Taylor Monahan on Starting a Crypto Business


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The creator of both My Etherum Wallet and now MyCrypto.com, Taylor Monahan, joined us for another discussion in what is fast becoming a mainstay of the Crypto 101 podcast. This time the topic of conversation was what to expect when building a crypto company from the ground up. Taylor has had ample experience — including mistakes made and lessons learned — and she shared some of her journey with us.

For most of us, our journey into the crypto space began as a hobby. We all learned about this strange concept called ‘the blockchain’ or had a friend who was evangelistic about Bitcoin. For most, being interested and engaged in the cryptosphere as a hobby is more than enough and a perfectly interesting and enjoyable past-time — maybe even a way to see some return on investment. But for some, that hobby has the potential to begin blossoming into something a bit more complex. Crypto 101 is the perfect example of an interest-turned-hobby-turned-potential business.

But when should a hobby become something more official? Should it ever? If you are interested in developing a company around blockchain or cryptocurrency, Taylor has some hard-won advice and some passionate concerns.

Her advice on when to start putting formalities in place is it is always best to be early rather than late. Below are some practical steps derived from lessons learned along the way. Taylor’s initial warning is that “these things take time and they’re not fun” but that doesn’t take away from their importance.

As everyone’s circumstances are different it is impossible to give a blanket “this is what you need to do” list. The first thing Taylor says when asked the “when do you make the call to start a crypto business” is:

You’ll know

We can’t answer this for you. But Taylor’s advice is that you’ll know when you know. Maybe you are unhappy in your current position, or perhaps the income you are receiving from your crypto hobby is starting to look competitive with your other income streams. The main thing to be concerned about here is to be reasonable and prepared. This is not something to take lightly or begin on a whim. Which leads to the next point.

Figure out if it is reasonable

Sometimes hobbies are so enjoyable because they are hobbies. Turning a hobby into work isn’t always the best idea. Be reasonable. Make sure to be as objective as possible before you turn this fun side project into something you are depending on for your next meal or rent payment. Things can go bad, and fast — we will come back to this.

Be mentally and organizationally prepared

Taylor stressed to not assume you can just figure it out as you go. You need to prepare yourself mentally for the task ahead. Not only that but you need to be organised. Make a list, have a plan. If you have a plan you are preparing yourself well for when circumstances change — because they will change. Don’t be scared when they do. Be flexible. Part of that plan involves being clear with business partners about expectations. These are people who have mouths to feed and bills to pay too. Treat them with respect.

Put it on paper and be clear on expectations

Be proactive and do the things that aren’t fun early. Write up contracts/agreements before it gets uncomfortable or messy. Be clear with each other up front.

These are just a few well-earned lessons from a pioneer in the crypto world. They bear a similar theme — that is that they are all rather simple and practical.

An important warning

So should a hobby be turned into a job? Taylor’s most passionate advice came not from mistakes she has made but worries she now has. If your hobby turns into a job for other people too, if your crypto company pays people, you now have a LOT of responsibility. You then have people that depend on you. If your company makes a misstep, that could result in people not being paid, or worse, losing their job. This is not to be taken lightly, and making sure you get the boring stuff right upfront can guard against this nightmare.

A last word

During the interview, Dani brought up a well-known business mantra — “fail fast” — and wondered if Taylor agreed. The mantra is designed to encourage people to find their weaknesses and fail quickly in order to minimize the damage and negative effects the failure brings. Taylor’s take on this was insightful and especially true for the crypto space. Her reasoning was more along the lines of ‘act fast.’ Get something to market, something people can engage with. Because “you have no idea how people will use your product.” Once it is out in the open you can learn what the community likes and dislikes and what they are using your creation for, thus giving you the opportunity to hone and tailor your product or service to be more effective.

If you haven’t listened to the episode yet, click the link below to hear our candid discussion with Taylor.


Crypto 101 interview with Taylor — here

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What We All Need To Hear — A Fireside Chat


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Former President of the USA, Franklin D. Roosevelt, famously inaugurated a since forsaken ritual known as the “Fireside Chats” in which he would speak openly to the American people over the radio. Rather fittingly, some of the topics he discussed in the earlier chats included banking crises and a looming recession.

