funny to see that subject pop up again. it was what drove me insane enough to find this sub in the first place. submitted by
at any rate, the problem is not the bots. I thought it was, but those are just part of the parasitic ecosystem.
but to get that, first we need to take a few steps back on web history, ad serving, UX, tracking technology and media advertising.
too lazy to gather links, but you know, do your googlin'.
I assume that most of you are fairly web literate here, but I'll try to go down into the bare bones as much as possible for those who aren't.
so let's start with a basic question - what is a web visitor anyway?
from the standpoint of a normal person, that would be a person browsing a given website or piece of content. from the standpoint of technology however all you know is that some device has downloaded content from your server using the http protocol. thanks to the wonderful technology of web browsers, you can plant browser cookies on a visitor - stuff that's used to remember if they logged in, what their preferences are, stuff that your service can read from the device. it also serves usually very basic telemetry like last visit time, session time, and so on.
this, over time has evolved in what we call browser fingerprinting, a convoluted bunch of technology that allows websites and web services to uniquely identify you.
it still doesn't know if you're a human or not, but from the standpoint of the web technology, you're a visitor.
now back in ye old days of the web, when the first banner ads were springing up, these were important questions. most consumers were still to be reached on traditional media channels, and ad spend would have to be justified somehow on the risky ventures of online business. so beyond traditional polls that would infer the value of visitors, websites would start tracking number of visitors, time on page and so on. these were used to milk the advertising cow so to speak, and it gave in to some funny developments like the creation of the popup ad - if I recon correctly on geocities, where they would just but the ads everywhere until some big auto company noticed that they're appearing on porn sites. so - put the ad in the popup, and you can claim it's not in the context of porn!
around this point in time the online ad business is still pretty low tech. you actually have to call a physical human being, they send you ppts and pdfs, you send back image files and excel sheets, you wire money, the ads run, and so on. this is called direct sales, and it's tracked again by counting a bunch of visitors, and telling you how much impressions and clicks your marvelous creatives and ad budget generated.
now enter google - or more precisely, a technology firm called doubleclick that was to be acquired by google. they developed a tool for automatic ad serving, later to be called programmatic advertising, that keeps the pesky sales dude out of the loop and achieves reasonable amounts of scale for a more hefty price - after all, if the sales are automated, you get a bidding war for attention between different advertisers, and you're paying for clicks.
so you can see how this was a strategic move for google - they already had the most valuable data available in this situation. they were seeing in real time what people were searching for, and using the programmatic ad serving system, you could effectively bid not just for general attention - but for attention with an intent to buy.
...and the way that google got this data is because they indexed the web, using bots. at least GoogleBot would identify itself as a site visitor, but in the meantime they developed a service for websites to comprehensively track their own visitors and where they were coming from and what they were doing on your website. incidentally, you could also put on google's ads on your webpage to earn quite a bit of money, as content relevant ads would be shown through the doubleclick system.
this kicked off two things:
one, the ability to classify your website visitors into different clusters and segments allowed businesses to start tailoring the appearance of the website or service to fit that specific audience segment, starting off the great fracture - segmentation of the web (in the sense that two people viewing the same website at the same time were not seeing the same thing)
two, it created a very strong financial incentive for people to trick google into thinking they were having actual human visitors that would click on ads, when in fact they were bots. in an even funnier twist, some of them were from browser hijackers, commonly known as malware at the time, which google cross-financed. look up download valley and crossrider.
at the cross section of the above two, you had one interesting twist: websites that would appear differently to the security bots or the compliance officers of Google as they would to fake visitors or malware jacked human beings. the former would get a benign looking website, while the latter would get bombarded with auto clicking ads.
this kicked off the billion dollar arms race called online advertising fraud.
I'm not here to shed a tear for big money corps bleeding money. the real fallout lay somewhere else, but for that you have to understand that you never really saw the real internet, you only saw your corner and the one that was personalized for you.
but if you ever had the pleasure of watching daytime TVs or off channels and witnessing the ads, you could kind of infer what kind of audience must be watching these shows generally. from quite clear rip offs to magic number lotteries and television fortune telling, these sorts of programming was aimed at the most gullible, bought for pennies, where the smallest audience portion had to be converted into a money making operation.
