DARPA-Funded Study Looks at How Crypto Chats Spread on Reddit

A U.S. Department of Energy science lab has been studying how well three popular cryptos performed in Reddit chats. Here's what they found.

AccessTimeIconJun 6, 2019 at 12:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 9:16 a.m. UTC
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A U.S. Department of Energy science lab has been studying studying how well three popular cryptos performed in Reddit chats.

According to a press release provided exclusively to CoinDesk, data analysts at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) measured the speed and scale of discussions related to three cryptocurrencies, bitcoin, ethereum, and monero, on Reddit. For the study, they crunched data covering a three-year span from January 2015 to January 2018.

Of the three cryptos, they found bitcoin was the most discussed, with 3,600 comments posted each day. That's far ahead of ethereum and monero, which had an average of 500 and 380 comments per day, respectively.

The PNNL study, which was notably funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), also showed that people responded more quickly to bitcoin posts, taking an average of 11 minutes to start gathering comments.

Posts about monero and ethereum, meanwhile, took on average 20 minutes and 27 minutes, respectively, for the discussion to kick off. Discussions on bitcoin were also the fastest to grow, followed by ethereum, then monero.

All this is perhaps to be expected with bitcoin being the top cryptocurrency in terms of market cap and media exposure. However, there were more surprising findings.

In terms of how long a post gets discussed, it was monero that came top with the largest median lifetime. Ethereum posts, on the other hand, had the largest possible lifetimes, while bitcoin discussions had the lowest median lifetime of the three coins.

Bitcoin and ethereum also produced five times more ineffective posts – those that fail to garner any comments – than monero.

The PNNL study, led by Dr. Svitlana Volkova, was launched to better understand online communication patterns and develop a quantitative framework for how such information propagates, according to the press release.

Volkova said:

“Cryptocurrencies are quite unique observable units of information in the way discussions about them spread across social platforms. ... These social signals are quite useful, and by incorporating them with machine and deep learning, we intend to build predictive models that hit on causal relationships between different variables so we can explain model decision-making processes.”

PNNL further said that the analysis presented in its study could be used to inform a variety of financial market analytics. The lab intends to expand its research on the spread of cryptocurrency discussions with other viral trends, such as the spread of computer vulnerabilities and misinformation.

The PNNL study was presented at the Web Conference 2019 in San Francisco, California on May 17 and can be found online here.

Reddit image via Shutterstock


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