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Small reviews of (I think) all incremental games I've ever played on Android
I don't know if this will be useful to anyone. So I write a line or two about every game I play, and decided to find all the incremental in my game journal and post them here. It starts with the latest games I've played and I think goes back to several years back. One thing I've realized is I have such a love-hate-hate relationship with this genre since I think I've hated 90% of the games and 100% of myself after each incremental phase. I usually angrily stop playing them for a while and restart them again, so this is more or less a journal of addiction, I suppose. THE BEST GAMES I'VE PLAYED ARE THESE (no order):
Honorable Mention: Eggs, Inc The rest: more or less hated it Additional comment if you decide to scan through it, I complain a lot, so it is perfectly reasonable and normal to think, "why the fuck are you even playing these games, idiot??". ------ Time Idle RPG This game was confusing. It tells me the game's resources is time, where you get 1 of it every second, but that's not really something as unique as I assumed. It would have been cool if time as resources meant you used it to deal with something related to time. Maybe time travel? Maybe slowing and speeding time? Instead time as resource buys you stuff like a library. And then you buy a camp or something. Honestly, I wasn't really feeling it. 2 Path of Idling The biggest cardinal sin for me when it comes to incremental is when a game has a lot of features and it just completely throws them all at you instantly. The joy of a great incremental is how things slowly open up and each new achievement feels progress. The game is a RPG game and these are the things that opened up for me in the first few hours. Combat which includes normal fighting, dungeon, raid, boss, PVP (locked, but it just needs an ascend, which I haven't done) Skills Hero upgrades which include Passive (strength, defence, stamina, intelligence), Train, and a huge Tree Town which you can buy workers who get you various things like gold, orbs, knowledge, etc. You can upgrade stuff here. Quest that also includes Perks and Skill quests. Gear which 5 equipment slots, plus craft plus trade plus smelt Also gear for your Pet, which is also another tab! Now, here is the thing. Because I have all of this pretty much instantly, I don't really know which ones are helping me go past a well. How is adding 10 points in strength helping me? Should I have added five in strength instead and five in defence? I have already bought 20 or so upgrades in the Tree, but I have no idea if I am made the optimal choice. There is no real excitement with getting new gear. And so on. The dev has added a lot of features, now it's time to rework the game, and have the features take their time. 2 Idle Slayer The game is like a super simple platformer. Your character is running and any enemy it hits, it automatically slays it. There is no HP, and all enemies die in one shot. Your only active play is jumping occasionally to grab coins or hit the flying enemies. Also, you have a run skill that has a cool down. With the coins, we get new weapons that give us more coins. Enemies give us souls which is used for the prestige system that provides us with an interesting skill tree which provides a lot of choices on the path you want to do in terms of upgrades. So far excellent, however, the game has an extremely serious issue of pacing. The game initially progresses so fast that in the first hour or so, you get almost all the weapons aside from the last two, which then grinds down to a snail pace. You can upgrade your past weapons, but they never really get into play again. Reaching high levels of past weapons sometimes gave me upgrades of that weapon of 10,000% but they still did nothing to my overall coin per second. I think the pacing needs to be fully reworked. It would have been nice to get new weapons after certain prestige cycles, so that every new weapon feels like we have passed a significant wall. The best part of an incremental game for me is to face a wall, and when I finally break it, I feel powerful again for a while. This game feels like this though, powerful powerful powerful powerful WALL........break it....WALL. And so on. I'm still playing it as I want to get some of the skills, but I feel like it could have been so much better. 4 Exponential Idle A very back to the foundation kind of incremental. The premise is that you are a student and working on a formula. There is a neat story where as you progress in the game, your character progresses through university. Each upgrade gives you more and more automation until I reached a stage where I would check back once every 2 or 3 days, click a 2nd layer prestige reset, and close it. Meaning the game was something like 5 seconds of game player every 2 days. I just opened it for this review and realized I had reached the end game. The story wraps up and it tells me "You can take a rest. Travel a bit. Go outside!" NO, DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO GAME. 3 Factoid Factoid & Spark should have the same review as they are almost the same game with only small differences. The games are the most basic kind of incremental, where you buy something with resources, until you get the next thing which gives you more of the resources. Both give you upgrades to speed things up, and finally prestige and it's own prestige upgrades. That's it. It's nice little change of pace from all the recent incremental that sometimes do too much, but obviously due to the very simple nature of it, it does eventually feel pointless, specially after you more or less open up everything and the prestige upgrades just keep repeating. 3 Spark Factoid & Spark should have the same review as they are almost the same game with only small differences. The games are the most basic kind of incremental, where you buy something with resources, until you get the next thing which gives you more of the resources. Both give you upgrades to speed things up, and finally prestige and it's own prestige upgrades. That's it. It's nice little change of pace from all the recent incremental that sometimes do too much, but obviously due to the very simple nature of it, it does eventually feel pointless, specially after you more or less open up everything and the prestige upgrades just keep repeating. 3 Antimatter Dimensions Easily top 5 incremental on mobile. Does everything perfectly. You progress nicely, and when new features open it, not only is it rewarding but more importantly, it keeps adding new dimensions (lol) to the game. I'd at the end game as I write this, and I realize that there was no point in the game where it felt stale. Each new prestige layer made the game feel fresh and almost like a new incremental game. 5 Melvor Idle It seems this game was mainly aimed at Runescape players, which is probably why it didn't click for me. It also run extremely slow on my phone which also played a part in me not really getting into. 2 A Girl Adrift The animation is really pretty and is a nice change of pace for incrementals, but I didn't really like the too much active play. Really had to keep going back and forth to different areas to do the fishing which got too repetitive for me. You travel to different areas of the map to catch fish, which you get points and then you upgrade stuff, but I didn't really find any real excitement about the upgrades because I kept having to go back to previous areas to fish similar creatures. 