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Question: What should be the main base unit of bitcoin?
[whatever-name] (100 satoshis) - 24 (57.1%)
full bitcoin (100000000 satoshis) - 18 (42.9%)
Total Voters: 42

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Author Topic: To be or not to be - the clock is ticking for standardisation of base unit  (Read 1912 times)
Goldmundo
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October 25, 2014, 03:19:11 PM
 #1

Public debate has been going on for a while now and most of us are well aware of the pros and cons of both sides - "bit" vs "full bitcoin". What some people may not be aware of is that time is running out for a full switch to bits as the main denomination unit. Let me explain...

For a while it seemed that bits option is slowly but surely gaining majority support. To me it still seems so but no sooner will I say this than 5 people will jump onto this thread to say it's not the case. Over at the Financial Standards Working Group  we seem to have majority supporting bits. Seeing various websites, talking with people, it seems that bits are the way to go forward. Anyway, for supporters of the switch things couldn't be simpler or more convincing:

- We have a real issue with end user adoption due to the incomprehensibility of <1 numbers by regular people. People are not likely to adopt something they don't understand.

- Then we have the issue of compatibility of a unit which requires 8 decimal precision with existing industry standards, practices and software. We need a unit that has full precision with only 2 decimals.

- Price of bitcoin will only grow with time and we need a unit that will be comprehensible both today and 10 years down the road.

- Bits have already gained widespread support within the industry and number of websites offering bits as the display option is growing by the day. But due to the lack of consensus, not everyone is embracing the same solution and we are in a typical non-standardised chaos that plagues any new technology in its infancy.



Now, you'd think it's a clear case and we can all happily proceed with standardisation of bits. Not really. For that to happen we would have to overcome these obstacles and make it happen real fast or miss the opportunity forever:

- According to Jon Matonis of the BTCF the Bitcoin white paper on which the whole system is based specifies 100000000 satoshis as the main unit. Some people are opposing this view and claim that this is not set in stone, only satoshis are set in stone. Even the same white paper mentions the possibility of moving the decimal point. I myself (with my design / photography background) am not so much of a technical person and am not able to comment on this knowledgeably but I invite those of you who can to please do so.

- According to Kevin Beardsley of the BTCF switching to bits as the base unit would require the Core Developers to adopt an update to the reference implementation. Not being familiar with the technical aspects of the system I am unable to understand the scope of this change nor the difficulty of implementing it. From what Kevin says, I understand that anyone can initiate this change by creating a pull request on GitHub for the reference implementation. From then on it is not clear to me what kind of wide-ranging support would be necessary for this request to actually succeed. If you have the expertise, please comment on this as well.

- Jon Matonis and some other people at the BTCF are in the "full bitcoin" camp. This means that unless the "bits" camp adopts an organised and proactive approach to the issue, things will go the "full bitcoin" way.



If this happens and the standardisation bodies decide to accept the application we will be faced with irreversible damage in these forms:

- We will have two or more ways bitcoin will be represented. We will have one official, standardised way which will be 1.00000000 bitcoin = 1.00000000 XBT = 100000000 satoshis = [unicode-symbol]1.00000000. This one will be largely unusable for most real life, day to day applications. And then we will have a whole mess of various unofficial, non-standard display options for everyday use. Some companies / users will use bits, some will use millibitcoins, some will use uXBT, etc. This is the worst possible outcome in terms of bringing clarity and uniformity by standardisation.  

- Standardisation is not something we can revisit in 3 years down the road when we find out it didn't really work so well. By shooting the wrong target now we will cause irreparable damage to bitcoin widespread adoption and overall success.

- For years we will have incompatibility issues because of all the existing software and financial systems out there that do not support 8 decimals. Even if we fast forward 5 years into the future and see all the software updated to support bitcoin, things will still be far from good. Imagine you are creating a spreadsheet in Numbers or Excel and you use bitcoins in your table. You would probably be limited to only one bitcoin unit - the standardised one. I for one will never ever wish to do my personal finance planning or event budget planning or whatever else using values such as 0.00000750. Please allow me to do these things in bitcoin when the time comes for it. I love bitcoin and I want to see it useful, usable and capable of permeating every last pore of our worldwide economy. Please give it a chance.



Time is ticking out. There is pressure from many directions to standardise asap. Voice you opinion, show your support. We do this only once. Let's make sure it's done right.

