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Fire in a Crowded Theater

Sun Nov 15, 2015 4:14 pm

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It's widely held that freedom of speech doesn't extend to yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater, and similarly dangerous speech, unless there actually is a fire.


The Censorship Argument

From the prespective of Theymos and his supporters, promoting a controversial hard fork is dangerous for Bitcoin. If everyone isn't on the same page when the hard fork happens there could be a nasty split in the blockchain. Even if the split isn't permanent, having a split at all could have significant cost.

Theymos also believes that the success of a controversial hard fork sets a bad precedent. If a controversial change is pushed through, is there any limit to what else can be pushed through?

Yelling "Fire!" means people will be trampled.


The Fire Argument

Supporters of Bitcoin XT believe that there really is a fire. Blocks are filling up. We are already at the point where spikes in usage lead to major backlogs, increasing the transaction fees required to get quick confirmations. Higher fees and delays push users away to other cryptocurrencies or back to fiat. Developers are delaying work on Bitcoin applications because the network isn't large enough to make them worth it. As we go into 2016 the situation will only get worse.

Yelling "Fire!" means lives will be saved.


Conclusion

How you see the censorship depends on your perspective about the situation we are in. If there is no fire, then yelling "Fire!" is highly dangerous, and censorship is both justified and necessary. If there is a fire, then yelling "Fire!" is justified and necessary, and censorship is highly dangerous.

Is it any wonder that people from both sides have become convinced that the other side is trying to destroy Bitcoin?

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ladoga
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Re: Fire in a Crowded Theater

Sun Nov 15, 2015 10:06 pm

I think it's a bad analogy. Ability to fork is an integral feature of Bitcoin and people can't make informed choices without free discussion.

The only conceivable reason to use censorship in a situation like this is when someone in position of power thinks that majority could otherwise choose against his will.

Nevermind which side of a fork you are supporting that can only be seen as an act of (ab)using power by someone who thinks that he is either more intelligent than the "ignorant masses" and thus can make a better decision for them or he/she simply wants to advance some personal agenda.

You only need to answer the following question:
Is this network owned by Theymos or all users of Bitcoin?

Then it comes pretty obvious who should decide.

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Re: Fire in a Crowded Theater

Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:12 am

You only need to answer the following question:
Is this network owned by Theymos or all users of Bitcoin?

Then it comes pretty obvious who should decide.
The Bitcoin network is owned by the *owners* of the Bitcoins.
Bitcointalk and /r/bitcoin are websites (not part of the Bitcoin network) and they are owned by Theymos. On his own sites he can do whatever he likes, cat pictures everywhere, fascist theocracy, redirect to fed.gov, whatever. (Are you proposing some kind of Bitlicense thing, where any website operator needs to contact "ladoga" for permission before taking a Bitcoin-related website action?)

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Re: Fire in a Crowded Theater

Mon Nov 16, 2015 3:35 am

Fuck theymos.
Bitcoin combines money, the wrongest thing in the world, with software, the easiest thing in the world to get wrong.
Please visit www.thezeitgeistmovement.com and www.thevenusproject.com.

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Re: Fire in a Crowded Theater

Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:46 am

i dont see fire yet, but i see smoke. act now.
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ladoga
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Re: Fire in a Crowded Theater

Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:55 pm

Bitcointalk and /r/bitcoin are websites (not part of the Bitcoin network) and they are owned by Theymos. On his own sites he can do whatever he likes, cat pictures everywhere, fascist theocracy, redirect to fed.gov, whatever.
Sure he can and obviously does. I don't know who handed him control of bitcoin.org, bitcointalk.org, /r/Bitcoin and en.bitcoin.it (Bitcoin Wiki), but those sites are not some personal blog. They hold great influence in Bitcoin ecosystem (not least because many consider them as community sites) and should have been governed accordingly.
(Are you proposing some kind of Bitlicense thing, where any website operator needs to contact "ladoga" for permission before taking a Bitcoin-related website action?)
Of course not. I'm just saying that steering community opinion by manipulating content on these sites is an irresponsible thing to do. I don't particularly care what Theymos writes in his personal blog, but some these websites have been part of Bitcoin since the whitepaper.

In retrospect Satoshi and Martti Malmi (Sirius) should have taken better care to ensure some checks and balances before leaving these websites in to hands of others.

What is done is done though.

IMHO the correct thing to do is to inform the public that bitcoin.org, bitcointalk.org, /r/Bitcoin and en.bitcoin.it are not impartial places to learn/discuss about bitcoin.

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Re: Fire in a Crowded Theater

Mon Nov 16, 2015 4:12 pm

@ladoga

Forgive me but you seem to be taking things rather personally. I mean, "who handed him control", "governed", "checks and balances" ?

I'd agree that /r/bitcoin is influential. But some of those other websites I have never visited (other than to investigate the controversy), and/or never will visit again. None of my friends or family, even Bitcoin friends, have ever visited them. I expect that a few people might visit Bitcoin.org, to download a software client, but the majority will probably just get "the app their friend is using" via a facebook post or reddit post or in person, and every app has its own website, and they can all be found by Google.

I think you really are making a big deal out of nothing. Most of the people I know, including many famous tech people, either [1] don't see anything wrong with a policy against contentious forks (Wladimir, the Bitcoin Core maintainer), [2] think that XT is a terrible idea and an attack on Bitcoin which should be discouraged (Nick Szabo, who many believe is Satoshi), or [3] are aware they don't/wouldn't understand enough of the details to take an informed position, and would prefer to sit this conversation out and move with the herd.

XT isn't succeeding because it just isn't a popular idea. There's just no reason to keep looking for another explanation.

But if you want to actually do something about changing people's minds, there's plenty you could be doing.

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Re: Fire in a Crowded Theater

Tue Nov 17, 2015 3:12 am

Some people argue there is nothing wrong with yelling fire in a crowded theatre, even when there is no fire. I would argue a lot of bitcoiners would be in this camp.

See chapter 10 of Walter Block's book - "Defending the Undefendable" literally called - the person who yells fire in a crowded theatre.
https://mises.org/library/defending-undefendable

Walter Block is a contempory of Rothbard, who is a hero to a lot of Bitcoin users. He says if you don't like people yelling "fire" when there isn't one pick a different theatre. This is essentially what is happening with people leaving reddit and coming here!

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