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Real-Time Self-Government In The Cryptocurrency Frontier: The NEM populists smell blood and brandish the hemlock

By Daniel M. Ryan
web posted September 8, 2014

Clash Of The Elders

It started almost innocuously on the NEM discussion thread that February 19th of 2014. First adopter of Nxt, eager buyer of more at 50 times the presale price (as noted two parts prior), old comrade-in-arms of our UtopianFuture when he was a Nxt bulldog (as noted in the prior part), the poster of "Super interested" in the original NEM stakeholder thread, and still true-blue Nxter 2Kool4Skewl popped by the NEM discussion thread mid-afternoon Eastern time February 19th with an observation and suggestion:

I'm not sure why Nem's slogan is "New Economic Movement".  That's a perfect description of the movement Nxt represents.

I think all the Nem supporters would do much better for themselves by building on top of Nxt.

As he accurately-at –the-time observed two months later, NEM at the time of his post had been vapourware. From the technical point of view, and from the point of view of someone who had breezed in after a long absence spent fulfilling other responsibilities, that suggestion didn't have even the hint of a gotcha.

But given that the old rule of representativeness – the most outspoken non-crank members of a community eventually become at least seen as most representative of the community – this almost friendly suggestion contained a very potent gotcha from the populists' point of view. By this time, these populists had a picture of Nxt burned in their minds' eyes that was quite different from the official Nxt logo.

By that time, perhaps because some of the NEMsters felt humiliated by making NEM a clone of the coin that the populists railed against, or perhaps because of this sparse thread, the tech plan for NEM had changed. NEM was to be built from scratch, and it subsequently was – right up to the testers' "alpha" version that's running now. The original idea for a simple, user-friendly client is being implemented, but the discussion on the user interface inside the wallet veered into the usual geek love of techy bells-and-whistles before settling on a simple client.

Yes, innocuous on the surface. But a foretaste of what was to come can be found in this post made a day earlier on that same sparse thread, whose author was the same 2Kool4Skewl: "NEM is not fairly distributed.  Its distribution is highly concentrated, much more so than Nxt."

He was referring to Nxt's distribution as of February 18th, which he explained in a follow-up post in that same sparse thread:

There are more than ~70 involved in Nxt now.  I know that some major shareholders sold their Nxt very early for 1 btc per 1,000,000 Nxt.  [That's because he quite eagerly bought 15 million of them at that price – your ‘umble guide] Now there are over 24k accounts.  The only reason there were only ~70 original investors is because few people were interested.

Once people saw the return people got from investing in Nxt, they started clones of Nxt hoping for a similar return.  Some of these clones were highly fraudulent and the majority were just scams.  [Please note the beforehand well, preferably by re-reading it. Your humble recounter knows, via the hard way, that chasing "The Next [hottie]" is a proven sucker's bet.] NEM's distribution is flawed because of sockpuppet accounts.  It's my opinion that you would do better off with Nxt than with Nem, but that's a decision individuals should make for themselves.  I'm just letting you know what I know.

There are some charts regarding Nxt's current distribution posted in the main Nxt thread.  I'm not sure what page they are on but if you search you will find them.  Nxt is now more distributed than even [Bitcoin].

Just two months earlier, UtopianFuture was making posts in other threads that were a lot like the one 2Kewl4School had made on that thread; it was devoted to discussing whether or not NEM was a scam. Yes, only two month prior, it was likely that you'd come across a defense of Nxt's distribution from none other than the founder, organizer and ambassador of the same coin that his former comrade-in-battle 2Kool4Skewl was criticizing.

But on NEM's official discussion thread, 2Kool4Skewl chose to be respectful instead of outspoken.

His suggestion and recommendation was actually ignored over two pages' worth of fanboi posts on the usual subjects. The populists were apparently on vacation at that time. Or, many of them not being all that familiar with the Nxt world, those red-blooded hippie-averse populists may have thought that 2Kool4Skewl was just an ignorable pipsqueak. The first person to respond to his suggestion was a newbie, floriTor, who – politely – had this to say:

Sorry, I disagree.

Nxt is definitively a wonderful project but it is to represent the core idea of NEM, namely its egalitarian character and fair distribution, and that's made a huge difference.

Still, there is a lot to learn from Nxt and sure all the good ideas that the Nxt community is developing could be used for NEM. But, it is a different concept.

So the first exchange was entirely in the spirit of the No Envy Movement.

As was the next one:

no because one of main features of NEM is a BALANCED distribution.

as simple as that.

