Bitcoin is what would happen if reddit were allowed to invent their own form of money. While redditors certainly love Bitcoin, it was in fact invented in 2008 by a mysterious pseudonymous libertarian going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin claims to be a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency, which is a fancy way of saying it's the bittorrent of money. Bitcoin is well-known for being an avenue for criminality, especially in the sale of drugs and for money laundering, despite the fact that every transaction is publicly broadcast as part of its protocol. Bitcoin has built up an impressive following of neckbeards, autists, scam artists, and cultists over the course of its first six years of existence.
Like other successful forms of money, the value of Bitcoin is measured in US Dollars and is obsessively monitored by failed day traders. Wide swings in value are not uncommon, in fact it's more unusual for Bitcoin's value to remain stable for more than a day or two. Originally, the value was hard to track, which led to the formation of virtual currency exchanges, the largest of which was the Magic: the Gathering Online eXchange, or MtGOX for short. It was here that Bitcoin's "value", driven by insider trading and bots, rocketed from a few cents to over $1200. Once it reached this lofty high, MtGOX announced that they were insolvent and closed down, essentially stealing or destroying thousands of nerds' "money". This process was imitated and repeated by numerous lesser exchanges and continues to this day. The current value of Bitcoin can be calculated by triggering a random number generator.
The techincal details underpinning Bitcoin are all very esoteric and needlessly complicated, mostly to satisfy its followers' sense of unwarranted self-importance. They consider this to be "elegant" when in reality it's mostly meaningless computer busywork that is overwhelmingly wasteful and pointless. Don't bother trying to understand it.
—an early bitcoiner explaining the intricacies of Bitcoin
Mining is the act of letting a computer solve a complex, pointless math problem via a program downloaded from the Bitcoin overlords (known as "core devs"). It's somewhat like mining in WOW except you're wasting more time, effort, and energy for little to no reward. When your computer actually succeeds in solving one of these problems you are rewarded with a batch of coins, although the rate the coins are handed out on a whole is limited, is reducing over time, and you are also competing against numerous botnets. Unlike digging through sewage with a shovel hoping to strike oil, wasting your electricity on mining bitcoins is risky business as the value of these chocolate coins go up and down wildly and without reason like your bi-polar girlfriend going down on your best friend behind your back. You are probably better off installing whatever Call of Duty games came with your graphics cards and waiting for the next imaginary money bandwagon.
Originally, mining could be performed with any old CPU, but once the libtards, AnCaps, criminals, and other captains of industry latched onto Bitcoin, mining quickly became an arms race to build bigger, faster, better computers out of whatever garbage and junk they had lying around. Being a bunch of cheapskates, bitcoiners omitted anything not essential to mining, which led to various fire hazards and at least one instance of heatstroke, after a bitcoiner took a nap next to his rig and woke up with brain damage.
Budding miners can spend thousands of dollars on graphics cards that they zip-tie together like they're overzealous cops arresting protesters. These were quickly made obsolete by companies shitting out poorly designed FPGAs and ASICs, computers designed to do nothing but mine bitcoins and generate heat. Most of these were poorly built, leading to fires and small explosions, when they even managed to power on. After a few weeks of using these, thousands of overburdened video cards were retired, since they couldn't mine anything and the electricity costs to run them 24/7 were prohibitive. You can now find these cards on eBay for full price and half-functionality.
The rise of ASIC mining led to huge Chinese mining farms: warehouses full of miners that quickly made it impossible for regular bitcoiners to recoup any costs incurred by running up their parents' electric bills. They keep trying, however, cobbling together dozens of shoddy ASIC miners in an attempt to copy the Chinese. This, rather predictably, fails.
The Bitcoin Community
While Bitcoin itself is a somewhat novel, if not kludgey solution to a problem that doesn't exist and is sort of interesting, the community that has built up around it is quite possibly the worst collection of people on the internet, a sickening combination of freep, 4chan, reddit, and worse. In their various hangouts and forums, they've managed to start what is essentially a cult around Satoshi, who can do no wrong despite not really being that great a coder. Satoshi himself has abandoned Bitcoin and its community after they ignored his advice to not donate to Wikileaks after PayPal shut them down.
The Bitcoin community's primary driving force and favorite pastime is scamming each other and anyone else who happens to get in their way. Whether they're selling drugs, explosives, or providing nebulous "services" that siphon money away from other suckers, bitcoiners have specialized in ripping each other off. Here are some of the luminaries who stand out above the rest:
With the abundance of idiots in San Francisco who have too much money and too little sense, Bitcoin businesses were bound to pop up to siphon money away from these assholes while providing no services whatsoever, worldwide. Some were set up as exchanges, allowing users to trade real money for digital POGs, some provide nebulous "services" which often end up vaporand most were just attempts to start a normal business, but with Bitcoin. A few of these include companies whose sole purpose was to design specialized microchips to speed up the mining arms race, starting with reprogrammable but slow FPGAs and moving on to ASIC chips which could do nothing aside from mining.
