This decade has not only brought us the file-sharing technology BitTorrent, but also social networks and social news sites that have really flourished in recent years. This Christmas, users of Reddit, one of the largest social news sites, decided to start their own BitTorrent tracker.
Social news sites like Reddit carry great influence and the capacity to mobilize thousands of people for causes deemed important by the masses. A perfect example of the efficiency and speed of Reddit users became apparent a few days ago when a group of Redditors decided that the community should have a private BitTorrent tracker, exclusive to respected Reddit users.
On Christmas day the idea was born and just a few hours later the tracker named ‘BaconBits‘ was already up and running, with the first torrents being uploaded by an enthusiastic crowd. The day after Christmas the number of users who signed up at BaconBits had already exceeded 2000, and more were coming in nearly every minute.
When the tracker’s founding member deemed that BaconBits was stable enough, an announcement was made on Reddit under the title “Sharing is caring: Late Christmas Present, Fresh BitTorrent Tracker For Redditors,” which was upvoted by nearly a thousand Redditors.
In the announcement the tracker staffers explained that BaconBits is meant to be a private BitTorrent tracker for established Reddit users only. “The site will only accept Reddit users who have been signed up for at least 3 months, have at least 100 comment karma, and have at least 1 link Karma,” they explain.
Reddit users who meet these requirements can send a private message to the user baconbitsinvites on Reddit, and if deemed eligible, will then be invited to join the tracker.
Unlike most other trackers, BaconBits does not have any ratio requirements, instead trusting that the Reddit-sourced community will be sufficiently self-motivated to share. “The site does not require a minimum ratio, we trust that most Reddit users will upload as much as possible,” they say.
Currently the site has more than 1300 torrents being shared by nearly 3500 peers, 3000 of which are seeding.
The swift emergence of the tracker and its democratic nature are not the only surprises. Ironically, a vote among the site’s users has resulted in a ban on adult content. In contrast with the “no censorship” stories that often surface on the Reddit frontpage, the community decided to censor itself, much like the Australian democracy did.
The enthusiasm of the people involved in the project is skyrocketing and appears to be highly contagious, with dozens of people contributing to the site’s overnight success. That said, the emergence of the tracker came about so rapidly that it may cause problems in the long run.
Talking to some of the staff members, TorrentFreak learned that not all of the people involved fully understand the risks involved with running a BitTorrent tracker. Some staff members are openly uploading copyrighted files under the same name they use on Reddit, and hosting and payment issues weren’t thought through beforehand.
With operators of other BitTorrent trackers being arrested left and right, a bit more caution might be appropriate here or the ‘fun’ will end prematurely.
Nitpicking aside, BaconBits may have set a new trend where social networks and communities form the basis of private BitTorrent trackers. Niche BitTorrent trackers that specialize in specific types of movies, TV-shows or musical genres have grown significantly throughout 2009, and community based trackers may become a new niche.