I like NXT, and Im a holder, but there are MAJOR differences (eg Proof of Importance)

Yes, at this point the exchange of views was well within the rubric of the No Envy Movement. Note, though, that the populist influence was showing. Even though Nxt's distribution had in fact expanded quite a bit from launch to February, the original pre-sale distribution was a bugaboo that the populists just couldn't shake out of their heads.

Shortly afterwards, a Nemster presented his candidate logo: a red circle with a white fist inside clutching an orange ball. It immediately got a compliment. But UtopianFuture said, although he didn't mind the overall direction, he preferred something more "uplifting." And then he dropped a link to the already-selected 50 best candidates. Later, he specified that he liked the color-mixing direction but was a bit leery of the left-wing undertones. As for his old chum 2Kewl4Skool. UtopianFuture decided to ignore that respectful suggestion post. In fact, UtopianFuture decided to ignore his old comrade completely.

But 2Kool4Skewl, not unlike TheMightyX who kicked off the dive into economic populism, was one to persist. When the mock-up for the first original official Nxt Website was unveiled to the now-usual fanboi applause, 2Kool4Skewl decided that outspokenness was the better part of respectfulness:

Wow.... so original.  This doesn't look at all like Nxt's logo.  lol

Seriously, save yourselves some time and just copy everything from Nxt

Which he followed up minutes afterwards, on a separate thread asking for opinions on NEM, with:

[NEM has] Good technology?  You mean Nxt technology, right?

Many features?  New improvements?  Ok, name them.  What are these amazing improvements?

That got him an outspoken response on that thread accusing him of nursing a hidden agenda, from someone who preferred to present himself as being entertained by 2Kewl4Skool's criticism.

Back on the NEM discussion thread, 2Kewl4Skool saw an eager offer to help NEM which egged him on. He soon sarcastically responded to that eager software engineer with mock advice that what the latter could do for NEM was to use the hotkey shortcuts for "Copy" and "Paste."

A little earlier, he had posted a comment on an old thread that clearly telegraphed that he was hardening up for a verbal battle. Ironically, this thread – barely noticed at the time it was posted – was started by one of those Bitcointalk users who seem to be an unconscious schemer. He posted the opinion that NEM was actually a secret collusive effort by the Nxt developers themselves! He further added the opinion that the Nxt team had hatched this scheme because they were disappointed at the price of Nxt turning down. And of course, to our lover of intrigue, the reason why Nxt had turned downhill was obvious. Not because its hot bull market overreached and ran out of steam, no sir! The Nxters had come up with their cunning scheme because the price of Nxt was being punished by the marketplace. And why was it being punished? For the obvious reason, of course! Because of…Nxt's poor distribution.

This lover of back-room schemes followed his take on Nxt's early-February pullback, a take that he was seemingly convinced showed great insight, with the jaundiced speculation that NEM's distribution wasn't much better than Nxt's because: "We don't know that those account were not created by Nem staff, family members, friends or relatives or even other people creating multiple accounts. "

As you've read through this tale, you may have accumulated doubts about the original sincerity of UtopianFuture in the early days of NEM.  If so, that NEM-is-an-inside-job post does provide independent evidence to suggest that you may have misjudged the man he had been. The post itself garnered only two rebuttals on the day it was started and then sank – only to be revived sixteen days later, at a time when UtopianFuture was all-but molded by the more insistent of his populist followers. Consequently, the second revival post and fourth reply overall had a loyal Nemster openly scoffing at the original suspicion.

It's as if 2Kewl4Skool had already decided that he would have to limber up his keyboard guns as a result of his mockery of NEM's then-official Website. In that revived thread, he had this to say about NEM in mid-afternoon, Eastern Time, February 19th, 2014:

No, there is no conspiracy.  Nem's whole concept is ridiculous.  Even its slogan was copied from Nxt.  It claims it is a "new economic movement", but they got that concept from my quote about Nxt being "not just another cryptocurrency, but a movement".  Nxt is the true "new economic movement".

It claims it is a "no envy movement", but the only reason it exists is for people to try to replicate Nxt's monetary success.

Nem's distribution is highly concentrated.  Currently, Nxt is even more distributed than Bitcoin.

Everyone who is "investing in Nem" is wasting their money imo, but people can make their own decision.

He clearly realized – as certainly did the Nemsters – that when he had suggested in the official NEM thread that the most useful programing skill for a NEM developer was facility with "Copy" and "Paste," the battle was on. The first responder to his wiseacreing naively, or apparently naively, asked 2Kewl4Skool to join the NEM tech team. The second told him, in so many words, that he should stop pigeon-bombing and pitch in. The third told him to either look at the NEM design document or else just fasten it. To the first, 2Kewl4Skoo upped the amperage to: "Nem is a pointless clone currency.  It offers no features that Nxt does not already possess.  A significant amount of funds have been taken from individuals and they are going to get nothing for it.  That is unethical."