One of the most notable and most notorious of the miner manufacturers is Kansas-based Butterfly Labs, who quickly capitalized on bitcoiners' need for dangerous computers that waste electricity and promised to churn out mediocre FPGA rigs. These were quickly made obsolete by too many people buying them and similar products, leading the Bitcoin network to adjust itself to even out difficulty. Recognizing this, BFL then announced newer, better hardware which was plagued by delays. After putting off the release for months, they finally debuted the device at CES to much fanfare. Their demo unit was an empty box full of computer fans with a shitty Android tablet stuck inside. Four months later, they started shipping slower machines that used more electricity to do less work and sent them to a privileged few, while perpetually delaying orders and collecting more filthy piles of money. Later they released the "Mini Rig," which is a huge, broken, unstable piece of shit, also missing pretty much all of their targeted goals. Both bitcoiners and critics alike took notice, leading to BFL buying out their biggest critic, the Buttcoin blog, for five figures and then removing any instances of criticism, claiming that their huge, broken, unstable piece of shit was actually "a sexy bitcoin mining machine".
BFL's customer service is legendarily bad thanks to one Josh Zerlan, AKA BFL_Josh AKA Inaba AKA "you cocksucker". Josh's official title is "VP of Product Development" but mostly he just posted on the Bitcointalk and BFL forums assuring people that they hadn't been ripped off and that their orders, or more rarely their refunds, were just around the corner. However, when he assumed his alter ego Inaba, all bets were off. He'd insult customers and users, with his go-to swear being "cocksucker", with "motherfucker" coming in a close second. BFL_Josh, of course, denied being Inaba, even though they both posted at the same times from the same IPs. He's even slipped up on several occasions, posting under the incorrect moniker, then acting as if it hadn't happened. Eventually it was just assumed that they were one in the same and Josh shortly stopped posting as frequently as BFL faced mounting legal issues.
Convicted and imprisoned for mailing explosives through the USPS. Operates what is considered the most successful Bitcoin business, which never met its sales goals. Assured everyone that MtGOX wasn't insolvent, right before they closed down and lost all the money. Renounced his US citizenship to live in a tax haven, then paid off his tax debt only to be denied re-entry to the US. Current status: living somewhere overseas, potentially stateless. Last seen attempting to enforce a "contract" that was just him and some other idiots trading PDFs back and forth.
"Consultant" who seems to end up tied to every major scam or vanished exchange but conveniently manages to slip away with his reputation unharmed. Has terrible hair and a terrible voice. Thinks water has no intrinsic value. Paid large amounts of actual money to speak at sad, empty Bitcoin conferences.
Started one of the earlier Bitcoin exchanges and was subsequently convicted of money laundering. Placed under house arrest for months so he made appearances at events as an iPad on a stick. Currently in prison teaching other felons how to use Bitcoin to break the law.
Infamously (and incorrectly) named as the creator of Bitcoin by Newsweek and doggedly pursued by reporters only to deny his involvement. Got a free lunch out of it.
Ran the first successful incarnation of the Silk Road under the pseudonym "Dread Pirate Roberts". Caught logged in to the Silk Road admin interface in a public library. Kept a ridiculously detailed diary of his crimes which led to his conviction. Currently awaiting sentencing.
Started and ran the second Silk Road until he was nabbed by the feds. Immediately confessed.
Ran MtGOX (into the ground). Purchased the website from another clueless developer and manipulated it into being the largest, most successful Bitcoin exchange until its inevitable failure. Massive weeaboo. Lives in Tokyo with his cat and continues to work as a PHP dev. Tried to rewrite SSH with PHP.
One of Bitcoin's most prolific idea guys. Bitcoin's least successful ideas guy. Tries to make a living off of low effort scams or badly planned businesses that never pan out. Has an unhealthy love of the 1994 Ford Explorer.
AtlasOne of the original idea guys on BitcoinTalk. Founded the Bitcoin subreddit, attempted to sell it, and was promptly banned from reddit.
Bitcoiners have a propensity for considering any news, especially bad news, to be "good for Bitcoin". Things that are good for Bitcoin include but are not limited to: scams, Ponzi schemes, taxation, regulation, arrests, market crashes, high prices, low prices, stable prices, altcoin failures, exchanges disappearing, scammers running away with everything, Bitcoin adoption, Bitcoin abandonment, and global economic meltdown.
Trolling bitcoiners is easy, simply disagree with them or explain all of Bitcoin's (numerous) flaws. They'll quickly build themselves up to a frothing rage, allowing you to sit back and laugh at them with minimal effort.
The Hole Seekers Hacks
Despite the ease in trolling bitcoiners, some people occasionally go above and beyond in tormenting the children at Bitcointalk. One such group was the Hole Seekers, a group who managed to compromise the forums not once, but twice. Initially one of them offered to help Theymos (the admin) in setting up and managing some of the forums' functionality, and built in a backdoor. Months later, when it was totally unexpected, the forums were modified to show popups of Bill Cosby all over, advertising CosbyCoin and other such services. Theymos frantically shut down the forums and eventually cleaned up the mess. Two years later, they used the exact same backdoor, which was never closed, to deface the forums again. This is the reason nobody on Bitcointalk can upload new avatars now, as Theymos can't figure out how to close the hole and instead just disabled avatars entirely.
Why should you use bitcoin
Gallery of Awfulness
- the Bitcoin FAQ
- Bitcoin is Evil
- BitcoinTalk, the "official" Bitcoin discussion forum
- /r/bitcoin, the Bitcoin subreddit where most of their adoption drives take place
- the Bitcoin Business Generator
- the Advanced Bitcoin Simulator
- Bitcoin Mining Profit Calculator: Gaiden
- Bitcoin.txt: actual shit bitcoiners say
- Shit /r/Bitcoin says: actual quotes from the Bitcoin subreddit