100 Articles - A Devtome Retrospective

This article is the one hundredth that I have contributed to the Devtome community on this wiki. My journey to Devtome and my experiences herein are probably not atypical of this community, and in many ways I find that they capture the essential nature of both the potential and the problems inherent in this website. I decided I may as well write a retrospective on my time here at Devtome not because I intend to leave the community, but because I have been dialing back my commitment recently due to other time constraints and am thus less often able to contribute to the future of Devcoin.

The Journey into Cryptocurrency

I was never a member of the first wave of cryptocurrency adopters. I think I first heard of Bitcoin when it first reached $30 per coin. And like many people, I naively wished that I had bought in earlier but I never thought that the price could possibly go any higher. As is evident from this mindset, I did not believe in the legitimacy of the coin for its own sake - I was only interested in the potential profits it offered as a high risk investment option. And as the price climbed ever higher I kept kicking myself for not buying into the coin. I considered buying coins, however coin purchasing was relatively difficult and delayed at that point in time through reliable channels, and I didn't want to take the risk. At the time this seemed to be the wisest decision, as that ended up being the first Bitcoin bubble, with prices peaking around $250 before rapidly tumbling back down to less than $100 per coin. And as the coin collapsed in on itself, I largely forgot about it, as did much of the general public - clearly the cryptocoin was a fad that had run its course.

Many months later, around November of 2013, Bitcoin had begun to rapidly rise back to record high prices of nearly $500 per coin. At the time, a friend of mine posted an article on Facebook that the testimony in congress had supported the persistence of Bitcoin as a form of currency rather than something that required government intervention and regulation. This post was followed by speculation that given this green or yellow light, rather than the feared red light, the price of Bitcoin would continue to take off to new levels. With dollar signs in my eyes, I finally felt the need to buy into the world of cryptocurrency, and so I contacted a friend with a Coinbase account and arranged my first buy into the world of Bitcoin - a whopping 0.1 bitcoins. Despite my optimism, I lacked the risk tolerance or the essential belief in the integrity of the coin to invest any more. And in the end, I frantically sold that 0.1 coins just a few weeks later when I was afraid of another collapse. Rather than collapse, the coin continued to reach higher and higher prices, to my awe and dismay, and I wished that I had not been such a fool and that I had backed the cryptocurrency community from the very beginning.

Dogecoin - Such Investment

Having joined the world of Bitcoin too late to make a fortune off of this “magic internet money”, I resigned myself to giving up on cryptocurrency. However it was around this time that I first heard about the increasing number of so-called altcoins that were variations on the Bitcoin and litecoin themes. As a frequent user of reddit, the Dogecoin in particular began to be noticeable to me as it was an altcoin developed by reddit as a parody of cryptocoins. Despite its ludicrous origin, the Dogecoin had something that I found to be lacking in other cryptocoin communities - a supportive and good humored environment. All of the Bitcoin forums I visited seemed to be dominated by profit driven people who wanted nothing more than to discuss their margins and try to steer other investors into the ground. Even though I too had hoped to make a profit from Bitcoin, I could not tolerate such a negative and malicious environment. Dogecoin, on the other hand, was driven by a community that was funny and lightheared. In the early days, millions of coins were given away on a whim as the coins themselves were so easy to mine and were thus plentiful and low in value.

I sensed the potential of Dogecoin, and I began to try to mine some of the coins myself. Unfortunately, having only laptop computers with subpar graphics cards, it was clear that I would never be able to mine many Doge coins, so I found an online exchange and started to buy small quantities of the coins in case the value went up, or I felt like giving them away as tips in the Dogecoin community. And soon, Dogecoin began to really take off in a bubble all its own, increasing tenfold in value in just a few shot days. In the coming months, the community would go on to fund the Jamaican bobsled team at the winter olympics, and Dogecoin engrained itself as one of the top Altcoins in the world thanks to its robust community and popular image.

Of course, as with Bitcoin before it, the increase in the value of Dogecoin resulted in at least a partial shift in the community. Where initially people were giving away millions of Doge, now such giveaways were unheard of and at best on could find handfuls of coins. Reddit threads originally devoted to lighthearted trades for goods or money became dominated by individuals looking to sell their Dogecoins for a substantial profit, with no interest in propagating the coin itself. And while I myself had come to the community with a similar goal, I did enjoy the Dogecoin environment and realized that I missed its lively early days. I wanted to find an online coin that I could back that was both a viable form of payment and that had a substantial community not dominated by the day-trader types that I had found in all of my other cryptocoin ventures.

