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Author Topic: un-userfriendliness limiting bitcoin?  (Read 2059 times)
blazing
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August 05, 2012, 02:45:27 PM
 #1

To what extent do you think bitcoin is limited by un-userfriendliness?
I'm sure most of us here on the forums have worked out how to setup a wallet and make transactions but for the general population, particularly those who are somewhat computer illiterate using bitcoin would be a daunting task.
How can bitcoin cater for these people?
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blazing
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August 05, 2012, 03:50:15 PM
 #2

I have tried a few different wallets and the blockchain wallet seems to be the easiest to use at this point.
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August 05, 2012, 03:54:02 PM
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The official client is still in beta. Many services related to it are just getting going as well.
Bitcoin is not yet ready for prime time. Patience.
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August 05, 2012, 03:56:13 PM
 #4

Do you think the official client will be more widely used than browser based wallets?
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August 05, 2012, 04:01:53 PM
Last edit: August 05, 2012, 05:40:12 PM by TangibleCryptography
 #5

I don't like the term "official" client.  There is no official bittorent client, or linux distribution.  There tends to not be an "official" version of open source projects.

The Satoshi client is a reference implementation.  For that reason it is very important but I would imagine over time it will be used by a smaller and smaller percentage of users.  Web clients are one options but so are alternative full clients, lite clients, mobile clients, and niche clients (like a bitcoin "engine" connecting to a Enterprise DBMS which acts as the back end for major merchants, exchanges, and service providers).
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August 05, 2012, 05:30:01 PM
Last edit: August 05, 2012, 07:18:25 PM by Nyhm
 #6

My thoughts exactly. As a software developer, it's difficult to design software to be simple for non-technical end users. It's easier to expose all the cogs and levers and leave it to the user to figure out how to make sense of it all.

I've been building an easy-to-use wallet. It's not quite finished, but would folks reading this thread be interested in helping me test an alpha version? PM me if so. (EDIT: To clarify, I'm not making a web wallet, but a stand-alone client application.)

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August 05, 2012, 05:52:25 PM
 #7

The fact that Bitcoin has so many hurdles is WHY you have an opportunity to buy them now at $10-$11 instead of the current price of AAPL or GOOG.

Many people want bitcoins now but if it's not as simple as logging in to their E-Trade and placing an order, they can't or won't do it.  I don't think that day will never come. Meanwhile the desire to own bitcoins is far greater than the number of holders.

Yes there are tons of hurdles. If you can remove one for everyone else, the value of any BTC you hold will reward you for it.

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper or hardware wallets instead.
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August 05, 2012, 06:24:03 PM
 #8

Some of the user-unfriendliness is probably rooted in the perceived inconsistence of user experience. With conventional payment processors like Paypal you do everything in a single environment. Create account, deposit money, send payment, receive payment, everything is done using the same interface. To use a standalone Bitcoin client you not only need to install software and setup secure backups, you also have to choose a currency exchange service. So you end up using at least two seperate and different user interfaces.

OP asked how Bitcoin can improve the situation and in this regard the answer is it can't, because this is the very foundation of how Bitcoin works. Available standalone clients are already pretty straightforward to use, so there's little room for improvement.

However, most computer illiterate people may choose to not use a standalone client but rather the webwallet supplied by their currency exchange service. Though they surrender some advantages of Bitcoin, they can have a consistent and familiar user experience, which is highly important. An account-based webwallet is quite similar to a Paypal after all.
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August 05, 2012, 09:48:20 PM
 #9

An account-based webwallet is quite similar to a Paypal after all.

And that's what (Y! Combinator's) CoinBase is aiming to do .. make using bitcoin appear little different from the experience when using PayPal.

As far as ease of use, the mobile clients are pretty user friendly.  I don't know how something like BitcoinSpinner for Android could be any simpler, for instance.

(well, some way to automatically backup the wallet's "master private key" without having to go through the "take a picture of the QR code" would be one method, but that's just a little unusual and inconvenient, not something necessarily difficult.)

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August 06, 2012, 06:03:23 AM
 #10

I think client wise a simple balloon popup tutorial on first time startup would take the confusion away for those who have trouble getting the hang of how the clients work(i think this would also make some people rather use 1 of the clients then a website for their wallet)

Something i was wondering about why it was not in any of the clients(that i checked) was the ability to check the exchange prizes based on what exchange you want to get the info from eg mtgox or something it would make it easier to see how much you already have also if you where to convert it over into actual cash.
Just something that would save people time from having to go to an exchange to check how much their bitcoins are worth.

