The Simple Guide to Crypto Culture for Nocoiners Pt. IIIby@abhijoysarkar
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The Simple Guide to Crypto Culture for Nocoiners Pt. III

by Abhijoy SarkarJune 28th, 2023
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Crypto-native lingo and memes have all kinds of origins. 4chan fitness boards. Trading subreddits. Developer communities. Artist collectives. And so on. In this part we will discuss crypto-speak and memes. Their roots, meanings and contexts.
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Continued from

Part I – Bitcoin v/s Ethereum (and Other Crypto) Culture

Part II – Key Opinion Makers and Cultural Influencers

Part III – Lexicon and Memes

In Part I, we asked if terms like GM, GN, WAGMI, HODL, DYOR, probably nothing, ser, etc. sounded familiar. In this part, we will discuss crypto-speak and memes. Their roots, meanings, and contexts.

Crypto-native lingo and memes have all kinds of origins. 4chan fitness boards. Trading subreddits. Gaming forums. Developer communities. Artist collectives. And so on. As Ekin Genç wrote in VICE, “Memes from one subculture travel to another when an influx of participants occurs.”

Price related memes from movies and TV shows

(Image Sources: The MatrixSpidermanPerson of InterestInception)

They convey greetings. Refer to price action. Express camaraderie. Or mockery. About oneself. Or to state-sponsored hacks. Or they could be shitposts. Most of these are intuitive and self-explanatory. Those with more serious undertones (1, 2) are closer to Bitcoin culture.

Some popular meme templates (Death Knocking, Chad vs Monkey, Spanish Laughing Guy + Angry Man Pointing at Hand, Guys on Bus, Panik-Kalm)

(Image Sources: 12345)

Pop culture references or derivations of well-known characters are common. Like Wojak, Yes Chad, Hide The Pain Harold, Bogdanoffs (RIP), Rickrolling, the Guy Fawkes mask and more. So are animals like the Shiba Inu dog (or Doge), Pepe the Frog*, Bobo the Bear, Honey Badger, etc. Inspired by memestock subreddits, cartoon avatars of apes, bears (or bera), and bulls (or bulla) are recurrent motifs for trading-linked memes.

Apes are a frequent theme of NFT collections as well, like BAYC, MAYC, Degenerate Ape Academy, y00ts, OnChainMonkey, among others. The Shiba Inu dog, too, is the subject of many dog-themed memetokens (more on that below). Apart from derivations, both CT and BT memes also incorporate original imagery. Like wassies and smoltings#, Carlos Matos (BitConnect), Bitcoin Wizards etc.

*On a side note, Pepe has had some controversial usage in non-crypto forums. Pepe artist Matt Furie has since made concerted efforts to reclaim its apolitical nature.

#Wassie/smolting is explained in Part II. Search for “inversebrah”.

Swole Doge vs. Cheems is a popular caricature of Doge.

(Image Source)

To the dismay of many crypto OGs, there is an entire category of coins and tokens based on memes. Created as a joke. Think of Dogecoin, which became an inspiration for many to follow. $DOGE was made to satirize price speculation in cryptocurrencies. Its announcement post puts it succinctly in Comic Sans: “Much profit many coin wow.”

PS. While some of these memecoins are innocuous, many aren’t. Trying to make money off of speculative buyers hoping the “joke” would catch on. In Etherscan (a block explorer for Ethereum), type “Doge” or “Elon” or “Shiba” or “Inu” or “Pepe” in the search bar. Check the suggested results that auto-fill the drop-down list. It will be full of imitation tokens and NFT collections trying to latch on to a fad.

With regard to the thematic tone of crypto talk, there is no set template or subject. Tragicomedy, self-deprecation, geek humour, dark jokes (Trigger Warning: Blood. Context: 5$ wrench attack), shitposting, ribbing (context), irreverence (context:1, 2), absurdism and trollbaiting (context) are cornerstones of CT discourse. Copy pastas are routine. With negative news, scams, and FUD (explained below) being ever-present, satire, irony, and sarcasm are oft-used coping mechanisms (discussed more in Bane of Scams in Crypto in Part VIII).

