Update: Here’s the link our AMA on Reddit.
I have been a “Redditor” for as long as I can remember. Checking Reddit has been a part of my daily routine for years and is my go-to website when I need to specific, curated, and quality information on a variety of topics. I’ve leaned on Reddit for everything to car maintenance to recommendations on how to run my previous businesses. Reddit was a strong part of my cryptocurrency education and was instrumental in my being able to land a job at a top crypto company in Origin Protocol. It was no surprise to me that many of the people I joined at Origin are active Redditors. After all, almost every crypto enthusiast I know is a diehard fan of the platform.
The Origin team was pleased to learn that Reddit recently took the third spot in Alexa’s most visited websites in the US list, surpassing Facebook and coming in after Google and YouTube. It’s not hard to see why the “front page of the Internet” is so popular. Much of the great content and conversation that propagates throughout the Internet and, increasingly, through traditional media, starts off on Reddit. The rising popularity of cryptocurrencies is no exception to this trend. We are thrilled to count Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, as an investor and friend to our project.
The decentralized nature of Reddit makes it a perfect fit for cryptocurrency discussion. Anyone can view the website without an account, and creating an account takes seconds and does not require an email address or phone number. Users can create “subreddits” or pages where posts about a particular topic or community are listed. Posts are submitted in a nearly permissionless fashion and the position of posts is determined by crowd voting. Users can upvote a post if they like it or think it is relevant or downvote a post they don’t think is useful. Anyone can comment on a post, and comments can also be up or downvoted. Users earn a karma score for their post or comment contributions.
Many of the early threads on /r/bitcoin, Reddit’s first cryptocurrency subreddit, would look familiar to someone browsing “crypto Reddit” today. People shared resources for learning the basics about cryptocurrency, signs of mainstream cryptocurrency adoption, cryptocurrency giveaways, and of course, price speculation and reaction. Some of the most interesting threads from the past are real time commentary to major news events like the Mt.Gox exchange hack and WikiLeaks accepting Bitcoin donations. Reddit was and remains a place for serious discussions about the technical and social aspects of cryptocurrencies. As we will discuss later, many influential people were themselves participating and influenced by the conversation about cryptocurrency happening on Reddit.
Want to know how Initialized Capital was the first seed check in Coinbase? A lot of it had to do with the fact that /r/bitcoin was such a robust Reddit community that Garry Tan and I were spending a lot of time lurking in. When Brian Armstrong presented that first vision of Coinbase, the early adopters on Reddit were evidence that it could actually come to fruition.
— Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and Initialized Capital
Magic Internet Money
On February 18, 2013, one of the moderators of /r/bitcoin, /u/theymos, asked the community to submit ideas for a Reddit ad to promote /r/bitcoin. As is often the case with crowdsourced ideas or contests, a “joke” submission became the most popular entry as well as one of the most popular Reddit ads of all time. This now legendary ad cemented itself in the cryptocurrency meme pantheon in an incredibly short amount of time. Paul Bars, the “2nd person to ever sell a car for Bitcoin”, wrote a great history of the ad and its impact. In the 22 days after the ad was published, /r/bitcoin grew from 56k subscribers to 74k and the price of Bitcoin rose from $287 to $1,132. There were probably many factors for this increase, but the ad remains an indelible part of the story.
The Comedy Central TV show South Park likely paid homage to the ad in an episode that aired shortly after its publication.
Enter the Doge
Late 2013 saw the rise of the doge meme and the creation of the “joke currency” Dogecoin on December 6, 2013 by Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer. Dogecoin was created on a whim after Jackson Palmer joked about investing in the yet-to-exist coin as a way to poke fun of the recent explosion of questionable “altcoins”. Dogecoin’s community was friendly and positive and encouraged things like tipping and charitable donations, setting it apart from many other altcoin communities. It was these friendly behaviors that put Dogecoin on the map with the mainstream.
In 3 months, Dogetipbot, a tipping service that allows Reddit users to tip each other, surpassed the total amount tipped using Bitcointip over a 12 month period. Not only that, Dogetipbot had nearly 30 times the number of tips and over 3 times the number of users of Bitcointip.
In 2014, the Jamaican bobsleigh had team qualified for the Winter Olympics in Sochi but did not have the funds to attend. Inspired by the movie Cool Runnings, loosely based on the 1988 Jamaican bobsleigh team, the Dogecoin community came together and donated $36,000 worth of Dogecoin to the Jamaican team in just two days. This caused the Dogecoin to Bitcoin exchange rate to rise by over 50%. The total amount raised eventually surpassed $129,000. The Dogecoin community also raised funds for Shiva Keshavan, a luge athlete representing India who had struggled to finance his competitive career despite stellar results.
Dogecoin was also used to donate $30,000 to build a well in Kenya and to sponsor NASCAR driver Josh Wise for $55,000. These charitable acts and fundraising efforts led to extensive mainstream coverage for Dogecoin and cryptocurrencies in general.
While Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous founder of bitcoin only posted publicly on Bitcoin Talk until late 2010, you can still find the founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, participating in public discussions on Reddit today as /u/vbuterin. Vitalik has participated in important and intense discussions on Reddit discussing the technical and financial foundations of Ethereum, the contentious hard fork of the Ethereum network after the DAO hack, and the planned move to proof of stake and sharding. He has not shied away from heated debates about other cryptocurrencies with their respective communities like IOTA and Bitcoin Cash. You can find a wide range of social and political commentary from him as well.
Challenges & Future
Fair and effective moderation of cryptocurrency discussion is a challenging task. Reddit has banned cryptocurrency ads since 2016, far before Facebook, Google, and Twitter. The voting and karma system as well as passionate volunteer moderators have gone a long way in keeping discussion from becoming totally toxic or subreddits from becoming completely astroturfed. Crypto subreddit subscriber numbers have grown at an incredible rate in 2017 and look poised to continue this trend. We want to give a huge shoutout to all the moderators and redditors who have helped make Reddit an indispensable place for cryptocurrency discussion.
To conclude, here are a few of our favorite cryptocurrency subreddits where you might catch the Origin team hanging out:
And last, but not least, please make sure to subscribe to our very own subreddit, /r/OriginProtocol. There you will find our team and community participating in active and open discussions about what Origin is building. We are striving to make this as inclusive and transparent a community as possible, and we welcome hard questions and intense discussion. Feel free to jump right in and say whatever is on your mind. Our open source nature, both from a technology and community perspective, is one of the things we are most proud to have etched into our company DNA.
See you this Thursday, August 9th at 11am PST for our AMA on /r/EthTrader. Be sure to add to your calendar and we’ll look forward to chatting with you there!
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