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FreeMoney
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January 21, 2011, 09:09:16 AM
 #1

Money is useful. You've probably noticed some of the benefits. Don't want to plant trees, cut them down, and build your own furnature? Use money instead. Having trouble assembling that car from handmade parts in your garage? Money can solve this too. Money can help us take vacations or retire. Work now, save the money, relax later.

Of course you have to get some first. It takes some effort, but there are countless ways to do it, wash dishes, mow lawns, paint fences, train dogs, design jet engines, etc. You'll know that you're helping someone too since they wouldn't part with any of their limited cash if you weren't. Anything you offer to sell or do for dollars helps the dollar stay valuable. After all unless there are people who are willing to accept dollars for their goods and services they aren't that useful.

To recap: Do some work someone else finds useful, get money, use money to get other people to do useful things for you. There's a nice balance, you do some work, some work is done for you, and thanks to money, it doesn't have to be with the same person or on the same day or even in the same year.

This could be the end of the story. But, unfortunately, our money is easily printed paper and easily created computer bits. There are people who don't need to do work in order to get money, they just summon more into existence. This means they take from the pool of goods and services without putting goods and services back in. The effect is that more money chases fewer goods and services.

This is why you can't get a Coke for 5 cents anymore. It isn't because it's gotten harder to make a Coke, it hasn't. Every step in the process has been made more efficient many times over. The difference is that in 1950 the money supply was $135B and today it is roughly $13T, that's about a hundred times larger. Efficiency gains are the reason Coke doesn't cost $5 per bottle. It's worth noting that in some areas, like computing, gains in efficiency come so fast that prices fall despite the rate at which new money is pumping in. Falling prices are not a problem for producers or consumers, they are are a good and natural result of innovation.

How can we keep our efficiency gains from being bled away by money printers? It's a big problem, but there are solutions.

Gold has a long history as a money and for good reason. Gold is limited in supply; getting new gold requires actually doing work digging it up, and eventually even that will no longer be possible. Gold is compact; you can probably put your lifetime wages in a backpack. It is easy to identify because it doesn't tarnish and it's denser than almost every other element (watch out for tungsten). Unfortunately, if you want to sell your hand knit coffee mug cozies for gold, your customer is going to have to break that tenth ounce Krugerrand into nine pieces and mail one to you. You'll probably end up settling for dollars via PayPal and buying the gold yourself (if gold is what you want). While a system for trading in gold could be arranged, it's hard to get started on your own.

Bitcoin is a more modern solution. Bitcoins are not dug out of the ground, they are found by computers solving a math problem who's solution validates transactions and prevents double spending.  

There are only two ways to get bitcoins, contribute resources to the network or provide goods or services that people with bitcoins want. There are no privileged users, no backdoor access to free coins.

The reward for solving a problem decreases gradually to nothing over the next 120 years resulting in a hard limit of 21 million bitcoins. When new coins are not a sufficient incentive users will have the option to attach a fee to transactions which will go to whoever solves the problem containing that transaction.

Bitcoins are divisible. The Bitcoin software shows the familiar two digits for cents, but a coin really has precision to the hundred millionths place. A Coke costs about 3 bitcoins now, maybe in the future it will cost .003BTC.

Sending and receiving bitcoins is easy. The Bitcoin software creates payment addresses for you; you give one address to the payer and wait for them to send coins. Once you have coins, you can pay by copying and pasting the recipient's address and entering the amount you want to pay.

Payments cannot be revoked.

Payments appear immediately, but will not be confirmed until someone includes them in a valid solution. This takes 10 minutes on average. You do not need to be online to receive coins, they will be waiting for you.

Payments can be anonymous, but aren't by default, just like cash could be anonymous if you wore a mask.

The main drawback is that Bitcoin is not yet widely accepted. This is changing quickly because it's simple to start accepting payment with Bitcoin. You can see a list of exchangers and merchants at bitcoin.org/trade. You can download the Bitcoin software at bitcoin.org, or if you want someone else to manage your coins I recommend mybitcoin.com. You can learn more at the Bitcoin forums, bitcoin.org/smf or the wiki at en.bitcoin.it.


