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Bitcoin.org Domain Ownership #2548

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beyourseff opened this Issue Jul 26, 2018 · 112 comments

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beyourseff commented Jul 26, 2018

This is a follow up regarding a discussion between @Cobra-Bitcoin and a number of individuals within the Bitcoin Core #UASF Slack channel.

The Problem: A number of individuals (including myself) feel that @Cobra-Bitcoin has become an unreliable person to own the Bitcoin.org domain name, mainly given his public support for BCH (as well as other things, but this is not supposed to be an attack on Cobra). We fear that Cobra:

  1. May suddenly start propagandizing BCH as 'The Real Bitcoin' and re-purpose Bitcoin.org to promote BCH.
  2. Sell the domain to someone else, who'd use it for malicious intent. The fact that he's only known only by his pseudonym would make this relatively easy and have no consequences for him whatsoever, there's only a lucrative upside for him.

I personally feel that one person, pseudonymous or not, should not have total control of the Bitcoin.org domain name, since it has too much importance within the community.

The Solution: The domain name should be placed in the hands of the community. The solutions which had been discussed in the Slack discussion were the following:

  1. Cobra transfers the domain back to @theymos and therefore relinquishes his ability to perform either of the above two actions.
  2. A select few veterans within the Bitcoin community would be chosen to form a non-profit, and the domain would then be transferred into this non-profit.

If option 2 were chosen, the community would have to decide which individuals to choose from. We do not want to end up in a Bitcoin Foundation (Vinny Lingham) scenario.

I would like to invite you to discuss the domain ownership issue at hand so we can resolve this accordingly. Please do let other people know of this so everyone can get a say in this.

@Cobra-Bitcoin Cobra-Bitcoin self-assigned this Jul 26, 2018

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jmcorgan commented Jul 26, 2018

I recommend #2, though I expect the selection of individuals would end up a politicized debate. (I did not participate in the earlier discussion, so I don't know what the suggestions were.)

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AmishNick commented Jul 26, 2018

/O/p/t/i/o/n/ /2
Option 1 but no reason to kick cobra out

*edited

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buzztiaan commented Jul 26, 2018

#2 please

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coolpick commented Jul 26, 2018

Option 2 would be my choice. Andreas Antonopoulos would be one of the people I'd want to have partial control over the domain. Needs people who fully believe in Bitcoin, and are uninterested in hard forks/personal gain (Not to say Cobra is). I also believe Cobra should be one of the people in this group. 5 people or so, requiring 4/5 to make any form of significant change would be ideal.

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bbrout commented Jul 26, 2018

#2 seems best. Governance is becoming a major issue. In the longer term, would it be possible to have governance handled by a smart contract?

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Cobra-Bitcoin commented Jul 26, 2018

Ouch. This is going to be a pretty intense thread. But I guess these things have to be discussed. Let me first say that option 2 is a non-starter, I don't trust anyone with that responsibility except @theymos. I have serious levels of respect for him, and believe him to be incorruptible, so if I were to ever leave bitcoin.org, I would have to have him still involved, and if he doesn't want that role, I would trust him solely to pick a suitable successor or make arrangements as he deems fit. There's no way on earth I would transfer the site to random people I don't know or respect.

Anyway, I think this idea is pretty stupid. Maybe I do like some aspects of Bitcoin Cash, and find it pretty useful in a limited context at times, but that doesn't mean I'm some raging "Bitcoin Cash is Bitcoin" lunatic. How do you guarantee the next set of owners would be incorruptible? You think I haven't had people attempt to "buy me out"? If I listened to this type of crap a few years ago, the site would have ended up in the hands of the Bitcoin Foundation, and then likely sold off. There's always people that think the grass is greener on the other side.

I won't deny I can be erratic at times, but there's a difference between "difficult to work with" and outright malicious intent. Maybe go on Bitcoin.org, and try to find something egregious enough that even comes close to the type of garbage and outright fraud you see on Roger's site. I'm sorry if I don't call Bitcoin Cash "Bcash", or hate it with a fiery passion (I used too), or I don't have exactly the same set of opinions as you. But that doesn't mean you can attempt to pressure me into handing over the domain to some random group (of strangers no less!).

