Ultimate glossary of crypto currency terms, acronyms and abbreviations
You've probably been hearing a lot about Bitcoin recently and are wondering what's the big deal? Most of your questions should be answered by the resources below but if you have additional questions feel free to ask them in the comments. It all started with the release of the release of Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper however that will probably go over the head of most readers so we recommend the following videos for a good starting point for understanding how bitcoin works and a little about its long term potential:
Limited Supply - There will only ever be 21,000,000 bitcoins created and they are issued in a predictable fashion, you can view the inflation schedule here. Once they are all issued Bitcoin will be truly deflationary. The halving countdown can be found here.
Open source - Bitcoin code is fully auditable. You can read the source code yourself here.
Accountable - The public ledger is transparent, all transactions are seen by everyone.
Decentralized - Bitcoin is globally distributed across thousands of nodes with no single point of failure and as such can't be shut down similar to how Bittorrent works. You can even run a node on a Raspberry Pi.
Censorship resistant - No one can prevent you from interacting with the bitcoin network and no one can censor, alter or block transactions that they disagree with, see Operation Chokepoint.
Push system - There are no chargebacks in bitcoin because only the person who owns the address where the bitcoins reside has the authority to move them.
Low fee scaling - On chain transaction fees depend on network demand and how much priority you wish to assign to the transaction. Most wallets calculate on chain fees automatically but you can view current fees here and mempool activity here. On chain fees may rise occasionally due to network demand, however instant micropayments that do not require confirmations are happening via the Lightning Network, a second layer scaling solution currently rolling out on the Bitcoin mainnet.
Borderless - No country can stop it from going in/out, even in areas currently unserved by traditional banking as the ledger is globally distributed.
Portable - Bitcoins are digital so they are easier to move than cash or gold. They can even be transported by simply memorizing a string of words for wallet recovery (while cool this method is generally not recommended due to potential for insecure key generation by inexperienced users. Hardware wallets are the preferred method for new users due to ease of use and additional security).
Bitcoin.org and BuyBitcoinWorldwide.com are helpful sites for beginners. You can buy or sell any amount of bitcoin (even just a few dollars worth) and there are several easy methods to purchase bitcoin with cash, credit card or bank transfer. Some of the more popular resources are below, also check out the bitcoinity exchange resources for a larger list of options for purchases.
Here is a listing of local ATMs. If you would like your paycheck automatically converted to bitcoin use Bitwage. Note: Bitcoins are valued at whatever market price people are willing to pay for them in balancing act of supply vs demand. Unlike traditional markets, bitcoin markets operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Preev is a useful site that that shows how much various denominations of bitcoin are worth in different currencies. Alternatively you can just Google "1 bitcoin in (your local currency)".
Securing your bitcoins
With bitcoin you can "Be your own bank" and personally secure your bitcoins OR you can use third party companies aka "Bitcoin banks" which will hold the bitcoins for you.
If you prefer to "Be your own bank" and have direct control over your coins without having to use a trusted third party, then you will need to create your own wallet and keep it secure. If you want easy and secure storage without having to learn computer security best practices, then a hardware wallet such as the Trezor, Ledger or ColdCard is recommended. Alternatively there are many software wallet options to choose from here depending on your use case.
If you prefer to let third party "Bitcoin banks" manage your coins, try Gemini but be aware you may not be in control of your private keys in which case you would have to ask permission to access your funds and be exposed to third party risk.
Note: For increased security, use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) everywhere it is offered, including email! 2FA requires a second confirmation code to access your account making it much harder for thieves to gain access. Google Authenticator and Authy are the two most popular 2FA services, download links are below. Make sure you create backups of your 2FA codes.
As mentioned above, Bitcoin is decentralized, which by definition means there is no official website or Twitter handle or spokesperson or CEO. However, all money attracts thieves. This combination unfortunately results in scammers running official sounding names or pretending to be an authority on YouTube or social media. Many scammers throughout the years have claimed to be the inventor of Bitcoin. Websites like bitcoin(dot)com and the btc subreddit are active scams. Almost all altcoins (shitcoins) are marketed heavily with big promises but are really just designed to separate you from your bitcoin. So be careful: any resource, including all linked in this document, may in the future turn evil. Don't trust, verify. Also as they say in our community "Not your keys, not your coins".
Where can I spend bitcoins?
Check out spendabit or bitcoin directory for millions of merchant options. Also you can spend bitcoin anywhere visa is accepted with bitcoin debit cards such as the CashApp card. Some other useful site are listed below.
Mining bitcoins can be a fun learning experience, but be aware that you will most likely operate at a loss. Newcomers are often advised to stay away from mining unless they are only interested in it as a hobby similar to folding at home. If you want to learn more about mining you can read more here. Still have mining questions? The crew at /BitcoinMining would be happy to help you out. If you want to contribute to the bitcoin network by hosting the blockchain and propagating transactions you can run a full node using this setup guide. If you would prefer to keep it simple there are several good options. You can view the global node distribution here.
Just like any other form of money, you can also earn bitcoins by being paid to do a job.
You can also earn bitcoins by participating as a market maker on JoinMarket by allowing users to perform CoinJoin transactions with your bitcoins for a small fee (requires you to already have some bitcoins.
The following is a short list of ongoing projects that might be worth taking a look at if you are interested in current development in the bitcoin space.
One Bitcoin is quite large (hundreds of £/$/€) so people often deal in smaller units. The most common subunits are listed below:
one bitcoin is equal to 100 million satoshis
1,000 per bitcoin
used as default unit in recent Electrum wallet releases
1,000,000 per bitcoin
colloquial "slang" term for microbitcoin (μBTC)
100,000,000 per bitcoin
smallest unit in bitcoin, named after the inventor
For example, assuming an arbitrary exchange rate of $10000 for one Bitcoin, a $10 meal would equal:
For more information check out the Bitcoin units wiki. Still have questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below or stick around for our weekly Mentor Monday thread. If you decide to post a question in /Bitcoin, please use the search bar to see if it has been answered before, and remember to follow the community rules outlined on the sidebar to receive a better response. The mods are busy helping manage our community so please do not message them unless you notice problems with the functionality of the subreddit. Note: This is a community created FAQ. If you notice anything missing from the FAQ or that requires clarification you can edit it here and it will be included in the next revision pending approval. Welcome to the Bitcoin community and the new decentralized economy!
