IOTA is a cryptocurrency-based project which is characterised by a passionate and devoted fanbase but also a myriad of critics from the cryptocurrency community who are sceptical of its concept.
This ecosystem was best exemplified by an online ‘fight’ between tech researcher Sarah Jamie Lewis and popular IOTA community member, Steffen Vogt. Lewis is well-known in the crypto world and has always been very critical of the technology behind IOTA. Vogt is also popular among the IOTA community, contributing frequently on Discord forums, Reddit and Twitter. He also runs a popular, independent tech-blog focused on IOTA called TangleBlog.
It all started when Vogt sent Lewis a private message on August 14th calling her out on her criticism on the IOTA project in what he felt was an un-businesslike, one-sided approach. He accused her of responding to members of the IOTA project with “hate and belittlement”. The message took an extortionate turn when he stated he is giving her two weeks to respond to questions from Hans Moog from the IOTA Foundation in a “scientific way without any attacks against persons or purposeful misinterpretations“. In the message, he accused her of discriminating against the IOTA project due to her alleged financial investments in other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Zcash.
Lewis was rightly furious with the message but decided to outline her exact issues with the flaws inherent in the IOTA protocol. In a series of 30+ tweets, Lewis described her criticisms of the technology behind IOTA’s innovative Tangle (which it uses instead of blockchain technology), and of the upcoming ‘Coordicide’ protocol which is meant to decentralise the system while also achieving scalability. She linked to various sources and her previous research in several of the tweets in an attempt to further elaborate her claims.
Unfortunately, this did not placate Vogt, who published a response on IOTA news site, ‘The Tangler’. In his article, Vogt clarified that he is not associated with the IOTA Foundation in any way, and is not a developer nor a consensus specialist. He also justified the public nature of his attack against Lewis, which he believed was the only way he could get her to engage with him and his critiques. The article took a turn for the worse, however, when insulted Lewis for her acclaimed research in sex-tech, mocking her references to items such as ‘vibrators’ in her tweets. The article stated:
“My own business conduct is, I believe, quite certainly justified because it is aimed at a person who is not too sorry to share their vibrator on social media anyway”
This article received wide criticism, with the IOTA Foundation speaking out as well to disassociate Vogt’s behaviour with the organisation.
IOTA is a permissionless ecosystem that strives to make DLT a reality and introduce a new trust layer for our digital economy. We have a large and enthusiastic community, which also means that we do not always agree with the engagement and opinions of the broader community.
— IOTA (@iotatoken) August 14, 2019
It was only after this tweet, and widespread condemnation from the crypto community did Vogt publish an apology article, announcing that he will be taking a two-week break from online forums.
The IOTA community on Reddit and Twitter seemed happy that Vogt apologised, but many were still seen making excuses for his behaviour.