Reddit might not be as prominent as many of the major social media networks like Twitter or Facebook, but it is most definitely a huge driving force of the global online domain. It is a forum hybrid network that has a huge assortment of individual communities inside of its wider ecosystem. Because of this, the same website has been using the “front page of the internet” slogan for some time and at least for a huge part of the US online users, the same is more than true.
Of course, this makes it one of the most visited websites in the world overall and its popularity only seems to be growing, especially when considering that it comes with widespread apps for both Android and iOS marketplaces. At the same time, even though it is basically a more developed version of the classic forum, Reddit also has a range of unique features that have so far proven to be very popular. Its reward system is the best example and one of the most popular features that is unique to Reddit.
Now, the website’s operators are considering ramping up the same system and further expanding it. Inside of that expansion, there is testing going on right now which includes a reward mechanism that is based on a cryptocurrency token. The same token is built on top of the ETH coin from the ethereum network and if it ends up being the tech of choice for Reddit, the benefits for the second-largest cryptocurrency network in the world could be substantial.
Points and Perks
Reddit officially confirmed through a company spokesperson that they are trying to introduce blockchain as a means of supporting their perks and points system. The same is directly tied to Community Points, which is a new system for individual communities on subreddits to provide their users with some extra benefits. The technology behind the blockchain solution is the ethereum’s token on the ERC-20 standard.
The spokesperson explained that the platform is continually experimenting with ways to further support communities using Reddit. In this case, the same feature is being tested so that blockchain tokens can be used to measure and reward a level of involvement in a particular community. As always, Reddit is looking for feedback and new potential for making the platform more engaging to communities and users.
The whole principle of perks and points, like in many other digital ventures including gaming and esports for example, is based on a unified concept of engagement value. In the case of Reddit, this is the karma system. It has been around for a really long time and it is directly controlled by Reddit. Users do give out and take away karma points when they upvote and downvote, but prizes, which signify coins, or in-platform currency the users can spend on things like ad-free browsing or special emojis. These fall under the special membership domain where users can buy these coins using real-world currency and then award it to users they deem especially funny, insightful, engaging and so forth.
Now, with the ethereum network in the mix, the users would be able to access those coins from different vectors, not just Reddit itself. At the same time, the karma points would also reside on the blockchain and essentially be owned by no one else but the users. In that case, even Reddit itself could not take them away. So, in their very basic form, the merger of the karma system and a blockchain would be putting the old-style karma points on steroids. Furthermore, it would do it in a way that would not create any issues with the users who enjoy the system without knowing how it actually works.
Naturally, for all of this to work, the users on Reddit would need to have a basic wallet function as well which would store their personal points. The same wallet would need to be accessible in the popular Reddit mobile app, as well as the browser version many use on their computers. This is a complex endeavor so only a small number of them have been rolled out so far. Presently, the wallets only showcase the users’ total balance, which is not a lot in terms of functionality. Yet, it is still an ethereum blockchain wallet from the technical side.
This means that whenever a user creates an account, the blockchain would need to generate their private key as well as a public address. Also, it is still now precisely known what the next steps in wallet functionality would be. The most logical one would be to give users the ability to trade with their points or even to exchange them for other cryptocurrencies or fiat currencies. However, that would in itself mean that Reddit is creating its fully-fledged cryptocurrency token. As the Facebook Libra experience shows, this might not be the best move even for huge entities that would otherwise very much want to see that possibility, at least from a financial standpoint.
Upcoming Reddit Work
Throughout all of this, Reddit itself has never formally acknowledged that it is experimenting on this test karma system with the ethereum network. Yet, experts and specialized media professionals have no doubt that this is the case. The co-founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian is a well-known public supporter of cryptocurrencies going back to at least 2018. The company is also known for offering support to crypto payments for many years. Besides, Ohanian’s venture company funded a range of crypto products, including games built on the ethereum platform.
Yet, at the same time, it is clear that Reddit is not all-in on the introduction of blockchain at this point. Instead, it is likely testing out the waters as it tries to gauge the best possible options. In recent weeks, the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies wildly oscillated, so any experiments for crypto payments at this point would be unwise, to say the least. But, using ethereum’s versatile token for things like the karma system on Reddit makes absolute sense – thus, the company is likely simply waiting to see if they should roll out an even bigger testing process in the coming months.