ICO 101 host, Aaron Paul, recently sat down for his own fireside chat of sorts, not because he had planned to, but because a prospective interview had completely abandoned the podcast recording with no warning, no apology. If you haven’t already listened to the podcast, I recommend you do now — it is only 10 minutes.

Aaron hits on some incredibly important points concerning the professionalism — or lack thereof — in the ICO space currently. Speaking from his business background, he rightly highlights that small habits and behavioural traits can go a long way in establishing your product, your brand, and ultimately your project, as a leader in the ICO space. No-showing an arranged interview, not being able to clearly explain your project’s tech, and failing to justify enormous hard caps are not good habits to develop. Unfortunately, they are patterns of behaviour we are seeing more and more frequently of late.

While the point of this fireside chat was to do what Crypto 101 and ICO 101 have made a habit of doing — demanding excellence from the space — there was one more thing I felt needed to be stressed. That is our role as investors, as students, as early adopters in the cryptocurrency + blockchain universe. The crypto + blockchain space includes tens of thousands of people like us — the university students, parents, retail workers, truck drivers, nurses. The lack of professionalism often displayed by these ICOs is a slap in the face to us all who are investing time and money into this promising new technology and trusting them to deliver their end of the deal in bringing about a less centralised future.

It often feels like the focus is all-too-often squarely placed on the next promising ICO, or the latest success, even the latest exposed scam. The ICOs currently on the market or asking for our support are both heroes and villains of the story.

But where does that leave us?

We have become standers-by. We are left to either fortuitously ride the success of the heroes, or go down hard with the villains. On both occasions, we are nothing more than hangers-on — extras on set. For some of these ICOs we are little more than piñatas full of cash, waiting to be cracked open to reach that absurd, astronomical hard cap. Then, if the ICO turns out to be a scam, or fails for any number of reasons, we are often treated as idiots for having invested in the first place.

This is not acceptable. As early adopters, as investors in these projects, these teams, we are the essential ingredient that makes the ideas come to life. Without us the ICOs are nothing, they have no capital, no tangible way of putting their ideas into practice. As such, we need to start seeing ourselves not as standers-by or hangers-on, passively waiting to go to the moon on the back of some pump and dump, but as protagonists too.

We are part of the main cast in this blockchain blockbuster.

We need to start seeing ourselves as major players in the space. When we do, we start to demand excellence from ICOs, not because we are waiting to go to the moon, but because we value the tech, we see the potential in revolutionary ideas, and we believed in a promise, in a team, who said sold us on the idea that they alone could bring about a small part of the decentralised future.

If Aaron Paul’s fireside chat serves as a reminder to the many complacent, unprofessional ICOs currently in the space. I hope this write-up can serve as a reminder to us, the investors, to not be complacent and to see ourselves as the protagonists driving the story forward.


Aaron Paul’s Fireside Chat — https://apple.co/2GGANEU

The Byzantine Generals’ Problem


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This week, Douglas Pike of Verium took some time away from trying to discover the origins of life to help us at CRYPTO 101 better understand the Byzantine generals’ problem.  What the problem essentially boils down to is trust. It is called the Byzantine generals’ problem in reference to a hypothetical problem depicting a group of Byzantine generals surrounding an enemy city. The generals need to decide whether they are going to attack or retreat. If they are to be successful in their siege, they all need to agree to attack, and at the same time.

The Byzantine generals’ problem is an analogue of a well-known trust-based fault in distributed networks (like the blockchain). It is an illustration of the question “how do we know we can trust each other?” When we are only one member of a multi-member network needing to agree on a public course of action, how can we be sure the messages other parties are sending to us are trustworthy and haven’t been tampered with along the way? Similarly, how can we convince other parties that our messages can be trusted?

This is a ‘consensus problem’.

The messengers of each general’s army need to pass through the city in order to deliver their message to the other sides. During this delivery process, they may be kidnapped and their messages could be tampered with. One general sending the message “ATTACK TOMORROW AT NOON” could have their message tampered with so that by the time it arrives at its destination it now reads “RETREAT IMMEDIATELY”.

