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Former investment bank FX trader: Risk management part 3/3
Welcome to the third and final part of this chapter. Thank you all for the 100s of comments and upvotes - maybe this post will take us above 1,000 for this topic! Keep any feedback or questions coming in the replies below. Before you read this note, please start with Part I and then Part II so it hangs together and makes sense. Part III
Squeezes and other risks
Crap trades, timeouts and monthly limits
Squeezes and other risks
We are going to cover three common risks that traders face: events; squeezes, asymmetric bets.
Economic releases can cause large short-term volatility. The most famous is Non Farm Payrolls, which is the most widely watched measure of US employment levels and affects the price of many instruments.On an NFP announcement currencies like EURUSD might jump (or drop) 100 pips no problem. This is fine and there are trading strategies that one may employ around this but the key thing is to be aware of these releases.You can find economic calendars all over the internet - including on this site - and you need only check if there are any major releases each day or week. For example, if you are trading off some intraday chart and scalping a few pips here and there it would be highly sensible to go into a known data release flat as it is pure coin-toss and not the reason for your trading. It only takes five minutes each day to plan for the day ahead so do not get caught out by this. Many retail traders get stopped out on such events when price volatility is at its peak.
Short squeezes bring a lot of danger and perhaps some opportunity. The story of VW and Porsche is the best short squeeze ever. Throughout these articles we've used FX examples wherever possible but in this one instance the concept (which is also highly relevant in FX) is best illustrated with an historical lesson from a different asset class. A short squeeze is when a participant ends up in a short position they are forced to cover. Especially when the rest of the market knows that this participant can be bullied into stopping out at terrible levels, provided the market can briefly drive the price into their pain zone. There's a reason for the car, don't worry Hedge funds had been shorting VW stock. However the amount of VW stock available to buy in the open market was actually quite limited. The local government owned a chunk and Porsche itself had bought and locked away around 30%. Neither of these would sell to the hedge-funds so a good amount of the stock was un-buyable at any price. If you sell or short a stock you must be prepared to buy it back to go flat at some point. To cut a long story short, Porsche bought a lot of call options on VW stock. These options gave them the right to purchase VW stock from banks at slightly above market price. Eventually the banks who had sold these options realised there was no VW stock to go out and buy since the German government wouldn’t sell its allocation and Porsche wouldn’t either. If Porsche called in the options the banks were in trouble. Porsche called in the options which forced the shorts to buy stock - at whatever price they could get it. The price squeezed higher as those that were short got massively squeezed and stopped out. For one brief moment in 2008, VW was the world’s most valuable company. Shorts were burned hard. Incredible event Porsche apparently made $11.5 billion on the trade. The BBC described Porsche as “a hedge fund with a carmaker attached.” If this all seems exotic then know that the same thing happens in FX all the time. If everyone in the market is talking about a key level in EURUSD being 1.2050 then you can bet the market will try to push through 1.2050 just to take out any short stops at that level. Whether it then rallies higher or fails and trades back lower is a different matter entirely. This brings us on to the matter of crowded trades. We will look at positioning in more detail in the next section. Crowded trades are dangerous for PNL. If everyone believes EURUSD is going down and has already sold EURUSD then you run the risk of a short squeeze. For additional selling to take place you need a very good reason for people to add to their position whereas a move in the other direction could force mass buying to cover their shorts. A trading mentor when I worked at the investment bank once advised me: Always think about which move would cause the maximum people the maximum pain. That move is precisely what you should be watching out for at all times.
Also known as picking up pennies in front of a steamroller. This risk has caught out many a retail trader. Sometimes it is referred to as a "negative skew" strategy. Ideally what you are looking for is asymmetric risk trade set-ups: that is where the downside is clearly defined and smaller than the upside. What you want to avoid is the opposite. A famous example of this going wrong was the Swiss National Bank de-peg in 2012. The Swiss National Bank had said they would defend the price of EURCHF so that it did not go below 1.2. Many people believed it could never go below 1.2 due to this. Many retail traders therefore opted for a strategy that some describe as ‘picking up pennies in front of a steam-roller’. They would would buy EURCHF above the peg level and hope for a tiny rally of several pips before selling them back and keep doing this repeatedly. Often they were highly leveraged at 100:1 so that they could amplify the profit of the tiny 5-10 pip rally. Then this happened. Something that changed FX markets forever The SNB suddenly did the unthinkable. They stopped defending the price. CHF jumped and so EURCHF (the number of CHF per 1 EUR) dropped to new lows very fast. Clearly, this trade had horrific risk : reward asymmetry: you risked 30% to make 0.05%. Other strategies like naively selling options have the same result. You win a small amount of money each day and then spectacularly blow up at some point down the line.
We have talked about short squeezes. But how do you know what the market position is? And should you care? Let’s start with the first. You should definitely care. Let’s imagine the entire market is exceptionally long EURUSD and positioning reaches extreme levels. This makes EURUSD very vulnerable. To keep the price going higher EURUSD needs to attract fresh buy orders. If everyone is already long and has no room to add, what can incentivise people to keep buying? The news flow might be good. They may believe EURUSD goes higher. But they have already bought and have their maximum position on. On the flip side, if there’s an unexpected event and EURUSD gaps lower you will have the entire market trying to exit the position at the same time. Like a herd of cows running through a single doorway. Messy. We are going to look at this in more detail in a later chapter, where we discuss ‘carry’ trades. For now this TRYJPY chart might provide some idea of what a rush to the exits of a crowded position looks like. A carry trade position clear-out in action Knowing if the market is currently at extreme levels of long or short can therefore be helpful. The CFTC makes available a weekly report, which details the overall positions of speculative traders “Non Commercial Traders” in some of the major futures products. This includes futures tied to deliverable FX pairs such as EURUSD as well as products such as gold. The report is called “CFTC Commitments of Traders” ("COT"). This is a great benchmark. It is far more representative of the overall market than the proprietary ones offered by retail brokers as it covers a far larger cross-section of the institutional market. Generally market participants will not pay a lot of attention to commercial hedgers, which are also detailed in the report. This data is worth tracking but these folks are simply hedging real-world transactions rather than speculating so their activity is far less revealing and far more noisy. You can find the data online for free and download it directly here. Raw format is kinda hard to work with However, many websites will chart this for you free of charge and you may find it more convenient to look at it that way. Just google “CFTC positioning charts”. But you can easily get visualisations You can visually spot extreme positioning. It is extremely powerful. Bear in mind the reports come out Friday afternoon US time and the report is a snapshot up to the prior Tuesday. That means it is a lagged report - by the time it is released it is a few days out of date. For longer term trades where you hold positions for weeks this is of course still pretty helpful information. As well as the absolute level (is the speculative market net long or short) you can also use this to pick up on changes in positioning. For example if bad news comes out how much does the net short increase? If good news comes out, the market may remain net short but how much did they buy back? A lot of traders ask themselves “Does the market have this trade on?” The positioning data is a good method for answering this. It provides a good finger on the pulse of the wider market sentiment and activity. For example you might say: “There was lots of noise about the good employment numbers in the US. However, there wasn’t actually a lot of position change on the back of it. Maybe everyone who wants to buy already has. What would happen now if bad news came out?” In general traders will be wary of entering a crowded position because it will be hard to attract additional buyers or sellers and there could be an aggressive exit. If you want to enter a trade that is showing extreme levels of positioning you must think carefully about this dynamic.
Retail traders often drastically underestimate how correlated their bets are. Through bitter experience, I have learned that a mistake in position correlation is the root of some of the most serious problems in trading. If you have eight highly correlated positions, then you are really trading one position that is eight times as large. Bruce Kovner of hedge fund, Caxton Associates For example, if you are trading a bunch of pairs against the USD you will end up with a simply huge USD exposure. A single USD-trigger can ruin all your bets. Your ideal scenario — and it isn’t always possible — would be to have a highly diversified portfolio of bets that do not move in tandem. Look at this chart. Inverted USD index (DXY) is green. AUDUSD is orange. EURUSD is blue. Chart from TradingView So the whole thing is just one big USD trade! If you are long AUDUSD, long EURUSD, and short DXY you have three anti USD bets that are all likely to work or fail together. The more diversified your portfolio of bets are, the more risk you can take on each. There’s a really good video, explaining the benefits of diversification from Ray Dalio. A systematic fund with access to an investable universe of 10,000 instruments has more opportunity to make a better risk-adjusted return than a trader who only focuses on three symbols. Diversification really is the closest thing to a free lunch in finance. But let’s be pragmatic and realistic. Human retail traders don’t have capacity to run even one hundred bets at a time. More realistic would be an average of 2-3 trades on simultaneously. So what can be done? For example:
You might diversify across time horizons by having a mix of short-term and long-term trades.
You might diversify across asset classes - trading some FX but also crypto and equities.
You might diversify your trade generation approach so you are not relying on the same indicators or drivers on each trade.
You might diversify your exposure to the market regime by having some trades that assume a trend will continue (momentum) and some that assume we will be range-bound (carry).
And so on. Basically you want to scan your portfolio of trades and make sure you are not putting all your eggs in one basket. If some trades underperform others will perform - assuming the bets are not correlated - and that way you can ensure your overall portfolio takes less risk per unit of return. The key thing is to start thinking about a portfolio of bets and what each new trade offers to your existing portfolio of risk. Will it diversify or amplify a current exposure?
Crap trades, timeouts and monthly limits
One common mistake is to get bored and restless and put on crap trades. This just means trades in which you have low conviction. It is perfectly fine not to trade. If you feel like you do not understand the market at a particular point, simply choose not to trade. Flat is a position. Do not waste your bullets on rubbish trades. Only enter a trade when you have carefully considered it from all angles and feel good about the risk. This will make it far easier to hold onto the trade if it moves against you at any point. You actually believe in it. Equally, you need to set monthly limits. A standard limit might be a 10% account balance stop per month. At that point you close all your positions immediately and stop trading till next month. Be strict with yourself and walk away Let’s assume you started the year with $100k and made 5% in January so enter Feb with $105k balance. Your stop is therefore 10% of $105k or $10.5k . If your account balance dips to $94.5k ($105k-$10.5k) then you stop yourself out and don’t resume trading till March the first. Having monthly calendar breaks is nice for another reason. Say you made a load of money in January. You don’t want to start February feeling you are up 5% or it is too tempting to avoid trading all month and protect the existing win. Each month and each year should feel like a clean slate and an independent period. Everyone has trading slumps. It is perfectly normal. It will definitely happen to you at some stage. The trick is to take a break and refocus. Conserve your capital by not trading a lot whilst you are on a losing streak. This period will be much harder for you emotionally and you’ll end up making suboptimal decisions. An enforced break will help you see the bigger picture. Put in place a process before you start trading and then it’ll be easy to follow and will feel much less emotional. Remember: the market doesn’t care if you win or lose, it is nothing personal. When your head has cooled and you feel calm you return the next month and begin the task of building back your account balance.
That's a wrap on risk management
Thanks for taking time to read this three-part chapter on risk management. I hope you enjoyed it. Do comment in the replies if you have any questions or feedback. Remember: the most important part of trading is not making money. It is not losing money. Always start with that principle. I hope these three notes have provided some food for thought on how you might approach risk management and are of practical use to you when trading. Avoiding mistakes is not a sexy tagline but it is an effective and reliable way to improve results. Next up I will be writing about an exciting topic I think many traders should look at rather differently: news trading. Please follow on here to receive notifications and the broad outline is below. News Trading Part I
Why use the economic calendar
Reading the economic calendar
Knowing what's priced in
First order thinking vs second order thinking
News Trading Part II
Preparing for quantitative and qualitative releases
Data surprise index
Using recent events to predict future reactions
Buy the rumour, sell the fact
The mysterious 'position trim' effect
Some key FX releases
*** Disclaimer:This content is not investment advice and you should not place any reliance on it. The views expressed are the author's own and should not be attributed to any other person, including their employer.
I am 14 y/o and wanting to retire at 30 - but parents are blocking my journey
So hello everyone, when I was 13 I learned about FIRE. I never forgot about it, but now I am willing to truly achieve financial freedom when I am 30-40 y/o. Maybe this sounds weird, but I am doing Surveys that get me 30-40 cents a day in Litecoin. I am using a trusted interest provider that offers 0.02% interest a day. I am also trying to buy low and sell high. (Swing trading) 0.30$ is not that much, but it is zero effort, and I love compound interest. Now there’s a catch, my parents don’t want me to buy cryptocurrency. - Kinda agree with them, but when I told them about Index Funds I wanted to buy, they declined. So I am secretly buying crypto because their is no better alternative. Then, I am converting 15-30$ a month to cash (because my parents can’t know about this), what I exchange for giftcards, what I exchange to the top cryptocurrencies. I also earn the same interest here. When school reopens I am mining crypto on some school computers what gives me 0.05$ returns a day. This is not a well-known currency so I am not investing my own money in there. Then I can start working tommorow what will get me around 100$ a month. But the problem is, that this number is way to big to convert to cash every month. On top of that I am earning around 5$ per month in Paypal cash by re-selling a dropshipping course. I also get 0.02% a day on this. I know this post could sound weird to you guys, but I am really asking for advice here. How can I convert my fiat cash in a passive income stream, that is not sketchy, but will get great returns in the next 15+ years without my parents knowing? Or are there better ways to earn money online? I have decent coding skills, Azure, BaaS, webdevelopment etc. NB: Sorry for my bad English, it is not my main language. Thanks for your help!