Mischief-making, sowing seeds of confusion, creating chaos are big parts of the CT experience

In the months following the collapse of Terra, 3AC, and FTX, there was an air of anxiety all around. Fear-mongering about more projects imploding was constant. Names like Solana, WBTC (Wrapped Bitcoin), and WETH (Wrapped Ethereum) would come up. Countless obituaries of Bitcoin and crypto were written. Add to that a growing perception that regulators and mass media were handling the Terra/3AC/FTX issues with kid gloves at the expense of legitimate crypto entities facing undue heat. So an annoyed CT started to jokingly “break” the news that WETH was failing (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). Unless you were clued in, you could have been spooked. As anticipated, the inside joke did not land with some publications. And CT scoffed (1, 2, 3, 4) even more.

CT's memetic and linguistic references can span from the well-known to the uber-obscure

(Image Source)

To be fair, the obscurity (Ref: 1, 2. Warning: Rabbit Hole) of certain tropes can confound any unsavvy observer. This often results in non-crypto media being unable to meaningfully report on the goings-on (see Media’s reporting of crypto in Part VIII). A consequence that people in crypto are well aware of. Suffice it to say Poe’s Law is permanently in effect (1, 2, 3, 4) around these parts. A reason why some prominent accounts have “intern” accounts on socials. To post memes. Or for other content that they would not share from their main.

CT's default mode is to be esoteric(Image Source)

Taking inspiration from 6529’s tweet thread on the NFT lexicon, here are the top 69 crypto phrases and memes:

CT: As also mentioned in Part II, Crypto Twitter. Unless the context is Twitter in particular, “CT” can mean any crypto community. The most active being on Twitter. “Bitcoin Twitter” (BT) and “NFT Twitter” follow from the same nomenclature. Discord, Telegram, and Reddit are also favored hangout spots. And now apps on Nostr too; discussed further in Part VI – Politics, Lifestyle, Values. Bitcointalk is a popular forum for more serious banter.

There are, of course, cultural differences between each of these communities. For example, Crypto Reddit wasn’t a big fan of NFTs until the introduction of Reddit Avatars recently. As they came to terms with it, their Twitter brethren watched with amusement.

GM: Good Morning. Greeting for any time of the day. GA (Good Afternoon), GE (Good Evening), and GN (Good Night) aren’t as popular.

GMI: Gonna Make It / Going to Make It. Emotes appreciation and wishing success. “She runs a Bitcoin node? GMI”.

NGMI: Not Gonna Make It. Opposite of GMI. An expression of disapproval. “Boomer thinks crypto is dead. Lol NGMI”.

WAGMI: We’re All Gonna Make It. An expression of comradeship and optimism. It came from the late bodybuilder Aziz Shavershian (“Zyzz”), who motivated his followers with this.

HODL: Hold i.e. holding on to an investment (or a bag) and not selling when markets go south. This came from the misspelled title of a drunken post on Bitcointalk. That post is now stuff of crypto legends. SODL (sold) and BUIDL (build) are intentional typos that follow from this. HODL has been retrofitted with a backronym: Hold On for Dear Life.

PS. HODLers become bagholders when their bags are at massive losses.

BTFD: Buy The F*#king Dip. An advice to buy something that has dipped i.e. dropped in price.

July 2017: Birth of an iconic meme. “Bitcoin Sign Guy” Christian Langalis photobombs Janet Yellen

(Image Source)

HFSP: Have Fun Staying Poor. Used in a similar context as NGMI. More familiar on BT. Directed towards a detractor. “Carstens says CBDCs will kill Bitcoin. He can HFSP”. Sometimes it is spelled out letter by letter by different people as a diss response thread.

