Hey everybody! Discussion starter:
For those of you who have been following the wallstreetbets vs. Melvin capital battle unfold, I’m curious if you see any correlations that may be fruitful to discuss as we envision Polkadot’s future.
The Reddit conflict is still far from over and we’ll see how it pans out but I see emerging something like the first flavor of attacks centralized big-money understand to be at it’s disposal when confronted with decentralized networks with whom they have diverging interests. Here’s what I’ve observed.
Manipulation of mainstream media. Outlets using derogatory terms like reddit “horde” or “frenzy,” “mob.” Starts to split public sentiment, especially with those who don’t understand the whole story. Publishing outright lies: WSB going after SLV (when in reality Melvin is one of SLV biggest owners). How can Polkadot mobilize quickly to protect it’s image and brand in the mainstream media if a company like Melvin who seems to have back door access to major outlets publishes prolific slander?
Inflitrating Reddit. This one is maybe the most pertinent for us building Polkadot to consider. How do we protect our forums? Since the time I joined WSB a few weeks ago, I have seen a dramatic shift in the structure and tone of discussion. There’s nothing to stop Melvin from hiring a small army of bots, shills, and interns to spam the forum. Around the peak of GME there was a huge spike in messages with a parental tone, “please don’t throw your life savings away” etc. Many people investigated suspicious posts and found the accounts had been created recently and copy-pasted the same negative comment many times. Almost overnight the tone changed from unified, buy/hold GME to 50/50 buy/sell. While it is easy to come to the realization this is most likely because Melvin was/is still vulnerable, the effect of the disruption is hard to ignore. It’s hard to know who to trust; I have shut off Reddit altogether. How do we protect Polkadot’s forum platforms from similar attacks?
Infiltrating Reddit admins. Where there are central authorities in our technology, we should expect for there to be a weak link in the system. Combined with the disruption of the forum, there are snippets of behind the scenes upheaval happening between the moderators and Reddit admins. Apparently a few high level mods returned after having abandoned WSB for a long time, and are funneling lucrative traffic to themselves personally, hoping to profit on the publicity. For instance, they have signed a movie deal, etc. Should we at Polkadot look to find ways to protect ourselves from a similar influence compromising central figures in our network? If so, what would that look like?
I realize the conflict between WSB and Melvin Capital is a very particular kind of interaction between centralized and decentralized entity. It is reasonable, I think, to expect there will be many other kinds of interactions, including friendly ones. However, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say; I think we have much to learn from WSB vs Melvin events unfolding; we can position ourselves to have a more resilient integration into mainstream by examining the nature of these attacks and how we can protect ourselves from them.