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Author Topic: i thought transaction fees are optional?  (Read 3026 times)
triplehelix
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March 04, 2012, 05:18:32 AM
 #1

using Bitcoin version 0.5.2, just playing around to get as familiar as possible.  had .15 BTC and was trying to send all of it to another address.  kept telling me that i didn't have enough including the .005 transaction fee.

peeked in the settings, optional transaction fee include was set to 0.0000000 BTC, tried again, same thing.

so i dropped the amount and it sent successfully, but included a transaction fee of .005 BTC.

where am i going wrong?
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Raoul Duke
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March 04, 2012, 05:33:17 AM
 #2

You are not wrong. And the software is not wrong.

One of 2 things happened:

Those .15 BTC were composed mainly from a lot of small amounts
Those BTC were on you wallet for less that a couple days

Or maybe a combination of both those reasons.

triplehelix
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March 04, 2012, 05:51:43 AM
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You are not wrong. And the software is not wrong.

One of 2 things happened:

Those .15 BTC were composed mainly from a lot of small amounts
Those BTC were on you wallet for less that a couple days

Or maybe a combination of both those reasons.

the .15 was 2 transactions in to my wallet.  they were only there for a day or two, but had tons of verifications.

how is the transaction fee calculated?
Stephen Gornick
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March 04, 2012, 06:11:25 AM
 #4

but included a transaction fee of .005 BTC.

You probably meant to write 0.0005 BTC? (which is a fraction of a penny, at the current exchange rate)

the .15 was 2 transactions in to my wallet.  they were only there for a day or two, but had tons of verifications.

that is a pretty small amount being transferred (under a U.S. Dollar's worth of bitcoin) and is just a couple days old.  The client will consider that to be "spammy" and require the fee.

 - http://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/FAQ#How_much_will_the_transaction_fee_be.3F

triplehelix
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March 04, 2012, 06:52:57 AM
 #5


You probably meant to write 0.0005 BTC? (which is a fraction of a penny, at the current exchange rate)

yes, sorry about that.  i know its not much money, just trying to figure it out.

Quote
that is a pretty small amount being transferred (under a U.S. Dollar's worth of bitcoin) and is just a couple days old.  The client will consider that to be "spammy" and require the fee.

 - http://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/FAQ#How_much_will_the_transaction_fee_be.3F

thanks for the link.  definitely helped a lot.  do you have one that is more specific in estimating?  like roughly x small transactions or in wallet less than x amount of time?
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March 04, 2012, 07:05:24 PM
 #6

do you have one that is more specific in estimating?  like roughly x small transactions or in wallet less than x amount of time?

I think it was something like 0.0001 BTC per 1K of transaction size, minimum 0.0005 BTC.   The wiki article needs an update:
 - https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Transaction_fees

[update: not sure which is the correct source]
 - https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/blob/master/src/main.h#L550
 - https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/blob/master/src/wallet.cpp#L1100

Kluge
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March 04, 2012, 07:13:38 PM
 #7

There are clients out there (at least both Armory and the specific no-fee version of the Satoshi client) which allow you to ignore the "mandatory" fee, and all the times I've done that, the coins still go through without a problem. So, I'm guessing given tx fees currently amount to a very insignificant amount compared to the 50BTC block reward, most pools aren't bothering to enforce fee "rules." I could've just been lucky, though, so don't do it based just on my experience.

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triplehelix
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March 04, 2012, 07:23:13 PM
 #8

thanks stephen, any additional clarity you can offer would be appreciated.

kluge, that is my main point of confusion.  i could not override the transaction fee at all, it just wouldn't send without including it.
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March 04, 2012, 07:28:08 PM
 #9

thanks stephen, any additional clarity you can offer would be appreciated.

kluge, that is my main point of confusion.  i could not override the transaction fee at all, it just wouldn't send without including it.
Right. They are optional in the sense that it isn't necessarily enforced by miners (miners, or their representative pool, choose which transactions to include in a block) -- you can always set the fee to 0 with clients which allow it, but fees are mandatory with the official Satoshi client unless you change the code (which was done with the no-fee version -- not sure where link to it is - you'll have to find it yourself). It appears up to miners as to what fees are. AFAIK, there's nothing explicitly preventing all the mining pools from forming a cartel and charging 5BTC fees on all transactions if they really wanted to (not sure on that, though - wait for someone wiser than I).

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Stephen Gornick
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March 04, 2012, 07:29:06 PM
 #10

 i could not override the transaction fee at all, it just wouldn't send without including it.

