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Hermel
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March 20, 2016, 12:22:57 PM
Last edit: March 21, 2016, 10:20:52 PM by Hermel
 #1

[Edit: the survey is closed and the results here: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1405124.msg14275503#msg14275503]

I have created a quick survey about the block-size limit and would love to hear your answers:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/18JfNC21Jo1adTI6YNxiFrw4BXRAbI4LrdWx2hFbWSJY/viewform
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March 20, 2016, 05:52:18 PM
Last edit: March 20, 2016, 06:53:44 PM by gmaxwell
 #2

I have created a quick survey about the block-size limit and would love to hear your answers:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/18JfNC21Jo1adTI6YNxiFrw4BXRAbI4LrdWx2hFbWSJY/viewform

Consider the question from the survey:
Quote
In 10 years, Bitcoin will be
a peer-to-peer electronic cash system
a peer-to-peer electronic settlement system
a store of wealth (digital gold)
obsolete

What is "Bitcoin" being referred to there?  Is it referring to the Bitcoin Currency? Or the P2P network? or the blockchain itself? current Bitcoin companies?

What is a "settlement system" which is exclusive with"cash system"?  The definition of a settlement system is a system that delivers money in exchange for the fulfillment of a contract. This is the technical definition of the Bitcoin blockchain. What is a "cash system"?-- The bitcoin currency is cash (although cash with some fungibility problems); if it weren't the blockchain couldn't be a settlement system (since it wouldn't be a system that delivered money for fulfillment of agreements); and none of these two are incompatible with Bitcoin being a store of wealth.

There is a common misunderstanding of what settlement means-- to suggest that its somehow not for personal use, and also suggesting that these options are exclusive. They aren't. And one of them, except "a store of wealth", even speak that strongly to the blocksize:

One could have a "peer-to-peer electronic cash/settlement system" that was highly regulated, censored, and had a politically determined and/or unstable monetary policy. But it's hard to imagine something that would be a good "store of wealth (digital gold)" that wasn't a strongly autonomous and permissionless bearer instrument with a strongly fixed monetary policy (criteria which might implicate the block size in both directions).

Quote
Blocks are like penises: the bigger the better.

Maybe I was expecting too much of the poll.

It certainly seems to have nothing to do with technical discussion.
Carlton Banks
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March 20, 2016, 08:10:19 PM
 #3

Quote from: Hermel
Blocks are like penises: the bigger the better.

As spoken by the President of the Bitcoin Association of Switzerland. Disassociate. That would be my advice (or at least find a spokesman with some kind of credible output)

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March 20, 2016, 08:36:09 PM
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Quote
Blocks are like penises: the bigger the better.

Maybe I was expecting too much of the poll.

It certainly seems to have nothing to do with technical discussion.

I thought the same when I read this. Are you kidding me/us?

Well, I've completed the poll anyway. And my main answer is (citing Bill Gates, or not): "20 MB ought to be enough for anyone". (It must not be short-term, but mid-term I think it's a good value)

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March 20, 2016, 08:40:58 PM
 #5

I have created a quick survey about the block-size limit and would love to hear your answers:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/18JfNC21Jo1adTI6YNxiFrw4BXRAbI4LrdWx2hFbWSJY/viewform

Just completed the survey, I left blank the answer to this question Technical Achievements because none of them fits me, when have you planned to share with us the results?
Hermel
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March 20, 2016, 08:53:41 PM
 #6

I have created a quick survey about the block-size limit and would love to hear your answers:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/18JfNC21Jo1adTI6YNxiFrw4BXRAbI4LrdWx2hFbWSJY/viewform

Consider the question from the survey:
Quote
In 10 years, Bitcoin will be
a peer-to-peer electronic cash system
a peer-to-peer electronic settlement system
a store of wealth (digital gold)
obsolete

What is "Bitcoin" being referred to there?  Is it referring to the Bitcoin Currency? Or the P2P network? or the blockchain itself? current Bitcoin companies?


Obviously, this is a gross - but intentional - simplification. The question aims at finding out whether you see the Bitcoin system as something that is mainly used for everyday transactions (a cash system and probably the original vision by Satoshi), is mainly used for bulk settlement of transaction with everyday transactions happening off-chain (e.g. through the Lightning network), or if you think the digital gold use case will dominate. As you have correctly noticed, these scenarios can coexist to a certain degree. The goal of this question was never technical accuracy, but to capture a sentiment. For example, I would guess that you would probably feel most comfortable choosing the settlement answer, if any.

