of US tax and commerce law.

I would also be completely unsurprised if US tax code got complicated when you're accepting Bitcoin as payment. I'm dimly aware that the IRS or FinCEN or someone issued guidance recently that Bitcoin doesn't count as a currency but instead counts as a something-else... and not being a cryptocurrency user, I haven't bothered to learn what that something-else is and how you're supposed to report taxes on it.

If someone is willing to figure out how the law works, or pay their lawyer to, more power to them. But nobody should be _obligated_ to.


This may have changed in the last 24 hours, but last I checked tip4commit's opt-out model is "get stuffed". The original controversy was over their refusal to remove projects from the site on request.

I agree that Bitcoin is more or less irrelevant to the controversy, but like the OP says, the tip4commit defenders seem to have intentionally made it a pro/anti-Bitcoin conflict. Bitcoin advocates were mobilized to support the site.


> I agree that Bitcoin is more or less irrelevant to the controversy

It's relevant insofar that tip4commit likely couldn't get away with what it was doing without it.


> The author seems to believe he cannot accept tips, because of tax and regulation, but he doesn't point out what specifically would cause problems here.

I should think that would be pretty obvious. Go ahead and try collecting regular currency for a charity of your choice without ever getting sign off from that charity and only ever giving them the proceeds if they ask. It will end very badly for you.

> You can declare tips as income, no problem.

No, there are a lot of potential problems that stem from this. In particular, it raises lots of flags about whether those tips are accurate, whether it is some form of money laundering, and whether they are really tips or something more nefarious. Unlike in the US, in a lot of other 1st world countries, handling taxes is incredibly straightforward (less than an hour of your time a year and zero risk of liability), but once you throw tips in to the equation now it's as difficult as it is for many people in the US.

> So he has a generalised feeling that Bitcoin is bad because it's popular and has vocal fans, and that regulation is good yet also complicated, so anything which seems simple must be unregulated and therefore bad.

No, he's pointing out that its vocal fans have a distorted perspective and often don't really buy in to its virtues... but those problems are not why Bitcoin is a terrible currency.


> The author seems to believe he cannot accept tips, because of tax and regulation

That's not what he said. He said that he doesn't want to deal with a system for accepting tips if the cost to him of the system (not just in money but in time and effort) is greater than the benefit. He mentioned two tipping systems (gratipay and bountysource) that, to him, don't have this problem.


It is very far from simple anywhere, especially in the US: It isn't perfectly clear if you should treat bitcoins as commodity or currency. See [0] for more details.

As a general rule, if anyone tells me "but taxes aren't complicated" or "but what's the complication", I know they are talking from ideals and not experience.

The Federal US tax code, last time I looked at it (2009) was over 71,000 pages (add a few more thousands per state). It doesn't get shorter with time. Of those, "only" 20,000 or so apply to every individual (not the same 20,000). Other countries are better, but the shortest country tax code I've had the pleasure (?) of dealing with was only 4,000 pages of printed text.

Intrastate/intracountry transactions are usually complicated, but somewhat tractable. Cross-border transactions are usually ill-specified, can be classified in multitude of ways all technically legal - and yet, if the tax authorities in either country things you've done it wrong, you are assumed guilty until proven innocent.

Anyone who is not scared of the tax code has not had to wrestle it. You may win some battles after working hard. But you never want to go into this war.

[0] https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Tax_compliance


> So he has a generalised feeling that Bitcoin is bad because it's popular and has vocal fans, and that regulation is good yet also complicated, so anything which seems simple must be unregulated and therefore bad.

The only (or at least, the main) argument we ever hear in favor of Bitcoin is that it's unregulated, and therefore it's liked by people who dislike regulation. Why, then, is it surprising or illogical for someone to dislike Bitcoin because they're in favor of regulation? Being in favor, or against, regulation is a matter of personal political opinion, and that, in turn, shapes one's opinion of Bitcoin. This argument makes just as much sense as those for Bitcoin.


The way I read it, the GP mocks the idea that a self-regulated system would be unregulated. AFAICT It's at least regulated by convention with regards to the pay out for mining.


In addition to tax issues, I'd also worry at least a bit about whether or not accepting money for your software might affect warranty disclaimers. I would not be surprised if in some jurisdictions it is harder for a commercial project to disclaim warranties, and for accepting money to cause a project to be classified as commercial.