And the thread quarrel was on. Some people tried the "No Envy" approach to cajole him, but more than a few others decided it was time for a bench-clearing brawl of words.

But only in a sense. Some tub-thumping words were exchanged, but only some. And – significantly – even the tub-thumping was centered on technical issues. In a sense, it was largely a tough-question and tough-answer type of discussion.

Until a dedicated, populist type of Nemster, who had increasingly lost patience with a genuine first adopter of that unfair-distribution Nxt, burst in with:

The thing that I find the most goddamn ridiculous is the fact that you are a stakeholder in NEM! The only thing your doing here is to to undercut the value of your own investment! If you don't see the innovative part then don't, but surely you are the only one here that does not. Maybe you should consult with jaguar about his development plan.

Or maybe it is because you wont get as big share as you did with nxt  [wink]?

Yes, the Nemster erkki12 had had it. So had his comrade Xpedite, who openly asked UtopianFuture to remove his soon-to-be-ex friend from the NEM stakeholder list and issue a refund. Criticism and outspoken discussion had quickly escalated to a request to expel this enemy within – which itself quickly escalated to heat-of-the-moment 'agreement' for retroactively voiding the stakes all "Nxt trolls."

Although I have found no evidence that UtopianFuture himself had ever written anything critical of Nxt in Bitcointalk, his followers more than made up for his past-love discretion. Already, Nemsters were in other threads openly attacking Nxt in the same loud populist narrative that UtopianFuture had tapped into. If your eyes lock on the Nxt first adopter and the NEM founder solely, you'll see the blooming battle as started by 2Kewl4Skool taking a few definite swats at UtopianFuture's baby. Only researching the backstory reveals that 2Kewl4Skool was all-but-goaded into becoming what UtopianFuture himself had been as 2013 had turned into 2014.

Despite the NEM founder's best efforts, "No Envy" had faded to a high-minded ideal fit only for NEM's blue-bloods. The red-bloods? Those real men took swipes at Nxt, its too-rich big stakeholders, its too-lucky first adopters, and of course its "poor distribution." Despite UtopianFuture's very serious goal of casting NEM as a collegial fellow traveller of Nxt, despite the early work he had put in to implementing that crypto-2.0 collegiality, despite his attempts to divert simmering jealousy of Nxt to his whipping-boy NEX, that ole genie had fully emerged from the bottle that NEM's founder had opened. Smelling an enemy within, the blueblood types joined the red-blooded populists by heaping shame on 2Kewl4Skool's head or attempting to embarrass him.

Even the developer of the former whipping boy, FrictionlessCoin, joined in the fun by offering three supportive posts for the Nemsters: the third was this opinion on why 2Kewl4Skool was an early stakeholder:

He's in the 'interested' list because he thought it was a joke.

Only to realize now that its real competition.

Yep, that FrictionlessCoin was quick to seize the moment. Like so many other whipping boys, he intuitively knew that the best way to get out of the stocks was to join the mob when they condemn an unfriendly outsider. Or perhaps he spotted the perfect payback moment for 2Kewl4Skool's continual hammering of NEX on NEX's own thread. 

Even then, UtopianFuture was apparently above the fray. His first post in late morning Eastern time, answering the concurrent fanboi discussion about NEM's logo, offered some praise for one created by a dedicated fanboi-type of Nemster.

But his next post, made forty-five minutes after his praise post and perhaps prompted by angry private messages from the populists in his community, was this official announcement - with your pesky fact-digger's annotations inserted:

I temporarily took 2Kool4Skewl from NEM stakeholder list as I understand that he does not want to be there [even though he never did say that he wanted to give up his stake.] In the first 20 pages of the fundraising [when stakes were free for the asking], many people do not entirely understand about the scope as well as purpose of NEM so it was easy just to post "interested" there by a mistake. [Presumably, these mistakes included posting   "Super interested!" at a time when the poster had been  enthusiastically flaying  UtopianFuture's then-whipping boy NEX.]  Contrary to what used to be in the first page of the fundraising thread , NEM do offer refund after the announcement of detail development plan (probably in 2 weeks or so) so if someone does not feel they fit in with NEM community, they can leave voluntarily. [Or, presumably, be evicted on the grounds of some theory of "implied voluntarism"…]

As written in ournem.com, at this stage NEM is first of all a community of which people share a certain ideas and goals and we going to build NEM/ Nemcoin as our decentralized payment platform together as we go along. I see no reason to keep people that are unhappy with NEM and this approach. […like this here theory.] There are no coins to share yet so it is not like we are taking anything from anyone. [Feel free to add your own annotation to this one.]  If 2Kool4Skewl wants to join back in, just say so before I make the unified stakeholder list and I will add him in. [Note that UtopianFuture did not write "add him back in." Methinks this elision was not a typo, and I have a little doubt about the earlier elision of "he can:" it's missing in the same sentence after the first comma.] 