...and with audience segmentation and data gathering, that was now possible at unprecedented scale, automatically. so big was the scale in fact, that it gave birth to an entire new beast of an industry called affiliate marketing, where instead of a regular payroll, you'd get a cut of the sale should you figure out an angle on where to push whatever fucking bullshit the vendors were offering to whoever the fuck would be dumb enough to click on an ad and buy. (the funniest story I recall was someone pulling five figures a month because he figured out that if you buy ads on anime-hentai pages and sell PUA shit courses and e-books you'd make a killing)
at any rate, affiliate marketing brought with it the killer landing page, the thing that's supposed to hammer the nail in the coffin once you get through the banner ad. the earliest form of deceptiveness in memory comes from various pirate sites, that had fake download buttons as banner ads and virus alerts as the landing pages. but then at some point, some schmuck realized that for certain type of products, like diet pills or forex trading or whatever, the best lander is in fact a fake news page that comes packed with comments and all. that would convert like crazy, because it had the appearance of social proof.
until at least the lawsuits came raining down, and these sorts of landing pages and campaigns for being banned left right and centre on all platforms. which just launched a new arms race as the campaigns would be disguised for the bots doing the checkups, and aged facebook profiles would start selling for like 5K USD - these people were making 30-40k a day, they could afford to spend that much to continue running the shop.
speaking of facebook - it came just about the right time for the shit to brew max total. first they were unprecedented in the amount of data they were getting off of their users, and they came just in time to catch the full swing of what we call the 'responsive web' - that no user at the same time would see the same thing on their page, it was all allocated through an intricate web of recommendations, running real time, based on previously gathered and forecast behavioral data.
it also ran on one simple premise: take over the starting page position from google for most people, then they do not have to justify, ever, any ad spend that takes place on their platform, as long as it performs. furthermore, it was completely lacking any revenue share sort of scheme (save for the short period of facebook gaming, see Zynga), thus there was no incentive for the amount of bot traffic that the previous internet era had bred. instead, it came with an entirely different one - bots that would offer social proof in the way of shares and likes, but would not directly risk the business model, thus giving no incentive for facebook to fight them. (note that google didn't do much jack shit either besides indiscriminately penalizing websites it deemed suspicious when they reached critical payout thresholds)
the rest of the story you kind of sort of know. how the obama campaign was brilliant in using the new social media to inspire hope and blah blah blah, kicking the door open for big money politics who could hire the best snake oil salesmen in the market, who had the data and as you can see from the above, had the ethical standards of a shoe. at around 2014-2015 the press (the mainstream media) started to raise question about the duopoly, the buzzword of filter bubbles started appearing, not entirely unrelated to the fact that facebook by this time cannibalized their traffic with a fucking embedded share / like button and started charging money for them to reach their own audience. after 2016 the cries of fake news were everywhere, because there was no online space left which everyone was viewing the same way, and you had no way to verify what the person next to you was looking at.
since then, we've all become grandpa yelling at the television set, with nobody around us seeing what we're seeing on the screen, so we're being accused as bots and looking for bots under the carpet.
but it's been a long way coming, and the bots are honestly the least of our worries. trust me, I went bankrupt over that one. truth or fake doesn't even begin to describe the magnitude of the problem: more like we entered the phase where every word, event or picture is defined by who ever the fuck wins the auction over it, as the marketers of human attention grind the gears of the money mill without even understanding how fast they're digging towards hell.
don't believe me? look around the marketing and advertising related subs these days. the priests are eating the indulgences, and we're only now entering the period of deep fakes, good algo generated audio and good enough NLP. and in the meantime, the shadowrunners running up between two corp headquarter-highrises are skinning your belief systems.
so the best you can do is really, not litter the remnants of cyberspace which are not being mined, astroturfed or being pulled apart by the algos. no human connections on a nuclear trash heap mate.
