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Author Topic: I defend Ripple - “Premined” is more decentralized  (Read 1419 times)
galambo
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February 22, 2013, 04:30:58 AM
Last edit: February 22, 2013, 05:07:51 AM by galambo
 #1

OpenCoin’s decision to go with an 80%/20% distribution, similar to Freicoin except we give our 20% to the miners, and the discussions which have occurred since have caused me to start thinking about the philosophy of this choice. I have come to the conclusion that a pre-mined distribution, as long as it is done fairly, is more decentralized than Bitcoin’s mining subsidy.

Bitcoin’s mining subsidy guarantees that a very small number people will have Bitcoin: those who are technically capable and have a low self-evaluation of the value of their immediate time. I understand that may seem harsh or a difficult opinion to read. This is not to diminish the efforts of Bitcoin miners, because from the Gold Mines of Alaska to the Oil Fields of Texas some of America’s greatest wealth was made by people fitting this description. However, if your goal is to distribute a new currency to a broad cross-section of the world’s population then this is not the way to do it.

Mining subsidy is a design choice and not a moral certainty. There is no scientific principal by which a person can claim the original design for Bitcoin subsidy is superior to a "premined" coin with a fairly administered initial distribution. A choice to award X units of currency to the person who mines a block is completely arbitrary. The block reward should fundamentally be understood, by all Bitcoin users, to be one of the most obvious and common changes made to a new cryptocurrency. Altering this scheme should not be thought to be fraud unless there is direct proof that the scheme declared is unfair by definition.

Subsidy is so important in mining it promotes the creation of large mining pools which increase the centralization of Bitcoin. It turns out, with the subsidy being the reason for Bitcoin’s existence for many, that the culture around Bitcoin has organized itself around collecting the subsidy and nothing more. I am describing the meta-stable arrangement where all of the mining power is concentrated in the hands of just a few web-savvy administrators, or mining pool operators. With the arrival of ASIC miners this situation is expected to become even worse. Miners are encouraged to pool their computing power for no reason but to lower the variance of the subsidy. There isn't any other technically justifiable reason for pools. For example, we do not see mining pools with protein folding computer services. Clearly this is not a possible end state for Bitcoin and services like p2pool are part of the remedy to this problem. A new definition for cryptocurrency is another possible solution.

Just to be completely clear, Freicoin is not anti-miner: Freicoin's strategy is to initially distribute with low mining subsidy, and to reward miners long-term with a demurrage award of 5% of the currency per year.

I hope the discussion in this post has helped to explain why Freicoin, and by extension OpenCoin’s Ripple, has chosen to distribute some of the coins without mining. I believe that Freicoin’s distribution will be done in a fair manner, and believe at the moment that OpenCoin has the same intentions.

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February 22, 2013, 05:07:31 AM
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Subsidy is so important in mining it promotes the creation of large mining pools which increase the centralization of Bitcoin
Without comment on the merit of the rest of your remarks— this is nonsense and it's frightening to hear someone involved with creating a cryptocoin saying something so confused. Mining pools create no advantage in quantity of subsidy obtained, and there are perfectly reasonable fully decentralized mining pools in any case.  And however that goes— "mining puts new coins in too few hands, putting in _one_ set of hands is more hands" is not a logical response.

There are good things that can be argued for premining at least in some case— e.g. when there are common costs that need to be defrayed, if namecoin were premined and they sold the coins they could have raised funds to buy the global .bit TLD for bootstrapping purposes, and maybe namecoin wouldn't be nearly dead today. ... but your argument— that the distribution may have lower entropy then it could or should so lets just give it none— is an insult to the reader and to yourself.

If this is such a great path— why is freicoin's organization not incorporated yet? Was wasn't it incorporated before the coin existed?
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February 22, 2013, 05:08:42 AM
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OpenCoin’s decision to go with an 80%/20% distribution, similar to Freicoin except we give our 20% to the miners, and the discussions which have occurred since this announcement have caused me to start thinking about the philosophy of this choice. I have come to the conclusion that a pre-mined distribution, as long as it is done fairly, is more decentralized than Bitcoin’s mining subsidy.

Bitcoin’s mining subsidy guarantees that a very small number people who have the following qualities will have Bitcoin: those who are technically capable in a practical but not theoretical sense and have a low self-evaluation of the value of their immediate time. I understand that may seem harsh or a difficult opinion to read. This is not to diminish the efforts of Bitcoin miners, because from the Gold Mines of Alaska to the Oil Fields of Texas some of America’s greatest wealth was made by people fitting this description. However, if your goal is to distribute a new currency to a broad cross-section of the world’s population then this is not the way to do it.

