Meme On: How to Make a Joke Coin Last
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Between the dramatic drop in the possibility of imminent alien enslavement, and the SEC giving Ethereum the thumbs-up, there’s a lot to celebrate in the headlines. But as the champagne popped and the fireworks started, there was one thought on every mind: whatever happened to PotCoin?
After a four-year hiatus, the token for tokin’ suddenly reappeared on the scenes this month on the apparel of future Nobel Prize laureate Dennis Rodman, who took a short respite from the deliberations to thank PotCoin for its sponsorship. Maybe that’s why they called it a “joint” summit.
But despite a few headlines, PotCoin has never been able to gain a real foothold in the cryptomarket. And it’s not the only one. CMC is like a graveyard for failed and outdated jokecoins, most of which never break the top hundred.
This is a subject for deep reflection, especially as the clock ticks past 4:19. Why did PotCoin fail to catch on, while Dogecoin, which was started in the same year, is still going strong?
Why do some jokecoins, unlike most jokes, never get old?
Richard Dawkins, who began writing about meme evolution as early as 1976, identified three salient traits for cultural memes: fidelity (the ability to reproduce accurately), fecundity (the ability to spread quickly), and longevity: the ability to stick in your head, like one of those annoyingly catchy tunes.
When it comes to memecoins, I’d add one more caveat: whatever else a winning meme coin is about, it should not be about making money.
To explain, we’ll have to start with the king of meme cryptos: Dogecoin.
Now, chances are that anyone reading this site has already heard all the jokes. It’s money, but with a dog on it. A billion dollar crypto that’s also cute and silly. Get it?
That seam has already been thoroughly mined, but there’s quite a bit more below the surface. Part of the shibe’s charm is its staying power: even though the Doge meme died (or went to live on a meme farm upstate) the idea of a goofy, inarticulate pup could never not be adorable. The joke gets old, but the subject doesn’t.
There’s another secret, modestly hidden where no one will ever look for it. “Dogecoin is the fun and friendly internet currency,’ reads the text of the website. “Dogecoin sets itself apart from other digital currencies with an amazing, vibrant community made up of friendly folks just like you.”
And it’s true—no matter how badly the market is crashing, it’s hard to find a negative thought in the Doge community. Their Twitter feed may be one of the sanest voice in cryptocurrency.
There is room for everyone in the space. If we could stop trying to use Dogecoin as a means to make points just to make fun of other assets, this would be nice. Do Only Good Everyday. Be kind to each other! We are all in this together, lift up not put down.❤️ #dogecoin
— Dogecoin (@dogecoin) June 19, 2018
You can’t buy a smile, but Dogecoin puts a real monetary value on warmth and positivity. It really is infectious, especially compared to the alternating greed and despair that pervade the rest of crypto-world. The next time your portfolio crashes, head over to /r/dogecoin for some much-needed laughter.
In fact, you might as well do that right now.
Many coins tried to replicate the Shibe’s success, mostly without luck. One of the earliest imitators was Coinye West, which seems to have been themed after the black version of Donald Trump.
Here’s the story, for those of you who are new to cryptocurrency: a bunch of developers scratched their heads and noticed the lack of rapper-themed currencies. They immediately decided that the best way to fill that niche was by infringing on one of the best-protected brands in the entertainment world.
Coinye died a few lawsuits later, but those were only the proximate causes. The bigger reason is that it was fundamentally based on a mean joke: people don’t like Kanye so much as they like making fun of him. Unlike cute doggies, Kanye was (and is) very, very easy to dislike.
In theory, the creation of a memecoin for the first Crypto President should have been an enormous success. The creator was well-known, a recognizable fixture in cryptospace, and had plenty of experience launching shitcoins.
But as much as everyone loves Mr. McAfee’s shit-eating grin (one of the few occasions where that phrase can be used literally) the coin did not take off. It really should have—if anyone can make a good joke crypto, it should be the man who is crypto’s biggest joke.
Launched sometime during the great 2017 Gold Rush, it immediately seemed destined for greatness. It had a silly premise (Banana is one of the inherently funny words). It had plenty of jokes ready to go, helpfully supplied via press release. For several weeks every web article was full of unoriginal Arrested Development references. (“There’s always money in the banana stand.”) Heck, even we did one on it.
The trouble with Banana coin (or, to be exact, the banana token) is that it was also a cash grab, and a very dull one at that. A lawsuit revealed how unappeeling Bananacoin had become.
There’s another Memecoin in town
Although Bananacoin has still turned black and squishy, there’s a new memecoin threatening to steal the doge crown.
It’s called Bananocoin, and if you take a moment to think about that name, you’ll understand why it’s one of the best worthless coins out there. After forking off from Nano, a community formed with no other purpose than holding up a mirror to the sillier side of cryptocurrency.
“Banano is a 4th generation fungible & edible cryptocurrency with a cool yellow logo and particles.js background.” I didn’t realize how sick I was of those stupid dancing molecules, until I saw them overlaid with fruit on the Banano website.
But wait! there’s more!
Banano hits all the right notes for people who are tired of crypto elevator pitches. There’s a technical yellow paper (“coming soon”), a team of cartoon portraits (including “Trevon” and a “professional blame shifter”) and a much-anticipated main net launch on, of course, April 1. The coin itself is worth almost nothing; it’s dispensed in online faucets and isn’t even traded on an exchange. They’re fairly easy to get as tips, but the only use for them is to tip someone else.
The result is a community that’s fun, generous and devoted to humor instead of greed: the makings of a perfect memecoin.
I still wouldn’t invest in it, though.
Okay, this isn’t even real, we did this as a joke ourselves for April 1st. But we had fun.
The author is invested in some digital assets, but none of these dumb currencies, or even in Dogecoin – which we like and appreciate.