You may have heard about off-shore tax havens of questionable legality where wealthy people invest their money in legal "grey zones" and don't pay any tax, as featured for example, in Netflix's drama, The Laundromat. The reality is that the Government of Canada offers 100% tax-free investing throughout your life, with unlimited withdrawals of your contributions and profits, and no limits on how much you can make tax-free. There is also nothing to report to the Canada Revenue Agency. Although Britain has a comparable program, Canada is the only country in the world that offers tax-free investing with this level of power and flexibility. Thank you fellow Redditors for the wonderful Gold Award and Today I Learned Award! (Unrelated but Important Note: I put a link at the bottom for my margin account explainer. Many people are interested in margin trading but don't understand the math behind margin accounts and cannot find an explanation. If you want to do margin, but don't know how, click on the link.) As a Gen-Xer, I wrote this post with Millennials in mind, many of whom are getting interested in investing in ETFs, individual stocks, and also my personal favourite, options. Your generation is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this extremely powerful program at a relatively young age. But whether you're in your 20's or your 90's, read on! Are TFSAs important? In 2020 Canadians have almost 1 trillion dollars saved up in their TFSAs, so if that doesn't prove that pennies add up to dollars, I don't know what does. The TFSA truly is the Great Canadian Tax Shelter. I will periodically be checking this and adding issues as they arise, to this post. I really appreciate that people are finding this useful. As this post is now fairly complete from a basic mechanics point of view, and some questions are already answered in this post, please be advised that at this stage I cannot respond to questions that are already covered here. If I do not respond to your post, check this post as I may have added the answer to the FAQs at the bottom.
How to Invest in Stocks
A lot of people get really excited - for good reason - when they discover that the TFSA allows you to invest in stocks, tax free. I get questions about which stocks to buy. I have made some comments about that throughout this post, however; I can't comprehensively answer that question. Having said that, though, if you're interested in picking your own stocks and want to learn how, I recommmend starting with the following videos: The first is by Peter Lynch, a famous American investor in the 80's who wrote some well-respected books for the general public, like "One Up on Wall Street." The advice he gives is always valid, always works, and that never changes, even with 2020's technology, companies and AI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRMpgaBv-U4&t=2256s The second is a recording of a university lecture given by investment legend Warren Buffett, who expounds on the same principles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MHIcabnjrA Please note that I have no connection to whomever posted the videos.
TFSAs were introduced in 2009 by Stephen Harper's government, to encourage Canadians to save. The effect of the TFSA is that ordinary Canadians don't pay any income or capital gains tax on their securities investments. Initial uptake was slow as the contribution rules take some getting used to, but over time the program became a smash hit with Canadians. There are about 20 million Canadians with TFSAs, so the uptake is about 70%- 80% (as you have to be the age of majority in your province/territory to open a TFSA).
Eligibility to Open a TFSA
You must be a Canadian resident with a valid Social Insurance Number to open a TFSA. You must be at the voting age in the province in which you reside in order to open a TFSA, however contribution room begins to accumulate from the year in which you turned 18. You do not have to file a tax return to open a TFSA. You do not need to be a Canadian citizen to open and contribute to a TFSA. No minimum balance is required to open a TFSA.
Where you Can Open a TFSA
There are hundreds of financial institutions in Canada that offer the TFSA. There is only one kind of TFSA; however, different institutions offer a different range of financial products. Here are some examples:
The Canadian big 5 bank branches and most other financial institutions offer a TFSA that allows you to buy mutual funds, hold cash, GICs, term deposits, and possibly ETFs. This is a good choice if you want guaranteed returns or diversified investing.
There are a number of on-line banks such as Tangerine, Simplii Financial, Oaken Financial, and many more that offer the TFSA.
The discount DIY brokerage arms of the big 5 banks give you more choices, including stocks, warrants, bonds and options. There are also standalone brokers like IBKR Canada, Questrade, Qtrade, and Virtual Brokers, among others, that offer this.
Some brokerages and financial advisors also offer TFSAs that give you these investment choices, in different formats such as:
Traditional brokerage, where a stockbroker invests your money (BMO Nesbitt Burns, RBC Dominion Securities and others)
Financial advisor who will invest your money according to a plan you put together with the advisor (TSI Network and many others)
"Robo" advisors such as Wealthsimple, RBC InvestEase, BMO SmartFolio, or Wealthbar
BMO's AdviceDirect, which is a semi-directed hybrid between standalone DIY investing and fully-advised investing, where you operate on a DIY basis but have access to a registered investment advisor (a live person) who can give you suggetions and advice.
Your TFSA may be covered by either CIFP or CDIC insuranceor both. Ask your bank or broker for details.
What You Can Trade and Invest In
You can trade the following:
GICS, mutual funds, term deposits
individual common and preferred stocks listed on an "approved exchange" which is the TSX, TSX-V, NASDAQ, NYSE, and about 20 other exchanges worldwide, but not the US OTC pink sheets. Many examples, such as Suncor, Linamar, Apple, any of the big banks, and many thousands of others, when you want to buy into an individual company
stock-like securities like REITS, ETFs and ETNs, including 2x and 3x leveraged
gold and silver certificates
cash of many countries (CAD/USD/EUGBP/AUD/NZD/JPY/CHF and many others)
government bills and bonds of most countries, subsovereigns like Canadian provincial bills and bonds, and most corporations
options that trade on the Montreal Exchange or various options exchanges in the USA and the rest of the word (see FAQ for details)
gold, silver bullion certificates
shares in certain private companies -- but consult your tax advisor on this
What You Cannot Trade
You cannot trade:
commodity futures contracts
option spread positions (see FAQ for details)
anything that requires a margin account, meaning, a special kind of account that allows you to borrow money directly from the broker against the assets you have in your account and the assets you intend to buy.
crypto (although there exist crypto ETNs that you can buy)
Again, if it requires a margin account, it's out. You cannot buy on margin in a TFSA. Nothing stopping you from borrowing money from other sources as long as you stay within your contribution limits, but you can't trade on margin in a TFSA. You can of course trade long puts and calls which give you leverage.
Rules for Contribution Room
Starting at 18 you get a certain amount of contribution room. According to the CRA: You will accumulate TFSA contribution room for each year even if you do not file an Income Tax and Benefit Return or open a TFSA. The annual TFSA dollar limit for the years 2009 to2012 was $5,000. The annual TFSA dollar limit for the years 2013 and 2014 was $5,500. The annual TFSA dollar limit for the year 2015 was $10,000. The annual TFSA dollar limit for the years 2016 to 2018 was $5,500. The annual TFSA dollar limit for the year 2019 is $6,000. The TFSA annual room limit will be indexed to inflation and rounded to the nearest $500. Investment income earned by, and changes in the value of TFSA investments will not affect your TFSA contribution room for the current or future years. https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/tax-free-savings-account/contributions.html If you don't use the room, it accumulates indefinitely. Trades you make in a TFSA are truly tax free. But you cannot claim the dividend tax credit and you cannot claim losses in a TFSA against capital gains whether inside or outside of the TFSA. So do make money and don't lose money in a TFSA. You are stuck with the 15% withholding tax on U.S. dividend distributions unlike the RRSP, due to U.S. tax rules, but you do not pay any capital gains on sale of U.S. shares. You can withdraw *both* contributions *and* capital gains, no matter how much, at any time, without penalty. The amount of the withdrawal (contributions+gains) converts into contribution room in the *next* calendar year. So if you put the withdrawn funds back in the same calendar year you take them out, that burns up your total accumulated contribution room to the extent of the amount that you re-contribute in the same calendar year.
E.g. Say you turned 18 in 2016 in Alberta where the age of majority is 18. It is now sometime in 2020. You have never contributed to a TFSA. You now have $5,500+$5,500+$5,500+$6,000+$6,000 = $28,500 of room in 2020. In 2020 you manage to put $20,000 in to your TFSA and you buy Canadian Megacorp common shares. You now have $8,500 of room remaining in 2020. Sometime in 2021 - it doesn't matter when in 2021 - your shares go to $100K due to the success of the Canadian Megacorp. You also have $6,000 worth of room for 2021 as set by the government. You therefore have $8,500 carried over from 2020+$6,000 = $14,500 of room in 2021. In 2021 you sell the shares and pull out the $100K. This amount is tax-free and does not even have to be reported. You can do whatever you want with it. But: if you put it back in 2021 you will over-contribute by $100,000 - $14,500 = $85,500 and incur a penalty. But if you wait until 2022 you will have $14,500 unused contribution room carried forward from 2021, another $6,000 for 2022, and $100,000 carried forward from the withdrawal 2021, so in 2022 you will have $14,500+$6,000+$100,000 = $120,500 of contribution room. This means that if you choose, you can put the $100,000 back in in 2022 tax-free and still have $20,500 left over. If you do not put the money back in 2021, then in 2022 you will have $120,500+$6,000 = $126,500 of contribution room. There is no age limit on how old you can be to contribute, no limit on how much money you can make in the TFSA, and if you do not use the room it keeps carrying forward forever. Just remember the following formula: This year's contribution room = (A) unused contribution room carried forward from last year + (B) contribution room provided by the government for this year + (C) total withdrawals from last year. EXAMPLE 1: Say in 2020 you never contributed to a TFSA but you were 18 in 2009. You have $69,500 of unused room (see above) in 2020 which accumulated from 2009-2020. In 2020 you contribute $50,000, leaving $19,500 contribution room unused for 2020. You buy $50,000 worth of stock. The next day, also in 2020, the stock doubles and it's worth $100,000. Also in 2020 you sell the stock and withdraw $100,000, tax-free. You continue to trade stocks within your TFSA, and hopefully grow your TFSA in 2020, but you make no further contributions or withdrawals in 2020. The question is, How much room will you have in 2021? Answer: In the year 2021, the following applies: (A) Unused contribution room carried forward from last year, 2020: $19,500 (B) Contribution room provided by government for this year, 2021: $6,000 (C) Total withdrawals from last year, 2020: $100,000 Total contribution room for 2021 = $19,500+6,000+100,000 = $125,500. EXAMPLE 2: Say between 2020 and 2021 you decided to buy a tax-free car (well you're still stuck with the GST/PST/HST/QST but you get the picture) so you went to the dealer and spent $25,000 of the $100,000 you withdrew in 2020. You now have a car and $75,000 still burning a hole in your pocket. Say in early 2021 you re-contribute the $75,000 you still have left over, to your TFSA. However, in mid-2021 you suddenly need $75,000 because of an emergency so you pull the $75,000 back out. But then a few weeks later, it turns out that for whatever reason you don't need it after all so you decide to put the $75,000 back into the TFSA, also in 2021. You continue to trade inside your TFSA but make no further withdrawals or contributions. How much room will you have in 2022? Answer: In the year 2022, the following applies: (A) Unused contribution room carried forward from last year, 2021: $125,500 - $75,000 - $75,000 = -$24,500. Already you have a problem. You have over-contributed in 2021. You will be assessed a penalty on the over-contribution! (penalty = 1% a month). But if you waited until 2022 to re-contribute the $75,000 you pulled out for the emergency..... In the year 2022, the following would apply: (A) Unused contribution room carried forward from last year, 2021: $125,500 -$75,000 =$50,500. (B) Contribution room provided by government for this year, 2022: $6,000 (C) Total withdrawals from last year, 2020: $75,000 Total contribution room for 2022 = $50,500 + $6,000 + $75,000 = $131,500. ...And...re-contributing that $75,000 that was left over from your 2021 emergency that didn't materialize, you still have $131,500-$75,000 = $56,500 of contribution room left in 2022. For a more comprehensive discussion, please see the CRA info link below.
FAQs That Have Arisen in the Discussion and Other Potential Questions:
Equity and ETF/ETN Options in a TFSA: can I get leverage? Yes. You can buy puts and calls in your TFSA and you only need to have the cash to pay the premium and broker commissions. Example: if XYZ is trading at $70, and you want to buy the $90 call with 6 months to expiration, and the call is trading at $2.50, you only need to have $250 in your account, per option contract, and if you are dealing with BMO IL for example you need $9.95 + $1.25/contract which is what they charge in commission. Of course, any profits on closing your position are tax-free. You only need the full value of the strike in your account if you want to exercise your option instead of selling it. Please note: this is not meant to be an options tutorial; see the Montreal Exchange's Equity Options Reference Manual if you have questions on how options work.
Equity and ETF/ETN Options in a TFSA: what is ok and not ok? Long puts and calls are allowed. Covered calls are allowed, but cash-secured puts are not allowed. All other option trades are also not allowed. Basically the rule is, if the trade is not a covered call and it either requires being short an option or short the stock, you can't do it in a TFSA.
Live in a province where the voting age is 19 so I can't open a TFSA until I'm 19, when does my contribution room begin? Your contribution room begins to accumulate at 18, so if you live in province where the age of majority is 19, you'll get the room carried forward from the year you turned 18.
If I turn 18 on December 31, do I get the contribution room just for that day or for the whole year? The whole year.
Do commissions paid on share transactions count as withdrawals? Unfortunately, no. If you contribute $2,000 cash and you buy $1,975 worth of stock and pay $25 in commission, the $25 does not count as a withdrawal. It is the same as if you lost money in the TFSA.
How much room do I have? If your broker records are complete, you can do a spreadsheet. The other thing you can do is call the CRA and they will tell you.
TFSATFSA direct transfer from one institution to another: this has no impact on your contributions or withdrawals as it counts as neither.
More than 1 TFSA: you can have as many as you want but your total contribution room does not increase or decrease depending on how many accounts you have.
Withdrawals that convert into contribution room in the next year. Do they carry forward indefinitely if not used in the next year? Answer :yes.
Do I have to declare my profits, withdrawals and contributions? No. Your bank or broker interfaces directly with the CRA on this. There are no declarations to make.
Risky investments - smart? In a TFSA you want always to make money, because you pay no tax, and you want never to lose money, because you cannot claim the loss against your income from your job. If in year X you have $5,000 of contribution room and put it into a TFSA and buy Canadian Speculative Corp. and due to the failure of the Canadian Speculative Corp. it goes to zero, two things happen. One, you burn up that contribution room and you have to wait until next year for the government to give you more room. Two, you can't claim the $5,000 loss against your employment income or investment income or capital gains like you could in a non-registered account. So remember Buffett's rule #1: Do not lose money. Rule #2 being don't forget the first rule. TFSA's are absolutely tailor-made for Graham-Buffett value investing or for diversified ETF or mutual fund investing, but you don't want to buy a lot of small specs because you don't get the tax loss.