The majority of NEM funding comes from Bitcoin and only about 30% of NEM stakeholders appear in NXT discussion before (see an excellent statistics by newcn) so I see NXT and NEM having quite a different demographics, also different technology and purposes. While I think there is a certain aspect of competition between the two blockchain, we can learn from each others as well. Some are developers of both NXT and NEM and they work across the aisle and I think that is a good thing. It will help advancing experiments and innovations in more directions. Compared to Bitcoin and other POW coins, NXT and NEM have more similarity and we can join force to emphasize our strength in a green economical network and highlight the problems with the computational arm-races used by Bitcoin and other POW coins. Let's focus on cooperation and innovation instead of envy and hatred as that are also NEM's core concepts and principles.  [Once the "unhappy with NEM" guy's been temporarily kicked out, of course.]

BTW, we appreciate active participants [including Nxt-bashing economic populists, presumably] much more than passive ones/ investors. So contact me if you want to help in any way. Thanks.

And God Bless NEM Populism!!!

This statement unleashed a veritable thunderstorm of thread-posting applause soon after it appeared. Yes, our UtopianFuture was lavishly praised for showing leadership…the kind of leadership that the populist wing of his followers craved. As a bonding moment, it was almost sacral.

Nneedless to say, 2Kewl4Skool was having none of it. His response to his former friend's announcement and the subsequent love-feast, again with your ‘umble recounter's annotations in square brackets, was:

I can't believe that by simply asking  how Nem differs from Nxt [albeit in a tough-question way sprinkled with a bit of mockery] it caused this reaction.  I'm not trolling.  I still don't understand how Nem is different from Nxt.  I heard that Nem is different because you're translating the code.  I don't think that's innovative.  I think POI is a flawed concept.  I'm not sure what is meant by "different types of node", maybe someone can enlighten me.

The only thing you did by removing me as a stakeholder was to consolidate the currency further.  The good thing about Nxt's initial distribution is that at that time hardly anyone was interested and therefore I believe the stakes belong to different people.  After the clones started and distribution was meted out simply by an "interested" comment, you had a lot of bitcointalk accounts posting "interested" that are controlled by the same individual.  This isn't my biggest concern with Nem, but I don't think it is good.

My main concern is that Nem and Nxt have the exact same stated goal: "The creation of a new economic movement."  I full-heartedly support this objective.  I do not believe a division of resources best serves this purpose. [Some Bitcoiners criticize Litecoin and other altcoins on exactly the same grounds, by the way.]

I also don't like to see people giving away their Nxt for nothing, which at this time, is what they have done.  [Nice comeback to UtopianFuture saying that he had really not taken aything away from 2Kewl4Skool.] They have given it away for the promise of something in the future.  When I posted "interested" [actually more than that, as linked-to above], I didn't know that Nem was going to start collecting Nxt and Btc.  I think this collection is unethical, because I can't see anything worthy of a dev fund.

I try to be honest and fair in all my dealings.  My intent is to strengthen "the new economic movement" not destroy it.  I know the true economic movement was started with NXT by BCNext and I will support it to the end.  Remember, I am the one that stated, "Do not mistake us as just another cryptocurrency.  We are a movement."

His next post, in response to a snarky comeback from a Nemster populist, is one for the ages:

You obviously confuse freedom from centralized economic systems with equal distribution to all.

Do you find it reminiscent of certain people in the wide wide world of politics, dear reader? Certainly, the scoffer's response will:

Is there no one else you can bother?

Haven't you got a wife or cat, dog you can bother?  [Grin] Here is nobody who wants to read your rubbish !!!!!!!

Possibly you got banned in NXT-commonity for doing the same like here!

@UP: Please ban him - he had enough chances to be a part of our community!

Well, our strong-throated populist did not suggest that 2Kewl4Skool imbibe a draft of hemlock…

2Kewl4Skool did protest, of course, but UtopianFuture – in an indirect response to his new foe – showed a newly-acquired liking for his theory of implied voluntarism:

It is not about nxt community. It is about NEM community. If someone is not interested in being part of the NEM community, he can leave and I will refund what he contributed in the fundraising process.

I have emphasized several times, the fundraising is a call for participants in building NEM/ Nemcoin network. If someone is not interested in that, he obviously misunderstood the process and should leave.

