There's been a lot of recent hoopla over proof-of-publication, with the
OP_RETURN <data> length getting reduced to a rather useless 40 bytes at
the last minute prior to the 0.9 release. Secondly I noticed a
overlooked security flaw in that OP_CHECKMULTISIG sigops weren't taken
into account, making it possible to broadcast unminable transactions and
bloat mempools.(1) My suggestion was to just ditch bare OP_CHECKMULTISIG
outputs given that the sigops limit and the way they use up a fixed 20
sigops per op makes them hard to do fee calculations for. They also make
it easy to bloat the UTXO set, potentially a bad thing. This would of
course require things using them to change. Currently that's just
Counterparty, so I gave them the heads up in my email.

To make a long story short, it was soon suggested that Bitcoin Core be
forked - the software, not the protocol - and miners encouraged to
support it. This isn't actually as trivial as it sounds, as you need to
add some anti-DoS stuff to deal with the fact that the hashing power
mining the transations you are relaying may be quite small. The second
issue is you need to add preferential peering, so the nodes in the
network with a broader idea of what is a "allowed" transaction can find
each other. (likely with a new service flag) It'd be a good time to
implement replace-by-fee, partly for its anti-DoS properties.

Which leaves us with a practical question: How do you gracefully handle
a switchover? First of all I suggest that proof-of-publication
applications adopt format flexibility, similar to how Mastercoin can
encode its data in pay-to-pubkeyhash, bare multisig, or op_return
outputs. Given the possibility of bare multisig going away, I'd suggest
that P2SH multisig scriptSig encoding be added as well. Note that a
really good implementation of all this is actually format agnostic, and
will let PUSHDATA's used for encoding data be specified arbitrarily. I
wrote up some code to do so awhile back as an experiment. It used the
LSB's of the nValue field in the txouts to specify what was and wasn't
data, along with some stenographic encryption of data and nValue. I'd be
happy to dig that up if anyone is interested.

All these methods have some overhead compared to just using OP_RETURN
and thus cost more. So I suggest you have your software simultaneously
double-spend the inputs to any proof-of-publication transaction with a
second transaction that just makes use of efficient OP_RETURN. That
second one can go to more enlightened miners. Only one or the other will
get mined of course and the cost to publish data will be proportional to
the relative % of hashing power in the two camps.

Finally I'll be writing something more detailed soon about why
proof-of-publication is essential and miners would be smart to support
it. But the tl;dr: of it is if you need proof-of-publication for what
your system does you're much more secure if you're embedded within
Bitcoin rather than alongside of it. There's a lot of very bad advise
getting thrown around lately for things like Mastercoin, Counterparty,
and for that matter, Colored Coins, to use a separate PoW blockchain or
a merge-mined one. The fact is if you go with pure PoW, you risk getting
attacked while your still growing, and if you go for merge-mined PoW,
the attacker can do so for free. We've got a real-world example of the
former with Twister, among many others, usually resulting in a switch to
a centralized checkpointing scheme. For the latter we have Coiledcoin,
an alt that made the mistake of using SHA256 merge-mining and got killed
off early at birth with a zero-cost 51% attack. There is of course a
censorship risk to going the embedded route, but at least we know that
for the forseeable future doing so will require explicit blacklists,
something most people here are against.

To MSC, XCP and others: Now I'm not going to say you shouldn't take
advice from people who call your finance 2.0 systems scams, or maybe if
they're nice, indistinguishable from a scam. But when you do, you should
think for yourself before just trusting that some authority figure has
your best interests in mind.

1) Yes, this was responsibly disclosed to the security mailing list. It
   was revealed to the public a few hours later on the -dev IRC channel
   without a fix.


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