How Cryptocurrency Discussions are Spreading on Reddit


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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a United States Department of Energy National Laboratory recently published a study by Dr. Svitlana Volkova, to understand communication patterns and how information is spread online, May 13, 2019. The research measured the speed and scale of discussions of three cryptocurrencies on Reddit: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Monero.

The Study

The Internet has completely changed the way we interact with each other. Information travels from one part of the globe to the other at a headlong speed enabling social interaction at a scale never seen before. For this reason, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a United States Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory built a quantitative framework to identify possible communication pattern to understand how information spread online.

In particular, they analyzed Bitcoin, Ethereum and Monero discussion threads on Reddit between January 2015 and January 2018.

Reddit is a large platform for cryptocurrency debates, and every day thousands of comments are posted and can generate real discussions. According to the researchers, analyzing this type of online activity would be useful for developing artificial intelligence models capable of identifying how criminal activities are exploiting that information and thus helping to prevent them.

The study conducted by Dr. Svitlana Volkova found that Bitcoin is by far the most discussed cryptocurrency with an average of 3600 daily comments against  500 for Ethereum and 380 for Monero. Furthermore, Bitcoin posts seem to be the most reactive: people take an average of 11 minutes to respond meanwhile posts related to Monero and Ethereum take an average of 20 and 27 minutes, respectively.

Facts Versus Figures

Bitcoin takes the lead even for discussions growth rate, followed by Ethereum and then Monero. We could logically assume that Bitcoin is discussed more as it is the first cryptocurrency, possesses greater market capitalization, and is regularly presented by national media. However, that’s not the case.

If we consider the rate of ineffective posts, i.e. all the posts that did not trigger any discussion, Bitcoin and Ethereum are in a far worse position than their private colleague. Monero, in fact, produces 5 times less ineffective posts than the first and second cryptocurrency by capitalization.

Monero’s posts have also the largest median lifetimes and Ethereum ones have the largest possible lifetime. Bitcoin discussions, on the other hand, have the lowest median lifetime of the three coins.

Dr. Volkova is satisfied with the results obtained, and in the future aims to integrate these social signals with machine and deep learning to build predictive models that hit on causal relationships between different variables in order to explain model decision-making processes.

Their goal is to broaden their field of research by applying this study carried out on cryptocurrencies with other viral trends, such as the spread of computer vulnerabilities and misinformation.

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