Bitcoin Table of contents expand: 1. What is Bitcoin? 2. Understanding Bitcoin 3. How Bitcoin Works 4. What's a Bitcoin Worth? 5. How Bitcoin Began 6. Who Invented Bitcoin? 7. Before Satoshi 8. Why Is Satoshi Anonymous? 9. The Suspects 10. Can Satoshi's Identity Be Proven? 11. Receiving Bitcoins As Payment 12. Working For Bitcoins 13. Bitcoin From Interest Payments 14. Bitcoins From Gambling 15. Investing in Bitcoins 16. Risks of Bitcoin Investing 17. Bitcoin Regulatory Risk 18. Security Risk of Bitcoins 19. Insurance Risk 20. Risk of Bitcoin Fraud 21. Market Risk 22. Bitcoin's Tax Risk What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a digital currency created in January 2009. It follows the ideas set out in a white paper by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, whose true identity is yet to be verified. Bitcoin offers the promise of lower transaction fees than traditional online payment mechanisms and is operated by a decentralized authority, unlike government-issued currencies.
There are no physical bitcoins, only balances kept on a public ledger in the cloud, that – along with all Bitcoin transactions – is verified by a massive amount of computing power. Bitcoins are not issued or backed by any banks or governments, nor are individual bitcoins valuable as a commodity. Despite it not being legal tender, Bitcoin charts high on popularity, and has triggered the launch of other virtual currencies collectively referred to as Altcoins.
Understanding Bitcoin Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency: Balances are kept using public and private "keys," which are long strings of numbers and letters linked through the mathematical encryption algorithm that was used to create them. The public key (comparable to a bank account number) serves as the address which is published to the world and to which others may send bitcoins. The private key (comparable to an ATM PIN) is meant to be a guarded secret and only used to authorize Bitcoin transmissions. Style notes: According to the official Bitcoin Foundation, the word "Bitcoin" is capitalized in the context of referring to the entity or concept, whereas "bitcoin" is written in the lower case when referring to a quantity of the currency (e.g. "I traded 20 bitcoin") or the units themselves. The plural form can be either "bitcoin" or "bitcoins."
How Bitcoin Works Bitcoin is one of the first digital currencies to use peer-to-peer technology to facilitate instant payments. The independent individuals and companies who own the governing computing power and participate in the Bitcoin network, also known as "miners," are motivated by rewards (the release of new bitcoin) and transaction fees paid in bitcoin. These miners can be thought of as the decentralized authority enforcing the credibility of the Bitcoin network. New bitcoin is being released to the miners at a fixed, but periodically declining rate, such that the total supply of bitcoins approaches 21 million. One bitcoin is divisible to eight decimal places (100 millionths of one bitcoin), and this smallest unit is referred to as a Satoshi. If necessary, and if the participating miners accept the change, Bitcoin could eventually be made divisible to even more decimal places. Bitcoin mining is the process through which bitcoins are released to come into circulation. Basically, it involves solving a computationally difficult puzzle to discover a new block, which is added to the blockchain and receiving a reward in the form of a few bitcoins. The block reward was 50 new bitcoins in 2009; it decreases every four years. As more and more bitcoins are created, the difficulty of the mining process – that is, the amount of computing power involved – increases. The mining difficulty began at 1.0 with Bitcoin's debut back in 2009; at the end of the year, it was only 1.18. As of February 2019, the mining difficulty is over 6.06 billion. Once, an ordinary desktop computer sufficed for the mining process; now, to combat the difficulty level, miners must use faster hardware like Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC), more advanced processing units like Graphic Processing Units (GPUs), etc.
What's a Bitcoin Worth? In 2017 alone, the price of Bitcoin rose from a little under $1,000 at the beginning of the year to close to $19,000, ending the year more than 1,400% higher. Bitcoin's price is also quite dependent on the size of its mining network since the larger the network is, the more difficult – and thus more costly – it is to produce new bitcoins. As a result, the price of bitcoin has to increase as its cost of production also rises. The Bitcoin mining network's aggregate power has more than tripled over the past twelve months.