His next post showed that he was still clinging to the original ideals that he used to practice fully, but he was also warming up to the idea of throwing out the multiple stakeholders he had explicitly permitted in an earlier, happier time when NEM was full of promise and the dark side was merely latent.

Step by step by incremental step, in a process that was quite diffuse in real time, one of the best of Nxt's early supporters was washing his hand of the Nxt community he used to love and actively bulldog for. Slowly, subtly, in a month-long journey from conception to rallying to organizing to implementing, a month-long journey from peak to higher peak, but also a month-long journey from almost borderless gray area to gray area, Utopian Future had subtly drifted from his original mission.

 His original goal was to offer a welcome mat to disgruntled non-Nxters and later adopters who wished to be first adopters of a Nxt-like crypto – one that had a much more widespread initial distribution than Nxt itself. A New Economy Movement that would ease their qualms about Nxt itself, and offer a second chance to those who missed the original Nxt boat. Not a second chance at sudden riches, but a second chance to form and shape a new second-generation alt that would stand side-by-side in full parity with Nxt itself. A chance to live the dream that only the first teams of start-ups live: not wealth-wise, but build-wise. A chance to be part of a full alternative to Nxt that wouldn't be a target of the envious and the embittered. It was to be issued with open-arms publicity, rather than in obscurity and controversy about its feasibility and technical soundness. A "No Envy Movement" where Nxt and NEM progressed side-by-side into the second-generation future, with NEM being the silver to Nxt's gold.

Slowly, and even imperceptibly to someone caught up in it in real time, UtopianFuture the collegial, practical idealist had slipped into a darker and more familiar figure to political observers like us. From the founder of the "No Envy" movement, UtopianFuture had slid into the shoes of The People's Champion.

And, as in so many cases beforehand, the original principles – taken very seriously at the start – were imperceptivity deprecated to ideals. Ideals more fitted for the high-minded bluebloods of the community than for the red-blooded members who wanted leadership. But only the kind of leadership that would be exercised after their leader had been slowly moulded by the red-blooded populists themselves into exactly the kind of leader that they really wanted.

Even then, though, UtopianFuture did show his roots as a Milton Friedman admirer. In that Nem-is-a-conspiracy in which his newly exiled foe had limbered his keyboard up for forum-post battle, UtopianFuture had this to say about economic "Fairness" and "Equality":

The concept of "fairness" belongs to a moralistic category which for some philosophers mean absolutely nothing. Debates on the… concept of "equality" is equally controversial and problematic.

The liberal [i.e., Friedmanite] philosophy understanding of "equality" in the phrase "liberty, equality and fraternity" has a limited meaning that everyone should have an equal rights before law.

I has steered NEM fundraising away from any claims of being "fairest" or "most equal". The main goal of NEM fundraising is to build a community and secondary goal is to have a decent amount of development fund. I achieved that by spreading NEM as widely and equally as possible (but not perfectly equal).  We will also focus on the principles of egalitarianism and charity but will also consider other practical considerations. Any competition toward being "fairest" or "most equal" without building community and considering other practical issues is pointless, imho.

It was a statement from a practical idealist, one who used the term "liberal" in the same that the late, great Milton Friedman did. A practical idealist, a business-like founder of a movement. A man business-minded enough to know that the demands of the customer-stakeholders should be satisfied, to the best of the businessperson's ability. A man who was business-astute enough to know that a business can't be successful unless it serves the customer dynamically - unless its mix of supply is adjusted to meet the changing pattern of demand.

By this time seeing his former Nxt friend, ally and comrade-in-arms as an enemy, 2Kewl4Skool responded to a snippet of UtopianFuture's Friedmanesque post with this curt reply at Eastern-Time dinner time of February 22nd:

"You have led it down the road of confiscation and mob rule."

The Town-Meeting Trial Commences

2Kewl4Skool never forgave his ex-bud, and he never forgot. Until he was kicked off Bitcointalk on April 28th, 2014 and settled in exclusively at the main Nxt forum, he became an avocational anti-evangelist about NEM.  Not to the point of axe-grinding – the bulk of his posts were still about or related to his beloved Nxt; he also bashed unrelated projects he thought scammy or people he thought stupid – but NEM now had a tireless detractor whose reputation in the Nxt world was golden. Shortly after he was booted off the NEM stakeholder list, he had this to say about NEM in the main Nxt thread:

NEM is like a malevolent dictatorship.  Now they are just pulling peoples' stakes if they don't like what you say.

And in the NEM thread itself, he didn't give an inch. Instead, he began referring to the incident frequently and adding a tough question or two to the ones he already posted.

