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Author Topic: The MOST Important Change to Bitcoin  (Read 6401 times)
NewLibertyStandard
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July 24, 2010, 04:42:22 AM
 #1

If you could go back and make any one change to Bitcoin while it was first being developed, what change would you choose? Feel free to list other changes, but share which you would prefer over all others. You're welcome to change your mind, so don't stress yourself out over it.

The one change which I prefer would be to have the rate of bitcoins being minted stay constant forever.

Another idea I've heard is to have block difficulty constant to so that the number of amount of bitcoins being dispensed increases as the swarm increases. Recently somebody mentioned changing the block history to a balance sheet to reduce the block chain size. Another recent idea was to have the back end and front end of Bitcoin fully separate. Deciding that the client is the same except it makes you rich and other such silly changes don't count.

Now it's your turn. What would be the MOST important change to Bitcoin?

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knightmb
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July 24, 2010, 05:13:20 AM
 #2

Leave everything exactly as it is, except have the difficulty adjusted every 1,000 blocks instead of every 2,016 blocks just to make it twice as responsive to server farms joining the network and then when light CPUs are running the network.

And a splash screen! For windows client anyway, the Linux client always seems to pop up right away.

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July 24, 2010, 05:14:21 AM
 #3

Bitcoin ought to regularly reward nodes for their contribution to the system, rather than offering increasingly-valuable prizes (blocks) that are increasingly-unlikely.

When I started using Bitcoin a couple weeks ago, ~2,000 Khash/s yielded ~0.8 blocks per day = ~40 bitcoins = ~$0.30 (as I recall).  Now, I get zero blocks per day.  If I got one, it'd be worth $2.70 or so.  Arguably, if I'm patient, I'll get a block every week or two, on the average.

The problem is that most new users probably won't wait a week or two.

This isn't equivalent to keeping difficulty constant.  That would accelerate the production of blocks (and bitcoins) -- which would have other (arguably bad) effects.
NewLibertyStandard
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July 24, 2010, 05:35:35 AM
 #4

Bitcoin ought to regularly reward nodes for their contribution to the system, rather than offering increasingly-valuable prizes (blocks) that are increasingly-unlikely.

When I started using Bitcoin a couple weeks ago, ~2,000 Khash/s yielded ~0.8 blocks per day = ~40 bitcoins = ~$0.30 (as I recall).  Now, I get zero blocks per day.  If I got one, it'd be worth $2.70 or so.  Arguably, if I'm patient, I'll get a block every week or two, on the average.

The problem is that most new users probably won't wait a week or two.

This isn't equivalent to keeping difficulty constant.  That would accelerate the production of blocks (and bitcoins) -- which would have other (arguably bad) effects.
So perhaps as the difficulty increases, instead of giving all of the reward to the the client that got the winning block, additional runner up prizes could be given out to the node with the second, third or fourth lowest hash. This would work particularly well with the constant block verification idea that somebody mentioned in another thread since the lowness of all hashes would already be being compared.

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ichi
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July 24, 2010, 05:48:07 AM
 #5

So perhaps as the difficulty increases, instead of giving all of the reward to the the client that got the winning block, additional runner up prizes could be given out to the node with the second, third or fourth lowest hash. This would work particularly well with the constant block verification idea that somebody mentioned in another thread since the lowness of all hashes would already be being compared.
Yes, that's what I meant.  The reward would be split among N nodes with the lowest hashes, with N varying with the difficulty, such that most nodes would receive some reward every day or two.  The split could be weighted, with the winner getting most of the reward.
NewLibertyStandard
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July 24, 2010, 06:26:32 AM
 #6

So perhaps as the difficulty increases, instead of giving all of the reward to the the client that got the winning block, additional runner up prizes could be given out to the node with the second, third or fourth lowest hash. This would work particularly well with the constant block verification idea that somebody mentioned in another thread since the lowness of all hashes would already be being compared.
Yes, that's what I meant.  The reward would be split among N nodes with the lowest hashes, with N varying with the difficulty, such that most nodes would receive some reward every day or two.  The split could be weighted, with the winner getting most of the reward.
That's a great idea, thanks for mentioning it! Perhaps it could work something like grades on a curve so that all the above average or rather below average hashes receive a certain reward proportionate to their performance. The idea is surprisingly simple, but it sure would require a real clever programmer to make it scale smoothly as the number of nodes increases and as processors become more powerful. I'm sure somebody can come up with an algorithm to make it work.

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July 24, 2010, 06:49:23 AM
 #7

I would still make it 50 BTC though, just split it up between the 2nd, 3rd, 4th place runner ups, etc. So the first place PC gets 25, the 2nd place PC gets 12, 3rd place PC gets 7, 4th place PC gets 3, etc. etc.

