Cypherpunks critics to Maidsafe

In their mail list:

...what's the deal? Is it a scam? 

"David Irvine began work on MaidSafe in 2006. He raised $5 million for
the project" 

april 2014  "It raised over $7 million in Mastercoins and Bitcoins." 

They've been working on it for almost 10 years and still...nothing? 


So far I think maidsafe is not the right approach. The mix between central
and decentral is not inherent to the problem that's being solved.


MaidSafe (MS) is an inadvertent (apparently due to a lack of historical information) attempt to realize the experiment Jim McCoy, Bram Cohen, Zooko O'Hearn and I set out to perform with Mojo Nation. They are doing this with the advantage of the experience of bitcoin. MN was sort of Freenet + digital currency. Unlike the file sharing systems that came before Freenet is ublication-based. Both file sharing (FS) and publication content distribution approaches have their pros and cons.

FS is simpler but offers little or no plausible deniability about the sharing activities. Publication offers much better deniabilty but more complex and requires more resource commitments on the part of its users. Both suffer from limitations based on popularity. MN tried to find a sweet  spot by adding a resource-based currency to solve the persistence problem  by paying user clients to offer storage and communication bandwidth.

Unfortunately, MN never really got off the ground, due to a lack of funding, but it got far enough to encourage Bram to create BitTorrent and Zooko to create Tahoe LAFS. I tried to get Bram (and some others through client add-ons) to include some sort of digital currency to BT but it never happened.

McCoy patented MN's content distribution systems with resource-based currency around 2001/2. Not sure if the patent is still in force, if Jim is even aware of MS or if he's even care if MS appears to be using MN's approach.


    btw apparently maidsafe also patented some things.  Not a fan of  patents really (bit of an understatement - IMO they should be banned).
Maidsafe took some flak for it and tried to claim they were defensive patents.  I think the misunderstanding is that when startups fail, patents get sold to the highest bidder.  Ie the entrepreneur who thinks its a useful thing to do creates 30 years of headache for an ecosystem from his 2 year time-horizon thinking.  We've even seen it before in ecash specifically with the digicash patents that were sold at bankruptcy to infospace and so there was a period where no one could use basic blind sigs and various work arounds were tried (blinding agnostic server, Wagner's blind MAC/ZKP/Lucre, server-privacy/systemix/ricardian server).  That sucked.

I am not sure about Maidsafe.  But there are a lot of scams in alt-coin space.  Its very easy to take investors money and then fail to deliver.  The investors are non-qualified investors, so the
legality is also questionable.  But even on an ethical basis, the investors are not having legal or professional review of the prospectus, and the "investment contract" is typically ridiculous such that a professional would ROFL about the proposal.  You own nothing. Its a pattern repeated a few times in alt-coin space.

The other fallacy in my view is that this is somehow plausible that a service (aka app-coin) with value could defend a floating valued alt-coin.  Lets say maidsafe as an example - so far I guess its vaporware, or under research & development vs zooko's LAFS for example which has been running and incrementally improving for years.  But lets say they manage to develop something useful with usable functionality and reliability etc which is no small talk, lets say they get workably close to matching LAFS functionality after spending the $10m or whatever they raised.  Now why would people use it over LAFS which is free?

If maidsafe offered better functionality than LAFS (seems doubtful but hypothetically) its FOSS software.  Why would someone not fork it and remove the maidsafe token.  The resources that provide the service are after all not provided by maidsafe nor the holders of the maidsafe
coins - so why would users and peers in the network choose to support the enrichment of maidsafe the company nor the naive people who put money into the "investment".  You often hear people talking about these schemes as "donations" and thats probably closer to the truth -
if you think the tech is interesting and you donate some money to it to see it get built, without expectations of getting your money back, you're going to get less of an unpleasant surprise when it fails to  materialise or it simply gets forked if it even works.