I don't have any use for tip4commit, personally, and couldn't care less if it succeeds either way. I did read the GitHub site, though, and your case 1) is incorrect. They return the money if it isn't claimed.


Are you sure about that? They said they return it to "the project", but that in no way guarantees that the money will go to any developer.

The tip4commit people are clearly putting growth of their product above everything else, and that's generously assuming honorable intentions on their part. I couldn't see any clear strategy for getting money back to the original donors if a developer or project does not end up claiming the donation.


A recap of some important facts about tip4commit that weren't clear to me when this all started:

1) That they collect a 1% service fee on donations.

2) That they donate 1% of a project's pool for any given committer, which leads to this exponential decay where they never quite have 0 balance for any given project.

If enough donors use tip4commit, that is potentially a lot of bitcoin pennies that is just sloshing around their server.


3) unwanted / rejected / opted-out donations will be returned to the 'project pool' instead of the donor, it's unclear what happens in cases when a project has no participating developers (default), is itself opted out, or has all opted-out developers

4) donors are not informed that the projects they're supporting may not receive or accept donations this way

5) donors are actively lied to, see:

https://tip4commit.com/github/django/django

and

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8545377

has a django rep trying to opt them out of the program, there is no ambiguity whether they like, let alone want to or will receive donations this way


> If enough donors use tip4commit, that is potentially a lot of bitcoin pennies that is just sloshing around their server.

I recall reading that they have 55 BTC "sloshing around their server" at the moment (no easy way of checking this on their website but seems reasonable looking at the top projects' funds).

By todays exchange rate, that's 18k USD, which is being handled with very little actual transparency. It is a genuine risk that the people behind this project will run away with 18k$ worth of BTC (or claim they were hacked).

I don't like this idea very much and I certainly would not like my projects to be up there.


"The vocal people in the community seem like they don't actually care about Bitcoin, but they want to see it succeed so that their "investment" makes a profit."

Im into Bitcoin, and I agree with this view. Most specially the reddit based bitcoin community.


And so what? You believe in the promise, and putting your money where your mouth is is one of the most powerful market forces. People are putting their money in BTC because they believe in it.


And they are vocal about it because they want some people to get in under them in the pyramid.


It's nice to see someone who isn't on a hype-high over Bitcoin for a change. I still don't see why people think that a new unregulated currency would be somehow free of all the problems and abuses that prompted all the regulation of existing currencies in the first place - y'know, tax, fraud, customer protection, money laundering, market rigging, etc etc...


I don't understand this whole controversy. The the amount of money donate to you is so small (like under a dollar over the course of a year) then you don't need to declare it on any tax forms. If a random person on the street gives you a quarter, you on't need to report that on taxes, nor do you have to report a 0.00017 BTC donation.

On the other hand, if the donation is big (say in the thousands USD), I can see why someone could decide to not accept the donation because they don't wan to report it on their taxes. An easy solution to this problem is to NOT TAKE THE DONATION. If you don't take the money, you don't have to report anything. The tip4commit site supposedly states if a developer doesn't accept a donation the money goes back to the 'project pool' where it will get donated to another developer on that project.


> The tip4commit site supposedly states if a developer doesn't accept a donation the money goes back to the 'project pool' where it will get donated to another developer on that project.

So tip4commit is being dishonest -- if the project has said that none of their contributors will ever accept a tip it is dishonest to continue accepting contributions for that project.


> The the amount of money donate to you is so small (like under a dollar over the course of a year) then you don't need to declare it on any tax forms. If a random person on the street gives you a quarter, you on't need to report that on taxes, nor do you have to report a 0.00017 BTC donation.

The confidence in understanding the intricacies of tax law in the world's 196 different countries (many of which have intranational differences in the tax code) exceeds that of any tax attorney I've ever spoken with.


Sorry Armin/Mr Ronacher/Mitsuhiko but your "Bitcoin is Wild West" rant is unwarranted.

Your problem has little to do with Bitcoin and all to do with the fact that a bunch of guys signed you up to their payment service without your consent.


I agree except for the fact that his concern with tip4commit is that it wouldn't exist if bitcoin wasn't available. The fact that bitcoin is what is making tip4commit to run without much regulation is Armin's main point.


And what would he do about an international tip service that is not incorporated in Austria that pestered him like this?

The jurisdiction of almost any country besides the US in terms of what happens online is almost nil. I don't see the recourse an Austrian would take against an online tip service in China or South Africa that spams them with tip notifications.