Microsoft patent 2020-060606 linking human brain to crypto payment system
Microsoft filed a patent 2020-060606 on June 20, 2019 for the link between the human body and the crypto payment system. It is a cryptocurrency mining system that uses human pulses such as brain waves and body heat to perform online tasks such as using search engines, chatbots, and reading ads. "A user can solve the arithmetically difficult problem unconsciously," says the patent. In fact, this is a very brief description of a brain computer interface, which can read and write electromagnetic signals from the brain at such a finely meshed level that the brain literally becomes a biocomputer in a network. To understand that, please watch the video below and read on below. This is necessary so that you understand the current technological state of affairs. Steve Hoffman - Brain Hacking & MindTech - Produced by DingDingTV How cryptocurrency works The aim is that we are collectively hung in a hyve mind and it seems that what with crpyo-currency like Bitcoin still had to be done on energy-guzzling mining servers, can now be filled in by the “human bio-computer”. The unique thing about blockchain payment systems was that as soon as you took a so-called wallet into the network, your computer formed a block in the network, where your computer receives a kind of calculation program that calculates the security key of a coin. All computers on the network must then come up with the same key as confirmation. If the entire network sees a transaction of a coin, all those keys are checked and if one is different, the transaction is illegal and rejected. That would create unhackable security. The problem, however, is that Bitcoin mining requires a lot of computing power and that requires electricity. That's why Bitcoin mining ended up being one of the most energy-guzzling industries in the world. The Microsoft patent seems to aim at making this blockchain principle, which is not only very energy-guzzling, but also puts a heavy burden on the internet in terms of bandwidth (after all, all computers in the chain must always be checked for positive encryption), superfluous to make. Simply put: Microsoft wants to use the human brain as a block in the blockchain. The 5G network will provide sufficient bandwidth to realize this. Link digital ID, vaccination ID and social credit system: The coronavirus pandemic provides the perfect alibi for the introduction of such a system. In concrete terms, this means that a score of your behavior (expressed in points) will initially be kept in the cloud. If you stick to the rules, you can take public transport or plane. If you don't follow the rules, your score will go down. The upcoming social distancing apps are a precursor to such a behavioral scoring system. After all, if you do not keep enough distance from potential infections, you have to quarantine at home. We also see China taking the lead there. Watch the video below and then read on. Wuhan coronavirus covid-19 totalitarian UN propaganda? Although Bill Gates officially retired from Microsoft's board this year, we can guess who the big driving force behind patent 2020-060606 is. Of course, I need not point out to the attentive reader that we recognize here the Biblical number of the mark of the beast from the Bible book of Revelation: 666. It states that the time will come when no one will be able to buy or sell without to bear 'the beast'. This under the statement that this number is six hundred and sixty-six. The same Bill Gates is behind the ID2020 initiative that wants to develop a digital ID for vaccination registration. If you combine such a digital ID hallmark with a digital passport (ID) and with patent 2020-060606, then you have completely enslaved people. Revelation 13: 16-18 16: And it causes it to give a mark to all, small and great, and rich and poor, and free and servants, on their right hand or on their foreheads; 17: And that no one should buy or sell except he who has that mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18: Here is wisdom: let him that have understanding count the number of the beast; for the number of a man is, and his number is six hundred sixty and six. The "Official Gazette of the Kingdom of the Netherlands" announced on March 31, 2020 (“coincidentally”) change in law that allows a digital ID. Translated: Kingdom Act of 6 March 2020 amending the Passport Act in connection with the introduction of electronic identification with a public identification means and the expansion of the basic register of travel documents. We Willem-Alexander, by the grace of God, King of the Netherlands, Prince of Oranje-Nassau, etc. etc. etc. All who will see or hear it read, salute! do to know: Thus We have considered that it is desirable to amend the Passport Act in connection with the introduction of electronic identification with a public means and the extension of the basic register of travel documents; The consequences: So if we don't wake up in masses now and discover that we are witnessing a Psychological Operation that fully complies with the master script, then there is no escape. Then we cannot buy or sell anything if we do not meet all the requirements of the state. And to all, it really means all. Making a minor offense once has immediate consequences. Not cooperating with the vaccination obligation (think Bill Gates) will definitely mean the end of being able to travel and participate in society at all. You should consider the most basic things such as being able to buy food and drink. We must step out of our programming and know that we are sovereign. Please read the article from the official journal above again. In it you see that you can fully rely on your consciousness sovereignty. You are sovereign by nature and no law can bind you to anything. It says "We Willem-Alexander, by the grace of God". Now let him prove "that grace of God". Every law is signed by the king by the grace of God. There is no evidence whatsoever of this and so the law does not apply. The only problem is the fact that social systems have built up around that grace of God, to which many swear allegiance. Do we sit back and relax until we are swallowed up by the system of "the internet of things" by the grace of God, or do we activate ourselves to concrete things? Concrete matters means that we have to switch from passive to active and discover who we are in potential and in essence.
What I currently use for privacy (after almost 2 years of long investing into it)
How to perform strong verification of multisig receive addresses and limit trust in software wallets?
Example scenario: you've set up a 2-of-3 multisig watch only wallet in Electrum or some other desktop wallet, and you use it to generate receive addresses. How do you protect yourself from maliciously generated receive addresses for this wallet, in the case that the desktop software is compromised? How do you validate that the receive addresses are correct and not an attacker's receive address? how do you limit trust of the desktop software wallet? With typical single-sig P2PKH and P2WPKH the receive addresses can be independently verified to belong to a known xpub key using any bitcoin software library and a small script. Hardware wallets can also be used to generate or verify receive addresses so the software wallet doesn't not need to be trusted. Some hardware wallets also verify the change address for a given transaction also belongs to the xpub key in question. So how do you do this kind of verification for multisig wallets? Or are people not verifying and instead just trusting that their software wallet of choice is not compromised? I haven't found examples online to do this. It appears that in the Coldcard multisig set up process for a 2-of-3 setup, each device is aware of the other 2 xpubs, so presumably it has the information to perform this kind of verification, but I don't know if it actually does that verification.
Hi All, apologies for noobishness but I could really do with a bit of help here. Normally, I like to figure stuff out by myself but I can't make head nor tail of the below instructions on the versus project multisig set up. Please see below for copypasta direct from their website: -> You'll need the following digital items: -> Electrum Wallet (there are other wallets you can use, but for the sake of keep things streamlined we will recommend Electrum because we know it works for these purposes) -> A fresh standard (not multisig!) electrum wallet ONLY used for Versus Market -> Coinb.in for signing (we will explain this later) -> Bitcoin Public Key used for the transaction (provided by Versus on the order details) -> Bitcoin Private Key matching the public key used for the transaction II. "Wow, that seems like a lot. Are you sure this isn't complicated?" -> We're sure. :) III. "Alright, what next?" -> First you will want to set up your Electrum Wallet and identify the first Public Key derived from your xpub and the matching Private Key. You can get the private key by right clciking on the public key and select 'Show private key'. -> Please note, we strongly recommend creating a backup of your Electrum wallet on a separate USB. -> You will need to enter your Bitcoin Private Key into Coinb.in. Remember to download the coinb.in script and use it localy instead of online to sign a transaction! IV. "I am being told I need to Sign a Bitcoin Transaction, what do I do now?" -> Copy the bitcoin transaction and head on over to Coinbin. -> At Coinbin, go to "SIGN" and paste the transaction code on the lower text fiels. -> You will then need to enter your bitcoin PRIVATE key (which you can easily get from your electrum wallet) on the upper field. -> Click Submit to Sign the transaction. Copy the result back to Versus Market and broadcast the transaction to finish your setup! V. "Okay, I think I set everything up. Now that I am no longer using traditional escrow, how do I finalize an order so my vendor gets his or her payment?" -> This is very simple. All you need to do is to sign the transaction to release the funds. -> Just like before, copy the Multi Sig transaction from Versus into Coinbin and "SIGN." -> Copy the matching private key to your public key and hit "Submit." So far I have set up my electrum wallet and located my master public key which I have added to their site to enable multisig (this again was not clear but I worked that out). My stumbling block comes when I'm expected to locate a matching private key, how do I know which one is the matching one? Right clicking on the master public key does nothing so how am I supposed to match anything? It also asks to submit your private key to something called coinb.in - is this safe? I was under the impression that you should not reveal private keys to anyone at any time. If it is where can I download the coinb.in script from? Thanks in advance for any help. They seem to have done away with the escrow system they used to use because of their recent hack and I just can't get my head around this.
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[Table] IAmA dark web expert, investigative journalist and true crime author. I’ve met dark web kingpins in far flung prisons and delved the murky depths of child predator forums. I’ve written six books and over a dozen Casefile podcast episodes. AMA (part 1/2)
Source | Guestbook Note: Some answers were repetitive, but were not edited out.
Have you ever gotten into legal trouble by exploring the dark places of the internet? Like, "sorry, officer, I was only surfing drug markets and child molester forums for my next journalism piece..." Do you worry about that? Do you have to take extra steps to protect yourself?
I'm very careful not to go anywhere that it is illegal to visit. You will hear loads of stories about how easy it is to "stumble upon" child porn, but the fact is that those sites usually have names like "Preteen cuties" so you know exactly what they are, and in order to access them you have to register. So you have to make a very deliberate choice to log into them. I have no interest whatsoever in viewing any child abuse material, so I don't go into those places. When I was researching The Darkest Web, I went to the discussion forums that didn't allow any images (though they did link to sites that did), and even there I turned off images.
As for the drugs, weapons etc, there is nothing illegal about surfing them and looking around.
