Different Bitcoins

Insane Coin Offerings: Everything is “Bitcoin”

This article is the third in a series about the most absurd Initial Coin Offerings. Read the previous article here.

In chasing crypto-riches, many coin creators see a shortcut to widespread adoption (or at least possession) by hijacking the Bitcoin name via chain forks or branding.

Roger Ver, for example, is (in)famous for insisting that Bitcoin Cash is the "real" Bitcoin (an idea that Ethereum's founder, Vitalik Buterin, now supports).

And why not? "Bitcoin" isn't trademarked, after all.

Borrowing Bitcoin's name fuels a serious brand-awareness problem though. Nick Abouzeid, a self-described "Bitcoin-obsessed writer," wrote about this problem in June 2015.

Standard naming practices in the cryptocurrency currency community, says Abouzeid, have created a "sea" of names that are "randomly-assembled conglomerates of bit, coin, and pay, with some prepositions thrown in for good measure." To see what he means, go to coinmarketcap.com and press Ctrl + F. Typing "bit" finds over seventy matches.

"Coin" returns over five hundred results, but that is probably to be expected, more or less.

Even "ETH" tags over twenty different coins.

The same search on ICO Alert returns 69 results for "bit" and 180 for "coin" with hundreds of other results for "block," "blockchain," and "pay." (Admittedly some of these word-search results come from the three-to-five words project description and not just the name. But the point remains.)

Instead of mocking the hopes and dreams of more coin offerings, this article comments on the absurdly unimaginative and homogenous naming practices in the cryptocurrency industry (not just coin and token offerings) represented by a few choice examples.

Let's start with the Bitcoin "family."

Satoshi Nakamoto's coin continually accumulates siblings - legitimate or not - and has seventeen at the time of writing: Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Dark, Bitcoin Plus, eBitcoin, BitcoinZ, Bitcoin Red, BitcoinFast, LiteBitcoin, Bitcoin Scrypt, AntiBitcoin, Bitcoin Planet, Bitcoin 21, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Silver, Bitcoin Unlimited, BitcoinCashScrypt, and First Bitcoin.

AntiBitcoin is actually not anti-Bitcoin nor "a project to fight bitcoin," according to the project's initial announcement. Instead, "it's a project that provides an alternative currency that tries to prevent what's going on with Bitcoin and other crypto currencies."

That description makes AntiBitcoin sound as useful and innovative as CelCoin, comprehensively self-described as "a new cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin and Ethereum." And with so many goings-on in Bitcoin, exactly what AntiBitcoin wants to prevent is anyone's guess.

Not everyone warmly received AntiBitcoin as some community members reacted on online forums with expletives and heated accusations of fraud. The unnecessarily offensive language of these anti-AntiBitcoin individuals inclines me to be anti-anti-AntiBitcoin.

We all can't just get along.

Bitcoin Quick seems cool, especially because of its claim to be "ten times faster than normal Bitcoin transaction with lowest processing fees." Radical! But isn't that the point of Bitcoin Cash?

Ethereum has its own "Cash" derivation with almost identical ease-of-use goals: Ethereum Cash. But AfterEther wants a slice of the quick-and-cheap pie too. Branded as a "new way to scale Ethereum," AfterEther assures adopters that "it is going to be exactly the same technology, but it will be cheaper."

Come again?

Metallic spinoffs of dominant cryptocurrencies - like Bitcoin Gold and Ethereum Gold - are also popular projects. Claiming to "make cryptocurrency accessible to the rest of the world" (because it isn't already?), Bitcoin Silver launched an ICO in October 2017.

Ethereum has no "Ethereum Silver" though. Because maybe Ethereum is the true "Bitcoin Silver", according to Business Insider.

The list of odd coins and tokens with pointless derivative names is almost as long as the list of absurd food coins and includes absurd amalgamated names like the actually-traded, very-real EtherDoge coin.

Go figure.

I think the "To The Moonimus" coin should earn points for creativity in naming. But a team of blatant plagiarizers ran the project which is a real wet blanket.

Abusing the limited Bitcoin- and crypto-lexicon isn't just dumb. It's flat out bad for business because it confuses exchanges, investors, and sometimes even miners.

Confusion that beset the cryptocurrency community over abbreviating Bitcoin Cash as BCC or BCH epitomizes this problem. In fact, the title of a post on the sub-Reddit r/btc says it all: "Dumb question but what is the difference between BCC and BCH?" [sic] The post's author asked, "Which one is bitcoin cash?" And the first response said, "Both."

That simply isn't true and befuddled exchanges, traders, and miners fumbled for a solution to the BCC-BCH naming problem.

Of equal concern is the potential for new and curious cryptocurrency adopters to be duped into assuming that anything with any sort of crypto-moniker is a "cryptocurrency" near to if not on par with Bitcoin and Ethereum.

In the same way guacamole, Jesus, and beer probably do not need proprietary currencies, the cryptocurrency community has virtually no need for knock-off Bitcoins and Ethereums. And that's not to say that no one should have the freedom to create those coins - by all means! But projects like EtherDoge and Bitcoin Red are worthless derivative work that deserve no points for innovativeness or creativity.

And a cynical attitude toward so many objectively silly projects is difficult to shake and probably not inappropriate.

Did this article significantly deviate from the ICO-focused mode of this series? Yes, but it was worth it. Next week holds more commentary strictly on the most absurd coins and tokens that real people actually dedicate time and effort to developing.

Until then, viva la Bitcoin (the real one)!

Disclosure: The author owns some Bitcoin, but owns none of the other coins or tokens referenced in this article.

Follow @zackvoell on Twitter.

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