Rug: Or rug pull. When a team abandons a project (exit scam) and/or cashes out of its token. Thereby crashing the price. A metaphorical rug being pulled from under the feet of investors by team members. This is also now a catch-all term for any kind of sketchy insider behavior. “The last deployed contract looks fishy. Think it’s a rug?”.

Probably Nothing: A satirical phrase to express the opposite sentiment. It suggests an important piece of development or news. “El Salvador adopted Bitcoin as legal tender. Probably Nothing”.

Wen + word: A portmanteau of “Wen” (i.e. when) and the anticipation of an event. A few examples below.

WenBinance – When will this token list on the Binance exchange? WenCoinbase, WenKraken WenKuCoin etc. follow from the same nomenclature.

WenMoon – When will this token moon i.e. go up in price astronomically

WenLambo – When can I afford a Lamborghini (from this crypto mooning)

WenHomeless – When will I lose my home to this crypto investment (satire)

The Wen + word phrases have gotten worn out over the years and are not as common anymore. Many of these were born during the ICO mania of 2017. But they are still part of crypto lore.

Working at McDonald's is a cyclical meme that comes back every time markets crash

(Image Sources: 12345)

Funds are Safu: Funds are safe. Binance founder CZ used to tweet “Funds are safe” after critical security incidents. Crypto YouTuber Bizonacci made a viral video titled “Funds Are Safu” alluding to this. Subsequently, CZ started saying “safu” instead of “safe”. Binance even launched a fund as a hat tip to the meme.

Diamond Hands: People who HODL their bags through market volatility are said to have diamond hands

Paper Hands: Opposite of diamond hands. People who SODL their bags at the first sign of trouble have paper hands.

Pump, Dump: Pump is a rapid increase in price. Dump is the opposite.

Pump and Dump (P&D): A fraudulent scheme that uses FOMO (fear of missing out) to manipulate investors into buying someone else’s bags. It starts with holder(s) of a token spreading misleading hyped-up claims to induce the unaware into frenzied buying. As buy pressure pumps the token, the holders sell their bags fast. This causes the token to dump. Thereby turning the new investors into hapless bagholders. Beware of Telegram channels and Discord groups that offer “signals”. These are almost always P&D schemes orchestrated by scammers. A dead giveaway of the scam is that they usually target unknown low-liquidity tokens.

(3, 3): A mutually beneficial payout for all parties in a competitive setting. Olympus DAO, a project espousing the benefits of staking, made it a widely-used notation. Subsequently, as consensus grew around Olympus being a ponzi, its token $OHM went into slow decay. And “(3, 3)” has gone into relative disuse since then.

Can devs do something: An acknowledgment that developers cannot solve every crisis. Especially those connected to price. Said ironically. Popularised by a copypasta that was turned into a Cameo video. “ShibaPepeMonkeyInu keeps crashing hard. My bags are now underwater. Can devs do something?”

Internet personality Hard Rock Nick’s Cameo turned “Can devs do something” into a viral catchphrase.

FUD: Fear, uncertainty, doubt. Scare tactics to create panic.

Moonboi: The opposite of a FUDster. An overzealous fan of a cryptocurrency focused specifically on WenMoon. From my experience, when moonbois grow bitter from disappointment, they turn into FUDsters.

DYOR: Do your own research. An advisory to conduct one’s own due diligence before taking risks.

NFA: Not Financial Advice. Used in the same context as DYOR. A disclaimer that the OP of an article or a post or a video is not qualified to give financial advice. Like most phrases in crypto, it can be said either sincerely or as a joke.

Few / Few understand this: When important information or implication of an event is not public knowledge. It can be stated in a similar context as “Probably Nothing”.

IYKYK: If You Know, You Know. Being privy to inside information or jokes. Akin to “Few understand this.”

Up Only: A wisecrack for something whose value appreciation is inevitable

"Number Go Up" or "NGU" is another witticism like "Up Only."