I do get a bit nervous every time I visit the US, especially when I was invited to a "friendly" lunch with Homeland Security once (it was reasonably friendly as it turns out, it was also terrifying)
the below is a reply to the above
Why did homeland security want to talk to you?
They said it was about the murder-for-hire stuff, but some of the questions leaned toward something else
Is there anything that really concerns you about the dark web? Some of the things already discussed are beyond barbaric and that is only the stuff that has been found out about and been picked up by the media and your fantastic work. Do you think the public should expect worse and more horrific revelations from the dark web or is it just "more of the same" for lack of a better term and do you think the authorities are getting better in shutting this inhumanity down and catching the people responsible?
I am definitely not against people taking back their online privacy and I actually think that buying drugs from the darknet markets is a safer and more sensible option than buying them from the dodgy dealer down the road. However the one thing that is really disturbing is that the dark web has provided a place for child predators to find each other and form communities where they support and egg each other on. Imagine a few years ago, someone who was into hurtcore could never tell anyone else and would be unlikely to ever come across another person with the same perversions. Now it is as simple as finding the relevant site on the dark web. When there are suddenly hundreds of people who all think and act in the same way, it normlalizes what they are doing.
One of the guys who got caught, Matthew Falder, was a sadist who used to crowdsource "ideas" for torturing the children and teens he was blackmailing into doing heinous things for him online. But apparently he was a "normal" intelligent popular guy
the below is a reply to the above
But how does everyone participate in those illegal sites without getting caught? You said in other comments that you tried to stay away from underaged sites because they were illegal. Can't they be tracked down, even with tor and a vpn? The thing that I don't understand is that even on the dark web people say you should stay away from illegal sites, but how are pedos not getting caught?
they are getting caught, but the way they are getting caught is through painstaking detective work, looking for clues in photos, befriending them online and getting them to reveal things about themselves (what is known as social engineering). It takes a long time and many resources.
I say don't go there because (a) it is illegal and (b) you really shouldn't want to go there
Iirc you attended the trial of the person behind the horrific hurt core website that was exposed a few years back. I was wondering if there was anything in particular that happened during the trial that particularly shocked or horrified you that isn't really public knowledge or talked about? Reactions from the judge or perpetrator during the trial etc. As I remember it the guy was a fairly young loner who lived with his parents but would probably never have been expected to be behind the horrific vile things which he was found to be. Also, how did you get into investigative journalism/writing?
I wrote in one of the other replies above about the little mute girl that has stayed with me. Also, at the insistence of the prosecution, the judge had to watch "Daisy's Destruction" which was a video of torture of a toddler. He put it off for two days and when he came back he was white. He didn't have the sound on, which is considered the worst part, but he still looked shell-shocked. I don't envy him.
I'll cut'n'paste re your last question: I was in London, working for one of the most conservative law firms in the world when the Global Financial Crisis hit. I liked the job but it struck me when people were losing their livelihoods that I was working for the bad guys. I'd always wanted to be a writer so when I came back to Australia I quit law and enrolled in a writing course planning to be a novelist, but I discovered I was better at journalism. I first wrote for newspapers here about Silk Road and it grew from there
the below is a reply to the above
Thanks for the reply.. that really must've been horrific for all involved from investigation to trial and for all of the victims (apart from the scum responsible of course). I guess it would be naive to assume that the end of this site did anything other than drive this depraved community even further underground. That is the part which is really scary to me but I suppose all we can do is have faith that the authorities are always close on the tail. Thank you for your work on reporting on this and raising this stuff more into the public consciousness and making people more aware of what kind of evil still lurks.
It was the most disturbing two days of my life, made all the worse because they read out hours of interactions from the site where the children still had not been identified or the predators caught.
Hurt2theCore was not the last site of its kind and there are still hurtcore sites to this day on the dark web. The one hopeful thing is that there are international task forces that seem to work together really well (unlike when it comes to drugs and every law enforcement agency wants to take the lead and they all withhold info from each other). There are a lot of resources allocated to identifying predators and their victims. Sometimes this has involved some very controversial tactics, such as taking over the sites and letting them run, so that they can use social engineering techniques to identify those who are using the sites and who are actually abusing children
the below is another reply to the original answer
So daisy's destruction is real? Was it referred to by that name court? I always thought it was a myth
Yes, Daisy's Destruction is real, it was referred to by name in court and the judge had to watch the 12 minutes of it that were hosted on Hurt2theCore.
The "myth" part is that it shows a murder. The toddler, Daisy, lived, though she suffered such horrific injuries she will never be able to bear children. Hopefully she was young enough that she will grow up without the memory.
However, Scully did murder at least one child, whose body was found under the floorboards of his house. it is not known whether he filmed her murder as no video evidence of it has come to light.
the below is a reply to the above
Thanks for answering. I actually watched a really good video on Hurt2theCore on youtube once, I think it was by a guy called Nexpo. It was really detailed and informative about the whole case - I forgot those details. Thanks again for replying, this AMA is really informative!
I think I recall that one, it was from a few years ago.
An excellent podcast that came out recently is "Hunting Warhead", highly recommend a listen. It is a tough listen, but exceptionally well-told and respectfully handled
How do you detach yourself from your work? I'm an investigator for a law firm and I've had a lot of difficult working on wrongful death cases recently. Also, how did you first end up getting published? Any tips for people interested in that field? Thanks!
I don't detach. When I was researching hurtcore, it was harrowing and affected me deeply. Writing that part of the book was a very slow process because I just couldn't be in that headspace for very long at a time. Once the book was written I didn't go back there.
I already had a reputation as a blogger and a freelance journalist when i pitched my book on Silk Road. I got an agent and it was auctioned off, with Pan MacMillan getting the rights. At the time, Silk Road was still going strong, and the book I wrote was about this new frontier of drug dealing that was changing the world. I was writing it "from the inside" as I had been an active part of the community for two years. However, right as I submitted the final manuscript to my publisher, Silk Road was busted and Ross Ulbricht arrested, so i had to quickly change the narrative to a "Rise and Fall" thing!
How many times have you approached law enforcement with information and how many times has the approach resulted in action? and... are there times where you know something nefarious is happening but history and the evidence at hand tells you it's not worth the effort?
There is no point in approaching law enforcement to say "I have come across this site". If I've found it, you can guarantee law enforcement has found it as well.
The only time I've approached law enforcement was when I had information that they did not, which was when a friendly hacker provided me with a back door into the Besa Mafia murder-for-hire site. I got to see all the messages and orders etc. Of course LE knew about the site, but they did not have the details of the people who had hits taken out on them. We tried desperately to tell police in several countries that real people had paid real money to have other real people killed, but they just weren't interested. We sounded like crazy people talking about dark web hitmen, who were scams anyway and nobody was dead, so why should they be interested? They became much more engaged when one of the people WE HAD PREVIOUSLY TOLD THEM ABOUT later turned up dead
the below is a reply to the above
By law enforcement, do you mean only local or else the big agencies? I feel like I wouldn't tell my local police department because they wouldn't really know what to do. It would have to the the bigger agencies.
FBI in US. NCA in UK. AFP in Australia. Nobody was very interested, although the FBI did visit at least one of the targets to let her know she was a target. She still wound up dead
What are some of the most prevalent uses of the dark web that AREN'T all shady and nefarious?
We might be getting into semantics here, but people use Tor, which is the most possible darknet that is used to access the dark web, just for private browsing and ensuring that commercial interests aren't following them everywhere to bombard them with ads for some thing they looked up.
Some of the news organizations have a dark web presence so that whistleblowers can upload information safely. Even the CIA has a site on the dark web so that people can anonymously tip off matters of national security.
Other than that, there are just forums, where you don't have to worry that every single stupid thing you post will be saved in posterity forever, to be trotted out years later when you run for congress or something
After everything you've seen, does anything surprise you anymore or are you just numb to it at this point? Do you think there should be more education/exposure about the dark web than there is now or would that just be counter-productive as people would just find another place to hide? I'm curious to hear any favourite stories about the Psychonauts.