Devcoin - A Long Term Solution

As I sold off the last of my meager Dogecoin stores, I contemplated investing more in Bitcoin, or possibly in mining equipment. Fortunately the almost guaranteed obselescence of such hardware was enough to dissuade me from losing my money on such a fool's errand, but I was still interested in following the future of cryptocurrency. In my searches through the official Bitcoin forums and reddit posts, Devcoin somehow came to my attention. I was instantly intrigued, as it offered a way to earn crypotcurrency not through mining, which I could not do, but through contribution of original open source content. In particular, the Devtome wiki struck me as an important and alluring option. I had for years been interested in starting a blog or other online site to post my opinions, largely on scientific matters, but I had never been able to motivate myself to expend the time or energy to do so. If Devtome would offer payment in the form of Devcoins, then I knew that this would be my best shot to be able to simultaneously produce original content for the internet and receive compensation for doing so.

After some brief research, I signed up for Devtome and became a writer. Many of my original articles were rather sub-par, or were old school essays that I was willing to release into the open source world. While not poorly written or questionable in terms of content, these pieces were certainly not what I had originally intended to contribute when I signed up for this wiki and I was not overly proud of them. To this end, I began to more and more contribute original scientific articles, including in depth writeups of diseases and editorial styled pieces on vaccination and other matters of scientific public policy issues. These issues are my primary concern, and I feel that while Devtome is not currently the most public form of publication available, it at least allows me to release my opinions on these topics somewhere other than a Facebook news feed all while allowing me to be fairly compensated for doing so. Over time I have also begun to go back to my earlier articles and significantly improve or even completely rewrite them, thereby improving the quality of Devtome content over time.

As I became more invested in terms of time and energy into the Devtome community, I began to notice flaws in the way things were run. The word-count indicator of payouts was problematic, as it sometimes meant that people would post needless filler material that contributed nothing to the internet or the community as a whole. What was worse was that certain search engine optimization (SEO) companies had evidently discovered Devtome and signed up, allowing them to create posts that would both generate hits for their respective websites and get them paid in Devcoins in the meantime. Frustrated with what I viewed as a lack of quality content, I wrote an article titled Devtome and Advertising: What are we Doing? that laid out my concerns about the future of Devtome and Devcoin given its current trajectory.

The article was noticed, and in time I was given a position as an administrator in the Devcoin community that allowed me to both more directly shape the future of the community and identify articles of questionable value. I certainly do not intend for censorship to reign on Devtome, however I view it as an important next step to eliminate content that lacks any actual information and reads more like an advertisement. Likewise, eliminating content that is simply copied and pasted from other sources is critical to maintaining the integrity of this online wiki. Though my work as a contributor continues to decline due to other commitments, I continue my work as an admin in hopes of bolstering this community and encouraging its growth into a source of high quality online content where contributors are fairly rewarded for their efforts.

The Future

At present, Devtome participation continues to decline to the point where individual shares pay out huge amounts of coins simply due to a lack of interest. While this may allow myself and a few writers to sustain themselves for another round or two, without a bump in interest I am concerned that Devtome, and more importantly Devcoin, will not remain a viable coin for more than another year or so. Fortunately, brighter minds than mine are at work and are discussing potential strategies for supporting the Devcoin and Devtome communities in the long run rather than abandoning them to the mood swings of the online cryptocoin community. At the moment, Bitcoin seems to be on an upswing, which often brings in interest from the public and a new influx of Devtome writers in training. Whether this will sustain the community or simply dilute the value of the coin to new lows remains to be seen.

I myself find it increasingly difficult to motivate myself to produce new Devtome content. My initial desire to make piles of money through the online cryptocoin community has been replaced by a more nuanced desire to contribute to a potentially important new form of web development. I think that it is important to find a way to promote the development of open source content through cryptocurrency. I do have concerns that coins like Bitcoin are currently too much at the mercy of certain large investment groups and are at the whim of the public, making the price overly variable, but I do feel that Bitcoin and hopefully Devcoin had a place in the future of the internet. Whether those roles are the same roles that they were intended for initially remains to be seen, but I hope to remain around long enough to see Devcoin truly take off. I know that it holds to risk of fading away into the dark corners of the internet, but I will do what I can to avoid allowing that to happen.


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