I'll Begin This Article With This Huge Link to 99Bitcoins Post On How To Claim CLAMs, Stellar Lumens, and ByteBall Because It Is So Useful.
Recently I began researching the altcoins you can "claim" by using the Bitcoins you currently hold or have previously held. I have found 3 altcoins you can claim for free by doing something with your current or previous Bitcoin holdings. Those 3 are CLAMs, Stellar Lumens, & Byteball. Let's take a quick look at each:
CLAMs: Created by dooglus, an OG of the Bitcoin & cryptography world. In May of 2014, dooglus took a snapshot of 3 blockchains: Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Dogecoin. If you can find a private key to any non-zero address contained in the snapshot, you can claim (as of this writing) about $23 worth of CLAMs per address. Because CLAMs are not distributed based on how much Bitcoin you have, but based on how many addresses you can prove, this claimable altcoin benefits the little guys & blockchain tinkerers the most. Old & empty Electrum wallets may still have some value in the change addresses, and if you were doing some walleting experiments during that time you may have a small fortune in now-empty addresses. What a great time to dig up old Blockchain.info wallets and find a few more addresses. Some of my first Bitcoin Core wallets have labled addresses when I was still just playing around with Bitcoin, sending from one to another just to see how the coinbase looked when viewing the transaction through an explorer. While this seems pretty clean & we all trust our man dooglus, there are certainly still risks in "digging" CLAMs.
ByteBall: Simply download the byteball client, talk with the "transition bot," sign an address with Bitcoin in it, and wait for the next airdrop. GBYTEs are distributed in direct proportion to how many Bitcoins are contained within the address. Not using a blockchain, Byteball uses some cryptographic blackmagicfuckery that I do not understand. It was written by a Russian guy. At current prices, you can claim around $60 worth of Byteball for every Bitcoin you control. Linking your Bitcoins to your Byteball may have risks, but not nearly the amount of risk as Stellar Lumens.
Stellar Lumens: Ready to get scared? You need a Facebook login to claim your Stellar. Boy that scares me. After you login with facebook, you must sign an address to claim your Stellar. At current prices, you can capture around $20 worth of Stellar Lumens for every Bitcoin you can prove. While free money is attractive, you will want to scroll down to my risk analysis below before firing.
It is worth restating that the best resource I found on this subject was a post by 99Bitcoins detailing how to claim your Clams, Stellar Lumens, and Byteball. If you decide to move forward, I know of no better resource on how to do so.
Now before you go signing addresses willy-nilly, it is important to understand the risks associated with doing so. These risks vary by altcoin, and I'll take you through my initial thoughts on each. This is by no means a complete discussion, but merely my first thoughts on possible consequence vectors that aspiring crypto-barons may not be thinking about:
Risk of Digging CLAMs: Because you must give up a private key to "dig" your CLAMs, you must first empty the address, should it still contain a positive balance. Another vector to think about is if that address will ever, even accidentally, have cryptocurrency in it again. While dooglus is one of the most trusted Bitcoin barons in the game, the digging system require you to turn over private keys, the most sacred of all things crypto. When digging up your CLAMs or claiming any of these linked altcoins, it is important to realize that if your identity is ever linked to your CLAMs, it could theoretically be linked to those old Bitcoins, Litecoins, or Dogecoins. Should you have been doin' dirt with those old addresses, you may want to think about passing.
Risk of Claiming ByteBall: While I will happily admit to not understanding the entire Byteball system, I do understand that to claim Byteball you must sign an address with Bitcoin currently in it. This action links your current Bitcoins to the GBYTEs you will receive. Let's do a brain experiment where your identity gets tied to a GBYTE transaction. I would assume it is now possible to link your identity to the Bitcoins used to create those GBYTEs. A blockchainless consensus method is really cool to me. Because I don't understand it, I could speculate wildly that Byteball is a grand scheme by the Russians to track Bitcoin users and attempt to discover the identities of large Bitcoin holders. While I don't really believe that to be the case here, I can't help but approach this as a paranoid nerd.
My main point is: