BitcoinTalk is an important tool for ICOs, better know how to use its opportunities. A complete guide includes information about ANN-posts, their handling, design, promotion and many other useful life hacks for the platform users.
Cointelegraph launches a series of guides to different useful tools for the crypto community. Newbies, experienced adherents and even gurus could find something interesting to upgrade their mastering of the subject. Life hacks from experts, pioneers, trailblazers, those who went through the mills of different crypto experiences themselves- firsthand and as simply put as possible.
Cryptocurrency and Initial Coin Offering (ICO) markets are ones of the fastest changing in the world. As soon as the ICO-phenomenon started to gather serious traction at the beginning of 2017, every noticeable cryptocurrency blogger and media mentioned BitcoinTalk as one of the key success components, often referring to it as a source of the most desirable and target audience for any ICO project out there.
All ICOs make announcement posts (ANN-posts) about themselves and majority of them launch their bounty campaigns on BitcoinTalk, while all trustworthy ICO listings require hyperlinks to ANN-posts when onboarding the projects. Thus, it can be said that at the moment, BitcoinTalk is a mandatory de-facto standard for any project doing or planning to do an Initial Coin Offering.
The following guide to BitcoinTalk is based on thorough research on the subject, available information gathered and practical experience. An exclusive collection of knowledge was tested along the story of a startup, which launched its ANN and bounty campaign posts on BitcoinTalk on Monday, Oct. 2. For the full first two weeks of the ICO campaign, no other user acquisition activities were made besides BitcoinTalk in order to receive a full understanding of how the platform worked and how it could help grow the project.
What is BitcoinTalk?
Modern BitcoinTalk is the largest and one of the oldest message boards dedicated to Blockchain and cryptocurrencies on the Internet. It was founded by Satoshi Nakamoto on November 22, 2009, and is a direct successor to his first SourceForge forum, which is now lost.
Initially, BitcoinTalk was a forum where people interested in technical details and everything connected to Bitcoin software could communicate with each other. Now it hosts a lot of different sections covering all the major areas of cryptocurrency world, including one made specifically for ICOs. Thanks to its huge user base (more than 464,000 community members) BitcoinTalk soon became a valuable traffic source for everything connected to cryptocurrency.
Table of contents
- Mobile layout
- How to mark up and test your post
- How to extract the BBcode of the ANN-post you like
- Image optimisation
- Pros and cons of different ANN post types
- Publication of ANN post
- What to do right after your post has been published
In order to be able to publish announcements and bounty posts, you need to have an account on the forum, but if you plan to do a beautiful “branded” post with images, your account should be at least in a rank of Jr. Member, which means having at least 30 activity points. In order to get that, you need to participate in forum’s life – communicate with other people in various forum threads.
BitcoinTalk assigns points using the following scheme:
One publication or comment = one activity point, but as soon as you reach 14 points, your score stops growing for the current two-week period. Despite this fact, your activity is being tracked and your points are being registered, but not assigned to your account at the moment.
At the beginning of the following two-week period, the process starts again – your activity points continue to grow (even if you didn’t do anything during this new period, your previously registered activity points are now being assigned) until you reach next +14 points. This way, in order to gather the aforementioned 30 points you need to actively communicate on the forum for at least four weeks and two days. You need to keep this in mind if you plan to launch your announcement post by a certain date.
You also need to note that your account might get banned along the way if you do a lot of off-topic posts and change your geo-IP often and inconsistently, so we suggest you start with at least five accounts that you plan to bring to Jr. Member rank. We had four, three of them got banned.
Besides the in-house leveling up of BitcoinTalk accounts, there are two possible solutions to this situation:
- Find someone who has an account of Jr. Member rank or higher and ask him to publish your ANN/Bounty post for you, but keep in mind that you will most likely need to update your posts during the campaign, so this person should be eager to help you out all the time;
- Buy an account. This method is not forbidden on BitcoinTalk but is not encouraged. You should remember that there is a risk (a rather small one) that your newly bought account can get banned soon after the purchase. You can get banned for a variety of reasons:
– change or regular Geo-IP
– a complaint that accounts that you just bought was stolen
– because some of the forum dwellers are inspecting users who actively communicate in the threads they are interested in, with the goal of finding high ranking accounts with unnatural behavioral patterns (e.g., account was inactive for three months and then started to positively comment in your thread only) in order to report them for unfair thread pumping.