The official bitcoin.org client won't let you send without a fee if it thinks a fee will be necessary in order for it to get included in a block.  This is for the protection of the bitcoin network from spammy transactions.

Being open source, you can change it to do whatever you want.

Also, there are other clients [update: other than those from bitcoin.org] that do not have this behavior.  If this is something important to you (not paying the sub-cent fee), you probably have an edge case.  Counting on the ability to send transactions with no fee should not be a long-term strategy (heh, maybe 1 year out in the bitcoin world) for any bitcoin-related effort.

triplehelix
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March 04, 2012, 07:41:00 PM
 #11

thanks guys, i think i have a handle on it.

no, the ability to send no fee transactions isn't incredibly important to me at this point, but a correct understanding of whats going on is.  i didn't realize there were two versions of the official client, nor that in one of them fees were forced.

i have been liking the looks of armory, but only have 2GB ram on my laptop where i've been doing most of my bitcoining, and read in the dev thread that it doesn't play well with less than 4GB of RAM.  i'll install it on my desktop and play around.

many thanks for helping me understand whats going on.
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March 04, 2012, 07:54:25 PM
 #12

I have to ask why isn't the tx fee pulled from the chain? ie. each mining pool announces the fee each block, so for example,

eligius 0.0001
deepbit 0.0005
eclipsemc 0.00075
gougers-r-us 0.1

fees are valid for now+<a set amount of blocks, not less than 2 hours>

so I can choose to have anyone of those fees, and hope they get hit for the particular block I'm in. I get to risk based on the fee, immediacy requirement, etc., and the pool gets to risk based on low fees against getting a block.

ie, if i choose deepbit at 0.0005, but eclipsemc gets them, then my tx won't get passed by eclipse, but is deferred to the next block, where eligius gets it, and they get a bonus of 0.0004

they could also have a secondary fee and tertiary fee that they can announce such as

eligius 0.0001;0.00005;0.00001
deepbit 0.0005;0.00025,0.0001
eclipsemc 0.00075;0.0005;0.0001
gougers-r-us 0.1;0.05;0.01

secondary are run once or twice every 3-4 days, tertiary every week, with ranking priority taking precedence.


marked, who had a 2 week wait for an (EDIT) 0.7 transaction, with a 0.0001 fee.



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March 08, 2012, 08:19:16 AM
 #13

Another way to (sort of) avoid transaction fees is to mine somewhere where the coins are generated in your wallet(I know eligius does this, and it's also how p2pool works).  These coins show up as if you had solo mined them, and take 120 confirmations to mature, but I have never seen transaction fees when sending them on.  Of course, 120 confirmations is quite a while, so that might be why it's not seen as spammy anymore.  Something to consider.
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March 08, 2012, 03:03:56 PM
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Another way to (sort of) avoid transaction fees is to mine somewhere where the coins are generated in your wallet(I know eligius does this, and it's also how p2pool works).  These coins show up as if you had solo mined them, and take 120 confirmations to mature, but I have never seen transaction fees when sending them on.  Of course, 120 confirmations is quite a while, so that might be why it's not seen as spammy anymore.  Something to consider.

Yes, the 120 confirmations help a lot— as does the fact that eligius only pays out .66 BTC or more (unless you stop mining).

The metric is similar to coin-days-destroyed... the greater the input value * age the greater the txn priority.
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March 09, 2012, 04:28:52 PM
 #15

Not meaning to offend anyone, but looking from pretty much outsider's view I personally find the make-believe "optional" fee concept repulsive, even leaning towards hypocritical.

While it seems the miners largely collectively define that fees must be paid, would the opposite be feasible? Ie. establishing pools that enforce zero fee policy. Would a small pool be effective at all in facilitating zero fee payments and making the "optional" fee live up to its word?

Kluge
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March 09, 2012, 04:40:32 PM
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Not meaning to offend anyone, but looking from pretty much outsider's view I personally find the make-believe "optional" fee concept repulsive, even leaning towards hypocritical.

While it seems the miners largely collectively define that fees must be paid, would the opposite be feasible? Ie. establishing pools that enforce zero fee policy. Would a small pool be effective at all in facilitating zero fee payments and making the "optional" fee live up to its word?
It really is optional right now. I've done a few transactions since last posting in this thread and refused to pay the fee. All times, it's been included in the next block. Now, if it's true that pools ARE enforcing the fee guidelines, I've just been lucky, and you should consider fees optional only insofar as paying fees expedites your transaction, and going fee-free may cause your transaction to take a loong time to process.

