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Author Topic: Real names  (Read 9549 times)
Mike Hearn
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May 19, 2011, 04:35:24 PM
 #1

After reading Gavins thread on public relations, I wanted to find an easy way to make Bitcoin come across as a more professional, trustworthy project. I don't need to explain why that's an important image to establish.

So I changed my forum display name from [mike] to my real name, which was easily available from the BitCoinJ project anyway. Quite a few important players in the Bitcoin community aren't actually anonymous even though they use nicks on this forum. When people evaluate Bitcoins potential, one question they ask is, who are these people? Is anyone seriously standing behind this project? Just using our real names when posting is a simple step that will re-assure people who are deciding whether it's worth their time. So I encourage you to do the same - it's easy to do by going into the profile tab and clicking "Account Settings".

Here's a quick reference guide to some of the communities top contributors, based on publicly available information:

  • Gavin Andresen, no need to introduce the project maintainer. He previously worked at Silicon Graphics and now runs his own company.
  • MagicalTux - Mark Karpeles, owner of MtGox and Kalyhost
  • Vladimir Marchenko, runs Marchenko Ltd which sells mining contracts, previously developed the figator.org search engine.
  • xf2_org - Jeff Garzik, who does kernel development at Red Hat
  • BlueMatt - Matt Corallo, core developer
  • sipa - Pieter Wuille, core developer and maintainer of the network graphs
  • justmoon - Stefan Thomas, creator of the WeUseCoins.com site/video and WebCoin.
  • Hal - Hal Finney, one of the creators of PGP
  • mndrix - Michael Hendrix, creator of the (sadly defunct) CoinPal and CoinCard services
  • theymos - Michael Marquardt, creator of the widely used blockexplorer.com site
  • genjix - Amir Taaki, creator of the Britcoin exchange
  • Mike Hearn - Google engineer who works on Gmail and developed BitCoinJ

There are a few others I know based on private information. If you're OK with appearing here (or not appearing here) let me know.

BTW I know plenty of people posting in these forums prefer to be totally anonymous, and there's nothing wrong with that.
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theymos
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May 19, 2011, 04:41:41 PM
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My real name is in my PGP public key (Michael Marquardt), though I prefer not to use it in online communications.

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Timo Y
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May 19, 2011, 05:23:17 PM
 #3

Aaaah, but anybody can change their nickname to Mike Hearn. How do we know you are the real Mike Hearn? Could you please post a copy of your passport and birth certificate?  Wink
 

Seriosly though, I'm going to follow Satoshi's example and not post under my flesh name, for all sorts of practical reasons.

For example, I don't want a prospective employer to be able to google me and read about my philosophical stance on intellectual property on this forum.  This has nothing to do with lack of integrity, not standing up for my beliefs, or whatever. It's purely a matter of self-preservation. It's a jungle out there and I want to place myself in a good negotiation position, which means being in control over what you disclose about yourself.


PS. If you want to I'll post a SHA-256 of my real name.

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May 19, 2011, 05:42:17 PM
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PS. If you want to I'll post a SHA-256 of my real name.

just in case it's not clear, it's likely that someone else could brute-force that (and they could then post your name right afterwards in the discussion), unless your name is something like 13kqJEMqZPSPmc18wzogz71pAFzU7SCJhs.

it would be wonderful, however, if a SHA256 hash of anyone's real name happened to meet the present difficulty.

i like what mike's trying to do, but (1) using this forum is probably too obscure for most people in the mainstream who are going to be evaluating bitcoin economically, rather than technologically, and (2) this particular forum is already teeming with the sort of extremist fantasy that repulses many people, and that doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. the main bitcoin.org page already lists some real people's names.
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May 19, 2011, 05:55:44 PM
 #5

PS. If you want to I'll post a SHA-256 of my real name.

just in case it's not clear, it's likely that someone else could brute-force that

Good point, what if it's just the first 4 characters of the SHA-256?

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May 19, 2011, 06:24:01 PM
 #6

I run with two accounts.... one for legitimate community orientated and stuff, and the other for... other things

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May 19, 2011, 06:28:38 PM
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@forever-d, it depends how plausible you want your deniability to be.

the first four characters in the typical printing of a sha256 digest (a simple hex string) amount to two bytes of information, or 16 bits.

in 16 bits, you can store 65536 possibilities.

so if someone tests whether your hash corresponds to a particular name and comes up with a matching four-character hex-string signature, they can trust that the probability of a coincidental collision was 1/65536. in other words, they can be 65535/65536, or 99.9985%, confident that you were claiming to have the particular name they tested.

but that doesn't intuitively tell the whole story, because people tend to be bad at accommodating base rates intuitively. if the attacker already suspects that you are a particular person and runs that name, a collision gives them a pretty high confidence that they're right. if they're going to try 130,000 names randomly, however, they'd expect to collide a few times anyway, and a collision wouldn't tell them much.

practically speaking, then, it depends on many variables. i'm afraid we're diverting mike's topic, however!
Mike Hearn
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May 19, 2011, 06:36:05 PM
 #8

No that's fine, divert away. I just wanted to explain why I changed my nick.

It definitely won't have a huge impact, but I think it's a step in the right direction. If you look at Tor, they do this and I think it makes the project much more respectable and (by implication) harder to demonize:

https://www.torproject.org/about/corepeople.html.en

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May 19, 2011, 06:38:11 PM
 #9

My real name is in my PGP public key (Michael Marquardt), though I prefer not to use it in online communications.

