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Posted byModerator - Bitcoin is Freedom1 year ago
Archived

The impacts of censorship

**“Submitting to censorship is to enter the seductive world of 'The Giver': the world where there are no bad words and no bad deeds. But it is also the world where choice has been taken away and reality distorted. And that is the most dangerous world of all.”

  • Lois Lowry**

Censorship is real, as is constantly demonstrated all over the web including reddit. Even more so clear in the bitcoin community, as outlined by /u/JohnBlocke today in his Medium post A (brief and incomplete) history of censorship in /r/Bitcoin.

But what are the impacts of censorship and how does that affect us? In an article from World Wide Women of Penn State University, it says,

Media censorship can really hinder a society if it is bad enough. Because media is such a large part of people’s lives today and it is the source of basically all information, if the information is not being given in full or truthfully then the society is left uneducated [...] Censorship is probably the number one way to lower people’s right to freedom of speech.

In a 2014 TechCrunch article, they discuss what exactly do censors want (why do they censor).

The primary finding in regards to a study with the Chinese government is that the government didn’t appear to censor criticism on social media, but it did censor social media posts encouraging collective action.

This analysis implies that the Chinese government will happily track open criticism, and that it will closely observe dissidents’ connections to each other but crack down on anyone who tries to build a power base that it can’t control.

In a paper published in 2014 entitled Privacy and Anonymity, they said:

“Historically, the control of the communications and the flow of information, are mandatory for any entity that aims to gain certain control over the society. There are multiple entities with such interests: governments, companies, independent individuals, etc. Most of the research available on the topic claims that the main originators of the threats against privacy and anonymity are governmental institutions and big corporations.

The motivations behind these threats are varied. Nevertheless, they can be classified under four categories: social, political, technological and economical. Despite the relation between them, the four categories have different backgrounds.”

**”Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

  • George Santayana**

In another article, published yesterday by Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Swedish Pirate Party, he gives us a history lesson that everyone should learn about the printing press. In the article he writes,

“Not even the death penalty deters a people who have tasted the ability to seek and share ideas freely. The lesson from history here is that rulers would rather have people dead than thinking. The official justification for the law, as cited by people who have read the original law books from 1535, was “to prevent the spread of dangerous ideas”.

34 comments
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level 1
20 points · 1 year ago

Censorship (and any other form of manipulation) will only make Bitcoin less valuable. Because only a free market will lead to the most profitable Bitcoin. As it is the ONLY way to find an equilibrium between decentralisation, blocksizes and fees.

There is a chance that without censorship we would end up at the same place as we are now. But that makes the censorship not only despicable but also completely pointless.

level 2
Moderator - Bitcoin is FreedomOriginal Poster11 points · 1 year ago

It's actually a good test for bitcoin to see if it can route around bad actors and not be captured.

level 1

The shame of it is that Theymos did it, and others turned a blind eye, because of the completely bizarre idea that Bitcoin is this really fragile thing where hard forks would endanger it. Hard forks are the exact thing Bitcoin needs in controversy especially, which is the very case they fret about most.

level 2

Yes, it's very curious how vehemently bitcoiners advocate bitcoin as "anti-fragile", yet there are very specific chinks in its armour (right around blockstream's business model) where bitcoin is actually a delicate flower and must be "protected" from the market.

The political agenda of core devs is real, and the cognitive dissonance of their brown shirts is astounding.

level 3

I have even heard some people in their camp say very directly, "No, Bitcoin is not anti-fragile." That was a very telling statement to me. At that point I realized that maybe being very deeply immersed in the weeds of the code and the technical aspects can blind people to the extremely flexible manner in which Bitcoin is governable by the market. I guess my first clue was how price and economics are practically never mentioned - let along discussed - on the mailing list, ostensibly because anything that isn't exclusively about code is off topic. That seems like the very worst kind of narrowminded approach.

level 4

The hubris of developers should never be underestimated

level 5

Not all developers

level 3
0 points · 1 year ago

The key ingredient to antifragility is the ability of the network to protect itself. This includes the network participants defending against attacks, be they technical, legislative, or social in nature.