The fees typically amount to less than half a US cent at the current exchange rate. The fees and volume are so low, it hardly benefits miners, and doesn't really make an impact on anyone except those who are making many transactions <$.10 - but even that'd only be true if pools all enforced the fee guidelines.

Some tx ids of fee-free transactions in case someone's becoming skeptical of my claims:
http://blockchain.info/tx-index/3192308/03cebf0fb2dd65abe412dac39937002981542dd07d456f70e2bd256e284cd6e2
http://blockchain.info/tx-index/3114525/bd2763d383bd357b0f833c4995b5a766c2bf899341a3a5ebe1adf1b5b2207c51
http://blockchain.info/tx-index/3096160/532d14b7b5c3c61af1bdcae826993c36f0d8e69e1a31ec8825ff3515f937e859

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GCInc.
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March 09, 2012, 06:04:33 PM
 #17

It is exactly the uncertainty that makes the whole fee concept repulsive. How much of a fee should one pay to ensure timely transmittal of funds?

The fees typically amount to less than half a US cent at the current exchange rate.

Claims whether the fees are miniscule or considerable are not valid criteria for their justification. Half US cent may be huge for some micropayment applications. In my opinion the current incoherent fee system is becoming one of the main obstacles against mainstream adoption.

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March 09, 2012, 06:13:15 PM
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It is exactly the uncertainty that makes the whole fee concept repulsive. How much of a fee should one pay to ensure timely transmittal of funds?

The fees typically amount to less than half a US cent at the current exchange rate.

Claims whether the fees are miniscule or considerable are not valid criteria for their justification. Half US cent may be huge for some micropayment applications. In my opinion the current incoherent fee system is becoming one of the main obstacles against mainstream adoption.
Which applications would suffer disuse due to .0005BTC tx fees?

ETA: worth noting sendmany option can greatly reduce fees for making many insignificant transactions.

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GCInc.
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March 09, 2012, 08:24:15 PM
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Which applications would suffer disuse due to .0005BTC tx fees?
1st: Micropayment applications namely. There is potential for a whole new world of applications where miniscule value can be transferred often without any fees. I initially thought Bitcoin is up to that, but it strongly looks like we will have to wait for something else for that.

2nd: Make a million payments in one year for instance, and the fees will simply render significant overhead.

3rd: The inconsistency of required fees is a more serious issue. But perhaps people just get used to the uncertainty involved in "donating".

Quote
ETA: worth noting sendmany option can greatly reduce fees for making many insignificant transactions.
Insignificant? I don't claim to fully understand how it works, could you clarify what transactions are insignificant?

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March 09, 2012, 08:36:18 PM
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Which applications would suffer disuse due to .0005BTC tx fees?
1st: Micropayment applications namely. There is potential for a whole new world of applications where miniscule value can be transferred often without any fees. I initially thought Bitcoin is up to that, but it strongly looks like we will have to wait for something else for that.

2nd: Make a million payments in one year for instance, and the fees will simply render significant overhead.

3rd: The inconsistency of required fees is a more serious issue. But perhaps people just get used to the uncertainty involved in "donating".

Quote
ETA: worth noting sendmany option can greatly reduce fees for making many insignificant transactions.
Insignificant? I don't claim to fully understand how it works, could you clarify what transactions are insignificant?

1) I was asking for an example. In what situation would Bitcoin's miniscule fees compromise the usability of a practical application, where neither lumping payments and doing a sendmany transaction or delaying payments until a significant amount of coins are accumulated to justify a transaction is a reasonable option?

2) Again - an example of a situation where that's realistic would be great in helping me understand where tiny tx fees could deter actual business. Why would anyone need to send millions of single tiny transactions in a year? Micro-coin-tumbling?

3) I'd agree with that. Fee inconsistency is irritating (rather, that there isn't a flat fee), but I've never run into someone who actually couldn't implement their idea because of it. These "donations" ultimately go toward payment processing. Block rewards are set to halve within a few months, and this will happen again, later - and again and again and again. At some time in the future, the only payment miners will receive will come from tx fees. Processing transactions does require work.

As for insignificant transactions, I'd consider that anything which is less than ~$1 worth of Bitcoins, which would probably be the cheapest good or service I've ever seen on this forum. If you can't buy anything with the transaction, I'd consider it insignificant. Obviously, that's subjective - but I don't see why anyone should have to suffer a larger blockchain for such low-value transactions. Tx fees are ultimately set by individuals (supply and demand -- what the miners want vs. what users are willing to pay) *whoops, pardon my misinfo*, not the creators of Bitcoin.

Don't mix your coins someone said isn't legal
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