The forum and its implementation.

Friday, 16 May, Year 6 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

As per A complete theory of economics, part III, Bitcoin will have to have a public forum, displaying the properties described there : identifying participants, permitting the conveyance of information and associating information with identity.

For many years, Bitcoin relied for this function on a "forum" - an obsolete, broken web packagei which I won't link to (but here's a mostly decent archive).

Originally, which is to say in the 2009 - 2010ish interval, this poor substitute more or less worked, allowing communication between the relevant parties, and allowing the education of noobs.ii It never worked very well, and as early as 2011 the people that matter were already communicating via irciii. Some efforts were also made towards the education of noobsiv, but with an ever-increasing deluge of nutsv further impeding communication and with a complete failure of responsibility on the part of the people that were supposed to, and had promised to helpvi, the entire thing circled the drain for a year or so before I finally decided to pull the plug.

That decision does not principally result from the webforum being a good idea badly implemented. One can always get rid of problem people, and generally speaking implementation problems can always be fixed. That decision stems from the webforum being a marginal idea which has long outlived its utility.

A much better system (and one towards which I've been pushing for well over a year now) works like this : a shared, real time channel, and a collection of individually maintained libraries.

The former is, of course, #bitcoin-assets. The latter are everyone's blogs. There are very good reasons why this compound system is in fact much better. Let's go for a cursory scratch on the surface :

  • Resilience. To take down a forum you need to DDOS the server hosting it. This is trivial, and has happened numerous times in the past. To take down the current model, you need to DDOS Freenode + every single blogger's independent webhost. This is not feasible (and we know this is not feasible because it's tested, not because we presume it would be, or it "sounds like" it would be).
  • Security. To corrupt either the record of past conversations or the flow of current conversation one merely needs to hack the server hosting the forum. This is trivial, and has happened numerous times in the pastvii. To corrupt the records kept by the hybrid system one'd have to both destroy the public log and each and every individual private log, because people idling in the channel also log it.viii
  • Quality. This is by far the best part. You need voice to talk in #bitcoin-assets. You need for someone to care for your blog to be included in the conversation. Both of these are obtained by saying something interesting at least some of the time. The implicit filtering the hybrid system allows is so far above anything that can be done on a webforum I scarcely see any sort of comparison possible. I certainly wouldn't be able to go back, myself.

There is of course a lot of overlap between the hot irc core and the strong blog shell, and it goes both ways : on one hand a very solid referencing systemix turns the irc channel into a de facto blog, and short points that don't seem meaty enough for a blog post often end up introduced there, at least as far as I'm concerned. On the other hand there's "all good things, of course" and stuff like

Mircea Popescu @Mircea_Popescu · May 15 @FnxTX @bitcoinpete Go for it. And also, why aren't you in -assets ?

Josh Walker @FnxTX · May 15 @Mircea_Popescu @bitcoinpete I'll expand on idea in free time; maybe delegate. Always mobile; never much liked mIRC etc. You post best logs.

which turn the blog into a de facto IRC. Which overlap is good, and definitely productive.

In short : we don't really need social media. It doesn't solve any problem we actually have, nor does it solve any problem actually well. We have much better solutions : cheaper, more effectual, more robust, easier to maintain, easier to deploy, further reaching and more powerful. So no, there's not going to be a return of MPOE-PR. There's no need to.

———
  1. I won't go into a detailed list of all the 30 or so separate breaches it has endured over the five short years of its existence. Suffice it to mention cosbycoin and the fact that currently (starting whenever last year a human being last looked at that thing) users can't change their avatars. Because the upload process has a hole in it, that nobody can be bothered to fix. []
  2. This distinction is important. The public forum does not serve the function of "allowing communication", just like that, indistinctly. The participants are sharply divided between the relevant and the irrelevant, whether they know this or not, and whether they'd be inclined to accept it or not. Communication, which is to say bidirectional information flows, happens between the former. Towards the latter information flows unidirectionally : they have nothing to say. Whether they know this or not. []
  3. Thus enforcing the separation through a modest but apparently insurmountable technical barrier. Hey, even if you use webirc, you still gotta figure out where to type! []
  4. Notably, through the creation of a subreddit which was hopefully going to soak up most terminal retards and keep them there, and through more direct educational efforts, such as MPOE-PR []
  5. As explained last year,

