Defeating the liars : Let’s be honest about our blockchain projects
Many people have seen me take a rather vocal stance about things like Binance falsely claiming their DEx is a DEx (Hint: It’s not one, in any sense of the word).
I’ve also been clarifying a bit lately about DigiByte as well. I’m a firm believer that people in this space should be well-educated on the decisions they are making, as it usually involves finances pertinent to their future livelihood.
We have so many new people investigating cryptocurrencies at the moment! I would hate to see people taking out a mortgage on their house to put in to BitConnect like we saw in January of 2019, for it to then come crumbling down like a house of cards. It could have been avoided had more people taken an honest stand and spoken out about misinformation when they saw it.
What about other projects though? What about the more legitimate ones with a long track record? It seems even they’ve been guilty of “stretching the truth” more and more-so of late.
Now, I’m very much a fan of a project standing on its merits, or otherwise being frank and honest about it’s shortcomings and using the opportunity to address those shortcomings. DigiByte is no exception to this.
You see, no project is perfect in the blockchain space. None!
But you don’t hear Bitcoin claiming it can handle thousands of transactions a second (well, that’s more of a Bitcoin Cash / SV mantra).
You don’t hear anybody from Ethereum claiming that writing Solidity contracts is something your grandma will be able to do.
Nor do you hear claims from Dogecoin that it’s going to become the worlds reserve-currency.
Yet, for some reason lately, I keep hearing a bunch of things from Litecoin that are seriously stretching the truth.
However, before we go any further:
Let’s keep this factual
No exaggeration, or speculation, I want the cold hard verifiable facts, raw as they may come.
Now some of these facts might not paint your favorite project in the most pleasant light. Please be aware this is not my doing, in making things this way. I’m literally just calling the shots as they already are.
Don’t shoot the messenger just because you’d rather put your head in the sand and ignore the message. If you aren’t willing to hear the truth then feel free to stop reading here if all you like are rainbows and dandelions.
What prompted this?
Well Mr Ilir Gashi from the Litecoin Foundation decided he was going to throw some shade, while lying in his referenced Medium post (Or at the very least being terribly disingenuous). I’m more than fine with having the occasional dig, showing off what your project is uniquely good at etc but let’s at least be honest here.
NOTE: His article of his is now 6 months old, but still being pedaled despite being a complete farce.
There really is no excuse for the dishonesty here, especially when you are somebody who should 100% know better. As such, I’m more than happy to clarify the honest truth for people, coz I sure as heck have been asked about this particular subject a lot lately.
Now, the only reason I can think of that people would lie in-general in this crypto space are two reasons:
- They’re trying to pump and dump
(Which is where somebody else benefits from taking your hard-earned money)
- They’re trying to scam you
(Usually for reasons described in #1)
There is NO need for the Litecoin community, or more specifically people from the Litecoin Foundation, to be misleading and / or outright lying to people. The project should stand on it’s own merits.
So as Ilir himself mentioned in his article, people SHOULD be looking in to this, for themselves (clearly nobody has). I’m just going to help you know where to look, and what to look for, because he conveniently omits that information.
What’s the article in question?
Defeating the FUD: Litecoin Github Commits Activity
Litecoin pushing for the next stage of its evolution
So, time to pick it apart.
1/ GitHub Commits do not equal development
Well… Yes, and no.
You see, if you’re spending 6 months doing nothing, no code commits or work to show for it, that’s not development. That means you’ve either stalled, aren’t working on it, or you’ve abandoned the project.
Let’s look at the most recent (and only worked-on) branch being 0.17 (Not Master, as that’s used for “latest stable release” like he mentions): https://github.com/litecoin-project/litecoin/commits/0.17
This is ALL of the work done on Litecoin Core in the last 6 months (to June 10th 2019). 12 commits.
Of those 12 commits, the majority look like this:
This isn’t exactly “development”.
I mean sure, it’s coding, but changing the copyright year doesn’t really count as “work” on improving the project.
What would constitute “work” on a project then?
