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Author Topic: My thoughts on the (rediculolus) idea of "blacklisting" coins  (Read 1615 times)
mikernet
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June 24, 2011, 12:08:07 PM
 #1

Hey guys,

First post, mostly registered to reply to the rediculous, thoughtless, completely unworkable suggestion in the infamous allinvain 25k loss thread that blacklisting be supported, only to find out I can't actually post in his thread because I'm a newbie. So, here I am.

If you are annoyed by rants, stop reading here.

You will have to read the last couple pages to allinvain's infamous "I lost 25k BTC" thread (currently on page 30) to sort of catch up. The discussion is revolving around supporting personal blacklists that stop you from receiving money from any blockchain that at any point contains a blacklisted address.

I would just like to say, thanks for the suggestion, but it should be left at that by people who aren't qualified to understand what a horrendously bad idea that is. It isn't doable or feasible or even remotely good for bitcoins. Seriously, all the back and forth discussion by people who really have no understanding of how bitcoins work is annoying and futile.  Please, for the love of God, just drop it as something that "can't be done" and "shouldn't be done." Even worse, although it is a horrible idea on a technical level, its just as horrible idea on a logical level, yet people are getting their panties all in a bunch trying to defend it as a good idea. It's just infuriating

There are exactly two ways blacklisting like this will go, both with retarded outcomes. I will try to put this thorough analysis of the pitfalls of your proposition as plainly as possible so that there is no need for further debate on this topic. Here are the only two ways blacklisting can go:

#1: The way that will result in blacklisting being complete and utterly useless:

This is where everybody maintains a truly personal blacklist, as some people have stated is what this feature would be intended for. Everybody individually opts into every blacklist address they don't want to receive funds from.

Seriously? You think that a statistically significant number of users in a system with ambitions to grow to millions of users, many of whom are intended to be "average joe" users, are going to monitor this forum, read everybody's claims of "evidence" that their bitcoins were h4x0r3d, and put them on a blacklist if the evidence is compelling? Ummm....yeahhhh, right-o.

Because it's going to be soooo hard for the crook to find someone who isn't one of the 5 people who have "personally" added the account to their blacklist to transfer the funds to, right? How is that a deterrent to the crime or punishing anyone? If they *really* want to send money to one of those 5 people who have personally blacklisted the coins after reading your sad story on this forum, they will just exchange the coins with someone whose coins aren't blacklisted. I'll be the first to offer a coin exchange service - send me your "personally blacklisted coins" that you want to send so badly to someone who is personally offended by your set of coins and I will exchange them for a different set of coins that somebody else using my service couldn't use for a 2% fee.

"You can blacklist coins that came from the company that kills whales" - okay...so, let's see - company that kills whales purchased computers from CompCo. CompCo paid its employee with bitcoins sold them for USD using an exchange, some other dude purchased those coins from the exchange and bought a car from dealership, dealership bought some furniture, and now furniture store is trying to buy some contractor services from you but you are going to refuse those coins because somewhere down the line, they were associated with a company that kills whales. Sorry, you aren't hurting the company that kills whales with your personal blacklist. Maybe it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling to know your coins didn't kill whales, but that isn't a good reason to overhaul the protocol to support blacklisting. Limiting your blacklist to the last X hops does't help, anybody can generate 100 wallets in about 5 seconds of compute time if they want and transfer between them.

Exchanges would be a mess. Lets pretend for a second that 50% of people "personally" blacklisted EvilCo's coins. What is the exchange supposed to do when EvilCo exchanges those coins for USD? Maintain it's own blacklist? Decide coins are worth less based on the number of blacklists? Can I buy coins that are highly blacklisted at a discount?

It just turns into a giant clusterf*&#. It is also technically immensely difficult (if not impossible) to actually implement based on the way bitcoins work in a manner that is secure and not prone to tampering of some sort.

