Monday, July 18, 2016

"Bitcoin....why did it have to be Bitcoin?"

Yes, the title is a paraphrase of a line Harrison Ford said in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it is true: Bitcoin has been like a pit of venomous snakes for the unwary college kids who passed Computer Science III. And with way too many of these things, Wikipedia was tangentially involved.

 We're not explaining Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a horrendously complicated mess and explaining it is akin to writing a detailed description in words only of all the hydraulic systems in a Grumman F-14 Tomcat jet fighter, an aircraft where almost every hinged surface could be moved by a hydraulic jack and the wings could fold back to fly at supersonic speeds. Luckily there is a snarky FAQ that explains it better than I could. What I will say is that Bitcoin has proven to be an endless goldmine of scammery: Butterfly Labs, who made very expensive and very cruddy Bitcoin mining rigs (devices to create new Bitcoins) decided to buy out the website in 2013 mainly because of the previous article I linked to, deceived the owner of into selling the site to them, then locked the owner out and turned all the articles on Butterfly Labs into puff pieces. They also did that to the owners of Then they were raided by the Federal Trade Commission in 2014 and all of this website nonsense was confirmed by the government's lawyers. Somehow these very untrustworthy people are still in business in 2016. There was also Mt. Gox, the Japanese trading house that began as a Magic the Gathering card trading site (!) in 2007 and then imploded in 2014, taking nearly 500 million dollars, and they blamed the event on "hackers." Never forget that we don't know who actually created Bitcoin; the possibility that "Satoshi Nakamoto" is a front should be forever in everyone's mind. Because of the blockchain method of tracking Bitcoin, owners of 'coins are forced to keep them at one trading house or the other, because to keep them on a home computer means buying more and more portable hard-drives to store all that blockchain info (which is shot through with child porn links, natch.) And then the trading house you have the Bitcoins in goes under.

Literally the only physical things Bitcoin produces are waste heat, obsolete mining equipment, those stupid keychains, and insane timewasters like the St. Petersburg Bitcoin Bowl. That mainland China does more than 50 percent of the Bitcoin mining in the world should give people pause, because the Communist Party could declare the entire thing a scam overnight and shut it down by brute force. Bitcoin is what happens when a world-historical credit bubble collapses (2007-08) and people go off trying to rebuild their money streams by any flimsy means possible. The difference between Bitcoin and some multi-level marketing scheme is that Bitcoin has a built-in system of internet Libertarians, people wanting to buy illegal stuff by an "untraceable online currency", and hard-core investor types backing it, which is why it keeps on coming back like Dracula. It's digital goldbuggery, pure and simple.

Wikipedia a Bitcoin promoter?

Pretty much it was like Scientology all over again, except the pro-Bitcoin people were like the anti-Scientologists; they were given a lot of leeway. One of the big ones was nullc, aka Gmaxwell (Greg Maxwell.) He does very little on Wikipedia now, but back before Mt. Gox imploded he was hip deep in editing the Bitcoin article. Drmies also did occasional editing on the same article, if just to prove he can insert himself anywhere. Look at the article today; little over 180 kilobytes long, nearly 400 references, 28 archives of back and forth arguments - it reads like an article written by smart paid editors. As of this moment, the chief defender of it is Ladislav_Mercir, a Czech programmer/computer scientist-type who was involved with the REBOL computer language in the mid-2000s. He isn't the odd one; that would be Eclipsed, who managed the short article on the failed BitcoinXT fork almost all by himself, before he abandoned the last account to become 1Wiki8Q5G7FviTHBac3dx8HhdNYwDVstR, and they still only really care about Bitcoin.

Is it promotion? I would say it verges on it a lot, but then we have complicated articles about the Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighter of World War II and all its many variants. The difference is that you can't buy a working Bf-109 G-10; you can use the information on Bitcoin in Wikipedia to get involved in that currency or Litecoin, Ethereum, or Dogecoin because all these cryptocurrencies have thick articles on Wikipedia. But then, that's the difference between Wikipedia and a real encyclopedia; the former is run by "hobbyists" (addicts, really) who know something about a subject and use that knowledge to make or improve articles, the latter is the product of professionals who have deadlines to meet and are writing to a certain reading level, with a prearranged article size for pieces of different types. The only people who are truly burned by these 'coin articles are the readers who are attracted, get involved, and then are ripped off by some dude in Bratislava.

As it should be painfully obvious (what with no mention of paper wallets), the writer has never owned Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency, nor a mining rig. Nor is he a propagandist for the US Treasury Department. Take your paranoia elsewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Well put. Bitcoin is like Madonna: no paid editors are needed because the subject has completely insane, lovesick fans writing the "content".

    BTW, Eclipsed was notorious for being an openly paid editor. He created the CREWE "suggestion box", yet another CREWE-associated Wikipedia page that was swiftly obliterated. He now edits as that absurd name "1Wiki8Q5G7FviTHBac3dx8HhdNYwDVstR", and is still doing things that are obviously paid corporate editing/shilling/whateveryouwanttocallit.