Mining subsidy is a design choice and not a moral certainty. There is no scientific principal by which a person can claim the original design for Bitcoin subsidy is superior to a "premined" coin with a fairly administered initial distribution. The choice to award X units of currency to the person who mines a block is completely arbitrary. The block reward should fundamentally be understood, by all Bitcoin users, to be one of the most obvious and common changes made to a new cryptocurrency. Altering this scheme should not be thought to be fraud unless there is direct proof that the scheme declared is unfair by definition.

The importance of subsidy in mining promotes the creation of large mining pools which increase the centralization of Bitcoin. It turns out, with the subsidy being the reason for Bitcoin’s existence for many, that the culture around Bitcoin has organized itself around collecting the subsidy and nothing more. I am describing the meta-stable arrangement where all of the mining power is concentrated in the hands of just a few web-savvy administrators, or mining pool operators. With the arrival of ASIC miners this situation is expected to become even worse. The miners are encouraged to pool their computing power to lower the variance of the subsidy, and for no other technical reason. For example, we do not see mining pools with protein folding computer services. Clearly this is not a possible end state for Bitcoin and services like p2pool are part of the remedy to this problem. A new definition for cryptocurrency is another possible solution.

I hope the discussion in this post has helped to explain why Freicoin, and by extension OpenCoin’s Ripple, may have chosen to distribute the coins primarily without mining. I believe that Freicoin’s distribution will be done in a fair manner, and believe at the moment that OpenCoin has the same intentions.


Handing a large portion of the currency to a central authority is a way of bootstrapping a currency into the hands of a central authority.  I wrote that as a tautology for a reason-- it's self-evident, and calling it "decentralized" in comparison to anything at all is sheer confusion.

There are of course many ways that authority can then divvy up the funds it controls.  There is indeed the potential for a much wider distribution than Bitcoin's coinbase initially reached.  But history is rife with examples of why it's generally a bad idea to trust an authority to complete tasks that benefit the greater good, especially if they necessarily diminish that authority's power at the same time.  Typically centers of power like to consolidate it instead.  There are exceptions, like the GPL tricking copyright law into kicking its own ass, but until I see a comparable level of cleverness in how Ripple or Freicoin dole out their tokens I'll view them with skepticism.  (Though I'll certainly play with them.)
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February 22, 2013, 05:13:12 AM
Last edit: February 22, 2013, 05:31:11 AM by galambo
 #4

There are of course many ways that authority can then divvy up the funds it controls.  There is indeed the potential for a much wider distribution than Bitcoin's coinbase initially reached.  But history is rife with examples of why it's generally a bad idea to trust an authority to complete tasks that benefit the greater good, especially if they necessarily diminish that authority's power at the same time.  Typically centers of power like to consolidate it instead.  There are exceptions, like the GPL tricking copyright law into kicking its own ass, but until I see a comparable level of cleverness in how Ripple or Freicoin dole out their tokens I'll view them with skepticism.  (Though I'll certainly play with them.)

Actually the bold statement is exactly what Freicoin has accomplished -- the "centralized" fund is also subject to demurrage and will be sent to the miners of Freicoin at the rate of 5% per year. This is built into the protocol so there is little incentive to hold onto these funds forever.

If this is such a great path— why is freicoin's organization not incorporated yet? Was wasn't it incorporated before the coin existed?

The paperwork for the Freicoin Mutual Benefit Corporation has been submitted.

This was publicly disclosed in the 7th weekly meeting on the freenode irc channel (#freicoin)
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February 22, 2013, 05:41:24 AM
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Subsidy is so important in mining it promotes the creation of large mining pools which increase the centralization of Bitcoin
Without comment on the merit of the rest of your remarks— this is nonsense and it's frightening to hear someone involved with creating a cryptocoin saying something so confused.

gmaxwell: You beat me to it by about one minute!

But it reminds me I should have added an obvious but often overlooked cost of taking the centralized approach: where there is authority, appeals to authority are not far behind.  First we get joel's assurance on the other thread that the authority with 80% currency control of XRP is committed to decentralization, then we get beliefs in this thread which can be based on nothing more than assurances.

