The crypto world is complicated when it shouldn’t be.
When you’re watching something on YouTube, you skip the ads. When going about your day, you power through those emails before getting started on the real work. And, when you’re five years old, you’d rather skip the veggies altogether and go straight to dessert.
We’re not here to disappoint your 5-year-old self.
We’ve taken out all the not-so-fun stuff (the Brussels sprouts of crypto, if you will) to give you ‘ELI5’, or explain-like-I’m-5 (years old). Pronounced ‘el-ee-5’, this acronym is the little dessert treat that keeps on giving, because it’s great shorthand for getting to the sweet, juicy information you want while leaving behind all the other boring stuff.
The history behind ELI5
The idea behind ELI5 comes from the sentiment that a five-year-old generally doesn’t have background knowledge, or is naive towards pretty much anything and everything (no offence to all of the five-year-olds reading this).
We’re all five years old when it comes to topics we know nothing about. Since the cryptocurrency industry is still in its infancy, and there’s no Crypto101 course you can take at university, most people who do know what they’re talking about have accumulated their knowledge via the internet.
— Dan Appleby (@_danappleby) August 5, 2011
The problem is that ‘truth’ on the internet is pretty elusive. And to someone new to the industry, it’s easy to believe whatever you read, especially when it’s got an injection of credibility through the use of complex terms and jargon. But don’t be fooled, often if someone can’t explain something in simple terms, they probably don’t understand it well enough. Or, worse: they’re deliberately trying to make something sound complicated to confuse you.
ELI5 in crypto
We can speculate that ELI5 is commonplace in the cryptocurrency space, partly because of the complicated nature of the industry. And because being part of a handful of people who do know something about it tends to give some a bit of that know-it-all kind of persona.
Because there’s no one authority on how the industry works, lots of people fancy themselves as experts. Taking a dip into a crypto-related Reddit thread, or even a conversation on Twitter can leave you feeling even more confused.
A Reddit user named bossgalaga created a subreddit called explainlikeimfive two months after the term first appeared on Twitter. His thought behind the subreddit was that the internet needed a friendly place for people to ask questions which would usually be deemed as obvious or stupid, without the fear of being mocked for them. Today, the thread has over 16 million subscribers and is one of the most popular threads on Reddit. So if you’ve ever felt silly, find some comfort in 16 million others who feel the same way.
We believe there are no stupid questions. But sure, if you ask us what the price of Bitcoin is going to be in five years time, it may raise a few eyebrows. The point is, there’s no need to feel like you’re too old, too young, or too anything that you can’t understand how cryptocurrencies work.
We always do our best to keep our explanations as simple as possible and we’re here to make your crypto journey as straightforward, easy and as fun as it can be. If you’ve got a crypto-related question Google just isn’t helping you out with, check out our Quora. You can also get in touch with us on Twitter and use the hashtag #ELI5 if you want a quick, simple explanation for something crypto-related.