#2: People subscribe to blacklists that automatically update

Okay, so, bitcoins are around for 5 years with blacklisting support and there are potentially millions of possible "bad" addresses I could blacklist, such as hacker groups, thieves, evil corporations, etc. To get any statistically significant number of users add those addresses to their list, they would have to subscribe to a blacklist. Then we are back to the original problem of having a central authority (i.e. the biggest blacklist provider) having subjective power over screwing people they don't like. Imagine if the US gov't created a public blacklist, in the name of "protecting americans" - 99% of average joe's in the US would subscribe to the US government's blacklist if this ever caught on. Companies would only ever accept payments from government approved sources to protect their asses. Central regulation authority problems all over again, essentially reducing bitcoins to being completely useless.

Even if the official bitcoin client didn't support a central blacklist, what would stop the US government from forking the client and creating a US Government Approved and Secured BitCoin Client that auto-syncs your blacklist with their central database? Again, US businesses would likely use it to protect themselves.

---

If you've read all that and you still think blacklisting can be reasonably implemented then I can't help you, you are a lost cause. All I can add is to say that it is technically likely impossible to implement in a fashion that doesn't enable tampering. And even if it is possible, it would be so complex and contrived and rediculous that it's rather pointless.

This is the end of my rant. Feel free to reply to any future "maybe we should have a blacklist" posts with a link to this one. It would make me immensely happy.

Cheers,

--Mike
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June 24, 2011, 01:58:40 PM
 #2

In short, if you don't accept a blacklisted coin, someone else will and since all money is fungible, that renders your stance meaningless.

kjj
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June 24, 2011, 02:40:34 PM
 #3

Even better.  You don't know which coins you are getting until you already have them.  So now you have to send the tainted coins back, which is nearly impossible with the current client, or you can continue the transaction just as if you didn't use the blacklist at all, or you have effectively stolen them.

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mikernet
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June 24, 2011, 03:19:12 PM
 #4

Yes indeed. I was alluding to that with "It is also technically immensely difficult (if not impossible) to actually implement based on the way bitcoins work in a manner that is secure and not prone to tampering of some sort."

That's not to say that the protocol can't be updated at some point to support user blacklists being included in the replicated database, where blacklist entry changed get validated the same way transactions are. But, it would add overhead, complexity, require every supernode to have a list of ever user's blacklist, and either be completely useless or completely devastating to the goals which bitcoin wants to achieve in addition to adding an attack vector for manipulating the bitcoin market.

So, all in all, a horrible idea Smiley
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June 26, 2011, 12:09:01 AM
 #5

Even better.  You don't know which coins you are getting until you already have them.  So now you have to send the tainted coins back, which is nearly impossible with the current client, or you can continue the transaction just as if you didn't use the blacklist at all, or you have effectively stolen them.

I heard of a man consolidating all of his payments that he had received to his many payment addresses into one payment by paying a newly-created payment address that he created for that purpose.

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June 26, 2011, 12:31:04 AM
 #6

This may sound sarcastic but if you had taken your post above and broken it up into 50 different pieces and posted them, you would likely be a junior member.

Just a thought...

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Maged
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June 26, 2011, 04:47:23 AM
 #7

This may sound sarcastic but if you had taken your post above and broken it up into 50 different pieces and posted them, you would likely be a junior member.

Just a thought...
That's not necessary. With this high quality of post, I would approve the whitelist request instantly. In fact...  Wink

Great explanation for why blacklisting coins is silly. Hopefully, we can refer to this next time someone asks why it can't be done.

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June 27, 2011, 01:16:15 PM
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@smoothie: Perhaps, but contributing quality posts is more important to me than my post count or member status.

Thanks maged Smiley
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June 27, 2011, 04:36:24 PM
 #9

ridiculous

F*ck you Sallie Mae!
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vector76
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June 27, 2011, 05:45:51 PM
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As long as the miners are indiscriminate, nothing at the user level will work.

If all the miners agreed to reject transactions at the block level, that would be a different story.  With a smallish number of large pools, this might not even be that hard.

