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Author Topic: Deepceleron's completely optional and mildly useful pool guide to Bitcoin Miners  (Read 1362 times)
deepceleron
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September 07, 2011, 02:36:21 AM
 #1

How should you choose a pool?

First, let's go here and explore aspects of each pool (this may not be inclusive of all pools):
https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Comparison_of_mining_pools

Considerations:

Are you risk-averse or more likely to gamble?

Bitcoin mining and block-hash solving is like a lottery, especially with the current high difficulty. With a high-end video card, Bitcoin mining by yourself will average you a 50 BTC block-find about every six months, but it better to think of it as a 4% chance of winning 50 BTC in a week. For many, this "gambling" is not acceptable, even though it would have the highest long-term payout, since you keep all generated earnings.

Pooled mining allows users to pool their resources together for smaller, but more regular payouts, similar to the office buying 100 lottery tickets and splitting the winnings. A higher pool hashrate means more regular but smaller payments. Are you fine with only getting a payment once every few days or even weeks on a small pool, even if that payment is still proportional to your work?

Lastly is pay-per-share pools, better described as "mining-for-hire". They pay you a fixed rate for your mining and accept the risk themselves, but typically with higher fees.

Will your earnings be reduced by pool-hopping?

Proportional pools, and to a lesser extent, some math formula-based pools, can be gamed so that strategic timing of work submission will earn a miner more than others, and at other's expense. Is the payment method used by the pool impossible to exploit by hopping? (examples: PPS, PPLNS.) If a pool is using an exploitable rewards system, one must review if the pool has taken proactive and effective measures such as delaying statistics or setting policies to detect and ban pool hoppers. A pool's hashrate graph often reveal the extent of pool hopping; if hashrate jumps up at the start of new rounds, that's probably bad for you. Conversely, if you are you a pool hopper you want a pool that can earn you the maximum gains for your work, by being undefended or even pool-hopper friendly.

Are the pool fees reasonable and competitive?

A block solve currently generates a 50 BTC reward, plus the miner also earns the transaction fees Bitcoin users pay (which currenlty average about 0.2 BTC). Most pools keep the transaction fees for themselves, but some pay them out to users. Some pools are no fee, whereas others are up to 3%, only paying out 48.5 BTC to users upon a block solve. Some pools solicit for automatic donations, others will offer extra features when you opt for a higher donation level. You should weigh the fees when choosing a pool.

Does the pool have extra features you want?

The simplest type of pool interface might be Eligius, where you simply mine with your bitcoin address as a password, and earnings are paid out to the address. Pools greatly vary in features that benefit usability and convenience. Such features may include mining statistics and graphs for each video card, email notifications of payments or dead miners, automatic payouts at certain levels, user API for retrieving statistics, and more. Many users find particular features useful enough that this is a deciding factor.

Pool gimmicks

Does having features such as teams or affiliate/referral programs interest you? For some this might be a way to earn more, for others, this is a turn off due to the perception that it creates spam and that these rewards may be paid from the potential rewards of others. Some pools may offer bonuses or prizes for top earners or block finders, especially to promote a new pool. These might be an incentive where you can earn more, but one must also examine if they are sustainable or seem fair to all miners (or if they will even be paid...)

Reliability

Uptime and connectivity matters a lot. Look at pool forum threads and see if users have noted downtime or periods where work wasn't being accepted. Have users noted unsatisfactory "rejected share" or "efficiency" statistics? Did the pool respond and rectify reported issue? Was a downtime from a network DDoS attack, and was the pool able to rectify the attack vector? Does the pool support long-polling, a feature that reduces stale shares by promptly notifying mining software of a new block?

Reputation

You are trusting a pool operator with your earnings, to fairly account and properly distribute the BTC you mined, so the reputation and identity of the pool operator or organization counts for a lot. I find the web page design and information available there, and the amount of "used-car-salesmanship" says a lot. Is the pool operator well known through their forum profile and elsewhere, and do they seem competent to address the issues inherent in running a pool? Has the pool been around, can you easily contact pool operators or other pool members for support? If the pool disappeared tomorrow, how much risk would you as a user be taking?

My helpful hint - you don't have to just use one pool! Running two software miners per GPU, each using different pools, can give you more regular payments, and also will mitigate against downtime on one pool.