Users _should_ be skeptical of these approaches.  For all the problems of Bitcoin's coinbase, Satoshi's laptop was whirring along verifying transactions, and you can imagine a cryptocurrency with a tweaked reward algorithm could effectively address that early adopter problem.  But with Freicoin or Ripple, how do the initial coinholders ever prove that they are really out of coins?  If they just randomly give them away immediately, its nearly impossible; on the other hand, if they spend years on this issue they consolidate a power structure.
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February 22, 2013, 06:06:35 AM
 #6

There are of course many ways that authority can then divvy up the funds it controls.  There is indeed the potential for a much wider distribution than Bitcoin's coinbase initially reached.  But history is rife with examples of why it's generally a bad idea to trust an authority to complete tasks that benefit the greater good, especially if they necessarily diminish that authority's power at the same time.  Typically centers of power like to consolidate it instead.  There are exceptions, like the GPL tricking copyright law into kicking its own ass, but until I see a comparable level of cleverness in how Ripple or Freicoin dole out their tokens I'll view them with skepticism.  (Though I'll certainly play with them.)

Actually the bold statement is exactly what Freicoin has accomplished -- the "centralized" fund is also subject to demurrage and will be sent to the miners of Freicoin at the rate of 5% per year. This is built into the protocol so there is little incentive to hold onto these funds forever.

That's a good point that I overlooked.  But the Foundation is tasked with more than just bootstrapping, and I assume it will continue to exist even after that single task is complete.  What part of your budget will be earmarked for expenses associated with keeping the Foundation afloat?  Will you give to groups that want to take the currency in a direction that goes against your charter?

What if the biggest Freicoin pool operators who together control a supermajority of mining resources become Foundation members?  How would you even know?

The whole reason of starting decentralized is that you can do an end run around these questions.  You seem to think the costs there outweigh the benefits, and that's fine, but it means you must find an alternative mechanism of equitably distributing coins, and "give coins to group that distributes coins" isn't sufficiently worked out to qualify as a mechanism.  That's also fine, but until you get a working mechanism don't refer to your currency as decentralized or anything approaching it.
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February 22, 2013, 07:35:30 AM
Last edit: February 22, 2013, 07:47:17 AM by Bicknellski
 #7

OpenCoin’s decision to go with an 80%/20% distribution, similar to Freicoin except we give our 20% to the miners, and the discussions which have occurred since have caused me to start thinking about the philosophy of this choice. I have come to the conclusion that a pre-mined distribution, as long as it is done fairly, is more decentralized than Bitcoin’s mining subsidy.

Bitcoin’s mining subsidy guarantees that a very small number people will have Bitcoin: those who are technically capable and have a low self-evaluation of the value of their immediate time. I understand that may seem harsh or a difficult opinion to read. This is not to diminish the efforts of Bitcoin miners, because from the Gold Mines of Alaska to the Oil Fields of Texas some of America’s greatest wealth was made by people fitting this description. However, if your goal is to distribute a new currency to a broad cross-section of the world’s population then this is not the way to do it.

Mining subsidy is a design choice and not a moral certainty. There is no scientific principal by which a person can claim the original design for Bitcoin subsidy is superior to a "premined" coin with a fairly administered initial distribution. A choice to award X units of currency to the person who mines a block is completely arbitrary. The block reward should fundamentally be understood, by all Bitcoin users, to be one of the most obvious and common changes made to a new cryptocurrency. Altering this scheme should not be thought to be fraud unless there is direct proof that the scheme declared is unfair by definition.

Subsidy is so important in mining it promotes the creation of large mining pools which increase the centralization of Bitcoin. It turns out, with the subsidy being the reason for Bitcoin’s existence for many, that the culture around Bitcoin has organized itself around collecting the subsidy and nothing more. I am describing the meta-stable arrangement where all of the mining power is concentrated in the hands of just a few web-savvy administrators, or mining pool operators. With the arrival of ASIC miners this situation is expected to become even worse. Miners are encouraged to pool their computing power for no reason but to lower the variance of the subsidy. There isn't any other technically justifiable reason for pools. For example, we do not see mining pools with protein folding computer services. Clearly this is not a possible end state for Bitcoin and services like p2pool are part of the remedy to this problem. A new definition for cryptocurrency is another possible solution.

Just to be completely clear, Freicoin is not anti-miner: Freicoin's strategy is to initially distribute with low mining subsidy, and to reward miners long-term with a demurrage award of 5% of the currency per year.

I hope the discussion in this post has helped to explain why Freicoin, and by extension OpenCoin’s Ripple, has chosen to distribute some of the coins without mining. I believe that Freicoin’s distribution will be done in a fair manner, and believe at the moment that OpenCoin has the same intentions.





Let's be generous. 10,000 miners vs. 7,000,000,000 billion people on the planet. 1 in 700,000 people on the planet actually mine. Of that a smaller percentage and that can be calculated I guess get the lion share of coins and that number will continue to drop as ASICs come online. Fewer and fewer people with more concentrated hash power on machines that are virtually useless for anything else but mining bitcoin.