3 Archer: Danger Phone I'm really annoyed how terrible of a game this was. Two things I like, the TV show "Archer" and incremental games, and it's done in the most lazy manner. The game is the worst aspect of idle games where it's just a straight path of clicking the next upgrade with absolutely zero decision making. Every once in a while there is a mini game where Archer gets to shoot others but it's done in the most basic form of early 2000s flash games, where the animation budget is probably 3 dollars. Same static background and both enemies and Archer have just two animation frames. The absolute laziness of it is almost insulting to the player, because it feels like we aren't even worth the effort. There is an Archer story in the game which develops really fast, which is the only positive part, but no voice acting is again another evidence that the creators of the game weren't given any budget for this. 1 Home Quest This game is way too slow. You have to collect materials to build your settlement but everything takes time, so you click for a few seconds, and then you have to leave the game. Which I'm fine with, but the problem isn't the idle part of it, it's how the idle part of it combines with constant checking of the game which annoys me. I like an idle game where you forget to start the game for a day, you come up to a lot of resources, but this is a game which needs you to check back in every 30 minutes or an hour to really get anywhere. I felt that the micromanagement was getting worse as I progressed (without any actual thing to do when I am active in the game) that made me give up. 2 Idle Industry This is probably an interesting game, but I gave up because the one thing I really disliked was the amount of resources and manufacturing that very quickly opens to you. You can buy raw materials, and you can either sell these raw materials or turn them into finished goods and sell them either. And each of these has several upgrade options (increase selling price, increase production, etc). Without even really getting too deep into the game, I have around 20 raw materials and around 30 finished products. A satisfying part of this genre is to have things slow open up for you, which gives me a decent feeling of satisfaction. But the money I got would quickly open up new products, so I would just jump ahead and purchase more expensive ones, and after a while I had a lot of materials and products at zero, and was instead focusing on latter ones. 2 Masters of Madness Somewhat neat atmosphere and visuals, but too much active clicking. Click, upgrade to get more per clicks, get minions to get you some points without clicking, typical clicker, but with the added benefit of almost no idling. I like idling incrementals but clickers is a hard no from me. 1 Soda Dungeon 2 Basically similar to the first one, as far as I could tell. I did "finish" it but maybe I shouldn't have, since it really is the same thing from early on, specially once you get all the heroes and you kind of sort out which characters work best, then it's just the same. But because it was somewhat short and no real wall, it was at least easy to stick to it to the end. 2 Bacterial Takeover Played for a decent amount and was actually more interesting that I thought, given the buttload of ad incentives. You create and upgrade bacteria, attack planets, and eventually go into a blackhole to prestige. Most of the game was good, but the part that killed it for me was the prestige system. Once you prestige, planets get super easy to attack, which becomes a lot of active play. I realized that each prestige was taking me at least 30 minutes to get to where I was, and it was just meaningless clicking. It got to a point where I was putting off prestige because it seemed like it would be a hassle so I stopped. 2 LogRogue Cute graphics. The hero sort of hopping to hit the tiny monsters is cute to look at, but how long can you look at it and do nothing before you realize that it's boring? I suppose this is a game where it's just not for me. I don't like to have my phone open on a game and just watch it like a crazy person and do nothing. My rule is simple for incrementals. While the app is open, be active, if there isn't any choices to make, close the app while resources build up or whatever. I don't like it being open while I do nothing. 3 A Kittens Game Incremental games are so strange. I get in and out of the phases. I loved this for so long and so obsessively that I wanted to only play incremental games. And then, just like that, I was wondering why the fuck I was wasting my time with this. Has happened countless times before. But still probably the best incremental ever. 5 A Dark Room An incremental cult classic of sorts but I don't find it really matches the genre. There is a bit of incremental at the beginning with people huts and stuff but then its just a ascii exploring game, which wasn't interesting to me. 2 Little Healer Saw it mentioned in the Reddit incremental forum in one of the posts and thought it was a healer themed incremental which sounded neat. But it's like being a healer in a raid in World of Warcraft without any if the extras. Just a couple of bars representing your team mates and you healing them while they fight the boss. I didn't even like playing the healer in WoW so no way would I play this game. 1 Clickie Zoo Started playing for a few days until I realized there a beta released with the dev reworking the game completely from scratch and releasing it as "Idle Zoo Tycoon". So, played that instead but this seemed like a game I would enjoy anyway. 4 Idling to Rule the Gods The UI and one drawing if your character is really ugly enough to be distracting to me. The game, seemed interesting and I eventually was into it, but seems like a game that has been constantly being updated, which is not always a good thing, because features are obviously updated regularly to it, making the whole thing a bit bloaty. I guess, this is the problem with this game for me, it's too fat. Also, one main part of the game is that your character creates Shadow Clones up to a maximum limit. Which is fine except the clones can't be made in offline mode. This might not be a big deal in its original web browser game but that doesn't work as well in a mobile format. 2 Realm Grinder This is one of the really popular incremental and it's fanbase seems to love it for it's depth, but to be honest, I don't play these games for the depth, I play it for the simple dopamine rush of doing the same thing over and over again. It relaxes. Although, I didn't even get to the depth part because I dislike games where it rushes in the beginning. I constantly bought buildings, got spells, and got upgrades without even looking at the description. Apparently, later on, we can get complicated race upgades, which seems not what I'm looking for in such a genre. 2 Spaceplan A short (!!) incremental with an actual story (!!!). That's two cool points for it but unfortunately, the game mechanics of increment genre isn't so good. It's a space game with nice visuals and a great ending (cool music set to cool graphics) but the game itself wasn't really that fun. This same exact game would have been better in a different genre (maybe something like "Out There"?) 3 Zombidle Felt like idle games again and this is the kind of examples that kept me away. Too much clicking and seems like advancement will start to get irritating since it relies on IAPs 2 Eggs, Inc While I was playing it, Eggs, Inc was probably my favorite Android game I had ever played. But like most incremental games, there comes a moment when I suddenly stop and think, what am I doing? Because there is something fascinating about Incrementals. Their addictiveness is in a way the whole point. An incremental is less of a game and more an act of electronic addictiveness. What's the point? Eggs, Inc is a very well made and fun incremental but even the best in its genre is still pointless. 4 Castle Clicker Supposedly a mix of incremental and city building but didn't really find out since the clickings were way to much. I know this is supposed to be the genre but I like the incremental part more than the tapping part. This seemed to be a good way to hurt your fingers. 