The fight between /r/Bitcoin and /r/btc features another plot twist. Yesterday /u/censorship_notifier committed a post, where he finally acknowledged the most recent vote manipulation attack against /r/Bitcoin. In this case, the attack implied both bots and hacked Reddit accounts and these were used to pump Bitcoin Cash. But his post was not about this. His post was accusing /r/Bitcoin moderators and Gregory Maxwell (/u/nullc) of being the ones who executed this attack. Against themselves.
This may sound ridiculous, and of course it is. I let you read the point by point rebuttal of /u/thieflar, if you are interested in this particular chapter. Rather, in this article I would like to go into how the hell did we end up here?
But before that, take some time to think about the following two concepts.
Middle Ground Fallacy
An informal fallacy which asserts that the truth must be found as a compromise between two opposite positions. This fallacy’s opposite is the false dilemma.
What Wikipedia describes may be the most common trap, many Bitcoiners fell into. There is no need to further discuss it, if you are living in the Bitcoin World for a while now, chances are dozens of examples are coming to your mind in this very moment.
Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism
The mini essay of Eliezer Yudkowsky is a true masterpiece, that perfectly describes how Internet communities die by refusing to defend themselves.
Somewhere in the vastness of the Internet, it is happening even now. It was once a well-kept garden of intelligent discussion, where knowledgeable and interested folk came, attracted by the high quality of speech they saw ongoing. But into this garden comes a fool, and the level of discussion drops a little — or more than a little, if the fool is very prolific in their posting.
So the garden is tainted now, and it is less fun to play in; the old inhabitants, already invested there, will stay, but they are that much less likely to attract new blood. Or if there are new members, their quality also has gone down.
Then another fool joins, and the two fools begin talking to each other, and at that point some of the old members, those with the highest standards and the best opportunities elsewhere, leave…
But when the fools begin their invasion, some communities think themselves too good to use their banhammer for — gasp! — censorship.
/r/Bitcoin Before The Scaling Wars
“I created this meme on the price!”, “Oh, no! China banned Bitcoin again! That’s actually good for Bitcoin, here’s why!”, “Hey, my price analysis is 100% correct, look at the lines I drew!”, “My Blockchain.info account just got hacked:(“, “Hey here’s my new project about a new, decentralized internet!”, “Much crypto, such coin, to da moon!”.
Was this community perfect? Hell no! But it was relaxing, often informative and always fun to check out. To some extent, today’s /r/Bitcoin is similar to what we had back then, it got a more toxic, but not terrible. For a terrible subreddit example, check out /r/btc: 30% of the posts are toxic conspiracy theories on how /r/Bitcoin sucks, 30% of the posts are toxic conspiracy theories on how much Bitcoin developers suck, 30% of the posts are worshiping known scammers, fraudsters, con men and fake Satoshis. The rest is about positive initiatives on how to genuinely improve Bitcoin Cash. /r/btc is the true mirror of rotten, malign and ill-minded souls. It is likely how hell looks like.
So, can you blame /r/Bitcoin moderators for taking a heavy handed approach on moderation, in order to avoid their child turn into a shithole, like the other subreddit? Maybe. Maybe /r/Bitcoin’s moderation policies were the very reason why the other sub turned out to be this way. However, as you’ll see later, I will argue /r/Bitcoin moderators did not have a choice. The vote manipulation attack were so severe that, without moderation /r/Bitcoin would be the shithole of Bitcoin today. Not /r/btc.
The Shadow Of Menace
Back in 2014, Gavin Andresen got an idea. Let’s roll out a new block size limit at 20MB! Other than Mike Hearn there was not a single developer who got behind his proposal. And instead of trying to find a scaling solution he decided to bypass the usual FOSS methodology to achieve consensus among developers, and started a blogging campaign.
When that failed, they created Bitcoin XT, which was aiming for 8MB, and they elevated their campaign to new levels. Maybe it wasn’t them, but in 2015 someone started the first vote manipulation attack against /r/Bitcoin to push Bitcoin XT. Things went so far that someone sent a message from Satoshi’s email address, (as of today, the authenticity of the email has not been debunked), which made /u/theymos to take a step and impose temporary rules to crack down on the mess and just like this /r/btc was born.
Regardless if the email came from Satoshi, or not, it is a great summary of the situation back then. The content is instructive and it still rings true:
I have been following the recent block size debates through the mailing list. I had hoped the debate would resolve and that a fork proposal would achieve widespread consensus. However with the formal release of Bitcoin XT 0.11A, this looks unlikely to happen, and so I am forced to share my concerns about this very dangerous fork.
The developers of this pretender-Bitcoin claim to be following my original vision, but nothing could be further from the truth. When I designed Bitcoin, I designed it in such a way as to make future modifications to the consensus rules difficult without near unanimous agreement. Bitcoin was designed to be protected from the influence of charismatic leaders, even if their name is Gavin Andresen, Barack Obama, or Satoshi Nakamoto. Nearly everyone has to agree on a change, and they have to do it without being forced or pressured into it. By doing a fork in this way, these developers are violating the "original vision" they claim to honour.
They use my old writings to make claims about what Bitcoin was supposed to be. However I acknowledge that a lot has changed since that time, and new knowledge has been gained that contradicts some of my early opinions. For example I didn't anticipate pooled mining and its effects on the security of the network. Making Bitcoin a competitive monetary system while also preserving its security properties is not a trivial problem, and we should take more time to come up with a robust solution. I suspect we need a better incentive for users to run nodes instead of relying solely on altruism.
If two developers can fork Bitcoin and succeed in redefining what "Bitcoin" is, in the face of widespread technical criticism and through the use of populist tactics, then I will have no choice but to declare Bitcoin a failed project. Bitcoin was meant to be both technically and socially robust. This present situation has been very disappointing to watch unfold.
Bitcoin Classic, Bitcoin Unlimited, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin 2X
Oh no, I’m losing an argument. Look over there CENSORSHIP!
The appearance of Bitcoin Classic also marks the beginning to the ruling of Roger Ver, The Liar. Around this time, he bought /r/btc and ironically started imposing censorship on /r/btc himself. He also got caught red-handed many times for vote manipulation, buying votes and twitter likes. In sum Roger Ver is most notable for paying millions in social media attacks against Bitcoin. He perfected his social media attacks, not only the only advertisement on /r/Bitcoin was about /r/btc, he constantly stickied /r/Bitcoin bashing posts to his subreddit, he created Bitcoin.com to push his propaganda, paid dozens of Reddit and Medium pseudonymous writers, who are constantly posting walls of spaghetti texts and so on.
So here we are in 2017, and you are demanding /r/Bitcoin moderators to silently sit back and watch how millions being poured into vote manipulation on their subreddit.
Sorry for not posting much these days, among all this drama I tried to concentrate on being productive and coding as much as I can. I implemented most of ZeroLink into HiddenWallet and I will soon release an experimental version on the testnet. This is the first high anonymity set trustless Bitcoin mixing that had been implemented, so please consider supporting it. Or not, I’m not a beggar.