Quote
What is a "settlement system" which is exclusive with"cash system"?  The definition of a settlement system is a system that delivers money in exchange for the fulfillment of a contract.
See above. In banking, a settlement system usually is a system to periodically update a coarse-grained ledger with the an aggregate of finer-grained transactions. This is similar to concepts like the Lightning network that uses on-chain transactions to settle aggregates of many smaller transactions.

Quote
There is a common misunderstanding of what settlement means-- to suggest that its somehow not for personal use, and also suggesting that these options are exclusive. They aren't.
No, they are not exclusive. But usually, settlement networks are designed to be used for settling an net aggregate of transactions. This implies that it is too expensive or otherwise too inconvenient to send every single transaction directly to the settlement network. If that was not the case, there would be no point in using an upper layer. Insofar, these use-cases are somewhat exclusive.

Quote
Quote
Blocks are like penises: the bigger the better.

Maybe I was expecting too much of the poll.

It certainly seems to have nothing to do with technical discussion.

That's right. The aim of the poll was to find out more about the psychology behind this technical discussion, and not hard technical facts themselves. The reasoning behind the last question was to have a neutral, a small block, and a big block tagline. In any case, the answers are as expected: those who favor bigger blocks tend to find the admittedly crude tagline you quoted funny, while those who believe that the proper technique on top (e.g. Lightning) trumps plain size find it rather tasteless.

In case you are familiar with Scott Adams' hilarious blog (See http://blog.dilbert.com/post/136950092871/why-would-a-man-vote-for-hillary-clinton), this can also be seen as an identity-play. Instead of using reason for persuasion, an association between big-blockers and their anatomy is planted into every reader's brain. If Scott Adams is right, this will work much better than any argument based on reason.
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March 20, 2016, 08:58:04 PM
 #7

when have you planned to share with us the results?

Tomorrow evening.
Carlton Banks
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March 20, 2016, 09:14:32 PM
 #8

Maybe I was expecting too much of the poll.

It certainly seems to have nothing to do with technical discussion.

That's right.


And so you decided to post this in the "Technical Discussion" forum for which reason?

Vires in numeris
Hermel
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March 20, 2016, 10:08:08 PM
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It certainly seems to have nothing to do with technical discussion.

That's right.

And so you decided to post this in the "Technical Discussion" forum for which reason?

Given your scrutiny, the "that's right" was maybe written too hastily. I just wanted to confirm that I do not intend to start a new technical discussion on a topic discussed many times before. Instead, I intended to find out more about the psychology and motivations behind that technical discussion. Given the available choices, the "development & technical discussion" still seemed like the best fit. Would you have preferred the general section?
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March 20, 2016, 10:25:00 PM
 #10

Hermel, I suspect you are new to Bitcoin.


Posting about blocksize preferences amongst users is largely academic in nature, as no-one is in a position to implement the changes themselves. The Bitcoin development team are the target of your survey, I would recommend posting it to their mailing list. Well, I wouldn't, but you will at least be addressing the appropriate audience.

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March 20, 2016, 11:29:13 PM
 #11

In banking, a settlement system usually is a system to periodically update a coarse-grained ledger with the an aggregate of finer-grained transactions.
Have you been introduced to the concept of "blocks"? (sorry, I really don't intend this to be mocking sounding, but I'm not finding a better way to put it).  What you described is _exactly_ how Bitcoin works.
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March 21, 2016, 06:35:14 AM
 #12

In banking, a settlement system usually is a system to periodically update a coarse-grained ledger with the an aggregate of finer-grained transactions.
Have you been introduced to the concept of "blocks"? (sorry, I really don't intend this to be mocking sounding, but I'm not finding a better way to put it).  What you described is _exactly_ how Bitcoin works.

By "aggregate", I mean the net difference. Banks call this process "netting". For example if 1302 transactions moved 10 million from bank A to B and 917 transactions moved 12 million from bank B to A on a given they, they'll simply transact the net amount of 2 million over night in one single transaction. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clearing_House_Interbank_Payments_System for an example of such a system. In fact, this resembles the Lightning network, which also only transfers net amounts on the blockchain (if I understood it correctly). However, it is not how the Bitcoin blockchain works, because the blocks in Bitcoin still contain every individual transaction. There is no netting.
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March 21, 2016, 06:46:09 AM
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Lightning is not a netting system, -- as a clear evidence for that netting universally involves counterparty risk of loss and lightning does not. But if you wanted to talk in terms of netting you perhaps should have said that.
Hermel
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March 21, 2016, 06:51:58 AM
 #14

Hermel, I suspect you are new to Bitcoin.

