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Author Topic: [POLL] The State of Altcoins (and A Proposed Development Funding Model)  (Read 3276 times)
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ExLibertas
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November 07, 2013, 06:47:29 PM
Last edit: November 09, 2013, 11:20:41 AM by ExLibertas
 #1

THE STATE OF ALTCOINS (AND A PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT FUNDING MODEL)

I've been a long-time lurker and created this account to open up for discussion the development of an alternative digital currency through a model that can fund its development. This is a proposal for a community project, and therefore thrives on your input. Please read through the somewhat lengthy proposal below and cast a vote if you're so inclined. There is an able and experienced developer available and interested in doing this work, so I put it to the community for consideration and discussion.

I. Introduction

I wanted to introduce for discussion the current state of alternative digital currencies to Bitcoin (or altcoins as we like to call them). With the exception of a few altcoins, most end up with a few changed parameters and very little technological innovation, when in fact, it stands to reason that altcoins serve as perfect candidates for economic, social, and technical experimentation. As a platform for ideas, where risk is a natural part of their existence, they're really good incubators for experimentation with such ideas, but we haven't seen all that much experimentation. It is this kind of experimentation that promotes a healthy ecosystem for all cryptocurrencies, and allows everyone to benefit from the research produced by their progress.

The biggest impediment to this kind of progress is development capacity. If you're a talented developer, it's unlikely that you're going to experiment all by yourself in a field full of altcoins that haven't shown all that much innovation. This is especially true if there is no guarantee for you to earn any kind of income doing that kind of experimental and often risky development (with no way of knowing how the technology will be received). As a digital currency, Bitcoin is a safe development haven, as it should be, but it doesn't mean altcoin development needs to stagnate.

We've seen that it's not at all hard for us to come together as a community and pool funds for this kind of thing. I would like to propose a cryptocurrency development funding model for your input that hopes to bring forth a project to do the aforementioned experimentation and create a platform for developers to have creative freedom and not worry about the logistical issues associated with bringing the community together.

II. Development and Features

The differentiation factor for the community project proposed here is that there is an experiened and longstanding member of the Bitcoin development community interested in doing this work if the community can come together for a cause like this. The developer would like to remain anonymous, but has actively contributed to many Bitcoin projects over the years.

Specifically, the core feature set proposed by this cryptocurrency is as follows, and represents the technological innovation to justify the development of an alternative to Bitcoin to experiment with (no sorted order):

  • Merged Mining v2
  • Overlapping Difficulty Adjustment Periods
  • 100% Big Endian and Single varint Encoding
  • Two-stage POW (Withholding-resistance)
  • Anti-blind-pooling
  • UTXO Proof in POW
  • Adaptive Block Speed
  • P2SH-only
  • Enforce Address Single-use
  • Signing Subset of Outputs
  • Low-level (RISC) instead of High-level (CISC) scripting, enabling new transaction (not POW) crypto algorithms such as:
    • Ed25519
    • Lamport
    • Guy Fawkes
    • Chaum Token
  • Atomic Cross-chain Exchange
  • UTXO Expiration
  • Semi-exponential Inflation (aiming to mimick adoption and eventually population growth)

After these core features have been implemented, and we can make a determination of whether the model is successful or not, other sets of features will be introduced in phases where supporters can vote on the development priority of features, which will then be implemented accordingly. Features to vote on in this way include (no sorted order):

  • POS Block Size/sigop Limits
  • UTXO Commitment
  • Everything is CoinJoin
  • Merkle-sum-tree for Outputs
  • Pruned History
  • Chain Folding
  • MMR TXO
  • Fractional Amounts
  • Unchanging Transaction IDs
  • Transaction Checkpoints
  • AST P2SH ("Ultimate P2SH")
  • Transaction Cost Prepayment
  • Compact One Way Aggregate Signatures
  • Fee-determinism without Input Background
  • Transfer Possible Immediately
  • Additional Inputs Acceptable
  • Base32 or Base64 Address Encoding
  • Addresses provide Pre-image Proof of being a Hash

The model should also support the creative freedom of the developer to become an enabling system as opposed to a controlling one. The developer should be free to enlist other developers at his or her own discretion for help with any task that relates to the features. An example of a task includes the lead developer paying another developer who specializes in a topic to audit and peer review an involved section of code to ensure its implementation is sound and works well in the overall system.