How Bitcoin Began
Aug. 18, 2008: The domain name bitcoin.org is registered. Today, at least, this domain is "WhoisGuard Protected," meaning the identity of the person who registered it is not public information.
Oct. 31, 2008: Someone using the name Satoshi Nakamoto makes an announcement on The Cryptography Mailing list at metzdowd.com: "I've been working on a new electronic cash system that's fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party. The paper is available at http://www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf." This
link leads to the now-famous white paper published on bitcoin.org entitled "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System." This paper would become the Magna Carta for how Bitcoin operates today.
Jan. 3, 2009: The first Bitcoin block is mined, Block 0. This is also known as the "genesis block" and contains the text: "The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks," perhaps as proof that the block was mined on or after that date, and perhaps also as relevant political commentary.
Jan. 8, 2009: The first version of the Bitcoin software is announced on The Cryptography Mailing list.
Jan. 9, 2009: Block 1 is mined, and Bitcoin mining commences in earnest.
Who Invented Bitcoin?
No one knows. Not conclusively, at any rate. Satoshi Nakamoto is the name associated with the person or group of people who released the original Bitcoin white paper in 2008 and worked on the original Bitcoin software that was released in 2009. The Bitcoin protocol requires users to enter a birthday upon signup, and we know that an individual named Satoshi Nakamoto registered and put down April 5 as a birth date. And that's about it.
Though it is tempting to believe the media's spin that Satoshi Nakamoto is a solitary, quixotic genius who created Bitcoin out of thin air, such innovations do not happen in a vacuum. All major scientific discoveries, no matter how original-seeming, were built on previously existing research. There are precursors to Bitcoin: Adam Back’s Hashcash, invented in 1997, and subsequently Wei Dai’s b-money, Nick Szabo’s bit gold and Hal Finney’s Reusable Proof of Work. The Bitcoin white paper itself cites Hashcash and b-money, as well as various other works spanning several research fields.
Why Is Satoshi Anonymous?
There are two primary motivations for keeping Bitcoin's inventor keeping his or her or their identity secret. One is privacy. As Bitcoin has gained in popularity – becoming something of a worldwide phenomenon – Satoshi Nakamoto would likely garner a lot of attention from the media and from governments.
The other reason is safety. Looking at 2009 alone, 32,489 blocks were mined; at the then-reward rate of 50 BTC per block, the total payout in 2009 was 1,624,500 BTC, which at today’s prices is over $900 million. One may conclude that only Satoshi and perhaps a few other people were mining through 2009 and that they possess a majority of that $900 million worth of BTC. Someone in possession of that much BTC could become a target of criminals, especially since bitcoins are less like stocks and more like cash, where the private keys needed to authorize spending could be printed out and literally kept under a mattress. While it's likely the inventor of Bitcoin would take precautions to make any extortion-induced transfers traceable, remaining anonymous is a good way for Satoshi to limit exposure.
Numerous people have been suggested as possible Satoshi Nakamoto by major media outlets. Oct. 10, 2011, The New Yorker published an article speculating that Nakamoto might be Irish cryptography student Michael Clear or economic sociologist Vili Lehdonvirta. A day later, Fast Company suggested that Nakamoto could be a group of three people – Neal King, Vladimir Oksman and Charles Bry – who together appear on a patent related to secure communications that were filed two months before bitcoin.org was registered. A Vice article published in May 2013 added more suspects to the list, including Gavin Andresen, the Bitcoin project’s lead developer; Jed McCaleb, co-founder of now-defunct Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox; and famed Japanese mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki.
In December 2013, Techcrunch published an interview with researcher Skye Grey who claimed textual analysis of published writings shows a link between Satoshi and bit-gold creator Nick Szabo. And perhaps most famously, in March 2014, Newsweek ran a cover article claiming that Satoshi is actually an individual named Satoshi Nakamoto – a 64-year-old Japanese-American engineer living in California. The list of suspects is long, and all the individuals deny being Satoshi.
Can Satoshi's Identity Be Proven?