2 Endless Era This RPG clicker game is like other such games but with horrible GUI and animations. Tap tap tap. It's my fault for downloading such games. Why would I ever think this would be fun??? 1 Idle Quote An incremental game with a unique twist. This time we get to make up quotes! The first negative about the game and this irritates me a lot is most of the quotes are fake. A quick search on Google and this proves it. Quotes are generally attributed to Buddha or Ghandi or shit like that and it's usually fake like most quotes on the internet. This kills the major possible advantage of the game because I thought coming up with arbitrary words would at least give me some quotes to learn. Aside from the this, the game isn't fun either because it slows down very quickly meaning you combine words very slowly at a certain stage of the game and then it becomes a boring grind. 2 Monster Miser An incremental game with almost no graphics. We just see character portraits of monsters which we buy and then upgrade until we buy the next monster. Eventually we prestige which gives us multipliers. The only game choice is choosing between two monsters with each new monster with unique benefits. Annoyingly there is a max limit which I wish didn't exist because I wanted to prestige so much that I would be over powerful in upgrading like that "Idle Oil Tycoon". Still, pointless but reasonably fun. 3 Pocket Politics An incremental take on politics sounds fun but it's so generic that it could have been about anything. A Capitalist idle game or a cooking idle game, it wouldn't matter. IAP was also the usual shitty kind. 1 Time Clickers A shooter incremental sounds like a cool twist but it's not a FPS like I imagined it would be. I'm just stuck in a room and I was shooting blocks. Upgrades didn't give me any enjoyment since I was shooting fucking blocks. 1 Tap Tap Fish - Abyssrium I thought this was going to be relaxing incremental but the ridiculous and generic IAPs and all the social integeration spoil it. Too much time is spent in them asking you to buy or share or tweet or post or give them a blowjob. And there is nothing relaxing about that. 2 Cartoon 999 Incremental game about comic book writers, but not the marvel DC kind, it seemed to be the webcomic one and I think it's a Korean developer so all the characters and injokes made no sense to me. The whole thing was just targeted to a very specific audience. 2 Dungeon Manager Incremental games need to be simple but this is beyond simple, it's just upgrade a fighter to level 5, go to next dungeon character, do the same, and just continue without any of the delicious balancing of upgrades like other idle games. 2 Final Fortress Incremental games are already pointless but when it's super heavy on IAP than its also annoying, but when it always has bugs that doesn't register my offline earnings, then it just needs a uninstall in its face. The zombie skin was also crappy. 1 Mana Maker Here is how I know this clicker isn't very good. It doesn't make me hate all clickers and my life and mobile gaming in general for being so addictive and pointless. So fail, sorry. 2 Infinity Dungeon The usual incremental RPG that I should probably never play again. Starts simple enough and then gets more or a chore as you play. 1 Another incremental game which I had promised myself not to play anymore because they are so pointless and repetitive and endless. Well, this wasn't infinite and had a goal at 999 level so I thought it was good but while the humor was cute, the game did become very repetitive. Every 10 levels the slimes changed but after every 100 levels the whole thing restarted and while the monsters got stronger, I seemed to get even stronger. So the game became easier as I progressed and there was no more challenge. By level 800, I gave up. 2 Tap Dungeon RPG Okay, I'm running out of ways to complain about those incremental RPG games that all have similar problems. It starts off reasonably fast and fun but soon it seems like I am in a data entry job. Doing the same thing over and over again with little changes. 1 Dungeon 999 F: Secret of Slime Dungeon Another incremental game which I had promised myself not to play anymore because they are so pointless and repetitive and endless. Well, this wasn't infinite and had a goal at 999 level so I thought it was good but while the humor was cute, the game did become very repetitive. Every 10 levels the slimes changed but after every 100 levels the whole thing restarted and while the monsters got stronger, I seemed to get even stronger. So the game became easier as I progressed and there was no more challenge. By level 800, I gave up. 2 Tap Dungeon RPG Okay, I'm running out of ways to complain about those incremental RPG games that all have similar problems. It starts off reasonably fast and fun but soon it seems like I am in a data entry job. Doing the same thing over and over again with little changes. 1 Tower of Hero You start on the first floor of the tower and keep fighting your way up by summoning your heroes (by clicking) and recruiting other fighters, get upgrades, level up, and then, ugh, here is the typical incremental RPG part, restart, get items, and do it ALL over again. There is something fun about restarting and getting slowly stronger each time but it also feels so pointless after a while. Such a pointless genre now that I have played a billion of such titles, heh. 3 Pageboy Yet another incremental RPG which I have no idea why I downloaded because I'm sick of the genre. I played a pageboy to a knight who does the fighting while I collect the lot. I collect the loot, buy stuff for the knight, and eventually I restart to do the same thing again and get better items but this game I didn't even RESTART! Because fuck it! Fuck it! 2 Idle Warriors The story is cute. Human population is regressing while monster population is on the rise. So the humans start enslaving monsters to mine for them! The brave warriors beat the crap out of monsters, kidnap the bosses, and enslave them. The animation of monsters slaving away while speech balloons above them talk about their wife and children is funny. But the game itself is another RPG incremental which I should start staying away from. These games are like a chore for me nowadays because I'm doing the same crap again and again. The blame is probably on me because it seems like a reasonably solid game. But hey, fuck it, I PERSONALLY didn't enjoy it. 2 Tap! Tap! Faraway! Any game that is remotely like Tap Titan scares me. They are addictive at first and very fast moving but after every restart gets more and more annoying. It soon turns into a time eating activity with the player having to redo the initial levels to get relics to get better items to progress further to restart to get relics to and so on until the player realizes how much time he is putting in the game for a repetitive activity. 2 Auto RPG Now that is a title the game developers didn't spend too much time on. RPG battles are automatic but I can help out by clicking like a mad man. I started with one hero but would get additional members in my party as the story progressed. Party members receive skills as as they level up and while all the skill usage is automatic, it did give me a sense of progression which is extremely important in a RPG and which I think is usually lacking in incremental games. It usually starts feeling useless but in this game at least there are new maps, new members, and an actual end sight! There is an infinity stage once the last boss is defeated but I am glad the infinity stage happens AFTER the end and it's not the game itself. 4 Merchant Hire a hero and send on to battle. The battles is done automatically and takes time, starts with something short like 10 seconds with each battle taking longer. The loot is raw materials which can be used to craft equipment which also takes real life time with better items taking longer. The crafted items can either be sold or equipped to the hero to make him be able to fight stronger monsters. I was worried I would hate the longer crafting and fighting times because I hate games which I have to watch for a task to finish but even though the durations for longer, I had more to do. However, I don't know what would have happened in the end game because I gave up on it. New maps were exactly like the first map just with different heroes but the progression was similar in each level which felt that I was doing the exact same thing all over again but with longer task times. 