I'm not sure how you define democratic, but in my view the Ledger is a democratic network. In your response you say that most of the validators are voting for the Checks amendment. If it isn't democratic, why are they voting?
Amendments have serious implications for the network, which could have irreversible consequences. Thus, I believe they require thorough testing prior to implementation. This view is arguably reflected in the fact that amendments require 80% support from the voting quorum to pass.
For this reason, our validator, which is included in the default UNL, is currently vetoing the checks amendment. I plan to change this to vote in favor of the Checks and FlowCross amendments in the relatively near future, as they have been fairly well tested without issues on the TestNet.
There are other default UNL validators that are not run by Ripple that are actively vetoing these two amendments, possibly for the same reason.
As a default UNL validator operator, I see it as imperative that I act slowly and intentionally with things like amendments and fees, so I can do my absolute best to be a good steward. It is easy to talk about making changes, but my aim is to prevent unforeseen consequences.
Having lunch with my kids today.
After that I'll finish my story and tell you my current price.
Then back to answering the question backlog.
Feel free to "like" particular questions. I'll look at those to help order my work in answering. I'm going to dedicate the rest of the weekend to catching up.
As promised, I didn't go to bed before finishing monstrosity. It is the delayed continuation of the post I left hanging here. Sorry for the delay.
I've had a long love/hate relationship with bitcoin. When I first heard about it I was inthralled with the technology. I dug in deep to understand everything I could. It seemed like a global LETS system to me. There were a few things I didn't like. It wasn't very private even though everyone kept calling it anonymous. I was one of the first to point out how the DAG could be used to unmask people. I may also have been one of the first to describe the mixer concept. I kicked around some ideas for a next generation more private blockchain data structure with Satoshi. I wasn't cryptography savvy enough to make that work, but I was happy when the zerocoin folks worked it out.
But the one thing I always hated about bitcoin was the monetary policy, I made that clear with my first post on bitcointalk. I thought and still think that volatile cryptocurrencies make lousy "money".
Medium of exchange -- OK, that works
Unit of account -- Hum? Is it really a consistent "measure of value"
Standard of deferred payment -- Nope, you can's agree to BTC denominated rent or other contracts
Store of value -- Not really, store implies you get the same value out you put in
It turns out bitcoin is much better described as a commodity than a currency. This argument did not win me popularity either.
Over the next three years I explored other monetary policies and spent a lot of time trying to work out how to make a stable valued cryptocurrency. It was during that exploration that I discovered Ripple. It turns out Ripple is a uniquely suitable platform on which to build a stable coin.
By 2013 there were a lot of bitcoin maximalists pumping BTC. There pitch went something like this:
The Dollar is going to crash!
The Euro is going to crash!
People are going to NEED to use BTC.
The whole world's financial system is going to hell!
You can buy BTC now and be RICH!
Or you can buy BTC later with the poor people.
I thought that was a pretty sucky marketing plan. "The whole world's gonna be miserable, but hey, we DESERVE to be rich! We didn't actually do anything. But we did happen to notice this weird thing on Slashdot first!" I thought that pitch was lamely transparent even for a scammer. I didn't expect many to fall for it.
It was in that context that I made the comments that kicked off the request for comment. Keep in mind that when Ripple launched OpenCoin was giving away XRP. Please read at least the first page here. You'll see that there was an organized campaign to call Ripple a scam right from the beginning. Crypto is a hostile environment.
The initial amounts given were 50,000 XRP. Note Jed was first in line. Also note that Vitalik Buterin was on the first page. That XRP amounts tapered down over time. By the time I discovered Ripple the giveaway amount was 20,000 XRP. I had begged David for XRP a few days before I received my giveaway amount. I'd been posting in the forum and was way too impatient to wait. He graciously funded my initial wallet with 555 XRP. Keep in mind the account reserve was 200 XRP, and trust lines and offers were 50 XRP each. So 555 only represented a half dozen trust lines and market orders.
What's most important to the discussion we are having now, and the mindset I had then, is the relative valuation.