I am not numb and I hope I never become numb. I really don't visit the horrible dark places very often, unless I'm researching something specific, and even then I don't look at pictures or videos. Most of the crime is pretty benign - I'm not fazed by people wanting a safer way to buy drugs.
I think there needs to be ongoing discussions about online activity and its misuse in general, but most crime still happens on the clearnet. The dark web is not nearly as large or prevalent as people fear.
For a long time, a dealer provided free LSD to anyone who wanted it for personal use (ie not sale) and to any organizations who were doing psychedelic therapy.
One psychonaut got busted and spent time in prison... only he still had bitcoin in a wallet and by the time he was released he was a millionaire. He would have just spent it on drugs otherwise :)
I know law enforcement has to delve into the predator side of the dark web. With what you've seen do you think it should be mandatory or an industry standard that law enforcement officials seek professional help? I couldn't imagine investigating that daily and not thinking less of humanity at some point.
I'm pretty sure they do. I worked for Legal Aid for a while, and i know there were pretty strict rules in place for the lawyers who had to defend child abusers.
When I was at the trial for Lux, owner of Hurt2theCore, I met a cop whose job it was to watch all the videos and befriend the predators in an attempt to get them to slip up and reveal something of themselves. She said she had a little filing cabinet in her brain where she put all that stuff, and that making an arrest made it all worthwhile. She had made several arrests personally. She was a sex offender's worst nightmare :)
What’s one of your personal favorite investigations and what made it unique for you?
By far the Besa Mafia murder-for-hire case. What made it unique was that, first, I was provided a back door into the Besa Mafia site by a friendly hacker, so i had information that nobody else had. But then I became "friends" for want of a better word with the owner of the site, Yura. Besa Mafia, of course, was not killing anyone, but Yura made a LOT of money scamming would-be murderers out of their money. We entered into a weird relationship over the years where i would report on his activities and he would try every trick under the sun to stop me from doing so, so that he could keep scamming people. He even offered me a job, helping him, because he had become so busy. He also provided me with names and details of people who had hits taken out on them so I could pass them on to law enforcement.
It all became horribly real when one of the people who had a hit put out of them wound up dead. It wasn't Yura of course, but the guy had paid him $13K before giving up on the site and doing it himself. The thing was WE HAD TOLD THE FBI about the hit and the $13K and they visited the victim, but then put it into the too-hard basket when she couldn't think who might have paid that much to kill her.
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Wow. That’s actually pretty cool. Reminds me of an old saying. “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”
It's a seriously bizarre relationship. When I was hired as a consultant by CBS for a 48 Hours expose on dark web hitmen, he actually agreed to meet me in London. But he thought that CBS was going to advertise his site as the real deal and he got excited and sent them details of two people who had hits put out on them. CBS sent them straight to the police and very shortly after two arrests were made and it was all over the news, where they called his site a scam. Yura got so pissed about it, he never turned up to our meeting. They had even hired an Academy Award-nominated master of disguise makeup artist to disguise him!
are "red rooms" actually a prevalent thing, or just a widespread misconception or rumor? I ask in part because it's very easy to see, for instance, Mexican cartels dismembering people alive, etc, just on the clearnet. Hell, a couple days ago I saw a video posted of a cartel member cutting out a dude's heart while the guy was alive, and he ATE it. He fucking ATE it. So it seems plausible...
The most popular myth of all is Red Rooms, where people – usually women – are tortured to death live on camera while those who have paid to watch type in torture commands in a chat box. Think the movie Hostel, with webcams. In this sense these have never been proven to exist. I get where you are coming from with the cartels, and the recent news item where they found those shipping containers set up with torture rooms freaked me out and made me wonder!
There is some truth to this rumour, but the execution is not like you see in the movies. Most notably, because it involves children, not adults abused on demand for paying pedophiles, but not to the point of death
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The news about those shipping containers really made me speculate, since for every one person who gets caught doing something evil, there must be at least several more people who are very honed in their 'profession' doing the same evil deeds and worse, yet who evade being captured for decades. Anyway, based on morbid things I've seen, karma comes around eventually...
I know, right? It really freaked me out, and then when I read that they already had intended victims for them but the police got to them first and put them in protected custody.. IMAGINE SEEING THOSE PICTURES AND KNOWING YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE IN THEM!! I would retire to a deserted island somewhere
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Your line of work could easily result in something like C-PTSD down the road a little ways. I have a morbid curiosity, and have seen worse than those shipping containers had to offer. I'm sure you have as well. So one more question from you, if you don't mind: what are some proactive approaches to mental health you take to safeguard your sanity?
A lot of wine. Cuddle my dog
Hi, there! This has been fascinating to read; thank you so much for sharing! I'm curious: why do you think so many people who don't want to engage with disgusting and illegal content like hurtcore find it so interesting to read about? Do you have any insight into your readership and the ethics associated with reading about these kind of topics?
I think morbid fascination with the dark is exceedingly common - just look at how many people can't get enough about serial killers! In some ways it is probably a self-defense mechanism - the vast majority of true-crime readers are women. People like to be armed with knowledge. We also like to be spooked and scared.
As for my books, I don't really go into much gory detail, but the horror still shines through
Out of all 9-5 jobs out there, why this? What’s your motive?
I got disenchanted by being a lawyer and I had wanted to be an author since childhood. The lawyering put me in a strong enough financial position that I could quit to do a uni course for a couple of years. My plan was to become a best-selling novelist, but my first chick-lit novel was nothing special. However, during the course, I found I did really well at journalism and was soon making a living as a freelance journo before I finished the course. My first major feature was on the Silk Road drugs market, which I had discovered thanks to a friend who was using it. Once I got in there I became fascinated by everything about it and started contacting the owner, users, vendors etc asking for stories (I was upfront about who I was). I began the first serious dark web blog - allthingsvice.com - and also became the go-to freelancer for Australian dark web stories. Then I pitched my first book and got a healthy advance for it.
I like working for myself, working from home and delving into things. Right now I have my dream job (though it wouldn't hurt to pay a bit more. I'm certainly not making anywhere near what I used to make lawyering, but I make enough to get by and I live pretty simply)
Did you ever do any writing on Brian Farrell and his role in Silk Road 2.0? I was Brian's cellmate for all of 2017 at Sheridan Federal Prison and heard all of his crazy stories. Was just curious as to the validity of them all.
DoctorClu! I did write briefly about him in Silk Road, but it wasn't all positive. I remember being frustrated by the shitshow that was Silk Road 2.0 in the beginning, right after SR1 shut and when DPR2 took off and Defcon got all dramatic. It settled down after a bit and lasted a year, when it was revealed THEY HAD A FUCKING UNDERCOVER HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICER ON STAFF THE WHOLE TIME. But yeah, anyhow, they are probably true. I'd love to hear them :)
Was there ever something on the dark web that made you surprised ( in a good way) and smile ?
So many things. Back in the day of the original Silk Road, I became obsessed with the forums, the people behind it, the intelligent discourse about the War on Drugs and philosophy. I found it amusing that drug dealers ran sales and giveaways. There were book clubs and movie clubs.
One of the most important people from that era was Dr Fernando Cauevilla, who became a member of Silk Road as "DoctorX". He was a real doctor who provided genuine, free, non-judgmental advice about drug use to the members of the site. It was quite an amazing time.
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Did Ulbricht get taken down the way we were told in the news? What happened to all the Bitcoins?
His arrest went down the way we were told in the news. How they located the server has never been disclosed (other than a fanciful explanation that NOBODY could believe). This explanation may be tested if Variety Jones runs a Fourth Amendment argument at his trial
The bitcoin in the wallet on Ross' computer was auctioned off by the Feds. He may have other bitcoin wallets stashed somewhere but nobody knows
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Book/movie clubs on the silk road?
