When it comes to crypts, everyone loves to talk about "community".
Every cryptocurrency has one, we are led to believe, but often the community is not just a channel of Telegram full of requests for "@admin wen airdrop".
There is a cryptocurrency, however, so the word is nothing but a cliché. Obviously I'm talking about XRP, the second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, which is strictly – if contentiously – associated with the Ripple startup, based in San Francisco.
"It has become a second family for me," TplusZero, one of the most active and followed XRP members on Twitter, told CoinDesk.
Search for XRP-related content on Twitter and you'll find yourself in thousands of accounts dedicated mainly or entirely to XRP and the surrounding ecosystem – which, in addition to Ripple, includes startups like Coil, which aims to help content creators monetize their web pages.
Some big names will soon become familiar: XRP Trump, Hodor, Tiffany Hayden, Bank XRP. Apparently nothing happens in the XRP world without these accounts being aware of it, and if they happen to miss an update, there are dozens of other accounts ready to report it.
It's a whole constellation of forums, blogs and YouTube channels that feed a hungry XRP audience, but Twitter is probably the centerpiece of the XRP community (especially its English speaking contingent), and several people I've talked to they created Twitter account for the first time only to participate in the XRP conversation.
XRP Twitter is perpetually in turmoil with the discussion on the merits of XRP and the challenges – none of these unsurpassable, of course – that is on the path of mass adoption in cross-border payments (its main use case) and beyond.
Many of these discussions are deeply rooted, assuming a detailed understanding of the Ripple suite of products, the incumbent cross-border payment infrastructure and the XRP Ledger consensus protocols. After all, this is encrypted, and most of the joke is rah-rah.
For many in the community, the "mooning" of XRP (crypto jargon for astronomical price gains) is a past conclusion – the only question is when. Ripple Me This, a bull among the XRP bulls, told CoinDesk: "I describe this as the opportunity for different lives", adding, "those who recognize the opportunity and position themselves accordingly will be the next 1 percent. " The account has since been suspended.
Many XRPers believe that the legitimate place of money is not just at the top of the cryptocurrency hierarchy, but at the center of the "Internet of Value", a technological revolution that promises to allow money to move easily as the e-mail:
The community's favorite hashtags – # 0doubt, #xrpthestandard – serve as a kind of shortcut for this narrative of universal hyper-XRP-ization.
& # 39; Shill is strong & # 39;
Of course, every cryptic "community" worthy of the name has carved out a niche in social media where their geek and optimism can thrive. So what makes XRP special – or influential?
To paraphrase another choice for the most influential series of this year, Changpeng "CZ" Zhao, the CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange Binance: force.
In a recent Tweet, CZ complimented the community – at least, they took it as a compliment – saying "the base xrp is strong". In this case, he referred specifically to the drive to make XRP negotiable against any other resource on the exchange.
"Take it from your system," CZ urged, "and put all your shillings under this tweet, and see how much we get." It would be difficult to exaggerate the intensity of the shilling – word of CZ – contained in the 3,400 responses that followed.
Below is an example that captures the tone of responses (and shows off the strength of the often ignored – at least in the West – Japanese XRP contingent):
The community does not need invitations to present the case for XRP, of course, and will frequently participate in exchanges, intermediaries, media and others, urging them to list, cover, respect, promote or simply recognize XRP.
The most recent push? A writing campaign for a Twitter of the Bank of England poll.
The XRP army
Given their ability to mobilize in support of their favorite asset, it should come as no surprise that the XRP community can also be mobilized in its defense. And when that happens – when the community feels that XRP is threatened – their ingenious charm melts.
Meeting with the XRP Army: the community on the FUD combat warpath (the image below is taken from a thread that I will elaborate further).
Short for "fear, uncertainty and doubt", the FUD refers in theory to unfounded criticisms that are intended to discourage research or to invest in its goal. In practice, however, there seems to be almost zero space to question the XRP without being chosen as a FUDster: all criticism is unfounded criticism. It will also be the statements made by Ripple to the media attached such as fabrications if they do not conform to the narrative.