He and his now enemies were so insistent, a separate Bitcointalk thread was created on the question of what to do with him. It was started by the same erkki12 who, if you'll recall from above, had already had it with 2Kewl4Skool. erkki12 started off in the Bitcointalk world as an investor and more-or-less supporter of Nxt on December 29th, 2013. He jumped into the NEM community after the free stakes were claimed, but he was relatively early. He sent in 40 Nxt, or somewhere around two dollars' worth of Nxt, and qualified for his stake a little after noon Greenwich Mean Time on January 23rd. He didn't post on the NEM discussion thread until February 3rd, but his first post seemed to place him in the fanboi camp with a special interest in the then-in-concept-stage NEM client.

But the client wallet wasn't all he was interested in. On February 4th, when our leader Utopian Future was beginning ever-so-subtly to bend, he disclosed that he sent a personal message to his leader with an offer to help audit the NEM stakeholder list to scotch out "fraudsters" as they were then defined. But for the most part, he seemed to be a fanboi in the early, idealistic, "No Envy Movement" innocent days of NEM. 

He did tip his hand on February 8th on the multiple-stakes issue, from which your backwoods fact-checker has removed both the expletive and the formatting:

To dear fellow investors xax515 and DaFockBro:

Are you ---ing serious?!?

You are now crying that you have bought through your account more than 20 stakes to your friends and family. How can this be, it was clearly stated in the OP that you can buy 1 stake for yourself and 1 for your loved ones.

I don't believe a single word of that bull---- that your trying to sell here. You have multi-bought only to yourselfs, just admit it.

As I've already exposed one multi-buyer with over 70+ stakes I will go through you hashes and see for my self the true amount that you've bought. IMO all stakes owned by the same person, over the amount of 2, should be refunded. Period.

This got a "+1" from a seconder three minutes after he posted it. Evidently, our passionate Nemster erkki12 was a man on the rise in the world of NEM. He had already distinguished himself by setting up a dedicated NEM forum on another Website, and still was an enthusiastic and very active participant in the fanboi part, but he evidently intended to rise in the NEM world on the populist side. Note that he completely omitted UtopianFuture's then-extant promise to never make any retroactive changes to the sign-up terms. As was shown in the previous part, those terms explicitly allowed multiples stakes provided that the stakes were procured through different Bitcointalk accounts and paid for [if applied for after the free stakes were taken] with unique spends evinced by different transaction IDs. Restrictions on the multiple-stakes part were not imposed until page 81 of the first application thread, and UtopianFuture had made it repeatedly clear that he would grandfather anyone who had followed the looser terms up until page 80. He said clearly would not rip up the extant social contract for the sake of his living NEM.

This important and frequently-repeated qualification, though, seemed to have been forgotten by our intrepid populist-on-the-rise. He had already joined in the crowd of angry sockpuppet-hunters who believed that the original rules also included the requirement to use separate Bitcoin or Nxt accounts to send the application fees. As this brief but official statement from UtopianFuture on January 22nd made clear, that "requirement" was not there:

I won't prevent multiple buy-in. It is impossible to prevent people making two- three accounts and register for them. But it won't matter much as our user bases would be huge. Furthermore, it takes time to make multiple accounts. It takes time to manage multiple accounts. Later on you would need to provide me passwords on these accounts. That's a lot of work already and if someone can go through all of that they have shown a lot of interest in NEM and probably deserve their stakes. And at this point, more accounts means more development fund to NEM. So I don't see the need to prevent multiple buy-in. It is very different from someone putting 10.000 NXT in and buy 10% stake of NEM. I very much doubt anyone can have more than 5-6 buy-ins. I hope this explanation clears the worry about double buy-in.

As the context makes clear: he had decided that the additional restriction the populists had imagined into his words, one which he seemed to have considered, were unnecessary because the one-stake-one-Bitcointalk account was sufficient disincentive against sockpuppeters impugning NEM's original goal of wide and more-or-less fair distribution.

But UtopianFuture had also made it repeatedly clear that the final arbiter of NEM's development would be the NEM community. Inevitably, the populists saw this as authorization to modify the stakeholder distribution on their own. They were eager to reduce or eliminate disparities which were at a level that they considered egregiously unjust, which they believed in their red-blooded hearts to be a veritable betrayal of NEM itself.

Direct quote from 2kool4skewl (link: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=446175.msg5240892#msg5240892):

No, there is no conspiracy.  Nem's whole concept is ridiculous.  Even its slogan was copied from Nxt.  It claims it is a "new economic movement", but they got that concept from my quote about Nxt being "not just another cryptocurrency, but a movement".  Nxt is the true "new economic movement".

It claims it is a "no envy movement", but the only reason it exists is for people to try to replicate Nxt's monetary success.

Nem's distribution is highly concentrated.  Currently, Nxt is even more distributed than Bitcoin.