Yeah, they would set reading and then everyone would come back and discuss the book, or they would have a time when everyone watched the same movie at the same time and chatted about it in real time
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Haha that's amazing! I don't suppose you remember any of the books in question?
They used to be a lot of philosophy books, especially on agorism. A Lodging of Wayfaring Men was one of the books. I remember V for Vendetta on a movie night
You don't seem to be pushing your most recent project and you're actually answering all the questions people ask, so I've got ask...are you some sort of government plant meant to destabilize reddit? This isn't how AMAs are supposed to work. You come in, you half ass a few questions, hawk whatever you're here to hawk, and then leave after 20 minutes. That's how it's done.
lol I'm a genuine redditor from way back, and I love talking about the stuff I do. I did find that after I answered a question in an AskReddit thread a while back that blew up, the sales followed. But that was organic and I don't think you can force it to happen - Reddit can spot that a mile awy
What are some of the best things about the dark web? And can anyone get on it? Things you can buy that you can’t buy normally online?
I really enjoy some of the forums, especially the psychonaut forums where people who like to trip on psychedelics get together and talk drugs and philosophy. There's a real "be kind to one another" vibe.
Getting on the dark web is easy, but not getting scammed when buying things takes a lot of homework. Yes, you can buy most things, but the most popular things are drugs and digital goods, i.e. things that depend on repeat custom and are easily transferable from seller to buyer
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You're doing the Good Work my man. I'd give you one of those awards if i knew how
What would you define the word "Safe" when it come to the internet (both www and dark web) world and are there any tips that I should follow to keep myself safe?
It really depends on what YOU mean by safe. Tor, which is the darknet that provides access to the dark web will keep you safe from prying eyes and surveillance.
If you mean keep your information safe, the old-fashioned advice is to never reuse your password and to enable 2-Factor authentication wherever you can. Your information is quite likely somewhere on the dark web thanks to high-profile hacks of major organizations, but provided you don't re-use usernames and passwords, you really don't have to worry too much about it.
If you mean keeping yourself and/or any kid safe from predators, the only thing is to ensure you are educated about the approaches and methods they use.
Has Covid affected the Dark Web in any real way? Also I just read through all of the post comments, what incredible story’s. I would totally buy a book about the Silk Road or Yaru!
re covid on the dark web, here's some notes I made for an interview I did recently:
* when Trump first hyped hydroxychloroquine as a potential miracle cure for COVID-19, drug dealers on the dark web seized on the claim.
* Listings quickly popped up on the most popular darknet markets
* A vendor on Whitehouse Market sells 100 Pills for $90, calling it a “Miracle Drug For Coronavirus” and suggesting buyers purchase in bulk to sell at a mark-up locally.
* Another makes the dubious claim “This drug will help people to beat Corona Virus” There are 11 listings on Empire Market currently, although more than half are from the one seller, who is a well-known and trusted vendor on the site.
* There were also people claiming to be selling infected blood or plasma of recovered COVID victims
* The infected blood stuff is just bullshit IMO Just because something is listed doesn’t mean it is genuinely for sale
* There's been some claims to be selling vaccines
* At the beginning there were also loads of listings for PPE
* some just used it as a marketing tactic - “fight off the virus with edible cannabis” or “relax with Xanax” and others as an excuse to raise their prices
* However, sales are low compared to sales of other drugs on the site, so it is difficult to say whether it’s something that will really catch on
* It didn’t take long for complaints to come in and market owners to clamp down on anything claiming to be a miracle cure or vaccine
* users were discouraging other users from profiting off the pandemic and requested markets provide health and safety information
* All the major markets forbid anything being sold as a cure for COVID. They flagged keywords and vendors would be told to take any listings down. They also put out PSAs telling people not to buy
* Monopoly: threatened to ban and.. “You are about to ingest drugs from a stranger on the internet - under no circumstances should you trust any vendor that is using COVID-19 as a marketing tool to peddle already questionable goods”
* It was a business decision. They don’t want anything that will attract attention or that might cause desperate people who wouldn’t normally use the DNMs to find their way there
* The idea behind DNMs generally is educated and responsible drug use. They really don’t want people dying - bad publicity and no repeat custom
* However the dark web is rife with scammers and people willing to prey on the desperate so there are still scams out there
* The only way I could ever see it becoming a thing is if there is a well-known potential cure/vaccine that is not being made widely available and could plausibly find its way onto the black market
Hi Eileen :) My question is about how you construct your Casefile episodes - I assume there is an extensive amount of outlining but do you write the final draft like a script specifically thinking about his voice? And about how long are they as far as - for example - does one hour equal 50-60 pages? Thank you.
I initially write them as if I'm writing an article or book, but then go back and edit them to be read out and yes, when I do that, I do have his voice in my head lol. One episode is usually around 12,000 words. It then goes to another editor who edits the episode to be even more "casefileaa' before it finally goes to Casey
Have you been exposed to things in your investigations that have made you second-guess what you do? If so, what has made you keep going back?
i've definitely had days where I question everything, but to be honest, I don't really hang around the horrible really dark places much. I did delve into the child predator forums when I was writing The Darkest Web, but I don't make it a habit to go there. The psychonauts are much more friendly
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To continue with that- have you clicked images, links that make you a suspect in certain scenarios?
Oh absolutely. Sometimes I go to a "Fresh Onion" site, which is a site that crawls all the .onion addresses (dark web URLs end in .onion rather than .com, org etc) and alerts you to any new ones. Sometimes they don't have any description, so you take a big risk clicking on any of those. The most dangerous button on the dark web is the "Random Onion" button, so I avoid that.
I'm pretty careful about what I click, but the moment something looks questionable I nope the fuck right out of there
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Have you ever felt that you may be a suspect whether it be ok a drug site, a pedo site, etc. Have you ever been contacted by someone regarding your surfing habits?
Well my actual surfing habits are protected by Tor, which means they are hidden from prying eyes, so no I haven't been contacted about them. I am very open on the dark web about who I am and what I'm doing there - I use the name OzFreelancer on all of the markets and forums. I don't go to the sites that host child abuse images - you can't un-see that shit and I don't need it in my head.
As noted in another reply, I was contacted by Homeland Security on one of my visits to the US and taken for a "friendly" lunch.
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Psychonauts are more friendly than most people. Something about regular mind altering experiences makes you want to be less of a cunt.
Yeah, I call The Majestic Garden a little corner of sunshine and rainbows on the dark web :)
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More about The Majestic Garden please? What is grown there?
It's a place where people talk about and source psychedelics - most notably LSD, the 2C family, DMT and MDMA. Talk about and sourcing harder drugs is forbidden. In fact the admins snuck in an autocorrect so that any time someone wrote the word "cocaine" it would post as "a raging hardon" :D
Do you fear that seeing all this stuff might turn you emotionally blunt? I'm not watching any of this stuff on purpose (even the clearnet stuff), because I fear that the more you see of it, the more normal it gets, and ultimately, the more it will fuck you up. To quote the movie 8mm... "If you dance with the devil, the devil don't change. The devil changes you."
No, I can't even watch "3 Guys 1 Hammer" in its entirety, let alone look at the really dark materials on the dark web. When I was researching The Darkest Web, going into the predator forums did the opposite of making me blunt. It was the shortest section of the book but took the longest to write because it was so emotionally draining
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I have to ask, what is "3 Guys 1 Hammer"?
It's a video of two teenagers murdering an innocent man with a hammer that went viral on the gore sites of the regular internet. It's truly horrible.
The teens killed over 20 people. I wrote about them in my book Psycho.com (excuse the plug)
I heard somewhere that you foster dogs. Is that something you do to counter all the terrible humans you encounter in your research - everyone knows how dogs are better than people. How many dogs have you fostered and which one was your favourite?
After my dog died I knew I didn't want to have another dog as I wanted to travel more. So I thought fostering dogs would be the answer as you give them love for a few weeks and then they go to their forever home. My first foster, Roy, was a big fat failure and now he lives here and sleeps in our bed and is the most spoiled dog alive
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Did you then just decide to quit travelling? I don't know anything about Roy, but I already think I love him.