(Image Source)

Bitcoin fixes this: An adage about Bitcoin’s role in solving systemic problems. Used both seriously as well as a joke to parody silver bullet solutionism.

Boating accident: A trope to exercise plausible deniability. Relating to ownership of things one would like to keep out of the government’s reach. Adapted from gold and gun enthusiast communities. “The President can pass an Executive Order to seize everyone’s Bitcoin? Sad I lost mine to a boating accident”.

In it for the tech: Sarcasm for when one is interested in crypto for price speculation and not for the technology. “Your bio says *Web3 nerd* while your portfolio is an endless list of memecoins. Clearly in it for the tech”.

A customary visual for the meme features Indian businessman Datta Phuge (RIP) who had a penchant for gold.

If you don't believe me or don't get it, I don't have time to try to convince you, sorry: A copypasta of Satoshi snapping at EOS founder Dan Larimer over a disagreement. Now used to respond to someone being obtuse. Or, as a joke (that doesn’t land outside of CT).

Feature not a bug: Programmer humor for unintended consequences to a design. Or an earnest argument that a supposed flaw is actually intended by design. “Bitcoin mining requires a lot of energy. It is a feature not a bug”.

West Ham: West Ham (1)

Don’t trust, verify: A fundamental tenet of Bitcoinism i.e. trustlessness. It alludes to the preference for directly verifying information. Instead of having to trust a third party or a middleman. How? By checking information straight from an immutable database like a blockchain. Using one’s own node. This is why a true blue Bitcoiner is expected to run a node. Verifying blockchain data by reading it off someone else’s client is for amateurs.

Vires In Numeris: Strength in numbers. Another popular phrase in Bitcoin communities. Originated from Bitcointalk. It is a double entendre that means: 1. Bitcoin is backed by maths (i.e. cryptography) and 2. Bitcoin is robust because of its large network of supporters.

Ultra sound money: Bitcoin being sound money is a familiar saying among Bitcoiners. Ethereum as ultra sound money is the Ethereum community’s answer to that. It gained prominence after The Merge (Ethereum’s transition to PoS / Proof of Stake). PoS is discussed in Part VI – Politics, Lifestyle, Values.

Bat + speaker = ultra sound

(Image Source)

.eth: Like the (bat + speaker) emojis, “.eth” in social media handles is also a gesture of support for Ethereum. It relates to Ethereum Name Service (ENS). A naming system like Domain Name Service. .eth names can be registered and thereafter traded/transferred as NFTs. For example, Ethereum educator Anthony Sassano’s Twitter name says “sassal.eth”. This suggests he may own the “sassal” namespace on ENS and has linked it to a wallet he owns. So apps and services that recognize ENS names can resolve “sassal.eth” into 0x648aA14e4424e0825A5cE739C8C68610e143FB79 (his wallet address).

The beloved late hacktivist Aaron Swartz was an early proposer of a blockchain-based naming system for Bitcoin. No native naming service ended up being widely adopted, though. But you might still notice some accounts sporting the “.btc” tag as a hat tip to Bitcoin.

PS. Coincidentally,, a naming system on the Stacks blockchain, sells .btc namespaces that happen to work with some clients of Nostr.

[Hexagon profiles on Twitter]: Twitter users who display their NFTs as profile pictures. Twitter Blue subscribers can link their Ethereum wallets to their profiles. They can then put up an NFT in that wallet as their Twitter pfp. This makes their profile picture shaped into a hexagon.

0x- / -0x: 0x is a prefix for hexadecimal naming convention on Ethereum. On crypto socials, you will find account names starting or ending with it. This is an indication of their involvement in crypto.

[Laser eyes in profile pics]: A popular profile picture aesthetic among Bitcoiners. Signals support for Bitcoin. It went viral with the #LaserEyesTill100K meme. While Bitcoin price did not cross 100k USD during that run, laser eyes continue to have high approval. So much so that political campaigns using it to critique Bitcoin’s energy usage often backfire into getting adopted by Bitcoiners instead. Leading to further derivatives and memes. Embracing pejoratives (1, 2), criticisms (1, 2, 3), and dunks (1, 2) is not unusual in Bitcoin (and other crypto) circles.

