OpenBazaar Tester’s Guide

This article is to help OpenBazaar testers install the software, test it, and report any bugs or feedback to the development team. Thank you to all the testers out there helping us make OpenBazaar the best it can be!

If you’ve already been testing and have a bug report to file or feedback to deliver, you can skip right to the reporting bugs section.

Overview

To use OpenBazaar, you will need to run the OpenBazaar server and client. If you use the pre-built packages, these will be installed together. If you build OpenBazaar manually, they will be installed separately. The server is the program doing the work of communicating with other OpenBazaar nodes and managing your Bitcoin keys. The client is the visual interface you need to interact with the rest of the network. The server and client do not need to be run on the same machine; you can set up a server on a remote machine, run your client locally, and connect them together.

In the initial testing period, the OpenBazaar network will solely be running on the testnet and using testnet Bitcoins. You can receive a small amount of testnet coins from this faucet; please return them when done with testing. You can use a mobile app such as Copay or testnet3 to receive and spend the testnet coins. Listings, sales, and purchases on the testnet should be assumed to be for testing purposes only. After this period we’ll transition to testing with real Bitcoin and real listings; please read the disclaimer at the beginning of the onboarding process.

There are three user roles on the OpenBazaar network. Any user can fill any role or any combination of roles.

Buyer

A buyer will access the network solely to purchase goods or services, check on their order status, release funds to the vendor or dispute a transaction they’re involved with, and leave reviews on vendors.

Buyers don’t need to run the OpenBazaar server or client regularly. They only run them when they want to access the network.

Vendor

A vendor will access the network in order to manage their online store. This include listing their goods or services, tracking order status, marking products as shipped, engaging in communication with buyers about open orders (or prospective clients’ questions), and managing disputes with the buyer and/or the moderator.

Vendors need to run the OpenBazaar server continually in order for other users to see their listings. This can be done by running the server on local computer (anything from a typical PC to a Raspberry Pi Zero) and keeping it running 24/7, or by using a VPS such as Digital Ocean to host the server for them. Here is a guide to installing the server on a VPS.

The server is not a ‘heavy-duty’ server but a lightweight program that shouldn’t interfere with the normal operation of your computer, but if users have an unstable internet connection or aren’t willing to run their computer continually, they should consider hosted solutions.

A vendor can run the client locally and connect to a server running locally or running remotely. The client doesn’t need to run for other users to see their store, purchase items, or receive chat messages, but without the client running you will be unaware of these events occurring until you connect the client to server later.

Moderators

A moderator will access the network in order to offer dispute resolution services to vendors and buyers, engage in dispute resolution if it occurs, and join with the winning party to release funds from the multisignature account.

OpenBazaar uses a 2-of-3 multisig escrow to prevent scams on the network. Instead of a buyer sending Bitcoin directly to a vendor (which is also an option for buyers if they want to), the default transaction in OpenBazaar is to have the vendor choose a third party called a moderator. If the buyer agrees with the vendor’s choice of moderator, then they buy the item and send the Bitcoin to a multisig address with all three parties containing one signing key. If the transaction goes smoothly and the product is delivered or service rendered, then both buyer and vendor sign to release the money to the vendor (two of three signatures). If there’s a dispute, then both buyer and vendor make their case to the moderator. The moderator makes a decision and joins with the winning party to release the funds to them, or splits funds among the parties. This means the moderator plays a vital role in preventing bad actors from scamming people, and both vendors and buyers should select them with care.

Just like vendors, moderators need to have their server running in order for other users to see them. They cannot be chosen to provide dispute resolution services if their store is offline.

Installation

You can install OpenBazaar either by using a prebuilt package, or by manually installing via the command line. We want testers to use whichever they prefer, though we anticipate that most people will install OpenBazaar with a package.

If you encounter an error with a package, installer, or manual installation, skip to the reporting bugs section to learn how to file a bug report.