What is the difference between the troll of XRP fans and any other variety of trolling? After all, the public expression of an opinion on any cryptocurrency will invite such negativity on the part of the tribal chauvinists.
The XRP army stands out mainly by scale and organization. Question the merits of another coin, and a handful of trolls could come out of the woodworking shop. But measured by volume, intensity, duration and consistency, the attack pales in comparison to an XRP Army operation.
Firstly, a foot soldier will identify the tweet, the article, the podcast or the offensive video and gather the troops by publishing some hashtags – #XRP, #XRPArmy and the like – and tagging the high command: a combination of XRP Trump, Hayden, Hodor, BankXRP and their colleagues.
Then, while an XRP enthusiast who went to BoiDontFollowMe described him (disapproval) to CoinDesk, a wave of accounts "brigà" the alleged FUD-monger, posting dozens or hundreds of comments.
Because some of these responses attract dozens of likes and retweets and generate their own discussions, the attack forms a torrent of thousands and thousands of angry notifications that last for days.
Dispel from the front
Numerous case studies are available to see the community in action, including the XRP Army operation in which this article was generated, almost immediately after publication of the article report and before a word was written of this.
As with any other article, the first thing I did for this piece was to identify some potential sources. Having done this, I contacted them where I thought they could respond: in this case, direct messages from Twitter. I wanted to interrupt a series of interviews, so I prepared a list of questions. It did not go well.
One of the first people I contacted the alarm soundedand soon XRP Trump intervened denounce my approach: "I'm not taking part in. I do not like the door behind closed doors that send messages to some people ignoring the others, so I'm not answering." (Asked who I was ignoring, he responded"How could I know?" I did not ask him to elaborate on the aspect of an interview that is not "behind closed doors".)
Hayden also refused to be interviewed. But in reality, she and XRP Trump have committed themselves, in their own way, in public, placing – and answering – their own questions. (The XRP army is practiced in narration control.)
Hayden and XRP Trump continued to publicly criticize the article yet to be written in a series of posts. And they were not alone. The bombardment continued for days, following familiar lines of attack. In no particular order, these were: accusations of incompetence based on previous work …
… of prejudices …
… of stupidity …
… and despair …
Add some of the professional disappointment …
… insinuations of sinful intentions …
… and an implicit threat of legal action …
XRP Trump, it must be said, argued against the CoinDesk e citation attributed that particular suggestion of a "false flag" attack by a "bitcoiner". Whether or not it is, Hayden has taken the lead in speculating that Ripple may not be able to sue CoinDesk because the Digital Currency Group (the parent company of CoinDesk) is a Ripple investor …
It is not clear how exactly what is configured with the state of DCG as a cabal of the bitcoin shield with an iron grip on cryptic "media" …
… unless DCG has invested in Ripple to prevent Ripple from countering the pro-bitcoin biases of DCG – or you know what, it does not matter …
Complete all this with questions of psychological fitness …
… and some high-strength vitriol, which is …
… and you have the sense of the XRP army on the warpath. In this case, the "brigading" lasted well over a week. Here's how my notifications appeared one morning after not checking them overnight. "One morning" is the morning of the day nine …
The thread still flowed after almost three weeks, but following the iron laws of Internet entropy, it had turned into jokes about little penises at that point.
The word A
It is worth mentioning what made the XRP community angry in the first place.
The catalyst was that I asked – among other questions, such as "What was your experience with the XRP community?" – if "some of the more aggressive behavior in which XRP fans are involved are justified".
Full disclosure: the first person I contacted – who was also the first to give the alarm, was sent a different version of the application, which provided examples of "aggressive behavior": "Name-calling, accumulating people's mentions, threats (Do I know that threats are rare)? "
After he refused to answer, I removed that section when I contacted the others. As Hodor's tweet shows, however, it did not make much difference.
