James Stanley

Someone copied Stegoseed and deleted my name from it

Sun 3 January 2021
Tagged: bitcoin

I searched DuckDuckGo for "stegoseed" earlier and was surprised to find that the top result was not my stegoseed project, but was something else that seemed to do a similar thing:

(I wonder if I was the second result because the "Stegoseed" link in my navbar used to just say "Bitcoin Steganography", so it wasn't giving it enough search engine link juice for "stegoseed"? I've changed it now).

Curious, I clicked through to the Groestlcoin tool (left) and was surprised to find that it looks quite similar to mine (right):

It has only 2 obvious differences:

  1. My name and the link to the accompanying blog post have been deleted
  2. "Bitcoin" has been changed to say "groestlcoin"

(Update 2021-01-04: The Groestlcoin Stegoseed page now states that it is a fork of my project).

I'd never heard of Groestlcoin before and initially I wondered if this was a scam to exfiltrate people's Bitcoin keys, but I checked the source and there appear to be no changes at all, other than to the text. It turns out that "Groestlcoin" is actually just an obscure altcoin.

I also found that lots of posts on the r/groestlcoin subreddit are announcements of software releases by the Groestlcoin "Development Team":

These are (almost?) all just copies of other pre-existing projects but with the text changed to say "Groestlcoin" instead of "Bitcoin", and with the original authors' names deleted. This is typically done in a commit with commit message just saying "groestlize".

Here's a bunch of examples of Groestlcoin github projects that are derived from Bitcoin projects:

That's not even all of them. I got fed up of looking through the commit history of the rest of the projects, you can find them here.

Anyway, from what I can tell, Groestlcoin is mostly just Bitcoin but with names changed.

Copying open source projects for fun and profit

Obviously there's nothing inherently wrong with making open source projects derived from other projects - indeed, this is half the point of open source in the first place. But deleting the original author's name leaves a bit of a bad taste in the mouth.

If you happen to want to create your own fringe altcoin, but you don't have any supporting projects, this is what seems to be the formula for creating them:

  1. copy someone's Bitcoin-related project
  2. change "Bitcoin" to "Groestlcoin"
  3. delete any explanatory text that you don't understand
  4. delete links to explanatory blog posts or related websites
  5. delete the original author's name and any other references to the original author
  6. delete any Bitcoin donation addresses
  7. ???
  8. profit

Importantly, make sure no credit is given to anyone outside the Groestlcoin project. Even change "Powered by Github Pages" to "Powered by Groestlcoin Developers" if you have to.

Oh, and make sure you have "Issues" disabled on your github repo so that the original authors can't come in and request that you add their names back.

What do I think Groestlcoin should do?

Simply writing "This project is derived from X project by Y author" would be a substantial improvement.

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