Well things like merging the upstream Bitcoin improvements as Ilir mentions, anybody would say that constitutes development at the very least.
Thrasher- did this, on Dec 17th. He merged a bunch of “Litecoin customizations” which basically get applied over the top of the Bitcoin Core codebase, and to be honest it looks like there was probably a good few hours work at the time?
Anything prior to Dec 17th was all Bitcoin codebase. You can tell because it’s done by Bitcoin developers, not anybody interested / involved in Litecoin in any way, shape, or form:
All Bitcoin commits.
The reason I mention this is because it also directly applies to what Ilir discusses in #2. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we’ll get to that shortly.
Basically Litecoin 0.17 is probably around half a day to a days work all up, from the previous 0.16. Almost all of this work has been done by thrasher-, a gentleman from Australia (They seem to be solid devs down-under in Aussie) who’s also involved in the Litecoin Foundation. You can look through the Litecoin commit history and see he’s almost single-handedly responsible for the last 18–24 months worth of development on Litecoin. Well done to thrasher-!
So, despite Ilir stating:
The result is that Litecoin Github commits seem to be decreasing lately but this is is due to the fact that we have been streamlining our development much more effectively and efficiently in a more structured way
This is simply “not being stupid” when it comes to coding. Re-using older code commits / patches etc
For comparison, DigiByte doesn’t go out and re-write DigiShield from scratch every time there’s a new Bitcoin release. In the same sense, neither does Litecoin go out and re-write the changes to Scrypt, disabling RBF, adjusting the max supply to 84 million and the block-timing to 2.5 mins every time there’s a new Bitcoin release. That would be madness.
2/ The story changes: Is Litecoin innovating or not?
This is where you can tell the article was written in a hurry without much review, because the tone changes from being on the defensive, to going on the offense.
We don’t need to innovate and make a lot of code, which is why the commits are down… but BTW we ARE really doing a ton of innovation and work and progress
Well, which is it?
He states there’s little sense in doing any work or improvements because other projects will simply re-use their development efforts, while then going on to talk about how much they’re doing?
That makes no sense whatsoever, especially given Litecoin is 99% Bitcoin Core and does exactly what he’s just mentioned: re-using an upstream projects improvements.
Even a brief look at the actual substance of the commits, most of the changes in Litecoin 0.17 is Bitcoin and up-stream commits. For example, except for hitting the metaphorical button to merge “Litecoin customizations” that differ from Bitcoin, there was exactly one dozen commits from Litecoin 0.16 to 0.17, most of which are “Use the updated Litecoin logo, use the new copyright year”.
So yet again, we see that Ilir is being very misleading with his repository statistics, showing off how many commits etc there is in their GitHub repos.
In fact, there’s not a single customization of Litecoins own in 0.17 that wasn’t already in 0.16. Even the updated zmq library was in Bitcoin Core 0.17.2.
Same for 0.16, there are zero changes by Litecoin compared to what was already in 0.15. At least with Litecoin Core 0.15, they disabled RBF (Replace-by-Fee) which was something done by them, even if it is only ~2 dozen lines of code being commented-out from 18 months ago.
Despite the article of Ilirs being written 6 months ago, it was still completely wrong even then, looking at that last 12 months of development prior.
Now that we’ve clarified what seems to be an intent to mislead you by Ilir right from the get-go here, I think we should clarify some of the comments of his around code commits.
You see, you can go in to Litecoin GitHub repositories for yourself, and see a TON of commits, but they’re actually almost completely from upstream Bitcoin coders:
Those ones from the left look familiar?
If you have a look at the bottom commit on each side of the picture above as an example, you’ll see a commit by luke-jr. Now luke-jr is not a Litecoin dev. He’s a Bitcoin dev and a pretty hardcore BTC maximalist who doesn’t really do any work on other projects outside of BTC. This kind of commit history though is what happens when you merge from upstream repositories.
