Buy $100 worth of crypto and get a bonus $10

  • Trade crypto and digital assets
  • Significant sign-up bonuses
  • The most trusted finance platform

Disclaimer: eToro USA LLC; Investments are subject to market risk, including the possible loss of principal. Your capital is at risk. This ad promotes virtual cryptocurrency investing within the EU (by eToro Europe Ltd. and eToro UK Ltd.) &USA (by eToro USA LLC) which is highly volatile, unregulated in most EU countries, no EU protections & not supervised by the EU regulatory framework. Investments are subject to market risk, including the loss of principal.

  • Home
  • >News
  • >What’s the Deal With Reddit’s Wildly Popular Avatars? Are They NFTs?

What’s the Deal With Reddit’s Wildly Popular Avatars? Are They NFTs?

Reddit has been using NFTs — without calling them NFTs. The social media service and content discussion platform has been experimenting with NFTs for more than a year now — and although in the beginning it named them as much, it shies away from that in its latest iteration of the digital assets. Instead, it bills them as “collectible avatars.”

That move has struck some NFT observers as odd. Wouldn’t saying “NFTs” be hotter and more in-trend? But as is with crypto, there’s more than meets the eye.

Why has Reddit taken that direction? We’ll explore that, plus Reddit’s journey with NFTs, in this feature.

Reddit NFTs are taking off in a huge way.

What Are Reddit’s NFTs?

Reddit calls its version of NFTs “collectible avatars.” In August, the company announced via the platform it would be giving collectible avatars to its “top karma earners.” “Karma” is Reddit speak for user score.

The user score is calculated by the number of upvotes against their downvotes. Having a high karma score means you’re regularly upvoted and are popular within the platform’s communities. Users also earn karma by being active, i.e., by posting, commenting, and so on.

Reddit said eligible users could choose between four sets of avatars:

  1. Aww Friends
  2. Drip Squad
  3. Meme Team
  4. The Singularity

Users who don’t qualify for the airdrop can buy the collectibles on the OpenSea NFT marketplace. The collectibles are powered by the Ethereum-compatible blockchain Polygon.

This isn’t Reddit’s first tryst with NFTs. This July, the company announced an NFT “storefront” for collectible avatars made by independent artists in conjunction with the company.

Users can buy the collectibles with a credit or debit card at a fixed price — unlike regular NFTs, whose price is determined by market dynamics. At the time, the business also said Redditors could use the Vault to store their collectibles. Vault is a blockchain-based wallet already used by Reddit to store Community Points.

In January, the community platform unveiled a feature that allowed users to use any NFT they own as their avatar. Spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt told TechCrunch Reddit was “testing the ability to use NFTs as profile pictures (avatars) and verify ownership.” Last year, Reddit rolled out CryptoSnoos — a limited edition of NFTs that were renderings of the platform’s logo, “General Snoo.”

Last October, the San Francisco-based platform signaled interest in the NFT space when it put out an ad for a backend engineer whose role would include “designing, building and shipping backend services for millions of users to create, buy, sell and use NFT-backed goods.”

Why Won’t Reddit Just Call Them NFTs?

Even then, it’s not lost on anyone who’s been watching how Reddit’s “collectible avatars” that are backed by blockchain technology are NFTs, but the company has weirdly left out any mention of the word.

Perhaps it’s because a considerable section of internet users are simply over the concept. In the announcement for CryptoSnoos, users lambasted the idea as an attempt to “squeeze us for every penny they can,” “dumb,” lacking “any intrinsic value,” “overpaying for a trend that has not proven its value,” and so on.

The icy reaction was replicated in the instant messaging platform Discord when founder and CEO Jason Citron teased integration with Metamask and Wallet Connect. Users immediately registered their disapproval under the post, with threats to unsubscribe from the platform and drop out from the premium membership Nitro if the company introduced crypto and NFTs.

On Discord, subscribers slammed NFTs as “transparently stupid,” a “terrible idea,” and a “bad move.” Two days later, Citron brought down the temperature by announcing the company had no plans to implement the idea.

From those two events alone, it would appear that NFTs are falling out of favor with a big chunk of the internet. Critics have decried their harm to the environment — with several pundits calling them an “ecological nightmare.” Another concern is that NFTs are useless gimmicks. The notion that someone can fork out millions of dollars for something anyone can screenshot or right-click and save is ridiculous to some people.

Per Forbes, Rathschmidt said Reddit would rather focus on “how the blockchain can benefit users and artists…rather than the level of hype around a technology.” The magazine surmised that’s a possible reason the business sidestepped any mention of NFTs.

Whatever the reason, it’s clear social media users are divided on NFTs, and Reddit wanted to avoid alienating one group. It’s hard to know whether that’s working, but many Redditors may be using them without knowing.

NFTs or Not: The Label is Now Mainstream

Nonetheless, to crypto and NFTs adherents, what matters is a massive company like Reddit is dabbling in NFTs. Whether or not they have dwindled in value, the social network integrating NFTs is a nod to the technology. The company, which records 430 million visits monthly, joins other mainstream companies of all industries in incorporating NFTs, including social networking giants Twitter and Meta.

NFTs are still seen as fringe and a thing for crypto nerds. Reddit embracing NFTs legitimizes the niche. It also makes NFTs accessible to the average person, whereas before, it seemed such a fuzzy phenomenon.

There’s also the little problem of NFT scams. Much like crypto, NFTs have proven to be a top target for hackers. Hardly a week goes by without a headline on the latest rug pull, catfishing scam, counterfeit NFT, etc.

It’s one more reason Reddit and other high-ticket companies using NFTs is a welcome idea because it can help dissuade skeptics that the crypto spinoff is just another fraud.

The Bottom Line: An NFT By Any Other Name

Much as NFTs were uber popular in 2021, sections of the internet are now bored with them.

What’s a social media service to do? It seems that avoiding any mention of NFTs was the way to go. To NFTs proponents, it doesn’t matter what Reddit calls their NFTs — the only thing that matters is that one more mainstream company has joined the digital art revolution.

Article Tags
Hope Mutie

About the Author

Hope Mutie

Hope Mutie is a professional writer and editor whose interests include fintech, cryptocurrency, and blockchain. She engages with crypto audiences by curating content that’s fun-to-read, educational, and offers unmatched value. Hope is part of the brilliant team at Go Full Crypto – a podcast and service that enables your transition into crypto.

Back To Top