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Author Topic: [Rant] Black Holes/ Absolute minimum information all exchanges should provide.  (Read 1307 times)
deego
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July 08, 2012, 10:55:24 PM
 #1

Ever wonder how you ended up with the balance you ended up with, whereas you expected something quite different?  Ever look back at your account history and try to make the numbers match up? Just like you don't bother summing up your bank statement/credit card transactions, you trust these exchanges to get simple addition right. You will discover nasty surprises if you take the time to check.

For several exchanges, there's simply no easy way to find out.

In your account history provided by the exchange, there should be columns for "final btc balance" and "final usd balance."

That is, every transaction should list the above two entries - the resulting balances.


Exchanges ask for feature evaluations, and then after many requests, several exchanges continue to avoid this one essential feature. This is clearly not that hard technically. I suspect the reason is that all their screw-ups will become apparent, public and obvious, and people will begin asking for their money that got lost in the black hole. I don't just make that assertion lightly. Several times, I have witnessed money suddenly disappear into a black hole and money appear out of the benevolence of such race conditions at several exchanges, and gotten the errors corrected.

----
Edit: Exchanges known to provide this information: (1) Mt.Gox, (2) Bitfloor, (3) Bitme.com.





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shtylman
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July 08, 2012, 11:50:45 PM
 #2

Hopefully you find that Bitfloor provides you with a detailed enough statement? We never want to hide your information from you and hope our users take time to review their transactions to see that they are indeed correct!
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July 09, 2012, 12:56:17 AM
 #3

Hopefully you find that Bitfloor provides you with a detailed enough statement? We never want to hide your information from you and hope our users take time to review their transactions to see that they are indeed correct!
Absolutely. Bitfloor has always been rock solid, and provides complete information as well. Adding that to edit above.

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July 09, 2012, 01:20:15 AM
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There is more to come on Mt.Gox and remember that we initiated the "Transparency" program, something that no other exchange had ever come public with. Now granted that we are WAY behind for our second edition... I am trying to get the information pulled out our DB for that, but our dev are so busy on other stuff that they always postpone my request.

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July 09, 2012, 01:23:23 AM
 #5

There is more to come on Mt.Gox and remember that we initiated the "Transparency" program, something that no other exchange had ever come public with.

Very true. +1. Much appreciated.

And very admirable how Mt.Gox always handles such a large volume correctly and with full disclosure of client's history, without funny transactional race conditions.

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July 09, 2012, 06:59:31 PM
 #6

Your title is misleading.
What you're complaining about is that some exchanges present their data in a way you don't like, but not that there is actually information that's missing.

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July 09, 2012, 07:40:19 PM
 #7

Your title is misleading.
What you're complaining about is that some exchanges present their data in a way you don't like, but not that there is actually information that's missing.

I was talking about data that is *provided* ("provide incomplete information") so the account-holders can verify things, not whether that data is internally present.


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July 09, 2012, 08:23:17 PM
 #8

I was talking about data that is *provided* ("provide incomplete information") so the account-holders can verify things, not whether that data is internally present.
The way the data is stored internally is irrelevant.

The information that is provided to you with or without a "final balance" attribute is the exact same. If an exchange adds a column giving you, for each transaction, the square root of the transacted amount it doesn't convey any additional information. The same information is just presented in a different way.

You want exchanges to save you the trouble of firing up Excel to get this final balance, not provide you with more information.
This is why your title is misleading.

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July 09, 2012, 08:29:58 PM
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I was talking about data that is *provided* ("provide incomplete information") so the account-holders can verify things, not whether that data is internally present.
The way the data is stored internally is irrelevant.

The information that is provided to you with or without a "final balance" attribute is the exact same. If an exchange adds a column giving you, for each transaction, the square root of the transacted amount it doesn't convey any additional information. The same information is just presented in a different way.

You want exchanges to save you the trouble of firing up Excel to get this final balance, not provide you with more information.
This is why your title is misleading.

He is saying some exchanges do not even give you the ability to do this. They don't provide transaction histories in downloadable formats nor do they consolidate them so you can figure out what actually went into your current balance or locate errors as the OP points out.

Not knowing how a transaction affected your balance makes it harder to track down potential problems and reconcile the account. There is a reason accounting systems provide the balance information with transactions.
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July 09, 2012, 08:49:56 PM
 #10


You want exchanges to save you the trouble of firing up Excel to get this final balance, not provide you with more information.


I do fire up whatever's needed. How do you think I deduce these problems in the first place?