You may have read that Bitcoin is a “Byzantine Fault-tolerant system”, this simply means that Bitcoin has set itself up in a way with an inbuilt solution to the problem so that it can say that is in some way ‘tolerant’ of this inherent problem. The way Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies do this is with what is called ‘Proof of Work’.

Without getting into the technicals of an entirely different topic, essentially what Proof of Work does for the problem faced by our generals is to make the task of altering the messages incredibly difficult. Below is a brief example with links to the more technical details in brackets.

Think of the generals as Bitcoin wallets. One wallet sends out the message “I am sending Johnny 1BTC”. The hope is that this message will soon be added to the public distributed ledger.

Returning now to the generals — they have previously agreed, before separating to encircle the city that they will add extra characters (nonce) to the end of any message they send so that when the message and the extra characters are mathematically combined together by the recipient using a previously agreed-upon algorithm (SHA256) they will produce a new and different number (hash) with a certain aesthetic characteristic. For example, they may agree that the hash of a received message after undergoing the calculation of the algorithm must begin with ten zeros. If a message is received and once calculated it does not begin with then zeros then the message is rejected as a possible fraud.

This allows the system to be ‘tolerant’ of the problem because it is extremely difficult to tamper with the messages encrypted in this way. If the city intercepted the message “I AM SENDING JOHNNY 1BTC” and changed it to “I AM SENDING SARAH 100BTC” without changing the nonce, it would not result in the correct attributes of the hash — those then zeros.

The city could also try to fiddle with the nonce as well as the message (transaction) in an attempt to produce a hash with ten zeros at the beginning to try trick the network of generals (or Bitcoin wallets) into believing their altered message. However, the ONLY way to do this is by guessing nonce after nonce and running the algorithm in an attempt to stumble upon a hash with ten zeros. This is why it is called Proof of Work — in finding the hash you have PROVED you did the work. It takes energy and time.

You might think “well, it still isn’t impossible, the city might be able to brute force their way and complete the Proof of Work task and change the message to “I AM SENDING SARAH 100BTC” or in the case of our generals “RETREAT IMMEDIATELY”. This is true, but it is made exponentially more difficult by adding more players to the game.

This is why decentralisation is so powerful. The more generals surrounding the city, or the more Bitcoin wallets/transactors in the network the more difficult it is to dupe the system. Because now the generals aren’t just sending one message to one recipient, nor are the wallets sending one notice of a transaction to one recipient — they are being sent to every general, every wallet. This is why it is called a “distributed ledger” these messages go out to all parties and all parties can keep record of them.

If the city successfully captured one message and altered it by brute forcing the correct nonce to produce the previously agreed-upon hash, this would take time. It is vastly improbable that they would be able to do this before other generals/wallets received their own version of the message and validated it as an authentic message using the algorithm.

However, let’s say they succeed and create an altered message with a new nonce that also creates a hash with that trademark 10 zero beginning. Once the city had sent their new message off on its way to one of the generals, even with the correct nonce, that general would now have two conflicting messages — one saying “ATTACK TOMORROW AT NOON” and the other “RETREAT IMMEDIATELY”. Or in the case of the Bitcoin wallet, “I AM SENDING JOHNNY 1BTC” and “I AM SENDING SARAH 100BTC”. They have an internal consensus problem. All this general would have to do is ask the other generals which message they had accepted. To which they would all respond with the unaltered version of the message — Johnny gets his 1BTC and the generals agree to attack tomorrow at noon. Thus the altered versions would be rejected and the original, untampered messages would be accepted. Even if the city quickly copied out multiple versions of their new message, it would be rejected on the basis it was received far later than the original, untampered messages.

The Byzantine generals’ problem can never be 100% guarded against. There is always the possibility that an altered message could be successfully created and find its way into acceptance. One of the primary ways this can happen is through what is called the 51% attack. Which would mean that over half of the generals might be working alongside the city and colluding to confirm altered messages. This could happen on the Bitcoin network if over half of all the computers validating messages (blocks) were controlled by  one entity.

So, that is the 101 on the Byzantine generals’ problem.

Thank you to Doug Pike for shining some light on this interesting problem.


