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August 21, 2014

Andreas Antonopolous as canonical example of why you can't trust someone not in the WoT

Filed under: Uncategorized — @ 12:00 a.m.
Andreas Antonopolous as canonical example of why you can't trust someone not in the WoT

Andreas Antonopolous tweets:

The implementation of stealth addresses for Mac that I tweeted about last week turned out to be wallet-stealing malware. Crap.

One's affiliations in Bitcoin matter tremendously - the precise manner of their construction in the context of your existing image will haunt you forever. Nobody's going to hold the toes of the programmers to whom the Ripple work was farmed to the fire, but Jed McCaleb's forever the guy who tried again and again to implement derpy debt systems in a cryptocurrency fashion.

Antonopolous' polyp-like willingness to associate himself with anything that floats past him on the bottom of the BTC sea has bitten him not once, but at least twice now1.

Tweeting and retweeting feeds the noise machine; degrading the importance of taking the time to read code and evaluate things. When I discovered bit-c, I enlisted peers on -assets to review the source2 instead of blindly saying "HEY EVERYONE TRUST YOUR MONEY TO THIS THING".

Bitcoin calls for constant caution and paranoia. Caution, lest ye accidentally endorse that which robs others. Paranoia, lest the malware with which this world overflows infect they toolchain, depriving thee of those most important tokens.

I write software for all kinds of people. I don't have to like them, I don't have to think their businesses are of any quality, I simply take their money and render unto them that which they pay for. Should ethical conflicts arise, I have the freedom to walk from those contracts - and to date nobody's enlisted me to write a backdoored exchange, or any other actively malevolent software. Nor will they, for I shan't.

Nor do I endorse things beyond my web of trust - this is the path to madness. I can easily disqualify approximately 99% of the bullshit out there on the criteria of whether its authors or proprietors are in my WoT. If they're not, and I miss the boat, so be it - it's far more important on the long run to avoid the bad decisions that could wipe one out than it is to not miss the few opportunities out there.

Humans are wracked with the fear of missing out - missing Google, missing Bitcoin, missing Berkshire Hathaway…the focus on wild gains (and the refusal to attribute an adequate proportion of those gains to blind luck) precludes most people from doing the right thing, which is to minimize losses from scams, bad ideas, and outright mismanagement. Having skills and exercising them to grow one's pile of cash will (now that we have Bitcoin to protect our savings from deflation depreciation3) always trump the investor looking for return.

Beyond giving you the assurance that the people on the other end of the line are actual humans with actual reputations on the line, having and using a Web of Trust allows you to trivially filter the world of scams. Yes, you'll miss out on all of the randomly "successful" High Yield Investment Products, but at the same time, you'll spend not a watt of energy watching your HYIP holdings and trying to get out at the top.

Envy the randomly wealthy if you must, but never neglect your skills or stop working to grow your capital. Preserving your wealth without making bad investments is now possible4, if you care to denominate your wealth in BTC. Filter with the WoT5.

Footnotes:

1

The first being that godawful NEOBEE scam that imploded with his reputation all over it. "I'm just a consultant!" he iterates and reiterates, in an attempt to distance himself from the scam where his reputation and influence among the derpy podcast listeners was purchased by the NEOBEE team.

2

#bitcoin-assets is blessed by a wealth of intelligent folks with experience in everything from botnets, malware, and machining technologies to open source PBX-ware. This is the difference between the Twitter and Reddit bitcoin groups and the -assets circlejerk: when we find new toys, we have the staff on hand to read through the source and put a few coins into them to test them without a whole raft of noobs using them and losing all of their coins in the vain pursuit of "anonymous transactions".

Bit-c, by the way, corrupted its transaction log when it crashed on me recently. YMMV. It correctly stores the private keys in plaintext, though, so if I'd had any amount of value in there I'd not be as shit out of luck as those whose Bitcoin "Core" wallets get corrupted on save.

3

At the hands of whoever controls the monetary supply. Thanks to readers for proofreading!

4

USians of necessity must invest their cash in the stock market to protect their holdings from the depredations of inflation - hence the US populace's obsession with the US stock markets and, I believe, Bitcoin stock markets. They're accustomed to "return" (which rarely is, taxes and inflation taken into account), and so slaver at the chance of return on coins. Holding coins alone will return in time - don't get greedy.

5

If someone's not represented in the WoT, you're going to get stupider listening to them derp about Bitcoin. They've a signal-to-noise problem and most terrifingly don't even realize it.

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