This type of witch-hunting is so crazy. Since when did we turn so easily against each other over our opinions? When did everyone get so batshit tribalistic and insane? I remember a time when I thought I was crazy, but now I think I'm pretty moderate, and I'm surrounded by an angry mob, constantly ready to attack the next person. Bitcoin.org is an amazing site, and it has consistently advocated for and defended Bitcoin against horrible attacks. I find it so offensive and completely disgusting that you would sit there and say I would shill altcoins on the site, the person who was aggressive as hell during the entire scaling debate to make sure Bitcoin didn't get co-opted.

It's people like you that make your own enemies, but you won't make me an enemy of Bitcoin, no matter how much you try to smear me, discredit me, or get me replaced.

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aggieben commented Jul 26, 2018

I think No. 2 makes the most sense (and I think No. 1 doesn't help anything in the long run - all the bad incentives are still there). I agree with @coolpick. @Cobra-Bitcoin should be one of the directors/board-members if for no other reason than to make it clear that this is a legitimate community concern and not just a personal attack.

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moonstash commented Jul 26, 2018

I'd like to see what cobra has to say about this and I'd also like to know who legally owns the rights to it.

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AmishNick commented Jul 26, 2018

If cobra is sincere in what he said above then idk that there is a need for change at all...

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zaowens commented Jul 26, 2018

I'd like to hear what @theymos has to say. Can't they both split the responsibility in some way?

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luke-jr commented Jul 26, 2018

@Cobra-Bitcoin What if option 2 was an org including theymos? I don't have any problems with theymos, but he does have a lot of control over other Bitcoin resources, and it may be better to avoid too much power in the hands of one person, no matter how benevolent he may be.

Maybe a board of Cobra, theymos, and 2 others weighed at 0.9 each (or 5 others weighed at 0.39 each)?

@coolpick Hardforks* are not the same thing as personal gain, and while we wouldn't one someone prone to push a hardfork without consensus, it would also be bad to have someone who opposes all hardforks irrationally/unconditionally.

* Note that BCH and such are altcoins, not hardforks.

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coolpick commented Jul 26, 2018

@Cobra-Bitcoin I'm glad you could clear things up a little. It's VERY hard to tell based on things you post on Twitter, if you are for Bitcoin, or Bitcoin Cash. I believe I speak for all of us when I say that I would never want bitcoin.org to turn into a redirect for bitcoin.com.

I think it's also worth bringing into question what would happen with the domain if you either failed to renew (not suggesting this is likely), or died unexpectedly. Would @theymos be given ownership? What's the game plan? Would it be worth setting up a small group to takeover when you're finished with it? Objective being keeping bitcoin.org out of the wrong hands - as it's one of the only Bitcoin websites that we all trust.

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tnkmt commented Jul 26, 2018

What happens if @Cobra-Bitcoin die? Who will have access to the domain name?

What is the plan in case something happens to him (death, jail, etc.)?

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creativecuriosity commented Jul 26, 2018

If an organization was created for this purpose the organizing documents would be of the utmost importance.

@Cobra-Bitcoin For what it is worth, as far as I am concerned, you have stood as a rock protecting this experiment in liberty. However, one of the hardest lessons to absorb is the idea that the darkness doesn't exist only in our enemies. The snakes have a home inside of us as well. If nothing else, why not check with an attorney to find out if there is a way you could sign some type of affirmative fiduciary duty that might put those who doubt your commitment to rest? Just a random thought, Cheers :)

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Aaahh commented Jul 26, 2018

I haven’t contributed but to ease any worries I would suggest co-ownership between @Cobra-Bitcoin and @theymos

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MichaelDWheeler commented Jul 26, 2018

@Cobra-Bitcoin - Reasonable response. Thanks for being level headed when you are getting attacked.

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lclc commented Jul 26, 2018

Nobody should hold that much power and influence over Bitcoin.

bitcoin.org should be hold by a non-profit association run by a big number of known Bitcoiners with the associations statutes saying their purpose can't be change without 2/3 majority or something similar (free to define - at least by Swiss law).

Some of the Bitcoin Core developers already founded a Swiss association for getting the code signing certificates from Apple and MS. Also something no single person should control. See https://bitcoincorecodesigning.org . @jonasschnelli probably knows more.

