It is our goal to use Bitcoin's unique infrastructure to implement a fair, transparent and secure voting method in combination with a unique way of pooling the Bitcoins of many (or few) individuals toward common goals. Please click on the About link to the left for more information about BitPools.


About BitPools

BitPools

BitPools, put simply, is a way of pooling your money with other people. In a broader sense, it allows for moving projects forward using your money as your biggest voice on voting for how things are done. The concept could be as simple as a family pooling their money for a gift to a community coming together to fund a park. The possibilities are endless and our goal is to provide the vehicle toward achieving whatever needs to be done to get your project completed.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency based upon an open-source, peer-to-peer internet protocol. It is through Bitcoin's unique features that BitPools will allow for achieving many things that have not been possible until today. With the ability for each person to transparently display the amount of bitcoins they currently possess and the security, anonymity and transparency behind the Bitcoin protocol, there is no need to worry about a third party holding your money while a project goes through its many stages before funding is required, and you will not need to trust a third party to count your votes when decisions need to be made.

Funding Projects

Whether you are a small group of people trying to fund a small project or a large group of people with big goals in mind, BitPools offers an easy way to get involved and grow a project from a simple idea to a final ending. You may have heard the term crowdfunding at some point, someone will come up with an idea and ask people for money to fund his or her project. A website will collect people's money and if that person gets enough funding the money will be transferred to that person and s/he will move forward toward executing their plan. BitPools is a bit different. While anyone can come up with an idea or a goal, it does not need to be completely hashed out right away, and you keep your money until you are satisfied with the final plan.

Someone could come up with a broad idea such as funding a group vacation for the members of an online community for example. Those who support the idea would simply sign up for that project by placing a minimum amount of bitcoins in your public bitcoin address and pledge those coins toward that goal. While you are not committed toward spending those coins on that project if the final decision is not something you agree with, you are not able to pledge those same coins toward any other projects while you have them currently pledged.

At that point, as a group, you can start deciding things such as where to stay, minimum cost, travel agency, length of time and dates, etc. Throughout the process voting may be done to determine the sentiment of the group until the point is reached where final proposals can be voted upon. There may be several different final choices and you do not necessarily have to put your money toward one you do not like. When a proposal comes forward for a vote, a pledge goal will be included. At this point you will vote with your money. If the pledge total is reached, the proposal will go forward. A new group will be created just for those who supported the proposal.

Those who did not support the decision can either stay in the current group with those who did not agree with the proposal or, if allowed by the proposal, pay to join the winning group (usually the same amount that was required by the other voters). Or you can unpledge your funds and move onto another project (your funds never left your wallet). The winning proposal will have their bitcoins transferred to the proposed location (funding source, escrow account, broker, etc.) and each group member may move forward in their new group and even have the opportunity to propose further goals.

Voting

Utilizing the Bitcoin network, voting can be done in a secure, anonymous and transparent manner which does not rely on a third party to count your votes. While your group is working on your project there may be times where you want a formal vote whether it is for choosing leaders or any other manner of important decision. For these small votes you will not be voting with your money, but will still be using bitcoins to do so. When the vote is proposed, each group member will be given a unique bitcoin address for each proposed option (several leaders, group bylaws, etc.). The proposal will include a deadline to get the votes in.

At that point, each member will send a small refundable transaction (also determined in the proposal) to the address of their choice. Before the vote all bitcoin addresses and their corresponding vote option will be encrypted in a file and will be made available to all group members. Once the deadline has passed, the password to decrypt the file will be made available as well as an automatic tally of the votes. Anyone will then be able to verify through the encrypted file and password that the tally is correct.

The anonymity of the Bitcoin network allows people to send bitcoins to any address without anyone knowing where the money came from (caveat: there are ways of tracking the source of transactions but this can be easily overcome if you are truly worried about your vote being discovered).

One of Bitcoin's most intrinsic values is its security. With more computer power being spent on securing the Bitcoin network than any other computer process in the world, Bitcoin offers the best vehicle for secure, anonymous, transparent voting. All of this with very little overhead.

For the larger votes you will actually be voting with your pledged funds. Someone will propose a vote by the group members with the money going toward the final destination for the funds. This will consist of several options. It could be a Bitcoin address where the money is to be spent either for a service or a product or anything that is not in any way connected to the BitPools network. Or you will have the option of using an escrow service or a broker for more complex proposals. You may want an escrow service for something like serveral retailers pooling their money to purchase a large order through a wholesaler. The escrow service could take the bitcoins and convert them to the currency of the wholesaler and put the order through. A broker or contractor could be used for larger projects such as putting together subcontractors to get something built (website, park, software, TV ad, etc). The funds would go to the broker with the proposed agreement.