2 Idle Oil Tycoon This is the best idle game I played. It's graphics aren't just minor, they are none existent. It's just numbers, so basic that my sister thought I was on a stock market app. It's such a simple concept. Invest, get oil, upgrade then like other idlers restart to get a bonus and do the full thing all over again. When I finished the game, I played the unlimited mode which I played until the unlimited mode couldn't handle the numbers anymore. 5 Soda Dungeon This kind-of Idle Dungeon was great. I started with weak ass fighters who would fight on my behalf while I collected the loot. I then got to use the lot to upgrade the sofa bar to recruit more adventurers. Not sure why it was a sofa bar. Maybe they wanted to make it a family game and not have alcohol? Sounds weird but the sofa element in a RPG game sounds weirder. The game only hit a brick for me when, like most other incremental games, there is no real closure. Once I thought I bet the big bad guy, it just goes on, harder but similar enough with no end in sight. Eventually, we have to stop playing right, but it always feels a bit like a let down when I don't feel like I have finished the game. 4 10 Billion Wives Kept Man Life The two games from this company, 10 Billion Wives and Kept Man Life, have similar strengths and weaknesses. I liked the silly premises from both. In 10BM, I had to get married as much as I could, using the loves I collect to marry more expensive wives! In KML, I'm a boyfriend who doesn't work and I have to please my career gf so she would take care of me. Both start reasonably fast and I was willing to grind through difficult parts but the end game is like a brick wall. Passing through it to get all the achievements is pretty much impossible unless one puts in way too many hours. And it's a shame because I really wanted to get all the achievements to see all the tiny little extra stuff. 3 Adventure Capitalist One of the better incremental games, but now that I am out of the short lived incremental fan phase, I realized how dumb the genre is. Tap, tap, tap, upgrade, do this a million times, reset, and do it all over again like a moron. The game does deserve credits for me acting like a moron and playing it for so long but I also cheated and got free cash and then if occupying became even more pointless. 3 The Monolith A combination of an incremental and a civilization building game seemed like an excellent idea and in some ways, it was, specially how we get to upgrade through the ages from cavemen to futuristic. But no offline feature means that the resets aren't enticing. 2 USSR Simulator An incremental game that has a great theme (USSR!) but absolutely horrible to enjoy, even though I did stick to it. After a certain upgrades, the game just turned into me popping in the game, clicking an upgrade and then forgetting about the game for a few days. 2 RPG Clicker They should call these games tappers not clickers. We are not clicking anything on a touchscreen device. Anyway, tap tap tap level up buy weapons tap tap and uninstall. 1 Logging Quest Logging Quest 2 [Review is for the original and its sequel] There is not much of a difference between the game. I actually played them both at the same time because the actual game is offline. You choose your hero, send them to a dungeon, and then come back to the game after a while to see how well they did. I thought an offline RPG like this might be interesting but then, if you don't really play a game, how much fun can it be? 1 Another pointless incremental. I was in an incremental phase and got so many incremental games that I know realize were absolutely pointless. Hit a tree, buy upgrades, get a new hero, and continue hitting a tree. Not much offline it seems which is what I like about incrementals. 1 Galaxy Clicker A space incremental that should have been a lot of fun. You get to upgrade your spaceship and buy new ones and explorer new planets. But first of all, the interface is so ugly that it makes playing the game less enjoyable. And a lot of things I didn't really get no matter how much I would play like the full exploring planets. The spaceships were nice, so it could have been fun. 2 Megatramp A pretty pointless incremental kind of game. You are a tramp and then you can collect money to buy upgrades to make more money, with no strategy needed, nor any effort needs to be made to hurt your brain cells. 1 Inflation RPG It supposed to be some kind of incremental RPG, I think, which has you resetting and getting more powerful and then fighting monsters to get insane levels. It is very unique but I couldn't get into it. 2 Widget RPG Are you fucking with me? This is button bashing rpg in the most extreme manner. You get a widget, so you don't even have to open the game and distract yourself from the button bushing. Just click the button and the game plays behind the scenes and gets you experience, loot, and kills. It's a ridiculous idea that is fun for a few minutes to see what they come up with but there is only so much button bashing you can do. 2 Capitalist Tycoon I downloaded this game because I was in an incremental/idle game phase and really enjoyed AdVenture Capitalist. But this game is nothing like that. On the surface, it seems similar, buy small investments, make money, buy bigger investments, and so on. But with this game, there is no offline mode, and you keep having to wake up managers, AND the goal is to see how much you make in one year. Bah. I prefer the incremental approach which makes you build and build and build, not try to rush it in just a year. 2 Clicking Bad An incremental clicking game that is themed after Breaking Bad. It is a fun idea it's a very simple game with little to do aside from the obvious of upgrading and upgrading. The only twist might be to balance out making lots of money selling drugs and not attracting the law but even that is only a small challenge at the start. Eventually, you will get enough upgrades to bring the law risk so down that it makes no impact on the game play. 2 Zombie Tapper A super basic incremental clicker game with a zombie team. Click click click to eat brains, use brains (?) to buy zombies to do the brain eating for you and then buy upgrades for your zombies, and buy new zombies and it all feels very pointless. 1 Bitcoin Billionaire I started to enjoy incremental games, but it needs to have a good offline mode, because I don’t want to just play a game where I keep tapping. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t play. I played it, and I played a lot of it, because I could reset the game (like most incremental games) and it gives you a small benefit where you could finish the full game a bit faster (it gives you bonus income). So, I kept finishing and resetting, and each time the start to finish would shorten, so I thought I would reach a stage where I could finish each start-to-finish in an instant! It didn’t happen. I got bored first. 3 Tap Titan An addictive tapping game. Just tap on the creatures, level up, get new skills, hire heroes, and then reset and to it all over again to progress further. It’s an incremental game where it depends on resets to progress, but no real offline bonus, so you have to be playing online. Which got boring, so I installed an app that does the tapping for me, which is actually a stupid way to play the game, but this isn’t an attempt to prove to anyone my intelligence. Anyway, thankfully something went wrong and my progress got deleted, WHICH WAS A GOOD THING, because the game was extremely addictive. 4 God Squad I’ve realized most incremental games are stupid. Tap on monsters to kill, collect gold, buy Roman Gods, level them up, fight other monsters, and then get bored. 1
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!