We (bitcoinassociation.ch) are happy to help you with lawyers and guidance if you consider setting up such an association for the domain.

handing over the domain to some random group (of strangers no less!).

Not a random group and no strangers obviously, but well-known and respected community members. As many of them as possible in the association.

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joshbabb commented Jul 26, 2018

Glad to see that this thread is not, in fact, that intense at all. Everyone here so far seems to be pretty level-headed.

As long as #1 ends up at #2, this is a move that should happen regardless of the politics of the owner: no one person should be responsible for the domain, lest their death make its future uncertain. It's not so much about politics as proper planning. A non-profit with strict, pre-defined rules (or a charter or a constitution) makes the most sense.

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artlav commented Jul 26, 2018

Outsider opinion: Things like bcash come and go, but trust once broken is hard to restore. Broken trust is the principal damage such attacks leave behind.

Bitcoin dot org is not something that can be decentralised or operated trustlessly. Whoever owns it would have to be trusted, and so far @Cobra-Bitcoin have been trustworthy. Trying to displace him would only result in a net loss - one alienated ally and the domain getting into a same-or-less trusted, and still trust-requiring hands.

I do think that a subset of option 1 is needed, however. As the proverb goes, the problem is not that people are mortal but that they are suddenly mortal. So it would be a good idea to have a shared ownership, and @theymos seems to be trusted by all parties in question.

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nullbio commented Jul 26, 2018

What incentive is there for Cobra to follow any of this action? The community has no leverage here. Is there plans for a foundation to offer to buy the domain? If not, what's in it for Cobra? It's his property, he should at least be compensated for it if he's okay with the idea of handing control to another entity.

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mjamin commented Jul 26, 2018

But that doesn't mean you can attempt to pressure me into handing over the domain to some random group (of strangers no less!).

I agree that you shouldn't be pressured into doing anything you don't want to with your property.

I also agree that the domain shouldn't be transferred to a random group of strangers.

But I do think there's room for improvement here. If you don't need or even want the power to abuse the bitcoin.org domain, it's a good idea to make sure that you're unable to be forced into doing that single-handedly and/or to safeguard against future-you that might have a different mindset for whatever reason.

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Time02 commented Jul 26, 2018

bitcoin cash is real bitcoin.

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meladath commented Jul 26, 2018

Lmfao just like Coreans to try and forcibly wrestle control of something from someone because of IMAGINED woes. Do you not realise the path you are going down?

It's cobra's domain, he can do whatever he wants with it. The "community" has absolutely no say in anything related to this.

EDIT: Surprised you aren't going raving mad over the fact that theymos owns all of biggest mediums of bitcoin discussion on the web. 1 website isn't anywhere near as severe as that.

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NorwayGH commented Jul 26, 2018

A select few veterans within the Bitcoin community

The veterans work on bitcoin (BCH) now.

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MrScatman commented Jul 26, 2018

Clearly I am best trusted with bitcoin.org. I have demonstrated a consistent and tireless pursuit of truth wherever it has led. I would fill it with glorious memes that would ((( echo ))) throughout all eternity.

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NorwayGH commented Jul 26, 2018

@OCHtoe Ack

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harding commented Jul 26, 2018

I don't like the idea of an Internet mob pressuring legitimate property owners to give up their property. That seems to be about as far from the ethos of Bitcoin as you can get.

Bitcoin.org is a nice domain name with historical significance, but I don't think it's that important. Indeed, if it is important, it's probably a good idea for it to break sooner than later so that we can rebuild a strong community that doesn't depend on a particular centralized resource.

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achow101 commented Jul 26, 2018

I am in favor of Option 2. Ownership of the domain under an organization consisting of multiple people allows for recovery in cases of unexpected events. For example, if Cobra were to be hit by a bus and die, it may become difficult for theymos to actually retain control over the domain as, legally, AFAIU, the domain is owned by Cobra. With an organization, the organization has control over the domain and if one of the directors of the organization dies unexpectedly, the organization still has control over the domain and the remaining directors can still do stuff with the domain.

In fact, I think it is still okay to have Cobra and theymos have control over the domain, but instead they create an organization which has the legal control instead of an individual having the legal control.