Compare that to XRP where they can distribute XRP to a much wider range of people in different languages and via different platforms like phones, tablets etc. I bet they can and will distribute the coin over a wider base faster and more economically than Bitcoin simply do to the electricity that has already been consumed for the mining.

If you dispute it give me the exact numbers for bitcoin and then tell me how anyone with half an idea couldn't distribute coin more equitably? Even if you distributed every account on say Facebook an equal number of XRP you would still do better than bitcoin. Alot better infact even with the massive number of double accounts.

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February 22, 2013, 07:49:09 AM
 #8

I would ask how the hell is mining equitable to the majority of people on this planet?

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February 22, 2013, 07:51:38 AM
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I would ask how the hell is mining equitable to the majority of people on this planet?
It's equitable because people are paid in proportion to how much service they provide, that service being securing the transactions by piling computational work on top of them. It's as equitable as any other case where someone does work and gets paid for the work they do. It's fair, but it's not some magic great equalizer.

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February 22, 2013, 08:13:43 AM
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Federal Freicoin Reserve defends OpenCoin Central Bank's centralized premining / moneyprinting. What a surprise.
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February 22, 2013, 12:33:54 PM
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That's a good point that I overlooked.  But the Foundation is tasked with more than just bootstrapping, and I assume it will continue to exist even after that single task is complete.  What part of your budget will be earmarked for expenses associated with keeping the Foundation afloat?  Will you give to groups that want to take the currency in a direction that goes against your charter?

What if the biggest Freicoin pool operators who together control a supermajority of mining resources become Foundation members?  How would you even know?

The whole reason of starting decentralized is that you can do an end run around these questions.  You seem to think the costs there outweigh the benefits, and that's fine, but it means you must find an alternative mechanism of equitably distributing coins, and "give coins to group that distributes coins" isn't sufficiently worked out to qualify as a mechanism.  That's also fine, but until you get a working mechanism don't refer to your currency as decentralized or anything approaching it.

By setting aside 15% of the budget for demurrage that would give us 3.25 years until "supernova" when the foundation has to start taking charges to the distribution accounts. This is close to the proposed lifespan of the foundation. The foundation is designed to die. Its sole purpose is to distribute the coins and then to dissolve.
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February 22, 2013, 12:44:01 PM
Last edit: February 22, 2013, 01:07:55 PM by galambo
 #12

Mining pools create no advantage in quantity of subsidy obtained

gmaxwell: You beat me to it by about one minute!


Last night gmaxwell's brain had selective reading comprehension. It may be from too much time spent in the custom hardware battlefields. This is a serious problem with Bitcoin:


Miners are encouraged to pool their computing power for no reason but to lower the variance of the subsidy.  

Maybe mining pools and the resulting centralization of Bitcoin is an example of good centralization? It is, however, less decentralized than other methods which encourage a wider distribution of the coin.

I'm just attempting to understand this issue myself, and I won't get it by incomplete argument like what gmaxwell says above. Sad
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February 22, 2013, 01:49:01 PM
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I would ask how the hell is mining equitable to the majority of people on this planet?
It's equitable because people are paid in proportion to how much service they provide, that service being securing the transactions by piling computational work on top of them. It's as equitable as any other case where someone does work and gets paid for the work they do. It's fair, but it's not some magic great equalizer.


How does one mine? With your hands? I am thinking equitable in the sense of access to the technology or electricity not "freedom" to  mine. Without the resources to  mine how is it equitable? Ripple on the other hand may be able to circumvent that as more people have devices like phones that are much cheaper and  can receive XRP as opposed to the knowledge, expense and electricity required to mine. That alone gives Ripple a greater potential to distribute more equitably. Much more democratic than Bitcoin by far.

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February 22, 2013, 02:02:32 PM
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The key is that you need to pay the price to protect the network. Simple and clear. If you can not pay a reasonable price / market price, few people will take their own money to build the network cooperatively.

Another key point is that distributed network is definitively more secure to be used like global payment system.

Other words are just wasted.
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February 23, 2013, 05:42:21 AM
Last edit: February 23, 2013, 05:52:29 AM by Explodicle
 #15

This is disturbingly similar to countless SolidCoin discussions. Pools are slightly centralized, but compete relentlessly for clients. If one ever did something evil, miners (who ARE decentralized) would switch to a different pool (or p2pool).

