Andrew J. Chapin

@andrewjchapin

Crypto and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Schemey Token Listing Sites

I’ve seen a lot between launching benjaCoin and advising token sales this past year. Highlights include an anonymous token promotion agency asking for six-figure fees, a brand new podcast offering a 20-minute spot for $15k, and a fourth-tier exchange asking for a $400k token listing fee.

Yikes.

I know many of these schemes will fade. I’ve already seen some trends cycle in and out, and I have faith the market will take care of most of them but there is one scheme that doesn’t seem to be going away: token listing sites.

Off the top: token listing sites are important.

Like CoinMarketCap for existing cryptocurrencies and tokens, token listing sites provide a standard set of information about upcoming or ongoing token sales. These sites should offer a reliable jumping off point for individuals who are doing their due diligence.

The need for such a resource is of increasing significance as the token sale market continues to grow. Some estimates have 2018 ICO funding already surpassing what the market did in all of 2017. With all of these new token sales popping up, it’s paramount to be able to research about them.

Enter token listing sites.

In my role as a token advisor, I’ve had my team compile a list of dozens of token listing sites (TLS) that we maintain and share with our partners. Over the last few months, we’ve made observations that are important to share because we believe the token buying public is generally unaware of what’s going on below the surface. It’s pretty fake news-y.

First: there are paid and free token listing sites.

Some TLS invest big time and money securing a good domain, working on search engine optimization, and curating content. As such, they feel they should monetize and be rewarded for their effort.

It’s hard to argue that point, but most TLS do not distinguish between a paid and free listing. When a token buyer arrives at a TLS and sees “featured ICOs” or “hot token sales,” they’re lead to believe this is based on something like market activity or news. This is rarely the case. It’s almost always because the token sale operator paid to be featured there. This is a huge problem.

CoinMarketCap, widely regarded as a trusted resource, generates revenue but in a clear way that offers clear distinction between the paid and free content. We desperately need that integrity in token listing sites. Real capital is put at risk because of these schemes and that simply can’t continue to happen.

A quick tangent: I don’t think we’re the only ones who view these sites as problematic. While tracking TLS, we’ve noticed that sites hosted by Wordpress appear to disappear more frequently than others. It’s possible that Wordpress has deemed them as a violation of their ToS. It’s also possible that it’s just a coincidence. Worth noting.

But free token listing sites aren’t exactly saints, either.

We’ve had partners submit to free listing sites only to find the e-mail they used to register was sold and now they’re inundated with new token sale announcements.

Along those same lines, some of these free TLS are prospecting tools for the aforementioned token marketing agencies, eager to help run your sale for the low, low price of $437,000.00 and a percentage of your token sale. Ugh.

And sometimes the free sites aren’t really free. Enter the biggest scheme of all: the up-sell.

A few very bad actors set up free token listing sites and perform their expected function: they accept information about a project, put up a landing page, and make it available for public consumption.

Here’s the rub: many free token listing sites also pose as a “research agency” and rate your token sale. It shouldn’t surprise that every token is rated a 1 or 2 out of 5 on first pass. It’s only after a project owner reaches out that the truth is revealed: the listing site will take a closer look at the sale — for a fee. That’s some mob stuff right there. We’ve seen fees between 0.5 ETH and 10 BTC. No matter what, that’s not cool.

We recognize the need for a quality token listing site so we’re launching our own. We’ll never solicit or accept payment for listing, advertising or promotion of any kind. Period. Meet TokenList.xyz.

The site is barebones right now as we share our mission and ask token issuers to submit their project information. You can submit here: http://www.tokenlist.xyz/submit-a-sale/ .

If you’d like to support our effort, throw us a follow on Twitter @TokenListXYZ. We won’t spam you. Promise.

My name is Andrew J. Chapin. I’m the CEO of Benja, the merchandise ad network, a token advisor, and the head of the startup foundry Chapin Labs which has helped launch the Coloring Crypto podcast and TokenList.xyz, a token listing site which promises to never accept paid listings.

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