PhD Candidate Says IOTA Community “Toxic” & Tech Has Scaling Issues

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In a flurry of Tweets lambasting the non-blockchain cryptocurrency known as IOTA, the director of the Open Privacy Research Society and a security PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo in Canada has declared that IOTA and its community need to take a long look at themselves in the mirror. Of particular note, the PhD candidate in question, Erinn Atwater, said that she feels the IOTA community is “toxic”, and should be avoided. Join us as we dig into this compelling Tweet storm and the responses it generated.

IOTA Toxic

The Basics of IOTA

If you’re already familiar with IOTA and how it works, feel free to skip to the next section. But for everyone else, let’s go over some of the basic characteristics of this cryptocurrency.

IOTA is a highly popular cryptocurrency that is unique because it does not use a blockchain. Instead, it uses a technique it calls a Tangle. In that system, there are no direct transaction fees. Instead, when sending units of IOTA, one will need to allow their wallet program to process and confirm two other transactions as a means of paying for its own transaction. This means that not only are transactions free, but the network is still protected from spam attacks.

IOTA has been billed by its creators as being a perfect solution for machine-to-machine transactions in an Internet of Things or IoT environment.

IOTA Guide

Read also: Beginners Guide to IOTA

Units of IOTA, called mega IOTA’s are currently trading for just under one dollar each. This gives the entire project a market cap of $2.7 billion, and puts it in ninth place by market cap on

Atwater Says IOTA, Community Have Issues

University of Waterloo PhD candidate Erinn Atwater wrote a series of Tweets starting on July 10 about IOTA. According to the start of the thread, Atwater spent a week reading about IOTA in order to put together what they call a “brief summary of [their] conclusions”.

First and foremost, according to Atwater the IOTA community in general is “toxic”, and criticisms of any kind are “met with coordinated brigading”. Brigading being a form of group-coordinated online attack. Atwater even suggests that these attacks can come in the form of trying to get experts fired, discredited, or have their accounts hacked.

Next, Atwater called into question the project’s roadmap and alleged that the current arrangement of the network is such that it could be facing severe scalability issues if wider adoption is to occur.

Following this, Atwater went into the current solution for scaling which is to “use a central 100% trusted authority called the “coordinator”, which issues “milestones” and “snapshots” to issue consensus”. This solution, according to Atwater, introduces a number of new problems which would also need to be addressed.

The Community Responds

Atwater’s thread quickly caught fire and at press time has since been re-tweeted more than one hundred times, and liked close to 500 times. The response of the community has been mixed, with some in support of Atwater’s claims, and others saying that her arguments were unfair, or misrepresented the project and its community.

For example, Twitter user JustKevin had this to say:

While others like ocean ave records were a bit more harsh, saying:

Another still accused Atwater of having “blinders”, saying:

Finally, Twitter user Peter Pan made a very interesting point about cryptocurrency communities in general, saying:

Needless to say, the community is quite divided in its response to Atwater’s thread.

After the responses started pouring in, Atwater added a few more comments saying that a number of so-called astroturf bot accounts were used. According to Atwater, an “astroturf bot account” is an account that was opened several years prior and only retweets or says nothing directly. After an aging process, these accounts can be activated for participation in what Atwater describes as “a campaign”.

Final Thoughts

Tech issues aside, whether or not the community is toxic, or at least more toxic than other heavily divided communities (think Bitcoin versus Bitcoin Cash) is hard to say.

For some odd reason, mixing money and the Internet just seems like a recipe for getting people fired up.


Robert is News Editor at Blockonomi. A true believer in the freedom, privacy, and independence of the future digital economy, he has been involved in the cryptocurrency scene for years. Contact


  1. Avatar

    So professional for a almost PhD, no technical reasons when criticizing the scalability issues, just a toxic community… Great level my friend… Another one with conflicts of interest together with the guy who published the article.

  2. Avatar

    Lol bro, whatever for criticizing iota,
    but who the hell cares for some opinion from a crossdresser PhD “candidate”

  3. Avatar
    Sanjay Sen Reply

    Ms. Atwater has now first hand experienced the rough seas of passionate IOTA community exuberance. Good that she managed to survive in a sail boat. A week of study to form and state a lopsided opinion on something that is a very strong probable world changing technology and then going head on with a community of supporters and techies who have been at it for a few years – that’s not prudent!!! 🙂

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