Reddit is expanding a trial program designed to let users reward each other for their contributions, using the Ethereum blockchain.
The program, called "Community Points," was detailed in a slide presentation published Wednesday evening in which Reddit revealed its plans to utilize the Ethereum network to incentivize the creation of "quality posts and comments." The points can be spent on premium features and used as a measure of reputation in the community, the social media platform said.
Users are rewarded based on their contribution to their favorite channels, with the community ultimately deciding how many points each user receives. Users can hoard their points or spend them on unique features such as badges, custom emojis and GIFs in comments.
“We continuously run experiments to explore features that engage our users and communities. With Community Points, we’re working exclusively with two communities to test this feature and gather feedback from our users,” a spokesperson for Reddit told CoinDesk. The spokesperson did not name the two communities, but an image on the announcement suggests they are r/Cryptocurrency and r/FortNiteBR.
In addition, users will be able to leave a tip for comments they like or posts they see as valuable. Users will also be able to transfer community points directly to another Reddit member's Vault as well as any Ethereum wallet address.
In order to start contributing, users need to sign up to the "Vault," Reddit's local blockchain wallet, accessed via scanning a QR code through the official Reddit app.
According to the post, community points are controlled by the user where users retain full control, meaning moderators nor Reddit itself can take points away or decide how they should be spent.
As it currently stands, it can be hard for other members to see how much one user has contributed to a community. Reddit's points hope to fix that by making the process more transparent with a total balance displayed next to their name.
There is a warning, however. A private key is provided once a user creates a Vault, which is stored locally on the user's smart device. That means if the user doesn't create a backup key and loses his phone, he will be unable to access the community points, with Reddit claiming even it will be unable to help.
How does it work?
According to Reddit, community points are run by "a suite of smart contracts that manage balanaces, distribution/claiming and purchasing memberships." They utilize and leverage existing parts of the Ethereum ecosystem, such as the ERC-20 token standards, which in turn have been reviewed by Trail of Bits, an independent blockchain security firm.
The transactions on Ethereum cost "gas," which are tiny amounts of Ethereum's native crypto, ether (ETH). Reddit has stated that since most users don't own any ETH, the social platform is ready to cover the cost of gas "for now" for those using its in-built Vault, but those using other Ethereum wallets may be required to pay for the cost of gas themselves.
The platform said it plans to adopt a better scaling and gas solution in the future "as they emerge" while the rollout of community points remains in beta throughout the remainder of the summer.
It's unclear how far Reddit plans to take the tests or what its next steps might look like, but Wednesday's announcement is an expansion of an already-running trial. A user shared details about the potential Community Points last month, though at the time the spokesperson said the program was confined to a single subreddit.