Moving to/from Canada/residency. You must be a resident of Canada and 18 years old with a valid SIN to open a TFSA. Consult your tax advisor on whether your circumstances make you a resident for tax purposes. Since 2009, your TFSA contribution room accumulates every year, if at any time in the calendar year you are 18 years of age or older and a resident of Canada. Note: If you move to another country, you can STILL trade your TFSA online from your other country and keep making money within the account tax-free. You can withdraw money and Canada will not tax you. But you have to get tax advice in your country as to what they do. There restrictions on contributions for non-residents. See "non residents of Canada:" https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/cra-arc/formspubs/pub/rc4466/rc4466-19e.pdf
The U.S. withholding tax. Dividends paid by U.S.-domiciled companies are subject to a 15% U.S. withholding tax. Your broker does this automatically at the time of the dividend payment. So if your stock pays a $100 USD dividend, you only get $85 USD in your broker account and in your statement the broker will have a note saying 15% U.S. withholding tax. I do not know under what circumstances if any it is possible to get the withheld amount. Normally it is not, but consult a tax professional.
The U.S. withholding tax does not apply to capital gains. So if you buy $5,000 USD worth of Apple and sell it for $7,000 USD, you get the full $2,000 USD gain automatically.
Tax-Free Leverage. Leverage in the TFSA is effectively equal to your tax rate * the capital gains inclusion rate because you're not paying tax. So if you're paying 25% on average in income tax, and the capital gains contribution rate is 50%, the TFSA is like having 12.5%, no margin call leverage costing you 0% and that also doesn't magnify your losses.
Margin accounts. These accounts allow you to borrow money from your broker to buy stocks. TFSAs are not margin accounts. Nothing stopping you from borrowing from other sources (such as borrowing cash against your stocks in an actual margin account, or borrowing cash against your house in a HELOC or borrowing cash against your promise to pay it back as in a personal LOC) to fund a TFSA if that is your decision, bearing in mind the risks, but a TFSA is not a margin account. Consider options if you want leverage that you can use in a TFSA, without borrowing money.
Dividend Tax Credit on Canadian Companies. Remember, dividends paid into the TFSA are not eligible to be claimed for the credit, on the rationale that you already got a tax break.
FX risk. The CRA allows you to contribute and withdraw foreign currency from the TFSA but the contribution/withdrawal accounting is done in CAD. So if you contribute $10,000 USD into your TFSA and withdraw $15,000 USD, and the CAD is trading at 70 cents USD when you contribute and $80 cents USD when you withdraw, the CRA will treat it as if you contributed $14,285.71 CAD and withdrew $18,75.00 CAD.
OTC (over-the-counter stocks). You can only buy stocks if they are listed on an approved exchange ("approved exchange" = TSX, TSX-V, NYSE, NASDAQ and about 25 or so others). The U.S. pink sheets "over-the-counter" market is an example of a place where you can buy stocks, that is not an approved exchange, therefore you can't buy these penny stocks. I have however read that the CRA make an exception for a stock traded over the counter if it has a dual listing on an approved exchange. You should check that with a tax lawyer or accountant though.
The RRSP. This is another great tax shelter. Tax shelters in Canada are either deferrals or in a few cases - such as the TFSA - outright tax breaks, The RRSP is an example of a deferral. The RRSP allows you to deduct your contributions from your income, which the TFSA does not allow. This deduction is a huge advantage if you earn a lot of money. The RRSP has tax consequences for withdrawing money whereas the TFSA does not. Withdrawals from the RRSP are taxable whereas they are obviously not in a TFSA. You probably want to start out with a TFSA and maintain and grow that all your life. It is a good idea to start contributing to an RRSP when you start working because you get the tax deduction, and then you can use the amount of the deduction to contribute to your TFSA. There are certain rules that claw back your annual contribution room into an RRSP if you contribute to a pension. See your tax advisor.
Pensions. If I contribute to a pension does that claw back my TFSA contribution room or otherwise affect my TFSA in any way? Answer: No.
The $10K contribution limit for 2015. This was PM Harper's pledge. In 2015 the Conservative government changed the rules to make the annual government allowance $10,000 per year forever. Note: withdrawals still converted into contribution room in the following year - that did not change. When the Liberals came into power they switched the program back for 2016 to the original Harper rules and have kept the original Harper rules since then. That is why there is the $10,000 anomaly of 2015. The original Harper rules (which, again, are in effect now) called for $500 increments to the annual government allowance as and when required to keep up with inflation, based on the BofC's Consumer Price Index (CPI). Under the new Harper rules, it would have been $10,000 flat forever. Which you prefer depends on your politics but the TFSA program is massively popular with Canadians. Assuming 1.6% annual CPI inflation then the annual contribution room will hit $10,000 in 2052 under the present rules. Note: the Bank of Canada does an excellent and informative job of explaining inflation and the CPI at their website.
Losses in a TFSA - you cannot claim a loss in a TFSA against income. So in a TFSA you always want to make money and never want to lose money. A few ppl here have asked if you are losing money on your position in a TFSA can you transfer it in-kind to a cash account and claim the loss. I would expect no as I cannot see how in view of the fact that TFSA losses can't be claimed, that the adjusted cost base would somehow be the cost paid in the TFSA. But I'm not a tax lawyeaccountant. You should consult a tax professional.
Transfers in-kind to the TFSA and the the superficial loss rule. You can transfer securities (shares etc.) "in-kind," meaning, directly, from an unregistered account to the TFSA. If you do that, the CRA considers that you "disposed" of, meaning, equivalent to having sold, the shares in the unregistered account and then re-purchased them at the same price in the TFSA. The CRA considers that you did this even though the broker transfers the shares directly in the the TFSA. The superficial loss rule, which means that you cannot claim a loss for a security re-purchased within 30 days of sale, applies. So if you buy something for $20 in your unregistered account, and it's trading for $25 when you transfer it in-kind into the TFSA, then you have a deemed disposition with a capital gain of $5. But it doesn't work the other way around due to the superficial loss rule. If you buy it for $20 in the unregistered account, and it's trading at $15 when you transfer it in-kind into the TFSA, the superficial loss rule prevents you from claiming the loss because it is treated as having been sold in the unregistered account and immediately bought back in the TFSA.
Day trading/swing trading. It is possible for the CRA to try to tax your TFSA on the basis of "advantage." The one reported decision I'm aware of (emphasis on I'm aware of) is from B.C. where a woman was doing "swap transactions" in her TFSA which were not explicitly disallowed but the court rules that they were an "advantage" in certain years and liable to taxation. Swaps were subsequently banned. I'm not sure what a swap is exactly but it's not that someone who is simply making contributions according to the above rules would run afoul of. The CRA from what I understand doesn't care how much money you make in the TFSA, they care how you made it. So if you're logged on to your broker 40 hours a week and trading all day every day they might take the position that you found a way to work a job 40 hours a week and not pay any tax on the money you make, which they would argue is an "advantage," although there are arguments against that. This is not legal advice, just information.
The U.S. Roth IRA. This is a U.S. retirement savings tax shelter that is superficially similar to the TFSA but it has a number of limitations, including lack of cumulative contribution room, no ability for withdrawals to convert into contribution room in the following year, complex rules on who is eligible to contribute, limits on how much you can invest based on your income, income cutoffs on whether you can even use the Roth IRA at all, age limits that govern when and to what extent you can use it, and strict restrictions on reasons to withdraw funds prior to retirement (withdrawals prior to retirement can only be used to pay for private medical insurance, unpaid medical bills, adoption/childbirth expenses, certain educational expenses). The TFSA is totally unlike the Roth IRA in that it has none of these restrictions, therefore, the Roth IRA is not in any reasonable sense a valid comparison. The TFSA was modeled after the U.K. Investment Savings Account, which is the only comparable program to the TFSA.
The UK Investment Savings Account. This is what the TFSA was based off of. Main difference is that the UK uses a 20,000 pound annual contribution allowance, use-it-or-lose-it. There are several different flavours of ISA, and some do have a limited recontribution feature but not to the extent of the TFSA.
Is it smart to overcontribute to buy a really hot stock and just pay the 1% a month overcontribution penalty? If the CRA believes you made the overcontribution deliberately the penalty is 100% of the gains on the overcontribution, meaning, you can keep the overcontribution, or the loss, but the CRA takes the profit.
Speculative stocks-- are they ok? There is no such thing as a "speculative stock." That term is not used by the CRA. Either the stock trades on an approved exchange or it doesn't. So if a really blue chip stock, the most stable company in the world, trades on an exchange that is not approved, you can't buy it in a TFSA. If a really speculative gold mining stock in Busang, Indonesia that has gone through the roof due to reports of enormous amounts of gold, but their geologist somehow just mysteriously fell out of a helicopter into the jungle and maybe there's no gold there at all, but it trades on an approved exchange, it is fine to buy it in a TFSA. Of course the risk of whether it turns out to be a good investment or not, is on you.
Remember, you're working for your money anyway, so if you can get free money from the government -- you should take it! Follow the rules because Canadians have ended up with a tax bill for not understanding the TFSA rules. Appreciate the feedback everyone. Glad this basic post has been useful for many. The CRA does a good job of explaining TFSAs in detail at https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/cra-arc/formspubs/pub/rc4466/rc4466-19e.pdf
Unrelated but of Interest: The Margin Account
Note: if you are interested in how margin accounts work, I refer you to my post on margin accounts, where I use a straightforward explanation of the math behind margin accounts to try and give readers the confidence that they understand this powerful leveraging tool.
My guide to start working online. After doing this for three years, I am on track to make $40,000 this year from it.
I have posted something very similar here a few times, and it usually gets a good amount of attention. I apologize if you have seen it before, but some people haven't and they could use the money. In 2018 I made about 15k from this guide (give or take a few sites). In 2019 it was closer to 25k. This year I am on track to make 40k. I also want to preface this by saying that this post has refs in it. Some are mine, some are random Redditors, and some don't have one. If that upsets you for some reason, click the link, delete the stuff after .com and submit again and that will take care of it.
Top deals for September 2020
Swagbucks $10-$35 Hulu deal Right now SB has another deal where you get credits to sign up to Hulu with the $5.99 plan. It may only be $20 or it may be $35 when you check as they seem to change it day to day. Since this deal has new terms, the credits might be paid out immediately or after 32 days. The credits can be used for Amazon GC or PayPal credit (both take a few days to get processed). Not only that, but you can get a $25 Amazon GC for $22 worth of points, so you can make even more. You can cancel the subscription after 8 days, but no sooner so you don't lose the points. So, five minutes of work for the equivalent of $16-$29 and a free month of Hulu. $50 from SoFi for opening an account and direct depositing This one will require you to have $500 that you can direct deposit. SoFi Money is a savings account, fee-free, 2% APY annual; so typical bank account. This deal will require you to use your SSN, link a bank account, and do a soft pull with Experian to complete. You just need to create a SoFi Money account through the link, deposit $500 twice to the account, and wait for a few days. After the deposit clears (1-2 business days), SoFi will instantly give you $50 bonus. After you get the $50 bonus you can pull out all money and close the account or keep using it. Another $50 from SoFi but for stocks After you get the $50 sign up bonus from SoFi Money, flip it through this link and fund the invest account. Since I (and you now) already had an account, it literally took under 5 minutes to set up and fund the account. Either way you do it, SoFi will give you an additional $50 in free stock of your choice. Keep it and hope it grows, or sell it for the quick $50 profit. $50 from Chime for opening an account and depositing $200 Pretty much the same exact set up as SoFi. This one will require you to have $200 that you can do without for a few days. You just need to create the Chime account through the link, deposit $200 to the account, and wait for a few days. It says direct deposit only, but this tested and worded with just connecting a bank account and doing the deposit. After the deposit clears (1-2 business days), Chime will instantly give you $50 bonus. After you get the $50 bonus you have to wait until your new debit card arrives and is activated before you can move the money out. $50 from eToro This is a crypto trading account. The same deal as the other ones. Fund the account using the ref link and get $50. The wait time on this one is usually around 7 business days. $10-$120 in crypto for watching videos and answering quiz questions $10 from Coinbase if you buy / sell $100 or more worth of crypto This is a crypto trading account. The link takes you to the account signup screen. After you create the account visit coinbase.com/trade and initiate a buy or sell (in case you transferred crypto into Coinbase from another account) of $100 USD or more (or 100 USD equivalent of your domestic currency) within 180 days of opening and you will receive a $10 bonus (or local equivalent). Orders can take up to 4 business days to complete. Pretty much just watch and answer videos for varying types of crypto. The crypto you earn will get deposited into the wallet you create, which can then be cashed out into USD. Depending on the day, you can earn up to $120 if all free tokens are available. $10-$40 for signing up with OhmConnect A great website if you have one of a few utility companies in California, Texas, or Toronto. OhmConnect supports PGE, SCE, SDGE, Smart Meter Texas, and Toronto Hydro. You essentially just connect your utility account, and earn points. You earn $10 after signing up and getting to a status level of Silver (took me like 10 minutes). $10 more if you connect a smart device like NEST. Several hundred for test driving cars Pretty easy. Click the link, go through the dealerships, get your code, test drive a car, and get paid. I did this last year and I was in and out on my lunch break. These offers come and go all year, so check frequently. UNCLAIMED/ABANDONED PROPERTY States return millions of dollars worth of unclaimed property a year. Unclaimed property typically consists of unclaimed money in accounts that have sat dormant for more than a year. Every state has its own abandoned property site but a good place to start is MissingMoney.com. It’s very simple to search there. If anything comes up, continue the search/filing on your states gov website. Example: California’s is https://ucpi.sco.ca.gov/UCP/Default.aspx. Just cashed a check for $35 from an account I closed years ago. The following are ref links that I am putting in for a random Redditor or two, just to spread goodwill and try to give back to all of you. I get nothing from these and will be doing this for one or two random people every month. PM me if you want your ref link featured here. The Redditor for September is u/moongains PERKSY From Moon: Perksy is a survey app with nice payouts and a fun vibe. I’ve made about $50 on the app with little effort.
Ok. Back to the main post content.