Usually, bans on BitcoinTalk are temporary, but receiving one may hinder your campaign a lot.
In order to minimize the risks, we advise you create your own accounts and grow them till Jr. Member rank. You should start doing so at least one month and two days before your planned ANN-post release date.
Here you can find the complete list of features and restrictions applicable to each account rank.
In case you still want to risk and buy an account, we’ve studied the matter for you. Here are the prices you can encounter on the forums in late November – mid-December*:
- Jr. Member – from 30 EUR;
- Member – from 56 EUR;
- Full Member – from 90 EUR;
- Senior Member – from 120 EUR;
- Hero Member – from 195 EUR;
- Legendary Member – from 310 EUR.
When buying an account on BitcoinTalk, it is strongly advised to use an escrow service. Escrows are experienced and respected high ranking forum members that act as the third party in your arrangement and guarantee that your deal will be concluded without fraud. Below you can find a list of BitcoinTalk members that could be contacted on the matter of providing escrow services. The list is descending – the man with the highest trust rating is displayed above. The structure is as follows: nickname, commission escrow takes from the deal, minimum reward sum escrow receives in any case*:
- OgNasty – 1%, min. 0.01 BTC;
- Tomatocage – 1%;
- Blazr – 1%, min. 0.01 BTC;
- Lyth0s – 1%, min. 0.01 BTC;
- bitpop – 0.001 BTC;
- Anon136 – 0.9%, min. 0.01 BTC;
- TwinWinNerD – 1%, 0.01 BTC;
- Dabs – 1%, min. 0.03 BTC.
ANN-post and everything connected with it
It’s a well-known fact that beautiful imagery sells better than naked text, it engages the user and holds his attention, it can bring additional value and help to favorably position your product against the competition.
On BitcoinTalk you can create both simple and discreet posts, as well as rich and beautiful publications full of images, but there are many nuances that you should know before deciding which type of ANN-post you should go for.
BitcoinTalk is not a mobile-friendly platform. There is no direct option to make an adaptive ANN/Bounty post design for mobile devices, but default layout is fluid, meaning that all your text and imagery will be scaled down to meet the current resolution requirements. You may take that into account when preparing your design and make the content of your images bigger than needed so that it would look better on mobile phones, but it’s totally up to you.
During the first two weeks after our initial launch, we didn’t do any advertising or bring additional traffic to our website, receiving only what BitcoinTalk has to offer and that what came organically. We saw that most of the traffic came from desktop (more than 85 percent), that’s why we dare to conclude that trying to make your ANN-post “mobile-friendly” is an ineffective approach.
Another feature of BitcoinTalk’s fluid layout is that elements that are specifically positioned in a single row. For example, [img][/img][img][/img], when viewing on a mobile device, can break this row and create a second line, despite the fact that there is enough horizontal space for them in the initial row.
How to mark up and test your post
BitcoinTalk, as many other forums use BBcode to markup its content inside the publications. Implementation of BBcode is a rather standard one but restricted. We would even say old to be precise. Working with multilevel ordered and unordered lists, for example, is a more complicated process than it is on modern phpBB/IPB forum-boards.
Post should be marked up and tested in personal messages (My messages → New message). You should send your post layout to yourself or your other account so that no one would complain about you sending spam in personal messages.
Before sending your test message, you can look at its preview-version, which might show you how your post would look like once published, but unfortunately, it’s not completely true. In preview version of the post, CSS styles that are applied to pictures with hyperlinks are different from the ones applied in real post. This can trash your complex layout if you don’t know about it in advance. When a post is published, all pictures wrapped in links receive an additional margin-left: 4px (four transparent pixels are added from the left side of the picture), but you can’t see this effect in the Preview mode.