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July 24, 2010, 07:20:15 AM
 #8

- No dependencies.
- A better way of handling "dust spam" than just forbidding those transactions for now. I anticipate problems with this in the future.
- The difficulty should be automatically reduced to the previous level if no blocks are produced for x hours.
- I'd like "complete" documentation: all non-trivial parts of the source code written in English.

I think the existing economic model is perfect.

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July 24, 2010, 11:17:24 AM
 #9

Front end and back end seaprate to allow for different clients to be written without rewriting the backend stuff is the one single most important change for me.

Traktion
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July 24, 2010, 12:08:10 PM
 #10

The big problem for me is that the minting rate doesn't adjust with the size of the Bitcoin economy (ie. the swarm size). I have a feeling that if this isn't changed, the project may run out of steam.

While it may annoy old users a bit that they can't create as many coins, new users are waiting weeks to mint any coins. It is unlikely that Bitcoins will become established if new users aren't given a decent shot at their own minting (especially when the user base should be growing rapidly). Users who discovered Bitcoins early will still have amassed more coins than new entrants, even without the difficulty changing.

The software is very impressive, but the minting rules really need to be looked at again. Self minting is such a good idea for distributing new coins, but IMO it needs some basic economic theory applying to it, rather than a relatively arbitrary setting.
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July 24, 2010, 03:47:48 PM
 #11

- No dependencies.
- A better way of handling "dust spam" than just forbidding those transactions for now. I anticipate problems with this in the future.
- The difficulty should be automatically reduced to the previous level if no blocks are produced for x hours.
- I'd like "complete" documentation: all non-trivial parts of the source code written in English.

I think the existing economic model is perfect.

^^^

+ complete server/client seperation, and an independent way of storing BTCs for the purposes of importing and exporting. I've also read that if someone has 50 BTCs, exports them, and then spends 1 BTC, then ALL 50 BTCs backed up are no longer valid. The backup tool should therefore ideally have a good way of visualizing this.

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kiba
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July 24, 2010, 03:49:06 PM
 #12

The big problem for me is that the minting rate doesn't adjust with the size of the Bitcoin economy (ie. the swarm size). I have a feeling that if this isn't changed, the project may run out of steam.

While it may annoy old users a bit that they can't create as many coins, new users are waiting weeks to mint any coins. It is unlikely that Bitcoins will become established if new users aren't given a decent shot at their own minting (especially when the user base should be growing rapidly). Users who discovered Bitcoins early will still have amassed more coins than new entrants, even without the difficulty changing.

The software is very impressive, but the minting rules really need to be looked at again. Self minting is such a good idea for distributing new coins, but IMO it needs some basic economic theory applying to it, rather than a relatively arbitrary setting.

We should be encouraging wealth creation so that people can spend their bitcoins on, not focusing on minting coins.

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July 24, 2010, 04:09:19 PM
 #13

The big problem for me is that the minting rate doesn't adjust with the size of the Bitcoin economy (ie. the swarm size). I have a feeling that if this isn't changed, the project may run out of steam.

While it may annoy old users a bit that they can't create as many coins, new users are waiting weeks to mint any coins. It is unlikely that Bitcoins will become established if new users aren't given a decent shot at their own minting (especially when the user base should be growing rapidly). Users who discovered Bitcoins early will still have amassed more coins than new entrants, even without the difficulty changing.

The software is very impressive, but the minting rules really need to be looked at again. Self minting is such a good idea for distributing new coins, but IMO it needs some basic economic theory applying to it, rather than a relatively arbitrary setting.

I have no problems with Bitcoin's economic model (remember: money is not like other commodities) nor the decreasing rate of minting, but it would have been cool if done in less of a 'lottery' fashion and distributed equally among the users. It would be great if my laptop could generate even 0.1 BTC a day, for example.

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Traktion
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July 24, 2010, 05:38:54 PM
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The big problem for me is that the minting rate doesn't adjust with the size of the Bitcoin economy (ie. the swarm size). I have a feeling that if this isn't changed, the project may run out of steam.

While it may annoy old users a bit that they can't create as many coins, new users are waiting weeks to mint any coins. It is unlikely that Bitcoins will become established if new users aren't given a decent shot at their own minting (especially when the user base should be growing rapidly). Users who discovered Bitcoins early will still have amassed more coins than new entrants, even without the difficulty changing.

The software is very impressive, but the minting rules really need to be looked at again. Self minting is such a good idea for distributing new coins, but IMO it needs some basic economic theory applying to it, rather than a relatively arbitrary setting.