You can have a look at DigiByte, it’s got many of those exact same commits. The difference is DigiByte isn’t trying to pull the wool over your eyes and pretend those are “DigiByte” commits. They’re not. They’re Bitcoins. Done by Bitcoin devs. On Bitcoin. That we are merging.
In fact, you can do this yourself. Go to the Bitcoin Core repository, click the “Fork” button, and congratulations you have yourself the Bitcoin Core codebase in your own organization / personal repository, now showing that “your project” has 20,000 commits and 630 contributors.
But does it really?
This is what Ilir is trying to pass off as Litecoin development, which is completely disingenuous at best, or an outright lie at worst.
Now the difficult part is determining how many of those 56k commits are actually Litecoin-specific.
But let’s use Litecoin 0.17. There are approx 1970 commits from Bitcoin between 0.16 and 0.17. Compare that to the literal dozen commits from Litecoin and the Litecoin commits literally make up under 1% of it. And they’re mostly just changing the year because they took so long.
However, if you also go to the Litecoin-Project profile that he links to then you’ll see that 3/4 of the projects haven’t been updated in over 12 months, half of them in several years even. Unsurprising, and not unexpected given what we’ve started to discover.
But you look in to it a little deeper, and you can see that the Litecoin-Project has forked the likes of bitcoinomg, an alternative BTC implementation from 5 years ago, which contains 5882 commits, but hasn’t really been touched aside from a couple of minor changes (~20/5882) by Warren Togami since they forked it into their own repo:
But you can sure as heck bet that Ilirs numbers included those 5882 commits when he says they had 56,000 total.
Is that really being honest and truthful? In any way, shape, or form?
But I’ll do you even better, they have the code up for the Copay wallet, the very same codebase that DigiByte Go was originally based off:
Again though of the almost 11,000 commits (To be fair I didn’t check all 11k individually), I genuinely wasn’t able to find a single one that was Litecoin-specific, or, done to the Litecoin fork that wasn’t simply from upstream. Yet, that 11,000 commits is what he’s including in those 56,000 commits of “Litecoins development work”.
That doesn’t seem honest in the slightest to me.
Also worth noting, there’s been no changes to copay-lite in over 2 years, because it was never a Litecoin project. They forked the repository, like I explained that you can do above yourself, and that’s all. They haven’t used it or touched it, aside from clicking the “Fork” button.
Compare this to DigiByte, we forked ccminer and have that in our organization, but it’s genuinely not had a single change done to it since we forked it when we were working on the 1-click Miner. The difference here is we’ve never claimed to have worked on ccminer, nor would we ever count those commits as “our work done”. They’re not. At all.
2.5/ Historical developments of Litecoin Core
Next he provides an interesting little graph:
It’s a nice graph, but, let’s look look at what is actually being shown to us because once you dive in a little deeper than just “Wow that’s a pretty graph” you’ll see it’s tragically quite shallow:
1 Litecoin launch, yay! Main differences are:
* 2.5 min blocks
* Scrypt hashing algorithm, so it could be CPU mined at the same time as SHA256 (Which was GPU mined at the time)
* 4x max coin supply at 84 million
So 4x faster, 4x max supply. Yay …
Then, 0.6 and 0.7 details are quite sparse, we’ll skip over those for now, but it’s my understanding all of those were upstream Bitcoin Core improvements. I’ve searched and been unable to find any mention of anything that was uniquely Litecoin in them, but for the benefit of the doubt, we’ll skip them.
2 0.08 in 2013 can still be viewed through GitHub which is nice. This brought changes to improve the performance of the network, these are upstream changes merged in to Litecoin, back by wtogami before thrasher- was really involved. There is nothing inherently “Litecoin” specific here.
3 0.09 released, again same deal with all the changes being improvements from Bitcoin Core, merged in to Litecoin. Nothing unique.
4 0.10 highlights are that it includes BIP65, again pulled from Bitcoin upstream. This is not a Litecoin-specific improvement and is found in MANY blockchains as it was pulled from Bitcoin Core codebase improvements at the time.
