The Best Way to Get Started
How do you build trust between parties that do not actually know one another? The answer is, you don’t do it overnight. For starters you rely on the trust you have with the people you know, and from that you allow trust of others to grow over time. This takes weeks, months or years and a user needs to consider this, and start working on building the trust in advance of when they might need to rely on the it. If you do not know anyone then you need to get to know someone, or more importantly you need others to get to know you.
In the Bitcoin world there are a few ways to establish yourself.
The Bitcointalk forum (https://bitcointalk.org) is the first place to go to establish yourself. Join as a newbie member. You will need to write 5 messages and spend four hours on the board before you can become a junior member. Then you will need to write 100 messages to become a full member. As you rise through the ranks by participating you will achieve high ranks. Some of the highest are the Hero members. This status can be used to demonstrate you participation in the community. As I write this I am a Full member with 140 posts and 22 hours and 56 minutes of activity.
I tend to frequent the Newbies forum looking for people who need help, and I assist. I also like to visit the
As you spend time reading the postings of others and submitting posting to users in need of help you will be growing you experience and value to the community. This will also allow others to get to know you. Plan to be respectful in the forums. Making even one wild rant can get you classified as trouble and ruin you. Remember you’re trying to establish friends.
The Bitcoin Over The Counter (IRC: #bitcoin-otc Web Site: http://bitcoin-otc.com) has established a Web of Trust (http://bitcoin-otc.com/trust.php) which allows users to join and be brought into the fold. Everyone is initially un-trusted and must interact with other trusted users in order to become trusted. Consider buying or selling Bitcoins with another trusted member. You should offer to go first in the transaction. You will find that the members who have higher ratings are very concerned with maintain their status. This is exactly the effect that is desired by using the Web of Trust.
In order to use the web of trust you will need to establish yourself. To do this you need to download and install GPG (http://www.gnupg.org) An easy to use download for Windows can be found here: http://www.gpg4win.org.
Once it is installed open the App.
Select Keys Then New Key.
Enter Your Name, then Select Forward.
Enter your email Address, then Select Forward.
Select Create Backup copy, then Select Forward.
Enter a passphrase and make it secure, then Select Forward.
When presented with the Location to store the key I suggest it is only stored on a en encrypted voume. See my Book Bitcoin Step by Step on how to use True Crypt to create a secure volume.
Once you have established your Key you need to send it a Server.
Select Server and then select Send Keys… Note the server it is sending them to, you will need to use this during the authentication process with Bitcoin-otc.
Now you need to join Bitcoin-OTC. If you are not familiar with this, you can visit their site, grab a copy of Bitcoin Step by Step where I document the steps to install and configure an IRC Client and how to authenticate using bcauth, which is the first step in joining the web of trust.
Once you have your IRC Client up, log in to IRC and make sure you have authenticated your nick. Then join the #bitcoin-otc channel. Now you need to go through the process of bcauth, instructions for this can be found here: http://wiki.bitcoin-otc.com/wiki/Bitcoin_address_authentication.
Next you need to GPG authenticate, detailed instructions can be found here: http://wiki.bitcoin-otc.com/wiki/GPG_authentication. I’m not going to repeat them since you really need to become familiar with this page and what the functions of the gribble bot are in order to interact with the service.
Now that you are bcauth and authenticated with gpg, others can interact with you. Each time you come back to the IRC channel you will need to bcauth and gpg auth. If you are interacting with someone, do not trust the handle alone. You can issue a command to gribble ‘’gpg rating <users handle>” it will tell you if they are currently authenticated or not. If they are not then you need to request them to authenticate. They will insist the same for you. Do not take anyone on their word if they are not authenticated.
To see a web based list of ratings you can visit http://www.bitcoin-otc.com/viewratings.php. Keep in mind that when you are interacting with someone unless they are authenticated in IRC you don’t really know if the person is who they say they are.
In order for you to get rated you will need to work with people that are already rated. They will be able to rate you. Until you are rated expect to be the first party in the transaction. This means you will need to send the BTC before receiving the money, or vice versa. Remember they have the established trust you do not. Seek out some transactions and get started.
Another way to gain trust is to contribute. Do an inventory of what is out there in the Bitcoin world. A great place is out on the Bitcoin wiki (https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Trade). Take a look there and visit the sites. Look for what is missing and if you can try to fill the gap.
NOTE: If you rely on others to trust you, for instance if the service you are providing has users sending you BTC in hopes of goods or service, and you have not yet established yourself, expect to be labeled a scammer.
It is unfortunate that there have been a lot of scammers in the past. If you need trust, you must obtain it first. There are things that you can add that do not require trust to already be established.
Trust is a fragile thing. It has to be earned and can time to do so. You can work hard to obtain it and lose in an instant. The community will interact with you, but it will take baby steps to get there. If you want that trust, start now and know that by investing your time and effort now you will gain the respect and trust of the community when you need it.