Hey everyone. This is an all-inclusive write-up compiling all of my past posts on how I am making upwards of $1,000 a month through the use of beermoney sites. Beermoney is, according to Urban Dictionary, "Extra money for non-essential payments, available for spending on luxuries, hobbies, or a fresh pint of your favorite draft." I use this definition, because this is (in most cases) not intended to be a primary source of income. This is a way to supplement what you already have. There is no way to know what you will make any given month, so do not count on it. My worst month I only made around $500 and my best I made over $2,000. You can also check out my post on using apps to save money and earn cash back. As I have stated in my other posts, this is not a definitive list of everything a person can do online by any means and refs are included. Do your own research on the subs I list, use Google, ask other people, and find what works for you. What I talk about works well for me, my family, and my schedule. Below I will include time requirements to make this money, provide a quick recap of the revenue streams that I have found to work, and provide payment proof for what I can. I personally invest anywhere from 20 to 30 hours a week doing these sites, on top of my day job. Some days I will make $20 all day, and others I will make over $200. I prefer this, as opposed to a second job, because I can pay partial attention to a laptop and 'clock-out' when I want to focus on family or Netflix. This works better for my temperament and preferences. Tech required: A working laptop, a cellphone (in some cases), an internet connection, and a fairly good amount of patience to learn. If you are in a position where these tools are not available, you can also do many of these from a library. I put all of this info into an e-book, plus a TON of other stuff that was either written by me, or compiled from others (with their permission). Here is a link to it. If you tried even half of the stuff in the book, you would make your money back in less than a day. The dollar amounts next to each site are what I made in 2018. 2019 and 2020 were considerably more, but I have been too lazy to update all of these. Anyway, on to the revenue streams: SwagBucks ($775) Surveys – Majority of countries– This is more of a catch-all for stuff to do when you want to make and save money. You can do surveys, play games, and watch videos to earn points. You can also get cash back from using SB to visit and buy from different stores. You get paid in points which can be used to purchase gift cards or sent directly to PayPal. Each point is the equivalent of $0.01. Usually, SB will have deals where you can get certain gift cards for less. For example, a $20 Amazon gift card for 1800 SB points. The payout can be slow, but if you don’t mind running ads in the background, using a plug-in to save money while you shop, or killing time playing a game, SwagBucks can be a great way to earn $20 a month. Mturk ($3,142): Small tasks and surveys - US mainly. Confirmed also in Canada, Europe, & Aus. - This is by far the one I spent the most time on and has been the best earner. This site lets humans perform small tasks that robots still cannot do well. It is owned by Amazon. Downside is there are slim pickings on weekends and when colleges are out on vacation. I typically stick to surveys, but once in a while do batch jobs which there are more of. You have to wait a week for your first payout, which will go to an Amazon payment account. You can the get payouts one time per day after that. Approval for mturk can sometimes be a pain in the ass, almost impossible if you are not from the US, but is definitely worth it in my opinion if you can get approved. Secret shopper US and Secret shopper UK ($485): In-person store evaluation - US and UK only - These links will take you directly to a sign-up page. US version populates with my ref code. Feel free to delete it before signing up, if you want. You will be taken to the app store where you can download the actual app on your phone. Essentially, you go to stores near you that are identified in the app and take pictures or videos of specific items. I like this one because I have the ability to make a few extra bucks if I am already out shopping. The pay for this one averages about $15/hr. Note: I have not tried the UK version, but it was recommended by another Redditor. Usertesting ($800): Website evaluation - US & maybe select others - This site allows you to review new websites and apps. The pay is usually $10 per recorded test lasting 10-15 minutes. Sometimes the pay is more, but never less. I average a few tests a week. Some weeks I will get a dozen tests, other weeks nothing. This one is great to practice your feedback skills, which open up a lot of other doors. Pay is through PayPal, one week (to the minute) after the test is complete. Redbubble ([$305]: T-shirt creation - Worldwide - After getting rejected by merch by Amazon, I came here. You design and publish t-shirts, phone cases, and about 20 other mixed products, with each sell netting you a few bucks. They are based in Australia, and do pay-outs once a month on the 15th via PayPal. You do all of the uploading and just wait for people to find it with keywords or searches. Great if you are artistic or know how to use any creative software. Prolific.ac ($3,500): Based in the UK, this used to be one of my favorites because they pay in Great British Pound (GBP) which is the equivalent to 1.25x the USD. Prolific is similar to Mturk (listed earlier) in that all you do is fill out surveys. Pay is better than Mturk, but the availability of surveys is not as great. In fact, I personally haven't seen a survey in months, but see others get them often. The initial questionnaire you have to fill out is a bit long taking me about 20 minutes, but ensures you qualify for every survey they show you and will never get disqualified for not meeting the demographic. You have to hit £5 before you can cash out, but you get this after a few days of watching for surveys. Leave it open in a tab and check it throughout the day. I wish I could do this one all day because the pay rocks, but I only see a few a day. They pay out in PayPal anytime you request it and have a balance of over £5. Ebay ($190): Selling goods - Worldwide - Not much explanation needed here. You buy stuff in-person low, and sell online high. Here is a $2.99 beginner's guide dedicated to flipping that covers absolutely everything you need to know (also mine). PlaytestCloud ($190): Video game testing - Many countries - This is just simple game testing. It is super fun, very quick, and you get to test new games before anyone else. They send you tests for different listed devices, you download the game file, and they record your screen and voice. The only issue I have with this one is that you are only able to test 3-4 games per month, at $9-$11 each. Paid almost immediately after each test via PayPal. UsabilityHub ($15): App testing - Many countries - This one lets the user take quick one or two minute surveys on your opinion of an app screen. They pay for this averages to about $.10 a minute, so it is nothing spectacular. Just leave it open in another tab and take a quick survey when you hear a new one come available. UserInterviews ($50): Studies - US & maybe select others - Similar to Respondent, but with less approval when filling out the demographics for each study. Product Testing ($1,500): Mainly US & some UK/CA - There are places online that will pay you to leave positive/negative reviews for companies or purchase products. This is actually a big business model in China and other S.E.A. countries. Personally, I already know that Amazon reviews, Yelp, BBB, and everything in the middle are at least half fake reviews; so I may as well monetize on it. If this is something that sounds interesting, here is more info. Reddit subs($2,300): It is super simple to use Reddit as more than a social media tool or news website. Knowing the right subs to subscribe to, and what to look for, can help you make a few extra hundred bucks a month. There are a ton that you can find small or medium jobs on, but I am only going to outline the top four that have worked for me. /slavelabour: This sub is normally dedicated to doing cheap jobs for people, at cheap rates. I have both had things done for me here, as well as completed a lot of tasks. It may seem daunting at first, with people offering $2 to write an essay (seriously though.. no homework here), but there are gems to be found. Two of my best jobs have been creating meal plans for $60, and finding the name of a book for $80. Cancel that. SL is now power mods that block the decent work and only allow the trash jobs. No longer worth the time. I only leave it up as people ask about it when I don't. /signupsforpay: Since slave labour does not allow paying people to sign up for websites, this is where to go to make a few bucks with signups. From connecting your gas and electric information, to signing up with Acorns, I have probably made a grand total of $100 here. Nothing overly special, but $100 is $100. /giftcardexchange: This is one of my favorites, because you can buy and sell all of those gift cards you have/want. Have a $20 gift card from a family member that you will never use? Sell it here for 80-90%. Want to buy Amazon gift cards for less than face value? Get 'em here. I do a lot of buying on Amazon, so this sub has easily saved me hundreds over the course of using it. Caution: Trade carefully. I know this is a lot of info and a bunch of it is repetitive from my last post, but I wanted to provide as much info as possible for the compiled post. Hope it helps!
Don't blindly follow a narrative, its bad for you and its bad for crypto in general
I mostly lurk around here but I see a pattern repeating over and over again here and in multiple communities so I have to post. I'm just posting this here because I appreciate the fact that this sub is a place of free speech and maybe something productive can come out from this post, while bitcoin is just fucking censorship, memes and moon/lambo posts. If you don't agree, write in the comments why, instead of downvoting. You don't have to upvote either, but when you downvote you are killing the opportunity to have discussion. If you downvote or comment that I'm wrong without providing any counterpoints you are no better than the BTC maxis you despise. In various communities I see a narrative being used to bring people in and making them follow something without thinking for themselves. In crypto I see this mostly in BTC vs BCH tribalistic arguments: - BTC community: "Everything that is not BTC is shitcoin." or more recently as stated by adam on twitter, "Everything that is not BTC is a ponzi scheme, even ETH.", "what is ETH supply?", and even that they are doing this for "altruistic" reasons, to "protect" the newcomers. Very convenient for them that they are protecting the newcomers by having them buy their bags - BCH community: "BTC maxis are dumb", "just increase block size and you will have truly p2p electronic cash", "It is just that simple, there are no trade offs", "if you don't agree with me you are a BTC maxi", "BCH is satoshi's vision for p2p electronic cash" It is not exclusive to crypto but also politics, and you see this over and over again on twitter and on reddit. My point is, that narratives are created so people don't have to think, they just choose a narrative that is easy to follow and makes sense for them, and stick with it. And people keep repeating these narratives to bring other people in, maybe by ignorance, because they truly believe it without questioning, or maybe by self interest, because they want to shill you their bags. Because this is BCH community, and because bitcoin is censored, so I can't post there about the problems in the BTC narrative (some of which are IMO correctly identified by BCH community), I will stick with the narrative I see in the BCH community. The culprit of this post was firstly this post by user u/scotty321"The BTC Paradox: “A 1 MB blocksize enables poor people to run their own node!” “Okay, then what?” “Poor people won’t be able to use the network!”". You will see many posts of this kind being made by u/Egon_1 also. Then you have also this comment in that thread by u/fuck_____________1 saying that people that want to run their own nodes are retarded and that there is no reason to want to do that. "Just trust block explorer websites". And the post and comment were highly upvoted. Really? You really think that there is no problem in having just a few nodes on the network? And that the only thing that secures the network are miners? As stated by user u/co1nsurf3r in that thread:
While I don't think that everybody needs to run a node, a full node does publish blocks it considers valid to other nodes. This does not amount to much if you only consider a single node in the network, but many "honest" full nodes in the network will reduce the probability of a valid block being withheld from the network by a collusion of "hostile" node operators.
But surely this will not get attention here, and will be downvoted by those people that promote the narrative that there is no trade off in increasing the blocksize and the people that don't see it are retarded or are btc maxis. The only narrative I stick to and have been for many years now is that cryptocurrency takes power from the government and gives power to the individual, so you are not restricted to your economy as you can participate in the global economy. There is also the narrative of banking the bankless, which I hope will come true, but it is not a use case we are seeing right now. Some people would argue that removing power from gov's is a bad thing, but you can't deny the fact that gov's can't control crypto (at least we would want them not to). But, if you really want the individuals to remain in control of their money and transact with anyone in the world, the network needs to be very resistant to any kind of attacks. How can you have p2p electronic cash if your network just has a handful couple of nodes and the chinese gov can locate them and just block communication to them? I'm not saying that this is BCH case, I'm just refuting the fact that there is no value in running your own node. If you are relying on block explorers, the gov can just block the communication to the block explorer websites. Then what? Who will you trust to get chain information? The nodes needs to be decentralized so if you take one node down, many more can appear so it is hard to censor and you don't have few points of failure. Right now BTC is focusing on that use case of being difficult to censor. But with that comes the problem that is very expensive to transact on the network, which breaks the purpose of anyone being able to participate. Obviously I do think that is also a major problem, and lightning network is awful right now and probably still years away of being usable, if it ever will. The best solution is up for debate, but thinking that you just have to increase the blocksize and there is no trade off is just naive or misleading. BCH is doing a good thing in trying to come with a solution that is inclusive and promotes cheap and fast transactions, but also don't forget centralization is a major concern and nothing to just shrug off. Saying that "a 1 MB blocksize enables poor people to run their own" and that because of that "Poor people won’t be able to use the network" is a misrepresentation designed to promote a narrative. Because 1MB is not to allow "poor" people to run their node, it is to facilitate as many people to run a node to promote decentralization and avoid censorship. Also an elephant in the room that you will not see being discussed in either BTC or BCH communities is that mining pools are heavily centralized. And I'm not talking about miners being mostly in china, but also that big pools control a lot of hashing power both in BTC and BCH, and that is terrible for the purpose of crypto. Other projects are trying to solve that. Will they be successful? I don't know, I hope so, because I don't buy into any narrative. There are many challenges and I want to see crypto succeed as a whole. As always guys, DYOR and always question if you are not blindly following a narrative. I'm sure I will be called BTC maxi but maybe some people will find value in this. Don't trust guys that are always posting silly "gocha's" against the other "tribe". EDIT: User u/ShadowOfHarbringer has pointed me to some threads that this has been discussed in the past and I will just put my take on them here for visibility, as I will be using this thread as a reference in future discussions I engage:
When there was only 2 nodes in the network, adding a third node increased redundancy and resiliency of the network as a whole in a significant way. When there is thousands of nodes in the network, adding yet another node only marginally increase the redundancy and resiliency of the network. So the question then becomes a matter of personal judgement of how much that added redundancy and resiliency is worth. For the absolutist, it is absolutely worth it and everyone on this planet should do their part.
What is the magical number of nodes that makes it counterproductive to add new nodes? Did he do any math? Does BCH achieve this holy grail safe number of nodes? Guess what, nobody knows at what number of nodes is starts to be marginally irrelevant to add new nodes. Even BTC today could still not have enough nodes to be safe. If you can't know for sure that you are safe, it is better to try to be safer than sorry. Thousands of nodes is still not enough, as I said, it is much cheaper to run a full node as it is to mine. If it costs millions in hash power to do a 51% attack on the block generation it means nothing if it costs less than $10k to run more nodes than there are in total in the network and cause havoc and slowing people from using the network. Or using bot farms to DDoS the 1000s of nodes in the network. Not all attacks are monetarily motivated. When you have governments with billions of dollars at their disposal and something that could threat their power they could do anything they could to stop people from using it, and the cheapest it is to do so the better
You should run a full node if you're a big business with e.g. >$100k/month in volume, or if you run a service that requires high fraud resistance and validation certainty for payments sent your way (e.g. an exchange). For most other users of Bitcoin, there's no good reason to run a full node unless you reel like it.
Shouldn't individuals benefit from fraud resistance too? Why just businesses?