I can see that Zooko for example might look at this and go huh? WTF? He implemented LAFS with various modest funding models and has a  working system - and yet some folks with hand wavy ideas that may or may not be mathematically possible even jump into the tech space paint an exciting hypothetical system picture and grab $10m+ of non-qualified investor money with an "investment contract" that says the investor owns nothing (other than sort of undefined value service  tokens, that are not backed by control or ownership of the resources that might operate the to-be-implemented service).

If nothing else these token sale contracts are fraught with moral hazard.  Investment contracts are structured the way they are by mutual negotiation between investor and startup for reasons of interest alignment and incentive.  Those structures were arrived at via 100+ years of experience of what works and what doesnt, and prior generations investment scams and bubbles.  It seems like a bit of a rerun of some early last century investment scams that motivated the regulations we currently have to protect investors from scammers.
1 Like

Why fork it to remove the coin? By having the coin you are incentivized to contribute to the network by gaining small returns for your hard drive space and bandwidth.

It’s time to end paying free services with our privacy as with the old Internet and switch the things around, i.e. getting paid for using it. You don’t have to spend coins to gain coins as far as I am aware.


What else should be banned? Same sex marriage? Bitcoin? Funny cartoons?

As far as I can tell LAFS is clinically dead.
In the past year they haven’t done almost anything (erh, sorry, they renamed it) and their’s as much as 1 (one) commercial provider.

Hope they do that. I’d gladly dump my TB-sized pr0n collection on their free vaults…

I find that criticism pretty worthless, just like my comments.


Yeah Hello…positive news is always welcome here.

1 Like

What is it that you want to say with this @chrisfostertv ?


I don’t get it also. I just published here what I saw in the mailing list.

We should be aware what the people is thinking about Maidsafe outside this forum.


I personally think all constructive criticism, opinions and general information is useful to the Team and Community…negative or positive. This is distinct from puerile trolling and the like and any issues raised can be considered and any necessary solutions implemented.
I’m sure the relevant bones will be picked out from the critical post and addressed by the team/community on the forum, so no need to shoot the messenger of somebody else’s opinion.
Ok, here’s the original patent for James McCoy’s invention from 2001. As I see it, either this is an issue, or it isn’t - the rest of the comments are opinion really and of less concern:


Indeed constructive criticism is very valid and in my opinion needed and I am sure the team address it.

This reinforces my opinion that anyone, no matter how smart, needs to invest serious man hours into researching MaidSafe’s goals and mechanisms before being able to say something truly useful about it. It seems pretty obvious they don’t see the grander picture.

Btw, the term is cypherpunks, not cyberpunks. :wink:


I liked how maidsafe was criticized for all the money raised and yet later he admits his project never took off due to lack of funding haha. Maidsafe’s inner workings are not like what’s done before I feel like some people use their “status” to be irresponsibly critical as if it’s a privilege they’ve earned so can now disregard real investigation. I am welcome to posts positive or negative just makes me think less of this guy who wrote for the mailing list. I believe soon enough people will see what all that money, time, and more importantly hard work and dedication has been able to achieve. Maidsafe will outlast almost everything out there simply because of functionality


Indeed constructive criticism is very valid and in my opinion needed and I am sure the team address it.

We all know that.
But there’s nothing new & constructive in those comments that hasn’t already been discussed on this forum.

1 Like

Okay only just joined so do not know what went on in the past so maybe I should not have commented at this juncture. Just trying to learn by taking part in the discussion. I believe maidsafe is the answer and looking forward to the launch when it is ready to go.


Through MaidSafe’s entire patent portfolio I never recall the examiner in any jurisdiction flagging up this application, it is normally a Microsoft patent that they wave in front of us. Patent examiners have been criticised for not being overly thorough researching prior art out with actual patent applications, but are normally fairly diligent within it.

I also think feedback from those within and out with the community is a good thing for us. It tells us what information we need to provide and where, in order that other groups can evaluate SAFE with all the facts. I also agree with @Seneca, there is a lot of information to get your head around with the network and the vision and we shouldn’t be overly critical for those who have not immersed themselves in it.


