The Bitcoin.org Ownership Dispute Is Heating up
If you think the world of cryptocurrency is free of drama, you can’t be more wrong. The first bitcoin website in the world, bitcoin.org, has become the focus of a heated dispute over its ownership and is getting increasingly more attention. The most of the discussion is taking place on a GitHub issue thread.
Burning Issue: Cobra Bitcoin’s Alleged Support for BCH
The primary dispute shaking the world of cryptocurrency, threatening to pull apart the first ever bitcoin website, erupted on July 26, 2018, when a GitHub member “beyourseff” started the thread. In fact, the issue first appeared in the “Bitcoin Core #UASF” Slack channel discussion, and its participants transferred it to a more public place – GitHub.
He (or she?) presented the issue of the current owner of bitcoin.org, only known by his (or her?) pseudonym “Cobra Bitcoin.”
The problems, according to beyourseff, are numerous. Firstly, Cobra Bitcoin seems to be publicly supporting Bitcoin Cash (BCH), the result of a bitcoin hard fork. Secondly, there is no other way to identify this person except by their pseudonym, which means they could quickly sell the domain to someone with malicious intent, with no personal ramifications whatsoever.
Claiming he/she represents a group of like-minded individuals, beyourseff stated:
“The Problem: A number of individuals (including myself) feel that @Cobra-Bitcoin has become an unreliable person to own the Bitcoin.org domain name, mainly given his public support for BCH (as well as other things, but this is not supposed to be an attack on Cobra).”
Beyourseff further stated their fears about Cobra:
- May suddenly start propagandizing BCH as “The Real Bitcoin” and re-purpose Bitcoin.org to promote BCH.
- Sell the domain to someone else, who’d use it for malicious intent. The fact that Cobra is only known only by his pseudonym would make this relatively easy and have no consequences for him whatsoever; there’s only a lucrative upside for him.
Beyourseff believes one individual should not have the complete control over the bitcoin.org domain name because of its significance within the community.
A Solution to the Potential Abuse
As a solution, beyourseff suggests a group of individuals or someone else becomes the co-owner of the domain instead of Cobra Bitcoin hogging all the power. The domain name should be placed in the hands of the community. The solutions which had been discussed in the Slack discussion were the following:
- Cobra transfers the domain back to @theymos and therefore relinquishes his ability to perform either of the above two actions.
- A select few veterans within the Bitcoin community would be chosen to form a non-profit, and the domain would then be transferred into this non-profit.
Theymos is the pseudonymous bitcoiner who, together with Cobra Bitcoin, has overseen the domain for several years.
Most of the participants in the discussion on the GitHub thread seem to support beyourseff’s second suggestion.
Some of the participants took a softer approach to Cobra Bitcoin, saying they should have a place in this future group.
Cobra Bitcoin wasn’t short of an answer either, expressing sadness over the rise of tribalism in the bitcoin community.
“This type of witch-hunting is so crazy. Since when did we turn so easily against each other over our opinions? When did everyone get so batshit tribalistic and insane? I remember a time when I thought I was crazy, but now I think I’m pretty moderate, and I’m surrounded by an angry mob, constantly ready to attack the next person. Bitcoin.org is an amazing site, and it has consistently advocated for and defended Bitcoin against horrible attacks. I find it so offensive and completely disgusting that you would sit there and say I would shill altcoins on the site, the person who was aggressive as hell during the entire scaling debate to make sure Bitcoin didn’t get co-opted.”
The user admitted they like some aspects of BCH, but it doesn’t mean they were “some raging ‘Bitcoin Cash is Bitcoin’ lunatic.” They also said there were attempts to buy them out, but since have remained incorruptible despite the pressures.
One interesting thread on Reddit suggests this dispute has something to do with Blockstream CEO Adam Back trying to convince Cobra Bitcoin to hand over the domain.
Back believes Cobra Bitcoin’s occasional tweets supporting BCH prove this person cannot run bitcoin.org without the danger of using it to promote BCH.
It seems so far the dispute focuses on hear-say and fear-mongering about one person who may someday abuse their power for personal gain.
Moreover, there’s no real evidence Cobra Bitcoin will ever use bitcoin.org to promote BCH.
Let’s not forget one important issue, as well: insisting on revealing the identity of Cobra Bitcoin seems odd for a community founded on the principles of pseudo-anonymity. The creator of Bitcoin and the first owner of bitcoin.org, the never-identified Satoshi Nakamoto himself, insisted on these principles.