Evolution usernames - more discussion

geolibertarian

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Jul 5, 2017
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I heard @Chuck Williams talk in the E42 Dash Force Podcast about usernames. I've also seen a few forum posts (some responses from @Obusco ) about it, mentioning that it's been discussed "a lot" internally. Could you or some core team member(s) share some more details about what types of ideas are being considered to address related problems?

To me, it seems like "usernames" are analogous to a "natural resource" which Henry George (Adam Smith, Physiocrats, Milton Friedman, and many others) have talked about. And the solution (to username squatting, expiry, allocation, and more), would be a "land value tax"-type system - that is, a cost based on its rental value (or the rent based on its market value?)

I read that usernames may cost a "low price" to prevent spamming. What might make more sense is to base the "price" on its "rental value" (or the rent you could get based on its market value). There are many ways to do this, but for example (just an example, there could be many great variations):
  • You could have a bidding market for the use of a username for 1 year (maybe that's too long or too short, or maybe you could even sign arbitrary-length contracts).
  • If no one else bids on it, you get it for the "minimum price" and are guaranteed to keep it for a certain time [1 year?]. NOTE: The bid is not a price for the username, but a price for the "rent" to keep that username. E.g. maybe the default minimum fee is something like 0.02 cents/month.
  • If you already "own" a username and someone bids on it, you have a chance to match that bid to keep your username. Perhaps you even get "incumbent-advantage" and they must outbid you by 10% (or whatever, the numbers are arbitrary, try to grasp the general idea).
  • Otherwise if they win the bid, they start to pay the rent every month, and your old username gets transferred to them and you pick a new one (of course this should be seamless, all your contacts automatically update, etc).
  • If your newly chosen username has no other bids you get it for the "minimum price" of course.
  • After your name-use contract is up [say 1 year?], you can re-bid. Say you're currently paying $2/month. After the old [1 year] contract expires, you re-bid for $0.50/month. If no one outbids you, then your "rent" goes down, locked in for that time period. If you lowered your bid and someone else tries to outbid you, you still get a chance to rebid, with incumbent-advantage.
  • Maybe all usernames longer than 12 characters are automatically free (or minimum fee), since they'd likely have no or low value anyway. There can be many variations along these themes.
This type of system has many positive benefits:
  1. It addresses the problem of "expiry" - wouldn't it be sad if someone registered ReallyCoolName and it's gone forever if they die or lost it? Well, if you can't or don't pay the [monthly?] rental value, the username is freed up and goes for auction. Or if I really want ReallyCoolName I could bid $10/month and it would get transferred to me if you are dead and don't outbid me (This is not how to "get back into" your account if you lost your username/pasword. I shouldn't be able to see your transactions/balances/contacts... only the username should be transferred, nothing else).
  2. It addresses the problem of username squatting - you wouldn't register 1000's of names you aren't using, because you must pay "market rates" for the rental cost of keeping a username.
  3. It addresses how to get a more "fair" name allocation - The username gets allocated via markets via "what's most valuable to whom" rather than "whoever shows up first" ("land grab" doesn't seem fair). I'd guess that most usernames would likely have very low value especially at the start, i.e. the "minimum price" unless it's a very valuable word or only a few letters. Maybe I want my name to be "@Nike" but it may be more valuable to another entity who is willing to pay a much higher rent... they might be able to outbid me and win that name.
  4. It addresses very valuable names - if I *really* want "@AmazonianPriestess" then I must be willing to pay the market rate for it - it's likely more valuable to me than anyone else, so say I'd be willing to pay $1000/month for it. Is anyone else? If they are willing to pay a higher rent, then perhaps "the market" has deemed it best allocated to that person and they should get it. If no one else bids higher, perhaps I only pay the 2nd-highest bid (If the only other bidders on that name bid $1, $3, and $10 then I'd need only pay $10/month not $1000/month). It is a hassle to continuously change names, which is why I suggest giving an incumbent advantage. Perhaps you must outbid by triple (200% incumbent advantage) for low-volume-bid names, but for very popular high names the market may be more efficient so you might have only a 5% advantage. Just some ideas.
  5. Extra bonus: The "username rental fees" are paid to the network. In effect, "valuable" usernames will be subsidizing the rest of the network and "going back to society" (i.e. the rest of Dash users, in the form of MN shares or interest bearing accounts - if you keep a cheap username, you get greater dividends because you chose not to have "an expensive popular" username).
I heard Chuck say you've mostly agreed there should be a market for usernames. This is a great idea. But the market shouldn't be for the flat one-time cost of the username, it should be for the market-value rental cost. It may seem subtle but they have very different consequences.

