Sources close to CoinDesk confirm that at 9:00am GMT, the website’s proprietary news blockchain, the distributed, immutable record of its news coverage, experienced a sudden, controversial hard fork resulting in two separate and irreconcilable versions of its news history.
From this time forward, readers have reported unexpected increases in the size of the CoinDesk’s text, to the point where certain articles experience wildly fluctuating text sizes.
— Fabian Vogelsteller (@feindura) April 1, 2016
@coindesk website going crazy when reading article. Paragraphs randomly increasing n size. Feature or hack!
— #PL (@patricklismore) April 1, 2016
However, for many observers of the website, the split is not unexpected, as it follows a months-long debate in the once-lauded organization over how it could best modify its website to increase the size of its audience.
At issue, members of the organization said, was the size of the font on the website, which through a hard-coded rule in the CoinDesk news blockchain, was limited to a 12-point size. Opponents of the measure had long argued that the 12-point text size was too limiting for a readership that was increasingly aging due to an influx of financial incumbents.
CoinDesk Turbo chief scientist and journalist Stan Higgins said:
“An over-60 readership demands a larger text. It is simply irresponsible for CoinDesk to continue to neglect making the necessary changes to ensure a wider demographic can read about an online web currency predominantly used by millennials and criminals.”
The argument ran counter to a roadmap put forth by CoinDesk Editor Pete Rizzo, who had argued for an aggressive move away from the 12-point font size could put the network at risk should a consensus on the text size not be reached.
Rather than a tweak to the font size, Rizzo had put forth a proposal called CoinDesk Smooth that would have decreased the size of CoinDesk’s pages, thereby making the text look bigger, even as it remained the same size.
The change was held up as a breakthrough in newschain science by some, yet derided as a hollow workaround by others.
“News blockchains remain a relatively underdeveloped field of study,” Rizzo had said earlier this month. “We simply do not know the full ramifications of this change. What we need now is to keep that news flow nice and smooth.”
Still, some had questioned the validity of Rizzo’s statement given that, as one of its longest-serving editors, he had benefitted from a pre-mine of rizzocoin, the native token on the CoinDesk news blockchain.
At press time, Rizzo was reported to have more than 98% of the networks tokens, though he repeatedly declined requests for further comment.
“We all know what this is about,” Higgins said during a recent meeting to discuss changes to the CoinDesk newschain. “Rizzo can’t get enough of that sweet, sweet coin.”
At launch, Rizzocoin was heralded as an innovative alternative cryptocurrency for its much-vaulted single coin, paired with a signature catch phrase: “Out of One, Many”.
However, the project quickly sparked controversy upon the discovery of trillions of previously unknown tokens, the majority of which were held by Rizzo.
Tensions were further fueled when Rizzo unilaterally founded RizzoCorp, a startup devoted to both fostering development of rizzocoin as well as building enterprise solutions based on rizzocoin technology.
Representatives of RizzoCorp, however, maintain there was no connection between the well-funded company and the largely underpaid rizzocoin open-source development community.
Business in turmoil?
Following the website issues, eyewitness reports suggested the scene was ‘chaotic’.
CoinDesk director of strategy Jeremy Bonney was seen absconding from a second story window in what was described as a “desperate” attempt to flee the premises. His clothing, some said, appeared singed or had a “faint smell of burning”, though reporters were unable to confirm if this differed from his normal appearance and odor.
Calls and emails to CoinDesk’s offices in New York were not returned by press time. When reached for comment, CoinDesk lead developer Jonathan Bull could be heard laughing at steadily decreasing volumes before ending the phone call.
CoinDesk reporter, and the startup’s most recent hire, Michael del Castillo could not be reached.
Nuclear image via Shutterstock