Internet comments are often somewhat Hobbesian: nasty, brutish and short. So every week we make a point of highlighting some of the more thoughtful and reasoned exchanges that take place on our blog.

Bitcoin advocates met with federal regulators this past week to explain how the technology works. In response to our coverage, user bannedagain5446 charged that Bitcoin isn't a currency:

It's a scrip payment, or a speculation, or a form of discounted paper, but the one thing that it ISN'T is currency!


The claim touched off a long conversation — supported with evidence! — about the difference between currency, legal tender and barter. The distinctions aren't just academic; in fact, it's a good bet federal officials were having much the same discussion themselves behind closed doors.

In another post, my colleague Tim wrote about a high-profile GAO report finding that software patents just don't work. Arguing against fixed-term patents, reader zosima suggested an alternative:

I'd prefer a term of protection that grants a limited monopoly until an investment has been recouped. We want patents to promote investment, if an idea doesn't require much investment, it doesn't deserve much protection. Many software patents are new ideas that nonetheless don't deserve a 20-year government enforced monopoly because they would occur to anyone working on the problem after two seconds thought.


After writing that the line between metadata and content is sometimes very thin, Tim received a comment from reussere pointing out a conundrum for the NSA:

Everyone knows that a trivial workaround for tracking metadata is a simple disposable phone. Given that their costs are so low (around 20 bucks), and the fact they are sold practically everywhere, makes me wonder just how effective the NSA program truly is.


Would-be tipsters for The Switch, take note.