III. Funding

In order for the developer to implement the features described, the model would have to include some mechanism by which the community can pool funds to support the developer through an income. This income is necessary if serious development is expected, which is also a requirement to sustain development capacity until a feature set is completed. There are two options here:

The community pools funds through individual contributions, which are directed to the developer through some process, with:

  • No return to contributors aside from the developed technology (OPTION A - CONTRIBUTION, NO RETURN).
  • Those who contributed receive something in return, as
    • a number of coins proportional to the contribution in order to use the technology funders supported (OPTION B - CONTRIBUTION, COIN RETURN).
    • something other than coins (please specify in your post) (OPTION C - CONTRIBUTION, OTHER RETURN).

Given the scope of a project like this, it is unlikely that you would end up with a very big pool for development if there isn't something given to contributors in return. My personal view is that (OPTION A) becomes difficult if the project is large, but I leave it open for discussion. The reasoning for my personal belief is this:

If you support the development of a new technology through a contribution, you want to use that technology in some way. You cannot use a cryptocurrency without having any of the coins it represents. A logical "return" for (OPTION B) is a number of coins proportional to the funds contributed for development (within reason). If supporters aren't given some means to use the new technology, it is unfair to them as they could have spent those means on say, mining technology. Miners are able to mine the new technology when it is available, however, those who contributed to development are no better off in their desire to use the technology. There isn't an economic rationale for someone to spend their own funds on something they cannot use, if all they had to do was wait for someone else to contribute and then use the new technology. If everyone takes that approach, we end up with a very slow-moving altcoin development process, and the field stagnates (as is currently the case in my opinion). In this way, the funder secures the development of a new technology (such as an altcoin), much as what the miner does when he or she secures the technology once it has been developed.

IV. Escrow Review Panel

If the community decides on how development funding will work, the next problem arises when you have a pool of community funds and an anonymous developer. We already understand that altcoin development is risky in itself, and there are no guarantees. A few things that could go wrong, are things such as technical problems in implementing the features, or the developer could run into personal problems, all of which would have to be resolved.

To increase the chances of project success, a measure has been proposed for this model that involves the appointment of members to a review panel who will act as escrow to the funds. The purpose of these publicly appointed and named individuals (sourced from the community) would be to verify on a monthly basis that work has been completed by the developer. This does not involve an in-depth review of the code itself, but rather to quickly verify the work is being done before signing off on additional funds from the pool to the developer. A technical proposal is to do this through what BIP 0011 describes through M-of-N escrow transactions.

V. Disclaimer

Furthermore, the model would have to include a very big disclaimer. A project that pools community funds like this needs to explain very clearly what is required from developers, funders/contributors/supporters, and reviewers, and equally important, what the project requires them to understand. A very obvious point to understand is that coins returned to funders to use in the developed system have no inherent value and the project cannot guarantee that development will be successful at all. Any value anyone assigns to the technology the project creates is between those parties; the project explicitly does not guarantee any value associated with the coins. The usage of the coins by those who want to use the technology are necessary to generate the social, technical, and economic data to explore, research, and understand the developed technology for future development decisions.

VI. Conclusion

So there you have it. A very rough draft of a model that invites you to discuss and ultimately build a project from the ground up that could jump start something very exciting. To summarize, the objectives of the project are:

  • Advance the cryptocurrency field through a model that promotes software development driven by anonymous economic, social, and technical usage data.
  • Pool community funds to compensate software developers and attract future development potential to study, improve, and extend the technology.
  • Distribute coins to supporters who pool funds to participate in the developed experimental system and use the technology to generate anonymous data for further research.