The story I was told is that when PayPal launched, they gave everyone who signed up at the beginning $10. At the beginning of the giveaway OpenCoin considered 50,000 XRP to be worth about $10. ($0.0002 in Feb 2013). By May, people in the forums had been speculating that XRP would reach $5 by the end of the year. I had shouted down a few of those speculation threads, and that was what I was referring to when I wrote this:
I thought such outlandish speculation made Ripple actually sound like the scam others were claiming it was. I also thought that most of the speculators had no idea what the "rippling" concept in Ripple actually was. Most were just happy they had gotten free crypto since the bitcoin faucet had long ago dried up.
Now in retrospect, I made two bad presumptions in the 4 points I made in that original post.
First, I was a Ripple maximalist and presumed that OpenCoin wanted all 6 billion people on the planet to have their own Ripple address on ledger. Having a Ripple address means needing some amount of XRP for the account reserve and trust lines. The average amount 6 billion people would pay just to have an account is pretty small. ($1 would be a pretty high barrier to entry in poorer regions)
That was what I was referring to here:
Say 6-8 billion people and add in a couple billion businesses. You are looking at 10 billion addresses. That averages to only 10 XRP per address. Now you have to consider some of that is locked into the account reserves. If you support the local currencies as well, that's at least 10 billion trust lines and and offer reserves. The reserves will need to fall into drop amounts at that point. Otherwise there isn't much XRP to use for transaction fees.
The use of trust lines to represent local fiat currencies was what I meant by "unlimited supply" here:
All in all, it didn't seem to me that XRP was being considered by OpenCoin as a common payment denomination. (Meaning to specify the price of goods or services in XRP rather than in USD) It was pretty clear OpenCoin saw XRP as a bridge currency, but that would be hidden from most Ripple users who continued to hold and spend their local fiat currency.
This third point I have discussed in at least a couple of other places in this thread. This logic is still sound.
I began to realize my presumption about 10 billion on ledger addresses was incorrect shortly afterwards.
The second bad presumption I made was that OpenCoin was manipulating XRP prices by selling off enough XRP to keep the price stable. (Remember I'm a fan of stable money) Stable XRP value seemed such an obvious precursor to XRP becoming a bridge currency, that I couldn't see any other way that could happen. (Why stable currencies make good bridge currencies is a longer discussion that I'll make in my "book" but you are probably bored of this already.)
This presumption was what I was referring to in 4a:
I learned much to my surprise that OpenCoin had never even considered manipulating the market price to increase stability! I never saw any inclination to do during my tenure either. So clearly I was wrong about 4a. If you are holding XRP like I am, I don't have any reason to believe that Ripple is competing against you and attempting to hold down XRP prices.
That also invalidates my 4b crack about greater fools. But really that was just a rude crack made at the expense of the folks who were speculating in the forums in 2013. To them, and anyone here who was taken aback, I offer my humble apologies.
Now if I ended the story here and referred you back to this post about upward XRP price pressures, I could rationalize this as a "more optimistic ending"...
...but come on. Do you really think I'm that lame? This whole story would make me sound like I'm just one of those lesser fools I mocked, waiting for the greater fools to show up. I'm not that kind of d***.
So I'll leave you with something that just might make your head explode. But I'll have to say this very carefully using words that I've already heard authorized Ripplers say in public. Hopefully, that will keep me out of trouble...
It's conventional wisdom that the one thing you can't do by giving away an asset like XRP--is make its price go up.
Except one day, a while back, Stefan proposed a concept in which it might...
I was quite reticent to believe it. It seemed intuitively impossible, much like you are thinking now. So I sat down to analyze it. And analyze it. And analyze it... And in the end I concluded his exact proposal was wrong. It was likely to put downward pressure on the prices of XRP.
But, Stefan wasn't very wrong. In fact, using his proposal as a starting place, I tweaked the parameters and intermediate goals and came up with a mechanism that I'm completely convinced will work. It leads to a net upward pressure on the price of XRP...
..and Ripple and I received a patent for it.
Now I don't speak for the company so I can't say if they'll ever deploy the system. I can't say they won't either. But I can say that I know at least one method exists that defies the above conventional wisdom.
Hopefully, that is optimistic enough to make up for any panic triggers you might have suffered!