I've tried to keep it non-technical, but I didn't want to claim magic either. I want to make sure I didn't say or imply anything untrue. Suggestions on making it more persuasive or more accurate would be greatly appreciated. I'm trying to get a good explanation of what the problem Bitcoin solves is and why Bitcoin is the solution.

Tell me about any grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors you see too.

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January 21, 2011, 09:24:53 AM
 #2

This is really nice and clearly summed up

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January 21, 2011, 11:54:37 AM
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It's a very well-written article, and you've approached it from a great angle too.

Here are a few stylistic suggestions to consider, but really they're so trivial that I'm reluctant to suggest them:

1. How about writing "billion" and "trillion" instead of B and T? You're presumably writing for a non-technical audience.

2. I would put a comma before "and for good reason".

3. Some of your readers won't know what a Krugerrand is. You could replace the phrase "break that tenth ounce Krugerrand into nine pieces and mail one to you" by "break their gold coin into tiny pieces and mail one piece to you".

4. I would replace the comma by a colon after "two ways to get bitcoins".

5. I would add "and there's" before "no backdoor access".

6. It's difficult for people to assimilate new concepts, but consistent wording helps. You could replace "you give one address to the payer" by "you give a payment address to the payer", and you could replace "pasting the recipient's address" by "pasting the recipient's payment address". This matches your use of "payment address" earlier in the paragraph. Actually I prefer the term "receiving address", because some readers might assume that "payment" refers to an outgoing payment.

7. Replace "hard limit" by "fixed limit". The term "hard limit" is heavily used in computing, but to the lay reader the word "hard" is synonymous with "difficult".

These things are all very minor, and it wouldn't be a problem to publish your article without any of these changes.

There is, however, one part of your article which I don't think is clear to someone who doesn't already understand Bitcoin:

Quote
Payments appear immediately, but will not be confirmed until someone includes them in a valid solution

Earlier in the article, you implied that the solution was bitcoin ("Bitcoin is a more modern solution"). You did also refer to "the reward for solving a problem", but didn't explain what kind of problem you're referring to. World hunger, for example? You did explain this by saying "computers solving a math problem who's solution validates transactions and prevents double spending", but that's not clearly tied to the other references.

Perhaps you could rework those parts to refer to the familiar concept of "transaction processing" instead of "solving math problems". Something like "Bitcoins are not dug out of the ground, they are generated by computers processing Bitcoin transactions in a way that is computationally difficult but which validates transactions and prevents double spending".

That's not an optimum wording either, so feel free to ignore this whole post. After all, the perfect is the enemy of the good.
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January 21, 2011, 12:38:31 PM
 #4

Thank you, ribuck. That is all very helpful. I am going to incorporate every numbered suggestion. I want it to be good enough that people 'steal' it and put it everywhere Smiley


Bitcoin is a more modern solution. Bitcoins are not dug out of the ground, they are found when computers solve a math problem that validates Bitcoin transactions and prevents double spending. Anyone can use their computer to help processes transactions.

There are only two ways to get bitcoins: contribute resources to the network or provide goods or services that people with bitcoins want. There are no privileged users, and there's no backdoor access to free coins.

The number of new bitcoins issued in return for processing transactions decreases gradually to nothing over the next 120 years resulting in a fixed limit of 21 million bitcoins. At some point the low number of new coins alone will not be a sufficient incentive for participation in the processing network. Users will have the option to attach a fee for faster processing. That fee will go to those working to process transactions.

Bitcoins are divisible. The Bitcoin software shows the familiar two digits for cents, but a bitcoin really has precision to the hundred millionths place. A Coke costs about 3 bitcoins now, maybe in the future it will cost .003BTC.

Sending and receiving bitcoins is easy. The Bitcoin software creates receiving addresses for you; you give an address to the payer and wait for them to send coins. Once you have coins, you can pay by copying and pasting the recipient's receiving address and entering the amount you want to pay.