It's not that Bitcoin is a "fragile flower", it's that it is antifragile because rational people invested in it are able to protect their interests in ways that raw code is not able to.

If you wanted to harm the value of my Bitcoin holdings, one way you might try to do so is by attempting to impose a harmful hard fork (such as one that increases the 21M coin cap limit, or one that recklessly increases the maximum blocksize). Such an attack has little chance of success, though, because you would have to convince many disparate and decentralized network participants into running your harmful code variant, and the entire time you spent attempting to do so, all of us self-interested network participants would be (entirely rationally) stifling you in every way we could. The incentives play greatly to the attacker's disfavor. That's the entire point, and the beauty of Bitcoin. Some malicious minority fundamentally cannot assert dominion over the network consensus and ledger.

level 4

Your problem is that everything you just said applies to soft forks as well as its been demonstrated how those 2, in your mind immutable concensus rules being the 21M & max blocksize, can be changed via soft fork. r/btc sees this contradiction as well as the huge examples of this being called SWSF where we are in fact getting a 4mb weighted blocksize increase since core devs like Greg & Pieter still try to not admit this size is possible while trying to sneak it past us.

level 5
-1 points · 1 year ago

21M & max blocksize, can be changed via soft fork

The 21M cap can't actually be changed via a soft fork. The "demonstration" you're referring to was actually just Vitalik saying "Hey we could pretend each 'btc' was actually '10 btc' and this would be as if we had increased the coin cap past 21M!" It was kind of a joke.

SWSF where we are in fact getting a 4mb weighted blocksize increase since core devs like Greg & Pieter still try to not admit this size is possible

You're misunderstanding the opposition's perspective here. It's always good to make sure you understand something before you decide whether to disagree with it or not. Greg, Pieter, and the other Core developers who have been working on Bitcoin have not been arguing that 4MB blocks are impossibly dangerous under all conditions. What they are actually arguing is that an "straightforward" increase in the maxblocksize constant is both dangerous (or at minimum, potentially dangerous, which has been proven by Bitcoin Classic and Bitcoin Unlimited forking on testnet) and, more importantly, controversial... so we need to discuss all of our options and decide which one we consider to be the safest and most long-term productive before we commit to such a code change.

I understand that you disagree with their assessment that a soft-forked SegWit is the best option for this, I really do. But in all honesty, there don't appear to be any realistic alternatives being developed right now. Bitcoin XT, Classic, and Unlimited each introduce unfortunate vulnerabilities and none of them appear to have serious developer support. The best "full-time"ish developer out of all three is Tom Zander, who (no offense intended by this) is a bit of an amateur. Go glance over his GitHub commit history sometime if you're a developer, you'll see what I mean fairly quickly.

For better or worse, the only realistic and ready-to-go blocksize increase is SegWit coded as a soft fork. Maybe it's not your favorite solution, but it's the only one that we have tested sufficiently and that we are sure we can activate.

Greg & Pieter still try to not admit this size is possible while trying to sneak it past us

There's really no conspiracy theory here. There are technical reasons that additional space in an extended block is safer than a naive increase in maxblocksize.

Come hang out in the dev mailing lists or IRC channel (it's best to lurk for a bit before trying to contribute, that way you don't break etiquette or general vibe).

level 6

Even if we believe the testnet occurrences mean what you say they mean, note that you tacitly admit the Core devs are in a position to hold everything hostage by refusing to continue developing if they don't get their way. That, my friend, is a real crisis.

level 7

Even if we believe the testnet occurrences mean what you say they mean

The unintentional testnet fork demonstrated that there are definite risks to naive blocksize increases. You don't have to look into "what I say this means" because it is an objective observation; they did not intend to have a chain-split, but they had one anyway. As a result, all of the sighash protective logic had to be stripped out of Classic, which leaves it vulnerable to even more known (and likely unknown) exploits. If you go read Gavin's "Guided Tour of the 2MB Fork" article and then go look at Bitcoin Classic's GitHub repo, you'll see that a huge chunk of what Gavin wrote about is no longer part of the code. Bitcoin Classic has been castrated and abandoned.

note that you tacitly admit the Core devs are in a position to hold everything hostage by refusing to continue developing if they don't get their way.