It would seem even early collaborators on the project don’t have verifiable proof of Satoshi’s identity. To reveal conclusively who Satoshi Nakamoto is, a definitive link would need to be made between his/her activity with Bitcoin and his/her identity. That could come in the form of linking the party behind the domain registration of bitcoin.org, email and forum accounts used by Satoshi Nakamoto, or ownership of some portion of the earliest mined bitcoins. Even though the bitcoins Satoshi likely possesses are traceable on the blockchain, it seems he/she has yet to cash them out in a way that reveals his/her identity. If Satoshi were to move his/her bitcoins to an exchange today, this might attract attention, but it seems unlikely that a well-funded and successful exchange would betray a customer's privacy.
Receiving Bitcoins As Payment
Bitcoins can be accepted as a means of payment for products sold or services provided. If you have a brick and mortar store, just display a sign saying “Bitcoin Accepted Here” and many of your customers may well take you up on it; the transactions can be handled with the requisite hardware terminal or wallet address through QR codes and touch screen apps. An online business can easily accept bitcoins by just adding this payment option to the others it offers, like credit cards, PayPal, etc. Online payments will require a Bitcoin merchant tool (an external processor like Coinbase or BitPay).
Working For Bitcoins
Those who are self-employed can get paid for a job in bitcoins. There are several websites/job boards which are dedicated to the digital currency:
Work For Bitcoin brings together work seekers and prospective employers through its websiteCoinality features jobs – freelance, part-time and full-time – that offer payment in bitcoins, as well as Dogecoin and LitecoinJobs4Bitcoins, part of reddit.comBitGigs
Bitcoin From Interest Payments
Another interesting way (literally) to earn bitcoins is by lending them out and being repaid in the currency. Lending can take three forms – direct lending to someone you know; through a website which facilitates peer-to-peer transactions, pairing borrowers and lenders; or depositing bitcoins in a virtual bank that offers a certain interest rate for Bitcoin accounts. Some such sites are Bitbond, BitLendingClub, and BTCjam. Obviously, you should do due diligence on any third-party site.
Bitcoins From Gambling
It’s possible to play at casinos that cater to Bitcoin aficionados, with options like online lotteries, jackpots, spread betting, and other games. Of course, the pros and cons and risks that apply to any sort of gambling and betting endeavors are in force here too.
Investing in Bitcoins
There are many Bitcoin supporters who believe that digital currency is the future. Those who endorse it are of the view that it facilitates a much faster, no-fee payment system for transactions across the globe. Although it is not itself any backed by any government or central bank, bitcoin can be exchanged for traditional currencies; in fact, its exchange rate against the dollar attracts potential investors and traders interested in currency plays. Indeed, one of the primary reasons for the growth of digital currencies like Bitcoin is that they can act as an alternative to national fiat money and traditional commodities like gold.
In March 2014, the IRS stated that all virtual currencies, including bitcoins, would be taxed as property rather than currency. Gains or losses from bitcoins held as capital will be realized as capital gains or losses, while bitcoins held as inventory will incur ordinary gains or losses.
Like any other asset, the principle of buying low and selling high applies to bitcoins. The most popular way of amassing the currency is through buying on a Bitcoin exchange, but there are many other ways to earn and own bitcoins. Here are a few options which Bitcoin enthusiasts can explore.
Risks of Bitcoin Investing
Though Bitcoin was not designed as a normal equity investment (no shares have been issued), some speculative investors were drawn to the digital money after it appreciated rapidly in May 2011 and again in November 2013. Thus, many people purchase bitcoin for its investment value rather than as a medium of exchange.
However, their lack of guaranteed value and digital nature means the purchase and use of bitcoins carries several inherent risks. Many investor alerts have been issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and other agencies.
The concept of a virtual currency is still novel and, compared to traditional investments, Bitcoin doesn't have much of a long-term track record or history of credibility to back it. With their increasing use, bitcoins are becoming less experimental every day, of course; still, after eight years, they (like all digital currencies) remain in a development phase, still evolving. "It is pretty much the highest-risk, highest-return investment that you can possibly make,” says Barry Silbert, CEO of Digital Currency Group, which builds and invests in Bitcoin and blockchain companies.