Some Bitcoin Analysts and Prediction Today and Yesterday & Why "It's not the Price, Dummy"
This is just for fun, I generally have no strong feelings toward bitcoin price (I'm just fundamentally against zero-sum get rich schemes). But today I decided to do a little bitcoin search in news.google.com and see what today's bulls were predicting in 2018. Side note, almost all of the news articles came from crypto sites. I tried my best to stay away from them. Farming magazine telling you agriculture is the future isn't exactly shocking. To people who invest, please don't consider this as a prediction that price will fall. I'm not astute or smart enough to predict either way. The only possible use is to make sure you are more skeptic regarding predictions. Keep in mind, a rich CEO or consultant can lose 100 million and not really affect his life that much, but a 10k or 100k lose for some people can be devastating. And remember, some of these rich hedge managers don't believe their own bullshit, and hopefully, some of these quotes will emulate that. (Note, I won't waste time linking them all, but by quoting them directly, it should be easy to google) (another side note, I didn't purposely search out specific names. I went by the first names I came across, and only ignoring those that I couldn't find anything regarding crypto in past years)
Present: Business Inside: Bitcoin is like 'digital gold' and won't be used the same as a traditional currency in at least 5 years, billionaire investor Mike Novogratz says Past: On Nov, 2017, he said: "Bitcoin could ‘easily’ reach $40,000 by the end of 2018, hedge fund legend Novogratz says" 2018: "Michael Novogratz calls a bottom in cryptocurrencies" (it wasn't) Novogratz started a crypto funding in 2018. First 9 months "Mike Novogratz’s Crypto Trading Desk Lost $136 Million in Nine Months" (Bloomberg). Quarter 4: "Galaxy Digital Posts $32.9 Million in Net Loss for Q4 2019". Feb 2020 "Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital Slashes 15% Staff"
Present: "For Raoul Pal, CEO of Real Vision, the bullish atmosphere had been reinforced, and further gains were more likely than ever. “There are literally only two resistances left on the #bitcoin chart - 14,000 and then the old all-time high at 20,000,” he tweeted." In a tweet today, he said, "Bitcoin is eating the world... It has become a supermassive black hole that is sucking in everything around it and destroying it. This narrative is only going to grow over the next 18 months. You see, gold is breaking down versus bitcoin...and gold investors will flip to BTC" Past: 2014: "Put them in the same kind of equation we get a value of bitcoin and that value is a million dollars. Now, you'll never hear an analyst say this—but I don't mind this—I could be wrong by 90%, and it's still worth $100,000." (to be honest, that's a bit of an impressive prediction in 2014) On the other hand, he probably didn't really believe his own prediction because in June, 2017 (when it was 2000 USD or so), he said: " “This is the most exponential move we have seen. I don’t know how far it goes, but I sold out last week… and I’ve [owned Bitcoin] since it was $200. Anything that moves exponentially, always [blows up].”" In 2016, "This view brings Pal to the asset he favors most over the next year out of bonds, equities, currencies and commodities: the dollar."
Eh, that was just two. I was hoping to mention several people, but it appears not many people are actually making predictions anymore, and anyone mentioned are basically not big people so I couldn't find much on them regarding bitcoin before 2019. So, the main thing I like to highlight are the analysts and such are going to make money whatever happens. Fund managers are playing with people's money and, as long as they are not involved in frauds, there is no real harm to them against wrong predictions. Generally, successful business people are successful because they were loud, confident, and were able to convince others that they had the right idea. Even when wrong, they bounce back. Most of us aren't like that. Some bitcoiners come here to boast when price goes up, as if the increase in price is an indication that argument against bitcoin has been proven wrong. While some people here are fanatically anti-bitcoin, I am not one of those. I have nothing against people making money (why would I be upset that people I don't know around the world became wealthier??). But since bitcoin investing is by design a zero sum game, certain people will eventually lose, and it is most likely it is the people who were listening to predictions by experts that would ultimately be financially hurt, and not the experts making the predictions. Crypto investing has been a platform where the average person works hard in his day to day life, and then brings the fruits of his labor into this field. The actual productive part of that person's life is the one outside crypto, where they had been productive for the community, and in exchange, they receive wages. Crypto investing's promise is for this wage to increase without the actual productivity. The concern is mainly that the result of all that labor will be misused by crypto "experts" who's own income (their labor) is directly linked to predictions on crypto. The above paragraph is badly explained, but the main point is that the average person brings in outside money they worked hard for, while "experts" there is generally no outside money, crypto fund management or consulting itself is their job. --- Money can be made, of course, but money being made isn't necessarily an argument for something. Bitcoin, and crypto, has for the past 1.5 decades still largely just about numbers going up. Google trend on "bitcoin" show top related queries being "bitcoin price", "bitcoin usd", "bitcoin usd price". When people come here when it hits a particular arbitrary price point thinking it's their gotcha moment, it actually just reinforces my argument that it is only about the price. Nothing in the history of human economy has ever lasted based only on the economic model of who you could resell it for at a higher price. Even DeFi's smart contracts (as much as I could understand it) is about prices going up. It's like for these people the concept of contracts are based purely on money exchanging hands, and no actual task being done. Almost all contracts globally are based on specific productive tasks being done, such as employee contract, supplier contract, property contract, and so on. Only a tiny amount of it is based on "if this currency goes up, then give me that currency" contracts. ---
I have ADHD. I was diagnosed at age 12. What happened is I got to middle school, and my life fell apart. It came on like a typhoon. Things seemed alright as I started, but I still remember that October when my family went to sixth-grade check-in. My twin sister went first. The meeting lasted about four minutes. She and my parents left with smiles all around and talk of getting In N Out on the way home. Then it was my turn. Every teacher I had stood in a circle. They seemed...different. One by one, they went around and told me that I was shit. Some were nicer than others, but everyone had the same message to convey: Doesn't complete his homework all the way Distracts others trying to learn Unable to follow along in class Not sure if he can keep up I then heard my grades: C-, D+, C+, A in PE, C, and an F in Social Studies. I don't remember being ashamed or embarrassed or anything. I remember being confused. I had gone to school every day and tried hard and thought I was doing what the teacher asked. Nope. Guess I wasn't. Nobody had much advice for me. They just wanted me to know that I sucked. And that my parents should understand so. I don't know if my parents freaked out or punished me or what. But they weren't happy. The last to go was my social studies teacher, Sven. He asked me if I knew how to read. I politely nodded my head. But he wasn't sure. He talked about all the symptoms he had seen from me. To counter, I pulled a grad-level book on the Cold War off a shelf and read a page aloud while trying not to cry. People were even more confused. Some estimate that a child with ADHD will receive 20,000 more negative comments before the age of 12 than a non-ADHD child will. I can't speak