Personally, I think it's a good idea to make sure that people can easily run a full node because they feel like it, and that it's desirable to keep full node resource requirements reasonable for an enthusiast/hobbyist whenever possible. This might seem to be at odds with the concept of making a worldwide digital cash system in which all transactions are validated by everybody, but after having done the math and some of the code myself, I believe that we should be able to have our cake and eat it too.
This is recurrent argument, but also no math provided, "just trust me I did the math"
The biggest reason individuals may want to run their own node is to increase their privacy. SPV wallets rely on others (nodes or ElectronX servers) who may learn their addresses.
It is a reason and valid one but not the biggest reason
If you do it for fun and experimental it good. If you do it for extra privacy it's ok. If you do it to help the network don't. You are just slowing down miners and exchanges.
Yes it will slow down the network, but that shows how people just don't get the the trade off they are doing
I will just copy/paste what Satoshi Nakamoto said in his own words. "The current system where every user is a network node is not the intended configuration for large scale. That would be like every Usenet user runs their own NNTP server."
Another "it is all or nothing argument" and quoting satoshi to try and prove their point. Just because every user doesn't need to be also a full node doesn't mean that there aren't serious risks for having few nodes
For this to have any importance in practice, all of the miners, all of the exchanges, all of the explorers and all of the economic nodes should go rogue all at once. Collude to change consensus. If you have a node you can detect this. It doesn't do much, because such a scenario is impossible in practice.
Not true because as I said, you can DDoS the current nodes or run more malicious nodes than that there currently are, because is cheap to do so
Non-mining nodes don't contribute to adding data to the blockchain ledger, but they do play a part in propagating transactions that aren't yet in blocks (the mempool). Bitcoin client implementations can have different validations for transactions they see outside of blocks and transactions they see inside of blocks; this allows for "soft forks" to add new types of transactions without completely breaking older clients (while a transaction is in the mempool, a node receiving a transaction that's a new/unknown type could drop it as not a valid transaction (not propagate it to its peers), but if that same transaction ends up in a block and that node receives the block, they accept the block (and the transaction in it) as valid (and therefore don't get left behind on the blockchain and become a fork). The participation in the mempool is a sort of "herd immunity" protection for the network, and it was a key talking point for the "User Activated Soft Fork" (UASF) around the time the Segregated Witness feature was trying to be added in. If a certain percentage of nodes updated their software to not propagate certain types of transactions (or not communicate with certain types of nodes), then they can control what gets into a block (someone wanting to get that sort of transaction into a block would need to communicate directly to a mining node, or communicate only through nodes that weren't blocking that sort of transaction) if a certain threshold of nodes adheres to those same validation rules. It's less specific than the influence on the blockchain data that mining nodes have, but it's definitely not nothing.
The first reasonable comment in that thread but is deep down there with only 1 upvote
The addition of non-mining nodes does not add to the efficiency of the network, but actually takes away from it because of the latency issue.
That is true and is actually a trade off you are making, sacrificing security to have scalability
The addition of non-mining nodes has little to no effect on security, since you only need to destroy mining ones to take down the network
It is true that if you destroy mining nodes you take down the network from producing new blocks (temporarily), even if you have a lot of non mining nodes. But, it still better than if you take down the mining nodes who are also the only full nodes. If the miners are not the only full nodes, at least you still have full nodes with the blockchain data so new miners can download it and join. If all the miners are also the full nodes and you take them down, where will you get all the past blockchain data to start mining again? Just pray that the miners that were taken down come back online at some point in the future?
The real limiting factor is ISP's: Imagine a situation where one service provider defrauds 4000 different nodes. Did the excessive amount of nodes help at all, when they have all been defrauded by the same service provider? If there are only 30 ISP's in the world, how many nodes do we REALLY need?
You cant defraud if the connection is encrypted. Use TOR for example, it is hard for ISP's to know what you are doing.
Satoshi specifically said in the white paper that after a certain point, number of nodes needed plateaus, meaning after a certain point, adding more nodes is actually counterintuitive, which we also demonstrated. (the latency issue). So, we have adequately demonstrated why running non-mining nodes does not add additional value or security to the network.
Again, what is the number of nodes that makes it counterproductive? Did he do any math?
There's also the matter of economically significant nodes and the role they play in consensus. Sure, nobody cares about your average joe's "full node" where he is "keeping his own ledger to keep the miners honest", as it has no significance to the economy and the miners couldn't give a damn about it. However, if say some major exchanges got together to protest a miner activated fork, they would have some protest power against that fork because many people use their service. Of course, there still needs to be miners running on said "protest fork" to keep the chain running, but miners do follow the money and if they got caught mining a fork that none of the major exchanges were trading, they could be coaxed over to said "protest fork".
In consensus, what matters about nodes is only the number, economical power of the node doesn't mean nothing, the protocol doesn't see the net worth of the individual or organization running that node.
Running a full node that is not mining and not involved is spending or receiving payments is of very little use. It helps to make sure network traffic is broadcast, and is another copy of the blockchain, but that is all (and is probably not needed in a healthy coin with many other nodes)
He gets it right (broadcasting transaction and keeping a copy of the blockchain) but he dismisses the importance of it
Hello my awesome community! I have studied some basics of trading .. and now thinking to start crypto trading. Do you suggest some best online courses that better teach market psychology and price actions ? I would truly appreciate it,
http://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/06/26/2054143/0/en/SHAREHOLDER-ALERT-Block-Leviton-LLP-Investigating-Ideanomics-Inc-for-Possible-Securities-Laws-Violations-Investors-Who-Lost-Money-Should-Contact-the-Firm.html Ideanomics is now being investigated for possible securities fraud. Can't say I didn't try to warn you guys. The report I made is very similar in its criticisms of the company. There was also an article written about the company being a scam all the way back in February. https://www.choresearch.com/2020/02/19/ideanomics-idex-is-almost-borderline-fraud-making-it-a-compelling-short-for-bears/ This has nothing to do with these people being paid to publish this material or to benefit their short position. If you have ever read an IDEX 10-K report you would have seen all of the signs. There isn't even any info online about the majority of the businesses they claim to have made deals or partnerships with. http://app.quotemedia.com/data/downloadFiling?webmasterId=101533&ref=114881292&type=HTML&formType=10-K&dateFiled=2020-03-16&cik=0000837852&CK=837852&symbol=0000837852&companyName=Ideanomics%2C+Inc. They literally say in their last 10-k: " Although the Company may attempt to raise funds by issuing debt or equity instruments, in the future additional financing may not be available to the Company on terms acceptable to the Company or at all or such resources may not be received in a timely manner. If the Company is unable to raise additional capital when required or on acceptable terms, the Company may be required to scale back or to discontinue certain operations, scale back or discontinue the development of new business lines, reduce headcount, sell assets, file for bankruptcy, reorganize, merge with another entity, or cease operations. " That is what a business in distress sounds like. Then we look at the finances and find their debt to be $249M. They have never had a year with positive cash flow. They paid $40M for 51% of Treeletrik. Valuing the company's assets at $26M and paying the remaining $14M in goodwill. Reading further we see: "Tree Technologies had not commenced operations as of the acquisition date, therefore pro forma results as if the acquisition had occurred as of January 1, 2018, and related information, are not presented. " They have $23M in goodwill on the balance sheet under assets. Goodwill is the premium/extra amount spent on acquiring a business. That is an outrageous amount for the types of businesses they bought, especially considering the biggest purchase was for a company that was not even operating when they bought it. They paid so much because they have the rights to build an EV plant on land. That is literally all they have. No operations, buildings, workforce, pipeline. Just land use rights. They spent $40M on a company that has not even begun operating yet?! LOL Then look for all the mentions of transactions with "affiliates" of Dr. Wu or other directors. Sketchy. $61M loss on crypto coins. They had $260M in revenue through their oil trading business and made a gross profit of $26,000. Of course they lost money elsewhere and posted a net loss on the year, but why on earth would any decent company get rid of any business that is doing $200M+ in revenue? That is the most important part of any business since margins can be tweaked. The $260M in oil revenue was also attributed to business affiliates of a director. Their consumer electronics business brought in $40M in revenue and $40M in GROSS PROFIT and they also got rid of that business to focus on EVs? These guys don't know WTF they are doing. They got rid of the only two business that have ever had any potential. All the signs were there. This is why it is not beneficial to be so emotional in your trading. IDEX was just the flavor of the month. These penny stocks are for trading, not investing. You will get burned investing on hype I guarantee we will see another stock emerge as the next best thing and when people start talking about how it is a long term investment, that is the time to short it. Please read through the 10-k and see for yourself if they are an investment worthy company. I hope you guys decide to cut your losses instead of holding bags back to $0.50
The Turkey City Lexicon - annotated for 40K by Matt Farrer circa 2004 - and Farrer's analysis of Abnett's eye-ball kicks
I wrote a suggestion on how to create a Space Marine OC (the whole thread is a good reading for aspiring fan authors so I'll link it), and it got me thinking about writing within the 40K setting. Back in the day when Black Library still had their own forum, I saved Matt Farrer's annotation of the Turkey City Lexicon (the original, pre-internet version of TV Tropes). I searched the subreddit for it earlier with no results, so I'll share it again here. — Please note: The Turkey City Lexicon isspecifically, explicitlynon-copyright and isencouragedto be shared/reposted/expanded. Posting it here in its entirety violates no copyright legislation in any country - in fact, Matt Farrer himself asked us to share it with our fellow writers. Hat off to you, Mr Farrer, for your contributions to the 40K lore from a longtime fan. — [Originally posted to Black Library Online, November 2004, by user Matt Farrer] The Turkey City Lexicon (Annotated with some Games Workshop observations) The Turkey City Lexicon is a terminology guide that’s been floating around in one form or another since the late eighties (Google will turn up plenty of hits if you want to see one of the original copies; I got this one from the SFWA website). The Lexicon is deliberately not copyrighted and is intended to be copied at will and passed on to other writers (note that you shouldn’t try this with anything else on the SFWA site, if you go there – there are some great articles but most of them are copyrighted). There’s a tendency for people to look at the Lexicon as a list of “common mistakes” or “things not to do”, which is not entirely correct as I understand its purpose. Certainly seeing a common problem set down pithily can help crystallise that particular example of bad technique, but a couple of the terms in here are complimentary and many others aren’t necessarily fatal problems. As in “you might want to watch out for funny-hat characterisation on page four, although with the narrative voice you use it works well”. What it is meant to be is a useful resource for critiquers, giving you a quick and easy shorthand for a known quantity you’ve observed in writing. In the above example, you don’t need to spend half a paragraph describing a shaky spot in the characterisation, you have a quick term to cover it and save space and time for both of you. The early, simple version of the lexicon by Lewis Shiner was expanded and added to by Bruce Sterling, not, in my opinion, always for the better. There are no real differences in actual content between the two, so for this version I’ve picked whichever version of an entry I thought was better phrased. The GW-specific notes are my own – I’ll add more as I think of them, if I have the time. Discussion of any or all of the entries is of course welcome - it's what I'm posting this for. Anyway, let’s get on with it. The meta-rule: Cherryh's Law No rule should be followed over a cliff. (C.J. Cherryh) MF - There are times when the literary or dramatic effect of breaking any supposed "rule" about writing is going to be worth it, and that includes any and all of the points about writing offered in the Lexicon. Such principles are based on experience that shows that certain approaches work better than others, but getting carried away with imposing a set of rules as though they were holy writ simply turns into an attempt to stamp out creativity and have every writer write exactly alike. Know the principles, understand why they work as they do, but don't wear them like shackles. Part One: Words and Sentences Brenda Starr dialogue Long sections of talk with no physical background or description of the characters. Such dialogue, detached from the story's setting, tends to echo hollowly, as if suspended in mid-air. Named for the American comic-strip in which dialogue balloons were often seen emerging from the Manhattan skyline. "Burly Detective" Syndrome This useful term is taken from SF's cousin-genre, the detective-pulp. The hack writers of the Mike Shayne series showed an odd reluctance to use Shayne's proper name, preferring euphemisms like "the burly detective" or "the red-headed sleuth." This comes from a wrong-headed conviction that the same word should not be used twice in close succession. This is only true of particularly strong and visible words, such as "vertiginous." Better to re-use a simple tag or phrase than to contrive cumbersome methods of avoiding it. Brand Name Fever Use of brand name alone, without accompanying visual detail, to create false verisimilitude. You can stock a future with Hondas and Sonys and IBM's and still have no idea with it looks like. "Call a Rabbit a Smeerp" A cheap technique for false exoticism, in which common elements of the real world are re-named for a fantastic milieu without any real alteration in their basic nature or behavior. "Smeerps" are especially common in fantasy worlds, where people often ride exotic steeds that look and act just like horses. (Attributed to James Blish.) Gingerbread Useless ornament in prose, such as fancy sesquipedalian Latinate words where short clear English ones will do. Novice authors sometimes use "gingerbread" in the hope of disguising faults and conveying an air of refinement. (Attr. Damon Knight) Not Simultaneous The mis-use of the present participle is a common structural sentence-fault for beginning writers. "Putting his key in the door, he leapt up the stairs and got his revolver out of the bureau." Alas, our hero couldn't do this even if his arms were forty feet long. This fault shades into "Ing Disease," the tendency to pepper sentences with words ending in "-ing," a grammatical construction which tends to confuse the proper sequence of events. (Attr. Damon Knight) Pushbutton Words Bogus lyricism like "star," "dance," "dream," "song," "tears" and "poet". Used to evoke a cheap emotional response without engaging the intellect or critical faculties, getting us misty-eyed and tender-hearted without us quite knowing why. Most often found in titles. Roget's Disease The ludicrous overuse of far-fetched