I was at a conference yesterday. Estimates say that 1000 people attended. At 15:00 people have left the lecture halls and swarmed the lunch hall.
The rate at which food can be dispensed is finite, so people had to wait a long time in line to reach the coveted buffet. Those who decided to wait half an hour before going to eat (and struggle to find something to do in that time, seeing as everyone is eating), could get to the food without effort – but may have missed an opportunity to enjoy the entire variety the meal started with.
Likewise, when everyone is off the clock at the same time and drive home, they encounter traffic – but those who wait until 3 AM to hit the road, has the whole road to himself. This is the way of many aspects of life – if you try to do something at the same time many others are, you will run into overload.
Bitcoin is the conference, and lunch is being served. We are amidst a wave of interest in Bitcoin and its kin. This is not the first wave of its kind, but it is the biggest so far in absolute terms. Anyone who tries to go into the field at the same time as everyone else, sees that every system collapses under the load.
It begins with the Bitcoin network itself, where demand for transactions exceeds the available block space, and transaction fees go up.
Exchange services get hundreds of requests daily, and sometimes there are delays or missed messages.
Among the hosted wallets, those that are considered more reliable (such as Coinbase) are overloaded and struggle to handle support requests.
Other hosted wallets, which to begin with had been a scam, have decided that now is the time to pack their bags and vanish.
Public forums are overloaded, every thread is buried under many others within an hour, and there are more newbies asking questions than veterans who can answer them.
Physical community hubs are overloaded, and people who bother to arrive in person and consult, have to wait in line until an ambassador is free to assist them.
I, personally, am also overloaded with both messages and strategic activity, and one comes at the expense of the other.
When someone encounters a problem, it is hard to tell if she had unfortunately stumbled upon a scam, or whether it is a legitimate service that is experiencing load, or there is overload in the Bitcoin network, or that herself she erred in handling the wallet. And when she comes to ask and consult, she has trouble receiving answers.
Some people have lost money due to this whole mess.
Sad and doesn’t further a solution, but that is the situation today. For those who cannot accept that, I truly recommend to pass for the time being on buying Bitcoin (or Ether or ICO tokens or anything else). He can wait until the dust settles and things clear up, and one of two will happen – either the wave of interest will fade, and we go back to earlier demand levels which the systems can handle; or demand continues to grow, and over times the systems will upgrade to handle it – Segwit will be enabled, exchangers will hire more staff, and the community will muster more knowledgeable people who can support the newcomer.
If someone thinks that if he does not but bitcoins this very moment, he will miss the opportunity to get rich… Well, I can’t really tell him not to buy, and I do of course in favor of bitcoins being distributed among as many people as possible, and not concentrated in the hands of a few veterans. But he should know what he is going into, and not complain about anyone else but himself.
If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.