to that exactly, but I can say that this was not the only time I've had a room full of people upset with me for reasons I never saw coming. It doesn't get much easier. Sven caught up to us as we walked to the car. He was cagey with his reasoning, but he told us that there might be something up with my brain. He recommended I get tested by a psychiatrist and see what she had to say. I've since come to my conclusions where he got such an idea. The testing was fun. I've always liked tests. Didn't mention it, but they also thought I couldn't read in 2nd grade. Lol. That one went away after I took a standardized exam and scored in the 99th percentile of the nation in reading. I thought standardized tests were fun, you see. I moved a bunch of colored balls into colored holes and tried to remember what color things were after 10 minutes and everything else you might expect. I didn't know what I was even doing, but I felt I could hang. Three weeks later, I got my results. The only part I remember is that my psychiatrist noted that in her entire career, she had never met someone who scored higher on specific tasks and yet lower on others. My chart looked like OJ Simpson’s polygraph. I could keep going, and in another article, I will. But this is how I got diagnosed. And the key to all of it was Sven. Everything makes perfect sense after the fact, but only when you realize that a single teacher served as the link that completes the narrative. I do not know where I am today without him. I got lucky that this story takes place in 2003, and at a private school with teachers who genuinely cared about me. For reasons a lawyer in the comments needs to help me understand better, public school teachers seem loath to alert students of disabilities of any kind. This includes ADHD but also things like autism, dyslexia, and mood disorders. Things that seem apparent to me in a way that makes it seem impossible that no other teacher in the past 13 years hasn’t also picked up on them. That means many students go through primary schooling while having no idea they have a problem at all. When I mention to a student they might have ADHD, they are first confused, but then some memories come back. The first is that someone, usually a sports or music coach, had once told them the same thing. The other is that they remember a lot of teachers saying weird stuff they didn't understand at the time. Stuff like, "You’re so talented. I just wish you could be better focused. Have you talked to anyone about why you could be having trouble?" To me, those sound like hints from a teacher who has been told by her bosses not to put the school at risk. I am not a teacher. I'm a private consultant and can pretty much say whatever I want. I am also not a doctor - people would die - but I am a concerned adult who has taken courses in spotting learning disabilities. I'm also someone who will do absolutely anything to make sure his students have the best chance for success now and in the future. I'm also someone who asked both my ADHD-psychiatrist (hi!) and ADHD-therapist (hi!!!!!) if I had the right to tell students if I suspected something; they both went, Ya, dude. Totally. So I try to be Sven. I try to pay attention to what my students do and say and provide feedback that can help them. I'd like to note what that feedback is here to make sure people don't miss it because my pieces go on for way too long. If you are a high school student who suspects he or she has ADHD, your best course of action is to talk with your parents and look into being tested by a professional psychiatrist who specializes in the topic. These tests are expensive, and mental health insurance in America sucks balls. But this is the fastest, most straightforward route to getting the help you need. Option two is to try and work with/through your public high school to get them to pay for it.This site has some good info. My guess is that this method will suck. Public schools don't have a lot of funding and will not want to spend it on you. That's not your problem. You will almost certainly need your parents to back you up on this one and sit through a lot of boring meetings. I assume a lot of people will tell you a lot of reasons why they can't help you. Your response every time should be some version of, "Sure. But I need help with this. And I'm not going to stop until I get the support I need. So what do I do from here?" Then you blankly stare at them and refuse to leave until they get you at least to the next step. I'm not sure how well this will work. If you do attempt or have attempted this method, please DM me or contact my Email with your experience. I want to know if this is even worth my student's time. If you can not afford traditional testing or do not feel your parents would support such testing, your best option is to wait until the day you turn 18 and then register for a telehealth company specializing in ADHD. The one I use and recommend isHelloAhead.com. They're neat. They do not take traditional insurance, but their rates are much lower than most doctors. They are cheap enough that I feel an average 18-year old who wants help could find a way to afford it on his or her own. The downside with these sites is the waiting times can be long. Took me like five months. Other such sites are popping up, and while I can't vouch for them, they all seem to offer a similar service. Those paragraphs are what I want every student here to know. I'm much more comfortable having a trained doctor tell you what the deal is than I am trying to do it myself. But I have to see something if I want to be Sven. The question then is, how do I see it? For spotting ADHD, it's shockingly simple. And I'll get to the real reason at the end. But for now, here is what I see when I see a student with ADHD. The best way I can describe their lives is "endless chaos" The chaos isn't always bad! Rarely it's fun chaos, but often it's just chaos chaos. This chaos exists in both physical and mental forms. Physical: Their shit is such a mess. Everything. Most of the work we do is digital, so I see the Google Doc version of their mind. Folders make no sense. Things are labeled inaccurately or not at all. Schools get combined, or separated, or forgotten altogether. It is not a single type of error, but instead a collection of small mistakes and poor decisions that make the work impossible to corral. I have some kids that are messy or lazy, but this is different. It's like if the original folder system I built for them was an amoeba in a petri dish. Leave that dish out for a weekend and come back. The patterns will be remarkably similar to the organizational gore that they then try to utilize. Mental: There's always a story. "I was late because my car has a flat tire, and the guy was late, so I had to take an Uber." "I didn't know my music essays were due a month early because the form only mentioned there being a recital." "My friend is mad at me, but it's only because she didn't tell me we were the first group presenting, so I spent more time preparing our project". These stories make sense at first. But after a few weeks, they start to pile up. Then I become the one hearing a story about why they didn't do what I wanted, and I stop being so forgiving. ADHD is a neurological disorder. Not a mental illness. It's closer to diabetes than it is bi-polar. "ADHD" is a fairly garbage name for the condition because A) it has a stigma, and B) it isn't even accurate. Both attention deficit and hyperactivity are symptoms of ADHD, but they are not the problem itself. It would be like calling clinical depression "low energy and excessive guilt disorder". ADHD is actually an issue involving improper dopamine regulation in the brain combined with under-activity of the brain's executive function component. The executive function center is the part of your brain that is in charge of making sure all the other parts of your brain play nice and communicate. When the executive function center breaks down...those other parts don't. The result is a failure to plan or coordinate + a need for impulsive stimulation, thus resulting in endless chaos. This is what I’ll ask you if you DM me, btw. Is your life endless chaos? Sometimes do you like the chaos? Sometimes do you get bored and create the chaos yourself just to see what might