Here’s an example of this effect in ELIX’s ANN-post:
Now that you know this nuance, all iterations of your post layout should be sent to you in personal messages and afterwards examined in My messages →
Inbox (sent messages do count as published posts and BitcoinTalk uses same CSS styles on them).
During this step, additional nuances that slow down your working speed appear. If you mark up and test your post layout with a freshly registered user, then each time you press Preview or Send Message, you’ll need to enter a captcha (fortunately, it doesn’t change for a few hours, so you would be able to remember it by heart). For new users (<16 activity points) these personal message sending restrictions apply:
- One message in six minutes;
- Not more than five messages per hour.
Based on this information, we once again strongly advice to create several accounts on BitcoinTalk and in case of encountering this limits, start doing the same thing, but from different account.
Nota bene: Unfortunately, recently BitcoinTalk forced same image-posting policies to personal messages that it uses in publications. This means that if your account rank is lower than Jr. Member, you can publish only text (image tags will be converted into hyperlinks), even in private messages.
How to extract the BBcode of the ANN-post you like
In order to simplify the ANN-post markup process (i.e,. not to make everything from scratch), you can take any post markup as a basis. It’s very easy to do, but generally, people who don’t work with forums don’t know about it.
Let’s say you like the UTRUST post. In order to see its BBcode markup, you need to log in to BitcoinTalk and press the quote button:
As soon as you do that, window with reply comment will appear, where in the body of the text message a BBcode of UTRUST’s ANN-post will be “quoted.” Everything you need is located inside the tags [quote]and [/quote]. Just copy this code and continue to work with it locally:
BitcoinTalk doesn’t host your images, i.e., you can’t upload pictures to their servers when designing a post, like you can on Medium. You can refer to an image that is already uploaded to a server, preferably your own (with the same domain name as your website), using a hyperlink. If you don’t have a personal dedicated server where you store images, or for some reason, you don’t want to do so, you can use image hosting services such as:
This is where another nuance appears – BitcoinTalk Image Proxy. Theoretically, it was designed to block the loading of the images that exceed 2.5 megabytes in size, but in practice, it periodically blocks the rendering of images from different hostings for no apparent reason, showing you the following message: “bitcointalk.org image proxy: invalid image.”
The main problem here is that your ANN-post images can trigger Image Proxy not when they are rendered for the first time, but three days after the publication, making your post look broken (this is exactly what happened to us).
It is advised to upload your complete image set to different hosting services from the very beginning and prepare several BBCode copies of your post with different image links. In case you encounter this Image Proxy behavior, you will be ready to react to this situation by editing the post and instantly changing all broken images to new, working ones – this way you will minimize your reputation risks. In our tests, we found out that it is safer to use Imgur hosting services. This is probably so because Imgur is most popular image hosting service right now and a lot of companies host their ANN and Bounty post images there, so hindering it with Image Proxy is disadvantageous for the forum in whole.
Another thing to note: you can encounter a situation where you open your published post (or sent personal message) and find some images not being rendered at all. This is a standard situation – no need to worry, just refresh the page a few times. This happens a lot and most of the BitcoinTalk commoners know about it, so they will easily refresh your page if needed.
All beautiful, selling ANN-posts are made of images – some projects use small amounts of pictures, but very large ones, while others use a lot of small images. Because all images are examined by BitcoinTalk Image Proxy, their loading speed isn’t something to be desired. The general rule of thumb here is that the lesser the size of your images, the faster they load and less Image Proxy related problems are encountered.
In order to decrease your image size – they should be optimised, preferably using lossless algorithms.
These services can help you to achieve this goal:
- TinyPNG (very easy to use web service that provides good compression results for PNG and JPEG formats);
- PNGyu (Windows program that brings good results when dealing with PNG images);
- ImageOptim (Mac OS app, works great with PNG and JPEG formats, in majority of cases performs better than all above-mentioned services).