adjectives, piled into a festering, fungal, tenebrous, troglodytic, ichorous, leprous, synonymic heap. (Attr. John W. Campbell) "Said" Bookism An artificial verb used to avoid the word "said." "Said" is one of the few invisible words in the English language and is almost impossible to overuse. It is much less distracting than "he retorted," "she inquired," "he ejaculated," and other oddities. The term "said-book" comes from certain pamphlets, containing hundreds of purple-prose synonyms for the word "said," which were sold to aspiring authors from tiny ads in American magazines of the pre-WWII era. Tom Swifty An unseemly compulsion to follow the word "said" with a colourful adverb: "'We'd better hurry,' Tom said swiftly." This was a standard mannerism of the old Tom Swift adventure dime-novels. Good dialogue can stand on its own without a clutter of adverbial props. Part Two: Paragraphs and Prose Structure Bathos A sudden, alarming change in the level of diction. "There will be bloody riots and savage insurrections leading to a violent popular uprising unless the regime starts being lots nicer about stuff." Countersinking Expositional redundancy. "'Let's get out of here,' he said, urging her to leave." Dischism The unwitting intrusion of the author's physical surroundings or mental state into the text of the story. Authors who smoke or drink while writing often drown or choke their characters with an endless supply of booze and cigs. In subtler forms of the Dischism, the characters complain of their confusion and indecision -- when this is actually the author's condition at the moment of writing, not theirs within the story. "Dischism" is named after the critic who diagnosed this syndrome. (Attr. Thomas M. Disch) False Humanity An ailment endemic to genre writing, in which soap-opera elements of purported human interest are stuffed into the story willy-nilly, whether or not they advance the plot or contribute to the point of the story. The actions of such characters convey an itchy sense of irrelevance, for the author has invented their problems out of whole cloth, so as to have something to emote about. False Interiorisation A cheap labour-saving technique in which the author, too lazy to describe the surroundings, afflicts the viewpoint-character with a blindfold, an attack of space-sickness, the urge to play marathon whist-games in the smoking-room, etc. Fuzz An element of motivation the author was too lazy to supply. The word "somehow" is a useful tip-off to fuzzy areas of a story. "Somehow she had forgotten to bring her gun." Hand Waving An attempt to distract the reader with dazzling prose or other verbal fireworks, so as to divert attention from a severe logical flaw. (Attr. Stewart Brand) Laughtrack Characters grandstand and tug the reader's sleeve in an effort to force a specific emotional reaction. They laugh wildly at their own jokes, cry loudly at their own pain, and rob the reader of any real chance of attaining genuine emotion. Show, Don’t Tell A cardinal principle of effective writing. The reader should be allowed to react naturally to the evidence presented in the story, not instructed in how to react by the author. Specific incidents and carefully observed details will render auctorial lectures unnecessary. For instance, instead of telling the reader "She had a bad childhood, an unhappy childhood," a specific incident -- involving, say, a locked closet and two jars of honey -- should be shown. Rigid adherence to show-don't-tell can become absurd. Minor matters are sometimes best gotten out of the way in a swift, straightforward fashion. Signal from Fred A comic form of the "Dischism" in which the author's subconscious, alarmed by the poor quality of the work, makes unwitting critical comments: "This doesn't make sense." "This is really boring." "This sounds like a bad movie." (Attr. Damon Knight) Squid in the Mouth The failure of an author to realize that his/her own weird assumptions and personal in-jokes are simply not shared by the world-at-large. Instead of applauding the wit or insight of the author's remarks, the world-at-large will stare in vague shock and alarm at such a writer, as if he or she had a live squid in the mouth. Since SF writers as a breed are generally quite loony, and in fact make this a stock in trade, "squid in the mouth" doubles as a term of grudging praise, describing the essential, irreducible, divinely unpredictable lunacy of the true SF writer. (Attr. James P Blaylock) Squid on the Mantelpiece Chekhov said that if there are dueling pistols over the mantelpiece in the first act, they should be fired in the third. In other words, a plot element should be deployed in a timely fashion and with proper dramatic emphasis. However, in SF plotting the MacGuffins are often so overwhelming that they cause conventional plot structures to collapse. It's hard to properly dramatize, say, the domestic effects of Dad's bank overdraft when a giant writhing kraken is levelling the city. This mismatch between the conventional dramatic proprieties and SF's extreme, grotesque, or visionary thematics is known as the "squid on the mantelpiece." MF – I’ve heard several versions of the supposed “Chekhov’s Gun” principle, no two of them meaning exactly the same thing. For example, the version I first heard is “If a character produces a gun, then it should be used to shoot someone, or threaten someone, or go off by accident, or fail to fire when it’s needed, and so on. If it does none of these things, then it is superfluous and should be taken out altogether.” That’s a point about narrative tidiness rather than timely deployment of plot elements. White Room Syndrome A clear and common sign of the failure of the author's imagination, most often seen at the beginning of a story, before the setting, background, or characters have gelled. "She awoke in a white room." The 'white room' is a featureless set for which details have yet to be invented -- a failure of invention by the author. The character 'wakes' in order to begin a fresh train of thought -- again, just like the author. This 'white room' opening is generally followed by much earnest pondering of circumstances and useless exposition; all of which can be cut, painlessly. It remains to be seen whether the "white room" cliche' will fade from use now that most authors confront glowing screens rather than blank white paper. Wiring Diagram Fiction A genre ailment related to "False Humanity," "Wiring Diagram Fiction" involves "characters" who show no convincing emotional reactions at all, since they are overwhelmed by the author's fascination with gadgetry or didactic lectures. MF – A trap hard SF often falls into, in my experience. I suppose the related ailment in GW fiction would be “fluff-diagram fiction” (sorry Gav), in which the story is sidelined by the author’s desire to lay out in detail some aspect of his take on the game-universe. You Can't Fire Me, I Quit An attempt to diffuse the reader's incredulity with a pre-emptive strike -- as if by anticipating the reader's objections, the author had somehow answered them. "I would never have believed it, if I hadn't seen it myself!" "It was one of those amazing coincidences that can only take place in real life!" "It's a one-in-a-million chance, but it's so crazy it just might work!" Surprisingly common, especially in SF. (Attr. John Kessel) Part Three: Common Workshop Story Types Adam and Eve Story Nauseatingly common subset of the "Shaggy God Story" in which a terrible apocalypse, spaceship crash, etc., leaves two survivors, man and woman, who turn out to be Adam and Eve, parents of the human race! MF – Not an issue for GW writing for obvious reasons. See Alfred Bester’s “Adam With No Eve” in the brilliant anthology Starburst for a rather good twist on the idea. The Cosy Catastrophe Story in which horrific events are overwhelming the entirety of human civilization, but the action concentrates on a small group of tidy, middle-class, white Anglo-Saxon protagonists. The essence of the cosy catastrophe is despite the supposed devastation the hero actually has a pretty good time (a girl, free suites at the Savoy, fancy cars for the taking) while everyone is dying off. (Attr. Brian Aldiss) Dennis Hopper Syndrome A story based on some arcane bit of science or folklore, which noodles around producing random weirdness. Then a loony character-actor (usually best played by Dennis Hopper) barges into the story and baldly tells the protagonist what's going on by explaining the underlying mystery in a long bug-eyed rant. (Attr. Howard Waldrop) MF - Not unrelated to Roger Ebert's remarks about the Talking Killer device, aka "Before I kill you, Mister Bond..." The killer gets the protagonist at his mercy and then decides to put off killing him so that he can fill the hero in on exactly what's been going on, and bring the reader up to speed at the same time. You know, like I did at the end of Crossfire. Although this is a plot device rather than an actual story type. Deus ex Machina or "God in the Box" Story featuring a miraculous solution to the story's conflict, which comes out of nowhere and renders the struggles of the characters irrelevant. Oh look, the Martians all caught cold and died. The Grubby Apartment Story Writing a little too much about what you know. The penniless writer living in a grubby apartment writes a story about a penniless writer living in a grubby apartment. Stars all his friends. The Jar of Tang "For you see, we are all living in a jar of Tang!" "For you see, I am a dog!" Mainstay of the old Twilight Zone TV show. An entire pointless story contrived so the author can jump out at the end and cry "Fooled you!" For instance, the story takes place in a desert of coarse orange sand surrounded by an impenetrable vitrine barrier; surprise! our heroes are microbes in a jar of Tang powdered orange drink. This is a classic case of the difference between a conceit and an idea. "What if we all lived in a jar of Tang?" is an example of the former; "What if the revolutionaries from the sixties had been allowed to set up their own society?" is an example of the latter. Good SF requires ideas, not conceits. (Attr. Stephen P. Brown) When done with serious intent rather than as a passing conceit, this type of story can be dignified by the term "Concealed Environment." (Attr. Christopher Priest) Just-Like Fallacy SF story which thinly adapts the trappings of a standard pulp adventure setting. The spaceship is "just like" an Atlantic steamer, down to the Scottish engineer in the hold. A colony planet is "just like" Arizona except for two moons in the sky. "Space Westerns" and futuristic hard-boiled detective stories have been especially common versions. MF – Then again, one of the fun things about the GW settings – the 40Kverse more than the Warhammer world, it seems to me – is the way you can rip all kinds of stuff off and stuff it in there to do a 41st-millennium tribute to it. Not necessarily a bad thing, providing you don’t end up in Bat Durston territory (more about him another time). [From another post:] In case you are not familiar with the term, a Bat Durston refers derogatorily to a science fiction story which is little more than a traditional western using sf settings and icons. Taking the comparison to alternate history, the better stories in this genre should create the story’s world for some reason other than merely creating a nice setting for an adventure. The Kitchen-Sink Story A story overwhelmed by the inclusion of any and every new idea that occurs to the author in the process of writing it. (Attr. Damon Knight) The Motherhood Statement SF story which posits some profoundly unsettling threat to the human condition, explores the implications briefly, then hastily retreats to affirm the conventional social and humanistic pieties, ie apple pie and motherhood. Greg Egan once stated that the secret of truly effective SF was to deliberately "burn the motherhood statement." (Attr. Greg Egan) MF - He wasn’t kidding, either. Greg Egan writes some of the most powerful and disturbing hard SF I’ve read, precisely because he’s not afraid to back away from the full implications of the science and technology he writes about. I think that 40K writing is vulnerable to this to a certain degree: I’ve seen quite a few stories that dip a toe into the grim, violent, insane world of the 41st Millennium, stay there for a moment but quickly falls back into “but the Imperium is actually an OK place and lots of people there are nice and happy just like us”. Discussion on this welcome. The "Poor Me" Story Autobiographical piece in which the male viewpoint character complains that he is ugly and can't get laid. (Attr. Kate Wilhelm) Re-Inventing the Wheel A novice author goes to enormous lengths to create a situation already tiresomely familiar to the experienced reader. Reinventing the Wheel was traditionally typical of mainstream writers venturing into SF without actually reading any of the existing stuff first (because it's all obviously crap anyway). Thus you get endless explanations of, say, how an atomic war might get started by accident, and so on. It is now often seen in writers who lack experience in genre history because they were attracted to written SF via movies, television, role-playing games, comics or computer gaming. MF – Not that coming into the genre that way is a bad thing per se, but when a writer hasn’t had much exposure to written specfic in this way it usually shows, and not in a good way. To quote Terry Pratchett, you should be importing, not recycling. The Rembrandt Comic Book A story in which incredible craftsmanship has been lavished on a theme or idea which is basically trivial or subliterary, and which simply cannot bear the weight. The Shaggy God Story A piece which mechanically adopts a Biblical or other mythological tale and provides flat science-fictional "explanations" for the theological events. (Attr. Michael Moorcock) MF – Although he wrote them himself: arguably his finest and most powerful story, called “Behold The Man”, does this for the life of Jesus. I remember it disturbed me when I read it, and I’m not even religious. The Slipstream Story Non-SF story which is so ontologically distorted or related in such a bizarrely non-realist fashion that it cannot pass muster as commercial mainstream fiction and therefore seeks shelter in the SF or fantasy genre. Postmodern critique and technique are particularly fruitful in creating slipstream stories. The Steam-Grommet Factory Didactic SF story which consists entirely of a guided tour of a large and elaborate gimmick. A common technique of SF utopias and dystopias. (Attr. Gardner Dozois) MF – See the opening of Huxley’s Brave New World for an example of this done effectively. The Tabloid Weird Story produced by a confusion of SF and Fantasy tropes -- or rather, by a confusion of basic world-views. Tabloid Weird is usually produced by the author's own inability to distinguish between a rational, Newtonian-Einsteinian, cause-and- effect universe and an irrational, supernatural, fantastic universe. Either the FBI is hunting the escaped mutant from the genetics lab, or the drill-bit has bored straight into Hell -- but not both at once in the very same piece of fiction. Even fantasy worlds need an internal consistency of sorts, so that a Sasquatch Deal-with-the-Devil story is also "Tabloid Weird." Sasquatch crypto-zoology and Christian folk superstition simply don't mix well, even for comic effect. (Attr. Howard Waldrop) MF – I’m not as convinced as the Lexicon that these two genres are utterly incompatible. Well, obviously not, since I work in a setting which combines them without hesitation. Which isn’t to say that the combination doesn’t need to be handled delicately, since those aforementioned different mindsets lead to different storytelling conventions as well as different world views. The Whistling Dog A story related in such an elaborate, arcane, or convoluted manner that it impresses by its sheer narrative ingenuity, but which, as a story, is basically not worth the candle. Like the whistling dog, it's astonishing that the thing can whistle -- but it doesn't actually whistle very well. (Attr. Harlan Ellison) Part Four: Plots Abbess Phone Home Takes its name from a mainstream story about a medieval cloister which was sold as SF because of the serendipitous arrival of a UFO at the end. By extension, any mainstream story with a gratuitous SF or fantasy element tacked on so it could be sold. And plot Picaresque plot in which this happens, and then that happens, and then something else happens, and it all adds up to nothing in particular. Bogus Alternatives List of actions a character could have taken, but didn't. Frequently includes all the reasons why, as the author stops the action dead to work out complicated plot problems at the reader's expense. "If I'd gone along with the cops they would have found the gun in my purse. And anyway, I didn't want to spend the night in jail. I suppose I could have just run instead of stealing their car, but then..." etc. Best dispensed with entirely. Card Tricks in the Dark Elaborately contrived plot which arrives at (a) the punchline of a private joke nobody else will get, or (b) the display of some bit of learned trivia only the author is interested in. This stunt may be intensely ingenious, and very gratifying to the author, but it serves no visible fictional purpose. (Attr. Tim Powers) Idiot Plot A plot which functions only because all the characters involved are idiots. They behave in a