We should be encouraging wealth creation so that people can spend their bitcoins on, not focusing on minting coins.

Why not switch off minting altogether then, with that logic?
Traktion
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July 24, 2010, 06:01:18 PM
 #15

The big problem for me is that the minting rate doesn't adjust with the size of the Bitcoin economy (ie. the swarm size). I have a feeling that if this isn't changed, the project may run out of steam.

While it may annoy old users a bit that they can't create as many coins, new users are waiting weeks to mint any coins. It is unlikely that Bitcoins will become established if new users aren't given a decent shot at their own minting (especially when the user base should be growing rapidly). Users who discovered Bitcoins early will still have amassed more coins than new entrants, even without the difficulty changing.

The software is very impressive, but the minting rules really need to be looked at again. Self minting is such a good idea for distributing new coins, but IMO it needs some basic economic theory applying to it, rather than a relatively arbitrary setting.

I have no problems with Bitcoin's economic model (remember: money is not like other commodities) nor the decreasing rate of minting, but it would have been cool if done in less of a 'lottery' fashion and distributed equally among the users. It would be great if my laptop could generate even 0.1 BTC a day, for example.

In terms of coin value: A growing Bitcoin economy (number of user making transactions), with no monetary inflation == A static Bitcoin economy (number of user making transactions), with monetary deflation.

Minting is a great way of distributing the coins as the user base grows, but it could be done less arbitrarily. I don't mind the lottery system, but the number of coins in a mined block or the difficulty could be more flexible to demand.

Anyway, I don't want to debate this at length on this thread, as it will take it OT (and we have several threads about this already!); I just wanted to point out my agreement with the OP about this.
kiba
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July 24, 2010, 06:06:06 PM
 #16

The big problem for me is that the minting rate doesn't adjust with the size of the Bitcoin economy (ie. the swarm size). I have a feeling that if this isn't changed, the project may run out of steam.

While it may annoy old users a bit that they can't create as many coins, new users are waiting weeks to mint any coins. It is unlikely that Bitcoins will become established if new users aren't given a decent shot at their own minting (especially when the user base should be growing rapidly). Users who discovered Bitcoins early will still have amassed more coins than new entrants, even without the difficulty changing.

The software is very impressive, but the minting rules really need to be looked at again. Self minting is such a good idea for distributing new coins, but IMO it needs some basic economic theory applying to it, rather than a relatively arbitrary setting.

We should be encouraging wealth creation so that people can spend their bitcoins on, not focusing on minting coins.

Why not switch off minting altogether then, with that logic?

I am saying that minting is not overly important, rather than saying that minting should be turned off.

RHorning
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July 24, 2010, 07:17:48 PM
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I have no problems with Bitcoin's economic model (remember: money is not like other commodities) nor the decreasing rate of minting, but it would have been cool if done in less of a 'lottery' fashion and distributed equally among the users. It would be great if my laptop could generate even 0.1 BTC a day, for example.

I came up with at least a partial solution to get this to work earlier, and I think it could work too, but it wouldn't be trivial to implement:

http://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=300.msg2686#msg2686

The problem right now is the network latency, and the fact that if the bitcoin block generation rate increased substantially that there would start to be some significant collisions between generated blocks and degrade the network.  My suggestion here was to have multiple chains off of chains that could help improve the scalability of the network.

Regardless, if the number of users significantly ramps up to be 100x or 1000x the current user base, even these "reduced difficulty" blocks would still be pretty dang difficult to generate.

The one change which I prefer would be to have the rate of bitcoins being minted stay constant forever.

I'd have to agree that generating more coin blocks but having those blocks worth less would be useful, and the notion of keeping the rate of increase in bitcoin blocks constant (instead of being halved every 4 years) isn't necessarily going to destroy the currency either.  What is needed is predictability here instead of chaos.

Considering that the once every 4 years change still has yet to happen, going to a constant increase in the coin supply over time isn't necessarily going to change at least current behavior toward the coins.  It also resolves the "lost coin" issue so far as any lost coins would eventually be "recovered" so far as simply being found money through new generation and IMHO would offer some stability against deflation.

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July 25, 2010, 06:25:13 AM
 #18

I have no problems with Bitcoin's economic model (remember: money is not like other commodities) nor the decreasing rate of minting, but it would have been cool if done in less of a 'lottery' fashion and distributed equally among the users. It would be great if my laptop could generate even 0.1 BTC a day, for example.

