Dear IOTA supporters and newcomers,
There are many ways to enter the amazing IOTA community and benefit from its knowledge. You can participate via Discord Channel, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, Youtube and others or you attend/host meetups & workshops near your location. This article has a focus on the biggest international IOTA community on Facebook, but all platforms have something in common: They offer plenty of edited information as well as truly passionate and helpful people guiding you into an exciting new world. Tens of thousands of developers, researchers, engineers, economists, financial experts, designers, journalists, social influencers, bloggers, private investors and curious newcomers from around the globe are communicating with each other and sharing their ideas & experiences.
To be honest, you can always find disillusioned or toxic people critics like to refer to, but that’s a problem every project has to deal with! However, the majority of our community shares a truly innovative vision in a markedly rational way. Still we have to accept it’s a path of trial and tribulation being attacked 24/7 by “competitors” or people with bad intentions. But it wouldn’t be fun if it’s easy, right? 😉
I want to share the experience I had with the community at the beginning of my IOTA journey, especially when I joined the Facebook group as my first step Sep/2017. It was originally founded by Kevin Ting (who had to leave shortly after due to other projects). Kevin then asked Eric Hop (who is now an IF member) to take over as admin, and Eric asked his lifetime friend Andre van Zegveld to help out. I had the pleasure to talk to Eric and Andre about the community in a written interview. They will give you some private insights on their friendship, their motivation to create this community and the problems they had to deal with. But first let me give you a short summary of the events…
When I stumbled on the Facebook Group I was searching for serious information material on IOTA. As a non-tech guy, going through the Whitepaper was like reading Chinese operation manuals after a few drinks – I barely understood the technical implementation. However, the vision and the team were absolutely stunning, but before any investment, proper research is the most important task. When I joined the group (circa 2.000 people at that time) I immediately felt to be in good hands. There has been a lengthy FAQ and several manuals on the most important topics, which developed further constantly over the time. Also every (stupid) question has been answered in a detailed and reasonable way. As a result, I never had any problems with IOTA and its handling at all. Actually, I became the single point of contact in my social environment as an adviser for private IOTA investments and created the community project IOTA Studios – due in no small part to the community!
During the crypto hype end of 2017 the numbers exploded and the group became the biggest international IOTA community on Facebook. Today the group has 6 admins and 11 mods, who manage about 40.000 highly active and productive members. These are huge numbers and it requires a lot of effort to keep this mass of people civilized and focused on the topic. So let’s proceed to the interview and see how it all started and developed up to now…
Thanks for accepting my invitation to this short interview Andre & Eric. Let’s start with a little background question. When did you discover cryptocurrencies for yourself and why is IOTA the one you focused on?!
Andre: Well, for me I discovered cryptocurrencies 5 years ago. On oktober 17 2013, I purchased my first 1 Bitcoin for 142 USD and it has been a big ride 🙂 I also discovered Ethereum years later, which I also bought at very low. At that time the ICOʼs were popping up like wildfire, the scams and copied white papers made me keep all the ICOʼs at a distance. In 2017 I discovered a small coin that had no fees and did not use the blockchain. The ‘no feesʼ immediately got my attention. I am a software engineer and the bigger part of my life I have been working as a real time embedded software analyst designer and after researching IOTA for a few weeks, I decided that this would be the future and I went all in. No question about it. Our common interest in IOTA was due to the positive point of IOTA:
1. Instant transactions
2. Zero fees
3. Near infinite scalability
4. Near infinite decentralisation
5. Permissionlessness and trustlessness
6. 1 millionth the energy usage of Bitcoin
Eric: I started programming in 1979 when I first bumped into the university computer. I have been programming day-in day-out ever since. It’s one of those hobby-turned-into-work things. I feel like I haven’t worked a day in my life. I just get to hobby all day and get paid to do it.
My original background is in electronics, so most projects were highly technical. In addition I continued to educate myself and stayed in the forefront of what happened in computers for most of the time. In 2013 I started getting involved in bitcoin for real, and in 2014 I got my first crypto-currency related job working on Open Transactions for a Swiss company. I kept following what was going on in crypto while doing mobile development after that. In late May 2017 a friend pointed me to IOTA and I was blown away by how far ahead the ideas were. That’s when I started getting involved, learning as much as I could through helping others. Which ultimately resulted in my dream job at IF.
As far as I know you are in a friendship for a long time. Was your common interest in IOTA a decisive factor to create your own community on Facebook?! What has been the crucial point for you to become active in this way?!
Eric: Andre and I have been close friends since 1983. We’re both software engineers, and even though our paths diverged at a later age we’re still very close. Whenever we meet it is as if no time passed and we simply continue where we left off. I pointed Andre to IOTA at some point, after we both were already involved in crypto. And when the Facebook group took off he was an easy choice as co-admin. A task he really made his own.
Andre: Eric and I are friends from our youth. We studied software science together, were DJ in a disco in Breda together, moved both to Belgium, started each our own software company, built both a new house as neighbours and both got married in Belgium and we both had kids. Because we are friends both interested in IOTA we decided to put our efforts in the same facebook group. We had to make FAQʼs, manuals, etc. The first months it was hard work, often till late in the night.
During the crypto-boom in winter 2017 the number of your community members exploded into tens of thousands. Many of them had no experience with crypto or IOTA at all. This caused a lot of “moon”-, “lambo” – and “we will all get rich soon” – topics/comments. Which steps did you take to lead the focus on the technical aspects of IOTA again?!
