[Bitcoin-development] Proposal: soft-fork to make anyone-can-spend outputs unspendable for 100 blocks

Peter Todd pete at petertodd.org
Sun Jun 2 18:41:13 UTC 2013

On Sun, Jun 02, 2013 at 01:35:10PM -0400, Jeff Garzik wrote:
> It is a fair criticism that this inches the incentives, a bit, towards
> timestamping and other non-currency uses.  But those uses (a) cannot
> be prevented and (b) have already been automated anyway (e.g. the
> python upload/download tools stored in-chain).

Yeah, and Bitcoin sacrifices are kind of an odd middle ground there.
It's been suggested to make provably unspendable OP_RETURN IsStandard()
only if the txout value is zero, but considering the sacrifice use-case
I'm thinking we should allow people to throw away coins in a
non-UTXO-bloating way if they choose too.

> I do think the overwhelming majority of users are invested in
> bitcoin-the-currency (or bitcoin-the-commodity, take your pick), i.e.
> the value proposition.  That's our 98% use case.  Given the relative
> volumes of traffic, timestamping/data storage/messaging is essentially
> getting a free ride.  So IMO it is worth continuing to explore
> /disincentives/ for use of the blockchain for data storage and
> messaging, for the rare times where a clear currency-or-data-storage
> incentive is available.

Indeed, just recognize that those disincentives must be implemented in a
way that makes doing the less-harmful thing is to your advantage. For
instance people keep arguing for OP_RETURN to only be allowed as one
txout in a tx, which puts it at a disadvantage relative to just using
unspendable outputs. Similarly because people can play OP_CHECKMULTISIG
games, allow as much data as can be included in that form, 195 bytes.

Of course, you can't block everything:

----- Forwarded message from aitahk2l <aitahk2l at tormail.org> -----

Date: Sun, 02 Jun 2013 02:40:10 +0100
From: aitahk2l <aitahk2l at tormail.org>
To: pete at petertodd.org
Subject: Your timestamper

We spoke a few months back and I sent you some funds to run your

I'm letting you know we're going back to unspendable txout timestamps
for our needs. Your service is great, but I think you have written it
prematurely. Like you said in your recent bitcoin-development post on
sacrifices if the technology enables a use, people will use it. 
Inefficient timestamping is one such use and threatens the blockchain
with unlimited bloat, but from what I hear from Gavin he doesn't see 
decentralization as particularly important.

You really should turn off your OpenTimestamps servers. They mislead
people into a sense of scalability that just isn't there. You'll see 
some of our efforts at 1MBGavinWuiJCF6thGfEriB2WhDD5nhB2a soon;
frankly I think he is the biggest threat Bitcoin faces in the long
term and will back us all into a scalability corner with no good

Feel free to forward this message to others.

----- End forwarded message -----

Seems legit - traffic on my timestamper is significantly reduced from
what it was before. Incidentally, I've left the opentimestamps client
deliberately broken for months now to see if anyone used it, and other
than this guy I've had zero bug reports.

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