Everyone who is "investing in Nem" is wasting their money imo, but people can make their own decision. [Yes, this is the same quote you saw above – now presented as Exhibit A by the angry prosecutor in the virtual town-meeting trial by poll which our self-appointed prosecutor announced in this post.]

That's it for me with 2kool4skewl. You know before I wrote that he would be a valuable member to this community…

[What he really said: "But I have to say that 2kool4skewl has been a major influence in nxt community and he's known to be a fair and a decent fellow. I just don't get the hostility towards NEM here….But how about we let this go for now, Utopian makes any calls here, and it is pointless to talk about this. I for one would like 2kool4skewl to be a part of the NEM community, not against it." This post evidently walked back two earlier angry responses to 2Kewl4Skool's jibes and criticisms: "And here's an original NXT stakeholder afraid of his investment's value dropping to zero. Why wont you realize that NEM will probably only increase the value of NXT…. Anyhow I find your comments very negative. If you haven't got anything constructive to say please just shut up. We have already proven in many ways that NEM will have many new innovations and that it is written from scratch…. The thing that I find the most goddamn ridiculous is the fact that you are a stakeholder in NEM! The only thing your doing here is to to undercut the value of your own investment! If you don't see the innovative part then don't, but surely you are the only one here that does not. Maybe you should consult with jaguar about his development plan….Or maybe it is because you wont get as big share as you did with nxt…?" The walk-back above was posted an hour and a half after his second, angrier response to his foe – Your nosy fact-fetcher.]

…but it's time to face facts: 2kool4skewl is denouncing NEM in many threads. After this he can not just simply say that he was only questioning NEM. He is trying to make it look bad!

I want him removed as a stakeholder. There can not possibly be any value in having a stakeholder among us who is going around and telling people that NEM is a waste of money and that it is created only by envious people trying to feed their greed.

Now I am suggesting a democratic vote on behalf of the community to remove 2kool4skewl from the stakeholder list. This will end any possible accusations made against Utopian future for removing 2kool4skewl about him being a dictator. The community has the right to remove members that it does not want to have!

As this post indicated, the thread he started - which contained the same text in his above-quoted post, albeit toned down in formatting - also contained a poll. It provides a real-time altcoin-jungle example of, shall we say, the power of democracy to, uh, place a different interpretation on agreements made in the past.

The town-hall trial was on….

Question: Should 2kool4skewl be removed from hes NEM share  (Voting closed: February 24, 2014, 06:56:57 PM [Greenwich Mean Time]) 

Yes, he does not conform to the spirit of the New Economic Movement - 47 (45.2%)

No, he is entitled to he's stake - 57 (54.8%)

 …but as you can see, 2Kewl4Skool ended up winning. Even if he had lost, there's a good chance he would have won a lot of support in the outside altcoin world. His fellow Nxter Eadeqa, who properly paid 0.03 Bitcoin for his own NEM stake and paid 0.06 BTC for another stake for his friend Meg - and was on the no-multiple-stake side of the debate as of February 5th - dropped this comment in the thread:

This is absolutely disgusting.

NEM is turning out to be joke.

So if majority of "voters" decide they can steal your coins in future, that will part of NEM code?

You guys are losing your credibility already, even before the launch

Needless to say, his choice words did not endear him to the prosecutor posse. But he was not alone in his disgust.

Now, dear and civilized reader, you probably remember 2Kewl4Skool posting to his former comrade: "You have led [NEM] down the road of confiscation and mob rule." I have a wee hunch that you think 2Kewl4Skool was likely on to something, even though you are in no way an "apologist for Nxt." The same thing went for the cryptonauts who think like you - once they got wind of this incident and had read the blow-by-blow development of it.

Significantly,"the wisdom of crowds" effect did put a big damper on "the hysteria of mob" effect. In contradistinction to the wide, wide world of today's politics, the usual dismissals out of hand that are oh-so-typically wielded by apologists for movements rooted in jealousy didn't work their usual magic in altcoin land. Although the negative buzz from this incident proved to be minor and easily moved on from, NEM's side-of-angelic-light reputation in the Alternative Cryptocurrency board had changed.  For example, this comment on the trial thread from Xenopus

Are you people re-enacting a scene from Animal Farm, or are you just all idiots?

Oh, I see... idiots.

Edit: Not a troll. I really do think you people are stupid, and possibly deranged.

Leave it to altcoin economic populism to make a Bitcointalk member to post an opinion that would be right at home in the Free Republic.