So, I know that if I add the initial balance plus every single transaction, the final balance is wrong.  So, yes, I could go back 1.2 yrs. to the beginning of my transaction history, sum up everything, and say to the exchange: "The final balance is wrong. It does not follow from the initial balance. Please figure out where in the 1 million transactions in these past two years it went wrong, and credit me my 290 btc." But, if you know the bitcoin world by now, you know that won't help. I have had support tickets that didn't go anywhere.  

In order to have any luck, I have to do more. I have to tell the exchange exactly when, where and why they went wrong. I have to pinpoint the exact trade that failed to update either its "final btc balance" or its "final usd balance" column. As said, I have seen many one-sided trades by now. Where only the btc- part or the usd- part actually happens. 

That pinpointing is possible only if each transaction that's displayed in history includes with it the resulting balance as well. Hence my comment about incomplete data.

Please see bitfloor and Mt.Gox for two excellent yet different ways of presenting this information with each transaction.

Not too surprisingly, those two exchanges also seem to know how to properly use transactional databases, and are free of race conditions and money black holes.

The method of tallying everything from the beginning may be good for a month or two at best, but it doesn't scale to 1 year and million transactions.  
  
Also, what you are suggesting means that every time I detect a new leak, I have to go back and tally my entire history.  Some exchanges don't even provide a way to get that. Some others' history will end at 89 entries. I have written software to get the history using their APIs but often that's broken. As a last resort, I email the exchange and beg for the history.  Anyhow, the bottom line is that even if it worked, it does not help you pinpoint where things went wrong, as explained above.



  



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July 09, 2012, 09:20:03 PM
 #11

I won't argue with you, the idea of having a final balance along each transaction is not a bad idea in itself. It just doesn't add anything when it's done the right way and calculated from the strict minimum stored data (namely the amount). It is (or should be) calculated data.

If an exchange does not provide you with your full transaction history, that is incomplete information. So, without arguing on the usefulness or desirability of a "final balance" displayed amount, I maintain that your title is misleading.

deego
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July 09, 2012, 09:27:30 PM
 #12

, I maintain that your title is misleading.
Not sure I agree, but I changed it. Smiley

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July 10, 2012, 08:55:04 AM
 #13

, I maintain that your title is misleading.
Not sure I agree, but I changed it. Smiley
Haha, you managed to leave the part I'm raging about. I shall not rage about it anymore.



Additionnally I'll add this information calculated field on Bitcoin Central's transactions display since it sounds like a good idea that can't really hurt.

deego
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July 10, 2012, 09:16:52 AM
 #14


Additionnally I'll add this information calculated field on Bitcoin Central's transactions display since it sounds like a good idea that can't really hurt.


That's much appreciated. And, yes, I understand the point you were "raging about." Smiley Understood your point that account history does technically make it complete the way you look at it. Understood that for you, the additional field I am asking for is a simple matter of redundant calculation, rather than any additional stored information. Glad you seem to operate in that consistent fashion where, as you said, everything follows from "strict minimum stored data."  (Several other exchanges, on the other hand, seem to have an actual balance that is different from the what-would-be-calculated balance.) Indeed, bitcoin-central seems to be very well implemented and I have never seen a money hole at bitcoin-central, black or white.

From the user's perspective though, that field would be very helpful in tracking things and having something to point to when things go wrong. As shtylman said: "There is a reason accounting systems provide the balance information with transactions."  

From your perspective, it's redundant. From your perspective, it "merely" serves as a checkpoint if at all. From my perspective, who's currently dealing with black holes at two separate exchanges as we speak, throw in a million transactions across various currencies, and that checkpoint/redundancy would be a lifesaver.  [Ever asked to mentally add a pile of 50 numbers and divided them into chunks of 10 each, to avoid mistakes and quickly isolate one when it happens? That's not a perfect analogy, but I hope that illustrates my point about the utility of checkpointing.]
 
Glad you are adding it. Much appreciated.







  

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July 12, 2012, 06:22:06 AM
 #15

It certainly is a paradox.

Hey, someone had to! Right? Right?

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deego
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July 12, 2012, 10:31:02 AM
 #16

It certainly is a paradox.

Hey, someone had to! Right? Right?


Cheesy

 

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deego
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July 14, 2012, 06:26:01 AM
 #17

Update: The new exchange bitme.com seems to be very well-designed. It also shows a running balance in your transactions. Added to OP edit.

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July 14, 2012, 06:28:39 AM
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Update: The new exchange bitme.com seems to be very well-designed. It also shows a running balance in your transactions. Added to OP edit.

Thanks for the feedback!
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