Actually, in most first world countries you'd have a hell of a time doing this for very long or on much of a scale without the authorities catching up with you.

Sure, services in other countries could still maybe get up and running, but they'll have a harder time finding donors.


Hardly a justification for his rant.

Here's some other things without which it wouldn't have been possible:

- the internet

- computers

- life on planet Earth


Why do people keep referring to his post as a rant?

I'm from Germany, which has a taxation system very similar to that of Austria and to me this seems a rather level-headed assessment of the situation.

It irks me that many Bitcoin advocates continue to pretend that the rules don't apply to them. Assets are assets. You can't wiggle out of the tax code by doing some crypto on a computer.

And BTW: if you are in Germany and hold large amounts of Bitcoin, talk to your Steuerberater _right_ _now_. The Finanzamt isn't stupid.


Because it has nothing to do with Bitcoin. It's because he was signed up to something without his consent. Bitcoin works not differently to cash in regards to taxation, and if you got dodgy envelopes with cash you wouldn't blame "cash" for it.


In some places it's treated as an asset rather than cash. In some it's illegal.

If I got unwanted cash, in a new currency, from enthusiasts keen that I take it regardless and refusing to opt me out of their system... I might think less of that new currency too.


Right. But would you blame the cash? rather than the "enthusiasts"?

Also, note that this "cash" is readily exchangeable for US$, Euro, etc. which makes this "BTC smells" argument absolutely pointless.

Just imagine you got envelopes with Indian Rupees in them. Why on Earth would you go on a rant on the currency? What happened hardly has anything to do with it. It appears to me some people are just looking forward to express their dislike about Bitcoin or whatever else they dislike, be it relevant or not. Thus, "rant".


>> Right. But would you blame the cash? rather than the "enthusiasts"?

What's the difference? Its value is subjective and brought about by the people that use it. If I find them obnoxious I might not want to deal with it at all. If someone came up with Arsebucks and they were used predominantly by arseholes, I might not involve myself in that either.

>> Also, note that this "cash" is readily exchangeable for US$, Euro, etc. which makes this "BTC smells" argument absolutely pointless.

If you've got an account set up to perform such exchanges, and if you disregard all the valid legal and taxation reasons people have come up with, and if you ignore all the various transfer and conversion fees, and the market volatility ... sure. But I haven't got such an account, and I don't want one either (frequent hacking comes to mind as a reason).

>> Just imagine you got envelopes with Indian Rupees in them. Why on Earth would you go on a rant on the currency?

Given that it's illegal to take Rupees into or out of India, I might have some concerns, yes! There's another currency you want to be careful with!

>> It appears to me some people are just looking forward to express their dislike about Bitcoin or whatever else they dislike, be it relevant or not. Thus, "rant".

There are a lot of reasons to dislike BTC in itself, over other currencies (I don't want to get into that argument here), at least some of which are down to how individual countries treat BTC. There are a lot of reasons not to want to be involved in its ecosystem (dodgy dealers, hacking etc). There are a lot of reasons not to want to be opted in to a tipping service that you can't leave.

I don't think any of these are irrelevant to the situation, it's a nice combo of all of them.


Ok, this is a rant too, just in case you were wondering.


Because ... ? Because you say so? Colour me totally unbothered by what you think is a rant or not then. Your criteria for characterising rants are obviously wanting.


Because you ignore the context of the situation and go straight for your likes and dislikes going out of your way to justify it.


Not really, not seeing that. Sorry. Pretty sure I answered your points rationally there.

Nice work on the Rupees by the way - that was a perfect example of a currency that has inherent downsides to dealing with it. Not all cash is equal.


> Sorry Armin/Mr Ronacher/Mitsuhiko but your "Bitcoin is Wild West" rant is unwarranted.

Really? In what way would you say that Bitcoin isn't the Wild West (at least in the sense he intended)?


I said unwarranted. As in, not justified and not related to his recent anecdote.


> I said unwarranted. As in, not justified and not related to his recent anecdote.

[Sorry. I couldn't believe you intended the correct meaning of unwarranted and instead meant "unjustified" in an entirely different sense.]

As he pointed out, if tip4commit tried to do what it was doing with anything other than a crypto currency, it'd have to change its ways or be shut down rather quickly; either way, he'd not have to deal with the problems it presents.

That may not be the most central point to his anecdote, but it is certainly a "warranted" point in the discussion.


I misread this before and I replied like a right twat. Sorry about that. Cannot edit or delete it now.