If the proposal fails to achieve enough votes, and thus enough funding, then all funds will be returned to the public addresses of those who voted. This allows for further proposals and further votes until the best possible outcome is achieved. Nobody is forced to spend their money on something they do not agree with and when a proposal is finally successful it is supported by all of those who fund it.

For those who do fund the proposal, a new group is created for that group. This allows that group to move forward together to communicate the progress of the project and to be involved in follow up projects. If allowed (as part of the proposal), new members will be allowed to join the group. In most cases, those new members will be required to submit the minimum amount that was funded by the other members in order to achieve this vote. This amount is then either put toward the project or distributed to the members in a way that was included in the proposal.

As the BitPool network grows, the voting structures available to groups will grow too. Each group may come up with their own voting structures and hierarchies which they find best suits their needs. This will allow for like minded people to move forward together in the way that they feel the most comfortable. But no BitPool user will be forced to spend their money for anything they do not agree to spend their money on. There will always be the choice to spend your money however you wish because you will always be in control of your funds at all times.

Services

BitPools will be working with many trusted companies and individuals in the Bitcoin community to provide escrow and broker/contractor services. Each service provider will be vetted and have a rating system so that you will be able to trust where your group's money is going if you require such services to achieve your final goals.

Services will be able to provide quotes before final proposals go forward and, if necessary, may be bound by non-disclosure agreements.

It is the goal of the BitPools network to make available the best and most trustworthy service providers so we will encourage competition and as many choices to group members as possible.

How To (Walkthrough)

Register

To create a user on BitPools you must first register. Click on the Login/Register button on the left panel. This will display a window with a login and password field. Click the button on the bottom that says Register a new account

Create Bitcoin Address

In order to confirm that each user has enough bitcoins to pledge for the pools you must set a Bitcoin address that you own. BitPools will not store any of your bitcoins.

In order to verify that you are the owner of the Bitcoin address you must create an empty address. This can be done several ways. One of the easiest ways is to create a new Blockchain.info wallet used soley for BitPools. (You can also create an address using vanitygen, on the Bitcoin Core client you can click File -> Receiving addresses -> New. For this example we will create a new wallet at https://blockchain.info/wallet

Click on the New Wallet button and enter the required information. Be sure to write down your pass phrase and save your Identifier and password. Once you log into your wallet you will see a zero balance wallet. Your Bitcoin address is toward the bottom below the QR code.

Set Your Bitcoin Address

Copy your new Bitcoin Address and paste it into the Bitcoin address box on your BitPools profile.

After you set your Bitcoin address click on the V button to save your address. This will display your current zero balance. Now in order to participate with BitPools you need to add at least 10 mB (.01 bitcoins) to your Bitcoin address

At this point you will need to send some bitcoins to your BitPools Bitcoin address. This can be done in many ways, sending from your online wallet or from your Bitcoin client such as shown below:

Soon after you send bitcoins to your BitPools Bitcoin address you will see your Bitcoin balance for that address in your BitPools profile. Note that you have full control of your bitcoins, BitPools cannot take your bitcoins. If you use an address that is part of your Bitcoin client and you send bitcoins from your wallet, your BitPools Bitcoin balance could go down if it takes bitcoins from that address.

Note: 1 Bitcoin is equal to 1000 mB (milliBitcoin)

Join a Pool

Now that you have bitcoins in your BitPools address you can find a Pool to join. Click on the Pools link on the left menu. This will bring up a list of Pools. If you have more mB than the minimum pledge you can click the Join button to join the pool.

Create a Pool

If you have an idea for a Pool that you believe other Bitcoin users may be interested in you can create your own Pool. You do not need a solution in mind or any plan for the end result, anything you believe others might be interested is fine. To create the Pool click on the + symbol to the right of the Filter Group(s) box.

This will open a new window with initial options for your new Pool. The minimum pledge amount should be high enough to weed out those who will not likely contribute once a solution is proposed and low enough to get as many people as possible to join. Once you are all set click on the Create button. In this example we will create a Pool to gather people for a group cruise.

Be sure to set an image (200x200 pixels) and a description (message boxes support standard BBCode). You can edit the description by clicking the / button to the right.

