I'm concerned that people new to Bitcoin may not be aware that the test network exists, and the new users will end up "paying" for Bitcoins that are essentially worthless.

What protections are in place (or should be in place) to prevent a vulture capitalist from selling coins that can't cross between networks?

Should we openly reject offers (or the consumer demand) for coins on the test network? ... the main idea is that the thought leaders of the Bitcoin initiative want to protect their investment in the network and prevent dilution though potential bad marketing this "counterfeit" network provides.

So again, the question is, what actions should we take with regard to the test network and questions/needs regarding it? How can we ensure that it doesn't take on a monetary value of its own (or act as a negative influence on the prod network)

  • The reason I'm posting this is because I sense there are more miners on Test net recently and I'm unable to collect any coins for the purpose of testing (8 CPUs + GPU on a Macbook Retina) which makes me question the reason there is more activity on the network. (Also blockchain.info doesn't seem to contain current information on the network as an fyi) Dec 17, 2012 at 4:47
  • Assuming that these people pay market price for the testnet coins, then what's the problem? They can always sell them to somebody else. On the other hand, paying more than market price is also something that can happen with regular bitcoins.
    – Nick ODell
    Dec 17, 2012 at 7:00

1 Answer 1


The main precaution against such practices should be the main client clearly stating that it is operating on testnet and perhaps with addition "for testing purposes only. Get free testing bitcoins at testnet faucet". This would protect some buyers, but not all (those that would be perhaps scammed into using a testnet eWallet or something).

As for why one shouldn't assign any value to testnet bitcoins, I would argue that the main reason is that the testnet has a tendency of being reset from the very beginning. Currently we are at testnet 3 as far as I remember, and there is nothing stopping the development team from starting a new testnet without much warning.

All in all, if people can be convinced to buy testnet bitcoins, there is little one can do.

  • 3
    I agree. Through similar means, someone could release a modified client that connects to a private testnet and they could sell people coins on a totally private network that only they could mine and tell them they are Bitcoins. This isn't a technical problem and likely doesn't have a technical solution. Dec 17, 2012 at 11:41
  • @DavidSchwartz Alternately, distribute a bitcoin client that has malware that steals your wallet.
    – Nick ODell
    Dec 20, 2012 at 2:43

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