way that suits the author's convenience, rather than through any rational motivation of their own. (Attr. James Blish) Kudzu plot Plot which weaves and curls and writhes in weedy organic profusion, smothering everything in its path. Plot Coupons The basic building blocks of the quest-type fantasy plot. The "hero" collects sufficient plot coupons (magic sword, magic book, magic cat) to send off to the author for the ending. Note that "the author" can be substituted for "the Gods" in such a work: "The Gods decreed he would pursue this quest." Right, mate. The author decreed he would pursue this quest until sufficient pages were filled to procure an advance. (Dave Langford) MF - Nick Lowe expands on the idea in an excellent article atwww.ansible.co.uk/Ansible/plotdev.html. Cheers to Bill King for the link. Second-order Idiot Plot A plot involving an entire invented SF society which functions only because every single person in it is necessarily an idiot. (Attr. Damon Knight) MF – The assertion that this applies to the 40K Imperium is not a new one. Floor’s open… Part Five: Background "As You Know Bob" A pernicious form of info-dump through dialogue, in which characters tell each other things they already know, for the sake of getting the reader up-to-speed. This very common technique is also known as "Rod and Don dialogue" (attr. Damon Knight) or "maid and butler dialogue" (attr Algis Budrys). The Edges of Ideas The solution to the "Info-Dump" problem (how to fill in the background). The theory is that, for example, the mechanics of an interstellar drive (the centre of the idea) are not important. What matters is the impact on your characters: they can get to other planets in a few months, and, oh yeah, it gives them hallucinations about past lives. Or, more radically: the physics of TV transmission is the center of an idea; on the edges of it we find people turning into couch potatoes because they no longer have to leave home for entertainment. Or, more bluntly: we don't need info dump at all. We just need a clear picture of how people's lives have been affected by their background. Eyeball Kick That perfect, telling detail that creates an instant visual image. The ideal of certain postmodern schools of SF is to achieve a "crammed prose" full of "eyeball kicks." (Rudy Rucker) MF - See the other thread. Frontloading Piling too much exposition into the beginning of the story, so that it becomes so dense and dry that it is almost impossible to read. (Attr. Connie Willis) Infodump Large chunk of indigestible expository matter intended to explain the background situation. Info-dumps can be covert, as in fake newspaper or "Encyclopedia Galactica" articles, or overt, in which all action stops as the author assumes center stage and lectures. Info-dumps are also known as "expository lumps." The use of brief, deft, inoffensive info-dumps is known as "kuttnering," after Henry Kuttner. When information is worked unobtrusively into the story's basic structure, this is known as "heinleining." "I've suffered for my Art" (and now it's your turn) A form of info-dump in which the author inflicts upon the reader hard-won, but irrelevant bits of data acquired while researching the story. As Algis Budrys once pointed out, homework exists to make the difficult look easy. Nowhere Nowhen Story Putting too little exposition into the story's beginning, so that the story, while physically readable, seems to take place in a vacuum and fails to engage any readerly interest. (Attr. L. Sprague de Camp) Ontological riff Passage in an SF story which suggests that our deepest and most basic convictions about the nature of reality, space-time, or consciousness have been violated, technologically transformed, or at least rendered thoroughly dubious. The works of H. P. Lovecraft, Barrington Bayley, and Philip K Dick abound in "ontological riffs." Space Western The most pernicious suite of "Used Furniture". The grizzled space captain swaggering into the spacer bar and slugging down a Jovian brandy. Stapledon Name assigned to the voice which takes centre stage to lecture. Actually a common noun, as: "You have a Stapledon come on to answer this problem instead of showing the characters resolve it." Used Furniture Use of a background out of Central Casting. Rather than invent a background and have to explain it, or risk re-inventing the wheel, let's just steal one. We'll set it in the Star Trek Universe, only we'll call it the Empire instead of the Federation. Part Six: Character and Viewpoint Funny-hat characterization A character distinguished by a single identifying tag, such as odd headgear, a limp, a lisp, a parrot on his shoulder, etc. MF – This can work if done deftly and with minor characters. Stephen King excels at it, and Ed McBain is pretty good too. Mary Sue A ridiculously perfect and idealised character, moving through a story which serves no other purpose than demonstrating how ridiculously perfect and idealised Mary Sue is. None of the other characters have anything to do other than rave about Mary Sue's wonderfulness; challenges and obstacles exist only for Mary Sue to solve effortlessly to admiring gasps from everyone else. Also known as "avatars" or "self-insertion", since the most common Mary Sues are thinly-disguised versions of the author and are more about wish-fulfiment fantasies than conventional storytelling. Endemic to fanfic; the term apparently originates from an early and infamous example in an old Star Trek fanzine. MF - There are lots of definitions and examples of Mary Sue, although the term as it's used here isn't really attributable to one author any more. The definition supplied here owes much to Teresa Nielsen Hayden's rather good one athttp://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004188.html. GW fanfics and homebrew backgrounds aren't immune either - you can find them pretty easily once you know the signs. The twist is that the Mary Sue is often a Guard regiment, Space Marine Chapter, Eldar Craftworld or an entire galactic state. Common warning signs: "The Mary Sue Regiment fought so ferociously in the Battle of Sueville that even the [famous Space Marine Chapter] were awe-struck that unaugmented humans could fight so hard, and their Chapter Master officially declared the Mary Sue regiment the equals of Space Marines". "Inquisitor Mary Sue has demonstrated such amazing ability that the High Lords have personally ordered that nobody is allowed to stand in her way or question her actions". "Now that it has declared independence from the Imperium the Mary Sue Republic has become a haven of enlightenment and progress, where technology is being developed at an exponential rate with no aura of superstitious mysticism, painless and fully-effective techniques to protect psykers from daemonic attack have been developed, alien races of all kinds are putting aside their differences and living contentedly side by side, and where every Imperial who sees what's going on immediately defects once they see how wonderful and free life among the Mary Sues is". I've since found out that even the original "Ensign Mary Sue" in that old seventies fanfic was a satire on the trope, so clearly it was already a fiction cliche by then. Mrs. Brown The small, downtrodden, eminently common, everyday little person who nevertheless encapsulates something vital and important about the human condition. "Mrs. Brown" is a rare personage in the SF genre, being generally overshadowed by swaggering submyth types made of the finest gold-plated cardboard. In a famous essay, "Science Fiction and Mrs. Brown," Ursula K. Le Guin decried Mrs. Brown's absence from the SF field. (Attr: Virginia Woolf) ...stamped on their forehead The story lets a character get away with something illogical or impossible because they have "hero" (or "villain", "sidekick", disposable underling", or whatever) stamped on their foreheads. There's nothing wrong with heroes triumphing against the odds or villains being brought low through their own flaws, but those consequences need to come about because of the characters and their actions rather than despite them. Adapted from Aaron Allston's roleplayers' glossary from a few years ago, which included "He's got 'PC' [player character] stamped on his forehead" as an all-purpose excuse for why characters unquestioningly accepted or trusted one anothers' actions while treating non-player characters differently. (Aaron Allston.) MF - This was partly prompted by the "script immunity" and "Hollywood Shield" ideas in the discussion thread, although the scene I had in mind for it was actually in Walking Tall, where the main character is manifestly guilty of all manner of assaults and property destruction but is acquitted in court when he makes a sentimental speech about down-home values. It doesn't even resemble making a legal case for his innocence, but he gets let off because he's got "hero" stamped on his forehead. Submyth Classic character-types in SF which aspire to the condition of archetype but don't quite make it, such as the mad scientist, the crazed supercomputer, the emotionless super-rational alien, the vindictive mutant child, etc. (Attr. Ursula K. Le Guin) MF – You can pick the GWverse submyths for yourselves, I’m sure. Viewpoint glitch The author loses track of point-of-view, switches point-of-view for no good reason, or relates something that the viewpoint character could not possibly know. Part Seven: Miscellaneous AM/FM Engineer's term distinguishing the inevitable clunky real-world faultiness of "Actual Machines" from the power-fantasy techno-dreams of "Fething Magic." MF – Except the original Lexicon didn’t say “fething”. :grinning_emoticon: Well worth remembering for 40K and Necromunda fiction, which deliberately shies away from the sleek, clean, super-reliable dream-tech of settings like Star Trek. Consensus Reality Useful term for the purported world in which the majority of modern sane people generally agree that they live -- as opposed to the worlds of, say, Forteans, semioticians or quantum physicists. Intellectual sexiness The intoxicating glamor of a novel scientific idea, as distinguished from any actual intellectual merit that it may someday prove to possess. The Ol' Baloney Factory "Science Fiction" as a publishing and promotional entity in the world of commerce. — Additional suggestions from other forum members: User Chiron: Script Immunity The tendency of lynchpin characters to be blatantly immune to harm, despite the fact that they consistently place themselves in situations that they cannot reasonably be expected to survive. User Vortemir: Hollywood Shield / Imperial Stormtrooper Syndrome Bad Guys will never be able to hit essential characters no matter what they're armed with or how hard they try. — [Originally posted to Black Library Online, October 2004, by user Matt Farrer] A term from the Turkey City Lexicon that might be useful here is the "eyeball kick", Rudy Rucker's term for that perfectly-turned descriptive phrase that creates an instant, telling visual image for the reader. An example that springs to mind from the opening of Necropolis:
After a minute or so, raid-sirens in the central district also began keening. The pattern was picked up by manufactory hooters and mill whistles all through the lower hive, and in the mill whistles and outer habs across the river too. Even the great ceremonial horns on the top of the Ecclesiarchy Basilica started to sound.Vervunhive was screaming with every one of its voices.
That last line provides the eyeball kick. Some other examples that spring to mind: "[he] screamed out two mouthfuls of silent spun glass" (Stephen King); "the sky above Chiba City was the colour of a television tuned to a blank band" (William Gibson); "a great moist loaf of a body... features as bunched as kissed fingertips" (E. Annie Proulx); "[after walking through snow] my feet, in wet socks, slowly turned to marble and fell off" (Donald Westlake). I don't know if there's a way you can break down an eyeball kick to pick apart the technique, since its whole impact comes from lateral thinking and the effect of an incongruous image that nevertheless fits exactly with what you're describing. It's an imagination thing rather than a technique thing. However, the paragraph from Necropolis that I used above is also a very good example of how to maximise the effect of a good piece of description, and worth having a closer look at. Firstly, the rest of the paragraph has been describing the machinery that makes the sound, and doing so in fairly neutral, inorganic terms: "keening", at the start of the para, is about as close as we get to an emotive word. The rest is a pretty calm description about how a series of klaxons and horns are going off. That increases the wrench when we suddenly switch gears into words that you'd use to describe a living being in agony: "screaming with every one of its voices", which gives weight to the sense of foreboding that dominates the early pages. This is reinforced further by the way that the previous sentences tend to be longer, with more connecting commas and lots of adjectives to slow their rhythm and give a more discursive feel, while the last sentence is a simple, flat declarative. Using the rhythm of words and sentences for a setup and payoff like that is a very good way of driving home a piece of exposition or description, and it's something that Dan uses quite a bit. Secondly, look at the way that the passage, which at first blush is about the sounds of the sirens, actually helps build a visual image as well. We've been going through all the various parts and districts of Vervunhive, watching as different kinds of buildings in different areas go off. Look at how the mental "camera" moves down the lower hive, then down the river, then up to the top of the Basilica. Then in the last sentence we get an eyeball kick that describes the whole of Vervunhive as a single entity: the effect is like pulling back sharply from an individual scene or building and seeing the whole Hive at once. And that concludes the main piece of visual scene-setting at the opening: notice that in the next line Dan can start in on conversations between individual characters around the Hive because the major scene has been laid out. The broad point to take away from this is that each piece of text should work on as many levels as possible, and even a short passage like that one can be far more than the sum of its parts. I suspect that the reason a lot of bad fiction (including, I am sorry to say, a lot of fanfic I've seen) seems so flat and plodding is that each sentence is put down to do one thing: make a statement, provide a description or what have you. But there's no depth to the prose, no interaction between them to create any rhythm, or momentum, or startling switch in imagery. It's like a song from your favourite band, with each element (vocals, percussion, each instrument) separated and played end to end. It sounds so much better when they're all working together. — That's it. Got any suggestions for new 40K-specific tropes to add?
How to be as secure as possible without letting it slow you down? Teach me!
So I just started with crypto and I love it! The concept, the way it’s descentralized and all of that and how revolutionary it really is. So I’ve been stupid, I guess I do deserve it as a stupid rookie I am just jumping in. I’m right now in the testing phase of trading. Because it’s so much talk about security and hackers you basically become a tiny bit paranoid tbh. So I bought like a $10 worth of OXT on Coinbase and instantly put it in a vault like I’ve I learned online, right? to be ”safe”. So OXT started surging and I thought to myself: -yes! Allready making money here! So for fun I decided to sell and make this ”profit”. (Of course there are fees) but for fun. I was going to sell at about 200% . And you guessed it. That money was in in the vault nicely secured for another 48hours until it would reach the wallet! By the way still waiting for them to arrive ;D. That OXT is crashing like a burning turd at the moment. With that said how do you do it? I’m thinking about getting a cold storage so I can access my crypto fast but still hold it safe after I’ve traded? How do you guys do it? Have a great day!
Welcome all newcomers! Here's something important you should know. The crypto space is full of scams and here is how to spot one.
I know that this may seem obvious to most of you here, but I'd just like to make a PSA for all of the newcomers here. The crypto space and even the general online investing space these days is full of scams. So now that you know that, here's how to spot one:
They offer you guaranteed % returns on your investment. Anyone advertising guaranteed % returns on your investment is a scammer. Almost every time without fail. The higher the rates, the more likely they are to be a scam. If they are offering anything more than 5% per year without acknowledging that it is a high risk investment is most likely a scam.
They make you lock up your funds for a set period of time. This is a very common part of Ponzi schemes. It is done so that new investors cannot withdraw their funds for a long time. This means that their money can be used to pay off the first few investors which came before them and they can only withdraw their funds after the set period of time. The scammers then use this lockup time to attract new investors, allowing them to pay off the previous investors. This cycle repeats until the scheme runs out of new investors to pay off the old ones.
