You’ll be excused for not being aware of Buttcoin.org, a bitcoin site that has been critical of both the endlessly optimistic spirit of the bitcoin community and, more important, of the broken hardware users have received from so-called bitcoin mining providers. One company, Butterfly Labs, decided to turn that double frown upside-down, so to speak, and purchased the site outright in an anonymous sale. The result? A search for “butterfly labs scam,” which once returned a link from Buttcoin excoriating the hardware based on user reports, now returns a story with the headline “The $22,484.00 Butterfly Labs Mini Rig bitcoin miner is a sexy bitcoin mining machine.”
“I don’t want to go to specific into the terms of the sale due to some language in the contract that’s tricky but it was a hair into the 5 figure range, yes. Nothing to change anything about my life or anything, but enough to fix some stuff around the house,” said Evan, former owner of Buttcoin who preferred not to reveal his last name. “The site was a PR4 and had decent traffic for a blog of that type but I would have been dumb to not take the offer. I have bought and sold websites before and knew this was an overvalued offer. However, since I had been following bitcoiners for so long I knew most of these guys did transactions that made zero financial sense so it didn’t seem too unbelievable.”
According to a post Evan made on Reddit, a user named Jeff approached him about the site and made an offer. Evan, who was returning to school and needed a little cash, agreed, thinking he might be able to update the site and help with posting. Instead, the user, Jeff, made the changes and essentially locked down the site. The buyer, Evan suspects, was Jeff Ownby VP of marketing for Butterfly Labs.
“So that’s the whole story. I was tricked into selling Buttcoin.org to BFL and no longer have access to the site so I’ve set up camp on the subreddit instead so I can shitpost about bitcoins still,” wrote Evan. “And in way, even though I never owned any, I still cashed out because of Bitcoin .”
The changes Butterfly made to the site are quite jarring. The result for “butterfly labs scam” in Google, for example, has been changed from “The $22,484.00 Butterfly Labs Mini Rig bitcoin miner is a huge, broken, unstable piece of shit” to “The $22,484.00 Butterfly Labs Mini Rig bitcoin miner is a sexy bitcoin mining machine..”
Another example appears in the original here and the updated version here. While the text of the post is essentially unchanged, the florid last line has been removed. Another post, “Butterfly Labs demo is literally just hot air”, is now titled “Butterfly Labs demo is hot” and is now quite positive.
A company improving its reputation by opening its wallet is nothing new. However, I’ve never really seen such an egregious effort to whitewash a site. This is a sad tale, to be sure. Evan is now facing claims that he is a Butterfly Labs shill and the company itself can’t be doing very well in SEO now that it’s bought and paid for its own positive press and has raised the ire of the bitcoin community. While fooling some of the people all of the time is usually good business practice, I suspect they’ll eventually fail to fool anyone. Butterfly Labs did not respond to a request for comment but I will update accordingly if I hear from them.
Evan, for his part, isn’t concerned.
“I think it’s hilarious. With so many scams and hacks and thefts this really was the only way this could have gone down. Someone actually buying the site and honoring their agreement? No way in hell that would happen if it’s related to bitcoin. There just had to be some sort of gotcha at the end,” he said. “The bitcoiners on Reddit are trying to use it against me as if I’m some sort of shill and that my reputation has been damaged. I ran a website with a giant butt on the logo, how much worse can my reputation get?” He said that his site was probably one of the oldest repositories of bitcoin news in the world, although that doesn’t matter much. “I would place our impact on the world somewhere between the printing press and maybe the Capri Sun pouch,” he said.
“It was a bummer but it’s not mine anymore and they’re free to do as they please. If I knew it was Butterfly Labs though I would have rather they bought the site and shut it down rather than change the message. What about my legacy? What will my children think?”