    mircea_popescu Anyway, to get back to the prev point, the way it usually works is like this : muppet (usually young, ambitious, socially marginal character) finds out about Bitcoin. Within a day he's bought some, and spends the next few days not sleeping enough and reading bullshit sources a la reddit. Within a week he's put most of his available cash into it, and is getting to a manic phase. Consider : http://bitbet.us/bet/519/btc-network-difficulty-to-top-1b-before-2014/#c2087 So by now he's ripe for the plunder. Makes some "investments" on the power of social proof, gets raped, gets depressed and gets to hear from all the (few) people in his life about how he failed again. After all, he ain't socially marginal for nothing, he's socially marginal because he has mental habits that don't promote success. And that's all, it took three weeks. Next month, new guy hears about bitcoin.
    BingoBoingo Lol, Maybe someone ought to sell Lithium Soda for BTC.
    mircea_popescu Except he wouldn't take it. MPOE-PR sells lithium soda. Our noob is more likely to ignore her.
    Duffer1 And they don't even know you're actually trying to help them by paying her to do it.
    mircea_popescu Well some figure it out eventually.

    You would think this nonsensical behaviour is limited to the 20 something unemployed and unemployable scummy loser. This is not true in any sense.

    It applies equally well to "the press". Consider the sad story of Max Keiser getting raped last Spring. What did that do for him ? He made a scamcoin (keisercoin), which failed horribly. He then pumped a different scamcoin (aurora) which idem failed horribly. He's still hanging on to the shreds of his pretense to credibility and reputation, sure. But they're shreds.

    How did that help self-proclaimed pundits a la Dr. Foreskin ? He went through the same ringer, six months later. How is this and that helping some random schmuck or another ? In no way, not at all, to absolutely no degree it helps them.

    So you're ready to grant it doesn't help the press, either, and perhaps imagine this is because the press is manned by fundamentally the same scummy, unemployable (and in fact unemployed) losers. That may be true, but we're still not done : supposed lawyers and supposed investors are faring no better. You can say

    TALKING ABOUT BITCOIN, EVEN IF IN A GROUP, DOES NOT MAKE YOU PART OF BITCOIN.

    until you turn blue in the face, it's not liable to be useful to these people. Why not ?

    Well, this is where the fun starts. You know how a thirteen year old that's learned how to push the gas pedal thinks "ok now he knows how to drive" and wants you to "LET HIM DRIVE ON HIS OWN!!!" ? That's exactly the same broken mental process, because given a sufficiently revolutionary technology, most people revert to infantile behaviours. In fact this could work well as a measurement of the importance of technology. You call it "how exciting it is".

    The only way forward is beating the shit out of them, followed by public display of the mangled results, for humiliatory purposes. They'll hate you for it, of course. They'll say BAD THINGS™ about you, of course. But in the end, children are children and adults are their masters. Just the way the cookie crumbles. []

  6. Michael Marquardt trying to make ends meet out of collecting payola from the various scammers ; Peter Vessenes trying to pretend like his Bitcoin failed businesses are generating revenue through collecting payola from the various scammers, etc etc. []
  7. Moderators deleting stuff would be the most basic, if quite toxic form of hacking. Because yes, social engineering is a threat to security, and by far the most dangerous sort. []
  8. Arguably such attacks are easier on the blog side of things, seeing how any random participant could later alter his own blogposts in any manner. (This is of course discouraged, and for very good reasons, even if it may seem to the naive observer that deleting something is a better approach. It never is, nothing can ever be undone. It's always better to mend than to try and pretend like undo exists.)

    Nevertheless, should relevant material be quoted by another blogger, it does become undeleteable in the same manner irc conversations are, and the whole system encourages this reciprocal mirroring of sayings and ideas. Which is not merely a good thing, but outright a great thing, cosubstantial with all historical grandeur. []

  9. Props to kako for introducing linkable lines in the daily chatlogs! []
Category: Bitcoin
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2 Responses

  1. [...] in dabbling with particle physics. They don’t get it and they probably never will, so let’s leave Bitcoin to the adults, neh?   Although I have not yet had a chance to play around with the wallet myself (I’m told an [...]

  2. [...] The forum and its implementation. [...]

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