Aware of various shortcomings of a forum poll as well as the existence of earlier polls, I will still ask you to please vote for one of the two main options, without going into details of that option (we can do that in a separate poll). So for now forget about all the ifs and just state what you're leaning towards.

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October 25, 2014, 04:31:20 PM
 #2

Just another biased poll, ignoring the fact that people, while wanting to switch to 100 satoshis, dislike the name “bit” for such unit.

An economy based on endless growth is unsustainable.
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October 25, 2014, 04:53:11 PM
 #3

I have updated the 1st option to be more neutral. My intention was not to make a biased poll, I just overlooked the name-issue. I am thankful for your input. Please reconsider voting now with reformulated 1st option. Also, feel free to disregard my obvious preference for the bits name throughout the OP. The essence here is 100 satoshis Vs 100000000 satoshis as the base unit, so let's stick to that in the discussion. Thanks.

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October 25, 2014, 05:03:36 PM
 #4

Just another biased poll, ignoring the fact that people, while wanting to switch to 100 satoshis, dislike the name “bit” for such unit.

No problem with 100 satoshis. 100 satoshis are simply 100 satoshis - no problem to count or understand. If you have high numbers of satoshis and are lazy add a 'k' for thousands. There are numerous (inflated) fiat currencies that have a huge number of zeroes without a comprehension problem.


- We have a real issue with end user adoption due to the incomprehensibility of <1 numbers by regular people. People are not likely to adopt something they don't understand.

Simply use satoshi for small fractions of a bitcoin. Problem solved (if it even exists).

I disagree that there is any need for standardization. Names for units will emerge naturally. People will learn and adapt quickly, because when something is about money motivation is at its maximum.

Standardization of speech is for statists that don't believe in the power of the free mind.

ya.ya.yo!
Goldmundo
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October 25, 2014, 06:14:55 PM
 #5

How does one vote in this poll?

I myself can't vote, which I thought had to do with me being the creator of the poll (although that doesn't make much sense either). But now I heard from another person that they can't vote either. Yet, some people obviously were able to vote. Enlighten us please.

(I did not lock the poll and I do not see any problematic options in the poll settings panel.)

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October 25, 2014, 06:52:06 PM
 #6

Which of the following problems are not solved by applying for 1 XST = 1 satoshi as an official ISO currency code?

Anyway, for supporters of the switch things couldn't be simpler or more convincing:

- We have a real issue with end user adoption due to the incomprehensibility of <1 numbers by regular people. People are not likely to adopt something they don't understand.

- Then we have the issue of compatibility of a unit which requires 8 decimal precision with existing industry standards, practices and software. We need a unit that has full precision with only 2 decimals.

- Price of bitcoin will only grow with time and we need a unit that will be comprehensible both today and 10 years down the road.
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October 25, 2014, 06:56:17 PM
 #7

^ None. (I mean none are not solved.) Smiley

I am not against satoshi as the base unit. If we can convince 50-60% of the community / industry to quickly embrace it.

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October 25, 2014, 07:01:06 PM
 #8

^ None. (I mean none are not solved.) Smiley

I am not against satoshi as the base unit. If we can convince 50-60% of the community / industry to quickly embrace it.

Have a look at this poll:

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=813167.0


44% would use "satoshi" for business transactions — only 6% missing and we have 50%...
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October 25, 2014, 07:07:38 PM
 #9

I do not believe that you would get anywhere near 44% if you formulate your question like this:

"Do you want the main, standardised base unit of bitcoin to be 1 satoshi?"

Prove me wrong. If you do, I will start supporting satoshi unit from that moment.

And again, can anyone please tell me why some people are not allowed to vote?

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October 25, 2014, 07:21:11 PM
 #10

I do not believe that you would get anywhere near 44% if you formulate your question like this:

"Do you want the main, standardised base unit of bitcoin to be 1 satoshi?"

Prove me wrong. If you do, I will start supporting satoshi unit from that moment.

You could add that option to your poll, then we'll know it. Wink


But I would argue that you are asking the wrong question:
Your question is worded towards the average consumer, thereby soliciting armchair opinions. I think, however, what actually matters are business decisions, that's why I decided to go for that wording.





And again, can anyone please tell me why some people are not allowed to vote?

