Reddit-Based Stock Market Will Deal Exclusively in Memes

Wednesday, 18 January 2017 - 7:36PM
Weird Science
Wednesday, 18 January 2017 - 7:36PM
Reddit-Based Stock Market Will Deal Exclusively in Memes

In one of your late-night internet searches, you may have had the good fortune to stumble across Reddit's r/MemeEconomy - a subreddit where people discuss memes like they were stocks. If a meme is new and hot, users shout "BUY," if it's peaked, they "SELL." Despite all the financial terms, there's no real money involved, just a lot of symbolism and self-aware snarking. 

Now, a 12-person team is taking the idea and making it a reality. Called NASDANQ - a portmanteau of the NASDAQ stock market and "dank" if that wasn't clear - this online market is the brainchild of Brandon Wink and Ron Vaisman. Though the market will operate on it's own fictional currency, that does not mean that Wink and Vaisman are taking their jobs any less seriously.

They say the most difficult part of the project is assigning stock prices to memes. 
"The idea is to give this usually intangible thing a value, so that people can feel like they're earning something when before they could not," Vaisman told The Verge. In order to determine the price, Vaisman and Wink are developing an algorithm which will determine the value of each given meme based on popularity and growth. "How do you distinguish something as unique on one end and then how do you objectively quantify it?" asks Vaisman.

This is much easier said than done, however. It's incredibly challenging to make sure that each internet joke is properly represented by popularity, when its lifespan is often spread across many years and various different websites. Even if going too big is a problem as well. "The culture itself is very resistant to legitimacy," says Wink, "It's just this general feeling that going big is a death sentence." Wink means this hyperbolically, of course. Because memes have different lifespans on different sites, and because, as we all know, the Internet is forever, they never really die. 

In order to create the trading floor, Wink and Vaisman have left it up to the fans to determine whether or not a meme has made a "cultural impact." Each one gets a fixed amount of fictional currency that they can spend on creating "firms," official and completely non-ridiculous groups of people who propose memes for a coveted spot on the NASDANQ. Using a model from real life stock markets, they'll categorize everything using a "three-tiered market system," essentially just the use of multiple market categories. The smalltime "penny stock" memes will get their own small-cap market, as will the text based mid-cap jokes and the big guns, the large-cap image based jokes (like Caveman Spongebob).

When asked about their hopes for financial gain, Wink and Vaisman remain firm that they see it purely as a sociological project, and don't expect or want to see any real world value. Though the team has been working on the project since August, it's been slow work finding "the equation for one meme across every website and every platform." But Wink, ever the optimist, chimes in with "we're pretty close." 

Though the site isn't up yet, it is still accepting donations from the many who are excited to start reaping the rewards for their meme obsession, even if it's only in social capital and bragging rights. The actual subreddit itself is a different matter - according to AV Club, the fact that their community's hit the news means they're already out to sell.

Image source: Flickr

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