I closely follow Bitcoin since early 2011.

Quote
Posting about blocksize preferences amongst users is largely academic in nature, as no-one is in a position to implement the changes themselves.

No, this is not an academic question, it is a strategic business question revolving about what we want Bitcoin to be. If Bitcoin was a startup, there would probably be a board meeting to decide whether Bitcoin should go after the "electronic cash" market or after the "settlement platform market". The blocksize debate really is a clash of two conflicting visions.
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March 21, 2016, 06:58:56 AM
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Lightning is not a netting system, -- as a clear evidence for that netting universally involves counterparty risk of loss and lightning does not. But if you wanted to talk in terms of netting you perhaps should have said that.

So it is a netting system without counterparty risk? Note that some parts of the traditional banking system also have mechanisms in place to eliminate counterparty risk (at least for practical purposes). See for example http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2331355 by Mancini et al, who show that the design of the European repo market is less vulnerable to counterparty risk than the American one. Generally, I don't think that the term "netting" implies that there must be a counterparty risk.
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March 21, 2016, 09:21:57 AM
Last edit: March 21, 2016, 09:49:21 AM by gmaxwell
 #16

Something being less subject to defaults in practice is not equivalent to a system in which defaults are not possible.

Lightning is lightning, it isn't anything else; trying to reason about word pattern matching obfuscates understanding rather than enlightens. If what someone disliked about a weeblix system was that it subjected users to flimdar, then it would be pretty misleading to suggest people wouldn't want some feature that made a system more weeblix like if it didn't expose them at all to flimdar, even if it was otherwise weeblix like.   In this case, I don't even think it's fair to say that lightning is "like" netting, as all transactions in it are ordinary bitcoin transactions ready for transmission to the network-- you just save fees by holding off sending them and having opportunities to revise them. More like writing someone a check, then asking them to rip it up and giving them a new one later in the day when you make another transaction with them-- they could settle it at any time, but save bank interactions if they hold off. Netting would be like writing the check at the end of the week. And in Lightning, unlike the check, the risk is eliminated because of Bitcoin magic.

Today the vast-vast majority of transactions exchanging Bitcoin value never show up in the blockchain-- mostly due to systems with significant counterparty risk, indeed. So, some users perform netting on top of Bitcoin to lower their costs and greatly improve their transaction speeds. Is Bitcoin a netting system? No.  Bitcoin is p2p electronic cash, which periodically settles transactions written by users (which may be revised on the fly prior to settlement). Lightning uses the smart contracting system in Bitcoin to allow that ability to revise pre-settlement for transitive flows of funds without a counterparty risk for funds loss, and not just for single hops.

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March 21, 2016, 10:01:46 AM
 #17

Hermel, I suspect you are new to Bitcoin.

I closely follow Bitcoin since early 2011.

I see. Well, don't worry, you'll get the hang of it eventually.

Quote
Posting about blocksize preferences amongst users is largely academic in nature, as no-one is in a position to implement the changes themselves.

No, this is not an academic question, it is a strategic business question revolving about what we want Bitcoin to be. If Bitcoin was a startup, there would probably be a board meeting to decide whether Bitcoin should go after the "electronic cash" market or after the "settlement platform market". The blocksize debate really is a clash of two conflicting visions.

OK, so what's your action plan? Does it involve anything other than taking your proposal, either coded or not, to the github repo? If it does, how do you imagine that the proposition will actually find it's way into the codebase? Bitcoin isn't quite that magical. Time, space and logic still apply

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March 21, 2016, 09:53:47 PM
Last edit: March 21, 2016, 10:24:21 PM by Hermel
 #18

Survey Results

Summary
The main hypothesis I wanted to test is whether an entrepreneurial mindset (as opposed to a technical mindset) makes you more likely to favor big blocks. And the answer seems yes.

Intro
I thank all 269 respondents, out of which 146 have indicated a numeric block-size preference ranging between 0.5 MB and unlimited, excluding unspecific dynamic answers. All findings revolve around the question of what makes someone a big-blocker or a small-blocker. In here, I consider everyone who wants a block size limit of less than 4 MB to be a small-blocker and those who prefer 4 MB or more to be big-blockers. This somewhat arbitrary decision was taken before analyzing the data. The median being 8 MB, I ended up with 103 big-blockers and 44 small-blockers. This is not representative for bitcoin-users in general and mostly reflects the fact that I received more responses from /r/btc readers than from /r/bitcoin readers.