But let's discuss the last point first, and vote on it to get some measure of what the community thinks about funding development. All input is welcome, as it always will be. My personal intent is not to offend any ongoing projects, so please keep that in mind. I will try and moderate this discussion as best I can, but the key points are:

  • This is about a model to fund developers to work on alternative digital currencies because they can be incubators for new ideas to experiment with and generate data for future decision-making, without risk to more established cryptocurrencies.
  • The model proposed would include anonymous and/or public community funding, anonymous and/or public developers, a public escrow review panel, and clear explanation of is required from everyone involved and what everyone involved needs to understand so everyone is on the same page with the process regardless of the outcome.
  • The model feeds into a community project proposal with a developer ready and able to work on the features listed for a new coin, which will serve as the first example to use the model.

Finally, the project would like to thank the following people for their work and contributions, big and small, that were added to the features (in alphabetical order): etotheipi, Gavin Andresen, gmaxwell, Luke-Jr, Meni Rosenfeld, retep (Peter Todd), and socrates1024 (the real amiller). A thank you also extends to anyone else missed who may have originally come up with ideas that indirectly made it to the developer.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

VII. Further Reading



Appendices
A. Poll

To view the results of the poll, you need to cast a vote. This is an attempt to eliminate social desirability bias from the data. However, please keep in mind that this is an unscientific survey to help the project better understand how the community views the question of development funding.

B. Heilmeier's Catechism

The project applies a set of questions known as Heilmeier's Catechism, suggested for use by cunicula, to give more insight into the overall project in general terms. See post #19 for the questions.
Every time a block is mined, a certain amount of BTC (called the subsidy) is created out of thin air and given to the miner. The subsidy halves every four years and will reach 0 in about 130 years.
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November 07, 2013, 06:51:10 PM
 #2

Sounds innovative, BUT, an anonymous dev + OP with 0 posts = no financial support from me.

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November 07, 2013, 07:06:09 PM
 #3

Sounds innovative, BUT, an anonymous dev + OP with 0 posts = no financial support from me.
The post itself is impressive and shows signs of knowledge.
OP you should stay around here for a while.

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November 07, 2013, 07:13:57 PM
 #4

Sounds innovative, BUT, an anonymous dev + OP with 0 posts = no financial support from me.
The post itself is impressive and shows signs of knowledge.
OP you should stay around here for a while.

Agreed, but I wouldn't personally finance anyone with no reputation and an anonymous dev.  That's all, nothing personal.

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November 07, 2013, 07:47:58 PM
 #5

Sounds innovative, BUT, an anonymous dev + OP with 0 posts = no financial support from me.

I'm glad you decided to voice your opinion on what I put down. Anonymity is a conscious decision made and built into this model. Identity becomes an abstraction that clouds judgment far too often, when what we are interested in doing is look at the technology free from the biases identity brings with it. This is especially true if people are themselves already built into systems that have matured over time. My personal opinion is that we cannot allow identity to constrict new thought and more importantly, turning those thoughts into reality. We're smarter than that, and we can build better systems than that.

The discussion on anonymity is more important in our world today than ever before, so I'm glad you outlined it, especially if a consequence of such caution could imply that the able thinking man needs identity to create. An important social distinction to make here is that many of our current systems exclude new thinking, and cryptocurrencies are no exception, perhaps out of fear of reprisal. If anonymity is too idealistic and identity is a requirement, which isn't unreasonable in our current world, things are built into the system to give assurance, such as the proposal to include an escrow review panel of reputable members (for those who see anonymity as caution), which is publicly announced before any transactions. Anything less would be unethical.

As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, which is why we have escrow.
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November 07, 2013, 09:59:42 PM
Last edit: November 07, 2013, 10:34:32 PM by bybitcoin
 #6

You included interesting and somewhat advanced features that makes it look innovative potentially, BUT that is not enough to say I ll create a coin that will have this item and that item, and also some optional from the menu if you are eager for more..
You should introduce a schematic model with a cryptographic rounding procedure that has the minimum consistency as a Turing machine and then show us that this model can accept and include those features natively, and this is what a whitepaper or a proof of concept is for. Though I read a bit fast and hastily, I didn't see such a thing being included in your proposal.
Reputation is of less importance because:
                         1- having a Hero status and 2000 post doesn't guarantee anything (sockpuppets)
                         2- If your idea become known to be innovative, a lot of people will trust you intuitively (scammers are not that innovative usually )  
                         3- Always there is a way of making a multisig wallet and a foundation controlling it to rule over the project development.  
SO YOU FIRST NEED TO REPRESENT A WHITEPAPER!            
 
