Reddit blockchain developers help
Commentary,  Ethereum

Reddit asks blockchain developers for help—but is it too big an ask?

The social network wants to hear from scaling projects for its crypto Community Points project that are cheap, fast, and able to handle 400 million-plus users. Oh, and there’s no prize for the successful developers

Reddit began experimenting with a crypto-based points system to much fanfare in April.

Reddit blockchain developers help
Snoo says: “Help me for free” (Photo: Reddit)

But now, as the social network has realized that there’s a major stumbling block if it wants to roll the feature out to all 430 million of its monthly users: Ethereum has scalability issues.

In a Reddit post on June 18, it was revealed that the company is appealing for developers who potentially have a solution to step forward.

This could be one of the biggest drivers for cryptocurrency adoption ever seen—exposing millions of people to digital assets for the first time.

However, the criteria’s a big ask: Reddit only wants to hear from developers with a live proof-of-concept that shows hundreds of thousands of transactions. The system must be easy to use, transactions must complete in seconds or minutes, and they must be free to end-users.

That old saying often wheeled out by grumpy web developers springs to mind: “Good, fast or cheap—pick two.”

‘The Great Reddit Scaling Bake-Off’

Reddit’s Community Points are based on the Ethereum blockchain. As reported by Modern Consensus in April, users earn them whenever they make valuable posts or contributions, and the tokens can be used to buy premium memberships, vote in weighted polls, and purchase things like badges, GIFs and animated emojis.

At present, the system is being put through its paces in two subreddits—the r/CryptoCurrency and r/Fortnite forums are the first to be exposed to Community Points—and somewhat surprisingly, the subreddit for the video game has experienced greater levels of adoption so far.

Reddit’s plea for help is in conjunction with the Ethereum Foundation, a non-profit organization that has the goal of supporting the blockchain.

“Our goal is to find a solution that will support hundreds of thousands of Community Points users on mainnet today, and can eventually scale to all of Reddit,” the post said. Reddit claims 430 million monthly users.

The company admitted that there are many scaling projects it isn’t aware of, adding: “We need the Ethereum community’s help to figure this out.”

Unfortunately, there’s one detail that might put off developers who might have the silver bullet: “This is your chance to earn some fame but, to be clear, there is no prize if your solution is chosen or modified to meet Reddit’s needs. Our lawyer made us write this,” Reddit said.

Can it be done?

According to some of those commenting underneath the post, there’s some interest in getting involved.

Evan Van Ness, who writes the newsletter, posted: “I’ve heard from a bunch of legit teams that they are planning to submit something for this.”

Another user, Sargos, described Reddit’s requirements as “the holy grail of scaling.”

And while some were disappointed at the lack of a financial incentive for getting involved, one user argued: “This shouldn’t be a deterrent to any serious scaling project. If any team is lacking resources to meet these requirements, please speak up. The Ethereum community has all sorts of processes to help fund high-quality projects.”

Prize fund or not, it would be a massive coup for any team or firm that manages to fit Reddit’s needs. 

The social network said it plans to share updates on its progress by September.

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Connor Sephton is a journalist with an interest in cryptocurrencies, personal finance, and financial inclusion—as well as the challenges the crypto industry faces in achieving mainstream adoption. He owns cryptocurrencies.