Payments cannot be revoked.

Payments appear to the recipient immediately after they are made, but it takes 10 minutes on average for the network to confirm that the coins now belong to the recipient's address. You do not need to be online to receive coins, they will be waiting for you.

Payments can be anonymous, but aren't by default, just like cash could be anonymous if you were very careful.


Okay, I changed quite a bit. I think it is more clear now, but it's hard to tell if that's only inside my head. Feedback very much appreciated.

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January 21, 2011, 02:08:08 PM
 #5

Just one more:

Anyone can use their computer to help processes transactions.

"Processes" should be "process".

I want it to be good enough that people 'steal' it and put it everywhere Smiley

Why not append the sentence "Feel free to steal this article and use it however you like."
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January 21, 2011, 05:00:45 PM
 #6

I personnaly like what Satoshi wrote in P2Pfoundation (http://p2pfoundation.net/bitcoin):

Quote from: satoshi
The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust thats required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust. Banks must be trusted to hold our money and transfer it electronically, but they lend it out in waves of credit bubbles with barely a fraction in reserve. We have to trust them with our privacy, trust them not to let identity thieves drain our accounts. Their massive overhead costs make micropayments impossible. 

A generation ago, multi-user time-sharing computer systems had a similar problem. Before strong encryption, users had to rely on password protection to secure their files, placing trust in the system administrator to keep their information private. Privacy could always be overridden by the admin based on his judgment call weighing the principle of privacy against other concerns, or at the behest of his superiors. Then strong encryption became available to the masses, and trust was no longer required. Data could be secured in a way that was physically impossible for others to access, no matter for what reason, no matter how good the excuse, no matter what.

Its time we had the same thing for money. With e-currency based on cryptographic proof, without the need to trust a third party middleman, money can be secure and transactions effortless.
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January 21, 2011, 05:33:00 PM
 #7

I Recommend this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Tony1/How_to_improve_your_writing

Also:
http://www.crockford.com/wrrrld/style.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Writing_better_articles

Words like "to recap", "sometimes" are filler.

When writing about an object, it's best to be specific rather than hand wavingly generalising.

Quote
Money is useful. You've probably noticed some of the benefits. Don't want to plant trees, cut them down, and build your own furnature? Use money instead. Having trouble assembling that car from handmade parts in your garage? Money can solve this too. Money can help us take vacations or retire. Work now, save the money, relax later.

Too much rhetorical questioning followed by money is this, money is that. Needs to be clearer.

Quote
Of course you have to get some first. It takes some effort, but there are countless ways to do it, wash dishes, mow lawns, paint fences, train dogs, design jet engines, etc. You'll know that you're helping someone too since they wouldn't part with any of their limited cash if you weren't. Anything you offer to sell or do for dollars helps the dollar stay valuable. After all unless there are people who are willing to accept dollars for their goods and services they aren't that useful.

"Of course you have to" is fluff. Stylistic change but I prefer attaching "takes effort" (some is again fluff) to the first sentence and placing the emphasis on But.
"To get money takes effort. However there are innumerable methods to do so; washing dishes, painting fences, design jet engines, ..."

I'd copy-edit those two paragraphs as:
Quote
Money is the binding-glue than runs our modern technological science-based society. Developed as the middleman in barter economies facilitating exchange of goods.

Aquiring money takes effort.  However innumerable ways exist, from dish-washing to designing space-rockets. The exchange is healthy; they see value enough to exchange their limited dollars for your items. Each exchange keeps the value of a dollar afloat. If no-one were willing to exchange, then they'd be useless strips of paper.

Haven't got time to edit the rest, but read those 3 articles to learn how to write better. There's a lot of filler, unclear generationalisation, non-specific referencing (some X'es-- which X'es do you mean?) and meandering in that text which doesn't seem very professional nor easy to read.
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January 21, 2011, 07:55:20 PM
 #8

Thanks guys, I'm going to keep working on it using your suggestions. Keep 'em coming.