Link to the Podcast episode featuring Doug Pike: https://apple.co/2uwKXqd

 

 

Honest Previewing of ICOs


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If you were to Google “upcoming ICOs” you would be met with an avalanche of information from various sources. According to Coinschedule.com 144 ICOs have already launched this year. It is hard to deny that the bulk of the ICO-related content out there is tailored toward people who are looking to time the market and make a quick buck. While there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with this there is a distinct lack of a sense of real people talking about real ideas.

The same thing goes for the podcast space. Our Crypto 101 podcast has at times explored some aspects of certain ICOs but this is not its focus. The podcasts that do focus heavily on ICOs largely offer themselves as platforms for ICOs to advertise/market themselves. Most are transparent about the fact they do this for payment in a sponsorship model.

Aaron Paul, host of the ICO 101 podcast, has started to include an ICO preview at the beginning of each podcast episodes in which he discusses an ICO that has taken his interest. These previews are exactly what the cryptosphere needs more of — real people talking about real ideas.

The essential ingredient of these previews is that they are not sponsored. This allows Aaron to remain impartial and give his honest thoughts on the project. While we still stress that everyone is responsible for doing their own research on speculative investments, the purpose of these previews is to emulate a conversation between us and the listener. For example, the preview on the Venezuelan Petro was a quick introduction to the idea and some potential issues with its rollout. But Aaron invited listener contributions to help us better understand the project and promised to return to the Petro ICO in due course, to see how it has been unfolding.

Another benefit of investigating and discussing these ICOS from the perspective of an average person doing their own research is the opportunity it provides listeners to hear some of the potential concerns there might be with an upcoming ICO. For example, although Aaron was enamoured by many aspects of the collectables-focused ICO Kapow Coin, he plainly expressed his worry about several things including the project’s website presentation and how this would affect the average consumer’s first impression of their promising idea.

The ICO previews aren’t just limited to upcoming ICOs either. Occasionally we will explore relatively establish projects that have managed to stick around and draw some attention. For example, check out Aaron’s preview of ETHlend.

There is one fundamental driving question that serves as the backbone for all of ICO 101’s previews, and that is:

Does it make sense?

This is an incredibly important question that seems to be far too often overlooked in the cryptosphere. Just a basic “does this make sense?” can go a long way. For example, in the preview of Polyswarm, Aaron confesses upfront that, to him, the project does not make sense. Not least because they were asking for $50mil to fund a crowdsourced anti-virus platform — you can read more about that in our Polyswarm write up. It seems like a basic question but in this rapidly moving space, it is all too easy to get swept up in the hype or be affected by FOMO that we throw money at projects that if we were honest with ourselves, we don’t really understand.

With that in mind, ICO 101’s previews are a unique addition to the crypto-media space. They provide that average consumer with an impartial conversation partner who is enthusiastic about blockchain and cryptocurrency projects, has done a little digging and is prepared to ask “does this make sense?”

What do you think? Is there an ICO you would like previewed? Let us know in the comments.


 

 

ICO101 — The Veris Foundation

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My wife has been studying to become a medical doctor for the last eight years. She is now at the stage where she works almost exclusively in hospitals getting hands-on experience with patients and healthcare providers. One of the most baffling things — both for her and for me — is how dated the healthcare system is when it comes to record keeping. The hospitals she has worked with — even some brand new establishments — still use pens and papers to record all medical notes. Everything is stored in binders and file cabinets. Important information is transmitted over the phone and stored in spreadsheets. At one hospital the most advanced piece of communications technology she came into contact with was a pager!

The cost of monitoring and facilitating health insurance payments in the US has risen to $59 billion, and it is climbing. Much of this cost is attributable to poor record keeping, communication errors and outdated technology being relied upon for what is called the ‘claims process’ — which is process healthcare providers like general practitioners, specialists or hospitals must go through to have a patient’s medical insurer pay for a prescribed treatment. Currently, this is a cumbersome process, laden with errors largely due to this problem of outdated record keeping.


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In the latest episode of ICO101, host Aaron Paul spoke with Chris Plance, CEO and founder of the Veris Foundation. Veris is a US-based non-profit initiative who are proposing a blockchain solution to this problem. According to their whitepaper: “The Veris Foundation solves the problem of bringing healthcare service providers, insurers, and banks together to authorize the provisioning and payment for healthcare services.”

