Datt Combines Social Media with Bitcoin-Powered Incentives

By Kyle Torpey Nov 8, 2015 8:00 AM EDT

Ryan X. Charles published a Medium post that gained a lot of attention earlier this year due to the former Reddit employee’s contention that Bitcoin could help solve some of the problems associated with the “Frontpage of the Internet”. The perpetual Bitcoin developer is now working on a decentralized version of Reddit, known as Datt, and he believes that the financial incentives involved with this new platform could foster higher quality content than people are used to seeing on most social media platforms. Although Datt is often referred to as a new, improved version of Reddit, Charles contends that the feel of this new social media app will be completely new and different.

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Reddit is Not Interested in Financial Incentives

Ryan X. Charles recently provided an update on the development of Datt at a SF Bitcoin Meetup, and he contrasted his new, Bitcoin-powered social media application with Reddit at a few different points during his talk. According to Charles, one of the main differences between Datt and Reddit is that Datt embraces financial incentives and free markets. During his presentation, Charles made the point that Reddit is not interested in making finance any part of the user experience:

“Reddit is actually philosophically opposed to everything I’ve been saying in this talk because they’re opposed to making finance any part of the Reddit experience. It’s all free. You cannot sell a subreddit to someone. That’s against their terms of service; you’ll get banned. You cannot buy upvotes; that’s against their terms of service. Any time you start paying for anything on Reddit, it’s against the rules.”

Free Markets are Embraced by Datt

Charles added that Datt will embrace commerce and allow users to buy and sell nearly anything they want on the platform. Due to the integration of financial incentives, such as attaching a small amount of bitcoin to each upvote, it would seem that Datt could become a platform for content creators to publish and monetize their work directly. Charles summarized his overall view of bringing commerce to social media during his talk:

“[Commerce] is not against the rules on [Datt]. You are paying other people for producing content. If you write something good and people pay you, that’s a good thing. I want to create a market. If there end up being subreddits on this thing that people own, then I want people to be able to buy and sell the subreddits. The feeling will be completely different.”

There are plenty of individuals and businesses who already use Reddit as a marketing tool, but Datt will be a more explicit version of this concept. An early version of Datt will be available in November, and this bare bones implementation could offer a chance for Charles, the rest of the Datt development team, and content creators to see what works and what doesn’t.

Adding Financial Incentives to Social Media

At its core, Datt is adding financial incentives to social media. Whether this concept will fail or succeed is unknown at this point, but Ryan X. Charles believes there is a chance for the platform to generate higher quality content than what is found on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media applications. Charles briefly explained this point during his presentation:

“My goal is to create something a little more professional. I think if we do this correctly, the content quality will be higher. People will be correctly incentivized to, say, write a really good article; they’ll spend five or ten more minutes on it and make it really good because they’re like, ‘It might make a difference.’”

If the financial incentives are structured in the correct manner, it’s possible that Datt could become the new, preferred publishing platform for content creators. It’s unclear if attaching money to upvotes is a good idea, but it seems that the general idea of creating a social media platform that is also a vessel for generating income is a concept that may hold some promise.


Kyle Torpey is a freelance journalist who has been following Bitcoin since 2011. His work has been featured on VICE Motherboard, Business Insider, RT’s Keiser Report, and many other media outlets. You can follow @kyletorpey on Twitter.

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