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January 21, 2011, 08:06:12 PM
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I really like the style. The intro is funny and ironic, as though you have to explain this thing called money and why you might want some. The reader is in on the joke, and this invites him in and makes him receptive. I wouldn't change the informal tone.

I can't judge the second part because I know Bitcoin too well. You need feedback from people who've never heard of it.

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January 21, 2011, 09:05:52 PM
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Really minor stuff:

1) furnature = furniture

2) .003BTC = .003 BTC
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January 21, 2011, 10:25:12 PM
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I really like the style. The intro is funny and ironic, as though you have to explain this thing called money and why you might want some. The reader is in on the joke, and this invites him in and makes him receptive. I wouldn't change the informal tone.

That's good to hear, I was thinking of redoing it, but I don't know how to do it that isn't overly dry or bullying sounding.


I can't judge the second part because I know Bitcoin too well. You need feedback from people who've never heard of it.

Yeah, it's hard to read it from the perspective of not knowing anything at all.

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January 21, 2011, 10:27:19 PM
 #12

Really minor stuff:

1) furnature = furniture

2) .003BTC = .003 BTC

I meant to get rid of the BTC use, since it was only in one place, but I see now I missed one. Should I use BTC or stick with bitcoin? 

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January 21, 2011, 11:38:25 PM
 #13

I also like your article, well done! I think it is one of the best introduction to Bitcoin, because the most of current articles is concerning to technical details of project too much.

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January 21, 2011, 11:58:52 PM
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I would reference bitcoinme.com in your list of sites, it tends to be the easiest site for someone who is new to bitcoins to relate to.

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January 22, 2011, 12:54:47 AM
 #15

I would reference bitcoinme.com in your list of sites, it tends to be the easiest site for someone who is new to bitcoins to relate to.

Will do, Bitcoinme is a nice site. I'm thinking of rearranging the link paragraph at the end to be a list and a little more comprehensive.

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January 22, 2011, 01:52:42 AM
 #16

I Recommend this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Tony1/How_to_improve_your_writing

Also:
http://www.crockford.com/wrrrld/style.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Writing_better_articles

Words like "to recap", "sometimes" are filler.

When writing about an object, it's best to be specific rather than hand wavingly generalising.

Quote
Money is useful. You've probably noticed some of the benefits. Don't want to plant trees, cut them down, and build your own furnature? Use money instead. Having trouble assembling that car from handmade parts in your garage? Money can solve this too. Money can help us take vacations or retire. Work now, save the money, relax later.

Too much rhetorical questioning followed by money is this, money is that. Needs to be clearer.

Quote
Of course you have to get some first. It takes some effort, but there are countless ways to do it, wash dishes, mow lawns, paint fences, train dogs, design jet engines, etc. You'll know that you're helping someone too since they wouldn't part with any of their limited cash if you weren't. Anything you offer to sell or do for dollars helps the dollar stay valuable. After all unless there are people who are willing to accept dollars for their goods and services they aren't that useful.

"Of course you have to" is fluff. Stylistic change but I prefer attaching "takes effort" (some is again fluff) to the first sentence and placing the emphasis on But.
"To get money takes effort. However there are innumerable methods to do so; washing dishes, painting fences, design jet engines, ..."

I'd copy-edit those two paragraphs as:
Quote
Money is the binding-glue than runs our modern technological science-based society. Developed as the middleman in barter economies facilitating exchange of goods.

Aquiring money takes effort.  However innumerable ways exist, from dish-washing to designing space-rockets. The exchange is healthy; they see value enough to exchange their limited dollars for your items. Each exchange keeps the value of a dollar afloat. If no-one were willing to exchange, then they'd be useless strips of paper.

Haven't got time to edit the rest, but read those 3 articles to learn how to write better. There's a lot of filler, unclear generationalisation, non-specific referencing (some X'es-- which X'es do you mean?) and meandering in that text which doesn't seem very professional nor easy to read.