They will attempt to do this by placing the current claims process onto the blockchain, executable by smart contracts. Chris offers the warning that the term “smart contracts” may be deceiving as they aren’t very smart, nor are they technically contracts. But they are incredibly useful. Decryptionary defines them as: “A smart contract is a promise made between two or more people and recorded in the permanent, transparent digital record known as the blockchain.”

First, the Veris Foundation will operate a governance layer via the Proof of Stake mechanism. Meaning, in order to participate in their solution, providers, payers (insurers), or financial institutions would hold “VeriStakes” and serve as disinterested third party governance over individual smart contracts as well as having the ability to create new contracts. Secondly, there are “VeriCoins” which are given as a reward for holding VeriStakes and can be used to execute smart contracts but not create new ones. This is a similar set up to the NEO blockchain whereby NEO coins are staked and their GAS tokens are rewarded.

The smart contracts involved would embody the current claims made by the healthcare providers to the payers. These typically involved many stages including eligibility, pre-authorization, claim submission, claim to process, claim payment and post-payment review. All of which takes time, money and are wide open to clerical error and miscommunication. The entire process can be shifted to the Veris network and have the process streamlined by executing the claims efficiently and economically via smart contracts.

These smart contracts would be a series of integrated contracts — responsible for different stages of the claims process — in communication with one another and would trigger each other once they have been executed. For example, in order for a payment to be finalised, the patient’s ID would need to be verified and the contract between the patient and the payer would also need to be verified etc.

Overall, the Veris Foundation is proposing a unique and sorely-needed use case of blockchain technology to an industry crying out for innovation. Some of the challenges will include familiar themes like convincing stakeholders to adopt the platform. We will have to see how a system who in 2018 relies on pens, paper, phone calls and Excel spreadsheets will react to a proposed blockchain solution to the expensive claims process. Veris might be the project to do it. The core team has over 30 years of experience in the sector and a solid proposition.

What do you think?

 


ICO101 Podcast on the Veris Foundation — https://apple.co/2pma0qQ

The Veris Foundation — http://www.verisfoundation.com

Information on the crowdsale — http://www.verisfoundation.com/presale

Is Data the new Oil?

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In the latest ICO101 podcast Aaron Paul interviewed Dan Gailey, founder of Synapse.ai to discuss one of the newest ICOs in the space.

Every time we scroll through Facebook, buy a book online or click a link in a tweet, we are offering up something of ourselves to giant data collectors. These entities have every ‘right’ to collect our data too, we gave it to them when we signed the 47 pages of terms and conditions when we signed up for their service. These companies have complete control over what has been called ‘the attention economy.’

We haven’t been conditioned to think of our purchasing habits, online behaviour or even our attention as an asset, as something with value. But the Facebooks and Amazons of the world know full well that your attention is money.

Synapse.ai wants to offer a way for everyday people to take ownership of their data and in the process offer up as much or as little as they want to aid in building machine learning and peer to peer sharing of information resources.

“Data is the new oil,” reads the tagline on their website.

The idea is that by becoming a user of Synapse.ai you are taking control of your data instead of just giving it away for free. The way this will work is via trade between users in the synapse marketplace (alpha open now) using the SYN tokens. Everyday users will then have the ability to offer what data they wish to other users requesting it of them for a payment of SYN tokens. This may be as simple as where one spends their online attention.

For those wanting to learn more about the details of how this will work, this is not the space, but I would recommend consulting their whitepaper.

However, we at ICO101 aren’t here to promote but to educate and investigate. As it stands, I do have a few questions regarding this project:

One of my questions was asked by Aaron. It seems the success of Synapse.ai is predicated on data collectors agreeing to now pay for data they are already getting for free — or, far less believable — users rejecting their iPhones and Facebook accounts by refusing to sign off on the terms and conditions of use. There has to be an agreement from both data sellers and buyers on a fair attribution of value, and that Synapse.ai is the marketplace for such a transaction.

Gailey’s response:

“I wholeheartedly believe that the models that they’ve [Facebook, Amazon etc.] built, are fundamentally flawed, on the condition that this network is rolled out and people are participating in it.”

