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Monday, March 4, 2024

No, Bitcoin Ordinals Do Not Inscribe Information Onto Sats

That is an opinion editorial by Bitcoms, a Bitcoin author.

“So fast shiny issues come to confusion” 

–William Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Evening’s Dream”

“Inscriptions” are a approach of writing items of arbitrary info onto the Bitcoin blockchain. “Ordinals” are a conference used for monitoring particular person sats and linking them to inscriptions. This text doesn’t try and argue for or towards Bitcoin Ordinal inscriptions. Slightly, it argues towards the complicated, inaccurate and typically doubtful methods they are often introduced, marketed and offered.

It offers with a widespread fallacy which insinuates that possession of Ordinal inscriptions is enforced and guarded by the foundations of the Bitcoin protocol itself (I keep that it isn’t). And whereas this fallacy could also be asserted duplicitously or innocently, it’s all the time pernicious as a result of it could actually make Ordinal inscriptions extra enticing to potential consumers.

Here’s a typical instance:

“Ordinals enable a wide range of information, together with textual content, photographs, and video to be inscribed on a single Satoshi (the smallest denomination of a Bitcoin) and completely saved on the Bitcoin blockchain.” 

–Introduction documentation for Ordinals Market

This means that possession of an inscription shall be protected by the permanence and immutability of the Bitcoin timechain itself. However Bitcoin doesn’t implement possession of inscriptions, as a result of an inscription just isn’t “inscribed on a single satoshi” on the blockchain in any respect.

Because the “Ordinal Idea Handbook,” the information to Ordinal concept compiled by its builders, factors out:

“Satoshis stay in outputs” whereas “inscription content material is included in transaction witnesses.”

Whereas each output information and witness information are saved on the Bitcoin blockchain following the SegWit improve, claiming that inscription information is inextricably linked to an “inscribed” satoshi creates a deceptive notion that any such hyperlink is acknowledged by Bitcoin itself.

In actuality, the hyperlink between an inscription and a selected satoshi is manufactured off chain by a purpose-built exterior indexer. This pulls information from the Bitcoin blockchain and presents it in keeping with a sublime however finally centralized and arbitrary system of guidelines known as “Ordinal concept.” These guidelines are completely extraneous to the Bitcoin protocol itself, and have been described by their originator as akin to astrology.

Unfold Of The Inscription Fallacy

However in my opinion, statements in most of the locations the place Ordinal inscriptions will be created, seen, purchased and offered, as properly in media protection, don’t clarify the position of the Ordinal indexer clearly sufficient. Thus, the concept inscriptions are embedded “onto” or instantly “into” satoshis, and that the inscription information and a corresponding sat are inextricably linked throughout the Bitcoin protocol with out the necessity for an exterior indexer, has created a harmful fallacy for potential buyers.

Listed here are only a few examples of such statements:

“Ordinal Inscriptions, just like NFTs, are digital property inscribed on a satoshi, the bottom denomination of a Bitcoin.”


“…Ordinals are ‘inscribed’ onto a single satoshi… Inscribing is the method of placing a bit of knowledge onto the blockchain, the place it’s going to stay perpetually accessible and unchangeable.”

–“Coinbase Bytes” e-newsletter

“Every sat will be inscribed with information, akin to JPGs, GIFs, PDFs and extra, making a Bitcoin Ordinal which is then held in a pockets.”

–Gamma FAQ

“What are Bitcoin Ordinals? Launched in Jan 2023, they permit the creation of NFTs on the Bitcoin blockchain by attaching information to particular person satoshis utilizing a course of known as inscription.”

–Binance NFT Twitter account

“For the uninitiated, Ordinal Inscriptions, akin to NFTs, are digital property inscribed on satoshis (the smallest foreign money unit of bitcoin).”


“Ordinals inscribe a serial quantity onto a satoshi, the smallest foreign money unit of bitcoin.”


“Ordinals are inscribed instantly onto particular person Satoshi’s, that are then included in blocks on the Bitcoin blockchain.”


“…bitcoin community upgrades … enabled every satoshi … to retailer a couple of megabytes of knowledge, from textual content and pictures to audio and video.”


“Token features … are all achieved by inscribing information into satoshis, the smallest divisible unit of a bitcoin.”

–NYDIG e-newsletter

As acknowledged on the outset, this text doesn’t search to point out that Ordinal inscriptions are good or unhealthy. It merely spotlights the deceptive, typically sloppy, and maybe at instances scammy, methods they’re being introduced, which wrongly implies that Bitcoin itself will implement inscription possession with out the usage of an exterior software.

So, what will be completed to verify potential consumers of Ordinal inscriptions don’t fall sufferer to this fallacy? We are able to hold clearing up confusion by pointing it out.

It is a visitor put up by Bitcoms. Opinions expressed are completely their very own and don’t essentially mirror these of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Journal.

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