Imagine you're with some friends and walking down a downtown street, looking for a place to eat. One of your friends sees a sign for a place that looks interesting. As you approach, you look inside the large windows into the dining area, and see a table of men who are clearly neo-Nazis.
Do you go in to eat anyway? I wouldn't.
There are a lot of variables at play here, but for the purpose of the analogy, imagine you have no doubt that those dudes you are looking at are straight up racist garbage. For me, even if the restaurant looks like it has decent quality food and the atmosphere seems enjoyable, the presence of this group of people who I have zero respect for raises so many questions in my mind about what kind of establishment the place is, that I'm going to tell my friends we should keep looking.
A similar kind of thing happens online. Have you heard of Voat? It was, maybe still is, a contender to rival Reddit. I'm not sure of Voat's current status, because it seems that if you go to the site, you are directed to a login page without any option to look at any content before having an account. Something I can't be bothered to do right now, because when I checked it out a few years ago, it was like looking into that restaurant with the table of Nazis.
There was probably a lot of other content on Voat that wasn't gross, but I don't know. Certain content is like one tiny drop of petroleum in a cup of water. Very little makes the whole thing undrinkable. I saw enough garbage to kill my motivation to find out how much was not garbage.
A while back, there was some issue with Reddit's CEO changing or some other issue that Reddit fanatics thought was important. Lots of Reddit users were talking about how there needs to be another, less censored version of Reddit. That's when I heard of Voat and decided to check it out.
It wasn't that I was experiencing any problems in using Reddit, but I'd like to have eggs spread out into multiple baskets if possible. I don't like that Reddit is largely a singular player in the kind of service it provides. But I gave up, because Voat was not the alternative I was looking for.
The reasons why are worth thinking about, because I feel like there is a gap in the world of Bitcoin Cash based online services, and that is a decent BCH based Reddit clone.
I think a BCH based Reddit is a no-brainer in terms of taking services people clearly want and making them better with BCH. With respect to the makers of this very site, a Reddit clone would be have even more potential impact than how Read.cash clones Medium. Medium already has a model of paying contributors, so Read.cash has a slightly harder time differentiating itself on the benefits of BCH over other payment systems.
One time, on Reddit, I posted a comment in response to someone asking about why people laugh. I wrote a book about my own theory of how the human brain processes humor, so it's a topic I can dive deep into. I ended up answering a bunch of peoples questions, and racked up a few thousand Reddit upvotes.
Which means just about nothing.
Sure, there's some tiny value in getting upvotes in that it gives you a vague sense of validation, and a minor amount of credibility.
But how much more awesome would it be if each of those votes was worth 0.1 cents? An amount so trivial that everyone feels it's no burden to press the upvote icon, but in aggregate the people getting upvoted get a nice little kickback for having provided content people want. That would be incredible.
Almost nothing else needs to change. Just have Reddit as it is now, except that votes have objective, real world value. If such a site existed, then it could very well be a challenger to Reddit itself. I think we can all see that if you could convincingly tell people, "Do everything you do on Reddit but you can also earn from it," then that would be very enticing.
Of course, there are challenges specific to BCH that make it hard to make that happen. In addition to the very important issues of BCH price volatility, there's also the difficulty of buying it in small enough amounts.
But those are technical issues, and I believe they are solvable. Exactly how is a topic deserving its own article. But, just so that the question isn't distracting by a lack of any answer at all, I think they're solvable by creating a token so that people don't vote in BCH, but vote in increments that obscure the volatility. I intend to write about that sometime soon.
The point I want to get to here is that a third, slightly more murky obstacle to creating a BCH based Reddit clone has to do with the ideologies of the BCH community.
There is a project of creating a BCH based Reddit, called Member. I haven't looked at every aspect of its technical merits, so I can't tell you if it's good or bad in terms of the underlying code. I'm going to assume it's fine.
But I don't have much confidence it will get anywhere, and that's because, from what I can tell, the underlying philosophy behind its construction is not geared towards making it popular.
Going by what I've read about it on r/btc, the posts themselves, or some record of them, are somehow stored on the blockchain. And this has to do with keep things provable and verifiable and safe and all that. This probably has a lot to do with how many people on the r/btc subreddit feel that the r/bitcoin subreddit unfairly removes posts and controls the narrative to push a certain agenda. Coming from that background, you can see how some people might be motivated to create a form of Reddit where posts have a sort of permanent record.
The goal seems to be to build a system where there is enough transparency and accountability so that no one can be censored. Unfortunately, this is likely to kill any chance at adoption.
Voat also aspired to be "censorship free." Without getting bogged down in the details of what exactly "censorship" means and how it manifests, the intention was to try and create methodologies in how the site works so that no human can come in and seize the position of a moderator with too much control and have too much influence in any one community.
It's a noble aim in theory, but in practice, it's a huge Achilles heel.
The first people who sign up to something marketed as "censorship free" are the people who have not found a home in other, more generalized communities, where they were rejected for their gross ideas. Their bigotries, their exclusions, their biases, their hostility.
So what you get is Voat. A place that quickly gets a reputation as a home of the incels, the racists, the hateful, the gross. If you think Voat is not a good example because it never reached enough critical mass, consider 4chan. 4chan had years to establish itself, has a fair amount of traffic, but nonetheless still has to contend with a reputation as being a hotbed of problematic viewpoints that inhibits its mass adoption, market appeal, and profitability. Is it even profitable? I don't know.
Censorship is a bad thing, but it matters how you define censorship and at what level you fight to keep things free.
The internet itself should be censorship free. Everyone should be allowed to make a website. But within individual websites, the people who run them should be able to cultivate their communities. Censorship is fought on the level where people should be able to choose to go to other websites.
Similarly, Bitcoin Cash itself should be free to use by anyone for any purpose. But any one buyer or seller can choose for themselves what business they want to engage in.
For a Reddit clone to work, someone has got to take the reigns and impose community standards so that users who enter feel it's a safe place where they can look at pictures of cats or whatever without feeling like they might get attacked by some angry incel for some random reason.
Moderating a site is an art, not a science, and there's also some luck involved in terms of which content providers and consumers show up. The only way to really deal with those unavoidable variables is for a few different groups to launch their own Reddit clones with slightly different approaches to community building, and see which ones get the best response. In an ideal world, there would be two or three good Reddit clones, a healthy competition that keeps any one of them from monopolizing that category of service.
There is a heavy ideological slant in the BCH community to view any inhibition on freedom of speech as fundamentally problematic. They want to get human intervention out of the way, and make technological constraints that are objective and dispassionate. With the right constraints in place, you can set it and forget it. Build it, and they will come.
But it matters who comes first. Later when you have critical mass, you might be able to have a strong enough community that general attitudes push out unwelcome extremes.
But to start with, someone has to keep the Nazis out of the restaurant. If they don't, no matter how great a Reddit clone based on BCH could be, most people won't come in to find out.
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