This is an important belief to hold if you are establishing a marketplace for data, and he is right, their models are flawed, at least in the way that they essentially vacuum up data from millions of people every day for free and then spin that data into further profit.

Aaron was not convinced that these tech giants will change their ways so easily, however. Neither am I. Aaron asked a version of, “Why would someone like Apple agree to start buying data they are receiving for free?”

Gailey again:

“What will happen is, the data that Apple can get by building this pipeline [to] you to participate in their network will have to comingle with the network that we’re building. I think we will see more and more companies adopting — in phased aspects — the network that we are trying to get [into] the hands of everyone.”

From this, it appears that it will be a slow and steady method of Synapse.ai collecting user’s data, at the user’s discretion for some time and then in the future perhaps an Apple or Facebook, or some company not yet thought of will come along and place value on these stores of data. At that point, that company may wish to participate in the data marketplace run by Synapse.ai.

However, who sets the value of my data, my attention? If it is a user-decided, say I believe my online activities for a week are worth xSYN tokens, what is stopping other people from valuing their online activity for a week at half that? Will my data still be worth purchasing? However, if it is the buyers or the governance layer of Synapse.ai who sets the value of my data, have I really taken ownership of anything? Am I not just being incentivised to give up more of myself for a small fee? Sure, this is better than the system we currently live under, but by how much?

Another problem that Synapse.ai faces is the problem of fraudulent or spammy data entry. As it currently stands, users are incentivised to share data but it is unclear how the system will safeguard against users inventing and submitting false data. There is a monetary incentive for people to add as much info as possible, true or false. This can simply be a problem in terms of clutter and fake accounts — similar to other data collection platforms like twitter and facebook right now — but there is also an ethical consideration.

The data, Synapse.ai wants to collect and trade in will be used for machine learning, it is in everyone’s interest that this machine learning is predicated on reliable and helpful information. An AI algorithm designed to provide information to you based on thousands of other users data will be corrupted and probably unhelpful if the data set was populated largely by Russian bots.

Overall I think machine learning, the attention economy and taking ownership of our data is are important and exciting areas, especially when paired with blockchain technology. Synapse.ai is one of a few promising start-ups attempting to provide solutions.

If you have answers to the questions above, please let us know in the comments!

 


With a hard cap of $15mil, Synapse.ai’s token sale is in stage 2 and is still live. Synapse.ai is offering free tokens when you sign up through this ICO101 exclusive link. Gailey mentioned that the developer portal is in early alpha and wallets are in development with the intention of being released before the end of the token sale on March 12th.

When Facts become FUD

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It is quickly becoming normal to not question some of the established crypto projects. This is incredibly unhealthy.

While it may not be comfortable to have our favourite investments challenged, if we lose the practice of being critical, demanding excellence from the projects dominating the space, expecting clarity and precision from whitepapers and mission statements; if we fail to call out the inconsistencies or potential oversights of these projects because learning about these things is hard work and can make us feel uncomfortable, then we are doing ourselves and the cryptosphere a giant disservice.

This habit of denying all uncomfortable news or opinion isn’t just reserved for the crypto projects themselves, but even the media outlets, blogs and content aggregators.

An extreme example:

A few weeks ago I found myself scrolling through my Reddit feed, which is now mostly just crypto-related news, memes and opinions. One post caught my attention. Something about cryptocurrency regulations in the US. I clicked on the link.

Immediately my ISP sent a warning indicating that the site I was about to visit was likely malicious and that I should not continue to load the page. The warning specifically alerted me to the presence of malware on the site. I quickly closed the tab and returned to Reddit. Curious, I checked out the user who posted the link. Their entire Reddit post history was one long stream of realistic-sounding headlines and coin speculation posts which ALL linked back to this apparently malicious website. Almost one every hour on most of the major crypto subreddits. There wasn’t a single post that did not include the link.

Alarm bells?

I then did some further research and discovered that the site was blacklisted by Norton Security services as a malware gateway.

I’m not a cybersecurity expert, but with the abundance of scams, rorts and shady business that have been picking up steam in the last few months I considered myself lucky that my ISP recognised the site as dangerous and allowed me the opportunity to avoid a potential hack. I thought I should warn the community that this user was likely using Reddit to spam opportunities for spreading malware.