5 Loafwallet, again is forked from Breadwallet, a Bitcoin wallet. It’s still to this day almost completely identical, even after 3 years! The UI still the same, features still the same, all that’s changed is swapping BTC <> LTC, and the color gradient.
Again this is terribly ironic (hypocritical even) given the priorcomments from Ilir earlier about other blockchains using their work.
In the interest of complete transparency, DigiByte too has based it’s mobile wallets off the older BRD codebase, but it’s been deeply customized whereby the original interface and huge portions of the code-base is barely recognizable:
What the app originally looked like when we forked it vs what it looks like as of a few months ago (Pre-DigiAssets). There’s been a myriad of further improvements since which are now being tested too.
So this, Loafwallet, is very much Bitcoin improvements, not Litecoins, and it’s certainly not a change to their core protocol. They cloned the app and changed it from BTC to LTC and that’s it.
6 Litecoin again has simply included upstream BIPs (They are called “Bitcoin Improvement Proposals” for a reason right?).
Specifically, BIP9 which allows for multiple concurrent softforks. Litecoin did the same as DigiByte did, pulling this from upstream codebase, and you can see this by the fact that both CSV and SegWit have the same startTime values:
Again though this isn’t something DigiByte has ever tried to pass off as it’s own development or improvement.
As for SegWit, this was not a “Litecoin improvement”. In fact before Litecoin implemented SegWit we already had Vertcoin, DigiByte, Monacoin and Groestlcoin all with it active. Bitcoin had begun signalling SegWit almost 3 whole months before Litecoin began to signal SegWit, by which time Groestlcoin was already running it on mainnet and making SegWit transactions.
So far we’re 5 from 6 in showing no unique development whatsoever.
7 Two new versions of Litecoin in one year! Sadly no, these aren’t anything exciting either, just more playing “catch-up”. The reason they released two in this one year was because their development had been so far behind Bitcoins, they were playing “catch-up” and that’s all. Even Charlie Lee admitted this himself:
It was short-lived too, as a couple of weeks later, Bitcoin released a new version.
Again though, sadly there was nothing special with this release, nothing uniquely Litecoin. Not Litecoin developments / improvements.
They implemented SegWit, yes, but that was due to code pulled from upstream Bitcoin Core once again, and I’ve discussed previously they were not the first to implement it by a LONG shot.
8Yes, two more versions in 2018, because 0.14 came just a couple of weeks before Bitcoins 0.15, so they released two in 2018. Still, the development was staying up-to-date now, thanks almost purely due to thrasher- getting involved.
Unfortunately again though, there was nothing uniquely Litecoin in these releases. They tweaked the minimum transaction fees, but that’s literally a single value that was changed from the previous release.
So, we’re now half-way through 2019
We are 6 months down the line since that original post by Ilir was made. Has anything changed? Have there been any unique Litecoin developments?
Literally, no, there’s nothing that has changed. In fact, since Litecoins launch, there’s been nothing at all.
Sure there’s been some rather minor changes made along the way, like the block-size going to SegWit 4MB weighting, changes in fee-amounts, and sporadically pulling from upstream (Which again, totally 100% fine to pull from upstream projects in my books, though not cool according to Ilir).
I’m still yet to see any single Litecoin-specific improvement though. The irony is that Litecoin wasn’t even the first to use Scrypt, it was used by others such as Tenebrix, which was direct inspiration for Litecoin.
Now if you were to look at another blockchain such as DigiByte, these are some of the direct improvements that DigiByte has made:
- DigiShield, realtime difficulty adjustment and multipool protection now used in the likes of ZCash + others
- MultiShield, a Multi-Algo implementation of DigiShield that keeps block-timing stable, prevents multipools / sudden hashpower influxes
- MultiShield v2 improvements, aids each of the 5x algos in maintaining 20% of all blocks found
- DigiSpeed block size increase improvements (Now being replaced)
- DigiSpeed block propogation improvements based on Microsoft Research
- Odocrypt mutating mining algorithm
This doesn’t include things that DigiByte has implemented from 3rd-party codebases that aren’t in Bitcoin Core, but have heavily customized (Significantly more-so than just a standard merging of upstream code improvements) such as:
- Digi-ID (Based on Bit-ID)
- DigiByte Android & iOS wallets (Based on Breadwallet)
- DigiByte Go
As well as other development improvements that are more than just “From Bitcoin”, such as:
- The first blockchain to upgrade from a single hashing algorithm to MultiAlgo
- The DigiByte One-click Miner
- DigiByte Playground
Perhaps we should take an updated look at the Litecoin GitHub though, yeah?