Nah, he has family he can stay with when I go away, but any major travelling has been thwarted by COVID for now anyway. I'm in a hard lockdown city.
And I'm sure Roy would love you too, u/suckmyhugedong
Given how much you know about the dark web, what kind of crazy awful nightmares have you had? This could be a really good one. Thank you
Probably the worst thing was delving into the forums where child predators gathered. I never looked at any videos or photos, but just seeing their discussions sickened me. The one thing that keeps coming back to me came out of the sentencing hearing that I attended of Lux, owner of Hurt2theCore, considered the most heinous website in history. In court they read out a conversation between him and an abuser who made videos of torture of the mute disabled child in his care. They were joking "at least she won't be able to tell anyone" . the abuser wasn't caught, at least by that stage
As an indie author, how have you sourced freelancers? Did you seek out those that have specific expertise or did you work with editors from your time as a traditionally published author?
I learned to do everything myself before I started outsourcing.
I work with a professional editor who happens to be a friend of mine from back when we did a writing course together. I've been doing my own covers, but now that I have some royalties coming in, I've engaged a professional cover artist from Reedsy to develop a brand and more professional-looking covers for me. It is the hardest thing to find people you really want to work with and who are in budget.
I still haven't got the hang of email lists, newsletters or a website - they are all in a total mess at the moment and I'd love to find someone who can do them, but again it is that problem of finding the right person who is within budget
is it true that most of the internet is in the "dark web"? if so about how much percent is it?
By far the biggest myth is that it 10x larger than the Internet. I mean, this should be common sense anyway, but it gets propagated by tabloid media all the time. It stems a lot from people using the terms "deep web" and "dark web" interchangably when they are different things.
The statement that 90% (or thereabouts) of the internet is hidden is true, and it is called the deep web (not the dark web). The 90% that is hidden is all those pages you won’t get to using google or any other search engines. There’s nothing scary about that – in fact it works in your favour.
The easiest example is your bank. The bank’s major page is available to anyone who searches the web (part of the 10%, also known as the “clearweb”). But once you log in, all those pages you can access that contain your personal details? Not searchable on google. Each one of those pages is part of the 90% of the deep web. Business and government intranets also make up part of the deep web. Honestly, it’s nothing to worry about.
The dark web – the hidden services available through Tor and other anonymising programs – makes up a tiny fraction of the deep web. A really, really tiny fraction. It is infinitely smaller than the clearweb.
Do you think human trafficking happens on the dark web? Last year (I think) there was a really bizarre story here in the UK about a model who was supposedly kidnapped to order, drugged and transported overseas by a group called "Black Death". The official story is that BD doesn't exist, and the kidnapper was a fantasist. Is it likely that humans are bought and sold into slavery over the dark web?
There are no slick websites with auctions for slaves on the dark web, but I have no doubt that human traffickers use dark web encryption to communicate.
(here comes the second plug for the thread) - I wrote about the kidnap of Chloe Ayling and the Black Death Group in Murder on the Dark Web
What ever happened to the plural of mongoose storyline? it seems like after he was arrested in the united states, his case just fizzled away. did you ever find out any more information about yuri after he cancelled the interview with a news program? what happened with peter scully's case? i read that there was a fire where a lot of evidence against him was held and it all went up in smoke. are there any character and/or personality storylines that you feel haven't been told or are still a complete mystery? eg. tony76
1. He is still in the MCC in NY and awaiting trial. It has taken a long time because he had terrabytes of information to go through and things would have slowed down due to covid. I understand he is running the Fouth Amendment argument that Ulbricht probably should have run in the first place
2. I last heard from Yura just a few weeks ago. He is still scamming. There are some more programs in the works about him
3. Yes there was a very convenient fire, but he still got sentenced to life and i hope he rots in hell
4. I am madly curious to know what is happening with the extradition of James Ellingson, aka “MarijuanaIsMyMuse”, aka "redandwhite", MAYBE aka Tony76. I would LOVE to know that full story!
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Wow, this shit is a blast from the past. I used to love following the darknetmarket drama. Did you write about PoM and tony76 in one of your books? Ever since reddit shut down /darknetmarket I've been out of the loop.
I was in touch with PoM/Mongoose when he went on a posting rampage on MyPlanetGanja, then visited him in Bangkok prison several times. Wrote all about it :)
This may have been answered by a previous post pertaining to native language barriers to specific sites on the dark web, but in your investigations, did you come across content/pages/forums from warzones? Middle East, Burma, Afghanistan, etc? If yes, what was the most memorable bit?
There are loads of sites in foreign languages, but it is too difficult for me (a one-language numpty) to attempt to translate through AI, and it is not worth hiring a translator when they could just turn out to be Cat Facts
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The effects of the web by a number of companies have seduced a large number of users as these companies keep their data to prevent them from searching for alternatives. Likewise, these huge platforms have attracted applications to build their highest ecosystems before either severing access or actively opposing their interests when the applications became so successful. As a result, these walled gardens have effectively hindered innovation and monopolized large sections of the web. After the emergence of blockchain technology and decentralized cryptocurrencies, the need for applications to support decentralization has emerged. Several blockchain-based companies, applications and platforms have appeared in decentralization. In this research report, we will explain the approach adopted by the NEAR decentralization platform in designing and implementing the basic technology for its system. Near is a basic platform for cloud computing and decentralized storage managed by the community, designed to enable the open web for the future. On this web, everything can be created from new currencies to new applications to new industries, opening the door to an entirely new future.
The richness of the web is increasing day by day with the combined efforts of millions of people who have benefited from “innovation without permission” as content and applications are created without asking anyone. this lack of freedom of data has led to an environment hostile to the interests of its participants. And as we explained in the summary previously, web hosting companies have hindered innovation and greatly monopolized the web. In the future, we can fix this by using new technologies to re-enable the permissionless innovation of the past in a way, which creates a more open web where users are free and applications are supportive rather than adversarial to their interests. Decentralization emerged after the global financial crisis in 2008, which created fundamental problems of confidence in the heavily indebted banking system. Then the decentralized financial sector based on Blockchain technology has emerged since 2009. Decentralized Blockchain technology has made it easy for decentralized digital currencies like Bitcoin to exchange billions of dollars in peer-to-peer transfers for a fraction of the price of a traditional banking system. This technology allows participants in the over $ 50 billion virtual goods economy to track, own and trade in these commodities without permission. It allows real-world goods to cross into the digital domain, with verified ownership and tracking just like that of the digital. By default, the Internet where freedom of data enables innovation will lead to the development of a new form of software development. On this web, developers can quickly create applications from open state components and boost their efforts by using new business models that are enabled from within the program itself rather than relying on parasitic relationships with their users. This not only accelerates the creation of applications that have a more honest and cooperative relationship with its users, but also allows the emergence of completely new business built on them. To enable these new applications and the open web, it needs the appropriate infrastructure. The new web platform cannot be controlled by a single entity and its use is not limited due to insufficient scalability. It should be decentralized in design like the web itself and supported by a community of distributors widely so that the value they store cannot be monitored, modified or removed without permission from the users who store this value on their behalf. A new decentralization technology (Blockchain), which has facilitated decentralized digital currencies like Bitcoin, has made billions of dollars in peer-to-peer transfers at a fraction of the price of the traditional banking system. This technology allows participants in the $ 50 billion + virtual goods economy to track, own and trade in these goods without permission. It allows real-world goods to cross into the digital domain, with verified ownership and tracking just like that of the digital. Although the cost of storing data or performing a calculation on the Ethereum blockchain is thousands and millions of times higher than the cost of performing the same functionality on Amazon Web Services. A developer can always create a “central” app or even a central currency for a fraction of the cost of doing the same on a decentralized platform because a decentralized platform, by definition, will have many iterations in its operations and storage. Bitcoin can be thought of as the first, very basic, version of this global community-run cloud, though it is primarily used only to store and move the Bitcoin digital currency. Ethereum is the second and slightly more sophisticated version, which expanded the basic principles of Bitcoin to create a more general computing and storage platform, though it is a raw technology, which hasn’t achieved meaningful mainstream adoption.