Ok, there are a few things wrong here. No one can "hold everything hostage", whatever that is supposed to mean. Everyone who uses bitcoin can run whatever code they want on their full nodes, and the Core developers do not get to make this choice for you. You are free to go run buggy and risky software like Bitcoin Unlimited if you want.

What Core can do is offer a superior software product, and refuse to take time to support or accommodate alternative implementations. Which, of course, is perfectly reasonable.

Even if Core "refused to keep developing" entirely, that doesn't "hold everything hostage" in any way. Developers can stop developing whenever they feel like. This is not an act of hostility. They are not slaves that must do your bidding, and shame on you for acting as if they are.

Furthermore, it is not Bitcoin Core's fault that so many alternative implementations are so incredibly misguided and poorly-coded. The sloppy code and half-baked ideas that make up Bitcoin Unlimited, Classic, and XT don't have anything to do with Bitcoin Core. You can't argue that Bitcoin Core is somehow to blame for the fact that they are the only group of developers willing to engage in serious peer-review and code testing.

And finally, you have made the mistake of generalizing "Core devs" as if this is some select elite cabal. There are hundreds of us working on Bitcoin Core, helping out with testing and discussing things on the mailing lists and in IRC channels. You should come join in sometime, you can learn an awful lot about legit peer-review just by lurking. If you just subscribe to the mailing list and follow threads that you find interesting for a little while, the Core development process quickly starts to make more sense, and you start to understand more and more of the discussions taking place.

You have it backwards when you say "Core devs are in a position to hold everything hostage", because most of us Core devs are only working on Bitcoin Core (and not some other client) because we believe it is the best place to contribute our work. If, at any time, I saw signs that the maintainers of the Bitcoin Core repository were abusing their roles, I would go elsewhere and try to help out with another repository (perhaps even one that I myself started). The fact that all the intelligent developers in this space are continuing to work on Bitcoin Core should tell you something.

Seriously, though, I highly recommend getting more directly involved in the development process (initially as a lurker). It seems like most of this subreddit is intimidated by the technical discussions taking place, so when Core is finished discussing things and they present their conclusions, everyone here is caught off-guard and seems to suspect that there was some conspiratorial secret meeting where shadowy figures plotted things maliciously. It's actually all out in the open, just a bunch of volunteer developers hashing things out and doing our best to make smart decisions collectively.

level 4

Exactly. So there is no need for the hardfork fearmongering. In fact, even if a bad hard fork could be induced by fleecing a bunch of ignorant holders into gambling on it, we should all be happy as their money goes directly into our hands. If you think us big blockers are of that type, you should welcome the fork. If half of us leave to a doomed fork, your purchasing power effectively doubles (if you sell off your bad fork coins to us at full price).

level 5

It seems my comment may have gone over your head on the initial reading. Perhaps a re-read is in order?

The entire point is that if I disagree with your hard fork proposition, I am able to "fearmonger" as much as I want to prevent you from successfully getting it implemented on the network. You seem to have gotten mentally turned around at some point.

