CoinJoin Bounty Unpaid Since 2013: BTC Dev Maxwell Refuses to Sign Transaction

CoinJoin Bounty Unpaid Since 2013: BTC Dev Maxwell Refuses to Sign Transaction

TL;DR: At bitcoin core’s (BTC) present price, more than $350,000 worth of a donated bounty remains unpaid, going back to 2013 when it was first proposed by BTC developer Gregory Maxwell. He’d laid out terms for a privacy project called CoinJoin. Days after, claims to the bounty began to made and continued for some time. The topic reappeared as a point of contention recently with Maxwell openly refusing to sign a transaction for a potential claimant.       

CoinJoin Bounty Unpaid Since 2013

The thread runs some 37 pages and dates back to summer of 2013, spanning more than a half decade of debate and tangent. Then, Maxwell wondered openly about the future of privacy and how it might be best achieved with Bitcoin. It wasn’t an easy problem to solve, and so an address was created for donations to a bounty fund, encouraging developers to independently work on the project. A two-of-three multiple signature donation address was put in the charge of Maxwell, Pieter Wuille, and Theymos.

“The bounty fund will pay out as funds are available according to the signers best judgement for completed work proposed in this thread that furthers the goal of making improved transaction privacy a practical reality for Bitcoin users,” Maxwell noted back in 2013. That seems to imply not a single, lump payout but something closer to payments in an ongoing fashion as work dicated. The now 46.40580602 BTC has grown to $366,376.91.

Days after the bounty notice in 2013, Bitcoin developer and pioneer Amir Taaki made a claim, which included video evidence (see above). Discussion ensued, but no payments were made. Years later, on 23 May 2019, Taaki revisited the subject, exasperated, “I kid you not, gmaxwell refusing to award 46 btc coinjoin payout because he feels emotionally pressured. This is the scammy top tier quality devs for Bitcoin.” He continued to fume, noting early Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen “had his commit access revoked and accounts banned [by the Core development team] for far less. This guy [(Gregory Maxwell)] 1) rewrote the initial conditions after we submitted 2) has avoided paying out over several years according to arbitrary ‘reasons.'” Taaki accused.

I Will Not Be Signing a Transaction Paying Them

Taaki referred to a recent post by Maxwell in that popular forum thread, ongoing to the present day. Maxwell explained, “Repeated dishonesty from Samourai have barred them from ever receiving a payout from the bounty as far as I am concerned.” Samourai is a wallet project and possible claimant. “I will not be signing a transaction paying them. Evaluating the privacy of systems is difficult even when the involved parties are honest and easy to work with, it is far too difficult when they are actively misleading. Personally, I would urge my friends to not use that wallet,” he stressed.

For its part, the official Twitter account of the Samourai team chided, “Is Maxwell implying we asked for the bounty to be paid out to us? We did no such thing. I assumed that bounty was pure theatrics and would never be paid out. If it ever is, it will be to whoever groveled at their feet the best. Big pass on that,” they insisted.

In the response unearthing past grudges, Maxwell continued, “As far as other stuff, there has been efforts in progress to do some awarding for a couple months now. It takes time to evaluate things and work with the recipients. If it didn’t this bounty would have been gone years ago when ‘darkwallet’ demanded the whole thing then mobbed us with unreasonable demands (including public campaigning which was vigorous to the point of harassment) to pay it all to them when the result didn’t provide the advertised privacy and didn’t even stay available due to the operating model.”

The Dark Wallet reference was no doubt meant as a swipe at Taaki, as his 2013 claim was probably the beginning of a project many highly anticipated at the time. Taaki would soon then enlist the help of a Texas law school student and philosophical fellow traveler, Cody Wilson, to assist in promoting the idea in lieu of proper funding from the bounty. At the time of publication, none of the donated bounty as been paid out. A CoinJoin variant, however, away from BTC years-long debate and accusations, has made it to the wild in the form of CashShuffle, available for bitcoin cash (BCH), and is already integrated into the Electron Cash wallet.

DISCLOSURE: The author holds cryptocurrency as part of his financial portfolio, including BCH. 

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