BitBet used to be the megaphone. Then it was auctioned off to Znort987, who, being outside of the TMSR~ WoT proper, has yet to attract to BitBet v2 the big fish flowing through La Serenissima‘s grand canals.i Though perhaps it’s still too early to say how v2 will fare in the medium term.
Anyways, after the auction, I exchanged a few congenial pgp-grams with Znort987 and that was that. My curiousity as to the depths of their pockets was satisfied and we each went on our merry way, he to double BitBet’s fees to 2% and me to… well, whatever it is that I do. Now skip ahead four months and Shitfinex blew up amid allegations of troubles for BitBet v2. Drama! And the plot thickened further still when on August 11th I received a plaintext e-mailii continuing the same thread as previous. The conversation is re-published herebelow, during which the reader might ask himself, “What would I have done differently were I in Pete’s shoes ?” :
From : Znort987@yahoo.com
How are you?
I would like to ask you a favour.
Can you please lend me 5 btc (~ 2’500 €)? It’s urgent and I need them as soon as possible.
From : Pete
Unfortunately I don’t think that’s something that I can accommodate right now.
All the best,
From : Znort987@yahoo.com
I really need your help.
Can you send me only 1-2 bitcoin?
I will manage to get the other bitcoins from my other friend.
From : Pete
My decline of your request has nothing to do with the amount you’ve asked for – be it 1 or 5 or 500 BTC – nor your “need” – and everything to do with the fact that you’re not in my WoT.iii
The fact of the matter remains that I don’t know you and I therefore can’t trust you. It doesn’t matter if the coins are for your sick grandmother and you only need 84 satoshi very, very urgently. I’m sorry but the answer is an unshakeable “no” regardless, just as it would be whether you were Brian Armstrong, Vitalik Buterin, or some other street beggar running something else vaguely resembling a Bitcoin business.
No WoT, no loan.iv
From : Znort987@yahoo.com
what should I do to be in your WoT?
Send you my personal identity?v
From : Pete
Y’know that’s actually a very deep question : what should you do to be in my WoT ? I suppose the answer broadly falls into one of two categories :
i) Have regular interactions with me personally in such a way and to such a degree that would lead me to believe that you’re trustworthy, eg. intelligent email conversations, blog comments, IRC, in-person interactions, etc. (This is L1 trust), or
ii) Be trusted by someone that I trust (This is L2 trust)vi
Given that you have a PGP key, your “personal identity” such as you may perceive it is neither here nor there. It provides no recourse nor could it provide any recourse in the event of a sour deal.
Needless to say, that you quite clearly had dozens and perhaps even hundreds of BTC lined up to purchase BitBet, and that that business was running a double reverse fractional reserve last time anyone bothered to check,vii it’s hard to imagine why someone in your position would ask me, whom you barely know and have had scarcely any interactions with to date, for such a paltry sum. Something doesn’t add up here. I simply cannot be your lifeline of last resort.
As such, I’m sticking to my guns and declining your request. If you decide that being part of TMSR~ and my WoT is important to you, I’ll expect to see you on #trilema and Contravex comments section going forward. Six months from now, who knows, you might get a different answer the next time you’re looking for a loan.
Then radio silence for about a day-and-a-half until late last night when the following message was received by pgp-gram pigeon (in the same thread) and signed by the key posted on mike_c’s explorer :
From : Znort987
I’m following the threadviii and seeing these scam attemps are having unwanted side effects and some people are getting riled up on irc about – of all things – BitBets solvency.
I’ll try to get on to irc sometimes this week to deal with this directly,ix but one request if I may: please don’t post further comments on IRC about my trying to get a loan from you (unless the requests are GPG-signed, of course).x
My reply :
From : Pete
Wait… “these scam attemps” ??
Misspelling aside, are you then outright admitting that your initial “loan” request was an intentional scam (ie. you never had any intention of paying back because, hey, “email haxxed” deniability since not gpg-signed) ???!
Because that’s certainly one reading. A compelling one even.xi
Followed up about 40 minutes later – after reading the latest logs – with :
From : Pete
Just catching up on the logs. Glad to see you dropped by and my apologiesxii for the misreading above. Also glad to see that all is well on your end.
Turns out that the reason the first 3/4 of the conversation above was in plaintext was that… Znort’s email was haxxed. Now this doesn’t inspire much confidence for potential v2 users, myself included,xiii and nor does Znort’s intent on pay lip service to Coinbase users and the rest of the filthy worthless mobs, but then again neither has a complete and irredeemable foul yet been committed, such as actually hiding input and output addresses for example.
