Bitcoin community split over Nakamoto blog

by Vikrant Mansera

9 months ago

Three days – that’s as long as it took before the “pro-Bitcoin” Nakamoto blog felt forced to restrict its Telegram channel amid a tweetstorm between supporters and crypto maximalists.

January 4, 2020, the 11th Anniversary of Bitcoin’s Genesis Block, saw the launch of a journal “to create a venue for technical, philosophical, and cultural writing that is of interest to the community as a whole, for beginner and expert alike.” The project is called Nakamoto.com.  “We want to discuss what is important even if not new, and avoid what is new yet unimportant,” says the first Twitter thread to appear on the Nakamoto blog’s Twitter account. 

The official Website states, “Over time we want to build Nakamoto into a real community, add crypto-native features, and start facilitating in-person meetups to discuss these topics. But our first goal is to surface important developments for a technically literate audience, and to serve as a clearinghouse for the builders and engineers in the space.”

High-level contributors

The journal is transparent about its contributors – various crypto personalities from different backgrounds. This list includes Former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan, CoinShares CSO Meltem Demirors, Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin, Gemini’s Winklevoss twins, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, Block.one CEO Brendan Blumer, Kathleen Breitman of Tezos, Coinbase VP Rachel Horwitz and Bitcoin Cash proponent Roger Ver. The same Twitter thread went on to state, “All Nakamoto contributors are pro-Bitcoin (BTC) for the long-term. We believe a commitment to the success of Bitcoin reflects the core values of our community.”

This was enough to trigger the community, apparently since contributors like Michael Arrington and Roger Ver have been popular figureheads who have rivaled Bitcoin throughout their careers. A flood of tweets started below the thread calling the contributors and the entire journal nothing but “Shitcoiners.”

The knives are out

A twitter user named Dennis Parker with 23k followers commented, “’Pro BTC’ means using the Bitcoin name to shill shitcoins. @nakamoto is a scam site” 

The Nakamoto blog Nakamoto.com released the first round of articles by Balaji Srinivasan, Jameson Lopp, Vitalik, Linda Xie, Dan Romero, Michael Arrington, Brian Armstrong and Zooko Wilcox. Out of eight articles, only two talked about Bitcoin. Director of Marketing and Partnership at River Financial, under the pseudonym ‘ecurrencyhodler’ raised questions. He tweeted, “If it was a pro-bitcoin publication, why is more that 50% of the first round of articles NOT about bitcoin? From my perspective, it looks like they’re just trying to leverage Bitcoin signal to talk about things that aren’t related to it.” 

CEO of the global blockchain company Blocksktream, Adam Back, attacked Vitalik saying “Look it is ridiculous to have Vitalik of all people moderating a Bitcoin forum. There are other balanced moderators, dozens of them they could have organized. Personally I’m not that interested in having moderators telling me or anyone else what I can talk about.”

Adamant Capital founding partner Tuur Demeester, who had been listed as a Nakamoto contributor, has tweeted that he has withdrawn his participation. He writes, “I initially consented to contributing, but after learning more I decided I’m not comfortable attaching my name to the platform.”

The journal’s own Telegram channel, created for the community to share thoughts regarding the journal’s content, has gone into read-only mode in response to “trolls and spambots.” The Telegram channel was administered by Vitalik and Balaji Srinivasan.

The pinned message from Balaji:

Parallel channels

The “trolls and spambots” seem to have the same grievance mentioned at the outset: that this ostensibly pro-Bitcoin group is being run and managed by people with interests in altcoins like Zcash, Ethereum, Ripple and Tezos. Amid all this uproar, a parody account with the user name @nakamotodotcom has been set up by an unknown person. It is trolling the original account proposing outrageous conditions for a person to meet to qualify as #PROBTC.

Adding to this, the Bitcoiners have also set up a Telegram channel using the name Nakamoto to speak openly about the Nakamoto blog without getting banned. It had come as a surprise to Bitcoiners trying to join the original channel that they were instantly rejected move by Nakamoto Telegram moderators. For example, Pierre Rochard, founder of Bitcoin Advisory, pseudonymous Bitcoiner StopAndDecrypt and John Carvalho, CCO at Bitrefill, were all banned from the channel.

These influencers responded to the ban on Twitter, with Pierre Rochard tweeting, “I was trying to be open minded and diplomatic but I got kicked from the nakamoto.con telegram. I didn’t even troll! I must not be pro-btc enough.” 

Bitrefill’s John Carvalho entered the arena when he tweeted that Nakamoto’s pages contain “miscellaneous traps for non-Bitcoin opportunities.” He went on to allege that the Website had “distracting paradigms that allow for greater tolerance of competing ideas to Bitcoin.” In a Medium post titled, The Gates of Bitcoin, Carvalho says, “Yesterday, the Lords of Silicon Valley and associated barkers at the gate unveiled a media monstrosity called ‘Nakamoto.com’ declaring themselves a curator of information gathered from ‘pro-bitcoin’ sources … Make no mistake. These people have insulted the name of Bitcoin’s inventor, and are exploiting Bitcoin strictly to divert funds away from Bitcoin.”

This was a direct jibe aimed at Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin for his consistent anti-PoW stances and Roger Ver for reprimanding Bitcoin on several occasions. He also joked by sharing a satirical GIF.

Supporters weigh in

Amid the attacks, the blog has also enjoyed support, with certain organizations and influencers backing the idea and motive behind the project. California-based crypto payments project Metal lauded the idea of the crypto community coming together “to help newcomers to crypto and seasoned veterans alike.” 

In fact, the Nakamoto blog also gained immense popularity in its first three days, with more than 2000 members on Telegram and 8000 followers on Twitter. It may be despised by Bitcoin maximalists, but the rest of the community appears to be neutral and open-minded. The founders of the Website have not announced any intention to make any changes to the blog or their approach. The tweetstorm may turn out to be little more than a tempest in a teacup.

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