The cryptocurrency sector has a language problem.
As razor sharp as co-founder and CEO Ryan Selkis’ analysis may be, it’s quite a sweary read. The word “shit” appears nine times, while “fuck” also gets nine mentions throughout the document.
He described the likes of Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV as “piles of shit”—and then blasted XRP and Stellar as “toxic waste.”
A day later, the trading platform apologized for posting it—writing: “We did not complete a thorough enough review of the 130+ page report before it was published. This is on us, we should have done better.”
Selkis himself said he regretted putting Bitstamp into such a situation, and said he was merely trying to inject a bit of levity into his analysis. He tweeted:
“Humor is the only thing that keeps people reading 134-page reports in a 280-character world.”
But here’s the thing. The crypto industry is a space with a market cap of $558 billion—one that’s finally getting recognition from institutions after more than a decade of attempting to establish itself as an asset class to be reckoned with. And although F-bombs might be entertaining for young twenty-somethings with a few dollars to play around with, it’s not what seasoned investors expect… or need.
Bloomberg wouldn’t do this
Can you imagine turning on Bloomberg or CNBC, only to be told that you shouldn’t invest in Tesla because it’s “shit”?
No. Broadcast rules aside, it’s not something that one of these publications would generally utter outside of a direct and pertinent quote (or an article about cursing) on air or in print. They’re organizations that take their responsibility of informing investors seriously. They’re aware people are watching because they’re making decisions about money—and they’re not interested in seeing something humorous.
The point of this article isn’t that swearing should be outlawed, nor that Messari’s analysis isn’t good. The point is that the crypto industry is finally reaching maturity—with millions of people gaining exposure to digital assets through PayPal, banks preparing to offer custody services, and some companies acquiring thousands of Bitcoins to hold in reserve.
Discussing crypto issues like you’re in a bar with your mates can’t cut it anymore. Informal terms such as “hodl,” “rekt,” “lambo,” and “moon” also need to be consigned to the scrapheap. It’s language like this that creates an “us and them” mentality in crypto—and makes everyday investors feel like digital assets aren’t for them. The industry also continues to be dominated by confusing metrics and unnecessarily verbose language that can make people feel like they need a PhD to own crypto.
Language matters, and in many cases, the crypto industry isn’t doing itself many favors. Now more than ever, the focus should be on clarity and professionalism. If the goal is to encourage people to invest their hard-earned cash in digital assets—a volatile space where people have lost substantial sums of money—the industry needs to have a word with itself.