But that’s all besides the point : the point is that there’s your WoT and there’s everything else. It didn’t matter whether the “real” Znort was asking me for a loan for not. It just didn’t. The loan was never to be.
Fade to black.
___ ___ ___
- mats is the only one to have publicly admitted to using the new service thus far, but perhaps there are one or two others. Compare this with the hundreds and thousands of coins that flowed to v1 during its time on MPEx. [↩]
- À la Travis, Anthony, etfc. Continuity and consistency are hallmarks of intelligence and therefore trustworthiness. “I just wanted to send a quick msg” is the black stain of stupidity, or are at least indication of fishy smells ; both of which resolve into the same dubious thing for the simple reason that ~no one respects the rushed. Period. [↩]
- From this perspective, whether it’s “Scammer X” or “Znort Himself” asking me for money makes precisely as much difference as the colour of your bits. [↩]
- It’s as simple as that. I’ve made 3-figure BTC loans and would do it again… TO PEOPLE IN MY FUCKING WOT!!1
I mean, what kind of Jew wouldn’t like lending money ? Hell, that’s how I bought all my non-Mac fun toys in junior high – everything from a gyro ring (remember those bad boys?) to Pokemon Red (on the grey brick GameBoy, obv.), which were $50-60 each in late 90’s money. Do you have any idea how many $1 loans at upwards of 100% daily interest* I had to make in order to earn that much spare cash, particularly with an all-too-tempting Dairy Queen across the street from school ?
You might wonder how the only Jew in the entire junior high and one who’d never even heard of the tales of Shylock came into this lucrative line of employ. My parents certainly found it amusing when they found out what I’d been doing with my lunch money instead of eating lunch. I dunno what to tell you other than that genetics are a thing and that my mother isn’t your mother.
Sorry for your in-laws… if they suck, it’s because you do too.
* These loans, for the record, worked very similarly to the WoT. In a 300-kid school, pretty much everyone was in my L2, added to which I knew where every kid was going to be everyday for the next several months, so pretty much everyone qualified for a loan, but it was a firm(ish) 1-strike policy and the terms were always onerous. How about contract enforcement ? Did I have a bully on the payroll jic ? Haha no, even then I was allergic to overhead, and while I was a tall kid, I was by no means the toughest (even in a fine arts school) so I wasn’t about to shove kids in lockers over a buck here and there. All I had going for me with regards to recourse on a loan gone sour was denial of future service.
As such, I had to be really quite crafty because I didn’t want to squeeze a customer so hard with interest that they would forgo the entire amount as well as any future business, but I also didn’t want to appear too lenient lest my policies appeared too flexible and too subject to individual circumstances (not that they could ever be otherwise, but hey, the show must go on!). Ultimately, if my usurious interest rate policies weren’t adhered to, partial payment would be accepted and future loans were assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Overall, 90% of my business was kids who just wanted to buy a bag of chips or a can of soda for $1, for which they paid me back $2 the next day. It was simple, clean work. Good stuff if you can get it.
- This is actually a lulzy offer if this supporting theory holds any water. [↩]
- In this particular instance, the closest connection my WoT has to Znort is via Mircea, whom had this to say on their relationship such as it is :
pete_dushenski: Go figure that the logs have covered most every situation imaginable, to which I’d like to ask mircea_popescu specifically about znort987 : how much trust is he (she?) worth ?
mircea_popescu: A guy by that name was active back in 2011-2012 ; he made some corrections to mpex faq verbiage ; we’ve not kept in touch hence nor have i heard anything of him for a few years. that’d be it.
pete_dushenski: Sort of what i gathered from the logs during bbet auction day. Cheers.
- That anyone being the capable mats in this case. [↩]
- Starting with
pete_dushenski: well other than emails from znort requesting a bailout loan from ol’ petey, sure.
and continuing from there. [↩]
- Which, to their credit, they did not just the same week but half-a-day later. [↩]
- My blog isn’t IRC, and even if deedbot picks up the Contravex RSS feed, that’s hardly my doing now is it. [↩]
- This was written before I’d read the logs including Znort’s visit to #trilema. Turns out it wasn’t that far off the mark in the end. He would’ve had deniability. There’s no way to know whether I was being played like a Schlumberger or not. [↩]
- In the event that I wasn’t being “Schlumberger’d”, this apology was due. [↩]
- For comparison’s sake, BitBet v1 held tens and hundreds of coins for me for months at a stretch and I never lost a wink of sleep over it. That’s trust. [↩]