Bitcoin Regulatory Risk
Investing money into Bitcoin in any of its many guises is not for the risk-averse. Bitcoins are a rival to government currency and may be used for black market transactions, money laundering, illegal activities or tax evasion. As a result, governments may seek to regulate, restrict or ban the use and sale of bitcoins, and some already have. Others are coming up with various rules. For example, in 2015, the New York State Department of Financial Services finalized regulations that would require companies dealing with the buy, sell, transfer or storage of bitcoins to record the identity of customers, have a compliance officer and maintain capital reserves. The transactions worth $10,000 or more will have to be recorded and reported.
Although more agencies will follow suit, issuing rules and guidelines, the lack of uniform regulations about bitcoins (and other virtual currency) raises questions over their longevity, liquidity, and universality.
Security Risk of Bitcoins
Bitcoin exchanges are entirely digital and, as with any virtual system, are at risk from hackers, malware and operational glitches. If a thief gains access to a Bitcoin owner's computer hard drive and steals his private encryption key, he could transfer the stolen Bitcoins to another account. (Users can prevent this only if bitcoins are stored on a computer which is not connected to the internet, or else by choosing to use a paper wallet – printing out the Bitcoin private keys and addresses, and not keeping them on a computer at all.) Hackers can also target Bitcoin exchanges, gaining access to thousands of accounts and digital wallets where bitcoins are stored. One especially notorious hacking incident took place in 2014, when Mt. Gox, a Bitcoin exchange in Japan, was forced to close down after millions of dollars worth of bitcoins were stolen.
This is particularly problematic once you remember that all Bitcoin transactions are permanent and irreversible. It's like dealing with cash: Any transaction carried out with bitcoins can only be reversed if the person who has received them refunds them. There is no third party or a payment processor, as in the case of a debit or credit card – hence, no source of protection or appeal if there is a problem.
Some investments are insured through the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. Normal bank accounts are insured through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to a certain amount depending on the jurisdiction. Bitcoin exchanges and Bitcoin accounts are not insured by any type of federal or government program.
Risk of Bitcoin Fraud
While Bitcoin uses private key encryption to verify owners and register transactions, fraudsters and scammers may attempt to sell false bitcoins. For instance, in July 2013, the SEC brought legal action against an operator of a Bitcoin-related Ponzi scheme.
Like with any investment, Bitcoin values can fluctuate. Indeed, the value of the currency has seen wild swings in price over its short existence. Subject to high volume buying and selling on exchanges, it has a high sensitivity to “news." According to the CFPB, the price of bitcoins fell by 61% in a single day in 2013, while the one-day price drop in 2014 has been as big as 80%.
If fewer people begin to accept Bitcoin as a currency, these digital units may lose value and could become worthless. There is already plenty of competition, and though Bitcoin has a huge lead over the other 100-odd digital currencies that have sprung up, thanks to its brand recognition and venture capital money, a technological break-through in the form of a better virtual coin is always a threat.
Bitcoin's Tax Risk
As bitcoin is ineligible to be included in any tax-advantaged retirement accounts, there are no good, legal options to shield investments from taxation.
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The satoshi is the smallest unit of the bitcoin cryptocurrency. It is named after Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of the protocol used in block chains and the bitcoin cryptocurrency.
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Satoshi Nakamoto The name used by the unknown creator of the protocol used in the bitcoin cryptocurrency. Satoshi Nakamoto is closely-associated with blockchain technology.
Bitcoin Mining, Explained Breaking down everything you need to know about Bitcoin Mining, from Blockchain and Block Rewards to Proof-of-Work and Mining Pools.
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A guide to help you understand what blockchain is and how it can be used by industries. You've probably encountered a definition like this: “blockchain is a distributed, decentralized, public ledger." But blockchain is easier to understand than it sounds.
By Satoshi Nakamoto
Read it once, go read other crypto stuff, read it again… keep doing this until the whole document makes sense. It’ll take a while, but you’ll get there. This is the original whitepaper introducing and explaining Bitcoin, and there’s really nothing better out there to understand on the subject.
“What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party
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