Bitcoin was born through an online forum. Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s founder, first published its white paper in late 2008 on the cypherpunk mailing list, which was used by cryptographers from around the globe beginning in the 1990s. Bitcoin’s initial growth was also largely driven by various online hacker forums.
An enthusiastic community of users, developers and entrepreneurs follow the development of Bitcoin. Members of this community meet in both online and offline platforms to learn, share ideas and network. The following are some of the most popular online platforms where discussions take place.
As the adoption of Bitcoin grew, developers working on its core software needed a platform for sharing ideas. In June 2011, according to archive records, a Bitcoin mailing list hosted on the Linux Foundation servers was launched for this purpose.
While anyone can join the list, the moderators only allow posting on topics around core software development.
Bitcointalk is a message board where the community discusses Bitcoin’s technical details, as well as trends in the space. Before July 2011, the forum was part of Bitcoin.org, the official Bitcoin website. The domain of Bitcointalk is in the possession of a user by the name Sirius and an admin who goes by Theymos.
The platform is popular for signature campaigns, or advertising messages attached to the comments and posts of certain members. Those who qualify for this feature receive payment from the advertisers.
Reddit is a social news aggregating website that allows users to form communities known as subreddits around topics of interest. Bitcoin has several subreddits on the platform, but the two with the most subscribers are r/Bitcoin, which has over 230,000 subscribers, and r/BTC, with over 36,000.
Until late 2015, r/Bitcoin was the only bitcoin subreddit. When polarization in the scaling debate occurred, moderators censored discussion that supported Bitcoin XT, or an increase in block size, rather than second-layer solutions. Some members launched r/BTC as a way to regain their voice.
Like any other subject of interest, Bitcoin has community channels, groups, lists and pages on all the major social networking sites. Bitcoin enthusiasts are also fond of Slack, a team collaboration platform. Many blockchain companies and organizations have created channels on Slack dedicated to various aspects of the cryptocurrency.
For most social media platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, a quick search will bring you to these forums. For others—including Whatsapp, Telegram and Slack—you may need to network and find members from the groups to invite you.
Github is a source-control platform where software developers collaborate on projects. Bitcoin has a repository on the platform with thousands of commits (code contributions) from over four hundred Bitcoin core developers. While not everyone can use the forum, it is the place where developers contribute to discussion about the cryptocurrency through their code.
Bitcoin has moved from once being supported by mostly online communities to including many in the real world. Physical meetings that bring together enthusiasts from around the world to discuss its trends happen every week. Three common offline Bitcoin forums are meetups, conferences and hackathons.
It is now more likely than not that every major city or town around the globe has an active Bitcoin meetup group. Meetup.com facilitates the creation of most of these groups.
Members meet once or twice a month to share their experiences and discuss current trends. Some meetup groups have become launching pads for startups, as well as physical bitcoin marketplaces where one can buy and sell bitcoins.
Exploring the Bitcoin list on meetup.com will help you find out whether one exists in your city or town.
While meetups are local events, conferences attract guests from out of town and may go on for several days. By attending a conference, you may interact with entrepreneurs, lawyers, academics and developers from around the world who have an interest in Bitcoin.
Organizers range from trade associations, colleges and private companies. You can track conferences scheduled to take place in different cities of the world in the coming months.
Bitcoin software developers and contributors organize hackathons to collaborate on projects while they network. Participants also use them to showcase their innovations and compete. You can find dozens of such events around the world. For example, there is the annual Bitcoin Hackathon in Miami, which is popular in the USA.
Rupert Hackett is the general manager of Bitcoin.com.au, Bitcoin.co.uk (a subsidiary of Bitcoin.com.au) and BuyaBitcoin.com.au. Rupert specializes in the digital currency and digital payment space and holds the world's first Master's degree in digital currencies. He writes for multiple bitcoin and tech websites and is an acting Board Director for the Australian Digital Currency Commerce Association (ADCCA).