Let's be generous. 10,000 miners vs. 7,000,000,000 billion people on the planet. 1 in 700,000 people on the planet actually mine. Of that a smaller percentage and that can be calculated I guess get the lion share of coins and that number will continue to drop as ASICs come online. Fewer and fewer people with more concentrated hash power on machines that are virtually useless for anything else but mining bitcoin.
How is that generous? As of this moment there are about 80,000 Bitcoin Forum users and 24 hour high of about 60,000 connected hosts. Using the more generous 80,000 users,* that gives us a rough ballpark of one out of every eight Bitcoiners is getting paid to run the financial system! Not to mention that mining is not very profitable at all, involves risk, and requires some decent computer skills. If someone starts selling preconfigured ASIC boxes to n00bs with free electricity, or Bitcoin actually reaches a significant percentage of that 7 billion people, then the number of miners could easily grow dramatically. Even a few thousand entities running a world currency would be far better than the hundreds of governments that do it for most people now.

Miners aren't getting rich, and even the present-day 10,000 should be sufficient for competition. I don't think my money needs to be egalitarian or democratic any more than my car or my computer do. A tool is judged by its usefulness, not its political motives.

If you dispute it give me the exact numbers for bitcoin and then tell me how anyone with half an idea couldn't distribute coin more equitably? Even if you distributed every account on say Facebook an equal number of XRP you would still do better than bitcoin. Alot better infact even with the massive number of double accounts.
What is the problem with an uneven number of people first briefly holding the block reward, when it is frequently traded away at very little profit to a speculator? Anyone from any internet-connected device can speculate in any language already.

Don't get me wrong, I'm interested in both Ripple and Freicoin and I've tried both out. I'm still wrapping my head around both; they're really clever and inspirational ideas. But to me any amount of centralization is a big deterrant. I have to admit I'm stubborn in that regard - I'd want to see a clear plan for how exactly it's distributed in a way that's democratic or egalitarian, but not also vulnerable to spam/sockpuppets, the digital divide, uncertain adoption rates, or the distributing organization being targeted by the powers that be.

* Although about half of those forum accounts are Atlas.
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February 23, 2013, 06:05:06 AM
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Subsidy is so important in mining it promotes the creation of large mining pools which increase the centralization of Bitcoin
Without comment on the merit of the rest of your remarks— this is nonsense and it's frightening to hear someone involved with creating a cryptocoin saying something so confused. Mining pools create no advantage in quantity of subsidy obtained, and there are perfectly reasonable fully decentralized mining pools in any case.  And however that goes— "mining puts new coins in too few hands, putting in _one_ set of hands is more hands" is not a logical response.

There are good things that can be argued for premining at least in some case— e.g. when there are common costs that need to be defrayed, if namecoin were premined and they sold the coins they could have raised funds to buy the global .bit TLD for bootstrapping purposes, and maybe namecoin wouldn't be nearly dead today. ... but your argument— that the distribution may have lower entropy then it could or should so lets just give it none— is an insult to the reader and to yourself.

If this is such a great path— why is freicoin's organization not incorporated yet? Was wasn't it incorporated before the coin existed?

I dont think this is true in practical terms. Remember when deepbit was 50% of hashing power but now its 13%

As competition and innovation within different pools continues the hashrate seems to become more distributed rather than less.

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February 23, 2013, 08:04:00 PM
 #17


By setting aside 15% of the budget for demurrage that would give us 3.25 years until "supernova" when the foundation has to start taking charges to the distribution accounts. This is close to the proposed lifespan of the foundation. The foundation is designed to die. Its sole purpose is to distribute the coins and then to dissolve.

Both Ripple and FreiCoin are experiments in how much the crypto-coiner community is willing to trust a central non-miner initial distribution. I think FreiCoin is one step ahead with the publicly announced 3-4 year period of the foundation managing the initial distribution. And also the clever way it is done, not through pre-mine but rather a percentage of each block (which enables the foundation to limit its holding of FRC throughout the distribution period.

But Ripple has started it distribution in the give-away thread here in this forum. No faucet or any grant has yet been made by FreiCoin, as far as I know. So +1 to Ripple for having an early faucet/give-away.
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February 24, 2013, 05:15:07 AM
 #18

But Ripple has started it distribution in the give-away thread here in this forum. No faucet or any grant has yet been made by FreiCoin, as far as I know. So +1 to Ripple for having an early faucet/give-away.

We're perhaps being a little bit too careful in how we are doing this. OpenCoin/Ripple is free to rush into the void our caution has created. I think OpenCoin is acting like a typical startup with nothing to lose.

They seem to have a good web development team. I'm not sure if they have the rest of their bases covered but, we will see.
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