Wow, those links are good. There is so much in there! I need to learn and learn and come back in 10 years  Shocked

I like your rewrites. I'm going to work off of them instead of what I had.

I don't like the binding-glue. I think of money more as lube. But also as a signal and unit of account. "Money is useful" is far too generic, that's gone, but now I don't know how I want to open.


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January 22, 2011, 02:35:31 AM
 #17

Good pitch. It's more accurate than BitcoinMe, and it's also written better. There are many grammatical errors, however.

Quote
It takes some effort, but there are countless ways to do it, wash dishes, mow lawns, paint fences, train dogs, design jet engines, etc.

The comma after "do it" should be a colon.

Quote
You'll know that you're helping someone too since they wouldn't

someone, too, since

Quote
After all unless there are people

After all, unless

Quote
who are willing to accept dollars for their goods and services they aren't that useful.

and services, they

Also, "they" is ambiguous -- it could refer to either the people or the dollars.

Quote
There's a nice balance, you do some work

Replace the comma with a colon. Also, to me the "there's" seems to refer to the previous sentence, which sounds odd. Use "that's" to refer to the previous sentence or "there is" or "there exists" to refer to a fact.

Quote
done for you, and thanks to money

done for you, and, thanks to money

Quote
easily printed paper and easily created computer bits

I'd write "easily-printed" and "easily-created".

Quote
do work in order to get money, they just summon more into existence

Replace the comma with a colon, em dash, or semicolon.

Quote
harder to make a Coke, it hasn't.

Replace the comma with a colon, em dash, or semicolon.

Quote
roughly $13T, that's about a

Replace the comma with a period.

Quote
Falling prices are not a problem for producers or consumers, they are are a good and natural result of innovation.

Replace the comma with a semicolon. (A few joining words like "rather" after the semicolon would also look nice.)

Quote
bled away by money printers?

I'd say "money-printers", though I don't think this is required.

(I'm looking at your revised version for the rest.)

Quote
Bitcoins are not dug out of the ground, they are found

Replace the comma with a colon, em dash, or semicolon.

Quote
Anyone can use their computer to help processes transactions.

"Anyone" is singular, but "their" is plural. Replace "their" with "he", or replace "anyone" with "people" and make the sentence plural.

(I do this same thing in informal writing, but you wanted to see all errors...)

Quote
Users will have the option to attach a fee for faster processing.

Specify that the fee is attached to transactions.

Quote
3 bitcoins now, maybe in the future

3 bitcoins now, but maybe in the future

Quote
Payments appear to the recipient immediately after they are made, but it takes 10 minutes on average for the network to confirm that the coins now belong to the recipient's address.

Users should not be encouraged to rely on a single confirmation. It's not that hard to reverse a transaction with only one confirmation: ArtForz or slush could do it easily.

Quote
You do not need to be online to receive coins, they will be waiting for you.

Replace the comma with a colon, em dash, or semicolon.

1NXYoJ5xU91Jp83XfVMHwwTUyZFK64BoAD
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January 22, 2011, 02:56:54 AM
 #18

Thanks, theymos. I've fixed the ones I haven't deleted completely.

This is the new non-bitcoin portion. There are new sentences so certainly new errors.

I'm unsure, in general, when to re-use a word and when to use a pronoun. Obviously if there can be any confusion I want the word again, but I don't want to be bland sounding.


Money is the lube that keeps our society turning. It has been used in primitive and modern societies; it emerges naturally out of barter economies to better facilitate exchanges of goods. It helps us keep track of who has done work and is entitled to have some done for them in return.

You can get money for doing anything that anyone finds valuable, from dish-washing to designing space-rockets. You'll know that you're helping someone since they wouldn't part with any of their limited cash otherwise. Each exchange keeps the value of a dollar afloat. If nobody were willing to exchange, then they'd be useless strips of paper.

