[bitcoin-dev] Requirement for pseudonymous BIP submissions

Chris Stewart chris at suredbits.com
Sat Mar 18 15:23:16 UTC 2017


As everyone in the Bitcoin space knows, there is a massive scaling debate
going on. One side wants to increase the block size via segwit, while the
other side wants to increase via hard fork. I have strong opinions on the
topic but I won’t discuss them here. The point of the matter is we are
seeing the politicization of protocol level changes. The critiques of these
changes are slowly moving towards critiques based on who is submitting the
BIP -- not what it actually contains. This is the worst thing that can
happen in a meritocracy.

*Avoiding politicization of technical changes in the future*

I like what Tom Elvis Judor did when he submitted his MimbleWimble white
paper to the technical community. He submitted it under a pseudonym, over
TOR, onto a public IRC channel. No ego involved — only an extremely
promising paper. Tom (and Satoshi) both understood that it is only a matter
of time before who they are impedes technical progress of their system.

I propose we move to a pseudonymous BIP system where it is required for the
author submit the BIP under a pseudonym. For instance, the format could be
something like this:

BIP: 1337

Author: 9458b7f9f76131f18823d73770e069d55beb271b at protonmail.com

BIP content down here

The hash “6f3…9cd0” is just my github username, christewart, concatenated
with some entropy, in this case these bytes:
639c28f610edcaf265b47b0679986d10af3360072b56f9b0b085ffbb4d4f440b

and then hashed with RIPEMD160. I checked this morning that protonmail can
support RIPEMD160 hashes as email addresses. Unfortunately it appears it
cannot support SHA256 hashes.

There is inconvenience added here. You need to make a new email address,
you need to make a new github account to submit the BIP. I think it is
worth the cost -- but am interested in what others think about this. I
don't think people submitting patches to a BIP should be required to submit
under a pseudonym -- only the primary author. This means only one person
has to create the pseudonym. From a quick look at the BIPs list it looks
like the most BIPs submitted by one person is ~10. This means they would
have had to create 10 pseudonyms over 8 years -- I think this is
reasonable.

*What does this give us?*

This gives us a way to avoid politicization of BIPs. This means a BIP can
be proposed and examined based on it’s technical merits. This levels the
playing field — making the BIP process even more meritocratic than it
already is.

If you want to claim credit for your BIP after it is accepted, you can
reveal the preimage of the author hash to prove that you were the original
author of the BIP. I would need to reveal my github username and
“639c28f610edcaf265b47b0679986d10af3360072b56f9b0b085ffbb4d4f440b”

*The Future*
Politicization of bitcoin is only going to grow in the future. We need to
make sure we maintain principled money instead devolving to a system where
our money is based on a democratic vote — or the votes of a select few
elites. We need to vet claims by “authority figures” whether it is Jihan
Wu, Adam Back, Roger Ver, or Greg Maxwell. I assure you they are human —
and prone to mistakes — just like the rest of us. This seems like a simple
way to level the playing field.

Thoughts?

-Chris
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