1.1 WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO PAY THE EXTRA COST TO SUPPORT DECENTRALIZATION?
Because some elements of value, for example bits representing digital currency ownership, personal identity, or asset notes, are very sensitive. While in the central system, the following players can change the value of any credits they come into direct contact with:
The developer who controls the release or update of the application’s code
The platform where the data is stored
The servers which run the application’s code
Even if none of these players intend to operate with bad faith, the actions of governments, police forces and hackers can easily turn their hands against their users and censor, modify or steal the balances they are supposed to protect. A typical user will trust a typical centralized application, despite its potential vulnerabilities, with everyday data and computation. Typically, only banks and governments are trusted sufficiently to maintain custody of the most sensitive information — balances of wealth and identity. But these entities are also subject to the very human forces of hubris, corruption and theft. Especially after the 2008 global financial crisis, which demonstrated the fundamental problems of confidence in a highly indebted banking system. And governments around the world apply significant capital controls to citizens during times of crisis. After these examples, it has become a truism that hackers now own most or all of your sensitive data. These decentralized applications operate on a more complex infrastructure than today’s web but they have access to an instantaneous and global pool of currency, value and information that today’s web, where data is stored in the silos of individual corporations, cannot provide.
1.2 THE CHALLENGES OF CREATING A DECENTRALIZED CLOUD
A community-run system like this has very different challenges from centralized “cloud” infrastructure, which is running by a single entity or group of known entities. For example:
It must be both inclusive to anyone and secure from manipulation or capture.
Participants must be fairly compensated for their work while avoiding creating incentives for negligent or malicious behavior.
It must be both game theoretically secure so good actors find the right equilibrium and resistant to manipulation so bad actors are actively prevented from negatively affecting the system.
NEAR is a global community-run computing and storage cloud which is organized to be permissionless and which is economically incentivized to create a strong and decentralized data layer for the new web. Essentially, it is a platform for running applications which have access to a shared — and secure — pool of money, identity and data which is owned by their users. More technically, it combines the features of partition-resistant networking, serverless compute and distributed storage into a new kind of platform. NEAR is a community-managed, decentralized cloud storage and computing platform, designed to enable the open web in the future. It uses the same core technology for Bitcoin and Blockchain. On this web, everything can be created from new currencies to new applications to new industries, opening the door to an entirely new future. NEAR is a decentralized community-run cloud computing and storage platform, which is designed to enable the open web of the future. On this web, everything from new currencies to new applications to new industries can be created, opening the door to a brand new future. NEAR is a scalable computing and storage platform with the potential to change how systems are designed, how applications are built and how the web itself works. It is a complex technology allow developers and entrepreneurs to easily and sustainably build applications which reap the benefits of decentralization and participate in the Open Web while minimizing the associated costs for end users. NEAR creates the only community-managed cloud that is strong enough to power the future of the open web, as NEAR is designed from the ground up to deliver intuitive experiences to end users, expand capacity across millions of devices, and provide developers with new and sustainable business models for their applications. The NEAR Platform uses a token — also called “NEAR”. This token allows the users of these cloud resources, regardless of where they are in the world, to fairly compensate the providers of the services and to ensure that these participants operate in good faith.
2.1 WHY NEAR?
Through focus, we find that Platforms based on blockchain technologies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have made great progress and enriched the world with thousands of innovative applications spanning from games to decentralized financing. However, these original networks and none of the networks that followed were not able to bridge the gap towards mainstream adoption of the applications created above them and do not provide this type of standard that fully supports the web. This is a result of two key factors:
System design is relevant because the technical architecture of other platforms creates substantial problems with both usability and scalability which have made adoption nearly impossible by any but the most technical innovators. End-users experience 97–99% dropoff rates when using applications and developers find the process of creating and maintaining their applications endlessly frustrating. Fixing these problems requires substantial and complex changes to current protocol architectures, something which existing organizations haven’t proven capable of implementing. Instead, they create multi-year backlogs of specification design and implementation, which result in their technology falling further and further behind. NEAR’s platform and organization are architected specifically to solve the above-mentioned problems. The technical design is fanatically focused on creating the world’s most usable and scalable decentralized platform so global-scale applications can achieve real adoption. The organization and governance structure are designed to rapidly ship and continuously evolve the protocol so it will never become obsolete.
2.1.1 Features, which address these problems:
1. USABILITY FIRST The most important problem that needs to be addressed is how to allow developers to create useful applications that users can use easily and that will capture the sustainable value of these developers. 2. End-User Usability Developers will only build applications, which their end users can actually use. NEAR’s “progressive security” model allows developers to create experiences for their users which more closely resemble familiar web experiences by delaying onboarding, removing the need for user to learn “blockchain” concepts and limiting the number of permission-asking interactions the user must have to use the application. 1. Simple Onboarding: NEAR allows developers to take actions on behalf of their users, which allows them to onboard users without requiring these users to provide a wallet or interact with tokens immediately upon reaching an application. Because accounts keep track of application-specific keys, user accounts can also be used for the kind of “Single Sign On” (SSO) functionality that users are familiar with from the traditional web (eg “Login with Facebook/Google/Github/etc”). 2. Easy Subscriptions: Contract-based accounts allow for easy creation of subscriptions and custom permissioning for particular applications. 3. Familiar Usage Styles: The NEAR economic model allows developers to pay for usage on behalf of their users in order to hide the costs of infrastructure in a way that is in line with familiar web usage paradigms. 4. Predictable Pricing: NEAR prices transactions on the platform in simple terms, which allow end-users to experience predictable pricing and less cognitive load when using the platform.
2.1.2 Design principles and development NEAR’s platform
1. Usability: Applications deployed to the platform should be seamless to use for end users and seamless to create for developers. Wherever possible, the underlying technology itself should fade to the background or be hidden completely from end users. Wherever possible, developers should use familiar languages and patterns during the development process. Basic applications should be intuitive and simple to create while applications that are more robust should still be secure. 2. Scalability: The platform should scale with no upper limit as long as there is economic justification for doing so in order to support enterprise-grade, globally used applications. 3. Sustainable Decentralization: The platform should encourage significant decentralization in both the short term and the long term in order to properly secure the value it hosts. The platform — and community — should be widely and permissionlessly inclusive and actively encourage decentralization and participation. To maintain sustainability, both technological and community governance mechanisms should allow for practical iteration while avoiding capture by any single parties in the end. 4. Simplicity: The design of each of the system’s components should be as simple as possible in order to achieve their primary purpose. Optimize for simplicity, pragmatism and ease of understanding above theoretical perfection.
2.2 HOW NEAR WORKS?
NEAR’s platform provides a community-operated cloud infrastructure for deploying and running decentralized applications. It combines the features of a decentralized database with others of a serverless compute platform. The token, which allows this platform to run also, enables applications built on top of it to interact with each other in new ways. Together, these features allow developers to create censorship resistant back-ends for applications that deal with high stakes data like money, identity, assets, and open-state components, which interact seamlessly with each other. These application back-ends and components are called “smart contracts,” though we will often refer to these all as simply “applications” here. The infrastructure, which makes up this cloud, is created from a potentially infinite number of “nodes” run by individuals around the world who offer portions of their CPU and hard drive space — whether on their laptops or more professionally deployed servers. Developers write smart contracts and deploy them to this cloud as if they were deploying to a single server, which is a process that feels very similar to how applications are deployed to existing centralized clouds. Once the developer has deployed an application, called a “smart contract”, and marked it unchangeable (“immutable”), the application will now run for as long as at least a handful of members of the NEAR community continue to exist. When end users interact with that deployed application, they will generally do so through a familiar web or mobile interface just like any one of a million apps today. In the central cloud hosted by some companies today like: Amazon or Google, developers pay for their apps every month based on the amount of usage needed, for example based on the number of requests created by users visiting their webpages. The NEAR platform similarly requires that either users or developers provide compensation for their usage to the community operators of this infrastructure. Like today’s cloud infrastructure, NEAR prices usage based on easy to understand metrics that aren’t heavily influenced by factors like system congestion. Such factors make it very complicated for developers on alternative blockchain-based systems today. In the centralized cloud, the controlling corporation makes decisions unilaterally. NEAR community-run cloud is decentralized so updates must ultimately be accepted by a sufficient quorum of the network participants. Updates about its future are generated from the community and subject to an inclusive governance process, which balances efficiency and security. In order to ensure that the operators of nodes — who are anonymous and potentially even malicious — run the code with good behavior, they participate in a staking process called “Proof of Stake”. In this process, they willingly put a portion of value at risk as a sort of deposit, which they will forfeit if it is proven that they have operated improperly.