I reported the user to Reddit support and to a number of the admins on the major channels. Finally, I decided to make a post on r/CryptoCurrency. I called the user out by name and mentioned that they were spamming links to a malicious site and that people should be careful.

The response was shocking. There were those who upvoted for visibility and said a quick thanks. But there were a surprising number of people who immediately accused me of spreading FUD.

Like, really surprising.

Here I was simply trying to bring people’s attention to a threat to their online security, people who are likely trading in cryptocurrencies themselves, and apparently, I am a FUD spreader!?

I even got private messages from people accusing me of spreading FUD for Reddit Karma or financial incentive. How that is even possible, I have no idea. One person even threatened me saying “You should really watch your back from now on.”

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A less absurd, though equally worrying example:

I recently published an opinion piece about Power Ledger. I was clear from the start that I did not consider myself an expert in crypto or energy markets and I was looking to learn, but I had some pretty prescient questions concerning their vision and model (questions I must admit, that remain largely unanswered). You can read the article here.

Again, because I wasn’t singing praise but instead demanding excellence and explanation, I immediately was accused of spreading FUD. I was accused of being affiliated with competing brands, of being ‘jealous’ I did not buy in at the right time. But mostly I was just too stupid to understand the product so I resorted to spreading FUD.

This was all insane to me.

We need to be clear about what FUD is. Decryptionary defines it as “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. FUD is any information that is supposed to create feelings of fear, uncertainty, doubt and other negative emotions.”

With this definition, a warning about malware, or a critical opinion piece about your favourite coin might induce some feelings of FUD. You might become fearful of Reddit, or uncertain and doubtful about a product you have already invested in.

However, before crypto, before online forums, as far back as the 1920’s FUD referred to an intentionaldisinformation strategy.

The difference is in the intentionality.

Somewhere along the way, in this haste to drive Lambos on the Moon, we dropped the significance of the intention behind the information we consume. We just believe that if something makes us feel good, it’s true. If it makes us feel bad, it has to be false. If someone doesn’t buy into the hype of our favourite coin, they are an idiot.

In the study of logic, something is necessarily true if and only if it cannot be otherwise.

So, we need to make something clear. If your reaction to some news or an opinion is either fear, uncertainty, or doubt, that does not mean that the news or opinion is necessarily false. Similarly, it does not mean that that information is intended disinformation strategy designed to make you fearful. Of course, sometimes this may be the case and we do need to apply some critical thought, but it is incredibly unhealthy to assume that every time you feel fear, uncertainty, or doubt creeping in, the stimulus you are engaging with MUST be false by definition and intended to deceive. FUD is in the eye of the beholder.

The tendency to treat uncomfortable information has a name in psychology, it’s called confirmation bias. It is the tendency to interpret all information that comes to us in a way that simply reaffirms our pre-existing beliefs. If something can be understood as confirming what we already believe to be the case, it is welcome news. If something is a little more ambiguous, we can bend and stretch it to make it positive and thus confirm our biases. If something is just too strongly contrasting what we already believe to be true then it simply discarded as false.

Ask yourself, ‘could what I am reading be true, even some-what true? What reasons do I think it is/isn’t? Is this worth further investigation?

This is a space in which being informed and educated is unquestionably the best way we can prepare ourselves to make better decisions. Some people out there are simply asking genuine questions — questions that need to be asked — and they are immediately shut down and cast aside as ‘FUDsters.’ We are all at different levels in terms of our knowledge and experience of the cryptosphere. Some people need the basics answered without being slammed. Some people will think that the answers they are being given to the basic questions are still not convincing enough. Some people will find faults, concerns or possible future problems with our favourite coins.

The stupidest thing we can do is not listen to these people or shun them as ‘FUDsters.’ If on the odd chance they are ill-intentioned and just trying to panic the market, if we have taken the time to become educated and apply a little critical thought, what they are spouting is nothing to panic about. But if they are legitimately pointing out a potential problem or concern, burying our heads in the sand benefits nobody, especially not us!


Learning to deal with information that causes a FUD reaction within us is important.You can read our 14 Stages of Emotions When Trading for some tips.