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Josh-Vaultoro commented Jul 26, 2018

Great conversation, I have always had respect for Cobra and Theymos but do think an organisation made up of multiple trusted OGs (including Cobra and Theymos) makes sense. Cobra has always done a good job with .org but to decentralise control a little would be in the ethos of Bitcoin

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tedy5 commented Jul 27, 2018

All we need is a public wiki where everyone can submit changes who has identified themselves personally by social proof to the community.
We need authentification mechanisms based on private keys and secure identities on the web.

You mean something where people can vote with their private key and decide the path Bitcoin should take?
Yeah, because Blockstream is so interested in people's opinion.

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arodic commented Jul 27, 2018

So there is this concept called domain ownership...

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ottodv commented Jul 27, 2018

I trust @Cobra-Bitcoin over any of the other option mentioned here. He is critical enough of Blockstream, to ensure that Blockstream doesn't end up controlling Bitcoin.org too. Keeping Bitcoin.org in @Cobra-Bitcoin's control, prevents further centralization and is therefore actually good for decentralization.

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buzztiaan commented Jul 28, 2018

do all the mentions above of 'blockstream' actually mean 'chaincode' ? after all , they pay the most core devs ...

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vinniefalco commented Jul 28, 2018

I trust @Cobra-Bitcoin ... for decentralization.

The logical fallacy speaks for itself.

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is55555 commented Jul 29, 2018

I missed that @theymos had relinquished control of the domain (?)

Anyway, as others have pointed out, Bitcoin doesn't have a website although it's true that "the community" has put a degree of trust in bitcoin.org and it has real-world influence that cannot be ignored.

It doesn't appear to me like Cobra has gone rogue although he does have some slightly eccentric views IMO, though I'm sure others would think the same about me or about most other early mail-list/bitcointalk people.

For bitcoin.org I'd either leave it as is or maybe do as @luke-jr suggested above. I see some lunatic ideas that somehow multiple ownership of a domain is socialism, or that we should give it to some guys relatively new in the community with openly public ids wearing suits for "decentralisation" etc.

Maybe @theymos and @Cobra-Bitcoin can provide slightly more detail somewhere about the current situation? I'm a bit confused about it. Theymos' real-world id is known, Cobra's isn't (this is a plus for Cobra I'm afraid) but if he's a registrant then it probably it is known for authorities? I'm particularly intrigued about this bit.

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samacumen commented Jul 29, 2018

This is my first post here. I have followed the discussion in its entirety and I hope people would read my opinion below with a level-headed mind. With all due respect to @Cobra-Bitcoin, I would like to state two options:

  1. Cobra-Bitcoin signs a formal legal agreement citing clauses of concern from community and agreeing to abide by it. This will give enough rest in the community that doubts. And also who takes over (atleast two persons) in case he is unable to continue with his duties must be part of the contract.

  2. Form a 5 member committee where Cobra-Bitcoin is the director with most power to him, and other four have proportionate power.

If Cobra-Bitcoin remains steadfast about not doing either of the above two, then I would say something is seriously wrong or the intentions are not in place. Bitcoin was formed by the community, for the community and to the community. Handing too much power in the hands of one individual howsoever benevolent he/she might be, is a no-go.

Cheers,

@theRealBitcoinClub

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theRealBitcoinClub commented Jul 29, 2018

All this talk is about to drag attention from solving real issues to non issues.

All this topic is a hoax initiated to waste your energy.

As much as all the over engineering of bitcoin is a hoax to drag attention from the real bottleneck:

Real World Adoption (or call it AFK adoption if you want) thats all what bitcoin needs.

And to keep it in the aggressive tone of many blockstream supporters:

If you dont focus on real world adoption then something is seriously wrong or the intentions are not in place.

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andrerademan commented Jul 29, 2018

https://bitcoin.org/en/about-us

"Bitcoin.org was originally registered and owned by Bitcoin's first two developers, Satoshi Nakamoto and Martti Malmi. When Nakamoto left the project, he gave ownership of the domain to additional people, separate from the Bitcoin developers, to spread responsibility and prevent any one person or group from easily gaining control over the Bitcoin project."

When the goal is decentralisation and trustless, then a Bitcoin Alliance makes the most sense as suggested by @vinniefalco .

An 5-member group makes more sense than 3 which is not decentralised enough.

