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The Decentral Authority (avc.com)
38 points by elmar on July 6, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 30 comments


The practical and social problems of distributed/decentralized social networks seems to far outweigh the gains in terms of anti-censorship/network resilience.

Reddit already suffers from a thing known as 'karma whoring', where users will work hard simply to gain karma points, often to the detriment of the quality of the community they're interacting with.

Karma points have absolutely no financial benefit or real worth outside of the status some internet denizens attach to them. I have struggled to imagine a single way of introducing financial incentives for Reddit participation that wouldn't ultimately fall prey to this.

It's also hard to conceive how moderation/curation might work in a distributed/decentralized system.

To put it simply, I've come to the conclusion that censorship is an often required tool in creating internet communities where everyone can feel welcome and safe.

I'm not sure how that would work in a distributed system.


I had this idea a while ago and started trying to write it. I really hope something comes out of all of the different approaches people are taking to this problem.

To put it simply, I've come to the conclusion that censorship is an often required tool in creating internet communities where everyone can feel welcome and safe.

I'm not sure how that would work in a distributed system.

The solutions has been implemented at least twice, first with Newsgroups kill files and now with Twitter's block lists.

Users would publish a feed with messages and user that they think should be blocked, and others could subscribe to those feeds. To diminish moderator abuse, you could tell your client to only block messages/users which have been blocked by two or more of people.


(1) Reddit is in the news now. Fred's post also mentions the challenge of how to manage a social site, e.g., Reddit, that depends on a lot of volunteer workers.

(2) Fred is highly interested in nearly everything about BitCoin and blockchains.

(3) Fred runs a popular blog, AVC.com, and he regards it as an important part of his business as a VC. In this blog, Fred sees himself as a bartender who watches as others interact.

In addition, IMHO, Fred likes to toss out ideas that are easy to comment on because they are deliberately incomplete and can easily be made more complete or deliberately not very good or very well supported so that they can easily be improved on.

So, he tossed out something about social site management and the blockchain. From 50,000 feet up, the point of mentioning a blockchain for site management is that a blockchain can be distributed in various respects.

In particular, with that post, Fred kept up interest in social sites, one of his favorite ideas, "a large collection of engaged users" that can form a barrier to entry, and blockchain. And he got some thoughtful comments.

Some of the commenters may have spent more time on their comments than Fred did on his post!

It seems like "blockchain" is the new "NoSQL". Blockchains are designed for specific use cases, they aren't a generic powerup that you just bolt onto your idea to make it a distributed awesomeness machine.

Balaji would like a word with you


>Conceptually, we believe that embedded mining will ultimately establish bitcoin as a fundamental system resource on par with CPU, bandwidth, hard drive space, and RAM.

Yes. Decentralized, mutable, singletons. You almost never need the "singleton" part. Money, assets, titles are the exception.

Very misleading title, extremely stupid concept.

Really all this article suggests is a p2p network where you are paid small amounts of BTC to be a peer (and pay to access other peers) and upvotes send BTC to the poster. It's a ludicrous idea that would never work. Reddit works because, among other things, votes/karma is worthless. Everyone's vote counts equally and everyone can vote on everything once. To tie voting to BTC or incentivize people to scam/cheat/lie for real money is just idiotc.

Also the blockchain will not be used to "host" the new reddit and other people (wrong people) have suggested.

Now an identity linked to the blockchain, used to access a decentralized reddit of nodes that contained subreddits which could be synced to other nodes (think newsgroups/usenet) but with anyone being able to run a node and set retention rates on posts/comments might work. Anyone could archive off bits and pieces of it (a la google groups) but some might only be hosted on 1 node or require some kind of key or password to access the content so "dark" sub reddits. The big problem is voting, and I'm not sure if a system like this could support anonymous voting. I'm guessing not but I'm no expert.

Reddit couldn't work if upvotes were worthless. Upvotes have a time value associated with them. Also there is a market for them. A quick google for "buy reddit upvotes" exposes a large grey market facilitating the exchange of upvotes for cash.

Everyone can vote on everything once is also suspect, since many users have secondary accounts.

So at reddit, voting is already tied to an incentive like BTC, and until the censorship incidents it was working rather well.

Not only voting, posting articles too. When you receive a tip you can convert it to cash so this is a real ($$$) connection between the virtual and real world.

I find it encouraging that someone hates the idea so strongly. This idea has potential.

