A few weeks ago, Reddit announced a new pilot program built on Ethereum. It’s great news for adoption and we wanted to dig in a bit more into the background…
What’s Reddit Again?
Reddit is a collection of discussion boards (called subreddits) on various topics where members can upvote or downvote posts. It has an enormous (and devoted) userbase with 430 million monthly active users and 150 million pages visited each day. Reddit proclaims itself to be “The Front Page of the Internet” and it’s kinda true: viral videos and stories that you read on Buzzfeed or see syndicated on local news often come from Reddit.
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Along with its massive popularity and influence, it’s important to understand Reddit’s reputation system for its users, called Karma. When you submit a post and it gets a bunch of upvotes, you get more Karma points. When your post gets downvoted, you get less. Karma is a coveted metric as it can increase the number of people who see your posts. It’s also a point of pride for users. More Karma means you’ve used Reddit for a while and people support your posts.
What Are Community Points?
Earlier this month, Reddit announced they were launching a pilot program called Community Points. Community Points, in the words of Reddit, allow users to “earn Points by contributing to the community, for example by submitting quality posts and comments.”
Sounds like the existing Karma reputation system, right? Well, there’s a twist. Reddit has built their Community Points on Ethereum, the blockchain network. Community Points are digitally represented as tokens on the blockchain: 1 Community Point on Reddit is mirrored by 1 Community Point on the Ethereum blockchain.
Why Are Community Points on the Blockchain?
Alexis Ohanian, husband of Serena Williams and cofounder of Reddit, is a believer in cryptocurrencies and blockchain networks. His venture capital firm was one of the first backers of Coinbase, now one of the most popular cryptocurrency products. He’s a consistent supporter and cheerleader for cryptocurrencies.
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The explainer for the Community Points program describes the current landscape of the internet as being a far cry from the “free frontier” it was when it first started.
It goes on to describe the consolidation of the Internet into walled platforms, which trapped users and limited possibility.
Last, it talks about the potential for users to reclaim their “ownership of the frontier,” presumably through blockchain networks.
For now, it seems Reddit is hoping to push blockchain adoption by acting as a mainstream onboarding tool between its enormous audience and the Ethereum blockchain.
What Does This Release Look Like?
As this is a pilot program, Reddit is only implementing Community Points on two subreddits: r/Cryptocurrency (1M subscribers) and r/FortNiteBR (1.3M subscribers). Each subreddit has a different logo representing its Points, r/Cryptocurrency’s are “Moons” and r/FortNiteBR’s are “Bricks”.
A user’s Community Points are stored in a “Vault,” which is only available on the Reddit mobile app. The Vault contains a user’s private and public keys used to claim, trade or spend tokens on the Ethereum network. Moons and Bricks are distributed monthly based on a user’s participation on the subreddit and will show up in the Vault. Users can use Reddit’s Vault feature or send their tokens to an Ethereum wallet.
Moons and Bricks have their own smart contracts (separate programs deployed to the Ethereum blockchain) deployed to Ethereum. Assuming it’s rolled out generally, each subreddit would have its own smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain.
Why Is This a Big Deal?
Blockchain has still not reached mainstream adoption and Reddit’s program exposes blockchain to a larger audience. Reddit not only has a large user base, but it also holds real cultural cache due to its unique position on the Internet. The fact that they are using blockchain and Ethereum is really exciting.
Reddit has also created a solid onboarding experience for its users by walking them through setting up a Vault and integrating blockchain directly with two popular subreddits. They’re using a process called meta-transactions (which you can learn more about here) to help facilitate the sometimes-tricky process of submitting Ethereum transactions.
Reddit is also doing this with (at least partly) the idealistic intention of helping to build the broader blockchain and internet community. Identifying Ethereum as the best place to leverage these intentions is a great vote of confidence for both blockchain and Ethereum.
The pilot program will run through Summer 2020. The Community Points team is running a Bug Bounty on the overall Community Points system, targeting the Moon and Brick contracts.
There have been a couple really interesting learnings already:
- FortNite’s subreddit has four times as much activity already, despite only being 30% more subreddit members! Initially, it may seem strange that the videogame crowd outdoes cryptocurrency. However, videogames like FortNite, which have microtransactions and in-game purchases, are thought to be a big adoption play for Ethereum. Check out the Reddit Community Points on-chain stats here. My personal opinion is that Reddit is hoping the “ready to do paid collaborations” Epic Games, which owns FortNite, might be interested in a blockchain collaboration.
- Fuel Labs, “a company focused on sustainable scaling for Ethereum with optimistic rollups,” built a really cool demo of their scaling mechanism for Reddit Community Points. Called Reddit Cash, they use optimistic roll-ups and the Burner Wallet to dramatically lower the cost of transactions to exchange Community Points. This would be interesting for Reddit as the company is currently paying the gas fees for Ethereum transactions (although it is on a testnet so it’s essentially play-money). Read their r/Cryptocurrency post here.
This is an excellent development for public blockchains generally and Ethereum specifically. It’s a great use case from a company with an enormous audience. They’re using their technical knowledge to engineer easy onboarding to Ethereum. The possible crossover with FortNite would be phenomenal. The entire project is—to put it in a language Redditors would understand—amaze-balls.
We can’t wait to see what happens next.
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