EDIT: Additionally, as the original domain was owned by the initial Bitcoin developers, I believe that should still be the case going forward. Let the top-ten developers by commit over the last 12 months choose 3-5 people (3 might be easier for faster decisions) Could even say each commit counts as one vote. All big decisions going forward can be vetoed by the group of developers.

EDIT2: Bitcoin was a mathematical solution and this should be too to stand the test of time 100 years from now. Give a group the responsibility but build in a check in case they go off on a tangent.

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vinniefalco commented Jul 29, 2018

Cobra-Bitcoin signs a formal legal agreement

How can an anonymous individual sign a legal agreement?

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vinniefalco commented Jul 29, 2018

Let the top-ten developers by commit over the last 12 months choose 3-5 people

You have good intentions but I don't think this will work out the way you think it will, for a few reasons. First of all, the optics on it are terrible and can only serve to invite more undeserved criticism of the developers. Second, highly active developers are not necessarily also proficient at identifying qualified board members. Finally, and most importantly, serving on the board of directors of a non-profit company (even one as limited in scope as The Bitcoin Alliance should be) requires work. The secretary has to write and maintain minutes and records. The treasurer has to maintain accurate accounting. And they all need to be mindful of the rules and regulations of operating a non-profit.

The ideal board members would of course be individuals who already have experience serving on a board of directors. In particular, someone with experience acting as Secretary. Most importantly however, board members must possess a desire to serve the public's interest. So they must be volunteers who are opting in to the workload of advancing the mission of the non-profit. That said, individuals can volunteer and the community, including the developers, can vet them. This can all be codified into the company bylaws.

There are two volunteers currently:

@StopAndDecrypt very active on social media and blogs, currently anonymous but is open to changing that by serving on the board

@aceat64 has acted as President and board member of the Dallas Makerspace for the first 5 years

Anyone else?

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vinniefalco commented Jul 29, 2018

An 5-member group makes more sense than 3 which is not decentralised enough.

There is a common misconception that just because bitcoin is decentralized, that every social organization or apparatus built around it much also be decentralized. Taken to its logically absurd conclusion, you could say that there should be no websites for bitcoin since the domain name system is by definition centralized. This of course is an untenable and impractical position.

3 board members are plenty (also, the legally required minimum). It is the defined mission statement and bylaws which serve to bind the actions taken by representatives of the company and to ensure that it is aligned with the interests of the larger bitcoin community.

As there are already 2 volunteers, my estimate of the chances that this project will take off are greatly increased. I think it would be productive to have a discussion on the mission statement and bylaws. Do you have an idea on what a good mission statement might be? And what the bylaws might be (for example, no commercial advertisements on websites)?

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samacumen commented Jul 29, 2018

Well, the fact of the matter is one individual should not control access to a domain that will probably be worth a Billion$ someday, if so. As I understand, Cobra-Bitcoin is the only one having control and from what I read may not be in a mood to relinquish that control (I understand his point of view of not handing it over to someone he cannot trust, but this can be worked out). A 3 board-members are good enough in my opinion and something the community must work towards.

The people having control to such a domain cannot remain anonymous, at least should not. @aantonop is one of the best choices for being part of such a board member group, should one be formed. Someone who is public and at the same time be trusted by the wide community.

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vinniefalco commented Jul 29, 2018

@aantonop is probably one of the best choices for being part of such a board member group

Obviously, LOL !!

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Cobra-Bitcoin commented Jul 29, 2018

If you're going to propose new owners, at least have them be contributors to the site, not random people you fished out of social media because you like what they said.

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samacumen commented Jul 29, 2018

So, what does one make of this? No doubt, he maybe the right person to handle the domain and has taken tremendous efforts in this regards which should be respected. Furthermore, one should certainly have difference of opinion/viewpoints. However, here the viewpoints are certainly not in sync with the viewpoints of the Bitcoin core community. I maybe wrong, though I sense something not right.

bitcoin vs bitcoin cash

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vinniefalco commented Jul 29, 2018

Saying that bitcoin is larger than bitcoin core is not the same as saying that bitcoin includes bcash.

