This week, I posted a mildly humorous swath of drivel to LoggiaOnFire Magazine called "John McAfee Never Gives Away Crypto - Except When He Does" In it, I did my best to describe and explain the "Epstein Didn't Kill Himself" Token, or WHACKD, that is being issued and distributed by John McAfee and that will be listed on the decentralized and distributed McAfeeDEX exchange platform. Distribution of the token has commenced on schedule but, due to a not fully anticipated high demand for the token, will take several days to complete. In fact, as I sit to write this, I am still patiently waiting for my claim of WHACKD to be sent.
The discussion on Twitter surrounding the airdrop was lively and interesting to read. As a social experiment this project is already producing first-rate results, far exceeding the value required to bootstrap the token. For mixed in with all the expected jokes are a variety of comments that appear to be offered with at least some measure of seriousness. There was a discussion analyzing the burn formula to dermine whether or not it was random enough. Some were tracking the contract address, comparing the transaction count to estimates given by McAfee. There were people annoyed they had not received the token yet, people asking if they could still participate and a few people lamenting that projects like this one were "the problem" with crypto.
There were also 3 instances of another apparently serious appraisal of the project. I had projected that at least 1 of these comments would surface, though part of me hoped that we might be spared at least this one time. After all, WHACKED is a token that was offered for free, including the transaction fees associated with the airdrop. No value was assigned to them, no promise of future value was made. There was no whitepaper, and the website and announcements on Twitter were all clearly tounge-and-cheek. To request (not demand smh) the token, all a person needed to provide was an Ethereum address. Physics demands this concession from those that wish to receive an Ethereum token, and no additional information like a name, private key or even an email address was required. So surely, no living person could possibly arrive at the conclusion that this project was a scam.
If that's what you guess, then guess again, and don't call me Shirley. There were 3 people that took the time out of the day to let the rest of the world know that, in their sober estimation, WHACKD was a scam. If they were joking, they gave no indication through verbal cues, emojis or further comments that this was the case. Perhaps pure trolling, but since I expected to see this, I'll wager that at least one is genuine.
Scam_POST_CONTENT_mdash; Sam Gold (@prodigygalimov) November 16, 2019
scam_POST_CONTENT_mdash; Zigfurd (@zigfurd) November 16, 2019
obvious scam_POST_CONTENT_mdash; Anarchy Seeds (@AnarchySeeds) November 16, 2019
Much like the concepts of "National Security" and "Freedom" have been misused and deliberately redefined to the point of achieving near meaninglessness when used by many people, "scam" is a word that, within the crypto community, has been misused, abused and slung at the slightest provocation, so that now when we hear the word it tells us nothing. If you search the internet for nearly any crypto project, including Bitcoin, you will find someone, somewhere that at some time has called it a scam. Enough of this, and you will find yourself starting to wonder if these people are actually defining "scam" differently from the commonly understood meaning of a dishonest scheme designed to cheat people out of some value.
Another comment in the thread offers an intersting probability for the actual usage:
The amount of salty pino in this thread who wanted free money is classic... Imagine thinking that whacked coin was gonna make you money and then calling it a scam. Please don_POST_CONTENT_#39;t become a global super power._POST_CONTENT_mdash; HDP (@HDPbilly) November 16, 2019
Put more succinctly, it seems increasingly likely that there is a subset of people in the community that are defining a scam as anything that causes them to lose money or, amazingly, to not realize some future value that, by their own calculations, should exist. Invest in a token that saw a decrease in value through no wrongdoing of the project or its leaders? Scam. Did a token fail to reach the value that I, as an investor, calculated for? Scam. An investment failed to make me rich overnight, even though this was not promised? Scam. Or, in this tragic case, with absolutely nothing at all being asked or promised!
And yet, using this definition is the only way, outside of pure trolling or some dark business tactics from a competitor, to explain these accusations. And that is pretty scary. Most charitably, it indicates people that are investing money with no meaningful grasp on the concept of risk. But I believe it is far worse, and actually represents people approaching cryptocurrency as they would a pump for instant wealth. And they are either so greedy or so desperate, or both, that they will lash out at anyone they perceive as interfering with this singular goal, regardless of the consequences. If I were leading a cryptocurrency project, the potential for "investors" of this nature, especially one with any size of audience on social media, would be among my biggest concerns.
I do believe that self regulation is an important component for the future success of the cryptocurrency industry, especially for keeping government regulators away from the industry. It is important to call out genuine scams, or dishonest schemes designed to part suckers from their money, when they are positively identified. This serves the dual function of putting these people on blast, and warning off potential suckers as they enter the industry with little or no knowledge. Unfortunately, too often the reaction to scammers has been to invite them to speak at conferences, and this has not helped anyone.
But if all of this is true, it is also true that we have an equal duty to identify and call out people abusing the word. This is more than a semantic argument: these are dangerous people. These people can damage or even destroy postive projects operated by sincere people, into which a lot of equally sincere and informed investors have already placed their money. They can damage personal reputations, cause people to miss genuine investment opportunities and they also make it harder to indentify truly malicious scams amongst all the noise. In short, individuals that through ignorance, stupidity or an agenda make a false claim of "Scam!" are a menace, and should not find themselves welcomed or encouraged by others in the community.
But this case warrants special attention. For in this case, the token in question, besides being offered completely for free, was presented forthrightly and with utter transparency to be intended as a joke. That anyone alive should interpret that as a rocket to the moon, and develop an expectation that this coin will make them money, is entirely absurd. It is true that the joke is not just some schlub's joke, it is John McAfee's joke. In a world where anything is possible, it certainly is possible that, through some twisted series of events, they will make someone money at some point. But to bank on this, and to plan for it to the extent that when it does not happen, you feel hard done by? This level of stupidity defies description.
My only advice to these people is to consider the possibility that it may be best to hire someone to manage their investments, and to supply them with a realistic set of expecations. In fact, they may wish to evaluate the relative merits of turning their entire decision making process over to someone else. But at the very least I advise them to - please - work towards developing enough self awareness that, when they do inevitebly lose their money through fair play in the markets, they know to stand with their mouths shut instead of pissing in the pool. Please.