For anyone who wishes to dive deep into this topic, we advise to take a look at these materials:
- ImageOptim-CLI – comparative performance analysis of image optimisation tools;
- Working with images (RU) – set of articles with detailed instructions from Art. Lebedev Studio employees are describing how to get maximum image quality while achieving minimum size.
Do you really need to bother, how effective this can be? Let’s compare ANN post of our project – Forty Seven Bank and ANN post of Tokenbox. Our image canvas is a lot longer than one of Tokenbox. We have more graphical content.
Forty Seven: 38 images, total file size – 824 kilobytes;
Tokenbox: 8 images, total file size – 2.26 megabytes.
Pros and cons of different ANN post types
Text ANN post
Example – Ethereum Blue.
- This type of post is faster and easier to prepare than any other because it only consists of text;
- This type of post can be published without having a Jr. Member ranked account, which means that you’ll have to spend less time preparing it, won’t have to buy accounts or ask anyone for help;
- This type of post can be translated into other languages very quickly (by means of bounty campaign), which will grant you larger audience coverage in a lot shorter terms. Translators won’t have to mess with your Photoshop files and change the texts on images there;
- This type of post is very easy to edit because there is no need to change images in graphical editors;
- Translators and community managers responsible for localized ANN and bounty posts of your campaign will be able to update their threads with your changes more promptly, this way new information will be spread out quicker;
- Text posts look as good on mobile devices as they do on desktop;
- Text posts are loaded faster than any other types of posts.
Simple Graphical ANN Post
Term simple graphical post implies a canvas that almost fully consists of few or even one single image, which is created using some kind of graphical tool. This type of post is laid out using a rule “one image per row.”
Example – UTRUST.
- Graphical posts sell a lot better than text ones;
- Because image canvas is not tied to forum element formatting rules and capabilities, it is possible to show your product the way you want without meeting any structure and color restrictions. You can highlight important things and format your elements freely.
- This type of post allows to effectively use storytelling techniques and correctly inform the users about your project even if they started to “read” your post somewhere in the middle;
- With this type of post you can show the audience the skill level of your design and product teams as well as the seriousness of your approach to BitcoinTalk as media channel;
- This type of post automatically looks better than most of the text posts created by the competition. It’s also easier to remember it than a plain text one;
- This type of post’s layout doesn’t break apart on mobile devices because it has only one image per row.
Complex graphical ANN post
Complex graphical ANN post is a post that is sliced and marked up in such a way that all images NOT covered in links have additional four transparent/background color pixels from the left side and all images that ARE covered in links do not. This type of post can have several image-links placed in one row (e.g., you can have image-links of your documents placed in one horizontal line).
- Almost all advantages of simple graphical ANN post;
- This type of post may serve as a mini-website inside a forum, where each image is an actual hyperlink leading where you want to go. Horizontal layout of images wrapped in links can help to shorten the length of the canvas while making it more capacious.
- It is easier to almost losslessly optimise a large amount of small images and receive significant reduction in size than to optimise fewer, but very large images. The lesser your posts weights, the faster it loads, that’s why this type of post usually loads faster than simple graphical one;
- There is no visible “ladder” happening on the edge of the canvas, where simple images alternate with images wrapped in links.
- Almost all disadvantages of simple graphical ANN post;
- Even more time is required to prepare this type of post than is needed to prepare a simple graphical one;
- You will have to work with BitcoinTalk background color (#ECEDF3), whether you want to or not, even if it doesn’t suit your design’s color palette;
- On mobile devices, horizontally-placed image links can sometimes fall apart and create a second row of images, which breaks your layout.
Hybrid ANN post
Hybrid post in a topic that uses a combination of images and richly formatted text.
- May look as good as most graphical posts out there if to take it seriously like VIBERATE did, which means that this type of post can sell
- This type of post allows to effectively use storytelling techniques and correctly inform the users about your project even if they started to “read” your post somewhere in the middle
- This type of post is easier to translate for bounty campaign participants because most of the text there is not in mages (less work in image editors), which means that localized versions of your ANN post will appear faster. It’s also much easier to maintain this type of post because edits in terms of workflow are usually similar to Text ones.