Here's this so you can learn some basic English vocabulary.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/unwarranted

You don't need to thank me.


> The problem was on one hand something I did not opt into (and there not being a way to opt out of) this tipping system and that it's a completely unregulated space that can cause me troubles I could have avoided otherwise.

While I have no qualm about his desire to avoid tip4commit, I find the mention of "unregulated space" peculiar. It seems that he is worried, and probably prudently so, about the fact that this space is highly regulated, not that it is unregulated.


It's a matter of perspective. The bitcoin world is highly unregulated, and much like the black market, you cannot pull it from that space without bringing all the chaos, disorder and risk that comes with that. For a lot of people (and arguably for almost everyone), the benefits of the regulated world are terribly desirable.


Since I am from Germany and our banking and tax system is quite similar to the Austrian, I totally agree with Armin in each single point!

Maybe not exactly what Armin described as a solution - but did you already check Flattr (https://flattr.com/)? This also might work for supporting OpenSource projects.


I envy this guy for living in a country where you can say things like that:

The reason I bring this up is because our taxes are very high, but I get something for that money. It might not be the perfect system and there are lots of things about it that make me furious, but I do not see a reason why I would want to stop paying taxes.

That must be one heck of a feeling. Gives me hope for the future.


It's not that unusual is it?

I hate the politics of my country (the UK) but it's not like I think stopping paying taxes would be a good idea. They cover roads, a social safety net, the nhs and so much else.

And I'm not exactly left wing.


That quote makes it clear he really doesn't understand where his tax money goes.


So what sorts of horrible, unbelievably terrible things do you think are being done with his tax money that would cause him to reject the tax rate if only he knew?


Well, actually you can ignore Bitcoin.


[deleted]


The bad stuff is irrelevant, but by the same argument, so is the good stuff. This isn't really about Bitcoin as a whole; it's about a specific assumption in the community (everyone wants to be tipped, people who are worried about taxes are misinformed and/or holding up an unjust system) that manifested in a specific use case.

It wouldn't be really accurate to TL;DR a Linux kernel CVE as "somebody introduced a bug in prctl - big deal. Linux can be used for a lot of good stuff." (Nor "bad stuff".)


This was a painful read.

He says he "doesn't want to be educated about bitcoin" because "he's heard all the arguments", while at the same time claiming it's a "terrible currency (or not a currency at all)" without any further reasoning.

This poor guy needs to be educated if he thinks that avoiding taxes, regulations, and credit card fees are the only applications.

Common decency dictates that if you openly state you are unwilling to learn about something, you should refrain from posting opinionated articles about that thing.


Perhaps he doesn't want to be educated about Bitcoin because he already gets it and the last thing he wants is to have to endure more proselytising from well-meaning but ultimately quite predictable evangelists.


> This poor guy needs to be educated if he thinks that avoiding taxes, regulations, and credit card fees are the only applications.

I think he very clearly understands all the applications. The point is that _for his case_ it doesn't provide any value, and he believes in a lot of cases its drawbacks outweigh its advantages (which is an entirely arguably point).

> Common decency dictates that if you openly state you are unwilling to learn about something, you should refrain from posting opinionated articles about that thing.

Again, I think you misread the article. It isn't that he is unwilling to learn something. He's learned a great deal and concluded that it makes his life more difficult. More importantly, he's pointed out a significant problem with it: there are a lot of things that can happen with Bitcoin that would otherwise be prevented and you'd want them to be prevented.


> I think he very clearly understands all the applications.

Really? And what are you basing that opinion off of exactly?

The only applications he mentions in his post relate to taxes and credit card fees. If he had any understanding of the other uses like multiparty transactions, timestamping, identity management, voting, derivatives, and trustfree contracts, then he failed to say anything to convey that awareness in his writing.

> Again, I think you misread the article. It isn't that he is unwilling to learn something. He's learned a great deal and concluded that it makes his life more difficult.

I didn't misread anything. Rather, he miswrote by conflating his opinions of a single bitcoin service with the entire underlying protocol.


> If he had any understanding of the other uses like multiparty transactions, timestamping, identity management, voting, derivatives, and trustfree contracts, then he failed to say anything to convey that awareness in his writing.

He wrote nothing about whether he requires oxygen to live, but I'll wager with you he needs it.

