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Bitcoin Dev Gavin Andresen: Samson Mow and Greg Maxwell = “Toxic Trolls”

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:56 PM
P. H. Madore
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:56 PM

Gavin Andresen, who has largely retired from Bitcoin work, took Samson Mow and Greg Maxwell to task for their “toxic” trolling. While Maxwell would probably not agree with the characterization, Mow is legendary for his trolling. Mow trolled anti-Blockstream people so much that he eventually got himself a job at the company.

Andresen released a new service which verifies whether sources of randomness are actually random recently, called the Random Sanity Project. He then put out a call  on Twitter for people to help him by testing the service as well as potentially find vulnerabilities. Someone posted this to the r/BTC subreddit – the one which Roger Ver and others who were recently engaged in an attempt to thwart what they see as control of Bitcoin from Bitcoin Core – and Gregory Maxwell (u/nullc) responded  with some level of vitriol:

This is a fantastic celebration for bamboozlement day, a private key testing service. Good to see that someone has a good sense of humor.

He also engaged Andresen in a back-and-forth that quickly turned ugly.

Andresen was responding to a concern by one person, u/mWo12, who was wondering if this was such a great idea.

Is it even good idea to send your random bytes to a third party service? What if those butes are meant to be used as seed or to encrypt something. Then this third party will have access to something that should be secret?

Andresen answered by saying that the service shouldn’t be used for data that will actually go into usage.

In essence, this service is meant to test the sources of randomness, not random numbers generated and used themselves. This is when the Maxwell trolling actually begins :

Wow. This wasn’t a joke? holy crap.

Andresen is not known for mucking about in trollish comment threads, but given that Gregory Maxwell is venerable and respected Bitcoin developer, Andresen, who has been involved with Bitcoin basically since its inception, decided to engage .

You continue to amaze me with your incredibly narrow view of security. You consistently fail to see the bigger picture, and seem to be unable to conceive of the notion that some failure modes (e.g. restoring a VM from a snapshot and getting the same stream of ‘random’ bytes from /dev/urandom you got yesterday) are MUCH MUCH MUCH more likely than some theoretical attack that just ain’t gonna happen in practice.

The trolling seems to have died off after that point, but it did lead Andresen to denounce Blockstream as a whole due to the employment of Gregory Maxwell and Samson Mow:


The neverending drama in the Bitcoin community, whether acknowledged as such or not, is an undeniable contributor to the price rises of Dash, Ethereum, and others in recent months, in part because this sort of thing is not the norm in their communities. It is easier than ever to imagine a variety of cryptocoins sharing a many-multi-billion-dollar market. Will Bitcoin ever lose the crown? Well, in technology it’s never easy to predict the future. One thing that is for sure: the so-called Network Effect  certainly did not save MySpace from Facebook nor Yahoo! from Google.

Featured image from Web Summit /Flickr.