Url changed from http://recode.net/2015/07/05/fred-wilson-the-next-reddit-wil..., which points to this. Title changed from "Fred Wilson: The Next Reddit Will Likely Be Built on the Bitcoin Blockchain" to Fred's actual title.

Submitters: HN prefers original sources, especially when some site has shamelessly ripped off somebody else's work and stuck a baitylicious title on it. Please do your due diligence and post the real thing. The community will appreciate it, and the discussion will be better, since ripoffs tend also to be dumb.

To be fair, Fred just ripped off somebody else and provided a little of his own analysis:


I'm not sure that's fair. But since that article is currently on the front page [1] and we shouldn't have two threads about this, we'll downweight this one.

1. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9836677

Thanks for the link, I didn't see that.

I actually created something like this for the LA Hacks Hackathon last year. http://challengepost.com/software/coinama-vote-with-your-wal...

The idea was a reddit-style AMA site where questions would each get a bitcoin address assigned to them. The Bitcoin sent to that address would be a bounty for the AMA subject to be able to claim after answering.

All this type of stuff has been predicted 5+ years ago on the bitcoin forums. The tricky part is getting a userbase and making it easy for regular folk.

I honestly don't understand the necessity or want for something like this. I get that people want their community detached from corporate interest, and that they don't want censorship involved with their communications and ideas... but as the article passingly mentions, the technology is coming out of groups that have a reasonable monetary incentive to push it.

I for one am hesitant to rely on a 'reddit p2p network' for which I have to seed with bitcoins.

Are there any estimates and just how much that cost/"incentive" per user is?

> Furthermore, when a user upvotes content, that sends a small amount of bitcoin to the author of that content, thus incentivizing the production of good content

How do you deincentivize folks from gaming that? Would we potentially run into a situation where new forms of online publishing are going to arise, where instead of being funded by Google Ads they are now funded directly by users liking their content? Will curators of cat pictures become overnight millionaires?

> I honestly don't understand the necessity or want for something like this.

Here's what I wrote elsewhere:

"Imagine you're a programmer. For us coding geeks, sites like Stack Overflow are a lifeline to getting work done. In fact, we're reasonably convinced that when Stack Overflow goes down, all programming around the world just stops. (Well, at least that's the excuse we use.) Yet, when we read an answer from someone who has fixed that (Javascript) problem we've spent hours debugging, we want to kiss that person's feet with the appropriate Wayne's World salute. It's times like those when a thank you and a (worthless) upvote just don't seem enough. That person saved us from hours of wasted effort and aggravation. That geek deserves more."

tl/dr: I want it because I don't expect something for nothing. If someone provides me value, I want to exchange something in return.

Basically, a lot of VCs are going to start referring to "blockchain" as a new/different kind of data store.

There may be times when building something on the blockchain makes a really big difference (i.e. payments or other spaces in which trust really matters, or the combination of data being publicly available yet encrypted for private parties matters).

There will also be times when people advocate building x on the blockchain and x could really be built with any *SQL database, but blockchain is sexy right now.

This is one of those ideas that is either brilliant or complete nonsense. I'll let time tell us which one is correct.

Surprise, it's only going to take 9 minutes it looks like, I'll go ahead and spoil the ending it's complete nonsense.

Please don't post unsubstantive comments, especially dismissive unsubstantive comments. Thoughtful criticism is welcome, but glib sarcasm degrades the threads.

I went more indepth it above here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9836496 (before I posted this comment) but I get what you are saying. Sorry.

Do you mean Bitcoin or the subject of the article?

In my view the only way this would work is on a "Decentralized Autonomous Organization" model.


Forgive my ignorance, but where is content hosted? Can you start with and lurk with zero bitcoin or do transactions have to take place for everything?

This sounds like a blunt combination of popular terms

Does anyone have any examples of anyone proclaiming the wonders of bitcoin at length, without also having a strong financial vested interest in it?

Then the question would be, 'why isn't this person investing in Bitcoin if they believe in it so strongly?'

Yeah, I thought about that, but you'd think there would be at least one or two high-profile voices talking it up that didn't have millions of dollars riding on it.

Back in the mid 90s of those expounding on the potential and promise of the internet some no doubt had direct financial ties to its further development, but many others likely didn't, academics, govt people, etc.

Are there any academics, or NGO people, or similar who are super excited about bitcoin, or have some insight into future applications?

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