He spoke negatively of Bitcoin as a currency (and currencies aren't used for much of what you describe), but he highlighted a number of aspects of Bitcoin that he thought were useful and where he expecting to see it having a huge, innovative impact. He didn't make a laundry list of everything awesome one might be able to do with Bitcoin, but given that his essay was about the future of payments, you can see where perhaps speaking of its use for voting might have resulted in the essay becoming meandering and without focus...

> I didn't misread anything.

Trust me, you did.

> Rather, he miswrote by conflating his opinions of a single bitcoin service with the entire underlying protocol.

No he didn't. Actually, he hardly got two paragraphs in before he said, "I did not actually have anything against Bitcoin in this particular case."

So no, he's quite aware that his issues with "a single bitcoin service" are removed from the underlying protocol.


> He wrote nothing about whether he requires oxygen to live, but I'll wager with you he needs it.

So you think understanding bitcoin applications is obvious as breathing oxygen? Sounds to me like you're making baseless assumptions.

> He spoke negatively of Bitcoin as a currency

Yes he did, and he didn't mention why. It was just a page full of backhanded jabs and insults towards bitcoin with zero reasoning to support it. Doesn't strike me as someone who understands it at all, quite the contrary.

> he highlighted a number of aspects of Bitcoin that he thought were useful and where he expecting to see it having a huge, innovative impact.

Inter-bank asset exchange? If that's where he thinks the major innovation lies, he clearly and severely lacks understanding of potential applications.

> Trust me, you did.

Ok, pal.

> So no, he's quite aware that his issues with "a single bitcoin service" are removed from the underlying protocol.

If he has regulatory issues with accepting small gifts, or if he doesn't like the methodology of a particular bitcoin service, that has absolutely nothing to do with bitcoin as a currency.

How is making statements like "bitcoin is a terrible currency" without including any actual reasoning anything but pure ignorance?


> So you think understanding bitcoin applications is obvious as breathing oxygen? Sounds to me like you're making baseless assumptions.

Great case of the pot calling the kettle black there...

No, I do not think that understanding bitcoin applications is as obvious as breathing oxygen. The point is that just because someone didn't write about something in one particular article doesn't mean it isn't there.

> It was just a page full of backhanded jabs and insults towards bitcoin with zero reasoning to support it.

A common problem described in that essay, which is not a jab or insult towards Bitcoin, though definitely has the Bitcoin community in its crosshairs, is that the community seemed to take his very real experience with tip4commit as criticism of Bitcoin; your comments are doing a wonderful job of demonstrating the problem.

Let's go over the "backhanded insults":

* he personally believes that it is a terrible currency [OMG! How insulting that someone has a negative personal belief!]

* bitcoin is unregulated [how is this a disputed fact? how is this an insult?]

* if you move large sums of bitcoin going in and out of your account you won't be questioned by authorities [again, I can't see the issue here]

* For him, Bitcoin's costs and predictability as a means of transferring currency across borders is worse than using transferwise, and even more so when within SEPA. [pretty rooted in fact, no?]

The one thing he didn't back was his opinion of it as a currency, and the way he presented it, it was quite clear it wasn't presented as an argument and he wasn't trying to change anyone's mind with that statement.

In general, I'd say his essay did a great job of expressing the reasoning behind his actual concerns on this matter.

> How is making statements like "bitcoin is a terrible currency" without including any actual reasoning anything but pure ignorance?

If he were conducting a debate about the value of bitcoin as a currency, you could make a case that it was pure ignorance. Given that he was expressly trying to avoid that debate, your assertion is ridiculous. He was merely acknowledging his opinion without trying to defend it or make an argument for it.

Sometimes you are writing a piece about one topic, but people insist on calling you out on another. You acknowledge your opinion about that topic, but you don't want to get in to the details about it because it isn't relevant to what you are speaking to, so you don't make any effort at all to make a case for the opinion, you don't make any effort to defend it, and you certainly don't try to persuade anyone to agree with you. (In this case he even qualified it by mentioning some other ways he sees value in the technology.)

By example...

You've made a number of assertions about all the ways bitcoin is awesome. You also made assertions about Mr. Ronacher's knowledge of it, and yet you haven't presented any actual reasoning on any of those points. Where are the paragraphs of supporting material on each of the ways Bitcoin is awesome? You haven't presented Mr. Ronacher's education and browsing history to support claims of his ignorance, or even detailed the "jabs and insults" from the essay!

Should we conclude from this that you are contributing nothing but pure ignorance to the discussion?

At least to me, that kind of argument seems completely ridiculous.




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