It should also be noted – a more complete disclosure – that the XRP community has not forgotten this story on their community holiday in May, so they are not inclined to give me the benefit of the doubt.
The most bizarre thing is that, side by side with this burst of, well, aggression, there were questions about why I had not provided evidence of aggression:
Some participants in the thread, however, were apparently aware that his general tenor was less than friendly …
… and in another private message, another XRP supporter, Crypto Dave, did not use the word.
When asked if he thought aggression was justified, he answered all the caps, "YES". He cited a "media blackout" of XRP and Ripple by CNBC and Bloomberg, which aim to "suppress the price".
He also said that the media themselves, which refuse to mention XRP and Ripple, "call XRP" Ripple "all the time, which is not".
Another member of the community offered some kind words: "I'm sorry for the massive backlash that has come on your way … I'm sure you're just trying to do your job." ("Do not mention it", they added.)
And as noted above, another community member, BoiDontFollowMe, said, "if you're talking about accounts that brigade and you're rude for the sake of being rude, then no, I do not think it's justified."
More than one person with whom I spoke, however, expressed the opinion that the involvement of members of the XRP community as aggressive – even some of them, some times – simply has no de facto basis.
"Aggressive members of the XRP", XRP Yoda told me, channeling the syntactic oddities of his namesake, "I have not seen anyone."
The view from the inside
It is tempting to see general clearances of aggression by the XRP army like, to use the term in voguegas lighting.
But it could be unfair. From the point of view of a stranger, the XRP Army is a horde that appears on the horizon, destroys and then moves away.
From the point of view of insiders, however, the same group is a community that, left to itself, will peacefully pacify the minutiae of the XRP Ledger consent protocol, the Ripple business development efforts and the product suite, the Coil's content monetization product and likes.
TplusZero described the individuals of the community as "incredibly intelligent, curious and visionary", adding "coherently welcoming, humble, idealistic and self-taught" for good measure. Several other members of the community have offered equally brilliant descriptions.
"I found the community well thought out, guided and open to good discussion," said an EDadoun user, adding: "I also really appreciate the involvement of community elements in terms of defense for a high level use of technology."
In addition to being interesting conversationalists, XRP supporters can be incredibly supportive, kind and generous. A Twitter user described go through "some really hard money problems" that have made it difficult to bring your daughter to spinal surgery in a different state.
The XRP community "helped her to take her there without even knowing her," he said, and now she's back home.
Another member of the community recalled a time when an XRP-er went to the hospital "for a serious condition". Because hospital food "is not so good", another person in the community, RobertLe88, sent food to the hospital, which the patient then shared with his nurses.
The community's favorite app (excluding Twitter), XRP Tip Bot, has allowed it to perform both large and small charitable acts.
Tip Bot functions as a sort of fourth engagement feature on Twitter XRP. Do you have anything to say? Reply. Do you like something? Heart. Do you really like something? Retweet.
But if you feel a love or overwhelming gratitude, send the person who posted a little tip on XRP using Tip Bot, which automatically integrates with Twitter. XRP Trump is particularly generous with love called XRP.
Wietse Wind, the independent developer who created the Tip Bot, told CoinDesk that "he really did not expect it to take off in this way" because he had just approached it as a "hobby project".
A user, using KingBlue, has noticed that the potential of the tool does more than cheer up a few days of XRP tweeters. "My mind immediately turned to charity," he told CoinDesk in a recent interview, notably in St. Jude, a cancer research hospital for non-profit children.
KingBlue began organizing fundraising in June. The initial goal was to collect 5,000 XRPs but, he said, "we went through all of this", bringing over 24,000 XRPs at the time of writing (worth over $ 8,300), as well as nearly $ 3,400 in fiat.
So, what explains the disconnection between these two sides of the XRP community: the one that buys winter coats for children and what generates the angry spam imbalances?