Packages

The packages for release can be found on our Github releases page at this link:

Download OpenBazaar

Windows users use the OpenBazaar-1.X.X_Setup.exe file. After downloading and opening the file, Windows users will be guided through an installation process which should go very quickly.

OS X users use the OpenBazaar-1.X.X.dmg file.

Linux users use the .deb file. Once downloaded, open your terminal, change directory to where the .deb is located, and run “sudo dpkg -i [deb package]“. Then enter “openbazaar” in terminal and it will load.

Manual installation

Manual installation uses the command line, and git. Users will need to use git in order to update their code; it will not update automatically. We recommend manual installation only for users who are familiar with using the command line.

If you have some technical expertise and want to manually install OpenBazaar, read these instructions.

Testing

Once OpenBazaar is properly installed, you can begin testing. Please ensure you are testing the latest code; if using the Windows installer or OSX package then the client should ask you to restart the client in order to use the latest code automatically. If using a manual installation on any platforms, please make sure to run ‘git pull’ on both server and client occasionally to keep updated.

Feel free to play any role on the network, or all of them at once. If you are already a vendor online, consider trying to set up a store as you would if the platform were live. If you want a more methodical approach, you can use this testing script.

You will first go through a brief on-boarding process where the client asks a few questions to create a better commerce experience. After that you can set up your own store and begin listing products, or start buying products from other stores (or both). Keep in mind that if you are still early in the testing phase that the network will still be using the Bitcoin testnet (using testnet coins which have no value), and all products and services should be considered only examples for testing. If a user tests off the testnet and uses real Bitcoin, they are recommended to engage in smaller trades to reduce risk of lost coins.

While testing you should be keeping an eye out for two things:

1. Bugs. These are problems with the software that prevent it from acting as it is supposed to. It might be a visual bug in the client which inhibits the user experience, or it might be a bug in the back end which prevents a user from participating in the network properly. Whatever the bug is, follow the instructions below about reporting bugs.

2. Suggestions for improvement. We don’t only want to know when something goes wrong. We’re building OpenBazaar to allow anyone to engage in trade for free with anyone else in the world. That’s an ambitious goal, and we don’t expect that the first version of the software will have everything users want. We want to hear from you how we can improve the platform. This includes both small and big-picture improvements. What feature is missing? Which feature isn’t necessary? We will be releasing new versions constantly after the initial release, and we want to hear from you in order to know what is most important to work on next besides bug fixes.

Reporting Bugs and Feedback

 

Bugs

You’ve found a bug and want to report it. Thanks for your help! Please follow these steps to make the process easier for you and for the developers.

1. Check to see if this bug has already been reported. You don’t want to waste your own time or the time of the developers if this bug is already a known issue. Take note of the details around the bug, and then take two steps to ensure this bug isn’t already known. First, ask users in the #testers-room channel in the OpenBazaar Slack if they’ve seen the bug. Other testers or developers will be in the room and should be able to respond if it’s a known issue. If those users are unfamiliar with the bug, or if you don’t get a response, then the next step is to check the Github issues to look for the bug. You can view issues for the Client here and issues for the Server here. Scan the titles of the last few dozen issues, and/or use the search feature to find keywords related to your issue.

If you find someone has already filed your issue, you can leave a Github comment in the thread mentioning that you have encountered the same issue. Include details of your operating system and any other details which might be helpful.

If you don’t find the issue, continue to step two.

2. Gather as much information as you can about the problem. Take note of what you were doing before you noticed the problem, during it, and after as well. Try to be specific. If it’s a visual bug in the client, take a screenshot or video if possible. If you are able to view the terminal readout, include any errors you can see along with ~20 lines before and after the error (errors will usually start with ‘Traceback’). If you don’t use the terminal, you can check for errors in the debug log (debug.log file in the /home/OpenBazaar/ folder). You can include the error messages in the bug report, or if it is a lot of text, you can upload the error text to Pastebin or other services and include a link to them in the report.

3. File the issue on Github. This requires you to create an account on Github if you don’t already have one. You can open new issues for the Client here and for the Server here.