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November 07, 2013, 10:28:08 PM
 #7

Or you could find some reputable member and work with him and let him publish it here  Wink

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November 07, 2013, 11:22:51 PM
 #8

Sounds innovative, BUT, an anonymous dev + OP with 0 posts = no financial support from me.
The post itself is impressive and shows signs of knowledge.
OP you should stay around here for a while.

I agree, very well written, sounds interesting.

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November 08, 2013, 07:47:36 AM
Last edit: November 08, 2013, 09:57:34 AM by digitalindustry
 #9

I like the principles thanks for the informal contact, ill look over these things and hopefully can contribute : D

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November 08, 2013, 08:15:09 AM
Last edit: November 08, 2013, 08:29:40 AM by markm
 #10

It is a pity that DeVCoin does not seem yet to have taken hold or taken root as it was intended to, because the kind of useful, innovative new code proposed is just the kind of thing that DeVCoin was supposed to make possible.

Basically a coder such as the described anonymous developer, being a person who already naturally contributes good useful code to good useful projects, should be on the DeVCoin recipient list, receiving DeVCoins automagically so long as they continue their lifestyle of being a habitual lifestyle free open source code developer working on good useful free open source code.

Thus what was supposed to happen was people who want good free open source code such as the stuff in this shopping list of features to be develioped would be buying DeVCoins, which would make the DeVCoins all the lifestyle free open source developers automagically receive be worth more, which would enable and encourage them to spend more of their time working on free open source projects, hopefully resulting in a snowball so that this anonymous developer would have no need to go through this project proposal this thread is about because their steady stream of DeVCoins they would already be receiving due to their lifestyle of naturally contributing good work to good free open source projects would be going up and up in value as more and more good work such as that proposed in this thread was implemented by such "tenured developers"...

I hope that at least the anonymous developer referred to in this thread is already a "tenured developer" in the DeVCoin system if they are as it seems already a lifestyle contributor to worthwhile free open source projects...

In short, such developers should not have to come begging for financing of some specific project outlined in advance like this, instead they should already be well paid simply by the DeVCoins they naturally receive already anyway, having already been recognised to be a lifestyle free open source contributor that puts out good stuff. Putting out good stuff like the stuff proposed ought simply be the kind of thing such developers naturally do just because it is what they do,  without worry about money because they already get DeVCoins steadily and DeVCoins naturally keep going up and up in value as the community of such developers keeps putting out more and more good stuff thus motivating supporters of good free open source stuff to buy more and more DeVCoins thus motivating more and more lifestyle contributors to free open source projects...

Notice in the original post the implication that this stuff is stuff the developer wants to do. DeVCoin's idea is/was basically to provide stipends for such people just because they are such people and thus naturally produce such great stuff thus should be freed from needing to worry about how they will get paid to do such things so they can just go ahead and do them without wasting time energy effort worry etc etc on all this campaigning and politicking and such simply to be "permitted" to go about their lifestyle of freely contributing great free open source stuff to the world.

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November 08, 2013, 08:45:01 AM
 #11

  • Merged Mining v2
  • Overlapping Difficulty Adjustment Periods
  • 100% Big Endian and Single varint Encoding

I have a few thoughts; specifically, I think the easiest way to go about this in terms of anonymous development is to make the first step: create the fork, and add some incremental feature which doesn't require enormous input or modification to do. Then, for this feature, ransom it to the community. If nobody likes the direction, nobody ponies up. If everyone likes the direction of the project, then everybody ponies up. If you have a mechanism and public set of addresses corresponding to featuresets, you could even as time goes on, allow this to become a prioritize-by-money mechanism where direct bounties or ransoms (depending on the developers interests for example) based on developer estimation and performance in fulfilling past estimations becomes the primary driver of the project going forward.