If there's no rental cost, a squatter can keep "vast tracts" of usernames out of use, having paid a small price once and waiting without [much] penalty, until the right bidder comes along and bids high enough. Whereas, the requirement to pay "market rental rates" mitigates this problem - you'd only want to use the name that's valuable enough to you for the rental cost.

Of course this system does have a few problems:
  • Usernames might not be all that valuable. And psychologically, needing to pay even $1 for a year to keep a username could turn people off.
  • Creating a rental/bidding/transferal system may be more complex to set up (or understand) than it's worth.
  • Personal grudges - your enemy hates you and is willing to spend lots of money to screw you over by bidding on your username.
  • You don't trust markets, think they're too inefficient, or think they can't allocate something like usernames properly.
  • You think first come first served is more fair.
  • "Wealthy" entities can more easily afford more valuable names and will always win a bid on a username, even if you were an early adopter and got there first, and that seems unfair.
TLDR; Mainly I wanted to hear/read what kinds of solutions you have come up with so far. I outlined one from a "Georgist" perspective and thought it might be interesting to consider. Where can I hear more about your ideas and thought processes?

P.S. I also like some ideas of @GrandMasterDash - something about how usernames may not even be necessary; sub-names/sub-accounts; username hierarchies (belonging to one org); "namespaces" or multi-tier usernames, hiring a manager to manage/distribute/reallocate each namespace. All of these sound very interesting!

References:
https://kaalvtn.blogspot.com/
https://www.reddit.com/r/georgism/wiki/resources
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progress_and_Poverty
https://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2015/04/land-value-tax
https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2018/02/henry-georges-land-value-tax-idea-whose-time-come/
Milton Friedman, LVT
https://imgur.com/u85o1P2
 
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lord2jays

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May 6, 2015
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I think a lot of the problems could be mitigated by a method you already mentioned, have 2 categories of username: ~ <10 characters are paid for/auctioned, ~10 + characters are first-come-first-served. It means someone can have 'grandmasterdash' or 'moocowmoo100' indefinitely but can't get amazon or ebay for e.g.
 

GrandMasterDash

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Jul 12, 2015
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I'm all for free-market but I refuse to be held to ransom. The solution is simple, re-create dns without all the fluffy bits like country domains. Give registrars the tools they need to manage their name space, and let MNOs vote who gets to be a registrar. Big money coming in to the treasury from registrars, fueling the dash dao even further. Could potentially be a real game change; a win for free speech, an uncensorable dns. It's been attempted before but now might be very good timing.

If not, then align with someone else's dns system because there's no way McDonalds is goin to use "mcd71" simply because a squatter has taken "macdonalds"
 
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camosoul

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Sep 19, 2014
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It's a problem of scope creep in the echo chamber...

I don't have to "sign up" and get a "username" to have a $20 bill in my pocket...

This simply should not be happening or DASH needs to change it's name. Again.

Stop trying to be a self-contained universe, and just be money.

You don't have to deal with the problems of a bunch of inappropriate add-ons, if you don't have the inappropriate add-ons...
 

GrandMasterDash

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True, and in the long term I would like to see dash have their own 2fa terminals; a phone signs the transaction, sends via bluetooth, and a palmprint to complete. But before we get there, how do we make it easier? And how do we provide a bank-in-the-sky experience? If you've ever used peerplays, or other graphene based chains, you'd know it's super easy to send money. No copy and pasting long strings.

But more so, I wish we could move on and change our tagline from "dash is digital cash" to something else, because in my mind, dash could be far more than that. It seems ridiculous to have the power of a dao and yet put a limiter on it. A better more robust dns would be awesome.. but if we feel we can't achieve that, then I see no point in trying to re-invent the wheel, we should just utilize someone else's namespace.
 
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