Bug reports should include all the information mentioned in step two, as well as information about your operating system (which type and version), how you installed OpenBazaar and what version of the code you’re currently running, and how severe you consider the bug. Attach the ‘bug’ label to the issue and then decide which other labels to apply, ranging from ‘low priority’ for minor problems to ‘showstopper’ for bugs that completely block functionality. Use your judgement as to how severe the problem is; if they developers disagree they’ll simply change the label you’ve added.

If the bug is a major security flaw, please contact the developer team in Slack to ensure it is addressed properly and in a timely manner.

If you’re unable to file an issue yourself for some reason, please contact a developer in the Slack and relay your information to them directly. They will file an issue.

Feedback

You have some feedback for us on how to make OpenBazaar better. Excellent; we want to hear it. Please use the following format to make it easier to review incoming feedback.

New feature or change to existing feature: (Do you want new functionality completely or a change to something that already exists?)
Back-end or the front-end: (Is this change in how OB works at the core, or in what the end user sees, or both?)
Magnitude of change: (Trivial, Significant, or Massive. What type of effort would it take to bring about these changes?)
Description of suggestion: Describe your suggestion.

You have several options for delivering this feedback.

1. Github issues. You can open a new issue with your feedback. We recommend this option for users who have a specific and detailed feature request or enhancement, and one that doesn’t describe a massive magnitude of change. Please use the “enhancement” label.

2. Subreddit post. You can post to our subreddit with your feedback. We recommend this for feedback that doesn’t have a specific feature request in mind, or for changes describing a massive magnitude of change. Please begin the title of your post with the tag [Feedback].

3. Slack. You can give feedback in our community Slack. Use the #feedback channel. We recommend using Slack if the feedback doesn’t describe a specific feature request, and is more general feedback (‘overview’ type comments).

4. Email. If for some reason you prefer for your feedback to be private instead of public, you can email the developers at project@openbazaar.org with your thoughts.

Reminder

Please be patient during the testing phase; it’s possible that bugs may require you to delete your current installation entirely and reinstall. Also don’t forget that your page, store or listings will not transition from the testnet over to the live net.

Thanks again for your help.

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Vendor’s Guide to OpenBazaar

Note: Setting up your store on a VPS will ensure the server is up 24/7. Services such as Deploy allow you to do this easily.

This guide will show vendors how they can set up an OpenBazaar store, step by step.

If you have problems along the way, visit our help desk. If you want to chat with someone from the OpenBazaar community for help, or to give feedback on how OpenBazaar is working for you, join our Slack community.

Step #1 – Download and install OpenBazaar

Most users will want to download a package for their operating system, which makes installation as simple as downloading and opening a file. If you have some technical expertise and want to manually install OpenBazaar, read these instructions.

The packages for release can be found on our Github releases page at this link:

Download OpenBazaar

Windows users use the OpenBazaar-1.X.X_Setup.exe file. After downloading and opening the file, Windows users will be guided through an installation process which should go very quickly.

OS X users use the OpenBazaar-1.X.X.dmg file.

Linux users use the .deb file. Once downloaded, open your terminal, change directory to where the .deb is located, and run “sudo dpkg -i [deb package]“. Then enter “openbazaar” in terminal and it will load.

Download and open the file.

Step #2 – Run OpenBazaar for the first time

The first time you run OpenBazaar you will be guided through an onboarding process to personalize your experience. You will be asked a few questions such as your language, country, and preferred currency.

onboarding1

Each user has their own page on the OpenBazaar network. You can choose a specific theme to make your store unique.

onboarding2

You also have the opportunity to upload an avatar for your store. Click on “Select Avatar” to choose a file from your computer.

onboarding3

The last part of the onboarding process is a disclaimer about using the OpenBazaar software, which you should read before continuing.