We are in the same boat here. I can't vote either. One needs to be "Member" to qualify for voting.
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October 25, 2014, 07:26:43 PM
 #11

I prefer to keep this poll simple as it is with two options only as these two options are most widely supported (I believe). I'd be curious though to see how much support would 1 satoshi get if poll worded appropriately and with a yes/no answer.

Since voting is not possible here for majority of people, can someone recommend another place to do this poll? Or can admins remove the limit, at least temporarily?

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October 25, 2014, 07:43:39 PM
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I don't think "Newbies" can vote.
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October 25, 2014, 07:47:58 PM
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I prefer to keep this poll simple as it is with two options only as these two options are most widely supported (I believe). I'd be curious though to see how much support would 1 satoshi get if poll worded appropriately and with a yes/no answer.

Me too! I'd say the best procedure for polling would be to go through each item separately and ask an individual yes/no question each time.
But this forum software doesn't support stuff like that. Sad

Since voting is not possible here for majority of people, can someone recommend another place to do this poll? Or can admins remove the limit, at least temporarily?

Maybe http://strawpoll.me is what you want...
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October 25, 2014, 08:18:56 PM
 #14

You have explicitly asked for a technical person to review these statements. So, I'll do this for you:

green = True statement.

red = False statement.

- According to Jon Matonis of the BTCF the Bitcoin white paper on which the whole system is based specifies 100000000 satoshis as the main unit. Some people are opposing this view and claim that this is not set in stone, only satoshis are set in stone. Even the same white paper mentions the possibility of moving the decimal point. I myself (with my design / photography background) am not so much of a technical person and am not able to comment on this knowledgeably but I invite those of you who can to please do so.

- According to Kevin Beardsley of the BTCF switching to bits as the base unit would require the Core Developers to adopt an update to the reference implementation. Not being familiar with the technical aspects of the system I am unable to understand the scope of this change nor the difficulty of implementing it. From what Kevin says, I understand that anyone can initiate this change by creating a pull request on GitHub for the reference implementation. From then on it is not clear to me what kind of wide-ranging support would be necessary for this request to actually succeed. If you have the expertise, please comment on this as well.

Satoshis are the very only unit that is defined in the protocol.

Everything else is purely a user-interface issue, nothing technical.
"Converting" between units is really as easy as drawing a decimal point at a specific place into the number, that's nothing technical.

Everyone can make pull requests for everything on GitHub. However, in this case it wouldn't do any help because this is not the right way to initiate this change. The core developers are actually annoyed by being involed in this whole unit debate — they want to concentrate on technical issues instead.
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October 26, 2014, 12:03:54 AM
 #15

You might want to check and confirm your statement. 1.00000000 bitcoin = 1.00000000 XBT is misleading

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October 26, 2014, 12:40:36 AM
 #16

Satoshi is the base unit in the code. In real life use, I'd use bits but that doesn't mean you need to change anything in the client other than what it displays the balance as. Preferably I'd have it set to bits (100 satoshis)

Bitrated user: jac.
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October 26, 2014, 12:47:41 AM
 #17

Community, quickly, decide: pick two.
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October 26, 2014, 04:35:39 AM
 #18

Community, quickly, decide: pick two.

Lol...I think having a significant value behind the international definition is wise and therefore I support making 1 bitcoin the official unit associated with an ISO 4217 standard and Unicode currency symbol.

That said, I think we need at least two symbols to describe bitcoin subunits.  My wife had a good idea for symbols and I turned it into a web font...


http://www.uofr.net/~bcg/bitcoin.html

I did this on my iPad in a hurry.  I over wrote %, ^, &, and * symbols instead of using unassigned or private use Unicode code points...

The m-like symbol for mBTC is just the BTC symbol turned on it's side to look like an m.

The satoshi symbol is the greek letter sigma with an extra line...it's also basically the same as the bits symbol turned on it's side.

Hardfork aren't that hard.
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October 26, 2014, 12:50:23 PM
 #19

Just another biased poll, ignoring the fact that people, while wanting to switch to 100 satoshis, dislike the name “bit” for such unit.

Agree. Micro-bitcoin is the way to go.
Why reinvent units when the metric system is already there?  Smiley

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October 26, 2014, 01:51:56 PM
 #20

Wow! 100 satoshi camp took the lead. We may have a shot after all.  Cool

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