Yesterday, the @Bitcoin account on Twitter was suspended and eventually deleted.
The account, which before the Bitcoin Cash fork of 1st of August 2017 had been used for information about Bitcoin, was well-known for being vehemently pro-Bitcoin Cash and extremely opposed to the Bitcoin as developed by the Bitcoin Core Team.
Since it’s removal, it has been picked up by an unknown person who calls himself Andrei from Russia, its posts have been put on protected mode and no post have been made anymore.
As of 10th of April 2018, it is back in the hands of the former owner.
Now, there is a lot that can be said about this, from the fact that Twitter has the power to decide to ban such a high profile account to the communication ethics of using a previous community service account for delivering a partisan message.
However, I believe the most interesting question is how to deal with such accounts in the first place.
Governance issues, again
To me, “official” accounts present a project such as Bitcoin with many problems.
I personally encountered this when a few people and I set up a purely functional legal entity to sign off on contracts for conferences for the Nxt community. We called it the “Nxt Foundation” and immediately opened a can of worms.
You see, it turns out that people love to flock towards a perceived authority, and that “Foundation” tacked onto our entity made us a perfect focus for that.
From the start, we signalled that we did not want to be an “authority”, but I am sad to say that we more and more were pushed into that role.
Now, what does this have to do with the @Bitcoin account?
For me it’s clear: if you want to ensure avoiding any kind of leadership problems, you will give named entities a wide, wide berth!
We see a similar issue when Bitcoin Core is being discussed, and I have written about that previously.
Names are a problem
That’s a pretty bold statement, but they are.
Names ossify meaning, and as such can be a huge problem when using them to encapusalate a fluid system.
“Bitcoin Core” as a name for the “people who happen to work on the Bitcoin software at this time” is a problem.
The @Bitcoin Twitter handle has the same problem. For most people, it seems to be the official handle for the “leaders” of Bitcoin.
But these do not exist in a regular sense! Yes, there are influential people, on many levels. They also frequently disagree, often very strongly.
In a sense, the Bitcoin Cash people are a subset of Bitcoin influencers.
They certainly have not definitively distanced themselves from the Bitcoin egregore, because they claim lineage from the Whitepaper.
Oh yes, the whitepaper has the same kind of problem!
This is also evident by the textual exigesis which is being done on the Bitcoin Whitepaper, where the hunt for “Satoshi’s Vision” has started.
The thing is: you won’t ever get it out of the Whitepaper. Words are always open to interpretation, and any biblical exegist will tell you it’s a fool’s errand to try and pin it down.
Most people sense this when confronted by Bible bashing literalists. It isn’t different with the whitepaper, which is light on math and big on vision.
Distance from solid entities
I would definitely like to see the Bitcoin project take pride in not needing “official” accounts, be they Twitter handles, websites, Team identifiers, reddit pages or any other usual name of identifying solid entities.
Yes, it’s a shift in handling these things, but to consider any ad hoc grouping as limited and ephemeral is definitely possible.
Yes, it may be against every simple rule of marketing, but who cares? That’s narrow thinking.
Leaders come and go, sites come and go, influencers come and go. I say we are goal driven, and if a person becomes influential, it should be on merits.
Jimmy Song and Andreas Antonopoulos and LukeDashJr and whomever become founts of knowledge because people find them helpful.
There are plenty who used to be in such a position, but have faded from the limelight, either by choice, or because they didn’t add anything people found useful to the mix anymore.
It would be beneficial to move away from such things and rigorously embrace the short lifespans of useful entities. That way, when they disappear, we can just let them go and go to another.