After finishing onboarding, you’ll now see your own OpenBazaar page. Here’s what an example page looks like.

newuserpage

Notice the long string of characters below your name, and in the navigation bar at the top of the client. This is your OpenBazaar ID, which is an address that every page on the network has. You can learn more about OpenBazaar IDs here, and how to create simpler names called “handles” here.

newuserpageOBID

Step #3 – Create your store

Let’s turn your page into a store. Everyone on the network has their own page, but only people who are selling goods and services have a store. On your page, click “Become a Store.”

newuserpagebecomestore

You will now be asked to give more information about your store. You can set a new name if you like, and add a description of your store. You can also add tags that tell buyers what your store is about. You can set your store to 18+ as well if you are selling goods or services targeted to adults.

becomeastore1

The next step lets you select moderators. Selecting trustworthy moderators is very important. Moderators are the third party which is brought in if there is a dispute between yourself and one of your buyers. By choosing moderators, you give your buyers the option to use moderated payments instead of only direct payments, giving your buyers some confidence that you will deliver your goods or services. You can read more about how moderation works in OpenBazaar here.

If you don’t choose to select any moderators, then your buyers will only be able to choose direct payments.

becomestore2

After selecting moderators and clicking “Finished” you’re now a store on the OpenBazaar network!

You can change the color scheme, or add a new background image to your store, by clicking the “Customize” button.

newstorecustomize

Let’s get some listings published and start selling.

Step #4 – Publish your first listing

On your store page, click “Create Listing.”

newstorecreatelisting

You’ll now see an interface to add information about your listing. After giving your listing a title, you select its type. You can either choose a physical item, a digital item, or a service. Then add the price. The price will be set in whatever currency you selected in onboarding, if you want to change it now click “Change currency.” You also select the condition of the product, and whether or not it is intended for adults (18+).

createlisting1

If the product has a SKU you can enter it, and then enter a description of your product. In the product description field you can edit the text to change the formatting by highlighting text with your cursor, as the picture below shows.

createlistinghighlighttext2

Scrolling down the page, you then enter information related to the processing and shipping of the listing. Processing time must be entered. You then select where your listing ships to (if it is a physical item). Buyers who listed their location in a country where you do not ship will be unable to complete an order.

You have the option of choosing free shipping as well.

You then add shipping prices, both domestic and international (if you ship internationally), as well as estimates on how long shipping will take.

createlistingshipping

Also in this section are your terms and conditions, and return policy. These are optional.

If you want your listing to expire at a certain time, you can add an expiration date and it will automatically be removed from your store at that time.

Another important piece of information to add is in the “Discover” section. The tags you add here will allow buyers to use the built in search to find your products. If you add no tags to your products buyers cannot find them via search.

If you have many products, you can use the “Categorization” section to separate them into different categories.

Lastly, you can add up to ten photos to your listing by slicking on the “Select photos” button. on the top right. Photos can be any size or shape, but they will display on the main Discover page, search page, and in your store as square until a buyer clicks on them.

You can now scroll up and click “Save Changes” to publish your first listing.

Step #5 – Manage orders

When you receive an order, you should hear an audio notification, and on the top right of your client you should see a new notification as well.

notification

You can view new orders either by clicking on the item link in the notifications drop-down, or you can click on your own avatar on the top right of the page and select “Sales”.

This will bring you to the Transactions page, which shows all your sales, as well as your purchases and cases (if you are a moderator).

transactionsales

Each sale will have an overview of the current status. Pay special attention to the “Order Status” section, which will tell you where the order currently stands. There are 6 possible statuses.

1. Purchasing (Payment pending) – This status means a buyer got to the payment page, but didn’t send payment yet (or the client has a problem seeing the payment on the blockchain). It’s recommended to ignore these orders until payment comes in.

2. Ready to process (Paid in full) – This status means the buyer paid for the order and you need to process it now. Once you’ve shipped your good or delivered your service, you then confirm.

3. Confirmed/Shipped – This status means you’ve confirmed that the product is now shipped or delivered, and you’re waiting on the buyer to release funds (if it’s a moderated payment).

4. Completed (Payment released) – This status means that the funds have been released to the vendor and the order is completed.

