Reddit came close to becoming decentralized last year

Last year Reddit announced that it was building its own cryptocurrency and hired Bitcoin engineer Ryan X. Charles to build it. The plans were later scuttled, when the company restructured and Charles was let go.

In a post to his personal Medium blog today, Charles revealed that during his time at Reddit he not only worked on cryptocurrency but was hatching a plan to decentralize Reddit entirely.

News of the project comes as Reddit is grappling with censorship and subreddits continue to go offline.

He says that he approached then-CEO Yishan Wong in the summer of 2014 with the idea, who was excited by the plan and told him that the company had a “high-level plan” to decentralize Reddit in the works.

Here’s how such a structure would work, in Charles’ words:

Each user has an app, the reddit app, which connects to the reddit p2p network. For most users, the app is a normal web app. Each user funds their own app with a small amount of bitcoin. In order to download content, the user pays a very, very small amount of bitcoin to the peers on the network. This incentivizes people to keep the app open so as to keep servicing the other users.

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. If all the content is authenticated, we can be reasonably sure most payments are going to the right people.

The idea was that Reddit would still exist as a company, but wouldn’t have complete control of hosting the content. Instead, anyone could become a host and would be paid to do so.

There would be no way to reliable way to censor content delivered on the site, because no one person would control it.


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