In my experience with namecoin, watching the merged mining process have its impact on the namecoin project was astonishing--and virtually unpredictable. Without a significant proportion of the entire Bitcoin hashrate crushing along on the altcoin as well, it is wide open to another party majority-attacking it. But that's kind of the beauty of public valuation of worth: if people find the idea has merit and think it would be good to incubate it, the ones in charge of the truly overpowering hashrate will leave it alone, IMO, and adopt a wait-and-see attitude towards it.

  • Adaptive Block Speed

This is a little worrisome. I disagree with this point insofar as the pressures to expand or contract the block finding target period could be unanchored to actual usability. That is, some amount of work has been done to simulate useful block convergence in Bitcoin, and it turns out (IIRC) that Bitcoin target speeds of 10 minutes is useful in terms of encompassing the Moon. It is an earth-moon compatible system, which makes sense since the planned block reward system is built with an eye towards another 100+ years or so of operation. That's plenty of time to get installations on the moon hashing away, or at least satellites.

  • Low-level (RISC) instead of High-level (CISC) scripting, enabling new transaction (not POW) crypto algorithms such as:
    • Ed25519
    • Lamport
    • Guy Fawkes
    • Chaum Token

I really like the notion of semi-pluggable, user-controlled cryptographic primitives. At the moment, Bitcoin is a rigid, controlled mechanism which would need a hardfork in order to replace some of its cryptographic primitives with alternatives in the event of a break or catastrophe. Long-term, I think composable functions would be helpful in weathering catastrophic breaks in one or another form of crypto, regardless of the storage constraints involved, and while miners may not necessary be known for their cryptographic prowess, a consensus as to sanctioned cryptographic primitives would be an interesting way to form liquid network rules.

  • Atomic Cross-chain Exchange
  • UTXO Expiration
  • Semi-exponential Inflation (aiming to mimick adoption and eventually population growth)

The first one (cross-chain exchange) is pretty sexy. The exponential inflation is problematic in the sense that the planned deflation resulting from mass-adoption of Bitcoin has been one of the primary drivers of early exponential adoption. Get involved now, and first-mover advantage rewards you with growth in the future. It is almost a hack on the human psyche that this exists: if actual "return" (if you can even call it that) was purely a function of how much effort one put into it, rather than the seductiveness of tricking people into thinking they were clever enough to spot the potential early on and profiting thereby, then growth will probably be much fairer, but slower. On the other hand, it'll be much less scammy.

I think Bitcoin almost seems to have been designed to withstand early governmental pressure in the sense that it is not actually anonymous, but can be made much more anonymous by simple future tweaks in the client code.

I personally hope that these great ideas make it into any potential altcoin. I personally would not like to be involved in the development nor funding process, but I imagine if you made it semi-anonymous in terms of feature voting, or ransoming features, it would make participation in the process much more intriguing to Secret Santas.
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November 08, 2013, 10:29:03 AM
 #12

Quick note on the technical features. If you're interested in further information, or some background to what they represent, have a look at the Hardfork Wishlist and gmaxwell's Alt Ideas. I'll summarize and compile all of the notes made here about these features for easy access to take into account during the development phase. Thank you for taking the time, or if you plan to take the time, to comment on the technical details. It actually does make a difference and will feed into development.
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November 08, 2013, 03:11:32 PM
 #13

I would not fund this. There is no obvious value proposition for basic users.
It looks like a misallocation of effort to me.


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November 08, 2013, 03:35:56 PM
 #14

I would not fund this. There is no obvious value proposition for basic users.
It looks like a misallocation of effort to me.