- This type of post usually looks as good on mobile devices as it does on desktop;
- In order to create such post, you need an account of rank Jr. Member or higher
- You need to have people on your team or on freelance that can create a product of high visual quality
- It is harder to create beautiful hybrid post than it is to create simple graphical one, because you’ll have to work with popular fonts, default line heights that cannot be altered, BitcoinTalk background color, etc.
- In order for translators and community managers to be able to create their own localized versions of your ANN or bounty posts, they require up-to-date, properly sliced versions of Photoshop-files with your graphical content openly available to them.
Most of the people who’ll participate in your translation bounty campaign are professional bounty hunters, whose goal is to deliver their work as fast as possible and receive their promised steaks (bounty campaign points). They don’t care much about the visual quality of their work if it slows them down. For example, you’ve launched your graphical ANN and bounty posts on the first day of the month but were able to prepare properly sliced Photoshop files with graphical content only on the second day. Most of the bounty hunters, in this case, would already have started translating your posts on day one. Because they didn’t have the Photoshop source files available to them on day one, they would work with what is – raster images from your posts. They will be able to change the texts in your images, but the quality of such alterations will be questionable, resulting in localized posts looking worse than original ones. These situations can be solved later on, but it requires time, which is of essence during the ICO campaign and that’s why it is utterly important to have all your properly sliced Photoshop files ready on day one.
Most of the bounty hunters are familiar with image editors and have them installed on their machines. Mostly the ones from Adobe, but often the versions of programs they use are very outdated (Adobe Photoshop CS2-3, Adobe Fireworks CS5-6), that’s why when preparing the sliced Photoshop files, we suggest you merge as many layers as possible, leaving only the text editable. We also suggest not to use new Adobe CC features such as double or triple gradient layer effects, artboards, etc. The simpler your file is, the more predictable result you get from a bounty hunter.
It’s not a commonly known fact, but it is possible to place a whole email template, with recipient address, subject, and body text set in advance in a regular “mailto:” link. It is very convenient for a person who decided to write you an email – it will save him a lot of time if he encounters such link. Here’s an example that offers a visitor to become project’s advisor. These type of links also work In terms of BitcoinTalk, but you have to place them using [email][/email] tag, not the [url][/url]. You can also wrap images in [email]tags the same way you do it with [url].
Limit for symbols
Posts on BitcoinTalk cannot be infinitely long, they have a character limit set, but if you encounter it, forum will just show you an error about you having an improperly closed tag somewhere in your post, i.e., will misinform you. Officially the characters limit for one post is 64,000 symbols, but in some cases this limit fired at 63,000+ characters, while others reported they were able to publish posts with 65,535 and 68,575 characters in length respectively. Besides that, this restriction is a floating one. It varies from one forum section to another. In Tokens (altcoins) and Bounties (altcoins) it is approximately the same as mentioned above, but in Russian localized section, for example, the allowed character amount was two times smaller.
You’ll probably won’t encounter this limit while publishing your ANN post, but it will come in handy when doing a bounty post.
Based on the experience of launching our own ANN and bounty posts and making a lot of changes to them, the conclusion would be that it’s better to do hybrid ANN posts, because:
- They can sell (even if they do it a bit worse than purely graphical posts) and can look good on both desktop and mobile devices
- They are a lot cheaper in maintenance
- They are easy to work with for bounty campaign participants
- They take less time to prepare because there are fewer images to create, and these pictures are usually more simple than in graphical posts
- Hybrid ANN posts usually host less pictures than image ones, and these pictures are usually smaller in dimensions, making them better targets for lossless image optimisation, which all in all may result in better loading times.
It is better not to use image-links for ANN posts in different languages, but rather to make them text ones, otherwise it could create a lot of additional work for the creator as well as for the bounty campaign participants.
It looks beautiful, but because there are around 16-20 main languages that your ANN post will be translated to, you and your bounty hunters will have to create these 16-20 images for each language, resulting in around 256-400 images. It’s just not worth it.
Publication of ANN post
Before you publish your ANN post, there are several things you should know.