Of course, not all individuals engage in both types of behavior. But here is the answer I heard again and again from the community members: they are under constant siege. Journalists, entrepreneurs, developers, investors, influences, lawyers and garden variety trolls constantly attract the community, leading to the kind of response we have seen above.
Critics have some favorite discussion points: XRP is an unregistered security issued by Ripple; it is a "banker's currency", a cynical effort by financial powers to co-opt a nascent revolution; it is a useless "shitcoin"; it is downloaded on ingenuous retail investors into an "ICO without end" (to cite a complaint by a defendant); Ripple has full control of the ledger, including the ability to lock it; Ripple can release the XRP that is stuck in escrow on a whim; the list goes on.
Some of these statements are purely a matter of opinion ("shitcoin"). Others probably have a definitive answer, but either it can not yet be known (the security question is going through the courts) or we hit a wall: he said-he said-he can not prove-to-negative. Some lines of attack seem to be authentic FUD (the technical documentation of XRP, all the forms of emphasis in the original, says: "XRP CAN NOT be frozen by any entity or individual").
"XRP fans have been targeted for many years," Kieran Kelly, an active member of XRP on Twitter, told me. "I think the XRP community just got to a point where they got fed up with constant insults."
Another member of the community urged me to consider the "hundreds of hours" of people like Hayden, Hodor and XRP Trump who put a strain on bad information. BoiDontFollowMe said that seeing "the same uninformed discussion points spread through channels other than people who have no interest in educating themselves" causes understandable frustration.
Hayden, in particular, had to endure more than others. The anti-XRP trolls often become personal, and when it is the target, sometimes attacks turn towards sexism – even intimidation in person.
At the XRP Community Night party in May, she He said"Someone seemed to be there entirely to harass me … This is * really * scary." Nobody helps, but they keep scorecards to judge how I handled the attack. "
No, six a bot
As with any group that feels under siege, the one that most collapses the XRP Community is the idea that they have been infiltrated, that the saboteurs walk among them.
For XRP Trump, it was that casual account that launched the idea of denouncing "FUDDesk", which I naively – in your opinion – believed I was a true supporter of the XRP. "The false flags are real", him he wrote. "Stay long enough to become a target and you'll know."
For Kelly, it is the so-called 589-ers, which has launched – even if it has recognized that it can not prove it – like the massive infiltrated maximalists intent on discrediting the XRP community as a whole.
That's why the 589-ers could cause XRP fans some damage to the reputation: they predict – "we preach" could be a better word – that the price of XRP will be $ 589.00 or higher by the end of 2018. They keep saying it until in December. 20, with XRP exchanges at around $ 0.37.
Those who question their prophecy are "Sheep".
Kelly argues that those who spread the 589-ism, starting with the current Reddit bearableguy123 account, are "sockpuppet" – fake accounts on social media, sometimes automated, sometimes manually managed – that their owners use for "astroturfing" ": manipulation of social media that creates the illusion of broad support for a message and aims, in turn, to catalyze real support.
The idea that astroturfing is popular on Twitter XRP, however, is more associated with Geoff Golberg, an independent researcher who has been studying the online presence of the XRP community for months.
"It's a coordinated amplification," said Golberg in a recent interview. "This is not organic."
He mentioned the suspicious models to follow, love and rewrite that point to a certain degree of manipulation. In some cases, accounts seem to be automated ("bots"), ie controlled using a script.
In other cases, he said, the accounts seem to be controlled manually, but even so "there is no real person who supports XRP behind every pseudonym army XRP account." That's the point. "
In short, he said, "these are not real accounts".
While Golberg did not share evidence that explicitly links the alleged astroturf efforts to any perpetrator, he made it clear that he does not think that it is limited to, or even primarily, the work of the 589-ers. Far from a maximalist sabotage attempt, he said, it appears to be a coordinated effort to promote XRP as an investment.