Findings
  • There is a deep divide between readers of the traditional two forums and readers of /r/btc. Among /r/bitcoin and bitcointalk readers, 39% are big-blockers, whereas 94% of the /r/btc readers are big-blocker. Among those reading other news sources first, 76% are big-blockers. This was by far the most statistically significant finding (t-stat 6.6). While this is not surprising to anyone paying attention, it is still worrying to see such a schism.
  • Small-blockers are more likely to see the future of Bitcoin in a settlement system (24%) or digital gold (17%) than big-blockers (10% settlement, 6% gold). This confirms the widespread suspicion that the block-size disagreement is related to what we want Bitcoin to be, although not to the extent I would have expected to see. The "electronic cash system" still clearly wins among every group.
  • The amount of Bitcoins you own does not seem of much relevance here.
  • Small-blockers are more likely to find technology more important than business strategy, are more likely to have written Bitcoin-related code, and are more likely to have founded a company.
  • Big-blockers tend to emphasize the importance of business strategy relative to technology, are more likely to like "Swiss bank account in your pocket" tagline, and are more likely to have plans to found a company.

Comment
I see the block-size decision as a trade-off between a technical risk (loss of decentralization, hard fork, etc.) and a business risk (missing the window of opportunity for growth). If correct, this would mean that people with higher technical awareness would tend to favor smaller blocks while those with an entrepreneurial background would favor bigger blocks. Anecdotal evidence supports this, with entrepreneurs like Erik Voerhees being a big-blocker, and a considerable number of core-devs being small-blockers. This survey also supports this hypothesis with statistical significance (p-value of 0.03), but not to same extent as your preferred news source determines your opinion (p-value of 0.00002). Social scientist usually accept a hypothesis if a p-value of 0.05 or lower is reached.

Personality Test
An accessible way to present these findings is to run a regression on many parameters at once and use the most relevant ones to construct a "personality test" like one can find them in certain women's magazines. This is not very scientific, but fun.

You start with 2 points.
  • If your primary Bitcoin news source is /r/bitcoin or bitcointalk, subtract 4 points.
  • If you believe that for Internet companies, technology is a more important success factor than business strategy, subtract 3 points.
  • If you have written Bitcoin-related source code that others use, subtract 2 points.
  • If you have plans to found a company, add 2 points.
  • If you have already founded a company, subtract 2 points. (This goes counter my hypothesis, but is neutralized by other factors.)
  • If you believe that ten years from now, Bitcoin will rather be seen as "digital gold" than electronic cash or a settlement system, subtract 2 points.
  • If you find the tagline "Bitcoin: a Swiss bank account in your pocket" catchy, add 2 points.
  • If you find the tagline "Blocks are like penises: the bigger the better" catchy, add 2 points.[1]
  • If you find the tagline "Decentralized Bitcoin must not become centralized Bankcoin." catchy, subtract 1 point.
If you end up with a positive amount of points, you are more likely to be a big-blocker, and vice versa.

Disclaimer
This survey does not hold up to scientific standards. While it statistically confirms my hypothesis, I would have hoped for stronger results.

[1] This admittedly crude tagline irritated some of you. This is an identity play in accordance with Scott Adam's persuasion stack (http://blog.dilbert.com/post/136950092871/why-would-a-man-vote-for-hillary-clinton). An association between big-blockers and their anatomy is planted into the reader's brain. If Scott is right, this will work much better than any argument based on reason.
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March 22, 2016, 08:47:09 AM
 #19

Quote
Small-blockers are more likely to find technology more important than business strategy, are more likely to have written Bitcoin-related code, and are more likely to have founded a company.

Big-blockers tend to emphasize the importance of business strategy relative to technology, are more likely to like "Swiss bank account in your pocket" tagline, and are more likely to have plans to found a company.

Sounds about right. Business, tech and bitcoin coding experience vs. catch lines and dreams.

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March 22, 2016, 10:40:22 PM
 #20

"...everyone who wants a block size limit of less than 4 MB to be a small-blocker and those who prefer 4 MB or more to be big-blockers."

"...103 big-blockers and 44 small-blockers."

Haha, small blockers up to 4mb?  Grin (doesn't relate to anything i can think of, never heard that relationship before)
4mb is not small is it?
So, if up to 1mb were small-blockers and all else is bigger-blocker, how many small/bigger-blockers are there? (6/1 bigger v small?)

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