Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The year has been a good one for critics of cryptocurrencies. They predicted that high-profile projects would be revealed as Ponzi schemes, that security flaws would lead to massive theft, and that average people would be left holding the bag. A lot of other cryptocurrencies are much worse off today than they were in November.

It can feel like the crash never happened on social networks. Over the past few months, Facebook andInstagram added ways for users to showcase non-fungible token, and artists were able to use NFTs as their profile pictures.

The news that the venerable social news aggregation and discussion site had released its first "Blockchain-backed collectible avatars" was the source of the piece. The avatars was created by a group of artists and can be used as profile pictures on the site.

Reddit wants to create millions more crypto users

In the video game industry, the sale of NFTs has caused a lot of anger among the players. The announcement came and went without a lot of attention.

The company began giving away collectible avatars for free to 10 million users this month. More than 50,000 have been given away so far, and the rest will be given out over the next few weeks. The only catch is that users have to set up a wallet to receive it, which is the first step in the process of encouraging millions of users to explore the concept of portable identity.

People who hear phrases like that may never recover from it. A significant number of executives at tech platforms big and small still believe that there is a solution to the criticisms we have of our current lives online.

“I wish we had done this 10 years ago — because it really fits Reddit.”

Steve Huffman is an executive. He was fascinated by the idea that some people were willing to pay as much as seven cents for a single transaction.

He said that people use the feature differently on Reddit than they would on other platforms. There, users are represented as cartoon versions of themselves, with the help of their virtual friends. The aliens are supposed to highlight aspects of a user's personality without giving away their true identity.

He said that about one-third of the users have created anavatar.

You don't have to reveal your race. At the company's offices in the Mid- Market neighborhood of San Francisco, Huffman said that you can reveal some of your style without revealing your age or gender. The idea of capturing some of your own identity on your own terms is a very important thing to do on the site. I wish we did this a long time ago.

Multiple variations of Snoo the Reddit mascot in different themes and outfits.
Reddit’s artist-made collectible avatars.
Image: Reddit

Artists were allowed to sell their work on the platform in order to help other users earn money. He wants to leave a world where digital goods are controlled by a platform.

He mentioned the ability to own digital things. You could make digital goods in a game. Those goods exist at the pleasure of the company that created them. I would like to get closer to actually owning it.

He notes that a user can choose to display their digital version of Reddit as part of a collection or use it as a profile picture on social media. The companies did not sign a partnership deal in order to make that happen.

We don't work with any of these companies. We are not the best of friends, that is for sure. We now have a third-party database. That is really cool.

“We try really hard not to use any crypto words — it just confuses people.”

Many people will not be racing to bring their Snoos to the social networking site. It hints at what could happen in the future. It is possible for people to start with a profile picture on the internet and then have other pieces of identity as well. If you could log in to other websites with your reddit karma, what would it be like?

In 2020, the company announced a still-ongoing experiment called " community points." Community points allow subreddits to award users token that exists on the ethereum block. Polls that give more weight to active participants in the community, prizes for contests, andEnabling users with good reputations to access extra features in other apps and websites are some of the uses the company has proposed for these token.

The company is trying to get 10 million people to start using cryptocurrencies without ever calling them a wallet or saying anything related to them.

We try not to use any words that are related to cryptocurrencies. There is a lot of confusion in the system. I can't figure out a lot of it.

He used a metaphor to make his point.

Everything in open source is a little bit worse, that's one of the things I'm not happy about. They're like, 'it's amazing!' This Microsoft Word replacement is just as great. It's not. Like that again.

Despite years of trying, few companies have hit that bar.

Reddit is searching for what else can be shifted from platform to community control

The kind of backlash that video game companies have experienced when they announceBlockchain projects is something that Reddit has to avoid. The recent crash made it easier for the company to focus on building utility, according to Huffman.

He said that he was anti-profits and bubbles. We don't talk about it because it's distasteful and counter- productive. I didn't want to get sucked into the hype. Our business model is to make a lot of money by selling NFTs to people who use the internet. Identity and reputation can be put into a database.

The next step is to get people to use a wallet, and then to see what other parts of the platform might be taken over by the community.

I liked talking to Huffman, who brings the right kind of skepticism to a technology that has been poisoned by wide-eyed optimists and scam artists. It feels like the tech world is investing most of its energy into a set of Legos that no one knows how to put together, and hope that the end product is worth all.

We are deliberately not doing that and the backlash comes from profiteering. It may or may not work. Its success will not affect our users.