Sometimes blockchain networks can get congested and someone who wants their transaction to get to the top of the stack may want to provide an additional reward for the miners, in order to supplement the regular transaction fee. That is normal. But what happened on the cold wintry New York evening of February 18th (or just after midnight UTC) was out of the ordinary…
Some have called it “the most generous tip ever”, others “the most expensive transaction ever”, and yet others have labeled it “the biggest f*ckup ever”. We may never know for sure which one it was, but this story will surely find its well-deserved place in the Crypto Annals next to such legendary tales as “The 10,000 BTC Pizza” and “Bitcoin Cash Hash Wars”. It’s about stories that will be passed from one generation of crypto enthusiasts to the next.
So, what caused this much ado?
For these five transactions, all originating from Ethereum address 0x587ecf600d304f831201c30ea0845118dd57516e and going out to three different addresses, all taking place within four hours, the sender has paid 3,990 ethers or $572,565 in fees.
Two major theories explaining this supernova have been espoused: human error and anonymous generosity with fingers pointing at Mr. Buterin and Mr. Lubin. We investigated both theories.
On February 19, we had to a chance to pose the question to Mr. Lubin himself. That was his response:
I don’t think it would be someone trying to give money into someone else’s hands because you don’t know which of the ten or fifteen thousand miners will win that actual block. So, I don’t’ think it was intentional. We have seen situations when someone actually paid too much money, more than they had to pay. When you have a transaction, you actually know the address it came from, so the mining person or the mining pool that actually validated that transaction, created the block with that transaction can send that money back. It will be interesting to see if that actually happens.
Thus, we can rule out Mr. Lubin himself as a munificent benefactor of anonymous miners. In addition, with a high degree of certainty, we can probably rule out Mr. Lubin’s friend and colleague, Mr. Buterin.
So, was it a human error and will the miner return the extra fees?
The wallet from which those transactions were sent was “first seen” on 11/24/2018 8:35:52 PM. At the time of this writing, it has been involved in almost 20,000 transactions – 1,463 on the receiving end and 18,015 on the sending end.
The sheer volume of transactions, in addition to the vast majority of transactions being propagated between a handful of wallets, would indicate that these are script generated transactions and not manual ones. Thus, if the cause of those fees was an error, it wasn’t a “human” error per se, but most likely a programming bug. But as we know, the ultimate responsibility for the bugs lies with the humans.
On February 19, 2019 07:18:43 PM +UTC, 1,000 FUCK tokens were sent to the address 0x587ecf600d304f831201c30ea0845118dd57516e.
It is still debatable whether this was done as a sign of solidarity and an attempt to restitute the grieving sender, or more as a gesture of a postmodern irony (which seems to be the prevailing ethos of the FUCK Token). Admittedly, the mission statement of this project reads “FUCK Token is a social cryptocurrency that aims to help everyone around the world give a FUCK. Our cryptocurrency allows anyone, anywhere to send and receive money almost instantly with extremely low fees”. Considering the latter and the fact that the current price of the aforementioned token stands at $0.017, we tend to lean towards the second explanation.
This would have been a very demoralizing end to our discovery. However, on February 20 it was reported that Sparkpool, the mining pool that mined block 7238290 and received 2,100 ethers (priced at over $300,000) donation, came out with this encouraging statement “We have temporarily frozen this fee and are now waiting for the sender to contact us for a solution. If the sender does not reach out in the next a few days, Sparkpool will then allocate the fees to miners who are entitled for the reward.”
Well, after all, not everything “is rotten in the state of Denmark”. However, the other two pools which also benefited from the gratuitous donations haven’t made any statements on the subject.