There's the cunicula we know and love. There is no question about whether you would fund it or not. The question is directed at those who are interested in contributing to these types of projects. Your feedback is always welcome, but please at least try and put some thought into explaining what you say. I mean that in the most productive way possible.
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November 08, 2013, 03:50:35 PM
 #15

Quote
As director of ARPA in the 1970’s George H. Heilmeier developed a set of questions that he expected every proposal for a new research program to answer.  He referred to them as the "Heilmeier Catechism".  These questions still survive at DARPA and provide high level guidance for what information a proposal should provide.  It's important to answer these questions for any individual research project, both for yourself and for communicating to others what you hope to accomplish.  These questions are:

What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon.  What is the problem?  Why is it hard?
How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice?
What's new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
Who cares?
If you're successful, what difference will it make?   What impact will success have?  How will it be measured?
What are the risks and the payoffs?
How much will it cost?
How long will it take?
What are the midterm and final "exams" to check for success?  How will progress be measured?
Aww...  Kiss

Apply the Heilmeier Catechism to your project and I may change my mind if you have persuasive answers.


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November 08, 2013, 06:32:50 PM
 #16

Quote
As director of ARPA in the 1970’s George H. Heilmeier developed a set of questions that he expected every proposal for a new research program to answer.  He referred to them as the "Heilmeier Catechism".  These questions still survive at DARPA and provide high level guidance for what information a proposal should provide.  It's important to answer these questions for any individual research project, both for yourself and for communicating to others what you hope to accomplish.  These questions are:

What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon.  What is the problem?  Why is it hard?
How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice?
What's new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
Who cares?
If you're successful, what difference will it make?   What impact will success have?  How will it be measured?
What are the risks and the payoffs?
How much will it cost?
How long will it take?
What are the midterm and final "exams" to check for success?  How will progress be measured?
Aww...  Kiss

Apply the Heilmeier Catechism to your project and I may change my mind if you have persuasive answers.

That's actually really helpful. Some of the predictive questions would be more complex, but it is definitely not a bad approach for a more detailed examination of the project (even if it is anecdotal and would have to be tweaked a bit). I appreciate it! Thank you.
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November 08, 2013, 08:02:59 PM
 #17

Glad you like it. I'm really quite a tame rabbit if you treat me kindly.


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November 08, 2013, 08:18:03 PM
 #18

Very interesting.














 

 

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November 09, 2013, 11:10:55 AM
Last edit: November 09, 2013, 05:59:56 PM by ExLibertas
 #19

Below is an application of Heilmeier's Catechism to the project, as suggested by cunicula, in an effort to give more general information and promote an understanding of what it proposes. Please note that this is a recursive process, and more information will be added where questions arise.

Quote
What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon. What is the problem? Why is it hard?

Bitcoin is the first in a completely new field of computer science. Over the years, there have been many shortcomings and possible improvements discovered in the field. Since Bitcoin is still young, there are only a few full-time developers working on it, who rightfully focus on solving immediate problems in deploying the existing system. This makes it difficult to focus development on forward improvement. Many of these improvements are further complicated because they require extensive research into areas that have not been studied extensively. Such study is necessary to get the algorithms behind the improvements to work well. Furthermore, there are many improvements that would benefit from implementation and research, that are not necessarily difficult, but do not on their own justify a "hardfork", or major deviation, in Bitcoin.

More detail than the aforementioned explanation of the project and objectives would require examination of specific features from the list. A detailed examination for a general audience is reserved for a later date, as this thread is about the viability of the proposed development funding model. If you're interested in a technical explanation, have a look at the "Hardfork Wishlist" and "gmaxwell's Alt Ideas" in Section VII. Further Reading in post #1.

Quote
How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice?

As a general summary, some of the limitations of current practice in Bitcoin include:

  • Should someone achieve 51%+ long enough (not as long as it was intended to be), Bitcoin can have its history rewritten.
  • Pools can be cheated and forced to close by witholding valid blocks. It may be possible to determine a block's validity in part with coordination known only to the pool.
  • Pools can (and often do) keep miners in the dark about what they are mining.
  • Miners can be disinterested and mine blocks without keeping track of any transactions. The proof-of-work can require a proof-of-transaction-consideration.
  • Addresses can be reused often without immediate harm to the re-users. This causes long-term harm to the whole network.
  • CoinJoin requires additional coordination work, when it can be done without coordination.
  • Should problems be found in Bitcoin's secp256k1 EC curve, it would require a hardfork to add support for new digital signature algorithms. The use of RISC scripting means a system can be generic enough to support many different algorithms from the start.
  • Lost coins permanently bloat the UTXO set. They can require a 1-2 year refresh to avoid expiration.
  • The fixed-supply, which helps adoption, also works as a disincentive for people to spend Bitcoins. The long-term use of spending is important because a fixed-supply makes it easy for wealth to accumulate in the current generation at the expense of future generations.

