[Bitcoin-development] Punishing empty blocks?

Peter Vessenes peter at coinlab.com
Mon May 28 14:54:21 UTC 2012

One of the issues here though is that it would be nice if miners published
their own tx rules -- it might be hard to impute them from data.

I had started a thread about this on bitcoin.org some time ago, and I don't
recall what the general outcome was.

I had imagined an open service whereby a miner could publish a short string
in their conbase tying to the service and the service would have different
metadata, including the miner's transaction guarantees.

We offered to host this before, and would still be willing to host such a


On Sat, May 26, 2012 at 7:52 AM, Stefan Thomas <moon at justmoon.de> wrote:

> Zooko is spot on - slower confirmations will give people a reason to set
> higher fees. As soon as fees reach a level where they matter, even
> botnet operators will be looking into ways of including transactions for
> some extra profit.
> In the meantime slightly slower confirmations aren't a problem. Consider
> that even if it takes four blocks to get your transaction included
> instead of one, once it is included, you still benefit from every new
> block in terms of security. So if you're looking for six confirmations
> for example, even a three block delay will only be a 50% delay for you.
> And of course there are techniques for instant transactions which
> continue to be refined and improved.
> As for the proposed solutions: Punishing 1-tx blocks is complete and
> utter nonsense. It's trivial to include a bogus second transaction.
> Any additional challenges towards miners like hashes of the previous
> block are at best useless. If I was running a botnet, I'd just grab that
> hash from a website (pretty good chance Blockchain.info will have it :P)
> or mining pool or wherever and keep going undeterred. At worst they may
> affect scalability one day. You might imagine a peer-to-peer network of
> miners who for cost reasons don't download all blocks anymore, but
> verify only a percentage of them at random. They might then exchange
> messages about invalid blocks including a proof (invalid tx, merkle
> branch) why the block is invalid. This is just one idea, the point is
> that assumptions about what a legitimate miner looks like may not always
> hold in the future.
> Finally, there is an ethical aspect as well. If a miner wishes not to
> include my transaction that is his choice. He has no more an obligation
> to sell his service to me than I have to buy it from him. If I really,
> really want him to include my transaction I will have to offer to pay more.
> If we as developers think that confirmations are too slow or that more
> blocks should include transactions, then the right measures would be:
> - Educating users about the relationship between confirmation speed and
> fees
> - Raising the default transaction fee
> Every market has a supply curve, so it is economically to be expected
> that there will be some miners who don't include transactions, simply
> because they are at that end of the supply curve where it is not worth
> it for them to sell their service. All markets must have a certain
> tension - there must be miners who don't include transactions for there
> to be users who want their transactions included more quickly. In other
> words there must be somebody not confirming if confirmations are to have
> value. If you interfere with that all you'll accomplish is keep
> transaction fees below market level, which will make the transition from
> inflation-financed hashing to transaction-financed hashing more painful
> and disruptive.
> Cheers,
> Stefan
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Peter J. Vessenes
CEO, CoinLab
M: 206.595.9839
Skype: vessenes
Google+ <https://plus.google.com/112885659993091300749>
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