Eric: A few simple rules that were strictly implemented by the moderator team: no speculation posts, and always be civilized to one another. You break those rules and you’re out. We’re not depending on you as a person but on the community as a whole. A single person is capable of creating a toxic environment. We have a one strike and you’re out policy, unless you showed a lot of community spirit in the past. Then you get one more chance.
Andre: In the winter of 2017 there was a boom indeed. Often our group grew with more then 1000 a day. And everybody asked the same questions 🙂 Soon the “get rich quick” kids started to “lambo” and “moon” our group. We decided to ban everything that had something to do with the value of the coin and told everybody that our group is only to help each other and answer questions about technical aspects etc. Soon we enlisted volunteers who wanted to be moderator for our fast growing group. All are very adequaat in helping newbies and noobs. Posts and comments with “moon” and “lambo” were banned and scammers were removed from the group and banned for life.
Early 2018 a lot of (new) IOTA user got scammed using malicious seed generators online. During this crisis you Andre, saved a lot of those funds – that’s why you still hold the title as a hero within the community ^^ How did you manage to handle the enormous number of requests by the victims?! Can you describe the process the persons affected had to go through to save their funds?!
Andre: When in 2017 and early 2018 the malicious seed generators on the web appeared, a lot of people, not aware of the dangers, used those generators to generate their Iota SEED. Every seed that was generated was copied to the criminals. They waited .. and waited…. till they had a lot of seeds. All of a sudden peopleʼs wallets were getting emptied ! Soon we knew what was happening. The criminals were sending funds from the wallets of the owners to their own wallet. But due to the fact that they only moved the funds without promoting the transaction, a lot of those transactions remained ‘pendingʼ. If we would not act fast, they would get confirmed and be gone for ever. If I was able to resend the funds from that wallet to a new wallet of the owner (double spending) and getting that transaction confirmed BEFORE the transaction of the criminals got confirmed, the funds would be saved and the transaction of the criminals would remain pending forever ! I altered the software of the LIGHT WALLET a bit so it would allow ‘double spendingʼ (sending the same amount again from the same wallet to an other address). It was necessary for the victims to give me their SEED (they lost everything already, so no harm done there) so I could send the funds with my ‘special walletʼ to an address in a new wallet of the victim. They contacted me by PM. I was not capable on my own to promote all these double spends I generated. Therefor I started the IOTA PROMOTE group where a lot of members of our IOTA group went, and there I would post all the hashes of the double spends to be promoted by our members till they got confirmed ! So I received from the victim the old SEED and a new address from their new seed. Made the double spending as fast as possible and published the hash in the IOTA PROMOTE group. There an army of members would all promote that hash. Also the Foundation chipped in by giving me the address of a special node that ‘nobody knewʼ, that node would proces my double spend faster because the criminals were spamming all the nodes at the same time but not this one. People also came from other IOTA groups in other countries, in our group, their iotaʼs (maybe) could be saved. This rescue sometimes took me 20 hours of work a day, even working in bed. But it was worth it ! We rescued hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of iotaʼs 🙂 Of course also thanks to all the people that were promoting in the IOTA PROMOTE group, all our computers were almost melting ! 🙂
Eric: Andre was more visible at that time, but I must have saved a few million dollars in total as well. Usually when the team got stumped they forwarded those cases to me and I would go deep. Once I figured out what the problem was it would usually get picked up by the team again. The biggest problem was that a lot of people had no idea that IOTA was different from blockchain, and also a lot of people just jumped in without first informing themselves.
You Eric became an official member of the IOTA Foundation this year. A great possibility to contribute your own skills to fulfill IOTA’s amazing vision. You are using your professional background as a Software Engineer to work on “Qubic” right now. Please let us know, is this a dream becoming reality or just another job/challenge in your career?!
Eric: Qubic is by far the biggest challenge I ever took on. There are so many uncertainties in the project. And it’s a multi-year project. We’re getting to the point now where the programming language for Qubic (Abra) is well-defined and the first compiler nears completion. My task has largely switched from creating code (like I did in my previous projects) into managing the project and writing the documentation that a common user can understand. There are a few geniuses in this project, but they have a hard time explaining it in layman terms. I seem to have a knack for that, so I took that upon me.
Your international IOTA community is the biggest one on Facebook now. You can find a lot of information material about IOTA and how to use it in a safe way. Lead by you, a few mods and a lot of active members, sharing every aspect of IOTA and caring for all problems, it became a really great place to learn and connect with people. Are you satisfied with its status quo or do you have any divergent plans for the future?!
Eric: I literally unsubscribed from all other crypto groups. I was fed up with the toxic atmosphere there. Our group is very helpful, knowledgeable, and respectful. The information content is high. I don’t see a need to change much for now. Just wait, when IOTA starts going up again, a new influx will start.
Andre: Are we satisfied with status quo of our group and do we have any divergent plans for the future? Our group is the best crypto currency group on facebook. I think that is because we do not allow bullshit in out group and NO SPECULATION posts. Itʼs all about the TECH and it has to stay that way. People even discuss their own iota projects so I think our group is here to stay.
Thank you Eric and Andre for taking the time to answer my questions. Do you have any advice you want to share with your community and/or potential IOTA newcomers?!
Andre: Advice ? Yes, create your own SEED or use the TRINITY wallet of the foundation. That is the only safe way. And of course, do your research about IOTA.
Eric: My advice is twofold: if you invest in IOTA, make sure you first read up on it so you know what you get yourself into, and never invest more than you are willing to lose. Also: get involved. It’s a lot of fun. There are lots of ways you can be of service in the community. Even if you are not a programmer. You will make friends for life.
I am not doing this for money, but donations are always welcomed 🙂
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