Many Bitcoiners continue to carry laser eyes in their profile pictures

We are at the bottom / Bottom is in / Bottom signal: When markets could start to look up from gloom and doom. Sometimes used as a dismissive retort to blow off steam. As in, things couldn’t possibly get any worse than what someone said or did. E.g. Whenever Jim Cramer predicts anything negative about crypto, the replies are overwhelmingly jubilatory. Including the occasional “bottom is in.”

We are so back: Similar to “bottom is in” (1)

Top signal / We are so far from the bottom: The opposite of bottom signal. Typically a rebuke for frivolous activity. Or if Jim Cramer says anything even remotely positive about crypto, lol.

Send it all to zero / We deserve to go to zero: Used in a similar sense as “top signal". That is, as a scolding or teasing for embarrassing behavior (1, 2, 3, 4; see Oracle Problem in Part V).

We are so early: An observational remark about crypto not being part of the popular cultural zeitgeist. Sometimes said disappointedly in response to egregious misunderstandings of basic concepts (1, 2, 3).

Down Bad / Rekt: When you take an L i.e. experience a defeat, you are down bad. When you take a massive L, you are rekt (wrecked).

Chancellor on brink of second bailout: A headline from The Times on 3rd January 2009. It was included in Bitcoin’s first block (Genesis Block) and has now achieved iconic meme status. There are many Easter eggs like these stored in Bitcoin (1, 2).

(Image Source)

Not your keys, not your coin: Or “Not your keys, not your cheese”. Easily one of the top mantras of BT (and CT). If you do not control the keys to the wallet (that holds your Bitcoin), you do not have control over your Bitcoin. This is explained further in Self-Custody in Part V.

Corn: Bitcoin. Boston University’s Prof. Mark T Williams’ mispronunciation of Bitcoin on two separate occasions (1, 2) spawned the Bitcorn meme. He is now fondly called Professor Bitcorn.

Orange pill: Similar to red pill but for Bitcoin. A nocoiner on being orange-pilled turns into a Bitcoiner.

1 BTC = 1 BTC: WenLambo, WenMoon, WenDump, Up Only, NGU and other crypto-speak for price action is sometimes shrugged off in OG Bitcoin circles as short-term distractions. Immaterial in the long run. The most ardent supporters believe that Bitcoin will end up becoming a unit of account. Assets will be denominated in Bitcoin. So its price (in fiat terms) will be inconsequential. A situation known as Bitcoinization or Hyperbitcoinization. Hence, the only conversion rate that will count is 1 BTC = 1 BTC. 1 DOGE = 1 DOGE (for Dogecoin) and 1D = 1B (for Cryptodickbutts NFT) are on similar lines but with a comedic effect.

∞/21M: This follows from the idea of hyperbitcoinization. The growth of Bitcoin as an asset will make it a dominant store of wealth absorbing the value of other asset classes. Since Bitcoin’s total supply is capped at 21 million, this would mean 21 million coins will assume the value of everything around it. Hence, ∞/21M (formula on the left in the linked image is for Bitcoin’s supply).

Root, an analyst, charts Bitcoin as a “monetary blackhole” that absorbs value over time

(Image Source)

Milady: An NFT collection with a notable community (the miladies). Crowned as one of 2022’s most influential communities by CoinDesk. With a distinctive contrarian antihero presence on crypto socials (1), the miladies can alternatively be described as the 4chan of Web3. Or CT’s agents of chaos. Due to their mysterious origins and associations (and confessions) combined with the general complexity of crypto lore, miladies have always been mired in controversy. As a result, subterfuge allegations (1, 2), rebuttals, and retractions (1, 2) are routine affairs in their “schizo life.”