2.2.1 Elements of the NEAR’s Platform
The NEAR platform is made up of many separate elements. Some of these are native to the platform itself while others are used in conjunction with or on top of it. 1. THE NEAR TOKEN NEAR token is the fundamental native asset of the NEAR ecosystem and its functionality is enabled for all accounts. Each token is a unique digital asset similar to Ether, which can be used to: a) Pay the system for processing transactions and storing data. b) Run a validating node as part of the network by participating in the staking process. c) Help determine how network resources are allocated and where its future technical direction will go by participating in governance processes. The NEAR token enables the economic coordination of all participants who operate the network plus it enables new behaviors among the applications which are built on top of that network. 2. OTHER DIGITAL ASSETS The platform is designed to easily store unique digital assets, which may include, but aren’t limited to:
Other Tokens: Tokens bridged from other chains (“wrapped”) or created atop the NEAR Platform can be easily stored and moved using the underlying platform. This allows many kinds of tokens to be used atop the platform to pay for goods and services. “Stablecoins,” specific kinds of token which are designed to match the price of another asset (like the US Dollar), are particularly useful for transacting on the network in this way.
Unique Digital Assets: Similar to tokens, digital assets (sometimes called “Non Fungible Tokens” (NFTs) ranging from in-game collectibles to representations of real-world asset ownership can be stored and moved using the platform.
3. THE NEAR PLATFORM The core platform, which is made up of the cloud of community-operated nodes, is the most basic piece of infrastructure provided. Developers can permissionlessly deploy smart contracts to this cloud and users can permissionlessly use the applications they power. Applications, which could range from consumer-facing games to digital currencies, can store their state (data) securely on the platform. This is conceptually similar to the Ethereum platform. Operations that require an account, network use, or storage at the top of the platform require payment to the platform in the form of transaction fees that the platform then distributes to its community from the authentication contract. These operations could include creating new accounts, publishing new contracts, implementing code by contract and storing or modifying data by contract. As long as the rules of the protocol are followed, any independent developer can write software, which interfaces with it (for example, by submitting transactions, creating accounts or even running a new node client) without asking for anyone’s permission first. 4. THE NEAR DEVELOPMENT SUITE Set of tools and reference implementations created to facilitate its use by those developers and end users who prefer them. These tools include:
NEAR SDKs: NEAR platform supports (Rust and AssemblyScript) languages to write smart contracts. To provide a great experience for developers, NEAR has a full SDK, which includes standard data structures, examples and testing tools for these two languages.
Gitpod for NEAR: NEAR uses existing technology Gitpod to create zero time onboarding experience for developers. Gitpod provides an online “Integrated Development Environment” (IDE), which NEAR customized to allow developers to easily write, test and deploy smart contracts from a web browser.
NEAR Wallet: A wallet is a basic place for developers and end users to store the assets they need to use the network. NEAR Wallet is a reference implementation that is intended to work seamlessly with the progressive security model that lets application developers design more effective user experiences. It will eventually include built-in functionality to easily enable participation by holders in staking and governance processes on the network.
NEAR Explorer: To aid with both debugging of contracts and the understanding of network performance, Explorer presents information from the blockchain in an easily digestible web-based format.
NEAR Command Line Tools: The NEAR team provides a set of straightforward command line tools to allow developers to easily create, test and deploy applications from their local environments.
All of these tools are being created in an open-source manner so they can be modified or deployed by anyone.
Primarily economic forces drive the ecosystem, which makes up the NEAR platform. This economy creates the incentives, which allow participants permissionlessly organize to drive the platform’s key functions while creating strong disincentives for undesirable, irresponsible or malicious behavior. In order for the platform to be effective, these incentives need to exist both in the short term and in the long term. The NEAR platform is a market among participants interested in two aspects:
On the supply side, certification contract operators and other core infrastructure must be motivated to provide these services that make up the community cloud.
On the demand side, platform developers and end-users who pay for their use need to be able to do so in a simple, clear and consistent way that helps them.
Further, economic forces can also be applied to support the ecosystem as a whole. They can be used at a micro level to create new business models by directly compensating the developers who create its most useful applications. They can also be used at a macro level by coordinating the efforts of a broader set of ecosystem participants who participate in everything from education to governance.
3.1 NEAR ECONOMY DESIGN PRINCIPLES
NEAR’s overall system design principles are used to inform its economic design according to the following interpretations: 1. Usability: End users and developers should have predictable and consistent pricing for their usage of the network. Users should never lose data forever. 2. Scalability: The platform should scale at economically justified thresholds. 3. Simplicity: The design of each of the system’s components should be as simple as possible in order to achieve their primary purpose. 4. Sustainable Decentralization: The barrier for participation in the platform as a validating node should be set as low as possible in order to bring a wide range of participants. Over time, their participation should not drive wealth and control into the hands of a small number. Individual transactions made far in the future must be at least as secure as those made today in order to safeguard the value they modify.
3.2 ECONOMIC OVERVIEW
The NEAR economy is optimized to provide developers and end users with the easiest possible experience while still providing proper incentives for network security and ecosystem development. Summary of the key ideas that drive the system:
Thresholded Proof of Stake: Validating node operators provide scarce and valuable compute resources to the network. In order to ensure that the computations they run are correct, they are required to “stake” NEAR tokens, which guarantee their results. If these results are found to be inaccurate, the staker loses their tokens. This is a fundamental mechanism for securing the network. The threshold for participating in the system is set algorithmically at the lowest level possible to allow for the broadest possible participation of validating nodes in a given “epoch” period (½ of a day).
Epoch Rewards: Node operators are paid for their service a fixed percentage of total supply as a “security” fee of roughly 4.5% annualized. This rate targets sufficient participation levels among stakers in order to secure the network while balancing with other usage of NEAR token in the ecosystem.
Protocol treasury: In addition to validators, protocol treasury received a 0.5% of total supply annually to continuously re-invest into ecosystem development.
Transaction Costs: Usage of the network consumes two separate kinds of resources — instantaneous and long term. Instantaneous costs are generated by every transaction because each transaction requires the usage of both the network itself and some of its computation resources. These are priced together as a mostly-predictable cost per transaction, which is paid in NEAR tokens.
Storage Costs: Storage is a long term cost because storing data represents an ongoing burden to the nodes of the network. Storage costs are covered by maintaining minimum balance of NEAR tokens on the account or contract. This provides indirect mechanism of payment via inflation to validators for maintaining contract and account state on their nodes.
Inflation: Inflation is determined as combination of payouts to validators and protocol treasury minus the collected transaction fees and few other NEAR burning mechanics (like name auction). Overall the maximum inflation is 5%, which can go down over time as network gets more usage and more transactions fees are burned. It’s possible that inflation becomes negative (total supply decreases) if there is enough fees burned.
Scaling Thresholds: In a network, which scales its capacity relative to the amount of usage it receives, the thresholds, which drive the network to bring on additional capacity are economic in nature.
Security Thresholds: Some thresholds, which provide for good behavior among participants are set using economic incentives. For example, “Fishermen” (described separately).
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