It is not difficult to find anecdotal evidence of astroturfing in XRP. To illustrate the point, Golberg performed a network analysis of the XRP Trump followers using Graphistry data visualization software. In the chart below, each follower of the account is represented by a point:
The positions of the points are determined by the way in which each of them is connected to the other followers of XRP Trump. The analysis is based on an algorithm called Eigenvector centrality (or Eigencentrality), which determines the influence of a node in a network. The algorithm is used, for example, by Google to classify search results.
The large light blue circle at the top right of the graph is XRP Trump. The colored clouds emanating from that central node represent different "communities" of followers, which are more closely related to each other than the set of data as a whole.
There is a section, however, that does not look very much like a "community". The green, red and pink sections are nebulous, with intricate and complicated inter-relationships between the nodes. In contrast, the pale blue spots in the upper right corner seem less, say, organic. In particular if looked closely:
As it turns out, the 8,200 accounts that make up these blobs all have the same mathematical relationship with XRP Trump as a whole: an Eigencentrality score of exactly 0.013143. This score is also the lowest of the entire data set.
"They are all equally disconnected," said Golberg.
For over 8,000 Trump followers, about 21,000 followers (when data were collected in September) to have an identical relationship with the broader network – up to the sixth decimal place – would be incredibly unlikely in an organic, human network, in which thousands of complexes, the individual volitions produce thousands of different degrees of influence. Golberg told CoinDesk that it is "a huge red flag".
To get an idea of how weird this distribution of Eigencentrality scores, here is a table of the 10 lowest scores, along with the number of accounts corresponding to each (about 1,200 accounts with identical centrality appear outside the two big blobs , bringing the total to around 9,400):
Clicking on some of the BLOB accounts does not inspire confidence that they are simply people with a similar mindset.
Get "xrp to riches" (@to_xrp), which follows XRP Trump, Hodor, Ripple, Ripple, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse and Ripple CTO David Schwartz (along with a couple of other XRP influencers). "Xrp to riches" does not say much:
Or "patrick morrison" (@XRPaddy), another real human person who follows all the accounts mentioned above (and a slightly different set of "other XRP influencers"). "Patrick" is as talkative as "xrp to riches":
Then there is "x5r5p", which – again – follows all the big names of Ripple and XRP mentioned above, plus a smattering of second level accounts, and – again – struggles with shyness:
Golberg – who examined other cryptic communities and political campaigns – readily acknowledged that astroturfing was widespread in the crypt, but said the XRP community: "I've never seen it up to this point".
To test and corroborate his findings, CoinDesk used SparkToro's "fake control of followers" tool, which shows that XRP Trump, Schwartz, Hodor, and Garlinghouse have all proportions above the mean of fake followers, depending on the size of the following :
However, those isolated data points leave important questions unanswered. They do not indicate who is responsible for the false followers. I have about 150 fake followers (11 percent of the total), according to SparkToro, but I certainly did not buy them or have them turned over.
And as Kelly claimed, astroturfing can really be used as a false flag attack. For example, in a recent US Senate election, supporters of the Democratic candidate attempted to discredit his opponent by using thousands of Russian sockpuppet accounts to follow the republican (who lost). This attack created the impression that the Republican candidate was colluding with a foreign power, recalling the alleged collusion between the 2016 Donald Trump campaign and Russia.
Filippo Menczer, professor of computer science and computer science at the University of Indiana and contributor to the self-explanatory project of the Botometer, told CoinDesk that finding the answer to the astroturf question depends exactly on what you want to know.
If you're asking "if the online conversation on the topic of interest (XRP / Ripple) is being manipulated by robots," he said, "you would like a sample of * tweets * (unlike accounts) on the subject" He said. Count fake follower, in other words, do not answer this question directly.
There are certainly a number of XRP-themed accounts that post and retweet at high rates. Take "grega" (@ ceramika74), which has found the time – in its 241 days of existence – to retweet 38.838 tweets related to XRP (161 per day) and as 84.717 (352 per day). He never composed an original tweet.