Flippening: The hypothetical event of Ethereum crossing Bitcoin’s total market capitalization

Copium: Cope + Opium. Mocking someone (or oneself) who takes an L and then uses rationalizations to cope.

Hopium: Hope + Opium. When you hope for redemption after taking an L, you are living on the drug of hopium.

The copium/hopium meme usually involves a Pepe frog puffing on a canister.

(Image Sources: 12)

-ooooooor: “…oooor” is added as a suffix to poke fun at a behavior or character-type that CT finds annoying. Eg. replyoooooor, thinkoooooor, extractooooor, regulatooooor etc. A rumour-mongerer (“Hearing from sources that Bitcoin may be banned”) would become the Hearoooor.

Fren: Friend

Ser: Sir. A gender-neutral address like Fren. There are two possible origins for this: 1. Fantasy fandoms like Game of Thrones, 2. South Asians who say “Sir” quite often.

Fed: A snitch / narc / spook

Degen: Degenerate. A term of comradeship that refers to risk-takers in jest. Or as a tongue-in-cheek joke for absurd recklessness. People calling themselves “autists” or “apes” (apeing into a trade, apes together strong) has a similar connotation.

Pleb: Short for plebeian. An average Joe in crypto. Like “degen” and “ape,” “pleb” is a term of kinship that refers to fellow coiners.

Suit: The opposite of a pleb. “Suit” is an umbrella term (1, 2) for elites, feds, corporates, and mercenaries. An unreliable character type. Someone whose self-interest could harm crypto. Even the simple act of wearing a suit to crypto events can throw up red flags for good reason.

Anon: Being anonymous in crypto is commonplace and not seen as an oddity. So crypto people often address each other as “anon” (1, 2). A term of endearment like “pleb.”

Many crypto contributors are anon like this artist who designed the Bitcoin logo and received 7 BTC as a donation

(Image Source)

Whale: A person with a high net worth portfolio. Or if they own a large share of a cryptocurrency or an NFT collection.

1) What: After the implosion of the FTX exchange and its sister trading firm Alameda Research, their founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), tried to come clean on Twitter. He started with a post saying “1) What,” followed by a trail of cheeky ones spelling out “H-A-P-P-E-N-E-D” letter by letter over a span of two days. And subsequently, a series of explanations spread over another two days.

Understandably, dangling the carrot of confession irked many (1, 2). Especially considering CT was already baying for his blood due to the huge loss of funds and market crash caused by FTX’s collapse. “1) What” became CT’s go-to phrase for WTF (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

PS. The FTX saga is discussed in Part V – Centralisation v/s Decentralisation.

Yo Uhh Hmm: Another copypasta that originated from a fallen entity. In June 2022, crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC) went into liquidation after failing to service loans. Ensuing lawsuit docs revealed 3AC’s chat transcripts. A few weeks before their bankruptcy filing, a creditor had requested repayment. 3AC’s COO Edward Zhao, at a loss for words, replied “Yo Uhh Hmm”. Like “1) What”, this is now slang for dismay and puzzlement (1).

11th May 2022

(Image Source. See Page 192)

DINO: Decentralised in name only. Centralized projects that masquerade as otherwise (1).

Sweep the floor: Buying off all the NFTs of a collection listed at the lowest price (floor)

Looks Rare: When an NFT has attributes that are rare in a collection

Goblin Mode: Oxford’s Word of the Year for 2022, goblin mode is the quintessence of CT. Indulging in behaviors that defy societal expectations and disregard others' opinions. The default setting of a milady.

How it felt like working on Part III

Whew! These should be a good starting point for a well-stocked crypto vocabulary. If you find an arcane reference outside of these or don’t get a meme, there is nothing wrong in asking. And expect a few Ligma and Deez Nuts jokes besides the helpful responses.

Up Next  Part IV: Satoshi and the one true Bitcoin

NOTE: Also published here.

Disclaimer: NFA. None of the information mentioned above should be construed as financial advice.