Time to see what’s actually happening.
So we have everything that’s gone on in the last 12 months
Literally nothing major in 6 months. Explains why the release of 0.17 that came out last month took so long.
All of these commits are very minor tweaks, for example:
We’re literally just updating the date to show the new month because we waited so long since last time:
This is what took place over the last 6 months, these changes you can see right there in red and green.
It’s really nothing … If but held up by some minor activity from thrasher- who’s the only coder keeping Litecoin alive right now, even if it does look like it’s barely clinging to life.
Literally just the signatures for the Gitian build process, which happens every release. Updated May 6th when they finally released 0.17. Nothing exciting here.
Same as previous, again hence the same release date. Nothing to see here other than the 0.17 release of Litecoin which is ~9 months behind BTC (Heh, so much for the “streamlined upgrade process” Ilir mentioned).
LIPs are basically BIPs, except there’s none. It’s a clone of the Bitcoin repo, but changed to show Litecoin name:
Again there’s nothing here that’s actually been done in the last 18 months, and even then it was simply setting up the repo / Wiki.
Despite showing that it was updated earlier this year, the most recent update I could find in the code was Jan 2018, in the v5.0 branch:
Tumbleweeds rolling past in this repo with minimal changes all throughout 2018 too.
The only thing changed here in the last 2 whole years is README updates:
Yep this ones a ghost-town too, this isn’t “development” in my books, it’s only fixing up your documentation.
2 years ….
Again, a README update, and they included one file instead of referencing it being hosted elsewhere so that you can run this offline:
Yep, still tumbleweeds.
So in the last 6+ months since the start of the year, we’ve seen a couple of very very minor tweaks to the p2sh-convert repo, a mild amount of pulling from upstream, and some README changes.
And that’s it?
Across all their repos, it’s a ghost-town.
So where Ilir states:
The result is that Litecoin Github commits seem to be decreasing lately but this is is due to the fact that we have been streamlining our development much more effectively and efficiently in a more structured way, and not because development is inactive
He’s lying. There’s none in there because there’s nothing happening outside of what is clearly just README tweaks and copyright updating to match the current date.
But anyway, let’s carry on down his list
3/ Litecoin works today as a cryptocurrency
Yeah but so does DOGE coin, yet it’s a meme, and a joke. So did BBQcoin, but they realized they offered basically nothing unique and wound up shop.
Anybody can fork Bitcoin code and start a blockchain. That’s because Bitcoin works, and Bitcoin is a global decentralized sound money today, that can’t be censored, can’t be reversed or taken away, can’t be counterfeited and can’t be devalued.
You see, Bitcoin has only 21,000,000 BTC, it will never have any more, but it suffers from inflation in the form of other blockchains that clone the code and do absolutely nothing but offer very minor adjustments.
Now if Litecoin offered something unique, that would be great, but reality is that it’s simply detracting from Bitcoin’s market cap in it’s current state, or at the very least from other projects that have some semblance of innovation and development.
The remainder of Ilirs 3rd section is basically a “But you can use Litecoin on most exchanges, like you can with Bitcoin… And you can spend Litecoin in a bunch of places… the same places you can pay with Bitcoin”. Across the board, these are all things that would genuinely be better off spent on either Bitcoin, or on a project that’s not “Bitcoin 1.01” due to literally just having 1/4 the block-speed.
