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Gentoo Linux Package Maintainer Wants to Implement Blacklist in Bitcoin Core – Again

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:42 PM
P. H. Madore
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:42 PM

Software bugsA raucous discussion has taken place during the last 24 hours at the Bitcoin subreddit  surrounding Bitcoin developer Luke Dashjr (aka Luke-Jr), who maintains the Gentoo distribution. At issue? The use of “blacklisting” certain addresses that send meaninglessly small transactions, but still require confirmation and the resources so implied by default in bitcoind. Bitcoind is the headless version of the Bitcoin software which is used by nodes.

In October there was a similar episode: Bitcoin Address Blacklists were found in Gentoo Linux bitcoind 0.9.3, distributed by Luke-Jr.

Different Opinions

Community opinions on the matter, like all matters in a democratized movement like Bitcoin, range all over. There are some who agree with the blacklist, but feel it should be sent upstream to other developers for a later version of Bitcoin Core for all users. There are some who feel it should be packaged only as an add-on. There are some who believe it should not be implemented at all.

“That is simply not something a package maintainer should implement. And if he does, because he feels it is a relevant change, he should send the change UPSTREAM to the Bitcoin Core devs instead,” wrote r5t6y7

“One person deciding what addresses are blacklisted and what services are banned hurts Bitcoin,” said historian1111.

There was also, in the original post, that luke-jr was discriminating against some such as Mastercoin because he is involved in a competing service called Blockstream. People seemed offended at the idea of transactions – regardless of their provenance – being considered “spam” by a single person. Or was it something deeper? Was the very idea of a lone developer laying claim to such authority what set the community off?

In any case, luke-jr was not the typical bad guy. He appears to have devoted a great deal of time to addressing concerns from all manner of commenters. His initial reply, summarized, read:

This is not news. My public apology for lack of documentation a few months ago made this plan clear. Nothing has changed since then. Under no conditions is any “blacklisting” (which doesn’t fairly describe the patch) forced on anyone, and it won’t be default until it is clear to all users what they are getting.

He then links to the output  of the proposed changes. One thing that stuck out was this:

Enhanced spam filter policy is enabled: Notorious spammers will not be assisted by your node.

This particular wording doesn’t sit well with anyone, it seems, because it feels a bit like turning someone away from the grocery store for wanting to pay with pennies. If the problem is that node operators do not have enough ability to block certain addresses they think are unfairly abusing their resources, then shouldn’t it be enough to enable them to do so? So goes the general feeling of the community in this post, anyway.

Another thing highlighted in this thread was the ever-present ability of “large State actors” to knock 51/80% attack the Bitcoin network without much effort. Which, of course, leaves to question why they haven’t done so if Bitcoin equals such a serious threat to their legitimacy. In the end, there is no question that, long term, something has to be done about the Blockchain, its gravity, and the preservation of the decentralized nature of the Bitcoin network as a whole.

Do you think blacklisting of addresses should be a default in bitcoind? Is this a feature or a move motivated by something more sinister? Comment below!

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