And leave it to the wisdom of crowds, and the importation of those cautionary tales from the wide wide world of political failure analysis, to call forth echoes of those tales in the town-meeting trial thread. Case in point:

I voted no because otherwise a dangerous precedent is being set whereby the majority can penalise the minority, leading eventually to group think and ultimately disaster. Everyone must be allowed to express their opinion even if they are also actively trying to undermine NEM whilst at the same time keeping their personal options open regarding its future success. I hope this will be the last such poll.

But in contradistinction, Thingamajig stoutly disagreed – and added the salutary recommendation that the trial-by-poll should be absolutely non-binding on UtopianFuture:

…people generally flee their countries if they dislike their government enough, which ironically is something we dont see from you regarding NEM.

Instead of taking peoples eyes off the ball by focusing on the fact that you've had your stake removed, why not give Utopian and the NEM community the answer they're looking for; do you want it back, or not? The offer has been made.

I again do not expect a straight answer.

I also wouldn't call whats taking place "Mob mentality" The vote clearly speaks for itself. It's literally almost a 50/50 stance (and regardless of the vote here, i don't believe it'll have any bearing on a future outcome - it's just reflective of the overall stance of the NEM community) In fact, with this in mind it clearly demonstrates how diplomatic the community is trying to be.

I personally don't wish to see your stake removed unless you request it, but nonetheless, i can understand the confusion behind it as every post you made implied (quite strongly) you wished to have no part in NEM…. [Yes, dear reader, again we see the in-the-heat theory of "implied voluntarism" invoked – your dogged displayer of untoward primary sources.]

I'm sorry, but as long as the offer to reinstate his stake is still there, [the claim that what was going on was nothing more than confiscation by majority] is completely redundant; by continually pressing this issue while a solution is still there (Either reclaim the stake or not) then all you're serving to do is just further run down [NEM] and it's community, which is precisely the reason why we are here in the first place.

Frankly, i think all of this is unnecessary.

The next post on the thread was from UtopianFuture himself, who endorsed Thingamajig's thinly-disguised recommendation:

Hi here is my stance on this issue. This poll is made to gauge NEM community's opinion on the issue. I will take input from this poll but I am running the fundraising on behalf of the development team and it is my sole responsibility to uphold the social contract and principles in the first page of the fundraising. It will not be a democratic decision….

The authorship of the fundraising process belongs to me. After the fundraising is over and an final stakeholder list is made, at this point I would consider my job of fundraising  is over; the NEM community is officially formed and the community will operate under some key principles and community's rules.

Despite UtopianFuture's pronouncement, the final result of the poll - which the indefatigable 2Kewl4Skool celebrated with a three-meme victory parade - was taken by the vindicated defendant as additional reason for UtopianFuture to restore him to the stakeholder list. As the Clash Of The Elders heated up, UtopianFuture got just as dug-in as his former friend.

Your humble conveyer of perhaps-embarrassing primary digital documents is aware that I've presented the earlier-promised show trial as an anticlimax. I've disclosed a fair bit about the darker side of the altcoin jungle, but the de facto lawlessness herein definitely has its bright side. Thanks to the Second-Life-with-money style of de facto sandbox-level anarcho-capitalism that prevails in the altcoin scene, the show trial really was anticlimactic.

Aside from his wiggling out of his original social contract with respect to what he owed 2Kewl4Skool, UtopianFuture had absolutely zero power over his new foe. Granted that 2Kewl4Skool was willing and able to hold up his end of the quarrel, but he does make for quite the Dr. Stockmann figure: a real-life"enemy of the people" with a solid case that would be quite winnable in a court of law.

In the wide wide world of Big Government, you can easily see how far this "hysteria of mob" could have gone and how many people would have been impacted. But in the sandbox-level anarchy that prevails in the altcoin jungle, it went nowhere. Quickly, it dribbled away and was deprecated to nothing more than altcoin history. Even the town-hall prosecutor said vigorously that it was time to move on.

If you've kept up with the entire series, you know quite well that altcoin anarchy means that scammers and plain thieves can ply their ‘trade' with zero recourse in law from their victims. You can't sue or press charges against someone you can't find. But altcoin anarchy – significantly and importantly – means that gadflies and plain dissenters can ply their trade with zero recourse in politicking from their enemies. Despite all its drawbacks, the very real de facto freedom of the altcoin jungle means that the hemlock is never more than the emanation of an allegory.

Even though this drama with anticlimax had not reached its end, there was already a profoundly happy ending thanks to the good side of the altcoin jungle. One where legitimate dissenters, albeit mixed in with the usual surmise-slingers, can hold fast to their dissent without worry about any of those threats that dissenters in the world overseen by active governments know all too well about. ESR

Daniel M. Ryan is a long-time contributor to Enter Stage Right and has returned to the fold. © 2014 Daniel M. Ryan.







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