If half of us leave to a doomed fork, your purchasing power effectively doubles

This is an incredibly naive assertion, so much so that I suspect you are trolling rather than trying to have an honest discussion.

level 4

Yeah, you've neatly summarized the entire situation. I am here to attack you and destroy your wealth, ideology, and way of life. Because I also wish to destroy my own wealth in the process. For reasons. Also because I am a fallen angel and heretic expelled from the r/Bitcoin heavens by theymos, as it has been written in holy scripture. Blessed be Greg, Inventor of his Name.

level 5

I didn't say any of those things...

level 1
11 points · 1 year ago

One additional effect that I anecdotally observe playing out in /r/bitcoin and the other censored venues is that it's creating a strong Dunning-Kruger effect, where participants who fall on the non-persecuted side of the party line have been developing this massive, undeserved confidence borne out of the ignorance of not having to deal with any challenges to their position. To the extent that now it's all dog-whistles and triggers on that side of the fence.

level 2
Moderator - Bitcoin is FreedomOriginal Poster4 points · 1 year ago

Very true. This was the intended effect theymos had when the censorship issue apexed.

level 1
5 points · 1 year ago

The BS/Core lead developers who are directing bitcoin development, the ones who's proposed changes benefit from the censorship are the ones who need to eradicate it if they want to be seen to have credibility.

A legitimate platform on which to base their proposed changes should be their first priority.

level 1

If it had been an open and honest policy of maximizing the control by Core devs, that would be one thing, but instead it has been a cowardly, insidious, semantically twisted game of self-delusion with ever-shifting goalposts and a policy of often total intolerance, to the point of annihilating top threads filled with deeply considered comments from both sides. It kills the very will to contribute good debate content.

The net effect has been that /r/Bitcoin looks like sunny lollipop land on the surface (though with plenty of pointless vindictiveness) but feels barren except to those comfortable with the 3x5 card of allowable opinion there and on the mailing list. I kind of have to laugh at the posters there now, because the censorship and manipulation have made them soft.

Many of them have become loose with their words, fuzzy with their thoughts, slow to catch circularities in their reasoning. These kinds have learned to suck on the teet of Core dev authority while regurgitating talking points from the Core devs on the mailing list and chats, safe in a warm friendly bubble of theymosia where nothing too threatening to their worldview can be said to them, at least not too persistently, or else it is liable to just get deleted (along with of course downvoted and responded to meanly, as if /r/btc had a monopoly on that). They're like the spoiled kid who's allowed to provoke you, but if you respond in kind even a little bit or just do one little thing wrong or even break some random rule, you get in trouble with the parents (a deletion or ban) - or at least run the risk of doing so.

It's not fair to us, but it's also not fair to the small blockers. They deserve better. They deserve to have their ideas challenged in a real forum.

I will go further, in fact. They deserve a chance to put their money where their mouths are and bet on their chosen side of the fork, but Theymos doesn't want there to be a controversial fork - and is doing everything in his power to delay it - so they have to wait. They have to wait until the community is so incredibly split that even Theymos's legendary program of "memory hole" censorship cannot stem the tide.

Sooner or later this will all be washed away by market forces, and the memory of how disgusting this episode was will fade, but until then it has just been sucking a huge amount of value out of the ecosystem as a whole. We can't get much done on this sub because we continue to be enraged. We have the coward lala-land sub on the one hand and the enraged FUD sub on the other. Though there is plenty of the more petty hate on the other sub as well; /r/btc is without question better, but we need to get more directly optimistic again and focus on what Bitcoin will achieve with more capacity - rather than constantly saying, "If it weren't for that evil old Theymos..." every time we start talking about something exciting happening.

Bitcoin always had this challenge coming, and we didn't get in believing something like this could really stop it, did we? Now that we have a clear and undeniable, eminently damning document that makes any censorship denier look like a fool, I wonder if we can calmly point people to it when they ask why there are two subs, and then focus more on the future of when the market inevitably wins. Because if it can't we may as well all give up as Theymos and Greg Maxwell are only the first bosses of this journey. There is much, much worse to come.

level 1
level 1

Censorship goes against the very idea of Bitcoin and thus makes Bitcoin look less credible.

level 1
1 point · 1 year ago · edited 1 year ago

One more thing: it isn't just Theymos and /r/Bitcoin and his other fiefdoms. It is also Core itself. They have conveniently set everything up so that people of opposing view are driven out or lose interest, while the yes-men and the sycophants rise to populate their "dev consensus" - another ever-shifting goalpost. Right down to their "the code is the spec" stance, much contested in the past. The mailing list is also moderated with a very heavy hand, though the norm that somehow code must be discussed in isolation from everything, including economics, seems to have kept most people from saying much useful outside of narrowly code-focused discussion - controversial hard forks are of course "off topic."