Some argue that as Bitcoin becomes more popular on the Lightning Network that there is no use case of Litecoin, however, Lightning Network is unable to cater for everyone in the world as well as actually solve Bitcoin’s scalibility issues
If Bitcoin cannot, then there’s no reason why a paltry 4x speed increase will. Perhaps if you could find somebody crazy enough to argue “Bitcoin can handle 2 billion people using it, but Litecoin can handle 8 billion” then you’d really be clutching at straws here. However, a 40X improvement, if you were to say “Bitcoin can handle 2 billion people, but another project that’s 40X faster can handle 80 billion people”, now you’ve got something that might be worth looking in to!
Otherwise, Litecoin is literally just detracting from Bitcoin, it’s not complimenting it.
Ilir finishes with:
Github commits is only one aspect of measurement and certainly does not show the whole development or progress behind the scenes. In fact, Litecoin Core is also streamlining its commits so that it makes it easier to onboard and safeguard new code that enters its source code
Which as we’ve seen today is a complete joke. There’s nothing new, whatsoever.
But what about 2019 goals?
Well, the 2019 goals discussed by Ilir some 6 months ago now are basically summed up as:
- We hope that Lightning on BTC works so we can leech it (Despite saying that doing-so is bad)
- We were gifted part of a stake in a Mortgages bank that has no merchant services for credit-card payments whatsoever, and we’re hoping people won’t see though the smoke / mirrors that we got those shares from a scam-coin which is nothing but 100% competition to LTC in every single way
- We want to do privacy stuffs
Well, if we look at the Lightning network, again it’s Litecoin going “Hey, me too, I’m relevant and totally not stealing your market cap, Bitcoin!”.
If we look at the WEG bank, it’s a dud in every single way, and it’s atrocious that Charlie Lee has partnered with a scam-artist (Why do you think Fluffypony refuses to ever talk about it on Magical Crypto Friends?). This is even after he burned a shitload of money on the failed LitePay attempts, then promised to “do better due diligence next time”. Clearly that didn’t happen.
Then, there’s the privacy “stuff”, which must be private coz nobody has seen anything there. It’s been over 6 months and not a single commit relating to it has shown up. In fairness you can see that Thrasher- is looking like he wants to merge Bitcoin 0.18 at some stage based on the new branches, but there’s no privacy code anywhere. We’ve got the dozen minor tweaks as shown above to LTC core, including some upstream pulls, but that’s it for Litecoin in 2019. A dozen commits.
No privacy features, no confidential transactions, no following of Bitcoins development or alternatively diversifying anywhere. No adding of functionality.
Ilir finished with:
Litecoin aims to provide a cryptocurrency that compliments Bitcoin’s store of value proposition as well as differentiating itself as an efficient and effective financial payment solution to anyone everywhere around the world.
I would like to rewrite that:
Litecoin started 7 years ago as a very minor tweak on Bitcoin, and hasn’t improved since. Because the POW algo is no longer CPU-mined, it’s primary reason for existing is now just a measly 4X faster block-timing. It seems that Litecoin as a codebase is basically dead in the water. Despite Litecoin Foundation being vehemently against the notion of pulling from upstream, all Litecoin does is leech off Bitcoin both in code and market cap, with absolutely nothing unique or innovative in the last 7 years. As such, the blockchain industry would be better off if that market cap was invested in to Bitcoin, or other genuinely innovative platforms.
Now in closing I would like to acknowledge and commend the incredible people doing amazing things in the name of Litecoin, seeking merchant adoption etc! They do some genuinely great work.
But I have to wonder why they would do that for a project that has basically been asleep at the wheel for 7 years now code-wise, instead of simply supporting Bitcoin, or another actively developed / superior project?
I really wonder.
Update Jan 2021
It seems the Litecoin Foundation hasn’t released any financials in the 18 months since I first wrote this. I wonder why…
Oh hey and those “full time active developers”, the ones that Charlie Lee said he was going to correct on the website and remove? Yeah they’re still there. 2 years to fix up, meanwhile they’ve tweaked other things, but noooo couldn’t be correcting this.