5. Disputed – This status means that either the buyer or vendor opened a dispute with the moderator. The funds are in the escrow and won’t move until the moderator makes a decision.

6. Dispute Closed – This status means the moderator has made a decision and the dispute is closed. The funds are still in the escrow account until the winning party agrees with the moderator’s decision and releases funds.

7. Dispute Finalized – This status means the moderator’s decision has taken affect and the funds have moved from the escrow to the winning party.

Confirming orders

When viewing your sales, click “Order details.” This will open a window with more details. There are four tabs you can choose from: Summary, Shipping, Funds, and Discussion.

ordermodal2

Summary gives you an overview of the information needed to process the order.

Shipping gives you the address needed to ship your listing to the buyer.

Funds gives you the details around the Bitcoin transactions made in the order so far.

Discussion
gives you a place to chat with the buyer about that specific item, and also a place to handle disputes with the moderator if a dispute arises.

If this order has been paid, but you haven’t confirmed yet, at the top of the window is a button to “Mark as Shipped” (for physical items) or “Confirm Order” (for digital goods or services). Once clicked, you can enter the Bitcoin address where you want to receive the funds; it’s important to enter an address which you control!

ordermodal3

You can then add comments for the buyer. If shipping a physical item, you then enter the details around shipping: Which company is shipping the item, a tracking number, and the estimated delivery date. Then hit “Submit” and your order is now confirmed.

If selling a digital good, then you’ll be asked to put in a URL and a password where the buyer can download their item.

If the buyer chose a direct payment, then as soon as you confirm the order you will receive you payment at the address specified. If the buyer choose a moderated payment, the funds will arrive after the buyer receives the item and they agree to release funds, or after a dispute is opened and the moderator closes the dispute by releasing funds.

Reminders

OpenBazaar works differently from the common ecommerce websites. It uses two programs to function properly: the server and the client. The installer mentioned above install both automatically for you.

The server needs to be running continually for other users to access your store. This means that if you shut down your computer, or loss internet access, your store isn’t visible to the rest of the network. If this is problematic, you can choose to set up the server on a virtual private server (VPS), which costs about $5 a month and will keep your store running for you. Here is a comprehensive guide for setting up the OpenBazaar server on a VPS. You can also use the Deploy service, which automatically sets up a store on a VPS for you.

Also, if you are using OpenBazaar on the testnet as a tester, please remember that the store and listings you are creating now will not transfer over to the real network later. Everything made on the testnet is purely for testing only.

If you encountered problems along the way, visit our help desk. If you want to chat with someone from the OpenBazaar community for help, or to give feedback on how OpenBazaar is working for you, join our Slack community.

Let’s make trade free!

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How Moderators and Dispute Resolution Work in OpenBazaar

Summary: OpenBazaar helps prevent fraud by having buyers send their bitcoins into a 2-of-3 multisignature address controlled by the buyer, seller, and a trusted third party. This third party offers dispute resolution in case something goes wrong. These third parties offer their services on an open marketplace.

Because OpenBazaar is a decentralized network for trade it has a very different system for moderation and dispute resolution than existing ecommerce platforms.

Traditional centralized ecommerce platforms (Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc) have dispute resolution built into their service to reduce fraud and scams. The companies listen to disputes from a buyer or seller, make a decision to determine which party they side with, and then take action to reward the winning party or penalize the losing party. Since they control the platform directly, they have the power to issue refunds (or work with the payment processors who do), uphold negative reviews (or delete negative ones) and ban people from their platform altogether. The fees associated with using the platforms pays for this service (among other services).

This type of top-down, centralized disputed resolution on the platform isn’t possible with OpenBazaar, which has no central point of control. However, a platform which had no safeguards to prevent fraud wouldn’t be very appealing to users. So OpenBazaar introduces a different model: 2-of-3 multisignature escrow along with an open marketplace for third party key holders (called moderators). If these terms don’t make sense to you, let me break it down.

