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P2Pool is an open source peer to peer mining pool. It currently charges a fee of 0.5%.

Is it possible to just fork P2Pool protocol and eliminate the fee? Has this been done? If so, how can P2Pool still retain users when a cheaper alternative remains? If this hasn't been done yet, why not?

6

Since November 17, 2011 no fee is charged. Instead an optional donation of 0.5% is sent to the author of P2Pool to support future development.

If you don't want to donate to the author you can run P2Pool like this:

python2 run_p2pool.py --give-author 0.0 [USERNAME] [PASSWORD]

The 0.0 is a percentage of your earnings and can be set to whatever percentage you like.

  • 1
    Maybe more appropriate to call it a 'donation' than a 'fee' these days, since it is optional. – nanotube Feb 24 '12 at 1:10
4

You may split the project and create your own distributed pool, but you choose to reap no rewards from doing so (the first 0.5% fee), and without a bonus to the block finder (the other 0.5% fee).

The pool combines both fair share rewards and a finder's bonus to compete against other pools. The initiator has so far earned 0.75 BTC for his development and promotion efforts. If you feel this is too much for a system that eliminates centralized downtime (connectivity and stale issues) and centralized trust (delayed payments, locked funds) you should not use this pool.

An added benefit of p2pool is that all addresses receive funds from the generation transaction directly to their public key. This means until you spend those funds your funds are completely anonymous and untraceable.

  • I'm not a miner myself, I just asked this out of curiosity. I wanted to know what competative edge there is to the system that prevents others from simply forking it and dropping the fee. I think @David's answer is right on. – ripper234 Aug 31 '11 at 10:20
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    This answer is more correct than David's.Somebody could indeed fork P2Pool, but it would be difficult as the fee is pretty small. In addition, the fee is planned to be changed to an opt-out donation, which will help too :P – Forrest Voight Sep 20 '11 at 21:42
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In a proportional pool the fee isn't the only factor that influences adoption. Size is also important. Larger pools result in lower reward variance and this creates a dynamic which makes it difficult for small pools to grow. Small pool remain unattractive because of high volatility thus can't grow to reduce volatilty and remains small pool.

So even if tomorrow you forked p2pool and launched p2pool-free unless you had sufficient hashing power it would be difficult to attract miners. It creates a pradox of needing sufficient hashing power to gain more hashing power. The desire of low variance is a strong one; three largest pools have mandatory fees yet they have attracted the majority of network hashing power.

To grow the pool large enough to create a self sustaining growth cycle would likely require some outside capital. Capital could be used to provide bonuses or to rent hashing power outright from large miners. The quandary is that by adopting a 0% fee the investment will never be recovered directly. The investment may worthwhile indirectly because one potential outcome would be a large decentralized 0%-fee pool that has self sustaining growth.

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It wouldn't be that hard to start a new p2pool if you were prepared to outlay some btc's. ie donate to the pool so it pays out 105% of expected payout, doing that would attract some big miners.

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P2Pool has a unique design due to its proprietary p2p protocol. However, it is inevitably just another pool. Its decentralized block creation feature was originally released by BitPenny using a Bitcoin-like protocol, and is now also supported by pools running on Eligius's Eloipool poolserver. Just as with all pools, however, P2Pool does have a centralized point-of-control calling the shots. On the other hand, just like with any pool, someone can always fork it and make their own pool.

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