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aantonop commented Jul 29, 2018

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StopAndDecrypt commented Jul 29, 2018

I just want to clarify that I only expressed my willingness to consider it, if there was reasonable support for it. (It being everything down to the members included in such a group, and the communities agreement on those members.) I'm hardly pushing for my involvement and if it's decided such a group will be created, I do think there are much more qualified people than I that should be part of such a group. The only question under those circumstances is, who would want to be part of that group that isn't already heavily involved in other matters? (see critiques of others already "heavy" involvement in similar "pillars" of the community) This is the main reason I expressed my willingness to consider my involvement, just in case there was some sort of lack of diversity in people to select from.

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vinniefalco commented Jul 29, 2018

I do think there are much more qualified people than I that should be part of such a group

Volunteers are welcomed!

You should look to the people actually doing work on bitcoin.org and not to some baseless popularity in social media

Volunteers are welcomed!

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TheRec commented Jul 29, 2018

@aantonop People who contribute to the site are unfortunately vastly ignored when it comes to decisions in relation to the fundamental goals and means of the website. This was recently illustrated with the sponsorship from Paxful that was "announced" with a PR to contributors and despite an overwhelming number of NACK (see #2485) the modifications still got committed and published within few days.

I might be a bit pessimist here but when it comes to the only viable mean of access to the website, its domain name, I would be willing to bet that contributors won't be given any weight or responsibility.

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chek2fire commented Jul 29, 2018

A public statement like this prove that Bitcoin is (againx2) under a social engineer attack and Cobra is a part of it.
Is almost one year now from the first fork of Bitcoin, a fork that happen without any consensus, privately frrom Viabtc with the support of Bitmain.
One year after they have fail not only to attract users from bitcoin but even to hijack Bitcoin name, bitcoin usability and Bitcoin development.
Their last desperate movement seems to be their attempt to hijack the most popular Bitcoin social media sites like Bitcoin.org, r/bitcoin and bitcointalk.
That shows and how fragile are this sites and how easy is to transform to a malicious propaganda places against bitcoin.

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chek2fire commented Jul 29, 2018

I like to add that everyone here and especially Cobra seems to forget the first community action against central control miners, big profit individual investors to ecosystem and other malicious ppl that try to take control of Bitcoin like Craig Wright.
And i talk about the pure community movement of UASF.
Cobra seems to have a blank memory about this event and of course he only choose to focus his propaganda to support the Bitmain privately fork of the Bitcoin network consensus rules.
Is very clear what is the role of this guy and my only question is how a guy like Theymos continue to trust and support him.

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theRealBitcoinClub commented Jul 30, 2018

Adam should come up with his own new lightningcoin website.

I assure him to put a backlink on http://blockstream.RIP

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beyourseff commented Aug 3, 2018

Ok, now that the discussion has died down a bit, here's what I think could be done:

  • Take @vinniefalco up on his generous offer. As @Cobra-Bitcoin suggested, the board of directors should indeed consist of those who have worked on Bitcoin.org
  • Possible directors: @wbnns @luke-jr @achow101 - Is it possible to include pseudonymous individuals? If so, the logical addition would be both @Cobra-Bitcoin as well as @theymos. If all were to agree, the total would consist of 5 directors which IMO is more than sufficient.

Thoughts?

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mysidia commented Aug 3, 2018

@beyourseff Sounds like a plan. Honestly I don't know if a full-blown non-profit with a board is necessary, but seems reasonable for directors; I feel like time is of the essence to get SOME sort of contingency or resilient organization in there as the legal domain holder and revise/change if necessary.

I mean.... right now with the domain legally titled to an individual: technically every second is a risk in the off-chance of domain registrant is hit by a bus, or some other freak-accident tragedy, then the domain as personal property automatically becomes property of an estate where it may be auctioned off and be swooped up by a scam corporation or AltCoin promoter with the means to use Bitcoin.Org's reputation as a reliable "official"-like resource to harm the community.

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D-Nice commented Aug 3, 2018

Repeat after me

2018-08-03-121603_617x245_scrot

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beyourseff commented Aug 8, 2018

Seeing how I don't think any action will be taken to resolve this ticket, I'm closing it. Feel free to reopen or create a new ticket should anything change.

@beyourseff beyourseff closed this Aug 8, 2018

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arfyshah commented Aug 10, 2018

I believe you should transfer the domain to me. I will hold it as an impartial custodian tasked with protecting the domain name for the sake of the community and all those who use BTC.org

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