2-of-3 Multisignature Escrow

OpenBazaar uses Bitcoin. Unlike credit cards or Paypal, Bitcoin transactions cannot be reversed after they are sent. An important part of handling fraud over existing centralized platforms is reversing charges that are fraudulent. Since Bitcoin cannot be reversed, how can it handle fraud?

Fortunately Bitcoin has a unique capability called multisignature transactions (also called multisig). Instead of just having one person control the bitcoins in a certain account (called addresses), you can have multiple people control the same bitcoins. However, they can only send those coins to another address if a certain number of people controlling the bitcoins agree.

For example, you can have a 2-of-2 multisig address. This means that there are two people who control the address, and both of them must agree to a transaction before the bitcoins can be sent anywhere else. A 2-of-3 address means three people control the address, and two of them must agree before the funds can be spent.

OpenBazaar uses 2-of-3 multisig addresses for transactions. When a buyer wants to purchase a listing, instead of sending the funds directly to the seller, he will send the funds to the multisig account. The three people who control this account are the buyer, the seller, and a trusted third party selected beforehand. We call these trusted third parties ‘moderators’.

Now there are five possible ways for the funds to be released from the multisig address:

1. The seller sends the product or delivers the service and the buyer is satisfied. The buyer and seller are the two of three parties needed for the multisig, and together they release the funds to the seller. This is what a normal transaction will look like.

2. The seller cannot deliver the listing as promised or the buyer is unhappy with the listing, and they mutually agree to refund the buyer. Again, the buyer and seller are the two of three parties needed for the multisig. This time they join together and release the funds to the buyer.

3. The buyer and seller are in a dispute and cannot agree how to release funds. The moderator comes in and decides that the seller is at fault. The moderator then joins with the buyer to release a refund to the buyer.

4. The buyer and seller are in a dispute and cannot agree how to release funds. The moderator comes in and decides that the buyer is at fault. The moderator then joins with the seller and releases the funds to the seller.

5. The buyer and seller are in a dispute and cannot agree how to release funds. The moderator comes in and decides that neither or both parties are at fault, and the moderator joins with either party to release funds in a split between buyer and seller.

In this fashion fraud is prevented by only allowing funds to be sent to the seller or refunded to buyer when either 1) buyer and seller mutually agree or 2) an independent third party decides which party is at fault and joins with the winning party to release funds.

In the current OpenBazaar design, moderators make money by taking a percentage of the funds they release after a dispute. This percentage is set by the moderator and publicly displayed on their profile. Future designs may allow moderators to charge for being selected for a trade, or charge based on a subscription service.

Astute readers will recognize that the moderator must be trustworthy for this system to work, otherwise he/she could collude with one of the other parties to release funds to them. This is why moderator selection and reputation are important.

Moderator selection and reputation

It is important that moderators are trustworthy. Competition is the best way to ensure accountability, and in OpenBazaar moderators are offered on a free market.

Unlike central platforms which only offer one option for dispute resolution (themselves) on OpenBazaar these moderators are available on a marketplace within the platform itself. You can search through them and determine which one you want to use for dispute resolution, based on their own rules, or expertise, or their prices, or their real-world credentials, or based on the recommendation of other users.

Over time, these moderators will develop reputations. OpenBazaar doesn’t currently have a built-in reputation system for moderators, and users will need to rely on word of mouth, real world credentials, and/or forums such as the OpenBazaar Moderators subreddit.

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Weekly Development Update, February 22, 2016

Back end

Updated protobufs. More work on refunds and moderation flow. Hardened seed and libbitcoin infrastructure.

Front end

Clone item was added, to make it easy to duplicate items in your store.

Items with ratings will now display those ratings.

When the window is closed with command W, the app also closes.

The SSL button was moved to the server config modal.

You can see if a user follows you when you look at their page.

The block button on a user’s page is functional now.

When you look at a blocked user’s page, it is hidden, with a message asking if you want to unhide it.

If you don’t have anyone in your blocked list, a message is shown to indicate that.

