Synaptic's claims are outright ridiculous, and I assumed he was trolling. But it also seems like no one has given a thorough reply to his specific (moonbat) criticisms, so, at risk of feeding a troll, I will do it.
"Criticism has focused on their similarity to illegal pyramid schemes, price-fixing of products (BITCOIN BOTS, "EARLY ADOPTERS," EXCHANGE OPERATORS MANIPULATING MARKET PRICE),
You misunderstand what is meant by price-fixing of products in the context of MLM -- that criticism refers to how they keep the products' prices fixed regardless of the economics, through a contract between all of the distributors and the company. There is no such price fixing in Bitcoin in that sense -- it's too decentralized for anyone to conspire to fix the price of anything in bitcoins. Also, bots aren't an official part of the system.
As for the early adopter thing, we've been over that here a thousand times: this is no different from buying shares at an IPO that turns out to become hugely profitable. If it turns out that your investing in the IPO enables significant productivity gains, you make a lot of money. Likewise if you "invested" early on to get Bitcoin off the ground and make it a respectable currency, you could make a big profit if it gets to that stage.
high initial start-up costs,
No, the software is free, it costs virtually nothing to start trading stuff for bitcoins.
emphasis on recruitment of lower-tiered salespeople over actual sales (RAMPANT SPECULATION VS. REAL ECONOMY),
Who's doing the emphasizing? The project leads sure as hell don't, and you don't have to deal with any kind of indoctrination from that kind of person in order to use bitcoins.
encouraging if not requiring salespeople to purchase and use the company's products (BITCOIN "ECONOMY"),
No one's required, and they're only "encouraged" to use those vendors because, um, those are where you can spend your bitcoins. It would be different if people were pressured to make non-Bitcoin purchases from vendors that accept Bitcoin, but that's not happening, and if it were, it's not because of the "owners" of the non-existent "Bitcoin company".
potential exploitation of personal relationships which are used as new sales and recruiting targets (DITTO),
WTF? Most people heard about this online, not through some "personal relationship", and unlike MLM, you're not required to go through an "upline" or licensed agent or whatever to get involved.
complex and sometimes exaggerated compensation schemes (DITTO),
What's the "Bitcoin compensation scheme"? Are you talking about the transparent miner policies?
and cult-like techniques which some groups use to enhance their members' enthusiasm and devotion (NEED I SAY MORE)."
Alright, where are these cult-like Bitcoin activities? Where's the Bitcoin worship meeting? Where's the pledging fealty to a leader, etc?
"Independent, unsalaried salespeople of multi-level marketing, referred to as distributors (or associates, independent business owners, dealers, franchise owners, sales consultants, consultants, independent agents, BITCOIN MINERS, BITCOIN EVANGELISTS, etc.),
Er, the existence of independent distributors, and commission-based salespeople isn't what MLM is criticized for -- that exists everywhere. You're just misreading the article now.
represent the company (BITCOIN P2P NETWORK) that produces the products or provides the services they sell (ONLINE TRANSACTION PROCESSING, COMMODITY SPECULATION).
Biggest phail. There is no "bitcoin company", and the p2p network is not at all like one. The transaction processing fees and block rewards exist simply because enough people follow a protocol (which they do to ensure their transactions are not rejected), not because of some corporate compensation scheme.
They are awarded a commission based upon the volume of product sold through their own sales efforts as well as that of their downline organization (USD ENTERING THE MARKETS).
Complete non-sequitur. You've given no explanation for how Bitcoin has a "downline"-based compensation scheme or organization.
Independent distributors develop their organizations by either building an active customer base (BITCOIN EVANGELIZING),
That's not "building a customer base" in the sense of MLM, which would involve a group of people you have exclusive sales rights to -- which can't even happen with the way Bitcoin works.
who buy direct from the company (BITCOIN EXCHANGE OPERATORS),
There is no "the" company, certainly not one that sells at some "wholesale price". There are, rather, numerous buyers and sellers (you don't have to go through an exchange!) that compete, yielding a market-driven price.
or by recruiting a downline of independent distributors who also build a customer base (BITCOIN MINERS, BITCOIN MERCHANTS)
Another complete non-sequitur. How are these miners and merchants anything like the "downline distributors" of MLM?
thereby expanding the overall organization. Additionally, distributors can also earn a profit by retailing products they purchased from the company at wholesale price (EARLY ADOPTERS, BITCOIN MINERS)."
Unless the non-fixed price happens to fall or something.
Seriously, I have no idea what you're on about. Maybe too many bitcoiners are fanatical, but beyond that, I don't see how you are justifying anything more than a superficial resemblance between Bitcoin and MLM (and in a way that would indict the stock/bond market, IPOs, etc as well). And I just wasted, well, too much time responding to a non-argument.
If you want to be taken seriously -- and I do want to know any negative aspects of bitcoin -- please describe, specifically
what the negative aspects of Bitcoin are and how they resemble MLM. Don't just quote a criticism of MLM, mention a kind of Bitcoin user, and expect me to see the connection.
If I don't get a serious reply to this, you're going on "ignore".