I came up with at least a partial solution to get this to work earlier, and I think it could work too, but it wouldn't be trivial to implement:

http://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=300.msg2686#msg2686

The problem right now is the network latency, and the fact that if the bitcoin block generation rate increased substantially that there would start to be some significant collisions between generated blocks and degrade the network.  My suggestion here was to have multiple chains off of chains that could help improve the scalability of the network.

Regardless, if the number of users significantly ramps up to be 100x or 1000x the current user base, even these "reduced difficulty" blocks would still be pretty dang difficult to generate.

The one change which I prefer would be to have the rate of bitcoins being minted stay constant forever.

I'd have to agree that generating more coin blocks but having those blocks worth less would be useful, and the notion of keeping the rate of increase in bitcoin blocks constant (instead of being halved every 4 years) isn't necessarily going to destroy the currency either.  What is needed is predictability here instead of chaos.

Considering that the once every 4 years change still has yet to happen, going to a constant increase in the coin supply over time isn't necessarily going to change at least current behavior toward the coins.  It also resolves the "lost coin" issue so far as any lost coins would eventually be "recovered" so far as simply being found money through new generation and IMHO would offer some stability against deflation.

I still think that the money supply itself should remain fixed and that credit markets should satisfy the demand for money; however, drawing the coin increase to a slowdown rather than a complete cutoff may be a solution for the slight monetary deflation that will occur from the lost coins.

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July 25, 2010, 07:55:20 AM
 #19

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We should be encouraging wealth creation so that people can spend their bitcoins on, not focusing on minting coins.
So far as the long-term economics of Bitcoin are concerned, that is exactly right. However, consider this: the value of any currency has two components, its value as a commodity and its marketability. Right now the marketability of BTC is practically nil--there is very little which you can actually buy with BTC, or sell for BTC, without first converting to some other currency. As a commodity, bitcoins are rather weak, having no direct use and no legal mandate (taxes, legal tender). That pretty much leaves just their novelty value, most of which comes from the (mostly inaccurate) perception of getting something from nothing via minting.

If everyone were to lose interest in minting new bitcoins right now, can you honestly say that Bitcoin would remain a viable digital currency? I think it rather more likely that people would lose interest. Perhaps we will eventually reach a point where the market for bitcoins is self-sustaining, but we're not there yet. In the interim, we have to keep potential BTC users interested, which means small, frequent payouts which pander to the average person's attention span.

Regarding the main topic of this thread, my main concerns/annoyances with Bitcoin are as follows:
  • Transactions are dependent on generating new blocks, and the design of Bitcoin has the generation of new blocks eventually becoming non-cost-effective. What happens when the (fixed) minimum work required to generate a new block becomes more than the block itself is worth? No more transactions?
  • Versioning will probably become an issue at some point. Very few changes to the Bitcoin design can be made backward-compatible with existing clients. Any breaking change will split the block chain unless everyone manages to upgrade at the same time. Some kind of auto-update system might be in order, and/or a mechanism to mark the formal transition to a new ruleset in the block chain. It is important that Bitcoin transactions continue to work between all users, without any inadvertent barriers resulting from bifurcated block chains.
  • It would be nice if the difficult-adjustment algorithm ran more often. The limits could be something like 80-110% difficulty per estimated day (144 blocks) rather than 25-400% per fortnight (2016 blocks), allowing a gradual adjustment over the same period. Under the current system a 4x increase in difficulty immediately followed by a return to previous capacity wouldn't be corrected for up to two months, during which transactions would take 4x as long to be confirmed. With the shorter period and 80-110% limits the same increase in difficulty would begin to be corrected within four days, with complete correction within six adjustment periods (under two weeks). Note that there is no inherent limit on how fast the difficulty can increase in real time; it depends on how much capacity was temporarily added. If we're hitting the limits (either variant) then the minimum rate of increase is about 4x per 3-4 days.
  • Related to the previous point: The limits should not be symmetric, as they are now, because upward difficulty adjustments naturally happen more frequently than downward adjustments. I'm not convinced there should be any lower boundary to the adjustment at all, apart from the absolute minimum work required per block. Limiting the downward adjustment rate creates an opportunity for someone to inhibit timely transaction confirmation for an extended period.
  • Could we please avoid creating dependencies on unstable development releases of third-party libraries (e.g. wxWidgets 2.9)? The statically-linked binaries help, but only if you don't intend to make any changes.
  • Has anyone else noticed that the log.* files in the database subdirectory appear to grow without bound so long as the program is running? Mine were over 160 MB recently, at which point I restarted Bitcoin and the files disappeared.
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July 25, 2010, 08:31:22 AM
 #20

...
What's the one thing you would change?

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