S status bar was added to the bottom of the screen to alert the user when a 3rd party service was taking a while to load (currently used for bitcoin price exchanges).

Timeouts were lengthened or removed for the user page.

Language updates from Kirvx, pryds, saltduck.

Transactions chats are now working.

Disputes can be created, and moderators can chat with sellers and buyers.

All server settings can be changed from the settings/advanced view.

Photos uploaded to a listing are limited to 10.

If the connection to the server is lost, the server config modal appears automatically.

Cleaned up all the assets: icons, tray icons, installer images, etc across all operating systems.

The server configuration on startup has been greatly enhanced.

View post on imgur.com

Cleaned up the Update OpenBazaar notifier and added a Test Mode flag

View post on imgur.com

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Who Controls OpenBazaar?

You’re probably here because you saw or heard about something on the OpenBazaar network that was offensive, or illegal, and then someone directed you to this link to learn more.

Perhaps you’re not quite familiar with what OpenBazaar is yet. There are many questions to consider: How could anyone defend this? How come it’s not shut down? Who controls OpenBazaar? This post is meant to answer these questions.

First of all, you’ll need to take a moment to understand what OpenBazaar is. Or more importantly, what it isn’t.

OpenBazaar is not a website, a company, or an organization

Most people are familiar with the standard ecommerce model. A company – such as eBay, Amazon, or Etsy – has a popular website where people buy and sell stuff. The company directly controls the trade on their own website. You don’t hear about illegal or immoral goods sold on these websites because the companies won’t allow it. They remove any such listings. This model is a centralized model, because there is one central authority that can make decisions and control what happens.

This image shows a centralized model. The central hub is the website, which all the nodes (users) connect directly to. Everything happens in the central hub; users don’t interact with each other directly. If the hub (website) goes down, no one can do anything at all.

Centralized network
Centralized network

This is not how OpenBazaar works.

OpenBazaar is decentralized, peer to peer, and has no central authority

OpenBazaar is not a website. It is a peer to peer network of people around the world running software on their own computers. This is a decentralized model; there is no central authority that can make decisions and control what happens. If some people on the network have trouble with their computers or internet connection, other users are unaffected. They will still connect directly to each other.

This image shows a decentralized model. Unlike the centralized network pictured above, it has no central hub. All the nodes (users) are connecting directly to one another.

Decentralized network
Decentralized network

This is how OpenBazaar works. Users download the software onto their computers, and they buy and sell goods and services directly with each other. A seller lists items on their own store, which is hosted on their own computer. The only way for that store or that listing to be taken off the network is for the user to take it down themselves, or for someone to physically visit their home or business and shut down their computer.

Removing offensive listings or stores

With this decentralized model there is no central authority on the network which can take down their store or listings, even if they are offensive.

The developers of OpenBazaar – in fact, no one at all – have any control over the activity on the network. We don’t give permission to users to join the network; anyone can join by running the software on their computer. We aren’t making money from selling the software; it’s open source which means the code is open for all to see and use without any cost.

There is one method to remove offensive listings or stores. A store which is breaking the law can be reported to law enforcement. They can then attempt to track down the store, find the computer hosting it, and take it off the network.

Why decentralized?

You might be wondering why we would build a marketplace which could be used for offensive or illegal goods and services. First, it’s important to understand all the benefits that the decentralized model of online trade offers over the traditional, centralized model.

  1. Cheaper trade.

    A vendor on eBay is usually charged 10% of each sale. It’s 15% on Amazon. These fees are an enormous cost of doing business on centralized platforms. OpenBazaar has no middleman taking a cut, so the vendor is charged 0% for each sale. Vendors can pass on some of the savings to their customers resulting in less expensive goods and services.

  2. Borderless trade.

    Many popular online marketplaces aren’t available in every country. The popular payment methods available online such as credit cards or PayPal aren’t available in many countries. Engaging in international trade for people in these countries can be nearly impossible.