I find the implications of this to be somewhat scary.  Turns out there is a way to freeze your assets after all.
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June 27, 2011, 08:10:43 PM
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I would not like to have the money of a man who is not honourable.

But I know I cannot avoid this.
haydentech
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June 27, 2011, 08:28:23 PM
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The only thing more ridiculous is how you spelled "rediculolus".
l0os3
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July 05, 2011, 07:04:20 PM
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The only thing more ridiculous is how you spelled "rediculolus".

LOL

F*ck you Sallie Mae!
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mikernet
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July 05, 2011, 07:07:00 PM
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Hahaha, I just "got" it. Left it for its comedic value, I am rather fond of that typo  Smiley
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July 05, 2011, 07:29:46 PM
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"You can blacklist coins that came from the company that kills whales" - okay...so, let's see - company that kills whales purchased computers from CompCo. CompCo paid its employee with bitcoins sold them for USD using an exchange, some other dude purchased those coins from the exchange and bought a car from dealership, dealership bought some furniture, and now furniture store is trying to buy some contractor services from you but you are going to refuse those coins because somewhere down the line, they were associated with a company that kills whales. Sorry, you aren't hurting the company that kills whales with your personal blacklist. Maybe it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling to know your coins didn't kill whales, but that isn't a good reason to overhaul the protocol to support blacklisting.
I didn't read the other thread you mentioned, but I was thinking about a sort of tag that lets you know bitcoins were scammed from someone.  this way people wouldn't trade with scammers.  also, if the tag could say who got scammed out of them, that would be good.  and also if & when the scamee(?) gets them back, the tag could be removed.  this does seem like a lot of work, though and I don't care if there's ever a system like it; it was just a thought.

anyway, I do think it is hurting the whale killers because if enough people are blacklisting them, CompCo would know not to receive any of their coins 'cause they'd be useless.
mikernet
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July 05, 2011, 07:33:13 PM
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Well, as I said, a statistically significant number of people would never blacklist them unless there is a centralized blacklist, and even if there isn't, that doesn't stop anyone from making a client that syncs with a centralized blacklist. Bad.
kjj
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July 05, 2011, 07:39:23 PM
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"You can blacklist coins that came from the company that kills whales" - okay...so, let's see - company that kills whales purchased computers from CompCo. CompCo paid its employee with bitcoins sold them for USD using an exchange, some other dude purchased those coins from the exchange and bought a car from dealership, dealership bought some furniture, and now furniture store is trying to buy some contractor services from you but you are going to refuse those coins because somewhere down the line, they were associated with a company that kills whales. Sorry, you aren't hurting the company that kills whales with your personal blacklist. Maybe it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling to know your coins didn't kill whales, but that isn't a good reason to overhaul the protocol to support blacklisting.
I didn't read the other thread you mentioned, but I was thinking about a sort of tag that lets you know bitcoins were scammed from someone.  this way people wouldn't trade with scammers.  also, if the tag could say who got scammed out of them, that would be good.  and also if & when the scamee(?) gets them back, the tag could be removed.  this does seem like a lot of work, though and I don't care if there's ever a system like it; it was just a thought.

anyway, I do think it is hurting the whale killers because if enough people are blacklisting them, CompCo would know not to receive any of their coins 'cause they'd be useless.

But, again, you don't know what coins you are going to get until after you already have them.

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mikernet
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July 05, 2011, 07:42:34 PM
 #18

I think the argument is based on a "what if" scenario for the protocol being amended to include blacklists for wallet addresses in the database so that when a transaction is verified it is also checked against the receiver's blacklist prior to "approving."
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July 05, 2011, 07:42:44 PM
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But, again, you don't know what coins you are going to get until after you already have them.
middleman-ing w/a 'clean' coin supplier would be a solution.
mikernet
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July 05, 2011, 07:45:47 PM
 #20

If the blacklist is opt-in and "personal" anyway, you might as well just have the client send the coins back if it doesn't like them. This can be done today. It's just pointless.
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