Vitalik Buterin

There’s major drama in the cryptocurrency industry today as Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin has announced plans to boycott CoinDesks’s upcoming Consensus 2018 conference.

In a series of tweets on April 26, the 24-year old programmer claimed he was boycotting Consensus because “CoinDesk is recklessly complicit in enabling giveaway scams.”

CoinDesk Consensus is one of the crypto industry best-known and most-attended events of the year. This year, the conference is preparing to host 5,000 people, each of whom will have paid $2,000 to $3,000 to attend. Speakers include Amber Baldet, former blockchain head at JPMorgan, as well as Jack Dorsey, the founder of Square and Twitter. Regulators, politicians, and other “mainstream” professionals are also expected to attend the event.

To justify his boycott, Buterin tweeted a number of points, complete with screenshots and other evidence.

As proof, Buterin cited a recent CoinDesk article on OmiseGO (OMG) that directly links to a giveaway scam.

Buterin has been the subject of a number of giveaway scams in recent months. The problem got so bad that he recently changed his official Twitter name to Vitalik “Not giving away ETH” Buterin.

That name change was in response to countless scammers using his identity and name online to promote various giveaway scams. Scammers would post a tweet saying something like, “I’m giving away 500 ETH. Send 0.01 ETH to this address and I’ll send everyone 1 ETH.” Amazingly, thousands of people have fallen for scams like this.

Buterin’s problem with CoinDesk involves more than just giveaway scams.

Buterin also cited CoinDesk’s “terrible” coverage of Ethereum Improvement Protocol (EIP) 999. CoinDesk, according to Buterin, “published a highly sensationalist article claiming the chain would split, when it was very clear that EIP 999 was *very far* from acceptance.”

Finally, Buterin claims CoinDesk’s reporting policies “are designed to trap you with gotchas.” He specifically cites a problem with CoinDesk’s protocol for “off the record” conversations. Even if you claim something is “off the record” during a discussion with CoinDesk, the company makes you “go through a request/approve dance first,” according to Buterin. As proof, Buterin links to CoinDesk’s terms and conditions.

Buterin also mentioned the high cost of attending the conference. Although he can certainly afford it, Buterin described the $2,000 to $3,000 attendance fee as a “level of rent seeking” that he will “refuse to personally contribute to.”

CoinDesk Editor-in-Chief Pete Rizzo Responds to Buterin

Soon after Buterin’s tweets appeared online, CoinDesk EIC Pete Rizzo responded to the allegations.

Rizzo also avoided apologizing for the company’s Ethereum coverage, claiming Buterin was “more than entitled to that opinion” regarding CoinDesk’s coverage of EIP 999.

CoinDesk’s Chief Executive Kevin Worth also responded to Buterin’s criticism. In a statement to Business Insider, Worth described CoinDesk’s team as maintaining high journalistic standards in a difficult, constantly-changing marketplace:

“We were disappointed to learn of Vitalik's tweet today regarding a CoinDesk reporting error, for which we apologize. One of our reporters included an unverified link in an article; we quickly identified the error and fixed it. We strive to maintain the highest level of unbiased, ethical journalism in order to provide the best possible coverage of the blockchain industry.”

Will Buterin’s boycott of Consensus affect the event in any way? Buterin is one of the best-known public figures in the crypto space. He’s the founder of the world’s second largest cryptocurrency. What he says matters. CoinDesk is also a major name in the crypto space, although they’ve come under fire in the past for their questionable reporting – including their lack of disclosure over whether or not writers have vested interests in the coins they write about.

The 4th Annual Consensus is scheduled to take place from May 14 to 116 at the New York Hilton Midtown. Stay tuned for more information as we get closer to the event date.

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