What if we just make up realistic names to use as our forum names? For example, I could call myself Jamal Williams even though that is not even close to my real name.
Mike Hearn
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May 19, 2011, 06:44:16 PM
 #10

Why bother? There's nothing wrong with using a pseudonym.

The only point of using your real name is to stand up and say, this is my name and I support Bitcoin. If you use a fake name and start achieving things then eventually you'll get called on it, and won't be able to reach your full potential. The transition from Satoshi leading the project to Gavin was essential for this reason: Gavin can appear in Forbes and explain what it's all about, whereas Satoshi could not.
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May 19, 2011, 06:50:21 PM
 #11

After reading Gavins thread on public relations, I wanted to find an easy way to make Bitcoin come across as a more professional, trustworthy project. I don't need to explain why that's an important image to establish.

So I changed my forum display name from [mike] to my real name, which was easily available from the BitCoinJ project anyway. Quite a few important players in the Bitcoin community aren't actually anonymous even though they use nicks on this forum. When people evaluate Bitcoins potential, one question they ask is, who are these people? Is anyone seriously standing behind this project? Just using our real names when posting is a simple step that will re-assure people who are deciding whether it's worth their time. So I encourage you to do the same - it's easy to do by going into the profile tab and clicking "Account Settings".

Here's a quick reference guide to some of the communities top contributors, based on publicly available information:

  • gavinandresen - obvious, no need to introduce the project maintainer
  • MagicalTux - Mark Karpeles, owner of MtGox and Kalyhost
  • vladimir - Vladimir Marchenko, seller of mining contracts
  • xf2_org - Jeff Garzik, who used to do kernel development at Red Hat
  • Hal - Hal Finney, one of the creators of PGP
  • mndrix - Michael Hendrix, creator of the (sadly defunct) CoinPal and CoinCard services

There are a few others I know based on private information. If you're OK with appearing here (or not appearing here) let me know.

BTW I know plenty of people posting in these forums prefer to be totally anonymous, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Mike,

i think this is a great idea but it would be even more helpful if ppl listed their credentials as well.  a name by itself does nothing for me beyond the nickname.  however, credentials, education, etc would really make me more confident that the place is being run by adults who know what they're doing rather than by a bunch of young geeks/ hacksters.
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May 19, 2011, 06:52:16 PM
 #12

Why bother? There's nothing wrong with using a pseudonym.

The only point of using your real name is to stand up and say, this is my name and I support Bitcoin. If you use a fake name and start achieving things then eventually you'll get called on it, and won't be able to reach your full potential. The transition from Satoshi leading the project to Gavin was essential for this reason: Gavin can appear in Forbes and explain what it's all about, whereas Satoshi could not.

one of the first things i do when i talk to ppl about btc is pt at Gavin and say "Princeton graduate".
Mike Hearn
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May 19, 2011, 06:55:06 PM
 #13

Sure, that's why I included things these people had done.

Credentials and qualifications I'm not so bothered about because most people get them when they are quite young and after that, things they achieve in their careers matter more. I don't know what qualifications Hal has and I don't really care: he created PGP with Phil Zimmerman and that's better than any PhD or degree.

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May 19, 2011, 07:04:21 PM
 #14

That's your choice -- I prefer my pseudonimity, thanks.

Bitcoin Core developer [PGP] Warning: For most, coin loss is a larger risk than coin theft. A disk can die any time. Regularly back up your wallet through FileBackup Wallet to an external storage or the (encrypted!) cloud. Use a separate offline wallet for storing larger amounts.
theymos
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May 19, 2011, 07:05:56 PM
 #15

What if we just make up realistic names to use as our forum names? For example, I could call myself Jamal Williams even though that is not even close to my real name.

At some point I might want to take credit for my Bitcoin activities, so I don't want to use a fake name. In fact, I would list Bitcoin Block Explorer on my résumé if I was applying for a relevant job this year, since that's the biggest and most public programming project I've ever done.

Using a non-obvious pseudonym might be a good idea for people who want to be anonymous. It adds some apparent credibility, I think.

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wumpus
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May 19, 2011, 07:10:38 PM
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In my case, it's not about being anonymous. Everyone with half a brain could probably find out who I am. I simply don't want all my forum contributions to show up in Google queries. There is no reason why everybody would have to be able to trivially look up everything about me. Especially not for the rest of my life, given how long every piece of information lingers around these days.

Edit: it's interesting too see how many people still think in terms of either total transparency or total anonymity, even on a forum like this.

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Ian Maxwell
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May 19, 2011, 07:24:48 PM
 #17

I was considering switching to my real name anyway... I value my right to privacy a great deal, but I'm already using one of my standard handles here. If I had something to say anonymously, I certainly wouldn't be doing it under this account---or, for that matter, from this IP.

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Matt Corallo
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May 19, 2011, 07:29:43 PM
 #18

Done.  Real name it is.

Bitcoin Ubuntu PPA maintainer - donate to me personally: 1JBMattRztKDF2KRS3vhjJXA7h47NEsn2c
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Garrett Burgwardt
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May 19, 2011, 07:31:47 PM
 #19

Man, you guys are slow!

Wink

I've steadily gravitated toward using my real name for many things, for a few reasons:

1. It looks more professional
2. My name is already on the internet, if people looked hard enough.
3. What is someone gonna do with just my name?
4. I like my name better than any nickname I've ever had!
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May 19, 2011, 07:36:01 PM
 #20

So be it.

You sir, have an awesome last name.
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