Move Past Buzzwords

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read
Move Past Buzzwords

Reddit got some headlines over the weekend with their move to crypto, and the reactions have been exactly what you’d expect.

  • Web3 enthusiasts are like “YASSSS THE FUTURE!”
  • Crypto critics were like “oh great, not Reddit is wasting more electricity.”
  • Most people were like “what the fuck is even happening?”

I consider myself pretty technically savvy. I work in tech, I have been a tech enthusiast ever since my family got out first computer in 1995, and I think I have a pretty open mind for the future of tech. That said, stuff like this just makes my eyes glaze over. Here’s a bit from Reddit’s explainer:

People earn Points by contributing to the community, for example by submitting quality posts and comments. Based on these contributions, the community ultimately decides how many Points each person receives.

Ok, so far so good…I earn Reddit points when I contribute to a community on Reddit.

Your Community Points exist on the blockchain, independently of Reddit, where they can only be controlled by you. Neither Reddit nor moderators can take your Points away or decide what you do with them. It’s all up to you.

So my point totals live on the blockchain and Reddit reaches out to the blockchain to know how many points I have. Neither Reddit nor moderators can take them away, which I would have hoped would be the case before, but okay, now they definitely can’t I guess.

This is probably where a Web3 bro would tell me “if the community gets popular you can sell your points and make money, lets fucking goooooo!” And I mean, sure, I guess so, but who’s buying these? Am I selling my community points to people who want to get instant clout in a subreddit? Someone rich trying to accumulate a super-majority of points? Turning it around, as a member of the community, why would I ever want to buy points from someone else?

I’m also sure that believers will tells me that since the points exist on the blockchain, Reddit doesn’t control them, but everything I see in this rollout is that these tokens are only useful on Reddit and are entirely dependent on Reddit existing to be worth anything. These points are worthless outside of Reddit, so their decentralized nature doesn’t seem that exciting.

Maybe Reddit points should be called “internet points” and everything you do earns or loses you internet points. Then those points follow you around everywhere and determine how you experience everything in the real and digital worlds. Oh shit, did I just describe a Black Mirror episode?

Maybe this post will age like milk, but I think right now I think that if crypto enthusiasts want the rest of the world to take them seriously, they need to move past the buzzwords and show us why crypto is meaningfully better than existing solutions.