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 manner 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 in opposition to Bitcoin Ordinal inscriptions. Moderately, it argues in opposition to the complicated, inaccurate and generally doubtful methods they are often introduced, marketed and bought.

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’s not). 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 engaging to potential patrons.

Here’s a typical instance:

“Ordinals enable a wide range of knowledge, together with textual content, pictures, 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 implies that possession of an inscription can 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 is just not “inscribed on a single satoshi” on the blockchain in any respect.

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

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

Whereas each output knowledge and witness knowledge are saved on the Bitcoin blockchain following the SegWit improve, claiming that inscription knowledge 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 particular satoshi is manufactured off chain by a purpose-built exterior indexer. This pulls knowledge from the Bitcoin blockchain and presents it based on a sublime however in the end centralized and arbitrary system of guidelines known as “Ordinal principle.” These guidelines are fully extraneous to the Bitcoin protocol itself, and have been described by their originator as akin to astrology.

Unfold Of The Inscription Fallacy

However for my part, statements in most of the locations the place Ordinal inscriptions may be created, seen, purchased and bought, as effectively in media protection, don’t clarify the function of the Ordinal indexer clearly sufficient. Thus, the concept that inscriptions are embedded “onto” or straight “into” satoshis, and that the inscription knowledge 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 traders.

Listed here are just some examples of such statements:

“Ordinal Inscriptions, much like NFTs, are digital belongings 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 can stay ceaselessly accessible and unchangeable.”

–“Coinbase Bytes” e-newsletter

“Every sat may be inscribed with knowledge, comparable 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 knowledge 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 belongings inscribed on satoshis (the smallest forex unit of bitcoin).”


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


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


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


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

–NYDIG e-newsletter

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

So, what may be carried out to ensure potential patrons of Ordinal inscriptions don’t fall sufferer to this fallacy? We are able to preserve clearing up confusion by pointing it out.

It is a visitor submit by Bitcoms. Opinions expressed are fully their very own and don’t essentially replicate these of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Journal.

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