happen? But when that chaos stops being so fun, can you make it stop? They're very, very intelligent You've probably heard about the "gifted ADHD genius" thing before. I don't think it exists. My theory has always been that the "gifted ADHD child" is a victim of survivorship bias. The research states that ADHD has either no or a negative correlation with intelligence. There is also a startling overlap with ADHD and incarceration. This means that students who still manage to succeed despite their disorder tend to have advantages that keep them in the game. Namely that they're smart as hell. The other saving grace is that they come from secure support networks that prevent them from unraveling completely. I've heard from such students that their mom or dad works tirelessly to keep their life in order and to make sure they're getting things done. I do not think it is a coincidence that when ADHD students leave for college, things often fall apart. The fact that there are ADHD kids that others know and still like makes some think ADHD isn't so bad or comes with natural cognitive advantages. Those same people do not become friends with the ADHD dumb kids who would disprove those perceptions. Do you remember that kid in elementary school who was his own worst enemy? He never had friends, and everyone was kind of afraid to even talk with him? He was kind of a bully but mostly just awful? He invited you to his house one time, but your mom wouldn’t let you go? That is my best guess of what a dumb kid with ADHD is like. It sounds cold writing it, but you know which kid I'm talking about right now. Where do you think that kid is today? I end up with the smart ones—the ones with parents who care. And God damn are these kids smart. They're brilliant, and funny, and likable, and charming. They have something different about them that makes them undeniable. And it's not just me. I worry I play them up too much in my mind, but then I chat with a teacher or coach of theirs. It's always the same thing: Oh, she's brilliant. She can be so frustrating sometimes, tho. They can be so frustrating sometimes, tho The word is frustrating. Now bad. Not nasty. Not unlikeable. Frustrating. I have some students I just don't like that much (no, not you). What tends to be the common theme with them is that they don't have much interest in my help and display a work ethic to match. On the other spectrum are the world beaters (totally you). These kids kick ass and not only follow my advice but often take that advice to the next level in ways that awe and inspire me. And then there are the kids I think have ADHD. They don't do stuff all the time. They don't finish an essay, or they forget to spell check like I asked, or they write about something that has nothing to do with the outline we built the week before. That's not necessarily the frustrating part. You kids are 17; you make mistakes. Early on, I try to spot these mistakes and point them out. Even the students who don't like me seem to get my point after enough prodding and the problem goes away. With these kids, the problem does not go away. Or if it does, another problem pops right back up to replace it. It makes me feel like there's nothing I can do. It would be easier if the student was just a brat. Then I could either become a brat myself or mentally check out because "hey man, your future”. I need a name for kids I suspect have ADHD…"MaybeHD"? Ya. That’s super funny. Say it out loud and try not to laugh. But these MaybeHD kids do like me. And they do want to get into school. And they do feel bad when I get upset with them. I end up in long, drawn-out conversations with them about why this is important and why they need to make specific work a priority to get into the schools they want to go to. Then they nod meekly and head home. Then they come back next week, and it's the same story. Frustrating. They are randomly awesome at the weirdest things I love weird talents. Things that no one offers up immediately, but then you're chatting, and it comes up naturally. "Oh ya, I love animals! I raise baby pigs in my backyard!" "You do?" "Ya!" At some point, the MaybeHD kid read something or watched a Youtube video that he or she liked. Then they wanted to try it. Six months later, they're making 4k a month selling custom bathrobes on Etsy. There's rarely any logic. "Do you like baths? Or making clothing? "Not really. I just thought it looked fun, so I bought a sewing kit and started making things." There is a noted link between ADHD and entrepreneurship. I see it with my MaybeHD students. They have an insatiable drive and passion for following up on curiosities that other students don't possess. Passion is the wrong word. They have obsessions with mastering concepts in a way that feels beyond their control. The obsession itself drives them to be great. The literature on the subject is cloudy. But there exists a term in ADHD circles called "Hyperfocus". If you know what "flow" is, it's kind of like that. Only more intense and less controllable. I often see the remnants of past hyperfocuses in their stories. They used to run that pig farm. They used to sell bathrobes. They used to be really into getting good grades at school. But then one day, just as quickly as they picked the skill up, they dropped it. They can seldom tell me why. Their priorities are completely out of whack The downside of hyperfocus is that it can be so all-encompassing that other priorities fall by the wayside. One of my favorite students ever is named Elleway. We chatted in our first meeting, and I was instantly intrigued by her background. She said she had designed and prototyped a unit that would automatically roll under parked electric cars for hands-free charging. I hear a lot of impressive stuff in my job, and a lot of it ends up being not that impressive. But then Elleway showed me the prototype video she made back when she was a high school freshman and it blew my mind. https://youtu.be/Y5Ap2uMbWL4 Can you do that? I sure as hell can't. She wasn't even an engineer. She calmly explained that she had partnered with several older male engineers who had helped turn her idea into reality. Then she had done all the promotional and marketing work herself. Then she got second out of 300 students at a young entrepreneur contest held at Columbia University. Shortly after, a tech CEO came up to her and asked if she would like to work with him to file a patent for the invention. She agreed and is now a trademark holder. That was all in our first 10 minutes. She then went on to share the half dozen corporations she had worked for. And the three businesses she started. And the graphic design work she made for her website. She told me how she was a Nationally ranked fencer until she lost interest. She was now merely a Nationally ranked golfer. Then I saw she had a 2.9 GPA and thus zero shot at getting into NYU like she hoped. I did not initially think Elleway had ADHD. I thought she was a pathological liar. It seemed impossible to me that this same girl who had already taken a grip on the world was then unable to keep up her grades in math. That just isn’t how any -any- of my other ultra high-achieving students behave. Then Elleway showed me pictures of her casually hanging out with Andrew Yang. And then her LinkedIn With a lot of people who do not accept your request unless they want to. I had to figure out what the hell led to all this. Elleway’s patent and ambition to work on it had taken up all her time. She was so singularly focused on doing what she cared about that the world behind her didn't seem to exist. She was hyperfocused on a goal, but once she reached it, she woke up to a reality that punished her for ignoring everything else. That's the longing writer's version of the story. The more popular one is that she didn't give a shit about school, was warned repeatedly about the consequences, and ignored them. She got what she deserved. That’s the version the rest of the world had for her. It goes back to frustrating. I've gotten kids into NYU that don't show a fifth the potential that Elleway did. Those kids went to all the camps their parents paid for and entered competitions with a tech doorbell or something lame, and they're just fine. But MaybeHD students are often world-beaters in ways that make them seem