Or even a step further would be to be able to use direct an client towards mtgox then give it your api key and trade directly out of your client that would solve the having to use 2 places to trade at.
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August 06, 2012, 07:55:17 AM
 #11

Bitcoin in its current stage is still too complicated, and too risky (in terms of vulnerability to coin-stealing malware) for the average Joe.

No problem, the system is still in its infancy. Or actually, not the system, but it's practical implementation. New Bitcoin clients and applications will emerge to better suit the needs and level of understanding of the masses.

This was to be expected, groundbreaking revolutionary technology like this takes years to be adopted.

In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.
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Charlie Prime
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August 07, 2012, 09:08:46 PM
 #12

I am old enough to remember when the idea of sending money via electronic means such as PayPal was considered retarded.

When I told my friends about Ebay and Paypal they burst out laughing.  The idea you would send an item of value through the mail without first getting paid was laughable to them.

My how the times have changed.

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August 07, 2012, 09:30:40 PM
 #13

I am old enough to remember when the idea of sending money via electronic means such as PayPal was considered retarded.

When I told my friends about Ebay and Paypal they burst out laughing.  The idea you would send an item of value through the mail without first getting paid was laughable to them.

My how the times have changed.

+1 some of those same people are now eBay Power Sellers

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper or hardware wallets instead.
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August 07, 2012, 09:59:58 PM
 #14

Agreed, trying to explain how bitcoins work to the average joe seems too complicated at the moment. Most of them generally wonder how you can "generate free money" through bitcoin mining. There needs to be better clarification around this? :/
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August 07, 2012, 10:14:53 PM
 #15

BitcoinSpinner in particular to me seems very easy to use. I'd let Grandma use that.

However... that isn't the client that people tend to hear about. The ease of use needs to be more prominent.

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August 08, 2012, 12:28:49 AM
 #16

Agreed, trying to explain how bitcoins work to the average joe seems too complicated at the moment. Most of them generally wonder how you can "generate free money" through bitcoin mining. There needs to be better clarification around this? :/

I usually clarify the mining question by explaining that it's not really the most interesting or important part of Bitcoin. (Technically speaking, of course, it's very important, but not for general end-users.) I'm really eager to get my easy-to-use bitcoin client out there for folks to play with.

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August 08, 2012, 03:00:44 PM
 #17

I had real trouble with the default client, it took days to sync and gobbled up my CPU and harddrive space.

Once I looked at how the blockchain wallet worked(running out of the browser, withholding private keys from the server etc) I find it to be a very easy to use and effective wallet. I also like that it can allow the same wallet on multiple devices.
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August 08, 2012, 03:26:21 PM
 #18

Technical unfriendliness is definitely an issue, yes. But the other aspect is that Bitcoin has made it clearer that people don't really understand any system of money - that's all handled by the banks for 99% of people. Getting to grips with Bitcoin means not just an interface understanding, but also a value understanding.

Banks are "successful" - and mainstream currencies by extension - not because they handle this (they do, but badly), but because they act as risk-taker, or a party trusted to understand the economic mechanisms in place. When things go wrong, it's the banks that take the blame - not the underlying economic system, and not the people whose money it "is".

Bitcoin has a triple whammy of trying to explain the economics without the banks, the technicals of cryptocurrency, and the (often annoying and glitchy) interfaces.

Hell, even I don't understand a lot of the stuff that goes on already. But I understand enough to use it - and in a way, that makes me part of that replacement for the "trust" that people put in banks. I've carried out a couple of exchanges for people new to Bitcoin, and they always ask questions like "how stable do you think Bitcoin is", and so on. There's great value in just being part of a system/community/scene/whatever, especially when perceived from outside of that.



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August 08, 2012, 04:14:15 PM
 #19

People will tolerate a reasonable level of technical difficulty if it's worth it. For example, what if you could only buy iPads with btc? It would incentivize the masses to find easiest ways to use them. A super simple solution would eventually evolve.

I don't think user experience is limiting bitcoin much. The lack of mainstream BTC-dependent services is what is limiting bitcoin. As soon as a tentpole application is developed, managing btc will quickly fade as an obstacle to adoption.

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August 08, 2012, 08:25:48 PM
 #20

I'm sure it does limit bitcoin somewhat, but remember this is still in beta. For a beta level new technology it is not particularly hard.

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