It's worth following altcoins a little bit (npi) not just because of the experiments in technology but also because of the experiments in human psychology. Here's a review of what I learned from 42coin.
I was attracted to 42coin because I'm a numerologist and sure I like Douglas Adams too, but mostly just because I am a coin collector. Back in the day I kept a couple dozen or so blockchains on my laptop.
So anyway, 42 is described as a "limited supply" coin, with "only 42 to ever be released". Of course the absolute number of total coins, be it 42 or 21 million, matters not in the least. That is just a gimmick. But who cares? It's fun right? If you have to pick a number, pick a fun one.
So I went and placed an order with some pocket change and sure enough the price dropped to 42 BTC and my order was filled. Being a gambler I placed some sell orders as well, and sold most of my stash at 84 a bit later. Then I bought a bit more at 4.2, and finally dumped the rest at about 6 if I recall correctly.
So the interesting bit came when I actually looked at the code. Typically the first thing I do when checking out a BTC clone is to look in main.cpp and search for the word "subsidy", to check out the economics. The function "getBlockValue" determines the coinbase reward and hence the money supply. What I saw surprised me: the reward was set to be 0.00042 per block, forever. In other words, no limited supply. No cap at 42!
I went over to the forums and sure enough, some other folks had noticed this too. Because I was fresh from designing woodcoin, I spent an hour or two writing a nice solution for 42, which slowly reduced the reward to ensure there would never be more than 42 coins. Just for lolz of course.
So, I submitted my pull request and went back to the forum. Guess what? The guy who ran the code repo on github thought ~I~ was the coin developer, and had no idea what was going on. Read his comments there for a laugh. A couple other folks on the forum also thought I was the coin developer (apparently a guy called Hendo), who were angry at me for running a scamcoin. Lol right? Well, there are pages of comments, pools, and people trading this coin. Surely somebody will care? In the end, one pool operator (thanks mate, you are remembered) ran my code for a day or so and gave up. In the end nobody was interested in a smoothly reducing supply curve. This was Nov. 2014.
So, fast forward to July 2015. 41.9 coins in circulation. What is going to happen here? There are still pools for this thing, people trading it. A market cap of 150 BTC or so. Surely somebody will care to try to cap the supply. Right?
Wrong. It appears that nobody has mined even a single block of capped 42coin as it was described in all the literature that mentions it. As one poster put it:
Honestly - do you really think people cared about the whole 42 coin cap thing? Quite the gimmick, like so many alt coins.
Well, I for one think it's kind of important. The 21 million cap is kind of important too. The money supply is kind of important to economics really, supply and demand remember? And you know: we will be having this discussion on mainnet. If the miners decide, and they are zombies, they probably will just keep taking the reward. It's a potential fork any time there is a different idea about what the coinbase reward should be.
So I had this scenario in my head where the biggest 42coin holders would bring out their coin, dump it on Cryptsy on the chain that has now passed 42 coins total, keeping their coin on the capped 42 chain. Because in the end, it's the market that will make or break this kind of fork.
Of course this scenario assumes that there are people who actually care about the coin. In our current discussion, that is not the case. Miners mined, craptsy crapped, and people went on saying "oh 42, so valuable". Well, not really. As the number of outstanding coins on the chain everybody sat on went past 42, the price dropped by yet another 50% or so. So, watch the zombie stumble off and enjoy the show.
On a more interesting note, I saw 42s all over the place as we reached 42 coins in circulation. Prices, times.. everywhere. Then later I started noticing the 43s. It's a sign.