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This is a beginners question related to bitcoin.

As bitcoin is a system of distributed bitcoin users, and a transaction is being sent to 'all' of them - well, what is that network? What IP adresses? Is there a bitcoin databank of bitcoin users? Is there an initial list of some users? How does this 'network' work?

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A node is a "point" that relays new transactions and blocks.

For example, if a make a transaction from the GreenWallet app, the GreenWallet app will send the transaction to GreenWallet's API. The node(s) GreenWallet runs will broadcast that transaction. The rest of the nodes will relay those new transactions to each other.

Only some of those nodes are also miners. They listen for

  • new transactions, so that they could include those transactions in their next blocks.
  • new blocks, since every block must reference the hash of the previous block.

An Antminer, which is an ASIC machine, is not a node. It specializes in doing the work given to it. A mining node, today, refers to a pool operator's node.

Additionally, pool operator nodes utilize low-latency block distribution routes such as the Falcon Network. This is to ensure that all miners have access to the latest block's hash. If two blocks reference the same previous block, one of them will be orphaned, which means the longest chain will be following the other block.

Software such as the BRD app or Bitcoin Core can act as nodes and they can directly push their transactions. The difference is that Bitcoin Core has the ability to store the whole blockchain, which most of Bitcoin Core instances do. This kind of node is said to be a full node. Bitcoin.org defines a full node as a "fully validating client". The opposite is a pruned node, which discards irrelevant data.

"User" is not defined for Bitcoin. There are miners, which make new blocks, nodes, which act as transparent connectors between nodes and miners, and wallet clients, which just keep track of relevant balances and transactions. Note that bitcoins aren't located in addresses. Transaction outputs are called unspent outputs, which may be spent with the corresponding private key and the public key of the address.

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  • But when I send the transaction to that Green Wallet API, they know my IP address! So it is not really anonymous and you have to trust the company providing this service. Is that correct? – Alex Jul 3 at 12:47
  • Yes, Bitcoin was never designed to be anonymous, it's transparent. If you have enough nodes, you can use the delay among transaction receiving times between nodes and you can predict which IP broadcast it first. GreenWallet doesn't even need to do this. – MCCCS Jul 3 at 12:57

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