    OpenBazaar has no geographical restrictions, and it uses Bitcoin, which also is global. Anyone in the world with a computer and an internet connection can use OpenBazaar.

  3. Trade with cheaper and better escrow.

    Centralized marketplaces have a monopoly on trust, safety, and payments via escrow. It’s the reason why they can get away with charging high fees – users only have one choice. They also have complete control over funds, so users are forced to trust them completely.

    OpenBazaar does not have a monopoly on escrow. Instead there is an open market of third-party escrow services (called “Moderators”) which buyer and seller can mutually select. Having an open, competitive market for escrow services means fees will almost always be lower than monopolized platforms.

    Escrow on OpenBazaar uses a feature of Bitcoin called Multisignature transactions which means the escrow agent doesn’t control the funds directly, but controls them jointly with the buyer and the seller. Two out of three of them need to agree before funds are released. This leads to more secure escrow.

    Using an escrow service is optional. If buyer and seller trust each other, they can transact directly without involving a third party.

  4. Secure trade.

    In order to use the centralized platforms, you need to give them your personal data, or use a payment method which is tied to your identity (usually credit cards). Unfortunately, this information is a prime target for hackers to steal and use your personal or financial information for their personal gain. OpenBazaar has no account to sign up for, and you only share as much information about yourself with other users as you choose. It also uses Bitcoin, which means there are no credit cards numbers in a big database for hackers to steal.

  5. No restrictions.

    Centralized markets force their users to agree to their own “terms and conditions.” While some of these rules make sense to most vendors (preventing the offensive goods from being posted), other don’t. For example, Amazon recently banned the sale of some of their competitors products, for their own benefit. Etsy bans spells and other non-physical items, as well as banning the sale of merchandise from the Washington Redskins. None of these restrictions exist on OpenBazaar.

We built a tool which allows anyone with a computer and an internet connection to trade directly with anyone else in the world – for free – and we’re proud of that. The offensive listings must be viewing in context of the overall activity on the network, of which the vast majority is legitimate trade that makes everyone better off. We hate it when people abuse our technology, but the fact is that they alone are responsible for their own actions.

The internet itself is a decentralized system. Many people abuse this to do illegal or immoral things. However, we’ve collectively decided that the incredible benefits the internet has brought far outweigh the bad, and we do our best to reward the good while punishing the bad. The same should be true of OpenBazaar.

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Weekly Development Update, February 8, 2016

Back End

Moderation is finished server side. This includes opening and closing disputes, releasing funds, and maintaining a separate chat conversation with all three parties per dispute.

We have brought up two new libbitcoin servers in preparation for testing and launch. One is on the main net, located at http://libbitcoin3.openbazaar.org/. The other is on the test net, located at http://libbitcoin4.openbazaar.org/.

Front End

Transactions have been updated so disputes can now be filed, and buyers, vendors, and moderators can discuss the dispute.

If a url is typed into the about or item description fields, it will automatically be turned into a clickable link when someone views it.

Several updates to chat and notifications to improve display of avatars and other data.

Added notifications for transactions changing states and disputes being filed, clicking on a transaction notification opens that tab in the transaction view.

Contributor Kirvx added new phrase translations.

Integrated a few new steps into the checkout process to make setting up a bitcoin wallet easier for first time users, see video below.

Cleaned up the design of the Become a Moderator modal.

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During the onboarding process, a random theme is now selected for each user.

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Weekly Development Update, February 1, 2016

Back end

Full transaction flow working. Funds release from direct payment and from escrow.

Front end

Handles integrated. Handles go into a temporary state until they are validated with OneName. They can be used in the address bar, and are automatically displayed there once they have been validated.

Network connection type is now displayed in your settings (for troubleshooting).

Users can be blocked from chat.

Disputes added to the transaction UI (soon published to master).

Language updates from Kirvx, tenthirtyone, and Polish added thanks to Mido.

Cleaned up the design of the Transactions section.

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Purchase flow optimizations (integrating the changes into the client this week).

Down to a handful of features needed for client to be feature complete.

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