Maybe someone will document all that as well, like /u/JohnBlocke has done. Theymos was just a kid. He learned this behavior from the pros, just like most other small blockers ready to parrot their "cypherpunk" heroes on the mailing list. (I noticed a long time ago that the common talking points of the small block side, bandied about by the Core defenders roaming around, are often lifted almost verbatim from some mailing list post.)

level 1

I don't think censorship is necessary. There are bad words and bad deeds in the world but this could not be a reason to limit the new technology.

  1. Censorship might give burden to the party that censors. That means a increase in transaction fee.

  2. If we add the censorship to the process of transaction, it will cost more time.

  3. Censorship cannot prevent all the bad behaviors. Right now we already have censorship for transactions. But still there are money-laudaury, fraud. Censorship is not a effective way.

Currently, bitcoin is not perfect. But I feel like it is getting better. I think bitcoin can be perfectly secure in the future.

level 1
-6 points · 1 year ago(3 children)
level 2

I agree with you here. Censorship needs to be documented and kept in view when cowards try to systematically hide it, but blame for blame's sake is a worthless emotion. Everything becomes, "Well Bitcoin would be able to do this, but Core... theymos... grumble grumble..." or even worse, "Therefore altcoins..."

I say trust the market or don't. Trust sound money or don't. Trust antifragility or don't. Theymos and those who condone his kind of actions piss me off, but I never see it as more than just a temporary reshaping of how Bitcoin will unfold in the near term. Nothing can stop Honey Badger from dominating in the end, and in fact nothing can stop the best Bitcoin fork from rising to the top - whether the big or small blockers are right.

level 2

How could they gain popularity when they were censored immediately?

level 2

This is an alternate forum with only 10% of the traffic , most of the uninformed will find the other one first and possibly believe the lies and misconceptions that are gospel there..... If there is no issues with fair and open discussion, why delete thousands of posts?

level 1
-5 points · 1 year ago(3 children)
level 2
3 points · 1 year ago

It's funny because I can say the same thing about /r/bitcoin, after spending years there and with the comminity it is a shell of what it once was. Everyone commenting is either moon kid trader or has no idea what they are talking about.

I would take this place with where actual discussion is allowed over the censorship echo chamber anyway.

level 2

There is some misinfo here, and in the other sub, and plenty of trolling in both.

The other sub has a near monopoly on circular argumentation, though, and for a very specific reason: tribalism. There is a bit of tribalism everywhere, but it is overwhelmingly stronger in the side that - as should be no surprise - supports the establishment, the authority figures.

In fact, the implication that we hate Bitcoin just because we disagree with Core implies a circularity itself. (Though some here actually do start to hate Bitcoin, because they too equate Bitcoin with Core - and then I agree they are being circular, but in the same way that /r/Bitcoin mods and many of its posters do overwhelmingly more of.) The circularity of course being that Core is equated with Bitcoin, therefore to hate Core is to hate Bitcoin, yet alternative implementations are fine - as long as they agree with Core...that's one of the most common circularities in the debate.

level 3

Likewise, r/Bitcoin likes to correlate the price with support for core dev; simply because they are in the default position of core client. Little do they know that the price rise is in fact because of the fixed supply despite core dev. Alot of them will bet money on this dynamic and lose terribly in the end. But that's ok, we need losers to take us upwards.

level 1
Comment deleted1 year ago(0 children)
level 2
3 points · 1 year ago

please, show some proof of whatever you are blabbering on about

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