BitPools Pools

Now others can join your pool by clicking the Join button. If you want to advertise a link to your pool just use http://www.bitpools.com/ followed by a ? and the name of your Pool such as: http://www.bitpools.com/?Bitcoin Cruise/

In the Messages tab all users of your Pool can communicate with each other. For now all Pool messages are public so even if someone is not a member they can read the messages. Just click the New Message button to create a new message then click Submit to save the message.

New Proposal

In the Proposals tab you will have a list of Past proposals, Draft proposals and proposals open for voting. To create a proposal click on the Create Proposal button, this will be located below all other proposals or on the top if none have been created yet.

Enter the proposal name and begin editing the proposal.

BitPools Proposals

The top left is the description where you give details of what the end solution will be. This is the text that everyone is agreeing to when sending their bitcoins.

Below the description is the minimum vote amount per member which sets the amount of bitcoins the users will send in order to be counted.

Below that is the voting option panel. You can have multiple vote options, all options will add up toward the total, multiple options are good for gauging preferences with the final solution.

In the top right is where you set vote date, win total and/or minimum percent. If you set Win Total then the total of all votes must equal or be greater than that number in order to pass. If you set the Min Percent then the minimum percent must be equal to or greater than the amount of users times the minimum vote amount in order for the vote to pass.

Below that is the Incentive Panel. The Min Incentive indicates how many bitcoins must be sent to the Incentive Address. The Incentive is used at minimum to pay for the mining fees of BitPools and each user when voting. Any incentive above the minimum will be distributed equally to all users who send the minimum vote. The higher the incentive, the more likely people are going to vote for your proposal. Whether the vote passes or not, the incentive is distributed to the users. The Min Incentive must be filled before you can submit the proposal.

You will want to work with the users in the Messages to get feedback on your proposal before submitting. And do not set the vote date too far in the future as the bitcoin value may fluctuate if it is too far out. When you are ready click the Submit for Voting button.

Voting

Once the proposal has been submitted you will see a few changes. The voting option panel for all users will have the options as well as a Send to Address for each option. This is where the users send their bitcoins to cast their vote.

On the right are three buttons used to download files that are used to verify the vote. The Public Key File contains the public Key used to create the Encrypted Key. These two combined are used to encrypt the Vote File. The Vote File contains all Send to Addresses for the vote. This is created so that anyone can have the list of vote addresses after the vote has finished and verify that the results match the results on the Bitcoin Blockchain.

Users can click on the new proposal from the Proposal tab which shows the Proposal is open for voting.

Once the vote date has passed voting is finished and the user will be able to view proposals whose dates have passed.

Clicking on the Past Proposal will show the proposal after the vote has finished. This will include the Private Key File which can be downloaded to decrypt the Encrypted Vote File that could be downloaded before the vote date. There is also the Decrypted Vote File used for verification. The past proposal might not be clickable immediately as the Private Key is stored offline in cold storage, manually moved to the server after the vote.

View Results

There is also the option in the Voting panel of viewing the results. When you click on the View Results button you will get a new window with the vote results displayed.

The Results window will show the Win Total or Min Percent along with the total of the votes. The chart in the top right panel will tell how close the vote was to passing or it will show that it has passed. The bottom panel gives a list of all Send to Addresses and the amounts sent to those addresses. These can all be verified on the Bitcoin Blockchain. You can confirm in the Decrypted Vote File that those are the same addresses in the file created before the vote date.

In this example the proposal does not pass. The 8 users that voted would split the 16 mB Incentive (after mining fees are paid) and the funds from their votes will be returned to their BitPools address. With the Pool messages users can give their opinion on why they did or did not vote for the proposal. This makes it easier for future proposals to put together something more people would vote for.

After getting some feedback from the users and studying the results of the first proposal, for this example, another proposal is created.

After submitting another proposal and another round of voting the proposal is ready for viewing.

This time the proposal passes and the original goal of the BitPools Pool is met.

The Incentive will again be distributed to all users that voted after mining fees are paid.

The total bitcoins will be sent to the proposer's BitPools address (multisig escrow services coming soon) and a new Pool is created consisting only of those who voted for the proposal giving the users a place to discuss the future of their successful proposal and oversee its execution.

This form of voting allows for a solution decided by those willing to fund it. The vote is transparent, anyone can verify the results, and it is secured by a vast network of computers all over the world.