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Bitcoin's Biggest Website Faces Criticism Over Sponsorship Deal

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The new sponsorship deal on Bitcoin.org of Paxful, a P2P Bitcoin marketplace, brings some controversy. On a GitHub thread, one of the Bitcoin.org owners claims that the $20k per month sponsorship will be mainly used for website and content purposes, and for community rewards.

Paxful is a Bitcoin marketplace and P2P platform (peer-to-peer) that lets individuals buy and sell bitcoin online. The platform has over 50,000 customers and offers more than 300 ways to pay with bitcoin. An article on Medium refers to Paxful as “a safe place to get crypto quickly without hassle."

Promoters of Paxful argue that the platform is one of the safest places to buy bitcoins. However, some users have complained about Paxful in the past, which could lead people to think of the crypto marketplace as a scam.

Why is it controversial for Bitcoin.org to be funded by Paxful? How does it impact the reputation of bitcoin.org?

Reputation at Stake?

Among other features, Bitcoin.org allows users and crypto enthusiasts to buy bitcoin. Businesses, individuals, and organizations can acquire the cryptocurrency safely on the website. Bitcoin.org receives supports and funds from its community and domain owners. A Bitcoin Foundation partnership ended in 2015.

The new partnership between Paxful and Bitcoin.org, established last July 2018, is mentioned on several bitcoin.org pages, which could be seen as a promotion. Why does this bring controversy? Related: China’s Trail Of Unsustainable Debt

Such a deal opens a few questions over the neutrality of Bitcoin.org.

Endorsement, partnership, or promotion?

The principles of Bitcoin as a peer-to-peer platform could be threatened, as stated in the Github thread. “Peer-to-peer refers to systems that work like an organized collective by allowing each individual to interact directly with the others.” Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks. By nature, the platform is autonomous, safe, and transparent. Does the partnership of Paxful with Bitcoin.org violate users' trust and jeopardize bitcoin.org neutrality?

The fact that Paxful is sponsoring bitcoin.org may appear as a commercial or promotional behavior, not aligned to the principles of the blockchain. The Paxful sponsorship appears more as a promotion than a donation (or in this case a sponsorship), which implies the idea of commercialization. This principle goes against bitcoin.org as a neutral information resource about Bitcoin. Furthermore, since Paxful has been accused of questionable practices in the past, the deal brings issue over data integrity and transparency, which may violate users' trust.

Communication and reporting needed. Where do the funds go?

There are calls for bitcoin.org owners to expose how they will benefit from the sponsorship of $20k per month. They should further post clear statements about deals and sponsoring organizations, for transparency, and add a tab named “sponsors” to the website. As of today, the bitcoin.org owners claim that the funds shall be mainly used to modernize the content and layout of the bitcoin.org website, as well as to develop a translation portal and create a Bounty program to reward contributors.

Both Paxful and Bitcoin.org should remain transparent about where the money goes, and update users. Finally, to showcase that the deal is clear of commercial interest, Bitcoin.org should report frequently to users on how sponsorship money is used, and perhaps unlink "get bitcoins" from the "buy" button on Paxful.

By Angel Deforge via Crypto Insider

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