The way they make their money isn’t made clear or is hidden behind a general explanation such as “an advanced trading algorithm” (see BitConnect’s “trading bot”.)
As a general rule, the more a website or developers talks about the price of a crypto asset or the returns it will earn you, the higher the likelihood of it being a scam. This is just a general rule though since many legitimate projects just go all out when it comes to marketing, probably just to pump their own bags.
Nobody will trade for you. Many people say they will trade for you or you should add them on What’sApp to join their “trading program”. Nobody who is actually a good trader will do this. Good traders don’t share their secrets and they don’t make money fast enough or consistently enough to offer their services to other people even if they wanted to. Usually these types of scammers will get you to send them your money “for them to trade with” and as soon as they get your money they will disappear.
Their website just seems off. This is where an eye for detail is important. For the infamous BitConnect Ponzi scheme, they only let you trade their “cryptocurrency” on their own website’s exchange. That never made sense to me (this is of course not to say that just because you can buy a coin on a legitimate DEX like Uniswap means it isn’t a scam. For example, HEX is definitely a very clever, detailed Ponzi scheme with a token you can buy on Uniswap, but it is nonetheless scam to line the pockets of its asshat of a founder). Another example of this is what appears to be a Ponzi scheme which a Reddit user PM’d me asking me if it was legitimate (I believe the user is younger than most users here and is new to the crypto space so it is very understandable and I’m glad he asked me first). The website is www . backingfx . com (I don’t want to directly link a scam website here, but you can fix the link and see it for yourself if you are curious). This site promises 50%+ per day on your investment which they make by “trading” and you have to lock up your funds for at least two weeks. They have a fancy looking website but other things just seem off like their generic statement about “working with big companies” and no more details. Also, their about us section is sounds like it was translated and not written by a native English speaker as it says: Backingfx platform is at your service with its user-friendly features, secure infrastructure and applications that make a difference. Nobody would say it like that. It would normally be something like The BackingFX team is here to help you, not the platform itself is “at your service”. Finally, they also contradict themselves by having their offices listed as a generic Manhattan invesment office building yet their website says they are based in the UK! Everything wrong about this site could be a post of its own but that’s not what this post is about.
They are doing a "giveaway" where you deposit crypto into their wallets and they say they will send you more crypto back. This is the oldest crypto scam in the book and people still fall for it. If someone wants you to send them your crypto for any reason, they probably intend on stealing your crypto since crypto transactions are basically irreversible.
Anyway, there are more telltale signs to look out for which you can find outlined in many articles on the internet if you search something like “how to spot a scam or Ponzi scheme”. I have outlined the main ones above so you should be armed well enough to spot one in the future. Finally, I’m sure some of you may now be suspicious of ETH 2.0 staking as it will likely yield you 3-10% annually and you have to lock up your ETH. However, there important differences between the details of ETH 2.0 staking and scams offering guaranteed returns. First, there are detailed technical reasons for having to lock up ETH for ETH 2.0 staking. This is because building a bridge between ETH 1 and ETH 2.0 is a lot of extra work and adds many more attack vectors so having to lock up funds is the only option. Unlike a Ponzi though, when you will finally be able to move your ETH again will happen at the same time when phase 1.5 or phase 2 goes live whereas a Ponzi would be a set period of time from when you deposited your funds so when you get access to your funds again will be different for different users. This way, the Ponzi does its best to ensure that there is time for new users to pay you back. ETH 2.0 on the other hand doesn’t need to do this so anyone can lock up their ETH whenever and they day they will be able to move it again will be when the functionality for transactions will be added to ETH 2.0. Also, ETH staking offers you a yield on your Ether, not a guaranteed yield in dollars. This is an important distinction to make as it means that the returns in dollars are not guaranteed. Finally, with ETH 2.0, your returns themselves aren’t guaranteed since you could get slashed if you act maliciously on the network or if your staking node is offline a lot. Anyway, stay safe out there and remember, if things seem too good to be true, they probably are.
A new whitepaper analysing the performance and scalability of the Streamr pub/sub messaging Network is now available. Take a look at some of the fascinating key results in this introductory blog
Streamr Network: Performance and Scalability Whitepaper
https://preview.redd.it/bstqyn43x4j51.png?width=2600&format=png&auto=webp&s=81683ca6303ab84ab898c096345464111d674ee5 The Corea milestone of the Streamr Network went live in late 2019. Since then a few people in the team have been working on an academic whitepaper to describe its design principles, position it with respect to prior art, and prove certain properties it has. The paper is now ready, and it has been submitted to the IEEE Access journal for peer review. It is also now published on the new Papers section on the project website. In this blog, I’ll introduce the paper and explain its key results. All the figures presented in this post are from the paper. The reasons for doing this research and writing this paper were simple: many prospective users of the Network, especially more serious ones such as enterprises, ask questions like ‘how does it scale?’, ‘why does it scale?’, ‘what is the latency in the network?’, and ‘how much bandwidth is consumed?’. While some answers could be provided before, the Network in its currently deployed form is still small-scale and can’t really show a track record of scalability for example, so there was clearly a need to produce some in-depth material about the structure of the Network and its performance at large, global scale. The paper answers these questions. Another reason is that decentralized peer-to-peer networks have experienced a new renaissance due to the rise in blockchain networks. Peer-to-peer pub/sub networks were a hot research topic in the early 2000s, but not many real-world implementations were ever created. Today, most blockchain networks use methods from that era under the hood to disseminate block headers, transactions, and other events important for them to function. Other megatrends like IoT and social media are also creating demand for new kinds of scalable message transport layers.
The latency vs. bandwidth tradeoff
The current Streamr Network uses regular random graphs as stream topologies. ‘Regular’ here means that nodes connect to a fixed number of other nodes that publish or subscribe to the same stream, and ‘random’ means that those nodes are selected randomly. Random connections can of course mean that absurd routes get formed occasionally, for example a data point might travel from Germany to France via the US. But random graphs have been studied extensively in the academic literature, and their properties are not nearly as bad as the above example sounds — such graphs are actually quite good! Data always takes multiple routes in the network, and only the fastest route counts. The less-than-optimal routes are there for redundancy, and redundancy is good, because it improves security and churn tolerance. There is an important parameter called node degree, which is the fixed number of nodes to which each node in a topology connects. A higher node degree means more duplication and thus more bandwidth consumption for each node, but it also means that fast routes are more likely to form. It’s a tradeoff; better latency can be traded for worse bandwidth consumption. In the following section, we’ll go deeper into analyzing this relationship.
Network diameter scales logarithmically
One useful metric to estimate the behavior of latency is the network diameter, which is the number of hops on the shortest path between the most distant pair of nodes in the network (i.e. the “longest shortest path”. The below plot shows how the network diameter behaves depending on node degree and number of nodes. Network diameter We can see that the network diameter increases logarithmically (very slowly), and a higher node degree ‘flattens the curve’. This is a property of random regular graphs, and this is very good — growing from 10,000 nodes to 100,000 nodes only increases the diameter by a few hops! To analyse the effect of the node degree further, we can plot the maximum network diameter using various node degrees: Network diameter in network of 100 000 nodes We can see that there are diminishing returns for increasing the node degree. On the other hand, the penalty (number of duplicates, i.e. bandwidth consumption), increases linearly with node degree: Number of duplicates received by the non-publisher nodes In the Streamr Network, each stream forms its own separate overlay network and can even have a custom node degree. This allows the owner of the stream to configure their preferred latency/bandwidth balance (imagine such a slider control in the Streamr Core UI). However, finding a good default value is important. From this analysis, we can conclude that:
The logarithmic behavior of network diameter leads us to hope that latency might behave logarithmically too, but since the number of hops is not the same as latency (in milliseconds), the scalability needs to be confirmed in the real world (see next section).
A node degree of 4 yields good latency/bandwidth balance, and we have selected this as the default value in the Streamr Network. This value is also used in all the real-world experiments described in the next section.
It’s worth noting that in such a network, the bandwidth requirement for publishers is determined by the node degree and not the number of subscribers. With a node degree 4 and a million subscribers, the publisher only uploads 4 copies of a data point, and the million subscribing nodes share the work of distributing the message among themselves. In contrast, a centralized data broker would need to push out a million copies.
Latency scales logarithmically
To see if actual latency scales logarithmically in real-world conditions, we ran large numbers of nodes in 16 different Amazon AWS data centers around the world. We ran experiments with network sizes between 32 to 2048 nodes. Each node published messages to the network, and we measured how long it took for the other nodes to get the message. The experiment was repeated 10 times for each network size. The below image displays one of the key results of the paper. It shows a CDF (cumulative distribution function) of the measured latencies across all experiments. The y-axis runs from 0 to 1, i.e. 0% to 100%. CDF of message propagation delay From this graph we can easily read things like: in a 32 nodes network (blue line), 50% of message deliveries happened within 150 ms globally, and all messages were delivered in around 250 ms. In the largest network of 2048 nodes (pink line), 99% of deliveries happened within 362 ms globally. To put these results in context, PubNub, a centralized message brokering service, promises to deliver messages within 250 ms — and that’s a centralized service! Decentralization comes with unquestionable benefits (no vendor lock-in, no trust required, network effects, etc.), but if such protocols are inferior in terms of performance or cost, they won’t get adopted. It’s pretty safe to say that the Streamr Network is on par with centralized services even when it comes to latency, which is usually the Achilles’ heel of P2P networks (think of how slow blockchains are!). And the Network will only get better with time. Then we tackled the big question: does the latency behave logarithmically? Mean message propagation delay in Amazon experiments Above, the thick line is the average latency for each network size. From the graph, we can see that the latency grows logarithmically as the network size increases, which means excellent scalability. The shaded area shows the difference between the best and worst average latencies in each repeat. Here we can see the element of chance at play; due to the randomness in which nodes become neighbours, some topologies are faster than others. Given enough repeats, some near-optimal topologies can be found. The difference between average topologies and the best topologies gives us a glimpse of how much room for optimisation there is, i.e. with a smarter-than-random topology construction, how much improvement is possible (while still staying in the realm of regular graphs)? Out of the observed topologies, the difference between the average and the best observed topology is between 5–13%, so not that much. Other subclasses of graphs, such as irregular graphs, trees, and so on, can of course unlock more room for improvement, but they are different beasts and come with their own disadvantages too. It’s also worth asking: how much worse is the measured latency compared to the fastest possible latency, i.e. that of a direct connection? While having direct connections between a publisher and subscribers is definitely not scalable, secure, or often even feasible due to firewalls, NATs and such, it’s still worth asking what the latency penalty of peer-to-peer is. Relative delay penalty in Amazon experiments As you can see, this plot has the same shape as the previous one, but the y-axis is different. Here, we are showing the relative delay penalty (RDP). It’s the latency in the peer-to-peer network (shown in the previous plot), divided by the latency of a direct connection measured with the ping tool. So a direct connection equals an RDP value of 1, and the measured RDP in the peer-to-peer network is roughly between 2 and 3 in the observed topologies. It increases logarithmically with network size, just like absolute latency. Again, given that latency is the Achilles’ heel of decentralized systems, that’s not bad at all. It shows that such a network delivers acceptable performance for the vast majority of use cases, only excluding the most latency-sensitive ones, such as online gaming or arbitrage trading. For most other use cases, it doesn’t matter whether it takes 25 or 75 milliseconds to deliver a data point.
Latency is predictable
It’s useful for a messaging system to have consistent and predictable latency. Imagine for example a smart traffic system, where cars can alert each other about dangers on the road. It would be pretty bad if, even minutes after publishing it, some cars still haven’t received the warning. However, such delays easily occur in peer-to-peer networks. Everyone in the crypto space has seen first-hand how plenty of Bitcoin or Ethereum nodes lag even minutes behind the latest chain state. So we wanted to see whether it would be possible to estimate the latencies in the peer-to-peer network if the topology and the latencies between connected pairs of nodes are known. We applied Dijkstra’s algorithm to compute estimates for average latencies from the input topology data, and compared the estimates to the actual measured average latencies: Mean message propagation delay in Amazon experiments We can see that, at least in these experiments, the estimates seemed to provide a lower bound for the actual values, and the average estimation error was 3.5%. The measured value is higher than the estimated one because the estimation only considers network delays, while in reality there is also a little bit of a processing delay at each node.
The research has shown that the Streamr Network can be expected to deliver messages in roughly 150–350 milliseconds worldwide, even at a large scale with thousands of nodes subscribing to a stream. This is on par with centralized message brokers today, showing that the decentralized and peer-to-peer approach is a viable alternative for all but the most latency-sensitive applications. It’s thrilling to think that by accepting a latency only 2–3 times longer than the latency of an unscalable and insecure direct connecion, applications can interconnect over an open fabric with global scalability, no single point of failure, no vendor lock-in, and no need to trust anyone — all that becomes available out of the box. In the real-time data space, there are plenty of other aspects to explore, which we didn’t cover in this paper. For example, we did not measure throughput characteristics of network topologies. Different streams are independent, so clearly there’s scalability in the number of streams, and heavy streams can be partitioned, allowing each stream to scale too. Throughput is mainly limited, therefore, by the hardware and network connection used by the network nodes involved in a topology. Measuring the maximum throughput would basically be measuring the hardware as well as the performance of our implemented code. While interesting, this is not a high priority research target at this point in time. And thanks to the redundancy in the network, individual slow nodes do not slow down the whole topology; the data will arrive via faster nodes instead. Also out of scope for this paper is analysing the costs of running such a network, including the OPEX for publishers and node operators. This is a topic of ongoing research, which we’re currently doing as part of designing the token incentive mechanisms of the Streamr Network, due to be implemented in a later milestone. I hope that this blog has provided some insight into the fascinating results the team uncovered during this research. For a more in-depth look at the context of this work, and more detail about the research, we invite you to read the full paper. If you have an interest in network performance and scalability from a developer or enterprise perspective, we will be hosting a talk about this research in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for more details on the Streamr social media channels. In the meantime, feedback and comments are welcome. Please add a comment to this Reddit thread or email [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]). Originally published by. Henri atblog.streamr.networkon August 24, 2020.
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