Name of your post
Each day dozens of new ANN posts appear on BitcoinTalk and dozens of “old” ones ascend to top positions of the section because of the active discussions happening in them. Tokens (altcoins) section is somewhat similar to very dynamic Featured section of some kind of popular App Store – all market participants want to get their place under the sun, because it provides visibility to the project, which in return gives free traffic.
It would be discussed later – how to get to the top of the section, but right now we will speak about how to get noticed when you’re already on the top. All headings in the section are made of text and mostly all of them have blocks in brackets, such as [ANN][ICO]. In order to better distinguish your post you can use ASCII symbols and emojis – you won’t get banned for this:
Using these symbols, you can better draw attention to your post and easier onboard new visitors to your topic.
For example, instead of using normal square brackets [EXAMPLE], you can use these symbols【EXAMPLE】that by default have thicker lines to them and are better drawing attention. If to wrap this example in emoji, then your heading will distinct even better, for instance 🚀【EXAMPLE】🚀.
That’s it, but it is important not to overdo it.
The most often encountered emojis on BitcoinTalk are:
Tokens (altcoins) section is always monitored by bounty hunters, especially by translators. As soon as they see new post appear, they jump into it and instantaneously leave a reply message with text stating something similar to “I reserve the Indonesian translation.” This is all good and well, despite the fact that it’s better to be able to reserve the first reply message for yourself – you can use it for thread updates or at least have an opportunity to divide your main post in two if it gets too big.
After the publication of your ANN post, the tab you’ve published it in usually loads slower than the entry appears in the altcoins section, so in order to reserve the first reply for yourself, you need to do:
- Open two separate tabs in your browser, each on Tokens (altcoins);
- Have the “Reserved” text copied to your clipboard
- Use one tab to publish your ANN post
- As soon as you’ve pressed the “Post” button, switch to the second tab and continuously hit “Refresh” button until you see your post
- Jump into the post and immediately hit the “Reply” button, paste the “Reserved” text in and then hit the “Post” button.
If you’ve done everything fast enough, first post reply will be yours and you will be able to use it as intended (by editing its content). In case you weren’t able to make it (bounty hunters are very fast after all), you’ll have to use your main post’s footer to publish the updates.
In order to reduce the risk of losing your first reply message to bounty hunters, we advise to publish your ANN post when there are less people on the forum. BitcoinTalk is an international platform, meaning that there are always users online, but we definitely recommend avoiding publishing your post from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. EST.
What to do right after your post has been published
There are many things you can do right after publishing your ANN post, depending on how well did you prepare for the guerilla community management, but there’s a minimum program you should do.
If you’ve made a high-quality attractive ANN post, you will start receiving your first comments about participation in bounty program, language translation reservations and general questions about your project within the first minutes. It is very important to respond to those comments promptly and in full while staying polite and positive. Keeping your FAQ close to increase your answer speed is generally a good idea. If you manage to respond to people’s questions while offering them a way to continue a conversation with you, you will get into victorious situation. Every time someone leaves a comment in your post, it jumps up to the top of Tokens (altcoins) section. There it receives visibility, that’s why the more discussion is happening in your post, the more popular it gets. You have to remember that BitcoinTalk moderators are working for a salary, not for free, so they do their job well – all off-topic posts and pointless comments are quickly deleted.
Even participating in topic discussions, you need to keep an eye on personal messages – a place where you’ll receive offers of paid help from different forum dwellers. Some of the offered services may be of use to you, but in any case, you should always be wary and check the reputation of users who are offering them.
During the first few hours after the publication of your ANN-post, we suggest you keep at least two people watching the thread and answering user comments and questions.
When launching local ANN posts in different languages, prepare that some people may be very salty and even poisonous. You still need to behave politely with them.
This is where this article comes to an end. Next one would be about specifics of bounty campaigns on BitcoinTalk. If you found this article useful, please share it with your friends. If you want us to clarify anything or propose a subject for another article, please leave us a message in the comment section below.
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Author: James Wakefield