Quote
What's new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?

Most all of these problems can be solved. If Bitcoin adopts some or all of the improvements developed and researched by the altcoin implementation, the project is a success. However, some of the changes Bitcoin cannot adopt, such as those proposed by the inflationary changes. Such changes may become important to the altcoin currency as a long-term outlook, and may therefore provide further justification for and potential success of the altcoin independent of Bitcoin.

Quote
Who cares?

That's the question this thread hopes to answer. Does the community care enough to advance such a proposal, which extends beyond an advanced technical system. The type of development funding model that is viable and supports what the community prefers is the first step.

Quote
If you're successful, what difference will it make? What impact will success have? How will it be measured?

At the very least, Bitcoin can be improved through the merging of successful changes. If the altcoin gains enough use, it may also be a viable alternative currency to Bitcoin. There is always the possibility that an altcoin can supersede Bitcoin as the preferable digital currency for trade, which takes into consideration the notion that people are inclined to hoard Bitcoin rather than trade.

Quote
What are the risks and the payoffs?

The main risk to the project is that the work will take a lot of time dedicated to research and development of the functionality. The benefits are distributed to a much wider community, but dependent on how the project is funded, there may be no direct benefit to contributors. In the scenario where development is funded through no return to contributors, a sole payoff is a better system for everyone.

If contributors show interest in funding the project through a direct return of coins proportional to what they donate to the project, the likely scenario is a much larger community pool of funds to implement the proposed features in an altcoin. A larger community pool of funds, controlled by escrow, and released to competent developers, such as the developer who will work on this project, means the payoff is direct for the contributors who support the project through their donation. A direct payoff in this way means they can use the new technology directly, which in turn generates the data necessary to examine the implemented features after real-world use. This examination feeds back into the merging of successful changes. Thus, an additional payoff in this option is also a better system for everyone, if a coin return is proportional and done fairly.

Quote
How much will it cost? How long will it take?

An exact prediction of how long new research and development will take is very difficult. To complete the entire list of features may require multiple years of work for a single developer. During this time, there would likely be prototype test networks (testnets) to experiment with, that would be reset when necessary to add new core functionality.

Implementation of the phase one core feature set has been selected in this way so that the bare minimum functionality required to start the permanent/live altcoin blockchain is possible in a timely fashion (See the "core feature set" in Section II. Development and Features in post #1).

It is possible to give some estimation of the minimum work required on a per feature basis for the developer of the project, which is open for further discussion after a determination can be made about what funding mechanism the community supports (to which the poll hopes to add some insight).

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What are the midterm and final "exams" to check for success? How will progress be measured?

The current plan is to have a public escrow review panel check the developer's work every month. which requires input from the panel members, to decide whether to continue funding the project, refund investors, or perhaps hire another developer instead of the project's lead developer should the situation warrant change (e.g., a life emergency where the developer cannot continue development). Such changes will be put to the community and panel members will make decisions through the community's input and voting on these issues.
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November 09, 2013, 05:29:37 PM
 #20

anonymous developers create an accountability problem - just look at the TrueCrypt project, where neither of the lead developers are identified and whether the software actually encrypts properly is a legit question. when ppl are anonymous and in a position of responsibility, they are not incentivized to behave like normal people.

it is fair to point out that most altcoins have made limited variations on bitcoin. this is due to the amount of effort and energy it takes to make modifications to the codebase. funding is an issue in terms of making significant modifications happen, e.g. 1 man year of work from a very smart person would be sufficient for most of the previous altcoins happen. in terms of making more substantial modifications, i estimate it would require over USD 200K for any altcoin to have what most spectators consider "significant" changes. note that this assumes devs are being paid more-or-less market rates.

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