[Bitcoin-development] Update to Double-Spend Deprecation Window Proposal

Peter Todd pete at petertodd.org
Mon Feb 9 06:32:24 UTC 2015

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This is an incredibly dangerous and foolish proposal that opens up the Bitcoin network to serious vulnerabilities, both from attackers outside the network, as well as miners trying to gain an advantage over their competition.

Ultimately it's flawed for the same root problem that proof-of-stake proposals suffer from: the p2p network just isn't a reliable broadcast medium. Seeing a transaction is not a guarantee that any other node has seen it; not seeing a transaction is not a guarantee other nodes have not seen a spend.

You can measure "propagation times" and other metrics all you want, but you're measuring a network that isn't under attack; Bitcoin must be robust against attacks, and it must not create incentives to launch them. Institutionalising the punishment of miners being they did not have perfect connectivity - an unattainable goal in a trust less, decentralised system - is athema to the goals of having a decentralised systmem and will only lead to smaller mining operations being punished for being the victim of attacks on their network connectivity that are only made profitable by this proposal.

Equally your proposal actually makes it *easier* to pull off apparently single-confirm double-spend attacks - any miner who ignores a block containing the apparent double-spend is just as likely to be aiding an attacker trying to get a 1-conf transaction double-spent. This forces *everyone* to waiting *longer* before accepting a transaction because now even a single-confirmation is no longer good evidence of an accepted transaction. In an ecosystem where hardly anyone relies on zeroconf anyway your putting a much larger group of people at risk who weren't at risk before.

Frankly if this idea gets traction it should serve as a warning to all miners that it's time they adopt replace-by-fee to set a clear precedent that they have no obligations other than the same economic self-interest- not vague notions of "honesty" - that makes Bitcoin work in the first place.

BTW you quote Hal Finney and Satoshi in your proposal to try to lend support to it. Don't do that - appealing to authority is a surefire way to get people to ignore you. Its particularly bad when the authorities being appealed too haven't participated in consensus research for years; you're referencing stuff from a time when Bitcoin was barely understood.

On 8 February 2015 21:38:55 GMT-06:00, Tom Harding <tomh at thinlink.com> wrote:
>This update strengthens the incentive not to confirm double-spends
>time T (30 seconds).  To grow and stabilize adoption, it is necessary
>influence the miner of the block after a deprecated block, who in turn
>is concerned with the block after that. Accordingly, the disincentive
>changed from a simple delay to a temporary chain work penalty, which
>be negative.  Hal Finney first suggested this in 2011.
>The penalty is graduated in two steps based on the respend gap, for
>reasons explained within.  I believe it is the minimum required to
>achieve the intended result.
>Double-Spend Deprecation Window
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