so special. They talk endlessly not just about what they're into but how they figured it all out and why it is all so important to them. I believe them, and I want to fight for them. So I give them as much assistance as I possibly can. But then they don't do the increasingly easy tasks I ask for them to complete. Then they suffer the consequences. Elleway didn't get into NYU. She didn't get in much of anywhere. It eats me up inside, and I feel like I failed her. I don't know how many other people in my position would feel the same way. That's why I have to be Sven. This is getting long, and I'm getting depressed. Here's the TL: DR of what I see when I see a student with ADHD ... Me. I see me. And it can hurt really bad knowing what a condition like ADHD does to a young person's life. My life is endless chaos. I've been out of food for nine days. My house looks like Badger from Breaking Bad bought a loft in Palo Alto. I am still writing this at 3:25 AM when I have to be up for work at nine. My cat has started doing this thing where she sleeps in her food bowl when it gets empty. It's equal parts adorable and humiliating. I'm smart as shit. I know it. I made up half-ideas. That article is absolute fire. I got published on Cracked.com five times in 2011 when that meant something. I went to Tulane on a half-ride merit scholarship, used to win creative writing contests, and have done a bunch of other writery stuff that made people stand up and go, "Woah". But I only made it to college because my mom carried me there, kicking and screaming. She packaged my life together, and I held on for the ride. Then I got to school and made it two months before she got an Email alerting her that Tulane was planning to revoke the remaining $70,000 of my $80,000 scholarship due to my grades. I barely scraped by and survived. But the shame and frustration in her voice when she read me that letter over the phone haunts me to this day. I analyze handwriting. And I turned a Reddit account into a successful business in four months. And I collect college T-shirts from schools my students go to. And I own Bitcoin I bought in 2011 for $4.50 each. And I'm teaching myself piano with a video game. And I'm exercising with a video game. And I'm ranked 42nd in Northern California at Super Smash Bros Ultimate. And I’ve tried the nachos at over 100 Taquerias in the Bay Area. And I own a really cute cat. But I've spent 15* hours this week writing this instead of a sequel to that Costco piece. I have one coming where I edit my Common App essay from 2009. It's a great idea and a great article. One that will drive significantly more business to my site than this piece will. Hell, I predict this piece is likely to lose me business because I come off like a mess in it. But it's what I want to write, so I feel like I have no choice. *The 15 hours is a guess. I have no idea how long it takes me to write and edit these things. I start typing and X hours later look up and realize how hungry I am and how much I need to pee. The writing controls me. I see myself in my MaybeHD students. I see their unfettered curiosity and flair for taking as much good from the world as possible. I see their infectious enthusiasm and ability to quickly forgive others because they know too well how it feels to want forgiveness themselves. Yet I also see their inattention to detail, their weak excuses, and their general confusion that makes me realize they couldn't fix some problems if their lives depended on it. I see their sadness and shame when those mistakes pile up. I see when the chaos stops being fun, and they want out, but they don't know how. I don't know what I, as their consultant, can do. But as Sven, I can recommend they go talk to someone else... Hey, so, I was considering hiring you and all...but you seem kind of bad. Why should I trust you? Because a couple of years ago, I got back on my medication and turned my life around. You aren't reading this if I don't reach out for help and trust a trained psychiatrist to guide me. There are no groups of friends in Delaware or Connecticut comparing their half-ideas lists. There sure as shit isn't a CollegeWithMattie.com. I still have ADHD. But one of the greatest things about ADHD is that it is -without rival- the most treatable form of mental illness or dysfunction known to man. It is not curable, but there are endless medical and non-medical options available for those willing to reach out and get the help they need. My story is that it was only by getting re-medicated that I then could learn and use coping mechanisms that allow me to achieve the type of life I've always wanted. Christ, 4,400 words. You know, I'm also submitting this for a class I'm in. That's why all the backlinks are to actual sources instead of links herding you into my website. Hi Amy! That's one more thing. ADHD people are hyper-efficient...Kind of. Alright. If you're still here reading this, you might be suspecting some things about yourself. My DMs are open if you want to chat, but again, I am not a doctor. I will say that right now, as you prepare to head to college, is a really good time to get this all figured out. College is a giant reset button on your life. Figure these problems out now so that by the time you head off for your next chapter, you will have given yourself the best possible chance to succeed. Endless chaos. Here is the bold part again: If you are a student in high school who suspects he or she has ADHD, your best course of action is to talk with your parents and look into being tested by a professional psychiatrist who specializes in the topic. These tests are expensive, and mental health insurance in America (still) sucks balls. But this is the fastest, most straightforward route to getting the help you need. Option two is to try and work with/through your public high school to get them to pay for it.This site has some good info. My guess is that this method will kind of suck. Public schools don't have a lot of funding and will not want to spend it on you. That's not your problem. You will almost certainly need your parents to back you up on this one and sit through a lot of boring meetings. I assume a lot of people will tell you a lot of reasons why they can't help you. Your response every time should be some version of, "Sure. But I need help with this. And I'm not going to stop until I get the support I need. So what do I do from here?" Then you blankly stare at them and refuse to leave until they get you at least to the next step. This will suck and I'm not sure how well it will work. If you do attempt or have attempted this method, please DM me or contact my Email with your experience. I want to know if this is even worth my student's time. If you can not afford traditional testing, or if you do not feel your parents would support such testing, your best option is to wait until the day you turn 18 and then register for a telehealth company that specializes in ADHD. The one I use and recommend isHelloAhead.com. They're neat. They do not take traditional insurance, but their rates are much lower than most doctors. They are cheap enough that I feel an average 18-year old who wants help could find a way to afford it on his or her own. The downside with these sites is the waiting times can be really long. Took me like five months. Other such sites are popping up, and while I can't vouch for them, they all seem to offer a similar service. Update: The lines aren't that long anymore! Monday was Elleway's 18th birthday. She sent me a screengrab of her upcoming Ahead appointment in early September. She told me she spent the entire day crying because all her friends were going off to great schools and that she was stuck at home. I've told Elleway that I plan to help her reapply to NYU this year. I doubt I will ever want to see another student succeed as much as I will with her.
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
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2149 points: Rami-Slicer's comment in 20GB leak of Intel data: whole Git repositories, dev tools, backdoor mentions in source code
[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)
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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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