Merged Mining

To support the alternate currency Namecoin, the ability to mine two Bitcoin-like blockchains at once was created. Some pools support this, where you can earn in two different currencies at the same time. At current Namecoin exchange rates, for example, you can earn 0.9% more at a pool that mines both.

update 2011-12-20/v1.2

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September 07, 2011, 02:48:18 AM
 #2

How should you choose a pool?

First, let's go here and explore aspects of each pool (this may not be inclusive of all pools):
https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Comparison_of_mining_pools

Considerations:

Are you risk-averse or more likely to gamble?

Bitcoin mining and block-hash solving is like a lottery, especially with the current high difficulty. With a high-end video card, Bitcoin mining by yourself will average you a 50 BTC block-find about every six months, but it better to think of it as a 4% chance of winning 50 BTC in a week. For many, this "gambling" is not acceptable, even though it would have the highest long-term payout, since you keep all generated earnings.

Pooled mining allows users to pool their resources together for smaller, but more regular payouts, similar to the office buying 100 lottery tickets and splitting the winnings. A higher pool hashrate means more regular but smaller payments. Are you fine with only getting a payment once every few days or even weeks on a small pool, even if that payment is still proportional to your work?

Lastly is pay-per-share pools, better described as "mining-for-hire". They pay you a fixed rate for your mining and accept the risk themselves, typically with higher fee.

Will your earnings be reduced by pool-hopping

Proportional pools, and to a lesser extent, math formula-based pools, can be gamed so that strategic timing of work submission will earn a miner more than others, and at other's expense. Has a pool taken proactive and effective measures, such as delaying statistics beyond the exploitable time window required to mine 1/2 difficulty shares, detecting and banning pool hoppers with a well-disclosed policy, etc. (Search the pool-hopper threads for your pool's name and see what they say about it...) Is the payment method used by the pool impossible to game by hopping? (examples: PPS, PPLNS, SMPPS) A good way to judge is to look at a pool's hashrate graph; if it looks like a lot of miners jump on at the start of new rounds, that's bad for you. Conversely, I suppose, are you a pool hopper and you want a pool that can earn you the maximum gains for your work by being undefended or even pool-hopper friendly?

Are the pool fees appropriate for their services and competitive with others?

A block solve generates 50 BTC, plus earns transaction fees for all the currency transfers included in the block (ranges from 0-10 BTC, but averages about 0.2). Most pools keep the transaction fees for themselves, some pay them out to users. Some pools are 0% fee, some are up to 3%, only paying 48.5 BTC to users upon block solve. Some have extra features for higher donations, some encourage fixed donation percentages. You should weigh the fees against other pools.

Does the pool have extra features you want?

The simplest interface might be http://bitparking.com/pool, with http://eligius.st/wiki/index.php/Eligius_mining_pool a close second, where you simply mine with your bitcoin address as a password, and log in to withdraw earnings. Pool features can include multiple workers for each video card, email notifications of payments or dead miners, graphs of pool or individual hashrates, automatic payouts at certain levels, user API for retrieving statistics, etc.

Pool gimmicks

Does having features such as teams or affiliate/referral programs interest you? Does it excite you or turn you off if some miners might make more if they refer more people or have more miners working under them? Are bonus rewards for block finders sustainable - something to jump-start a new pool, or does it seem like a gimmick that should reduce the profits of others?

Reliability

Uptime and connectivity matters a lot. Look at pool forum threads and see if users have noted downtime or periods where work wasn't being accepted. Did the pool respond and rectify the downtime issue? Did it come from a network DDoS attack, is that vulnerability fixed now? Does the pool support long-polling, to notify your miner quickly to start working on a new block?

Reputation

This is up to you. I find the web page design and information, and the amount of "used-car-salesmanship" says a lot. Is the pool operator well known and informed, has the pool been around, can you easily contact pool operators or other members for support or to have questions answered? If the pool disappeared tomorrow, how much risk would you as a user be taking?

Further constructive posts appreciated, which I will canonize if beneficial.


The only metric that matters: Does the pool have hot women in it?

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deepceleron
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September 07, 2011, 02:56:14 AM
 #3

The only metric that matters: Does the pool have hot women in it?
Don't be silly. That's what you spend your bitcoins on.

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September 07, 2011, 04:35:31 AM
 #4

The only metric that matters: Does the pool have hot women in it?
Don't be silly. That's what you spend your bitcoins on.