Few XRP accounts are as prolific as "crude", but it's an extreme example of a model: XRP monomaniacs nameless, faceless, often short-lived that do not complain about politics or make fun of celebrities or do anything, but report increasing bullish messages on XRP. In many cases, signal amplification is clearly manual; not all sockpuppets are necessarily a bot.
(To be clear, many accounts – including those of high volume, focused on XRP, pseudonyms like Hodor, KingBlue and XRP Trump – clearly represent the primary presence of a real person's social media.)
Mike Kearney, a professor at the School of Journalism at Missouri University, told CoinDesk that a search for $ XRP revealed "evidence of automated / coordinated activities", including "an usually active base of users who publish exclusively from the web browser". "It is more common to see automated / bot / unauthenticated posts posting via non-cellular sources," he explained.
In addition, "even these web-only post-client accounts have created their accounts in the last few months at an unusually high rate," said Kearney.
Whatever the extension, nature, intention or provenance of XRP's supposed astroturf of Twitter, many in the XRP community are enraged by Golberg's accusations.
He said that frequently relationship him to Twitter and Linkedin (the last one suspended his profile as a result), as well as threatening hack it. This is above and beyond the normal trolling that the XRP army targets can expect (based on my experience and that of others I've talked to).
Golberg does not always avoid treating himself, it must be said. he named Schwartz "full of [poop emoji][poop emoji] and a coward. "The middle fingers, the kissed faces and the joke worthy of the XRP Army are go-tos, in DM and public tweets. Hayden is XRP Trump they called him a "psychopath". He said that such statements are "character assassins" intended to discredit his findings.
In one case, however, an XRP investor (who confirmed so much to CoinDesk) took one more step and publicly asked that Golberg be killed.
The intended goal does not have to worry too much. Nassar canceled his account and apologized to Golberg from a different one in a private message.
However, incidents like this have made Golberg less civilized in his commitments to the XRP community, he told CoinDesk.
Speaking with CoinDesk, Nassar said: "I was losing all my savings" the day he sent the tweet "who can kill him". Few in the XRP community face this topic directly, but financial pain is no less real to go mostly unmentioned.
Also largely unrecognized is the role that the bullish XRP may have played in enticing newcomers to invest too much. Influencer on Twitter XRP frequently criticize extravagant price predictions (especially those presented as almost certainties), but during the exhilarating days of the early months of 2018 it was sometimes a different story:
Given the drop in prices, you may expect cracks to show up in the enthusiasm of some members of the XRP community.
A person I talked to get out of XRP on Twitter while I was working on this article, although I did not mention the price. When I started reporting this story, BoiDontFollowMe told me that the aggression perceived by members of the XRP community was "generally […] justified ".
A couple of weeks later, however, the same person sent me a different account, saying they had deleted their old one.
"My thinking has evolved," they said. Referring to de facto leaders of the XRP army, they added, "it is clear that they are aggressive, but if someone does not agree or tries to call them out, they" – that is, those who make the call – "[are] sheep, or weak, or a victim of rape or any other horrible name. "
The account, formerly known as BoiDontFollowMe, defined this behavior as "childish and embarrassing", in particular because it came from "some of the largest and most influential individuals in the community".
Alcuni membri della comunità probabilmente non getteranno mai la spugna, ma per molti, potrebbe rivelarsi difficile mantenere la fede di fronte alle perdite monetarie e – a seconda di chi si chiede – la negatività.
Rispetto al suo picco all'inizio dell'anno, il prezzo di XRP è in calo di oltre il 90 percento. Naturalmente, molte altre criptovalute sono diminuite ulteriormente. E, va notato, molti investitori sono ancora nel verde a prezzi correnti, avendo comprato molto tempo prima che il prezzo di XRP diventasse parabolico nel 2017.
Anche così, "il 2018 è stato un anno molto difficile per le persone", mi ha detto Kelly. "Se hai comprato a gennaio e hai tenuto, hai perso denaro. Fatto della vita. "
Arte originale di CryptoPop (@cryptopop)