Patents take away other people’s freedom to innovate… By and large they are oppressive, state sanctioned monopolies. Software is designed to enable people to solve problems – So software patents in particular, interfere with people being able to solve problems. The other things you mention do not interfere with others being free…

I do think that there is plenty of reason to be skeptical of all of the crowd-sourced coin sales… Hopefully MaidSAFE and Etherium deliver on their promises and the fears can be laid to rest – But skepticism in this realm is mighty healthy…


No investor angle to gouge the public, moral hazard… blah, blah, blah. Same as gubernator.

I am aware of that view. However it would be possible to implement patents in a stateless society too.
A licensee would agree to sign the contract to pay royalties in exchange for the right license a machine or software that implements it. He could also refuse, but then the seller could refuse to sell or lease or rent the technology, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to prevent the copying and duplication.

Currently it is implemented by the state and largely in an oppressive way, but I wouldn’t a priori claim patents should be banned. If A and B want to conclude a patent/IP licensing deal, trying to ban it would be even more oppressive.

Skepticism is fine, we all have it, but those comments are completely void of facts and they were not just skeptical, but deliberating whether MaidSafe could be a scam. That’s quite different. Nick is too nice.

Licensing of technology isn’t the issue – It is preventing somebody else from solving a technological problem that is an issue. Patents often ban thinking and problem solving. If I can solve a problem I ought to be free to do so. If the problem is hard - then It ought to be easier for me to buy the solution somebody else already figured out – If the problem is easy enough for me to figure it out myself then I ought to be free to figure it out myself without fearing being sued.


Over 7 years and presenting almost daily (many friends invested £500 or less) in a continued fashion to pay developers and Engineers to implement something I would have loved the opportunity to, whilst working day and night on everything bar the actual design and implementation. All until we could afford help and after a few who tried to screw us. Nick and his team have been a life saver here. Also Viv and his team with front end development, which is a huge deal for a successful product :slight_smile:

Well … not released but already a ton of research, examples, working libraries used by others, cited in I don’t know how many papers, employing and paying people and building a community. Depends on the definition of nothing, like every scientist looking for the great unified equation or cure for cancer (or any disease, or anything) so yea nothing … And I wish we had more nothing :slight_smile: If we forced all research to have 100% positive results I imagine we would still be wondering what the lights up in the sky were and sacrificing our kids to a sea God.

The internet is great but also it’s a place where anyone can demand you do what they wish while they just make facts up on the spot.

In saying all that good decent critique would be great but it really needs folk to read past the first sentence of a website when quoting papers and maths at others, that’s not intelligent or valid critique. I have heard it over the years from many many ‘experts’ none of whom have not had a complete change of opinion when I am on a whiteboard in front of them. So nearly 10 years of being told I know what you are doing I know it’s impossible, been done, cannot happen and all the rest is not new and not interesting. I tried for months to chat on reddit bitcointalk forum and others but it was just exhausting and a waste, 99.9% of the time.

Now I am back to getting launched so I can make that single person happy :slight_smile: He must need it as it seems if you pay folk your a scammer which is unfortunate, but not new info, heard it all before. Who knew starving folks and programming without electricity on a pretend computer (maybe an etch a sketch) is the way of the future :wink: Everyone to their own!


@dirvine for every naysayer their is a supporter who sees your vision. Those people spend time talking and put in the hours in their own ways. I’m glad these things roll of your back like water on a duck but to reassure you we are here, we’re your pamphleteers


Ohw boy. People and strong opinions. I don’t have a problem with that, as long people know what they’re talking about. If someone asks if this is a scam, than they didn’t look at Github at all. Like, a zillion lines of code and libraries over there. They also didn’t look at all the great discussions and explanations at youtube. And they even didn’t look here at the forum. Great tech will always prove itself, especially when it’s open source for everyone to see. And fork the thing and take the coins out? Yeah, like Bitcoin would’ve ever worked without an incentive. With SAFEnet the great thing is that you get what you give. You offer space, get coins and now you can “buy” some space. And if you’re a 15 year old having your own computer, you can even make some money with it. Just by providing resources or building a great App.