This is relevant to my interests.
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September 07, 2011, 01:40:44 PM
 #5

Good idea, i posted most of this list in another thread Smiley

Some things to consider when choosing a pool. I dont think any pool ticks all boxes but do consider.
If unsure ask the Pool Operator for more info or clarification, if they cannot, wont or give one that makes no sense, be wary.

Have a proven record.

Do they communicate important info re sceduled downtime to all members well in advance, or tell them about it after it has happened?

If hardware or other failure is encountered does the pool "dissapear" for a few days or does the poolop tell his IRC chan, post in forums or in other ways inform miners about unexpected downtime as soon as possible?

Honest, open operator.

Does the poolop have real name or an anonymous nick?

Is there a "opt-out" option on emails sent from pool - required by law in some countries.

Active support by irc, email or forum.

Is the pool a registered entity in the country it is trading in? Or is the pool operator potentially putting themselves at risk of tax or other legal libilities in the country they operate from.

Is the payout system not only "fair" but transparent and sustainable?

Fee level.

Are transaction fees that come with blocks paid to the miners or withheld by the pool?

How are invalid blocks handled by the pool? Wipe submitted shares and start new round, pay for invalids or pay from one valid block to the next thus ignoring invalid blocks and paying for every valid share submitted to the pool?

Does the pool operator do anything to publicise or advance the cause of Bitcoin in the wider community or just run a pool?

Does the poolop actually know how Bitcoin mining works, I saw one poolop claiming to be "building" a block and "it would be finished soon"!

Is the poolop planning to change random data in the blockheaders - and if so what to?

Is the pools forum post kept at the top of the list by complaining miners, or is it slipping down because no one is complaining and happy miners have no reason to post?

Does the payout system suit your lifestyle and do you actually understand how it works?

I guess there will always be more Wink

Graet


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September 07, 2011, 01:49:52 PM
 #6

The only metric that matters: Does the pool have hot women in it?
Don't be silly. That's what you spend your bitcoins on.

This is relevant to my interests.

Redirect to here
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Meni Rosenfeld
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September 07, 2011, 02:34:28 PM
 #7

Proportional pools, and to a lesser extent, math formula-based pools, can be gamed
All pools are based on math formulas, some more complicated than others. While "hoppable to a lesser extent" is certainly true for slush's archaic method, modern methods are 100% hopping-proof.

Is the payment method used by the pool impossible to game by hopping? (examples: PPS, PPLNS, SMPPS)
SMPPS is not hoppable in the same way that proportional is, but it is not hopping-proof because the maturity time depends on the pool's balance. This is especially relevant because this kind of pool will inevitably collapse eventually, so high maturity time means lost payments.

A good way to judge is to look at a pool's hashrate graph; if it looks like a lot of miners jump on at the start of new rounds, that's bad for you.
This could also be because hoppers think the pool is hoppable. But if it's immune, it's safe to mine there even if they try.

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deepceleron
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September 08, 2011, 12:13:26 AM
 #8

(first 2/3 of what was written)

Thanks for the input, it looks like most of that would go under reputation/trust. I will try to boil the new information down to considerations that a potential miner might be able to easily discover without reading a 50 page pool forum thread.

Is the pools forum post kept at the top of the list by complaining miners, or is it slipping down because no one is complaining and happy miners have no reason to post?
That's why I try to give mineco some occasional thread bumpage, it just works, so nobody needs to post!

Some pools combine both PPS and proportional. Combined hashrate might not change, but hoppers simply switch from pps to proportional and back.
One might consider pools that offer PPS as well as a traditional round payout as two seperate pools as far as mining consideration. If the proportional side is experiencing the hoppers, that will be a strike against it, but wouldn't prejudice consideration of mining PPS in the same pool.
It is funny how hoppers still jump on and off pools with fairly distributed rewards; I wouldn't want to discourage them though!

I didn't want to add an in-depth pool rewards system review, there is a brief description on the pool comparison link, but would include a link to a well-written thread or web page if one exists describing them. Eligius describes each, but is a bit wordy without a simple summary or pros/cons.

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September 08, 2011, 11:26:34 AM
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but would include a link to a well-written thread or web page if one exists describing them.
Ok.

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December 20, 2011, 03:02:48 PM
 #10

Bumpity. This thread is relevant to your interests.

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