There is a nice balance here: you do some work, some work is done for you. Thanks to the durability and mobility of money, these trades don't have to be with the same person or on the same day or even in the same year. By using money we can specialize in whatever we most love or excel. Using money enables us to work extra now and save our efforts for a vacation or retirement.

This could be the end of the story. But, unfortunately, our current money is easily-printed paper and easily-created computer bits. There are people who don't need to do work in order to get money; they just summon more into existence. This means they take from the pool of goods and services without putting goods and services back in. The effect is that more money chases fewer goods and services.

This is why you can't get a Coke for 5 cents anymore. It isn't because it's gotten harder to make a Coke, it hasn't. Every step in the process has been made more efficient many times over. The difference is that in 1950 the money supply was $135 billion and today it is roughly $13 trillion. That's about a hundred times larger. Efficiency gains are the reason Coke doesn't cost $5 per bottle. It's worth noting that in some areas, like computing, gains in efficiency come so fast that prices fall despite the rate at which new money is pumping in. Falling prices are not a problem for producers or consumers; rather they are are a good and natural result of innovation.

How can we keep our efficiency gains from being bled away by money-printers? It's a big problem, but there are solutions.

Gold has a long history as a money, and for good reason. Gold is limited in supply; getting new gold requires actually doing work digging it up, and eventually even that will no longer be possible. Gold is compact; you can probably put your lifetime wages in a backpack. It is easy to identify because it doesn't tarnish and it's denser than almost every other element (watch out for tungsten). Unfortunately, if you want to sell your hand knit coffee mug cozies for gold, your customer is going to have to break their gold coin into tiny pieces and mail one to you. You'll probably end up settling for dollars via PayPal and buying the gold yourself (if gold is what you want). While a system for trading in gold could be arranged, it's hard to get started on your own.


edit: forgot the gold paragraph, it hasn't changed much.

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January 22, 2011, 03:08:19 AM
 #19


Quote
Anyone can use their computer to help processes transactions.

"Anyone" is singular, but "their" is plural. Replace "their" with "he", or replace "anyone" with "people" and make the sentence plural.
 

Does "Individuals can use their computer to help processes transactions." sound okay?

I don't want to pick a gender and I want to keep the idea that a single person can join no questions asked, no permissions. 

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January 22, 2011, 03:28:04 AM
 #20

Revised bitcoin section:

Bitcoin is a more modern solution. Bitcoins are not dug out of the ground; they are found when computers solve a math problem that validates Bitcoin transactions and prevents double spending. Individuals can use their computer to help process transactions.

There are only two ways to get bitcoins: contribute resources to the network or provide goods or services that people with bitcoins want. There are no privileged users, and there's no backdoor access to free coins.

The number of new bitcoins issued in return for processing transactions decreases gradually to nothing over the next 120 years resulting in a fixed limit of 21 million bitcoins. At some point the low number of new coins alone will not be a sufficient incentive for participation in the processing network. Users will have the option to attach a fee to a transaction for faster processing. That fee goes to those working to process transactions.

Bitcoins are divisible. The Bitcoin software shows the familiar two digits for cents, but a bitcoin really has precision to the hundred millionths place. A Coke costs about 3 bitcoins now, but maybe in the future one will cost .003 bitcoins.

Sending and receiving bitcoins is easy. The Bitcoin software creates receiving addresses for you; you give an address to the payer and wait for them to send coins. Once you have coins, you can pay by copying and pasting the recipient's receiving address and entering the amount you want to pay.

Payments cannot be revoked.

Payments appear to the recipient immediately after they are made, but it takes 10 minutes on average for the network to confirm that the coins now belong to the recipient's address. Bitcoin's design confirms transactions repeatedly, six confirmations is considered absolutely safe; this takes about an hour.

You do not need to be online to receive coins; they will be waiting for you.

Payments can be anonymous, but aren't by default, just like cash could be anonymous if you were very careful.


Should I say anything about the wallet file and keeping it safe? Maybe I'll say that and suggest mybitcoin, so anyone bothered by that sees an immediate solution.

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